Alright, the kids are still sleeping so here goes...
I arrived in the States while college was still in session. The funny thing was, I didn't have that much in common with my old friends. They had all become disconnected by thousands of miles of distance... all except one who had been talking to me for months. Teacher Man had asked if we could get together before he left his university (not far from my parents' home) for Christmas break. He wanted to pass on a book that we'd talked about over the months of instant messaging, and we were honestly just good friends wanting to chat over ice cream. Why not? He shared about his most recent outing with the young woman he was interested in. I shared about plans I had made with the other young man. Teacher man ate a cookie dough shake; I drank coffee. (Okay, maybe we haven't changed as much as I'd like to think we have.) It was just fun. And no pressure. We had other people in the picture.
One thing that did come out of that meeting was our decision to "church shop" together. Both of the people we were interested in were far away, but both of us knew we needed to get grounded in the local church. And, of course, we knew we agreed on doctrine after four months of debating and discussing theology via instant messanger. So when January came around, I picked him up from his university on Sunday morning, and off we went. After church we always ended up at one of our dining halls. We'd eat, discuss what we liked or disliked about the church we had attended, and talk about life.
There was a lot going on in my world. I liked Teacher Man, but I didn't like most Americans. They seemed too cold, too materialistic, and completely out of touch with global issues. I struggled to fit back into a family after living abroad by myself. I didn't want to complain about college with everyone else because I knew I needed the training after over a year and a half of teaching on the field. And on top of this, the other young man was getting very serious very quickly. Teacher Man was a patient listener, a good sounding board. He purposed to give me a hug when he saw me and when we said goodbye because he knew how physical all my Argentine friend had been. He laughed with me when I used hand gestures from Argentina that mean wildly inappropriate things here in the States. He was the friend I could talk to about anything because we'd already agreed on the important things.
One of my most vivid memories from this period is Teacher Man coming over to my townhouse on campus after church service and talking (again!) about how much he love the movie Equilibrium. I casually commented that we'd have to watch that some afternoon after church, and he (NO LIE!) pulled a copy of the movie from the jacket of his Bible. "Oh, what a coincidence. I just happen to have a copy of it with me today." Thus began a tradition that lasted for months. Church, Lunch, Movie (with a little mindless homework).
All this time, I was still thinking of Teacher Man as only a friend. A good friend, but completely and totally just a friend. I was even excited for Teacher Man when he brought another girl to my university for a comedy night. All three of us went together, and I kept thinking that she was such a great girl. (I love you, Abi!) However, the other young man in my life did not share my views. He could see how much time Teacher Man and I were sharing on Sundays, and he felt threatened in a way that I didn't understand. As the months went on though, I began realizing that this young man was not called into full-time ministry like I was, and questions began springing into my mind.
Are you ready for the most awkward Sunday of my life? This young man came down for a weekend visit, and I sat in church with Teacher Man on one side and him on the other. I had a thousand things to tell Teacher Man and a jittery nervousness about the other guy. The weird thing: they were kind of scoping one another out, but I could NOT figure out why. We all went out to lunch together after the service and parted ways pleasantly. Friends would tell me the next part of my story.
Teacher Man went for a run that night. Late. And he wept. Friends said that they saw him and were really concerned. That night after the run, he messaged me and said he wanted to get together the next afternoon. Did I have time? What about track? He would skip. What about your coach? He'd already gotten permission to work out ahead of time. Wow. Something was obviously amiss; so, of course, I said "yes." I called the other young man to keep everything above board, and I went to sleep... kind of.
Caleb wants some cinnamon toast and orange juice. Hope this gets you through until Part 4 can be written. Don't be offended, but as I read through this story of God's working in our lives I'm realizing more and more that I'm not writing it for you. I'm writing it for my sons, for their children, as one more testimony of God's grace in our family's life; and I'm honored that you're joining us as well!