Diamond watches and German food

Diamond watches and German food

Our first Valentine’s Day married: we were dressed up and in a little German restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s where we were living at the time. Well, we were in Waukesha which wasn’t too far from Milwaukee. We were still getting to know each other even though we had been married for six months by then. We had only dated for about six months and had never even lived in the same town (or state) as each other before we moved in together as Mr. and Mrs. DeAtley. (I guess you now know why my mom audibly screamed when she saw my engagement ring and realized that we were engaged… and it all took place the day after she met Shawn. Yeah, I guess you could say it was fast. But when you know you know.)
We were sitting at the table in the German restaurant where Bob Hope once sat. We didn’t have smart phones so I couldn’t Google who Bob Hope was. And there certainly weren’t QR codes to take our eyes off of each other and onto the scroll of a menu. The menus were paper, and we learned that the schnitzel was delicious. We didn’t know that we’d get to go to Germany a few years down the road and eat “real schnitzel”, and that we would also be eating fish eyeballs in Senegal in the not-too-distant future. We didn’t know a lot of things about what was to come. We didn’t know that we would ache for years for a baby, that there would be so many thousands of shots that we would never once regret. We didn’t know that we would spend months in Guinea before evacuating to Senegal, where we would spend the remainder of our years in Africa as missionaries. We didn’t know that we’d love living in the frozen tundra of Quebec where the language and the radio and the tv channels and some of the items in the grocery store (horse meat) were so foreign to us. We didn’t know that Shawn’s gift that night (a diamond watch) would be a joke every Valentine’s Day from then on, because maybe he shot a little too high, that maybe he raised the bar just a little too high starting out with diamonds that first Valentine’s Day. We didn’t know that the watch, along with my engagement ring, and two gold coins from a grandpa, would stay in a safety deposit box for years because we didn’t want to bring them overseas with us where corruption was just a part of it. We didn’t know that just owning a veggie peeler would set us apart from our Africa neighbors (because some of them, at least in the village, had never seen one before). We didn’t know that night when we dined on fine German food that one day it would be possible to long for two homes at once, to be homesick for both, the here and there, our home in Africa and our home in the United States. We didn’t know how culture shock, and grief, and love, and meeting the most incredible people along the way would shape who we are today, the people we are today, the parents we are today. I’m glad we didn’t know that night at the German restaurant, the good and hard, the sweet and sour that was to come. Because it all makes up the story that is today. We lived that day and the next, and by God’s grace and love, we handled what came. Even looking back now, it’s the miracles and grace and God’s leading in our lives that stand out the most. As I’ve said before, God isn’t just good when the story ends well, when you’re happy and settled, when you finally see two pink lines on the test, or find where home is. He isn’t just good when you have a quiet date night for two, eating German food and wearing a new watch on your wrist. He’s good because He’s God. He’s the author we can trust.

Still wearing that watch

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