thirty years and counting

Today is our 30th wedding anniversary...

Barby and I met before we can remember. The year was 1963. The setting was probably a church creche in the Himalayan hill-station of Mussoorie. I may have pinched her, making her cry, and have spent the rest of my life trying to put things right. Her dad was pastor and my dad assisted him as choir director. Her parents (and grandparents) had clocked up 50 years in India and my parents had just arrived. They had commenced language study. My  future mother-in-law administered my father's Hindi exam and had a great story to tell...

Over the next ten years not much happened. Barby's family remained on the same hillside in the same house. Our family came and went a bit, staying in a different house each time. In the early 1970s both families moved to Delhi, Barby's parents as pastoral leaders within the Delhi Bible Fellowship (DBF) and my parents to pick up the international leadership of BMMF/Interserve. We attended DBF, with my future father-in-law becoming the first preacher I ever really listened to (whew?!). Our parents' friendship grew and this may be when their mischievous talk about arranged marriages originated. For some of the time we lived in the same suburb in Delhi. I could actually see Barby's house from the roof of our house - but we never hung out at all. I look back now on all those wasted winter weeks on holiday. What fun we could have had together - playing Yahtzee and Ludo, of course.


In their wisdom our parents sent us back up to Woodstock for our high school years - and so we had four years in boarding school to conjure up a little mischief of our own. But alas, we were model students. Barby was in my younger brother's class and it was not until being in a Latin class together that we got to know each other. The dead language stirred to life as 'amo, amas, amat' gradually became the mantra of our lives. Through high school we became friends in that ultra-safe brother:sister sort of way. However we did go to the Junior:Senior Banquet together.

In 1976 I returned home to NZ for a final year of school designed to facilitate an easier entrance into medical school than what had proved to be the case for my older brother, John. (NB: John now has a global reputation as a surgeon and I can't stand the sight of blood. Go figure!). But back I came and the one commitment Barby and I made to each other was that we would write letters. And write letters we did - about 100 of them each way over the five years. No email - and not even a single phone call. But assisted by our favourite photos of each other on our walls (NB: it is entirely coincidental that Barby is found here gazing delightedly in my direction), we managed to get through some difficult months. After three years I had saved enough money to go to the USA to attend the IVCF Urbana conference - and to visit Barby. We had five weeks together, managing to hold hands for the first time (previously, the Pacific Ocean had made this difficult) - and doing so while listening to Billy Graham. We also managed a first kiss as well, before deciding to - you guessed it - keep writing letters. Ahh, the platonic was beginning to drift irretrievably into neo-platonic activism...

At this point our parents became decidedly active in their advice. Plus they showed a penchant for visiting their future in-laws to stoke the fires. Then on the same day (we think at the same hour), on different continents and independent from each other (or, so they maintain!) - our fathers offered the very same advice to us. Barby should visit New Zealand. And so at 20 years of age, demonstrating plenty of courage and grace, Barby came out to visit. My father planned an itinerary around the North Island (ensuring we were staying with family and friends!) - and when we reached Palmerston North to stay with someone I had never met, David Penman (who went on to become Archbishop of Melbourne), our host took me into the Asia Room in the Vicarage and over a few hours convinced me that it would be a good idea to pop upstairs and ask Barby to marry me before she dropped off to sleep. I did so and the wisdom of that decision has grown on me, year by year.

We headed back to the USA together - Barby to complete her study at Wheaton College and me to commence mine at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School - providentially just 60 mins apart and so we saw each other on weekends. Then on a hot and humid day in the western suburbs of Chicago we were married - 17 July 1982. Barby graciously changed her name from Warren to Windsor, as I whisked her away from rabbits and into the embrace of royalty. We arrived back home in NZ on the day David Lange came to power. The only cash I had to my name was a solitary USD20 bill. Lange promptly devalued the NZ currency and my increased wealth was marvelous in my eyes. Over the next 9 years God blessed us with five children (Stephen, Alyssa, Martin, Bethany, Joseph) - the very same five children who, over the past 3 years, have been leaving home with rather alarming haste.

And so another new chapter together beckons. We are grateful for God's gracious hand upon us over the years. It is true that the finger that points the way is part of the hand which provides. And it is true that the love grows.

nice chatting

Paul

PS. This photo was taken in a South Delhi park (Suraj Kund) in about 1975, capturing a bunch of missionary-kids playing the ol' favourite: 'red light, green light'.

It is all good innocent stuff, until you look more closely. Out to the left more mischief is afoot. To help us celebrate our anniversary feel free to submit a caption for this photo...  




Comments

Miriam J said…
Paul (and Barby!) this is adorable and delightful. Congratulations on thirty years!
Geoff New said…
Impulsively, & quietly thankful for the secret lessons, Paul struck a classic ballet beginning-position. Barby's heart skipped a beat as she gazed at this rippling Billy-Elliot figure; knowing he was about to pirouette & lift her high above his head. But would he drop her yet again?
Almanac said…
Can I catch him on the next green? ...will she catch me on the....

CONGRATULATIONS you two. Although wedding photos can now make us cringe - did I ever look like that? I bet the delight is still in trumps!

All our very best
not a wild hera said…
Oh, so lovely! Happy, happy, happy anniversary, you two. I can't get over how strong the family resemblance among your children is - each of the photos of you could be one or other of your kids.

Only thing wrong with this chronology is explaining how you're in a wedding photo looking about 14!

xox tkr
Jyoti Banerjee said…
It's a lovely story, Paul, and great fun reliving the years. Congratulations to both of you for #30. It's fun having Joseph around knowing that we know his parents, his grandparents on both sides, his aunts and uncles - the list goes on - going back over forty years. And it was really neat having Barby visit a few weeks ago. Enjoy the next 30, wherever they take you.
Paul said…
Geoff - your caption wins the prize. A cause of great joy - and mirth...

I've sent through the prize. A copy of John Baillie's Diary of Private Prayer and a lovely copper-covered bowl from India. I hope you enjoy them :)

Paul
Paul said…
Yes, Jyoti - we often think of your rather unique vantage point on our marriage and heritage. Is there someone who knows and loves our four parents more than you?! What's more, you are a member at The Oval!

Paul
Changi Chum said…
Speaking of flying the coop, you've not been spending enough time at home young Uncle Paul! Your second home, that is - Changi. I miss you! Still, your blog is lasting encouragement to a weary soul and I am thankful!