As I am about to embark on many new adventures there is one adventure I have yet to share. Before I go into this blog, there are some people I want to thank. First off my parents, your un-ending love, support, and wisdom have gotten me through it all and lead my relationships where they are today. Second Sara Smith and Grace Jenkins.... what would I do without you two. Thank you for holding me accountable and constantly speaking truth and life into my story. Thank you to Sue Butler, for all the prayer and wisdom you have poured out on me. My mentor Tiffany Forysth, I love you more than anything in this world, our coffee talk and your wise counsel is so appreciated. Todd Williams, for your support and advice. Lastly, Marianne Spangler. Who has challenged me, cried with me, laughed with me, and recently stepped into my story in such a big way. Thank you for everyone who knows my personal life and has been praying for me in every circumstance.
For the people who have been following my blog, thank you for embarking on all these adventures with me. My biggest prayer is that you will see my flaws, mistakes, and vulnerable moments. Then know how thankful I am for my savior, because He redeems and makes new. For those of you who know me personally, you have already figured out that I am a very independent person, you know that I am a dreamer and more then most of the time a reality check is needed, that sometimes I am not gentle with my words, and that I always need to be brought back to a place of remembering I can not do it all alone.
With all this being said there is someone I want to introduce, his name is Alberto Jose Reyes (Nino). Some of you already know him and for those of you who do not, let me explain. We have been friends for almost 4 years, and I guess you can say we have been through it all.. I met him in the Dominican Republic, as I went down on a mission team and he was our translator. We met when I was 16 years old and our first conversation consisted of me asking him to help me translate something.. He said back to me "I don't translate things for little girls, you can ask someone else" I vividly remember responding back with a very rude comment. Gotta love being an immature 16 year old, I guess you could say it was not love at first sight.
In 2013 I returned to the Dominican Republic for a month with a group of students, where Nino was there working as a translator and a caretaker to kids in the orphanage. After that month he shared with me he had feelings for me as more then friends. I told him I wanted nothing more then a friendship, although I shared some mutual feelings I had kept to myself. We both moved on and lost touch, as it was my senior year of high school and I had some big decisions to make. Around January of 2014 I knew without a doubt that God was calling me to the Dominican Republic, I looked all over the island for orphanages. Making sure I was not wanting to go anywhere for or because of Nino. Every orphanage I had been corresponding with in email stopped responding when it came to the point of me going down to visit before committing. At that point I knew God was leading me back to where I had been going since I was 16.
As you all know I moved to the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2014. Those 5 months in the D.R. were some of the most rewarding yet challenging months I have ever been through. I was there with another girl named Grace Jenkins, who without her and Nino I don't know what I would have done. Nino was such a blessing to us, constantly checking up on us and making sure we had everything we needed. As I sat back and watched him be so strong and show such godly character through everything, I think that was when I began to see his heart and look at him differently.
In January of 2015 I returned home from the Dominican Republic. This was the point where Nino began to share his true feelings with me and I shared mine with him. We both knew we needed a lot of time and a lot of prayer... along with wise counsel. This is where my AMAZING parents stepped in, with abundant wisdom and great advice. After lots of prayer, wise counsel, and time of Nino and myself sharing our hearts with each other, and others, we have decided to move forward into the next step after friendship. This upcoming Monday I will be returning to the Dominican Republic with my mom to pursue the relationship I know God is calling me into.
Nino and I have both matured and grown up in tremendous ways since we met in 2012. After seeking The Lord in prayer we know our stories have collided for so many reasons. Nino dreams of having his own children's home, and the passion he shares with me for street children is something I couldn't ignore. He is currently studying to become an English teacher and also has some big things coming up involving orphan care and bettering his community, but I will leave that up to him to announce. As you all know I leave to Honduras in a matter of months to start a center for children in crisis. We both know and understand that our ministry and God's plan comes first before anything.
So yes we are stepping into a relationship that will be long distance. Yes we are trusting in God's plan and in His way. But we both understand fully that before we make any larger commitments we need to know and understand each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. We fully understand this will be difficult, at times the distance will be unbearable, and that wise counsel will be more than needed. I know I can speak for both Nino and myself when I say no matter what, glory to God. Rather we don't work out or we do, glory to God, if we find that God is calling me to Africa and Nino to China, glory to God, through all the cultural differences we might encounter, glory to God.
I ask that you pray for my mom and I as we travel and spend time with Nino's family, that our time will be blessed and purposeful. I ask that you step into our journey and watch us try and figure out what God wants to do with this relationship. I ask that for those of you who have been praying, please keep praying vigorously for myself and Nino. I know I can speak for Nino when I say we are so appreciative of your support and prayers, and we both know at the end of the day no matter what, glory to God.