Chris and I have been married for just over four months. Together, we went to five different nations within the first two months of being married. From the States for our wedding to New Zealand for our honeymoon, then home to Perth and to the Philippines and back, it’s been quite the adventure! But marriage in missions has looked like a lot more than just world travel. For most of these four months, we’ve been settling into life at home base, which is Youth With a Mission in Perth, Australia. Here is a glimpse into some of the lessons we have learnt and experiences we have had serving together in our first four months of marriage!
It looks like waiting on God together.
One of the fun parts of being married has been learning to follow God’s direction as a couple. While engaged, we prayed together often about various decisions. However, the amount of decisions we need to make together has really increased since getting married! We’ve prayed about things from finances to future plans to how to go about renewing Chris’ visa. It’s so encouraging to listen to God together. Sometimes we each receive a different piece of the puzzle from God, and sometimes we’re in total agreement. Sometimes, our thoughts don’t exactly match up and we get to learn even more about following God in unison!
One of my favourite memories of waiting on God together was praying through our monthly budget. We spent a Saturday afternoon going through different budget items and asking God what amount we should allot to each item. It was such a good opportunity to stretch our spiritual muscles. At the end, we had a budget that fit perfectly with the vision God had already spoken to us in raising support. It was so amazing to experience this together and to practice following God not as individuals, but as one.
It looks like letting things go.
Our base here at YWAM Perth is made for transparency. Literally. Many rooms are separated not by drywall but by glass. I really love how the glass cultivates an open culture on base. However, it can sometimes intensify that “fishbowl” feeling that comes with being a couple surrounded by hundreds of your closest friends. Sometimes we’re not too keen on having serious conversations with the possibility of dozens of people walking by. So, we let it go for the moment and choose to talk about it later. (Which, by the way, is an incredible blessing of being married. We can actually sit on the couch with a cup of tea instead of having to walk around the park about a billion times to get some privacy!)
What’s funny is that things are often far different when we talk it out later. In my own self, I can feel that I’m not reacting out of hurt or emotion. It’s so much easier to be honest about my attitude when I’ve been able to spend some time reflecting before we talk. This has caused me to consider that maybe letting things go can be a good idea sometimes. I used to be really set on dealing with things right in the moment. Living in a missional community, however, has helped to renew my perspective to value thinking things through before talking them out.
It looks like kingdom culture… not our home culture.
Chris and I are one of only a handful of couples at YWAM Perth that come from the same nation. Even so, the distance between Portland and Boise is enough for a few “cultural differences” here and there! Being in an international setting, though, means that we can’t just rely on American culture to dictate how we should relate to each other. I feel like I’ve learnt so much about American values and ideas since coming here and being able to take an outside look. Although we are proud to be from America, we don’t want to assume that our culture’s ways are the best ways. Being in a multicultural community helps us to live in a way that would reflect God’s kingdom and not any one culture.
One area that has been highlighted to us both is our value of being “self-sufficient.” We have both found importance in being able to provide for ourselves through the work that we do. For Chris especially, this has been a big shift in mindset since coming to YWAM Perth, and it’s an even bigger shift now that we are married. As full-time volunteers, we rely on the partnership and generosity of others. Chris is a good, solid man (if I do say so myself) and the idea of not being able to support us financially has been difficult to grasp. However, providing for ourselves is not something that reflects the kingdom! God is our ultimate provider, whether we are working or being supported by others. This has been a really beautiful lesson for both of us, and we’re thankful to be living a life in missions in order to learn it!
It looks like cherishing moments together.
Our schedule can certainly feel busy most of the time. I’m still amazed at how quickly the weeks pass. These first four months of being married have absolutely flown by! Doing what we do means much of our day is focused on others: on our teammates and on those we serve through various projects. I love the moments we’ve been able to intentionally focus on one another amidst a busy schedule. Sometimes that means just going on a short walk, or watching Human Planet and commenting on the wonder of God’s creation.
I especially love having breakfast together. I’m so thankful that Chris shares in my love for eating good food in good company! We haven’t yet sacrificed actually sitting down to have breakfast together, even if that means getting up a little earlier than we might need to. On the mornings Chris goes to the gym, I really notice how much time I actually spend just chatting to him over breakfast. When he’s not around, I suddenly have so much extra time that I don’t know what to do with myself!
What else does it look like?
With only four months of marriage under our belt, this list is only the beginning of many experiences together! We would love to let you into our lives a little more. I am currently posting a photo a day on Intsagram to give you a glimpse into our day-to-day here at YWAM Perth! Follow along @hello.leanne or search for the hashtag #rileystoryaday.