Tag Archive | faith

Mr & Mrs….

Just the other day I was thinking how much I miss blogging on a regular basis.  Life got busy and I let it go.  On my last entry, someone commented on their struggles with a long distance relationship.  I know the heartbreak well!

Back in January I started doing some serious praying and even contacted a church in Hawaii which has prayer warriors in order to get back to my Ben.  By the middle of February, I had bought a ticket to Nigeria.  We quickly scheduled our wedding date and got all the preparations done.  There was a flurry of activity which ensued over the next month!

I was talking to a good friend, Kaitlyn, about  how to get to Ben.  The money was here, but I didn’t have the time off available at work.  I was terrified to ask for the time off in order to go get married.  The long months of stress had worn me down emotionally and I was cracking at the seams.  I requested a six week leave of absence from my job in order to take care of myself.  Part of my self care included going to see my love!  Getting some movement again in bringing us together again.  Kaitlyn told me, in essence, that God brings us true love rarely and that is what I have with Ben.  Do whatever I have to do to marry this man!  After that conversation, my decision was that no matter the cost,I was going to marry this man!  I put in my request the next day and got confirmation a few days later.  I have never been so willing to do whatever it takes to have what I want before.  God provided for me in the ways I needed.

I arrived in Lagos, Nigeria on March 5, 2012.  The flight was long and exhausting.  I was 2nd to the last person to pass through immigration and customs.  The wait was unreal.  I think the last hour in the airport was one of the hardest times in all my life!  When I walked out the doors, I panicked when I didn’t see him at first.  There were people trying to get me in a taxi and carry my bags.  A moment later, I heard my name.  Seeing him face-to-face was siimply amazing!  It’d been 18 months since we’d seen each other.  We picked up right where we left off last time.  No time had elapsed and there was not a moment of awkwardness or uncertainty.  We hugged so long there on the sidewalk that a guard was telling us to take it home!

I met my brother-in-law for the first time at the airport.  He was away in school when I was there the first time.  I was so happy to see him there with Ben!  Upon arrival at the house, Mom was walking through the gate just as we pulled my suitcases from the trunk.  The hugs and reunions were so special!  In those first few hours, I got to see nearly all the family.  I was astonished at my young sister-in-law.  She was only 9 the last time I saw her.  Now 11, she is a young lady and extremely beautiful!  She was so excited to see me.  She was telling me that all day at school she’d been telling her friends that her sister-in-law was arriving from America.

I stayed in Nigeria for 22 days.  The first week of my stay was not very exciting,  but extremely busy!  We only had three weeks to plan our wedding prior to my arrival, so that first week was full of wedding details.  The taylor came and fit my dress and took it for alterations and embroidery.  Ben and the taylor were negotiating price and what work was to be done.  I didn’t understand a lot of the conversation.  To me, it sounded like they were on the edge of going to blows!  I asked Amaka if they were arguing.  She laughed at me and said they were only negotiating.  When I got my dress back a few days later, I was amazed at how lovely it really is!  He had added hand embroidered purple detailing with a fringe.

Two days before the wedding we went goat shopping.  We went across town to a goat market with Ben’s brother, Placid and his wife, Coco.  What an experience that was!  There were hundreds of goats tied to traughs bleating.  I was appauled at their treatment.  What kind of life is it for a goat to be tied up with only about 18″ wiggle room waiting to be bought for slaughter?!  Placid found the perfect goat and dickered with the man on the price.  $200 for a big goat.  They hog tied the goat and put him in the trunk of the car!  I told them to turn up the radio so I couldn’t hear him kicking and crying.  The three of them laughed at me, but come on now… I’m a California city girl!  I couldn’t watch them slaughter the goat the next day.  I knew if I did, I’d never be able to eat it!

