Sunday, August 10, 2008

the beginning of our story

Rodgers is from Kenya.
Rachel is from Texas.
It took a chain of people to bring us together.

Rodgers grew up in the countryside. He went to a nearby school until an American missionary in his area paid his tuition to Mombasa Baptist High School. While he was there, one of his teachers was a 2 year missionary from Texas named David Jones. David's parents were the directors of a Christian Retreat Center in central Texas, called Camp Tejas. After David went back to Texas, he worked at that camp. Eventually, the camp got into a program in which they hired international students to come for the summer to work. By this time, Rodgers was no longer a student (he was 27 and working as librarian for Mombasa Baptist High School) but David invited him to come for the summer of 2003 anyway.

Rachel has lived in Texas most of her life. Her parents move a lot, so she has lived all over the state. In the summer of 2003, she was between her junior and senior years at UMHB in Texas. Her parents and younger sister, Claire, had just moved to a town near Camp Tejas. Claire was 16, and some people at their new church suggested she could get a summer job at camp. She was the youngest summer staff and Rodgers was the oldest, so they had an immediate bond of friendship.

One weekend I (Rachel - Rodgers does not remember this day at ALL, so I will tell this part) went to visit Claire at camp. I had never been there before, and they had no campers, so I went. Most of the summer staff was gone off somewhere, but Claire had stayed behind since I was coming to see her. Rodgers and another foreign guy had also stayed. (I have never remembered anything about that other guy.) The summer staff live in cabins, but the full time staff have houses and kitchens. One of the full time staff families had the four of us over for dinner, after which we watched a documentary about Mt. Kilimanjaro. I remember Rodgers being friendly, funny, and charming, but it was not love at first site. I thought we'd never see each other again.

May 2004, Rachel (we're back to the part of the story that we both remember) graduated and got an internship in her field at Camp Tejas. She arrived a week after the rest of the staff because of a celebratory vacation. Rodgers was already there, and he did remember that we had met. He says this is because Claire talked about Rachel constantly, to purposely keep Rachel on his mind.

Over the summer, we became good friends, but no romance blossomed. Rodgers went back to Kenya at the end of the summer, but returned to Texas a few months later to go to school. He started in the spring 2005 semester.

We saw each other a few times over that year, and every time was progressively more weird. Rachel was starting to like Rodgers, but wanted him to make the first move. Rodgers liked Rachel but didn't want to make a move until he was sure she liked him too. Conversations seemed to lead nowhere. Rodgers didn't seem to pick up Rachel's hints and Rachel refused to be more transparent about her affection for him.

The most awkward conversation happened in August 2005. It was 9 months later when Rodgers finally asked Rachel if he could call and talk to her every day. Since then, it's been a long-distance relationship of epic proportions.

5 months after the phone calls started Rachel left the country. It had already been planned for about a year, so it was not unexpected. The time out of the country was meant to be 2 years, but Rachel was able to arrange to have the second year in Texas. For a whole year, we were 14 time zones apart. Our love grew strong during that time. When Rachel had been back for 9 months, Rodgers left the country for 3, to spend some the summer at home. So in a 29 month relationship, 14 of them were spent on different continents from each other. And the other 15 were spent with both of us in Texas, but many, many miles apart.

In a few months, though, we intend to change that. Rachel will move closer to Rodgers' school and get a job there. And we plan to get married in the next 12 months.

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