Okay, well I can't think of any good explanation or excuse for the tardiness of these posts, so I'll pretend that these are hot off the press. =)
For Anne, things started to "click" on the bus ride to IL. For me, it took the bus ride, casual discussions over lunch break, my sister coming up to visit and staying at Anne's house, a volleyball game and extra time in the Production room to get my attention. =) You can call me dense, but I choose the title "focused." =) I remember sitting at lunch one day and thinking how Anne was the type of person that I would like to marry, in that our personalities were a good match. However, as much as I respected Anne's personality, I really didn't expect anything to work out between us, because the Lord hadn't given me clearance to pursue her. I was simply content to be friends and enjoyed the fact that we could interact without reading between the
Anne left for Thailand and apart from missing her smiling face in the office, I honestly didn't think much about her until my trip in October. You see, I had set all specific plans for Thailand aside over the last two years, so I was excited to travel with 5 guys from my church and "introduce" them to the land that I had grown to love. Since I had always stayed for at least a month on previous trips, I naturally extended the 2-week time period of the team to have an extra 10 days to spend with Gaudets and Langes. I enjoyed being a part of the office crew for a week, and it suddenly dawned upon me how much Anne really enjoyed being in Thailand. I really don't know what I was expecting, but since I wasn't a faithful blog follower, it took that trip to reveal her heart for the mission field. I was impressed with her ability to thrive in the midst of the struggles on the field, and how God had knit her heart with the two missionaries that I had grown to love and respect. Looking back at that time, I see that my casual interest in Anne spoke louder than I would have imagined. I still remember the look on Pookie's face when she learned that Anne and I had the same birthday. It was like we had somehow conspired that to happen and were hiding some secret from her. =) Well, if a secret was hidden from anyone at that time, it was hidden from me. My mind was busily at work, thinking through my plans for Bible Institute and how I could assist with the work in Thailand, in the midst of my preparation.
I left Thailand with a renewed vision for ministry and a desire to come back soon and help Bro. Tom with a few projects. The Lord knew I needed that spiritual boost because shortly after I returned home, I had to deal with a difficult situation at church that could have set me into a tailspin. However, the Lord was faithful and used this trial to strengthen my ability to stand alone for the truth. So as the dust settled, I pulled out my plans for a short trip to Thailand and started looking for a free space on the calendar. I had originally planned to travel back to Thailand in February, but it seemed that everything was against that time frame. I had several urgent projects to deal with, our yearly high school trip to IL, and a Bible Institute course that was taught only once every seven years. So, although I couldn’t make it at that time, I sent over two other guys to try and be of help, while I was busy at home. That’s when things started to fall into place with my communication with Anne.
In an effort to keep up with Bro. Tom’s projects and needs, I found myself chatting with Anne quite frequently. Anne was a consistent point of contact for the Thailand office, and so when I saw her online, I would stop by to get the latest news from the field. Then one day, I realized how much of a regular habit I had made of chatting with Anne. In my mind, I was careful to keep the conversation limited to prayer requests and projects, but I also knew how much I enjoyed stopping by to say hello. Then it hit me – I’d better pray about whether I should continue to talk with Anne, because I was starting to cross the line from casual friendship into close friendship – serious stuff.
I’m so glad that I didn’t know what was going through Anne’s mind at this time, or I could have been seriously side-tracked from following God’s timing of events. All I knew was that God had placed a desire on my heart to get to know Anne better, and to do so in a way that would not stir up her emotions or the excitement of friends. Okay, so in looking back, I’ve learned that my tactics weren't as secretive as I thought, but I really did try to limit the frequency and content of my communication with Anne. Anyway, realizing the seriousness of the situation, I grabbed a stack of character qualities and set out to do some homework. I have to say that I was surprised by how many situations I could recall that matched the qualities in question. According to my calculations, I actually knew Anne better than I thought I did.
Then the thought hit me that maybe God was bringing our paths together. “No, that must be my imagination,” I thought. “Focus, Nat, focus.” I had been planning a video project with Tom Gaudet, but the timing kept getting pushed back due to our schedules. Finally, I secured a date for August and stuck to that. I was now praying specifically about Anne, but I honestly didn’t think that she had a clue or any desire toward me. That is the beauty of how things unfolded in my mind. Even though it wasn’t a secret to her or to those in Thailand, God kept confirming his will to pursue Anne in ways that were not influenced by others. In my mind, I was embarking on a secret project. To the rest of the world, Nat was slowly waking up to the obvious. =)