At twenty-one I had no concept of what thirty-seven years with one person would be like. I thought love was kisses and romantic dinners and strolling hand-in-hand. I didn’t know it meant moving from continent to continent, learning new languages, and acquiring a taste for churrasco, boerworst and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
When we married, May 12, 1973, I was the one who wanted to be a missionary in distant cultures. Steve was a campus minister with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. He had never been out of the country except for Canada.
We went to Ethiopia on a whim when we finished our grad school programs. We volunteered on the archeological excavation of Tel Sheva in the Negev of Israel, back-packed through Europe (after all, this was the 70s), and ended up on the Horn of Africa when control of the Communist government was changing hands every few months. I ran a mission guesthouse and the library at Good Shepherd School. Steve taught music and handled logistics for our denominational mission group. He discovered that he loved relating to people of different cultures and that living and working in challenging environments was very stimulating. (He was thinking “mentally stimulating” and only discovered later in Mozambique that it also stimulates stomach acid.) I discovered that I had married a man with an amazing ability to adapt to circumstances and enthusiastically embrace people no matter what their status.
In thirty-seven years we have lived in six countries on four continents. Ethiopia and Mozambique were involved in significant civil wars at the time. South Africa experienced its first democratic elections while we were there. We have seen Brazil grow from a military dictatorship to a semblance of democracy in the years since our daughters were born Brazilian citizens. As empty-nesters we enjoyed castles, quaint villages, and concerts on the lawns of great houses in our short stint in England. We still have close friends in every place we have lived, and when asked which is our favorite, it is very difficult to answer.
For many of those years the lake house we now call home has been the still place in a constantly shifting lifestyle. A quilt hangs over the piano with cross-stitched maps of all the states and countries we have called home. Home is wherever we are all together, we decided long ago when we moved 27 times in 14 months, waiting for visas and then housing in Mozambique.
Thirty-seven years ago I could never have imagined all that we have seen and done together. Thank you, Steven, for this great adventure of trusting God.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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