Lask week found John and I on a refreshing, long-awaited date night in a serene Italian restaurant not far from the center of town. The sun was setting, and the wait staff were lighting lanterns around us. Meanwhile, the two of us were caught in a lively conversation, swapping our cultural observations of the last couple of weeks, and comparing/interpreting the Luganda phrases we'd picked up here and there. It was punctuated with a lot of laughter and wide-eyed expressions as we swapped mental notes, piecing together more of our limited understanding of this fascinating place.
So it hit me again. I thought regarding my husband, I am so glad I got to see you here, like this, in this place.
These last four months have brought me into another one of those seasons--like your first time as parents--where you learn to appreciate your spouse on an entirely new level. This guy jumps into cultural interactions, braves Kampala traffic all over the city for us to have a sense of place and be mobile (and safe), brings meals out to guards who didn't have a chance to eat. He bargains for furniture on Ggaba and comes home to chat with the kiddos about how they're doing here. He tries out his Luganda in the market and seeks out ways to take care of Oliver and her family. What if I had missed seeing him so strong, compassionate, and courageous like I have seen him here?
See, today we're celebrating our twelfth anniversary. Wowzers. And this year has found me appreciating more and more of the journey that is marriage.
I love all the places and times and situations that John and I have met together so far. Seeing my husband as a father, for example, still blows me away. That first morning in the hospital after I'd delivered our firstborn and finally eased out of the bed for a shower, I came back in to find him reading the book of Matthew to that blue-eyed little bundle with the knit hat. There are all those nights when he's kept the kids up past their bedtimes reading stories or wrestling. Then I recount the long road trips while we raised support in thirteen different states. Or I remember the laughs in our first little campus-housing, cinder block apartment as we survived on rice and pasta for almost a whole year. There was that hike with his dad when we ended up "sleeping" in a tent in the pouring rain with a little stream coursing beneath us.
There were painful times that knit us closer, too: the call in college when my grandmother had passed away. Or so much more so, meeting him in a hospital parking garage, where he would tell me his mom didn't survive. This path of marriage has a sealing, binding effect on two people.
But this has been one of my favorite and most challenging years of this rich adventure that is our life together. Just before our last anniversary was the late evening when John came home and found me propped up against pillows in bed, reading. "What would you think about pursuing ministry opportunities overseas?" he asked. Picture me about falling out of the bed at this point, half out of fear, half delight.
But like so much of what God has done in these twelve years being married to John, I have said, these four months have reminded me of the end of Forrest Gump. You hear Forrest say that he invested in a fruit company. But as the camera glances over his shoulder at a letter he's opening, you see that he's actually invested in Apple computers. That's pretty much how I feel about marrying this guy. I knew God was granting me the opportunity to get involved with a "fruit company" that looked very promising. But boy, I had no clue just what he was giving me.
My marriage is so much richer from having been here.