The following morning, I got up to the sounds of about 10 guys downstairs in the yard slaughtering the goat.  I stayed upstairs for a long while.  Curiosity finally got the better of me.  I’m really glad I went down!  This was one of the true African cultural things I experienced on this trip.  The goat was already dead and on a fire when I arrived on scene.  I stood with my hands on my hips looking at this not sure what to think.  I decided it wasn’t so bad and joined in on the fun and celebration of the day.  By the time they actually butchered the goat for cooking, I was pretty immune to it all.  I joked with the photographer that he should take a picture of me holding the goat’s head.  Well, the joke was on me when everyone cheered me on until I did it.  It’s one of my favorite pictures from that day!

We got married on Thursday, March 15, 2012.  My mom called us at 4:30 am to wish us well and start the day off for me with love from family.  It was really hard getting married without any of my family or friends being there.  A few days prior, we watched the “Mama Mia!” video.  I had to leave the room when Meryl Streep is holding her daughter and helping her prepare for her wedding day.  The emotions and tears overwhelmed me.  I knew it would be hard, but I had no idea it would be like that!  So, having mom call me first thing  that morning meant a lot to me…. to both of us, really.

Getting dressed was a group project.  Ben helped me put my dress on.  I did my own hair and make-up.  Placid cinched the tie on my dress.  One of the aunties straightened it all out.  Mom gave me her red royalty earrings to wear.  Coco loaned me a hairpin she wore at her wedding a few weeks earlier for the something new, something old, something borrowed, something blue tradition.  The end product was amazing!  I hadn’t planned what jewelry to wear and it just kind of fell into place that morning.

The wait at the Federal Marriage Registry at Ikoyi was long!  We arrived at 9am and weren’t married until a little before noon.  The morning looked like it might rain.  The day ended up being ungodly hot! I was getting a little cranky and ready to go home by the time they called us up for our turn.  Funny how quickly my mood and attitude changed when it was our turn!

The ceremony was very different than an American court marriage.  The vows are similar, but different in ways that are more meaningful to me.  The offciant told us how to sit, stand, hold each other.  It seemed a little riduculous when I was watching the couples ahead of us.  It did when we were doing it, too.  Afterwards, looking at the photos and the video I am glad he had us do it his way!  It added to the meaning of the ceremony.  For a court marriage, it lasted about 15 minutes and he didn’t rush us through.  We were given our special moment and allowed to honor it.  I value that a lot.  With so many civil marriages here, you have 5 minutes and it’s done.  Move it on out!

I can’t get over “washing” the official who married us.  We paid really high costs for our marriage both in fees and bribes prior to the ceremony.  He demanded bribes from each of the wedding party.  I was the first to give him Naira and he tossed it back at me telling me I had to give more!  This was not giving him an offering for his services.  This was a straight out bribe!  Ben had to give him even more that next Monday when he went to pick up our marriage certificate.  The corruption is unreal!

The interview process prior to the marriage was a little intense, too.  When Ben set the date, they told him we’d have to under go some counseling.  We had no idea what this would entail.  We got there and sat before this man who asked us all of these questions about the validity of our marriage, how we met, our courtship, where we’d live, our financial plan, what foods I would cook for my husband in the States, plan for children, am I sure I don’t have any children, and finally, how we planned on making our marriage work and being good and loving to one another.  The process was a little intimidating, though not terrible.  The worst part was when we had to do it again the day of our wedding with yet a different man!  I can’t believe they asked me if I’m positive I don’t have children from a previous relationship!  Why on earth would I lie about having children?  And I’m pretty certain that I’ve never gone through labor or pregnancy.

The party was so much fun!  All of my life, I have wanted to have a party-party.  You know the kind… dancing, music, singing, drinking.  A party which wasn’t just sitting around talking and eating with some laughs.  I finally had the party I have always wanted!  I got to be young and the center of attention.  I had a camera or video camera in my face for the entire day, but I honestly didn’t mind most of the time.  Everyone there wanted to dance with me and talk to me.  I can’t think of another time in my life where so many men wanted to dance with me… and all of them good looking!  Of course, my husband was the most dashing of them all!!!

