Joseph Gellenbeck

Our story begins several years ago. Since childhood, Andrea and I had seen each other at campmeetings and other places, but had never really gotten to know one another. When I was 15, I thought she was a nice girl, but I was interested in someone else. Later that year, though, I really began to notice Andrea. Around that time, I made up my mind that I was altogether too young for girls, and decided to wait a while, before even really letting myself like anyone. A year later, however, I was becoming very interested. I started praying about it, trying to know the mind of the Lord. I realized that this might be the one I would be spending my life with, and I desperately needed God's guidance. It was my desire to have a wife that loved God, and would put the Lord first in her life and in our marriage. I told a few good friends and my parents about my interest, but did not say anything to her. I prayed about it for a whole year before I talked to her about it, keeping her committed. I was willing for it to go one way or the other. I knew that God had the perfect one for me, the one that I would be the happiest with, and if it wasn't Andrea, then I wanted whoever it was. I knew Andrea was a good girl, from what I had already seen, but I began to watch her more, to make sure of her character, and liked very much what I saw in her. She was serious about living for the Lord, and very conscientious. I found myself attracted to her quiet personality, and thought she was very beautiful.
Andrea and her family had been missionaries in Honduras since 2003, and I had gone there on a mission trip in 2001. The local congregation there decided to have a meeting in September, 2004. Several ministers and young people went, and I went with them, to help support the meeting and help with the various projects there, but also to keep an eye on Andrea! I did not say anything to her about it, as I did not feel right about it yet, but I was busy praying.
Finally, in June of 2005, I felt a peace about talking to her. I talked to one of the ministers about it, and my parents, and told them what had been going on. They all encouraged me to go ahead, and to continue to keep the outcome committed.
I saw Andrea next at our national church meeting, Monark Springs, near Neosho, MO. There, On July 18, I met with her dad alone, and asked if I could court her. He gave his permission. On the night of the 20th, I stopped her as she was coming out of church and asked to talk to her. I was so nervous!! I told her that I had been praying about this, and that I felt clear to come and talk to her. I told her that I wanted to get to know her better, and asked her if she would pray about writing to me, and allowing me to court her. She said she wouldn't say no, but that she wasn't ready for a relationship like that yet. She said she would pray about it though, and tell me if she got an answer.

Andrea Nicole

For several years I knew that Joseph liked me. I found it a little hard to be believe that out of all the girls, he liked me. But, I didn't really like him, and went on with life like normal. When he came and talked to me at monark that year, I didn't know what to tell him. I knew I needed to know what God wanted in this. Not only did I not know if he was the right one, but I felt like I wasn't ready to start a courtship.
After he talked to me that night, I remember feeling both scared and excited. This was a very important thing that might would happen. And it was exciting that a guy had come and asked me to be his girlfriend!
I went home and prayed about it, but I didn't feel like God was leading me one way or the other. Months went by, and I still didn't know what was right. We would email every now and then, and we talked on IM some.

When Andrea said that night that she wasn't ready, and that she wanted to wait, I thought she meant maybe she wanted to wait 6 or 8 months at the longest. Piece of cake, I said in my mind. I was so excited that she hadn't said no that I was willing to wait 10 years if I had to! I went to bed that night feeling very happy and excited. I went home from Monark, and went on with life. I continued to pray about it, and kept the situation committed. As time went by, it became clear to me that I was going to have to wait much longer that I had ever thought that I would. Over 2 years went by, and as I waited, I began to get depressed over the situation. Finally I reached a point where it had to change one way or the other, which is why I told Andrea that I couldn't go on in this manner. The last 2 years had been hard for her too, and she wanted it to change as well. I knew that there was a big chance she might make a decision to end it all, but at that point something needed to change.

When Joseph told me that he couldn't go on like this, I started earnestly praying about it and seeking God for an answer. After a few days, I told Joseph that we could go forward with this, but not start a relationship right then. We started talking a lot more. I got to know him very well during the next two months. I was learning more about how he believed, and trying to decide if this was the man I wanted to possibly be my husband.
By March of 2008, I came to the place that I had done all I knew to do. I had sought God for His will, and begged Him not to let me make a mistake here. I had talked to my dad about it several times. Neither of my parents had anything against it. I was at the place where I wanted to do the right thing, regardless of which way it was. I felt somewhat of a peace about it. On his birthday, March 6th, I sent him an email and told him happy birthday, and I told him that my answer to his question was yes, I would be his girlfriend.

