Thursday, August 30, 2007

Meet Jonathan

So, as most of you know, there have been some pretty dramatic changes in my life over the past 2 months. So, I’m going to do my best to tell the story succinctly but in all of it’s glory.

Meet Jonathan Pascual. He and I immediately hit it off when we met 4 years ago and spent the summer teaching English in Thailand.

His first impression of me, according to his journal was, “Sarah is an interesting girl. I can’t wait to get to know her!” My first memory is sitting outside with him while he played guitar. (Is there anything better than guys and guitars?) We became early-morning running buddies and co-teachers for our 7 weeks in Thailand. We definitely delighted in one another’s presence, but had no dreams beyond a friendship (though our boss tried to set us up on more than one occasion).

After those seven weeks, I returned to CO and Jonathan spent another 5 months in Thailand until he returned to Rome, GA to finish out his Psych degree.

We saw each other the next March (2004) for a few days when Lesli and I met up with him and some friends at Mt. Rushmore.




Then, that summer, Jonathan and I road-tripped to TX in order to visit Lesli before she got married. (I might add that this road trip never would have happened had I thought clearly and realized that there are a number of states in between GA and TX!) The coming August, Jonathan moved to S. America for the next 1 ½ years. He lived in the jungles and gave his time to developing relationships with the people. We talked on the phone every couple of weeks or month, and were able to share in a lot of personal growth together. It’s amazing how we could be learning similar things, but in completely different environments. And yet, we still remained just friends. I won’t deny I didn’t entertain the thought that there could be something more between us, but it was merely a fleeting thought.

He returned to GA in Jan 2006, as I was beginning my preparations to move to Egypt. We continued talking on the phone and Jonathan came to CO to visit me for a week that July. We, as seems to be characteristic of our friendship, road-tripped to Chicago for a Cubs game, and enjoyed every minute!

My parents also fell in love with him and told me a number of times that there is no one in the world like Jonathan. My response was always, “Yes, I know. And if something is to happen, that would be great, but now is not the time. We’re not there yet.”

The past year I’ve been in Egypt, Jonathan and I continued our friendship and talked ever couple of weeks. Through the spring, Jonathan became one of the people I shared the most about my life with and was an incredible blessing support to me.

I returned to the states for a couple of weeks in June for a wedding and Jonathan offered to visit me, but I told him not too since my time in the states was already short. We talked quite a bit on the phone while was there, and during one of our conversations, he ended up sharing his feelings with me. I accidentally forced him into confessing his feelings (ha!), so neither of us were really expecting a conversation like that. In all honestly, I was completely shocked and quite speechless, because I had no idea it was coming. I had talked quite a bit with my roommates in the past year about how much I valued my relationship with Jonathan, but kept feeling that there was nothing there. I spent a few days praying about it and came to the conclusion that I wasn’t ready. So, I called him back and said to him, “I think I’m crazy for saying this because you’re so amazing, but I’m not there. This isn’t to say I’m never going to be there but it’s also not saying I am going to be there.” I realized that with Jonathan, I couldn’t just step in and feel things out for a bit. Because of the length and depth of our relationship and our respective personalities, we would get serious quickly and I was terrified of hurting him, so I decided to say no. Jonathan’s response was, “I’ll wait for you.” I was shocked! So, I reemphasized that I wasn’t there, and he, in great nobility and humility, reaffirmed that he would wait. So, after a long conversation, we decided we would talk again once my first year in Egypt ended. (I committed to not date for my first year overseas, so I didn’t want to break any rules.)

When I returned to Egypt, my heart was very torn. I wasn’t there with Jonathan and was so afraid of hurting him. I was also having a mini-crisis feeling that I wasn’t even ready to enter into a relationship with anyone, nor did I want to because of how much I loved being single! But, one night, I was writing an email to a friend of mine about marriage and I realized that all I long for in life is to be closer to Jesus. As I sat in that knowledge and presence and desire of this, I realized that no one in the world would show me Jesus more than Jonathan. His heart and passion and desperation for the Lord leave me awestruck. It was at that moment my heart was suddenly liberated from all fears holding me back and I began to see Jonathan with new eyes. Before I knew it, I was in a place where I couldn’t imagine life without him, and as my love for Jonathan grew, my love for the Lord grew, and vice versa.

We began to talk a couple of times a week, and with every conversation I became more and more convinced that what we could have was “immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine.” We had our official “us” talk on August 9th, in which we both spoke that we were absolutely committed to one another. Our first step in the relationship was that we needed to see one another, so considering the busyness of my schedule, he ended up getting a ticket to come the next week. I had no doubt in my mind that this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, it was just a question of when and how, considering that I live in Egypt and he’s committed to his work in GA for the next couple of years. I shared everything with my bosses and language tutor and they were all completely behind me, giving me their blessing to return to the states when I felt it was time. Jonathan and I both have the dream of living overseas again one day, so I don’t think I will be leaving forever, and I will look for opportunities to use my Arabic in the states as well.
Jonathan arrived on the night of the 20th and after spending a couple of hours with my language teacher and her family (where he was staying), we went for a walk. Neither of us said much because we were so overwhelmed with being in one another’s presence. We were walking around in Meryland, a very Egyptian park, when he invited me to sit down. He then began to quote a poem to me he wrote for another friend’s wedding last December, called “Invitation to Run.”