Speaking of my dashing husband, he just woke up and it’s time for our video chat.  Tell you more later!

 

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Hope

Giving thanks.  Isn’t that really what the holidays are supposed to be all about?  Thanksgiving for what we do have.  Time to be with the people we love.  Making time for self care and doing what feels good to  each of us.  This is what the holidays have come to mean to me.

I have so much to be thankful  for this year.  I have friends who love me and wanted to spend the day with me.  Friends who invited me to their home to be with them.  I wasn’t able to attend due to my own plans.  I had friends who chose to come spend time in my home with me throughout the day.  Jo came in the morning.  Annie spent all day.  Kate stopped by in the afternoon.  My phone rang throughout the day.

I am thankful my brother is on the mend.  Slowly he is getting more stable from a massive pulmonary embolism which had him in ICU for about two days. Lots of love and prayers going out to him and my family from friends all around the world.

What I am grateful for above and beyond all else is a  nice man I met by chance on Wednesday.  I was so angry with my phone company that I went to yell at the office.  I wasn’t able to do that, so I took a walk.  Along the way, I wandered into a little optomety store near my home.  I began talking to this man working there.  Soon I came to find out that he is the owner.  He immigrated from Kenya 7 years ago.  Amazing the things you find out about people in only a moment.  I walked away from Felix  with such a renewed sense of hope and inspiration for Benneth’s arrival and positive immigration.  He told us to keep up a good fight and be persistent.  He assured me that Benneth will be able to find work here upon arrival.  That a mixed marriage isn’t such a difficult thing in Sonoma County like it was years past.  I walked away from this man, Felix, telling him he was my Thanksgiving Gift.

The stress of the distance and many months apart have put such a strain on Benneth & me.  It seems that we have argued more in the past two months than we have in the past two years.  Not just seems… we have!  Even the faith which has held us together has been tested and grounds for argument.  How can people who love each other so much fight over everything just because they miss one another so much?  The need to be together is the only reason Ben & I ever argue.

How do  we solve this need to be together?  Where does the time off come from to allow me to be there?  Where does the money come from to get me there?  Where does the money come from to pay for the attorney fees  to have a successful case?

The need for my Benneth at the holidays is killing me.  It’s so hard to be apart.  Being here with my friends and family…  but not having HIM is utterly painful and disheartening.  Smelling  the scents and spending hours cooking for everyone except him.  Wrapping gifts for everyone but him.  Singing Christmas carrolls with everyone except for Ben.  The need to with him and hold him… tell him I love him.  Talking on the phone and video chatting just isn’t the same as holding him in my arms!

Felix gave me hope again.  The ability to stand strong and keep up the good  fight.  If one of us loses faith in the fight,we  both might as well walk away.  I hadn’t lost my faith…. just a temporary inability to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

SOON…. very soon… I will be with my Benneth!

Language of our hearts

When you find your soulmate there is nothing you don’t want to share with him!  I had the most amazing day today!  Everything just kind of fell in place and I made good decisions about my life, my values, and what I want for myself and others.  I asked for what I wanted and got it… or at least a plan to work towards getting it.  So when I talked to Benneth tonight I could hardly contain myself with the joy and excitement in telling him all about my day!  Tonight we didn’t talk long… probably a good thing for us both.  I’ve been staying up way to late into the wee hours of the morning and he’s been getting his morning started later.  He runs his own business with his best friend,but still, you need to maintain some kind of regular pattern with your business partner about when you’re coming in.  I wonder sometimes if he thinks I don’t think about such things?  He is always… I mean ALWAYS available to talk to me when I need him.  He’ll stop doing pretty much whatever he’s doing to talk to me for a while.  Not always a long while, but at least a little while.

