Thursday, October 16, 2008

Love Story, Part the Fifth

Part the First
Part the Second
Part the Third
Part the Fourth

Now that we were engaged...

...we needed to settle on a wedding date. We had over a year to go before graduation, and neither of us wanted to wait that long. Plus it seemed to us that it would be so many changes, all at once, if we waited till after graduation to get married. What about getting married in December? we wondered. After our wedding, we'd still have our friends around, a familiar environment and schedule, and less stress than we'd have once we both started our first jobs.

Our parents agreed with our logic, and a December 20 date was set. That was the Saturday right after finals week, and it was a perfect semester for me, since I was student-teaching and would have no finals: I could leave school a week early, in fact. Papa Rooster and some of our wedding party might have to take a Friday final and then hit the road for Ohio--about 6 hours away--to barely make it in time for the rehearsal, but it would all work out. (And it did. That semester, the last finals were on Thursday afternoon.)

That summer was an interesting one. My first few weeks at home were a blur of dresses, photographers, florists, cakes, napkins and invitations. Decisions were made, my mother was left in charge, and I was off to Europe to work at an international conference for itinerant evangelists called Amsterdam 86. The conference was put on by the Billy Graham Association, and since Wheaton was Billy's alma mater and home of the Billy Graham Center, Wheaton students had been recruited to work as stewards at the conference, with room and board provided if we paid our own airfare.

Several girlfriends and I were going over early to meet another gal, whose dad was stationed in Frankfurt, to travel on a German railpass in a big loop around Germany, making several short "legs" of the journey out into France, Switzerland and Austria.

First, we landed in Amsterdam, where who else but Papa Rooster happened to be?

His sophomore year roommate was the chairman of a Wheaton College ministry called YHM, or Youth Hostel Ministry, which sent students to help out at Christian youth hostels all over Europe. The chairman, who traveled all over Europe to meet with the stationary as well as the traveling teams, got to select a traveling partner, and since PR was a known quantity as a roommate--and a good guy--the chairman asked him to be his traveling partner.

So they were in Amsterdam, visiting the teams at the Christian youth hostels there when I arrived--in the morning, but the middle of the night for me, and I was seriously dragging. We had only a few hours together before my friends and I were leaving on a train bound to my uncle's home in Germany (he was stationed at an Air Force base near the border between Holland and Germany). We stowed our suitcases at one of the hostels, bought some lunch, and sat on a bench by one of the canals. The main thing I remember through my jet-lagged fog was trying to decide if I liked the mustache he had grown (you can barely see it in the picture, but it filled in). His hair was shorter and blonder from all the sun, and he looked so different--so Aryan! His big blue eyes looked even bigger and bluer with shorter, blonder hair.

All too soon it was time for a goodbye kiss and catching the train--the first of many I would take in the next 10 days. We got to rendezvous once more in that time, at a Swiss chalet in the Alps on Lake Interlaken. Talk about romantic! I know all the YHM traveling teams and my own three traveling partners were there, but all I remember are walks and talks with PR in that gorgeous setting. (And swimming, for a few minutes anyway, in the icy cold lake--an unforgettable experience.)

Here was another unforgettable experience:

That was my favorite photo from my trip to Europe, taken in Austria. I read so many horse stories growing up, that sitting astride a unicorn seemed a dream come true! Had to work it in.

My girlfriends and I finished our tour...

(Here we are at the infamous Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Don't think we even tried the beer, but I'm open to correction. [Ladies?])

...and ended up in Amsterdam to work at the conference. I was assigned to the conference room that Joni Eareckson Tada’s sessions were in, so I got to meet both her and her husband Ken. (On the last day, she gave me a freshly-signed print of one of her paintings, which I still display.) It was also the room that the Japanese contingent of evangelists met in. I couldn't understand a word of their sessions, of course, but on the last day, they began speaking in unison and I knew immediately that it was the Lord’s Prayer. It gave me goosebumps to pray along with them, transcending the language barrier!

Then my European adventure was over—and so was PR’s. We were on the same flight back to his parents' home in New York...

...and the surprise of our lives!

(I just realized that that white blouse was part of my steward's uniform. I bet I didn't have anything any fresher!)

Stay tuned for Part Six!


owlhaven said...

Great story!!!!!!

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

Wonderful story. And, I just have to say it, what was up with those glasses??? Long live the '80s!

Heather said...

You sure know how to leave your reading audience wanting more of your story! That's quite the hairdo and glasses you were sporting in those pics ;)

Islandsparrow said...

We had the same idea to be married on Christmas break - it worked for us but from a parents' perspective it might have been a little harried!

Earthmommy said...

There you go leaving us hanging again....I'll be holding my breath for the next part so please type quickly!

Amy said...

Loving this story! And LOVE the pics! Can you believe its been 21+ years?!?!?! Tell me it's not true . . .


Jenni said...

I thought I'd already left a comment for you, but I can't find one now, so I'm telling you again how much I'm enjoying this! You are a wonderful story teller, and so many elements remind me of my own love story...I can almost smell the 80s when I see your glasses, LOL!