Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Love Story

Our story seems normal to us (nonetheless very special!), but perhaps it isn't so normal to most.  Some couples meet at school, others meet at parties, others meet at the special olympics, are introduced by mutual friends, or meet at church.  No two love stories are the same, but perhaps ours is more unique than most.

Titus and I met in May 2008, the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college. I went on a team with five other girls from Indiana Wesleyan University, and we traveled throughout Cambodia, teaching English and doing children's ministry. At the time, Titus was co-pastoring The Way to Life Wesleyan Church in the province of Kratie, and teaching English at the School of Hope, a small English and computer school that shared the same property as the church.  During my short time in Kratie, I was assigned to teach an intermediate level English class.  Titus was first my translator, but he quickly became my friend. Meeting Titus, I quickly realized that he was the funniest guy I knew and I am still sure that he is the funniest guy I know. We had an instant connection because Titus and I owned very similar cameras - his was pink, mine was blue; he wanted to trade, but I refused.

Engagement picture
After our time in Kratie, Titus and his best friend (Vandy) traveled with our team to another province.  In Siem Reap, our team spent a day being tourists - exploring ancient temple ruins and other cultural sights.  This provided us a day full of chatting, laughing and making memories.  He convinced me to eat a stuffed frog; in exchange, he agreed to stay up all night playing Uno.  Still, at the end of my time in Cambodia in May 2008, neither one of us thought much of the friendship that we had developed during the short, albeit memorable, time that we had spent together.  I hadn't fallen in love with Titus, but I had fallen in love with the Cambodian people.

Before I went to Cambodia in May 2008, I had already been asked to lead a short-term missions trip to the Dominican Republic in May 2009.  I returned home from Cambodia with such mixed emotions.  I still vividly remember the hours that I spent praying that God would lead my heart to make the right decision.  At the end of the Summer, the director of the university's missions department contacted me and asked me if I would like to return to Cambodia instead.  I never asked Dr. Pettis what prompted him to ask me this, but I do think that it is how God answered my prayers for wisdom and Titus' prayers for a wife and helpmate.

A double date at the mall with our best friends, Vandy & Tess
I returned to Cambodia in May 2009.  As we spent more time together - chatting, laughing, and doing ministry - we could both sense something deeper happening.  I was thinking, "How can I have a boyfriend 12 time zones away?" and Titus was asking, "Is she going to come back for me??"

We went on one date in 2009.  It was probably the most wonderful date that I have ever been on!  The pizza and ice cream were okay, but what was so wonderful was the one-hour open taxi ride around the city at night.  The air was cool, the city was beautifully lit, and we spent the hour asking each other dozens of questions about the past, present, and future.  We decided then that we would commit the next year to 1) praying that God would lead us in the right direction and 2) not to date anyone else.  A few days after our first date, I returned home to Indiana.

As the next 1.5 years passed, we communicated weekly through e-mails, Skype, and very expensive phone calls.  In December 2010, I arrived alone in Cambodia a few days before Christmas.  I knew that Titus was planning to propose during my short two-week stay in Cambodia as we had already begun making plans.  On December 26, 2010, Titus and I were swimming under a waterfall at Koulen Mountain Resort in Siem Reap when he asked me to be his wife.

Two days later, we had a beautiful, traditional engagement ceremony with 49 of our closest friends.  The engagement ceremony took place at our friends' home.  When we arrived to get ready, I couldn't believe how the room had been beautifully transformed.  I was so humbled to see friends who had traveled so far to attend.  After the ceremony, we began focusing on the fiance visa application - a 10-month-process that would involve many papers, signatures, appointments, dollars, and patience!  Titus finally arrived in America on October 15, 2011 - just two weeks before our wedding day.

We recently celebrated our five year wedding anniversary.  Titus is a citizen of the United States and he has obtained a Business Management degree from IWU.  We have two beautiful children and we're raising support to return to Cambodia as career missionaries!  I can remember the exact hour that we met and I cannot believe the wonderful story that God has written for us!

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab