Monday, February 16, 2009

Sharing Our Story

Some of you who have followed me from my old blogs will have read this before ...
But I thought I'd post it again here.
I love our story !

I love this photo of us ! It was taken at a children's camp in Vladivostok ... but we'll get to that later. Let's start this story at the beginning.


It's 1993, May, I'm on a train in Japan traveling to the base of Mt. Fuji where I am to attend a Kings Kids leadership ( of sorts ) retreat. We weren't leaders, per say, we were just the older kids in the group. Half way there, I am meeting my friend Joe with whom I am to travel the rest of the way. He has a friend with him. This is the first time I met Rory. People have different opinions on "love at first sight". Maybe it happens, maybe it doesn't. But somewhere in the deepest part of my heart, I knew from that first meeting that I had met my husband to be.


Fast forward to the end of July 1993. We are leaving for Russia. I have only seen Rory one or two times since May, for rehersals. We plan to meet up on the train again and travel together. ( He lived on the other side of Tokyo from where I lived in Yokohama - there was a 2 hour train trip between our two houses ! )


We weren't looking for a relationship. Rory was 15. I was 19. Of course, I didn't ask his age at first ... and like everyone else in the world, I assumed he was older than me. He looked and even acted older. We spent a lot of time together. We enjoyed each others company. As well ... we were the only two who didn't speak Japanese. There were others who spoke Japanese AND English but we only spoke bits of Japanese.


The first few days of our trip were spent in Toyama Japan at "boot camp". We slept in tents for a couple of nights then moved to some sort of group facility where we had bunk beds and Japanese baths. ( you know ... everyone together ) I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of this so I didn't bathe at first. That got a bit RIPE so one night I ran down as fast as I could when the bath's opened and gave myself a good scrub. I was just finished getting dressed when the cleaning ladies came in screaming at me. I didn't understand why til later when I found out I had been in the MEN'S BATH !!!!!


This first photo is in Toyama. It is me and our friend Eiko.

Here is the boat we traveled on. The Antonina Nezhdanova. We left August 6th and arrived August 8th. It was two nights and if I remember correctly, three full days. The nights were the worst. If I was on deck, in the fresh air, I was fine. Once I got down below, where the beds were, I started blowing chunks ! I tried Pepto-Bismol but that just made the chunks PINK ! This photo was taken as we were leaving ... aren't the streamers cool ? I used to love that on The Love Boat (remember that show ?) when they'd pull out of a port somewhere and throw streamers ... it was just as fun as I thought it would be !! Lived up to my every childhood streamer throwing expectation !

Here's the view from the boat. Should I be calling it a ship ? I don't know. What's the difference between a boat and a ship, anyway? I should probably know, being the sailor's daughter that I am !! Rory and I are the two in blue shirts that are not facing forward but rather a bit sideways.

*** EDITED to add the comment that my dad made the first time I posted this .... "As father of the sailor's daughter, I s'pose I should take the question about the difference between a boat and a ship. It was considered a serious faux pas in the Navy to call a ship a boat! The rule of thumb is this: if the vessel goes under water, it is a boat (i.e. a submarine is a boat); if it can be carried on another vessel, it is a boat (e.g. a life boat); otherwise, it's a ship! Love, Dad (USN-Retired)!" ***

LAND !!!! Boy were we glad to see dry land ! Three days on a boat/ship is a LOOONG time. I am glad I live in the days of airplanes. I can't imagine the trip the Pilgrim's made ! (and without Pepto Bismol !!)
First stop, Vladivostok. Or Baaanboctok as my eyes read that sign writen in Russian !
Here is a map I found that shows you were we were.

I love this photo. And this memory. We were on a bus. We took a lot of buses ! Anyway, this one day we were on this one bus and there was a KITTEN on the bus ! It didn't belong to anyone on the bus, it was just hitchin' a ride to who knows where ! Being the cat lover that I am, it was such a special thing for me to get to cuddle with this soft, little kitten, that purred away as it sat in my pocket !!
The first little while we were in Russia, we stayed in a children's summer camp. I have no idea how many kids stayed there but it was a fair few. I loved being at this place ! The kids were so curious and friendly. They always wanted to be with us.


