Tag Archives: life partner

Post 40. Match making

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I was exhausted.  My aunt and uncle wanted to show me the sights of London but I just wanted to sleep.  A week later my English friend Liz invited me to visit her in Belgium before I went home.  I got on the ferry and crossed the English Channel.

I had been in Belgium once before.  We had done a road trip through Spain and France.  On the way we met a team led by Normand Saidon.

My sweet friend Henriette had left the ship a few months before me and she was in a state.  From the day she had walked onto the ship, she knew she would marry Normand.  He was one of the busy, choleric types who didn’t seem to have any time or interest in romance.  She kept it to herself for two years.  In her last week, she tearfully blurted her dilemma out to me.  He didn’t give her the time of day and didn’t seem to know she existed.  She needed to know.  If she was wrong, then she would forget all about him.  If she was right, maybe he needed some prodding.

Henriette and I had been writing to each other and I asked her if I could chat to Normand about it.  She reluctantly agreed.  She didn’t know of any other way.

When our teams met up, I pulled Normand aside and told him Henriette had said hi.  His response was “Who is Henriette?  Oh, the South African girl.”  I told him what she had told me and he agreed to send her his newletter.  How romantic, I thought.  One newsletter turned into another and before we knew it, they were writing to each other.  He fell head over heels in love.

On my second trip to Belgium, I thought Tony may need some help.  He had no way of contacting me and I wondered how we would stay in touch.  He seemed to be very cautious about being in a relationship.

Liz was sending him her newsletter, so I scribbled a note at the bottom of it.

“Hi Tony, I’m with Liz and I saw her writing to you.  Have a good trip back to India.  Please send me your newsletter.  My address is:  28   Rolleston Place, Woodlands, Durban.  Linda”

One newsletter turned into another and before we knew it, we were writing to each other.

Quite subtle, I thought; quite subtle.

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Post 39. Tony? Tony who?

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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.

On the road again.

On the road again.

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.

Post 27. No pork, no bacon

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I had NO idea what to do next.  I spent my “well deserved”  holiday a bit concerned.  I wasn’t qualified to go to college.  I didn’t want to anyway.  There was no way I wanted to work at the bank.   I was starting to wonder if I would end up in a supermarket, just as my maths teacher had said.

At the same time, there were three things I felt strongly about:   I had a feeling I wouldn’t marry a South African.  I had a feeling I would travel.  I had a feeling I would marry a pastor.

While I dated South African guys, I didn’t meet one  I wanted to marry.  Over the years there were a few serious proposals which I happily turned down.  Some were pastor-types.  Now they were interesting. One took me out for dinner. Forget about “should you kiss on your first date?”  He proposed to me all the way home and kept going at the gate.  He talked about a how I could help him in his ministry.  What an asset I would be to him.  He was desperate.  I was desperate too.  I couldn’t wait to get out of the car.  He became pretty famous- for doing the wrong thing.

Another one was a full on, “no pork, no bacon” type.  We had met at joint youth camps over the years.   He was the most eligible pastor’s son and in much demand among the young girls.  I needed a partner for a banquet so I plucked up all the courage I could find to call him.  He courteously told me he was dating someone but something could be arranged.   He called the next day to say he was available.  After lots of interrogation as to how it happened, I had a date.

He had a fancy sports car and Val made sure he got lots of avocado sandwiches.  He kept coming back.  He didn’t like that I wore earrings or make-up. He tried to convince me that eating bacon was the cause of my bad eyesight.  There were lots of rules and regulations except for the ones that really mattered.  We argued about everything and we didn’t last long.

A lot of time was spent getting them to keep their hands to themselves.  They didn’t make it easy for me to stick to my guns.  It wasn’t my  fault I was “so irresistible.”

I knew what I wanted, and it wasn’t that.

In our youth group, we were encouraged to write down the qualities that we wanted in a husband.  My list was long. It was a perfect description of Jesus; except he played a guitar.