(Allan’s) Mom and Dad arrived safely from Brussels Thursday afternoon and we picked them up at the Eurostar station. I’ve been looking forward to their visit for a while, but I don’t think I realized how much I missed them, and home, until I saw them emerge from the “International Arrivals” door. Mom and Dad RM are here on a European holiday to celebrate Andy’s retirement and their 40th wedding anniversary this coming December. FORTIETH!!! That’s a lot of one-month anniversaries (480, to be exact). They married young, and I once asked Joanna how on earth she made such an important life decision and commitment when she was just a teenager. She told me that they weren’t thinking of it that way; they just knew they loved each other very much and couldn’t see themselves with anyone else.

Dad, Mom, Allan, me, Martin

We have been having fun being tourists with them, only now we’ve sort of become tour guides too, proudly showing off the best of our city. Friday morning, after a quick stop to see our schools, we headed to Borough Market for some fabulous raclette,Thai green curry, apple strudel, truffles, and all the samples we could get our hands on. Later, we went to the Victoria & Albert Museum and enjoyed afternoon tea (complete with a scone, preserves and clotted cream) and the exhibits before heading back to our flat and capping off the night with some fabulous local fish and chips.

At Borough Market, surrounded by family and amazing food.

Diving into raclette on potatoes with a side of dill pickles.

Afternoon tea at the V&A.

Yesterday we let Mom and Dad explore the British Museum on their own while Allan and I were nerds and attended International Organisations Day, a career fair of sorts put on by a number of multilateral organisations. I’ll tell you this: It wouldn’t have been nearly as fun if Allan and I hadn’t been attending together, and not only because we were able to make fun of the (many) lame aspects of the day (such as: long plenary sessions that were not at all informative, people who asked very specific questions about their own career prospects during said plenary sessions, no food or coffee, etc.).

No, the real reason it was great to be together is that lately we’ve started to think and wonder and dream about all the opportunities that, God-willing, the future will hold for us. We have only really started to grasp and appreciate how the educations we’re receiving this year will prepare us to be able to work in almost any global context, possibly together, but hopefully at least in the same place.

Our last evening in Barcelona, Allan and I took a long walk and talked about our marriage, and what we think the future might hold (heavy stuff for a vacation, no? I did say that we worked). Allan commented that he felt being married to me was “empowering” and I agreed. Rather than holding me back, which could easily be the case when a couple has such divergent career paths, I feel that Allan enables me to do more than I could or would on my own otherwise, in so many ways. We both agreed that we felt that we were now part of a team that together shared all of our combined skills.

It’s wonderful to be married, and married to Allan in particular. I once listened to a sermon where the pastor said that the purpose of marriage could be summed up in 4 P’s: partnership, protection, pleasure and procreation. And while we pretty have #3 covered with our year of non-stop-honeymoon-awesome-European-travel and we’re anticipating the future bringing #2 and 4, #1 is what we are planning and looking forward to most eagerly right now. We can see the threads of our respective disciplines (health and development) start to intertwine into a fabric where our knowledge and expertise together will make us a powerful pair – and not powerful in the traditional sense, but powerful in being purveyors of work that God wants us to do, together. So perhaps this can be the fifth “P”: emPowering. In my youth I remember thinking that marriage was good if it helped you better accomplish the tasks God had set out for you. With Allan, I know this is true. Time to start praying.

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