Now, our 2 year anniversary was on the 1st, so lots of emotions coming up for us both.  It’s been over a year now since we’ve seen each other.  Sometimes it’s all I can do to contain the sadness I feel around this!  Seems we always get sad at the same time and overwhelmed by the grief and stress of being apart.  This is the ONLY time we ever argue.  I mean this in all honesty!  I can’t remember a time in our entire relationship when we’ve fought or argued over anything other than missing each other.  When these times arise, the topic of our arguments aren’t about the stress and feelings, they are superficial things… but when you boil down the basic topics it’s always the same:  I MISS YOU!  I NEED YOU HERE!

We had one of these periods a couple of weeks ago.  Even though it hurts to argue with him, in a way it’s a relief.  How can it be a relief to fight with your partner?  No, I’m talking about make-up sex!  lol  It’s a strong validation of how much we both love and need each other.  My tender feelings took a little longer to snap back to normal than usual this time.  Dunno why?  Well, yes I do!  I’ve been trying to come up with  the time off work and the money to get back to Lagos again ASAP so we can get married for awhile now and things just keep coming up to make it difficult.  My mom has been making comments about our marriage possibly not being God’s will since it’s been so hard to get the money.  Then she makes other comments about wishing I’d find a husband like ____ (fill in blank with whatever successful career you want).  Now, this really hurts my feelings!  So disrespectful of our commitment and my feelings for him.  I’m quite sure she doesn’t tell my brothers what she wishes for them in this regard!  Long story short, I started to buy into her lack of support and trust in what I feel is right and true.

Lately it has seemed so clear to me that we both speak a language of our love.  A language of our heart.  I left the “s” off on purpose.  With a true soulmate, there is a genuine feeling that you are no longer “I” but ony “we”.  He is no longer Benneth and I am no longer Jodie…we are a melding of our two hearts and souls.  Our bodies may be thousands of miles apart, but the separation is small compared to unity we both experience.  The other day I was just so sad and began to sob when we got ready to hang up the phone.  It was uncontrollable.  I tried to stop it… not let him hear me cry.  This is the only thing which breaks his heart and brings on anger.  Not anger with me, but anger that there is nothing he can do to stop my tears or end the situation causing my tears.  Helplessness.  He didn’t tell me not to cry.  Instead he spoke to my heart.  The actual words are not remembered now, but what I recall is that he knew in that moment exactly what I was feeling and what I needed to hear in his words.  Within a few minutes we were laughing again and back to our happy selves.

I never believed in soulmates before I met Benneth.  I thought I’d been in love… and been loved.  My God, I had absolutely no idea what it meant to love or be loved!  I experienced lust, companionship, like, and a few other things I’m sure, but never love!  It still never ceases to amaze me the things he and I talk about!  We’ve compared prices on apples between Lagos and California.  The deepest hurts of our lives, which for both of us was the loss of our fathers.  Debated politics, morals, values, and had deep philosophical discussions about God and our faith.  I think my favorite topics of conversation are returning time after time to our future and how we will manage our day-to-day life together on all levels and keep things balanced between us.  It may seem funny to most to talk about how you will handle disputes in your marriage and how you express your anger/frustration/hurt along with what you need in order to bring peace back between you, but these are what I love best in our talks.  It is evidence of a level of commitment, trust, and communication which I simply had no idea were possible!  Though we’ve been physically apart most of our relationship, I simply cannot imagine my life withuot him!

So in our chat tonight, I was so excited to tell him all the great things I acchieved today that I didn’t let him get a word in edgewise.  I try not to do that… mostly because I get irritated when he does it to me too many times in a row.  So when I realized I’d done all the talking, I gave him the opportunity to talk.  He was just waking up and a bit tired, so didn’t have much to say yet.  In our usual 15-20 minute goodbye, he said something which totally struck a cord with me:

“Even though I didn’t say much today, I enjoyed you.  Thank you for knowing the language of our hearts.”

Afuru ngi naya, Ifunaya m!  (I love you, my love!  in Igbo)