Surprise!!!! I, Joshua Anderson and I, Cathryn Kloetzli, got engaged Thursday night, June 12th under the giant white oak aka 'wolf' tree in the back pasture on Joshua's family farm in Hale, Missouri.
Yippee!! Clap Clap!!
Since many of you know one of us but not the both of us, we thought this would be the best way to introduce each other to each others ….
A year and a half ago two wanderers crossed paths in Niger, West Africa, and what follows is our take on the story leading up to this wonderful occasion, or ah..SURPRISE!!
I was a teacher for his group's pre-service training in Niger, I was a class clown with a crushand we were both serving as Peace Corps agriculture volunteers. One day, on the way back from the garden, I asked her if she would be interested to talk shop over a pint, and I said YES! (well, with a little less enthusiasm, I had to be a little coy). I don't even like beer, but somehow it seemed like I just shouldn't say no to this guy. :)
So, it might have been her thick glasses, or shoulder exposure or the dry climate frying my brain ;) but something immediately sparked my interest in her. For my part, I was pretty much the smitten kitten as soon as I watched him and Matt contribute to a first aid presentation (Josh used to be an army medic). Soon we were finding more reasons to spend time together and learning more about each other.
Enjoying each others company we drifted towards the inevitable - culminating in sneaking me out of the infirmary and down into the sands beyond Hamdallaye when one full moon night I felt better. We stayed up all night talking, laughing and sharing our first kisses until the dawn greeted us.
Despite telling him of my imminent retreat from the Peace Corps that magical night and us both getting in trouble the next morning for sneaking me out of the infirmary (but that’s a story for another day…)
we proceeded full steam ahead into the Nigerien aka life concentrate, whirlwind version of dating.
Things escalated into swapping barrages of text messages, holding hands under cover at the Grand Marche in Niamey (PDA a big no-no in Niger), dancing up storms at parties and keeping up a healthy letter writing campaign that yielded close to 50 pages in letters – and that was just from Josh to me.
Alas, six weeks after we first met, I left Niger - and I was left alone in the bush. I went off traveling and working on three different continents and Josh settled in for the ride of his life in Dan Saga.
Despite two continents worth of distance, we decided to continue dating and building a relationship long-distance. One might think the distance and newness of our relationship would spell certain death for our relationship but Allah had other plans for us. Oh monkey wrenches. Barnacles!!!
In October we broke up, but somehow convinced ourselves it would be wise to meet in Kansas City when I came home for vacation. We thought we would smother the flames we had kindled and part ways amicably afterwards. But remember Allah had different plans!! Alllllllaaaahhhhh Akkkkbbarrrr!!!!
As fate would have it, we fell right back into each other, and decided to give it another go. Recommitted, we were set for another year apart. But I just couldn’t wait that long …. :) so, in March I decided to cash in all my frequent flyer miles and get him home for a surprise parents meeting/house concert with Peace Corps friends coming in from all corners of Amerik.
Then the unexpected happened, I got pregnant! No, no just kidding, I broke my back in May 2008.
…..uh, um, ah…..Surprise? I cancelled Josh’s ticket and he, instead, came back to Kansas City to heal on Peace Corp’s dime.
Fast forward to June when Jen and I drove from Charlottesville to Kansas City, Missouri for the week to see my fella and provide a little encouragement to get better … to surprise her, I worked some voodoo to obtain health care in C'ville instead of KC.
Ok, now for the sweet part.
The day before leaving to head back to C'ville together we wanted to walk the farm, correction: hobble, around the farm, one more time. On our way to the wolf tree we were high-stepping it through gorgeous, thigh high Kentucky bluegrass as the overcast sky turned dark grey from the setting sun dipping below the horizon - and … ahem, as it turns out, with a cadre of viscous ticks and chiggers circling around us! In a desperate ploy to make them sympathetic to us and distract them I asked an amazing woman with a contagious smile and eccentric qualities to marry me. (P.S. The ‘distraction’ didn’t work!! I am still nursing a pile of chigger bites – but it was so worth it and I loved being out on the farm and how simple, sweet and sincere it all was :) :) :)
My version … Once we arrived to the wolf tree, he somehow got me fixated on looking up at it … Snype Hunting! … anyways … while I had my back to him and was peering up into the great big bough, he took a picture of me. Once I turned back around, there he was - on his knees. No small feat for anyone, let alone a fella with a broken back! :) And he asked me the most miraculous question - to spend our lives together. What an amazing thing for someone to ask you. Even took off my hat!
So, time slowed down a bit, as it does for all big life events, and we looked at each other and promised ourselves to one another. Finally saying out loud the commitment made in our hearts way before that day.... and so here we are!
We are planning a TBA 2009 wedding with lots of music, dancing, food, camping and whimsical fun. Our wonderful friend Jimmie Klein (yippeeee!!!) has just agreed to marry us and we just can’t wait to share and celebrate all this with everyone! We really hope to see you all there! We'll keep you all posted!
With much love and many hugs, Cathy & Joshua
PICTURES: In our Nigerien best …………………..Me being distracted by the pretty leaves of the wolf tree right before Josh proposed………………………………………………………