Monday, December 31, 2012

How We Met... the short version


            Finding a teaching job in 2010 was not an easy task.  Trying to distinguish yourself from two hundred applicants was difficult when you all had the same qualifications.  My plan to set myself apart was to teach overseas.  South Korea wasn’t my first choice.  I was planning on going to China but those plans fell through.  How different my life would’ve been had those plans not changed.
            August 2010, my flight touched down at Incheon airport.  Hours later I was being shown the school I would be teaching at for the next year, LCI Academy.  I was handed a pamphlet that introduced the school’s mission statement and staff biographies.  At the bottom were pictures of all ten English teachers.  There was a picture of myself and the other eight teachers I met earlier that day.  Interestingly enough, one of the faces I didn’t recognize.  Mined you, this was a face you wouldn’t forget.  To say the least I very much wanted to meet this Kate Terry.
            To officially welcome all the new teachers our school had a dinner.  The entire staff was there except Kate; her flight arrived after mine.  Dinner began and everyone joined in conversation.  About thirty minutes had passed when I saw her walk into the restaurant.  She was more than her picture revealed.
            Over the next year we became inseparable.  Our classrooms were next door to each other and I was greeted with her infectious smile every morning.  We shared in the excitement of exploring our new surrounds.  Walks, subways, buses and bike rides were vehicles for our blossoming friendship.  She became my best friend.  It was easy to follow in love with her.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Proposal



Joshua Niehues

A proposal takes time. Well, the proposal itself has a lifespan which seems to last a flicker of a lit candle. The pre-proposal is where the planning and covert operations happen. Back in August I was trying to get all my ducks in a row and all without Kate finding out about my master plan. At times I felt like a secret agent handling sensitive material.

I knew the information I would need. Some would be easy to get (ring size) others would be more difficult (what type of ring). Also, where do I propose? When do I propose? How do I ask her dad? These questions seem to have reasonable and logical answers, but logic and reason give way to the frightening feeling that you need to be perfect. The proposal, the ring, the position of the sun and moon, everything needs to be perfect.

Fast forward to early December. Operation Proposal was nearing completion.

1. Ask Father Ö

2. Purchase the perfect ring Ö

3. Rehearse my lines Ö

4. Practice my knee bend Ö

Now all I needed to do was decide on when and where. Kate and I owe a lot to who we are because of our families. We both love and respect our parents very much. I knew it would be very important and exciting for her to be able to celebrate with her family. Since we live in California and her family is in Ohio I knew I would wait until we arrived for the holidays.

We flew into Columbus ahead of the first winter storm. I was happy that we missed flying through it. I was also eager to see if there would be a blanket of snow on the ground for the Christmas Eve proposal in a few days time.

The house was alive with activity on the morning of the 24th. Kate’s parents were packing up the car and her brothers were loading up presents to take to grandma and grandpa’s house. I was becoming anxious because I didn’t know how I was going to get Kate alone. Though her parents knew I was going to ask during the holidays I didn’t tell them when or where. I wanted them to share in the surprise.

As we were packing our overnight bags I whispered to Kate that I had a two-part gift that needed to be opened in our company only. She gave me a puzzled look. I told her it would all make sense shortly. We grabbed our bags and walked to the car. The timing couldn’t have been better. Everyone else had gone inside for a minute. This was my chance. Operation proposal was a go!

We put our bags in the car and standing in the snow of her parents front yard I said, “Ok, this is the first part of your gift.”

Then I handed her a crudely wrapped piece of red tissue paper. As she opened it she saw four sequential pictures of me. Later she would tell me she thought it was a bookmark. It was a photo booth strip of me using elementary sign language saying, I… Love… You. The final picture was of me presenting the ring. I watched her eyes and as she was trying to process the final picture I bent down on one knee and said with welling tears in my eyes, “Kate, will you make me the happiest man in the world? Will you marry me?”

The emotions on her face embraced my heart. Her bottom lip began to curl down, her chin began to wrinkle up and tears cascaded down her olive cheeks. At this moment I’m waiting for that one word. My left knee, buried in the snow, I’m waiting for conformation.

“D-Did you ask my dad?” came the emotionally drenched response.

“Yes I asked him. He said yes.” as I stood to embrace her.

“YES!” Kate tearfully replied. “YES!”

I was elated with joy! We kissed and I held her tightly. In the excitement I forgot to slip the ring on her finger.

“You need to put the ring on my finger.” she said with enthusiasm and a voice still chocked up with emotion.

Just then her dad came out. He was walking down the drive towards us, but he saw tears in Kate’s eyes and did a 180° back to the house. He thought we were fighting. Once Kate got his attention he realized everything was more than ok.

The next thirty minutes consisted of tearful hugs, laughs, photo-ops and phone calls. I gave myself a few seconds, has the delicate flakes of snow melted into cool drops of water on my face, to think about how our paths crossed. No one could have written a more beautiful story. Two people from opposite ends of the United States move to South Korea and fall in love. But that is a whole other story.

5. Kate says Yes Ö

Mission Accomplished.