Oh, Tony Johnson! I only knew one Tony. He was the cute Kiwi boy. I had heard his amazing story at conferences and he sang really well. He was Robin Glass’s best friend. Robin was the funny, tall, curly-haired, Brazilian/English guy.
I was living in Liverpool, waiting for the ship to arrive. It had been weeks since I was on the ocean and I missed it. I wondered about Tony. What would it be like seeing him, knowing what I had heard? Why would he be interested anyway?
The ship arrived and it was busy. No time to sit around thinking about love and romance. I was up and down the gangway, taking care of people who thought they were important and making sure they were fed and shown around. I didn’t see Tony at all.
Late one night as we were leaving the ship, I heard someone playing a guitar and singing. We walked around the corner and it was Tony. He smiled so I stopped and commented on the stars. He asked how things were going and I told him. A lot happened that night and we hadn’t even broken the five minute rule.
He had been observing me for months. We had a joint girls and guys Bible Study and we had talked about marriage. I had made a comment something like, “When I get married I am going to love my husband more than anyone else in the world.” Tony could not imagine being loved that way. He wanted to volunteer. On another occasion I spoke with the shipmates about something that was going on in my life. He liked my honesty and vulnerability.
Over the next few months, there were occasions when we had short conversations. A few times we found ourselves at the same dining room table, talking about the weather with 6 other people.
My two years on the ship was up. I had stayed on 6 months extra to do the PR work on land. It was time to go home. I was visiting one of the families and Tony happened to be fixing their door lock. He was invited to join us for tea and that was when we had our last and longest conversation.
Tony: So what are your plans? What will you do when you leave the ship?
Me: (With a smile on my face) I am going back to South Africa to marry a pastor. What about you?
Tony: I am going back to India. That is where I am called to be.
The conversation went on. He had never considered being a pastor and I had never considered living in India. We were both so confident about where we were going and they were opposite directions.
It was time for me to leave the Doulos; my home for two and a half years. My aunt and uncle had come to pick me up in Hull and they were taking me to their place in Kent. I walked around for the last time, saying tearful goodbyes to the kids and their parents and all the amazing friends I had made.
As I was walking out of the door, Tony came up the stairs in his overalls looking very flustered. We said goodbye and I walked down the gangway.
The ship sailed away and I stood on the quayside waving goodbye and crying my eyes out. Tony was there and we waved and smiled. I knew where he was going and he knew where I was going. We had no idea how we were ever going to see each other again, but we knew we would.
Little did I know that Tony had been running around the ship trying to find a leader to get permission to ask if he could speak to me. He had left it too late.
Little did I know that Tony Johnson was asking God if I could be his wife.