I'm engaged to Sybrand de Swardt!!!!!!
Many of you already know but in case you haven't heard, God has brought a wonderful godly man into my life and we are getting married on January 17th in Cape Town, South Africa.
This is the view from where we got engaged in Kruger National Park last week. It was Olifants (Elphant) Camp in the park. It was an amazing site we looked down on.
The first picture of us as an engaged couple. Sorry for the shadows.
My dad teaches counseling courses in Grace School of Ministry in Pretoria four times a year. The classes started October 2006 with pastors and others coming to attend the classes for a week at a time. At the end of the March class, my dad realized that one of the men in the class was a single pastor. He mentioned it in passing at the end of the week to my mom and me. I found it kind of funny. I mean the guy lived in a small town outside of Cape Town. How was I going to meet him?
Well, while my dad was completely innocent in the next part of the story, my mom did a little scheming. She decided that it would be a good idea to invite the whole class over for dinner the next time the class met in October. She figured that way we would have a chance to meet. Once again, I found it all funny. I mean what was going to come of it. He wasn't going to meet me and want to date me.
So, that October about 50 to 60 people came over for dinner. We were introduced but it ended there that evening. I had come to the place in life where I really thought God had meant for me to be single. I even said that to my mother at the end of the evening. I wasn't upset about it but rather really wondered if I wasn't more effective in my ministry single then I would be married. I was content with where God had me. I loved my life and ministry. (Interestingly enough, Sybrand was at the same point in his life and thinking as well.)
(As an aside, the other part of the story I only found out later was that the summer before my mom had prayed faithfully every day while she did some physical therapy on her neck that involved being on her knees for an half hour a day that God would send me a godly husband. Amazing isn't it?)
Well, she gave it one more try and at the end of the November class had everyone over for dinner as well. It was at the end of the evening when Sybrand came into the room I was in. He was looking for the person he had come with to tell them it was time leave. He sat on the opposite side of the table from me and began talking to a couple sitting beside him. My mom and sister-in-law came in about that time and sat beside him and began talking to him. I knew I better join in the conversation or else I would be in trouble :). So, I joined in.
We began to talk and as we did the others around us began to disappear. It wasn't a long conversation but it was nice. During it, he invited me down to Cape Town about three times. I didn't think much of it. Most South Africans want to show visitors their part of the country. My mom asked me what I thought after and I told her it I thought he was really nice but what was going to come of it? What I only found out later was that Sybrand went home and couldn't sleep after we met. I'll let him tell that part sometime.
That next week he wrote my dad and asked him for my contact information. I was sooo impressed with that. I knew there were other ways he could have gotten it but to go through my dad scored big points in my book! The next day (which was Friday) I heard from him for the first time. I kept thinking this is so different. There was no doubt that he was the one doing the pursuing and it was so wonderful to have it that way. We began writing and in the middle of December I went down for a long weekend.
It was a wonderful weekend. I think we talked almost every minute we were together. Its been an interesting, sanctifying journey since then. I certainly have realized I am a lot more sinful then I ever thought! But God has been so good to us and while we grow in holiness he has also knit our hearts together in a way that only He can. I know I am far better with Sybrand then I am without him in every way.
This last week we spent a few days in the Kruger National Park visiting a pastor friend and seeing animals. Wednesday we left the house at about 5am to get in the park early. We drove way up that day to a part called Olifants (Elephants). We walked all over the site. I couldn't figure out why. We finally came to this very quiet section with a wonderful view. We sat down and looked for a while. Then we prayed together. Earlier as we had walked around, Sybrand had shared the significance this site had had in his life while a child. He mentioned he thought it was an appropriate place for a new beginning. As we sat there, he gave me a small box with an amazing ring in it and we soon became an engaged couple.
Please pray for us as we enter this new stage in life. Pray that God would help us to glorify Him as we prepare for marriage.