Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another milestone!

Last week I (Kristi) graduated from Hope International University with an MBA in International Development. It has been a long, slow journey, so it was exciting to celebrate this accomplishment. Both sets of our parents were excited to celebrate this event with us, and it just happened to be a few weeks after we got engaged!

I went to campus for the first time on the night before graduation for the banquet. It was surreal going through a graduation ceremony again, but it was a great symbol of the closure of this long process of getting the MBA.

One of the perks of getting a master’s degree is the hood that you get to wear at graduation:

Or do you wear it like this?

I finally got to see the campus that I’ve been taking classes at for over 5 years—it really exists! And we got to spend some time with my professor and advisor, Dr. Rabe, the original inspiration for doing this program:

The rest of our big family weekend included lunch with the grand marshall, Peter (on the right in the photo above with my hood), a wedding planning pow-wow, and church at Knox with our friend Augustine from Rwanda preaching.

When the dust settled, we left for Yosemite on Tuesday with my (Kristi’s) parents. We saw the Sequoias, took a couple hikes in the southern part of the park and in Yosemite Valley, and saw 3 of the waterfalls. Ah, the splendor of God’s creation!

On the way back we spent the night in ‘gold country’ in order to see Joseph and his wife Esther, good friends of Bob’s in Rwanda. It was wonderful to reconnect with them and hear how God is using them to bring healing and reconciliation in Rwanda. They were excited to hear about our engagement, and we even have a picture of them praying for us before we left:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

This flight up the coast

Sunday, May 6, 2007. We woke up in the morning to an unusually bright and warm Sunday morning. Bob had told me that he had plans for us in the afternoon, and I anticipated that he might propose, but had no idea what he had planned. After church, at around 2 in the afternoon, we left Pasadena and headed east (inland). After a few miles, he turned to me and says “Just in case you want to know where we’re going, we’re headed up the coast.” This of course confused me, since we are not headed to the coast, so I wondered what route or plan he had. We got off the freeway, and then he said we were headed to an airport—the El Monte airport. Bob’s friend Evan, a student at Fuller who hopes to be a missionary pilot someday, flies out of this airport regularly and had agreed to fly us up to Santa Barbara for the day.

We found Evan and he introduced us to his Cessna plane and to his friend Kristen who accompanied us. This was the first time I had ever been in a plane this small, so wondered what this would be like! We were given headsets with microphones to wear, so that we could talk to each other over the noise of the plane and hear Evan’s interactions with air traffic control.

We flew west toward the coast, over downtown LA and Hollywood, and got a good look at the famous Hollywood sign. We got to the coast and turned north, and Evan flew at about 500 feet most of the way, so that we had some great views of the ocean, the boats, the mountains, and the beach. The views were incredible, and it was fun to be able to look out from any side of the plane.

Evan, the fearless pilot

After perhaps an hour ride, we landed at the Golita airport, outside Santa Barbara. We walked the ¼ mile to the beach, and I commented that Bob seemed to know exactly where he wanted to go—he had mapped this out well. We walked down the beach for about ½ a mile, enjoying the views of the ocean and watching the people playing on the beach.

About ½ mile down the beach, there were some rocks that formed a natural wall from the land to the ocean, and we put down a blanket and sat down near them on this ‘corner’ of the beach. Bob pulled out a poem he had written, and said that he wanted to read it to me. The poem, titled “This Flight up the Coast” described the literal journey we had just taken, as well as the journey of our relationship and this moment of decision to commit our lives to each other. I’ll include just one stanza here:

“A plunge, an adventure, and a quest,
Mighty is, our Great God of Rest.
Beckoning, asking, watching, waiting –
Let us walk together, this great lifelong test.”

He then pulled out the ring, and asked the question directly, “will you marry me?” I won’t pretend that I deliberated. “yes, absolutely!” We savored the moment and reflected on what we were committing to, then took a few pictures of ourselves on the beach in our ‘private spot’:

We walked back down the beach, and had some excellent seafood at a restaurant on the beach. Bob had picked out a few scriptures related to marriage, so we read some of them over dinner, reflecting on God’s design for this relationship. We then called our parents to share the news and walked back down to the airport to meet Evan and fly home. As we were leaving the beach area, we looked back at the sign for the beach, and noticed a smaller sign, pointing to the beach we had come from. Ironic, given what we had just done:

The sun had just gone down when we took off, so there were beautiful streaks of orange and red in the sky, and we had some great views of the sky on the way home. We also got to watch other planes in the sky, and hear how they manage the air traffic over the radios.

When we got back to Pasadena, Bob had arranged for a few of his close friends at Fuller to meet at his apartment to celebrate. Each person gave some words of affirmation and reflection on our relationship as we toasted with sparkling cider. We had cake and told the story of the day, then everyone prayed for us and this new phase of our adventure. Truly, a memorable day, and we are very excited!

Augustine, Bob, Willard, and Paul, with cake and cider