Invitation to Run
Jonathan Pascual

In this race called life I run
I’ve got my gaze fixed on Christ, the Son
All once was gain I count as loss
As I die this day and run with my cross

To tell the truth sometimes the road is tough
I turn black and blue, I feel I don’t have enough
But in those times I hear a whisper in my soul:
Do not fear, press on toward the goal

I rest assured I’m not alone in this race
Lacking not, I am complete in His grace
And although it’s only in Christ I abide
I’d be blessed to have another at my side
[at this point he got down on his knee]
So here I am down on bended knee
Asking: Will you run with me?

How long is this road? Only God knows
But with each passing mile my love for Him grows
And if the Lord grants another breath with the morning dew
I pray tomorrow finds me running with you

Then, he asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes! I was thrilled and though I was expecting to get engaged within the week, I definitely wasn’t expecting it only 2 hours after he got off the plane! When he proposed, he did it with empty hands, which I was expecting since we had a conversation a few days before about how he had no money. (We both feel strongly against debt, and would rather not have something than go into debt over it.) He mentioned it to me again, and I reminded him that it didn’t matter to me (which it didn’t, but I did have to talk myself through it a bit, because what girl doesn’t want an engagement ring?). He sat down next to me and began telling the story of his grandmother’s engagement.

Fifty-six years ago in the Philippines, his grandfather had just finished medical school and his grandmother was still in university. He came to her and said something like, “I’ve loved you since the first day I met you and you don’t know how deep that goes. I want you to marry me, but I don’t have much money so all I have for you is this simple ring. But, I promise you that on our 20th wedding anniversary I will exchange it for a diamond you deserve.” They married of course, but one month after their 19th wedding anniversary, he passed away, so his grandmother never received the promised ring. Obviously, she treasured the engagement ring greatly.

Jonathan then brought up a conversation we had had a couple of weeks before when he had told me the greatest gift he’d ever received was his guitar, and he said, “Sarah, when I told you that, I lied to you. In reality, the best gift I have ever received was the engagement ring my grandfather gave to my grandmother. She gave it to me and now I’m giving it to you.” Then, he put it on my finger and it fit perfectly! I was speechless and overwhelmed and stunned. This ring was more spectacular than anything I could have ever imagined in my entire life! I’ve never been more honored with anything in my life!

At this point it was almost midnight, so we sat together for a bit (and kissed of course!) and thanked God for this new adventure we were beginning together. We then had dinner at TGI Fridays (the only restaurant in the area).

The next week was more amazing than anything I could have ever imagined. Considering that Jonathan and I have been such good friends for 4 years, I didn’t think there was much more to get to know, but I was wrong! I feel like I had the chance to be with a completely new person—a person who is even more amazing than I had originally known. Every day I was with him, I fell more and more in love with him. I am still mystified that someone like Jonathan chose me! Honestly, I didn’t even think men like him existed in the world!

Here are some hilights of the week:

A falooka ride on the Nile River


We're big coffee people. Well, I drink it and he knows everything about it!




Walk like an Egyptian




I get to spend the rest of my life with him!!!!!!!!!!



So, as is characteristic of the way we do things (quickly!), I’ll be returning to the states in October (with full blessing and encouragement from those working with me in Cairo). I’ll stay in Boulder for a week or two and then move to Rome, GA where he and I will begin life together after we marry in Boulder in January.

Check out our website on the knot at: http://www.theknot.com/ourwedding/SarahPampel&JonathanPascual

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I'm glad things worked out for you the way it did. You seem truly happy and I'm so excited for you! Congratulations! You guy are going to have such a happy life! <3

Amy Ostroski said...

AHHHH!!!! SARAH!!!!!!!!!!

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am for you and Jonathan. Omgosh, what a lucky man.

Many many many blessings from the Jesus man.

love!

amyo

Manda Panda said...

OHHHHH my good ness! this is extremely exciting!!!! Congradulations x10 Sarah. I am so glad that you have found happiness and the love of your life. what a great way to start a new chapter in your life. you have to come down my parents house to say hey when you get back. Ttyl and You have a fantastic day my friend.

love always-
Manda

Ordinary Radical said...

S.

I am sooo thrilled for you! How sweet!! Cant wait to see everything unfold..thats super tight!!

Auntie/Lola Ruby said...

Dear Sarah, you are a very lovely girl and it is evident that the word does not refer to just your physical attributes but to the reflection of your inward beauty from our Lord who dwells in you. I am so happy to have finally met you and that you have decided to spend the rest of your life with one of my very favorite nephews, who has a very high IQ, both mental and spiritual. I love you both dearly and am very sorry to miss your wedding in Colorado. However, I am looking forward to seeing you both in Georgia sometime after the wedding. May the Lord pour His blessings on you in the new lives that you are going to have together.

Love,
Auntie/Lola Ruby

Globalfriends said...

This a beautiful story, Sarah, and it brought tears to my eyes because it has some similarities to my love story. You should really have it published. you're a great writer. I know Jonathan's father, Alex, and have been to their home so I kind of know how great of a guy your treasure is. I married one of my closest friends of 8 years and brought her to the Philippines to serve Christ with me and the rest is history. Like both of you,we are an "osterized" couple - blended Filipino and Finnish-Americcan.