It was time for our graduation from Youth With a Mission, we did it! Now we could have guy/girl relationships! ;) And of course had an incredible mind blowing time of getting closer to God (that's another story). So it was either the evening or the next day after graduation, Ruslan and I took a little walk together ALONE on the base. We stopped and sat on a brick wall and Ruslan wanted to tell me that he was very serious about our relationship and that he was definitely at the point of not pursuing any other girl, he had only desire for me (blush :)). Now this is the embarrassing part, like I mentioned before I still dealt a lot with fear of making mistakes and fear of rejection, so I needed to be 100% sure this was the right thing to do. That being said, I listened to what he said, and felt so touched and excited, yet still a lot afraid, because I knew how serious he was, and this was the real deal. So I responded:
"I really like you too and I definitely want to get to know you more and see where this will lead. I don't know if I can promise the same to you yet (sweating inside)??? I need to see where this goes."
As perfectly calm as he was the first time, he very cooly replied,
"Well, I need an answer from you by tomorrow. Because I am not waiting around while you decide, again."
I totally understood, and felt really embarrassed, nervous, even a little angry that he would request that of me, and confused all at the same time. We said goodnight and I went back to my room. I prayed and cried, and sought God's advice, and realized this guy is very patient with me. I better not be stupid a second time around! There was no way I was losing him again. "So fear you better shut up!"
|Jessica and Jessica, it was a great night of missions, a lot of fun|
Ruslan fasted and prayed and really struggled with what to do, but he finally felt the Lord leading him to Sacramento (Praise God!) and I felt that I was to go home for a couple months, after the night of missions and possibly come back to YWAM in April to do the leadership school, in 1999. We decided we would correspond via snail mail and when possible, phone. It was a stretching time for me to be away from him for so long, but also good to realize even more how much I cared for him. I even did a little test, in my heart with the Lord. We were taking a little hike with the team on night of missions and I lost my bracelet from Ruslan that he had given me ( a homemade leather strap with beads that he had given to me for fun, earlier), and I was worried that it was a "sign,"(yes I was a little too superstitious in my religious thinking) that maybe I wasn't supposed to be with him. I started feeling sad and worried that I might have to let go, or break off the relationship, I was going through all of this in my head as we walked. On the way back from the hike, I was asking the Lord if Ruslan was the one for me, and told him that I was willing to lay down my heart desires if it wasn't from God, and literally at the same moment, I happened to look down, and right in front of me lay the bracelet! I took it as a confirmation!
In December I ended up staying in Eugene, Oregon with my awesome siblings, Autumn and Doug for a while and then Josh and Karen. Ruslan decided he wanted to take a bus to come and see me and we would travel to Cedarville,Ca together to visit my hometown. Once we arrived in Cedarville it was Christmas eve and we went to eat at our local restaurant, The Country Hearth (where I used to work), Ruslan bought me a nice dinner and for some reason my stomach was so nervous. We ended up talking about our desires and possible future together, and we both agreed that we would want to get married someday, so at that point that was when he said, "So would you want to marry me then?"
"Yes, I would." I couldn't contain my smile from ear to ear.
He asked me if in my culture we do the ring at the engagement? I didn't want to make him feel bad, but I told him yes, usually you have a ring at the "engagement asking," he apologized for not having one but promised, he would get right on that. :)
Funny thing is my sister Sarah was our server that night, so when she returned to check our drink levels, she was the first person to find out we were engaged!!!
|Does he look a little nervous surrounded by the Rivas family?|
|This was on the way to Cedarville from Eugene|
We walked home floating on air, the stars were shining extra bright and the freezing cold wind was music in my ears, I still couldn't believe I was going to marry this man. When we got home that night I immediately told mom, and she was so excited for us. She immediately went into her room and got out her journal from 8 months earlier, and showed me the day the Lord spoke to her, that Ruslan would be my future husband. I was so ecstatic, this was a dream come true. Both Ruslan and I were shocked at Mom's journal but also very thankful for such a confirmation of this next HUGE step.
This is the end of our "meeting love story" but of course there is so much more that has come of this love in the last 13 and a half years, through good times and some very bad times, I think I will have to continue this story some day, for you to see, what happens after the perfect love story becomes some of your greatest challenges? And how we got through.