Neither of us had been involved in a relationship before. I was 20, and Andrea was 19, and we had no idea what it was like. We both had never been on a date, never courted in any way whatsoever. That morning, when I got her email, I felt like the happiest man on Earth. I had to go to work, but that evening, we talked on the phone for a while, and it was so nice! After that, we would talk by phone every few days, and on IM some each day.
One thing we feel very blessed about is the ability we have had to communicate so well internationally. New technology made it possible for us to talk on the phone whenever we wanted to for free, which we are so thankful for. Many times, the connection was bad, and we relied heavily on IM to complete our conversations, but it was sure better than not being able to hear each other's voices at all! We discovered what it was like to laugh together, and cry too sometimes, to be able to talk about God, and our lives. I had never experienced anything like this! She hadn't either, and we both greatly enjoyed our friendship, and our times together on the phone. But we were still countries apart, and we hadn't even seen each other in person since we started courting. That was rather difficult for us, but we made the best of it, and would talk about how nice it would be to actually be together.
One of the first things we did when we started was to make some rules about we would conduct our courtship, and each give our word that we wouldn't break them. Our desire, first and foremost, was to keep ourselves pure and have a Godly courtship, and while it has only been God's grace that has kept it that way, I feel that the rules we promised to keep have made it much easier.
Andrea came to the States April 26, and I was there to meet her. We went on our first date April 29, and what a wonderful time we had! We had never experienced how wonderful a Godly courtship really is, and we were kind of shocked at first by the joy of it. I spent quite a bit of time in Oklahoma that summer, courting her, and working there. We went on dates, went fishing, talked, and prayed together. It was the most wonderful summer of my life. I became more and more sure that this was the woman God wanted to be my wife. We understood each other well, even though our personalities were so different. We enjoyed being together, talking about important (and non-important) things, and doing things together. We were able to be together at the Myrtle, Guthrie, West Virginia, Monark, and Wisconsin church meetings. It was all so nice! Kinda like living inside a dream, only it was real!
Andrea went back to Honduras on September 20, and we both felt very lonely and sad many times. However, I was excited, and looked forward to when I would see her again, because I had been thinking and praying, and was doing some serious planning...

from my sweetheart

We had a wonderful summer. We went lots of places together and spent many hours together. There are lots of little details from that summer that I cherish, as well as the bigger events.

In May we went to the OKC zoo together. I really enjoyed that. We walked around, and rode on the the train. We got a funnel cake, and shared a lemonade. After that, we went to Olive Garden. It wasn't until later that I found out that he didn't like zoos, but he said he enjoyed it.

Being together at Monark was something I really looked forward to. It was so nice! We got to be with each other about all day for all of Monark! It was sure nice having my very own man to sit by during church.

We have had to leave each other lots of times. Usually the day after we part, we are both sad. But we start counting down the days till we can be with each other again, and talk about how nice it will be. We are looking forward to the time when we don't have to say goodbye for long periods of time like we do now.

I came back down to honduras and didn't see him for again two and a half months. I knew he would probably be asking me to marry him soon. We spent time talking about serious things, and making sure that we would be compatible in a marriage. We had already talked about a lot of things. We have talked about raising children, Biblical doctrines, and dreams for our lives.

Joseph came down to Honduras on December 6th. I went to the airport to get him. It was so nice seeing each other again! We just kept looking over at each other. It was like we had forgotten what it was like being with each other. It was nice having him in our home. He got to be with my family and get to know them better. On Monday, we went on a date. We went to Parrot Tree and ate at a restaurant there. We walked around there for awhile. Then we sat down on some steps by the sea and he played a song he had written for me. He had written both the music and words, and recorded them on his computer. The song was beautiful. The last chorus of the song ended with these words: "Will you consent to be my wife?" He got down on one knee and asked me in person as well. I told him yes. Those next few minutes were different than any other. We sat there somewhat amazed that we were actually going to get married!

I don't know how late it was before I got to sleep that night! I was so excited! I had asked the girl I loved to marry me and she had said yes! It was (and still is) a very special time for both of us, to know that we had promised to be each other's, and that time was coming.

The 12 days remaining that I was in Honduras were spent doing much planning. We knew it would make things easier to plan as much as we could before we were countries apart. I had to leave Dec. 20th, and the parting was very sad. We did not expect to see each other again until April. The next few days were very hard, but we started counting down the time until we would be one. Being able to talk on Skype and see each other with webcams sure has been nice! That has helped a lot.

In February I had been very busy, and we were missing each other so bad. I wanted to be able to go down there and see her for a week, but my work schedule made it impossible. One day at work I thought, you know, I could pray about this. So I started asking the Lord to work something out if it was in His will. Just 2 days after that, my dad called and said that the big 3 week job I was fixing to go on had moved a week back. I had the whole next week free! Talk about an answer to prayer! I was working in TX when he called, and it was Friday. Not much time, but I got on the internet at lunch and found a flight out of Houston 2 days in advance, and it was even cheap! So we got to be together again for a week. It was so wonderful!

Andrea came to the States April 4. She has been working hard, getting ready. The time is short until our wedding. We still have a lot to do!

We look forward to being married, but we also have greatly valued this time of courtship and engagement. We have had lots of joys, and some sorrows. It has been wonderful to be able to have such a close friendship, to be able to laugh, cry, and pray together. It hasn't always been completely smooth sailing. We have had to work through things at times, but we believe that God is in this, and He has helped so much. Our desire is that God will be with us in our lives as long as we live. Whoever is reading this, if you think about it, please pray for us, that we will keep God's will first, that we will be pure and faithful, before God, and to each other.