We did various performances and visited other children's camps in the area. If you haven't had a look at the King's Kids link above you may not know what sort of performances. Our group was about 20 people ( I think ... it's been a long time ago now !! ) that varied in age from about 8 - 20 years old. We danced. We sang. We helped out where we could be of use. We hung out and spent time with people. We shared stories of our lives, answered questions, prayed with people and hoped that it made some sort of difference in their lives.

The second city we visited was Khabarovsk. Here's me and Rory in front of the Vladivostok train station ... getting ready for the LONG train ride to Khabarovsk.

Here's the two of us on the train. I love this photo too !!
Here's a bunch of us ... posing for a photo ... as you do when you have lots of time to kill at a Russian train station!
This is us having lunch with some people from a church we performed at.

And this is one of my all time favorite photos ! It's me, Lisa and Rory. Someone took this of us in the mirror we were laying in front of.
So ... how many of you have had church under the stars, in an empty swimming pool, on a Russian boat sailing from Russia to Japan ? We have and it was AMAZING !!


I'm pretty sure this is the night that Rory and I stayed out on the deck and watched the moon turn blood red and disappear beneath the ocean !! We got in trouble for staying out too late !!!

Back on Japanese soil. This was waiting for our train back to Tokyo. What are we doing ? Dancing, of course. What do you do when you are waiting for the train ?! :)

Here's another one of the team performing at Shibuya Fukuin Kyokai - the church that I attended in Tokyo.
By the time we got back from Russia, Rory and I were both pretty sure that we would one day be married. There were some obvious objections to our age difference. Cutting a very long and complicated story short ... we waited four years. I was 24 and Rory was 20 when we got married. We spent two and a half years of that on different sides of the world ! My original plan was to do a School of Worship (YWAM) in Hawaii, where I did my Discipleship Training School (DTS), but a few months after I was accepted, it was canceled. The plan changed and I had to leave Japan before I turned 21 as there is a Navy regulation about dependent children not being able to live in base housing after their 21st birthday. My Aunt Lissa and Tio Antonio invited me to come live with them and their two sons in Colorado so off I went. I fell in love with that State the moment I got out of the airport and saw those MOUNTAINS !!!! Rory, in the meantime did his DTS in Denver, went on outreach to India, went to Australia to do some more schooling and start University. Long distance relationships STINK and we hit our fair share of bumps in the road but we made it !!!! It will be 10 years in December that we've been married and those beginning bumps and the healing of them have made us stronger. I love my husband 14 years more than those moments in Russia where our relationship started and 75 years less than how much I'll love him when we are old and grey ! He is the best gift ever given to me and I treasure him.

***EDITED again ... we just had our 11th anniversary !! ***


And that's our story in a nutshell ... an American girl and an Australian boy, met in Japan, fell in love in Russia, got married in Colorado and now live in Australia !!


Mari February 16, 2009 at 8:29 AM  

I've wondered how your and Rory met. What a great story. I loved the pictures too!

Cherdecor February 16, 2009 at 12:50 PM  

I remembered reading your story because it was so unusual. You certainly have a story that will be passed down to generations to come.

Toni February 16, 2009 at 4:35 PM  

You have a great love story!!! I bet the kids will love to hear you tell it. I can just see you with grandkids on your lap, showing them the pics etc.

Leeann February 16, 2009 at 10:44 PM  

That is QUITE a story!


Sandra February 17, 2009 at 4:06 AM  

Oh Bonnie, I LOVED your story, this was just so much fun to read and see all the great photos.

Thank you for sharing your story with us :)

Joolz February 18, 2009 at 9:51 PM  

Hi Bonnie

What a fantastic story - a real love story as it turns out. I noticed that in just about every photo, you and Rory are standing together - nearly inseparable. Very cute.

- Joolz

Demara February 19, 2009 at 3:14 PM  

that's so exciting and congrats on the 11 years!

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