So I'm back from spending four weeks in Denmark with Mirjam. I went over there for a few reasons:
- To see and spend time with my fiancée :)
- To help our case in applying for a prospective marriage visa (the more time we spend together the more it shows our commitment to each other)
- Mum and Dad went travelling around New Zealand for four weeks so I thought I'd rather be with Mirjam than home alone
We had a great time together, and it's weird to think that it's only our third time spent with each other (firstly in Estonia for four days last year when we first met in person, and secondly in Australia when we spent two weeks together over Christmas a few months ago). We still chat every single day online, and communicate constantly in the time when we're both awake. The recent timezone changes in both Australia and Denmark (which happened a week apart) made it easier for us to communicate for longer - with Australia going back an hour and Denmark going forward an hour, Mirjam and I are now 8 hours apart instead of 10. That means she's waking up at 1:30pm my time and we can communicate from then until I go to bed (around 3pm her time). On and off of course, not constantly. She has classes and I have work. But we video chat for an hour when she first wakes up before breakfast, then type each other during the day after that.
As you may have already read on Mirjam's blog (if not, go check it out then subscribe to receive updates in future), our time together was a growing experience, and not always a pleasant one. Just as our bodies grow as children and we experience physical growing pains, so Mirjam and my relationship is growing and so are we experiencing 'pains' of sorts. We have had arguments and disagreements, and we've hurt each other emotionally. But through it all we've come to learn more about how we each work differently and how to best talk to, interact with and show love to the other person. We discuss our feelings, good and bad, and we work through things together. Not always straight away, as often we need time apart to process and calm down, but we always come back together to apologise, seek forgiveness and make up as necessary. Mirjam attends therapy sessions with a Christian psychologist (English-speaking thankfully), and so while I was visiting I sat in on a few sessions and the therapist asked me questions and got to know me a bit (or a lot). The group sessions we had were quite valuable and rewarding, and we're each learning better how to deal with each other when things aren't all hunky dory. I can already see the progress Mirjam is making through these sessions in her battle with anxiety and depression, and getting to know herself better.
But apart from all the 'growing pains', Mirjam and I also had a great time going on dates, exploring Mariager (which as I discovered isn't pronounced Ma-ree-ay-ger, but rather more like My-a), being artsy and ninja together (don't ask, it's a secret ;) ), discussing the future, expressing our love for each other (through letters, flowers, etc.), eating chocolate, doing each other's hair (yes you read that right, and no it's not as weird as it sounds), attending classes, and just being in each other's arms. It's amazing how nice it is to put your arm around someone you love and have them snuggle quietly into you. It's something we both miss greatly when we're apart (if you're reading this with someone, offer them a tissue now). If anything, our time together has only strengthened our commitment to each other and made us more certain that we are meant for each other and that God has placed us together for a reason.
Unfortunately Mirjam was sick for a lot of the time I was in Denmark, and by 'sick' I mean either having bad pains in her back, not sleeping well and being physically tired all day, or struggling mentally or emotionally. At the Bible college, when you can't attend class for whatever reason, you're 'sick' and must stay in your room all day. Luckily for Mirjam she had an Aussie guy there who was happy to serve her in whatever capacity she needed; be it bringing food to her room, microwaving her home-made heat pack, rubbing her feet, running errands, or just letting her cry on his shoulder. I don't mention this to boast about the Aussie guy, but to show how he loved to serve his sweetheart and how she loved having him there in her hour of need. In a way, he got to see her at her worst and show her that he still loved her and wasn't going anywhere (except to the store to buy her more chocolate). And it wasn't all smooth sailing for Mirjam spending time with me either. She got to discover more of my weird quirks and saw more of my flaws and weaknesses than she had before. And she loved me still. Loves me still. I am so grateful for the love God has given us for each other - love that doesn't see weaknesses, but looks past them to see the beautiful creation underneath. Unlike God's love, ours isn't perfect. But we strive to have the love that 1 Corinthians 13 talks about; love without condition or demand, forgiving and forgetting past wrongs, never giving up on each other, always having faith and hope, and enduring through every circumstance.
I enjoyed the Bible college itself a lot more than I thought I would. I thought I'd just attend classes to be with Mirjam and pass the time, but I actually learnt things and grew closer to God as a result. In my first week I experienced God in a way I had rarely experienced Him back home. I realised then that He'd brought me to the college for additional reasons to why I thought I was there. I also really enjoyed meeting and spending time with the people at the college. The college of 90-odd students is divided into nine 'Belong' groups that sit together at breakfast each morning, share devotions and pray together. They also meet during the week to watch movies, cook, or just hang out together. Your Belong group is like your family during your year at college. I made some really good friends in Mirjam's Belong group in my short stay. They are a great bunch of people who really care for each other and who God uses to bless you in amazing ways.
As for Mirjam's and my future, we still very much intend on getting married. Nothing's changed there (except maybe that our desire to be married had deepened). We finished and submitted the application for Mirjam's Prospective Marriage visa in March and are eagerly awaiting its approval. That visa allows Mirjam to come to Australia for 9 months and to marry me in that time. Once married, we then submit an application for a Partner visa which, when approved, will allow her to stay here indefinitely as my spouse. Upon applying for the Partner visa, she'll automatically be granted a bridging visa which lets her stay here after the 9-month period and until the Partner visa is decided upon. This is the plan. We hope and pray that the Prospective Marriage visa will be approved before Mirjam finishes college at the end of June, then she can come here, we can get married and live happily ever after. However, we have been advised that the processing time for the Prospective Marriage visa is 10-14 months. So we're currently praying for a miracle (God's not bound by visa processing times, right?). Having said that, we're also considering other options, as Mirjam will need to leave the college at the end of June one way or another. One option is that Mirjam comes to Australia on her existing Visitor visa (as she did at Christmas). She can stay for 3 months, but would then need to leave again. And she can't work/earn money, so would have to find some other way to pass the time (I still need to work during the day). Another option, thanks to one of the girls in Mirjam's Belong group, is that Mirjam applies for a Working Holiday visa. With that, she can come to Australia at the end of June, stay for 12 months, and work and earn money while she's here. This can all be done while waiting for the Prospective Marriage visa to be approved. With all of that in mind, we currently need two things:
- A miracle and/or guidance as to what path to take
- Finances for visas and flights
If you're a praying person, please pray for these two things for us. Pray for miracles and for God's provision for us. Pray for guidance and wisdom for us in making decisions and planning for the future. Pray for blessing and finances. And praise God for all that He has given and done for us so far!
If you're not a praying person, hopefully our story has and will continue to show you the benefits of prayer and of having a Heavenly Father who loves and looks out for you in all things.
So that's where we're up to in our ongoing love story. Mirjam and I look forward to sharing more with you as it progresses and develops in the near future.