You know those movies and books where the woman (always a woman) goes on vacation, meets a man, and has the most romantic experience of her life? I’m a sucker for these stories. They are an escape. A hope. A dream. They just don’t happen to real people.
But this time it was real. The wild romantic vacation love story was true. And. It. Was. Happening. To. Me.
Kim and I decided on a brief trip to the beach for our Christmas break. She had been dying for a little time in the water and I wanted a lazy refreshing holiday. Canoa is a quiet fishing village that probably sleeps more visitors than locals.
We arrived on the night bus early on Christmas Eve morning. After sleeping a couple hours it was off to the water. While eating lunch on the patio of a beachfront restaurant we noticed
two men two gorgeous men walking by. Kim had her eye on one. I had my eye on the other. And he had his eye on me. They kept walking but I did not forget him. Later, when Kim and I were looking for somewhere to eat dinner I saw him again. The same beautiful long-haired man I was captivated with at lunch.
Butterflies fluttered in my stomach when he stopped us and we started talking, but the longer the conversation went on the more he was talking to Kim! I tuned out and later found out he was only talking to her to try and sell his friend to her so he could spend time with me.
After dinner, we, the long-haired man, two of his friends, Kim, and I had a bonfire on the beach where we talked, sang, and generally had a good time.
Catching a man’s eye and having a nighttime bonfire on the beach is romance enough, but that’s not where the story ends. The best is yet to come.
The next morning, Kim and I were having coffee at our hostel and in through the door comes him. William. He woke thinking, “Stephanie. Where did she say she is staying?” Obviously, he remembered and we spent another two romantic days together walking the beach and talking. He completely ignored his buddies and didn’t work at all because, as he says, love is more important than work.
This was great. It was a true travel romance. Girl goes to a foreign beach to get away and relax and meets a gorgeous non-English speaking man and they spend all of their waking hours together. We exchanged contact information before I left, but I did not expect anything to go any further.
Several days passed without hearing from him. Then, an email. And another. Soon, we were writing every day and calling frequently. A couple weeks later, he visited me in Quito. About a month after that, he was moving to Quito.
Keeping with the romance movie theme and with the Latin lover motif, William and I have certainly have had a fiery relationship. We’ve broken up. We’ve gotten back together. And I’ve kept him at a distance most of the way through. As much as I wanted to fall in love, as much as I dreamed of marriage and family, I dreamed of a certain type of man and future. William didn’t fit into that type.
Nearing our six month anniversary I decided to move back to California. At the same time, I was distancing myself from William…again. I would have left Ecuador permanently without much communication with him had it not been for the accident.
I used to joke that God would have to rent a neon sign with a great big arrow and the words, “This is the one” to show me who He wants me to marry. When the sign finally came, it wasn’t powered by neon gas but by blood.
A couple Fridays ago, I was in a van with several coworkers headed to Mindo for the weekend when I got a phone call. It was Vero, a mutual friend of William and me. William had been in an accident. He was bloodied, stitched together, and couldn’t remember where he lived. All he remembered was my name and that he wanted me.
Vero ended up putting him in a hotel for the night and I took the first bus home the next morning. The accident left him with a concussion so I had him stay with me for the weekend. After some food and medicine, we went for a walk and sat in the park for a while. While watching the skateboarders we talked. About everything.
When I admitted that I wasn’t just visiting California he barely paused for thought before replying, “I will go with you.” I hadn’t expected that.
The more we spoke, the more clear it became what was in our future. Before, we had spoken of marriage but I was never serious about it. There were too many legitimate issues in the way for me to seriously consider it. But this time was different. All of my previous concerns were no longer there and that was it. There was no official proposal just a truly God-powered conversation.
Because of William’s accident my eyes were opened to how much he loves me. Because my eyes were opened I was able to let go of my false image of the right man and love the man God had put in front of me for the previous six months.
And… the best is still yet to come…
Willam made sure we went to church the next morning. He is always good about that. For weeks prior, the church had been advertising a special evangelical presentation called “Windows on Eternity,” but with all of the action of the previous two days I forgot it was a special service. We watched the movie/live action performance, the pastor talked, and William turned to me and says, “I want to change.”
We talked a little longer and he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior and I proceeded to bawl my eyes out.
“Why are you sad? Why are you crying?”
“I’m not sad, I’m happy. Now, I have everything I’ve been praying for.”
Later, when I told my parents of our plans for marriage, Mom reminded me of something she told me before I left for Quito, “Debbie and I had a feeling you would meet the man you would marry in Ecuador.”
It wasn’t a feeling, Mom. That was God.