It’s been a whole year since the 9th of June 2012 in Berkhamsted, England where we exchanged rings and promised to love, cherish and obey. Life has changed dramatically for us. Not only did we get married – we also moved a long way from our friends and family, one of us moved to the other side of the world and we both took on new and very different lines of work and a lifestyle with a significantly different economy.
All that considered, the last year has gone miraculously well. Though we’ve left our friends and family many miles away, technology helps us to maintain those relationships better than if we had to write letters to each other. I (Chris) enjoy occasionally playing computer games with my friends in Australia. But better than that we have been blessed with friendships that have formed quickly around us – friendships with good, Christian, relatable, supportive people – and we are friends with them as a couple. Living in Berkhamsted or the Central Coast, one of us would have to almost break into the other’s social circle. Our marriage benefits most from these friends – most of whom are from OM – praying for us and letting us know through words and their own example that we are more normal than we think.
People told us that “marriage is hard and you have to work at it”. In fact, we heard it so much as singles that it drives one of our friends crazy hearing it. We’re sure now that they were right. Some days can be a real struggle to serve one another when we feel like being selfish. Some days are like that – other days are an absolute delight. Most of the time we feel like we’ve always been married and we can’t remember what life was like before we found each other – but every now and then one of us does something that catches the other totally by surprise. We think “where did that come from?”. An older man recently told me that still happens after 20+ years.
I used to live with my parents and worked a fairly good job as a computer programmer. I was not accustomed to budgeting or spending wisely. I used to eat dinner out twice or three times a week, plus most lunch times. Having a good computer was at the top of my list of things to save for. Having given that up to serve God with my wife here in Carlisle – living on the money other generous people supply us, that God supplies us by his grace – we can’t be wasting that money like that any more. We eat out once or twice a month, maybe get a coffee once a week and buy lunch occasionally when packed lunches don’t work out. We’ve learned to buy home brand groceries (which honestly taste the same) and make the most of what we have. It was hard at first, but now it is second nature.
I think God brought us together at just the right time. We needed our single years to be involved in front line missions and church ministry – to learn the lessons and to do the good works He laid out for us. Now we are here in what seems like a difficult place where without each other we might give up and go home. At the same time, it’s a great place for us to be newly-weds. We get plenty of time to ourselves and good role models around us and people to encourage us. We get to be involved in missions work but away from the high pressure, close quarters environments like the ship.
We celebrated our anniversary by taking the Saturday to go to nearby Newcastle and see the sights of the city and do some shopping and eat dinner at our favourite restaurant Wagamama (which doesn’t exist in Carlisle). We had a great day of fun together in the sun. Sunday we went to church and had a special lunch together at home and a quiet evening.
We’re here in Carlisle for almost another year. We think it’s the right place for us right now. We’re excited to see what God has in store for us when we return to Australia in March/April 2014.