February 2, 2021

​An International Love Story

Sometimes where you end up isn’t where you expected; it’s better.

Callie Buruchara

I never grow tired of telling our story. It’s a question I look forward to every time we make new friends. When we’re asked, my husband will glance at me, saying, “She tells it way better than I do.” He’s referring to my obsession with details—but there are many aspects I still leave out so as not to bore anyone. You, dear reader, are not so fortunate.

Our story is my favorite because of how remarkable and unremarkable it is: our origins, our friendship, and our compatibility.

Our Origins

It amuses me how tactfully (or not) people will ask how David and I met. Our differences are on full display in our skin tones and our accents. He was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and raised throughout East Africa. I was born in Roanoke, Virginia, United States, and raised in next-door Maryland. Nearly 8,000 miles separated our upbringings, our homes, and our communities. On paper there’s a shortage of evidence to support a thriving friendship between us, let alone a wonderful marriage. How we came to know and love each other is remarkable.

What people don’t see, though, are aspects of our childhoods that mirror one another: we both grew up with two siblings, attended boarding school, went to public universities, grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, had conversion experiences around the same time, struggled with people pleasing, and were immensely and positively impacted by CAMPUS (Center for Adventist Ministry to Public University Students). In fact, that’s how we met.

Our Friendship

After graduating from CAMPUS’s nine-month program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I returned to Maryland to continue my studies. I still frequently visited the CAMPUS group to see the people I had grown to love and to preach to them in the student-led church. One brisk March I came to preach and found there was someone I didn’t know: a new guy named David. I’d seen his reminders in the group chat for a weekly Bible study he’d started, as well as random Bible texts he sent out periodically. My main interest in meeting him was simply to know everyone in the group.

I’m constantly surprised by how compatible we really are—in both our differences and our similarities.

We joke that it was love at first sight, but it was decidedly not that. What I remember the most about meeting him was how little I remember. It was unremarkable. Did I say hello first? Did he? What did I think of him? I haven’t the faintest idea.

I do remember about four months later when he sent out a 20-page testimony of his time serving in the leper colonies in China. I remember our first Skype conversation during which I’d requested to learn more about this mission work. I remember that we talked for two hours, and none of it was about China. He was kind, friendly, attentive, and a wonderful conversationalist. I remember being taken aback by how much I enjoyed talking with him. I remember making a mental note to be careful.

Our friendship grew in the most innocuous way. We shared book synopses when we learned that we loved the same genres. We discussed divisive shifts that were happening in the church at the time. We shared funny stories from our day. As our conversations progressed, so did our feelings. He became my friend, my best friend, and then someone I contemplated a future with. That’s when, independent of each other, we started to wonder if the feelings were mutual.

I remember asking (begging?) God to convict David’s heart inescapably to talk to me if he had feelings for me. And the next time I saw him, he did share his feelings. We had grabbed breakfast together; because of nerves, I had eaten nothing, and he had eaten both of our meals. That conversation led to mutual relief and giddiness—then to much prayer, sharing with our parents and mentors, and time to think through the idea. We started officially dating December 13, 2015. We were married nearly four years later on November 24, 2019.

Our Compatibility

As many people do, I had a list of attributes for the person I wanted to marry. I laugh about it now, because I didn’t realize what I needed. For example, I prayed for someone who was strong-willed and assertive, mostly because that’s how I am and figured I’d need a husband like that. David is strong, but I wouldn’t call him stubborn; he can be assertive if he needs to be, but he isn’t naturally so. His gentleness and calm demeanor disarm my wielded stubbornness and harrowing anxiety. His swift forgiveness and abundant patience make me feel safe to grow and share my heart.

I didn’t have a certain hometown or vocal lilt on my list, but I likely expected someone who grew up near me. Interestingly enough, a few months before David and I started courting, a loved one introduced me to someone in hopes of us being together. It made sense: this young man and I looked the same, talked the same, had similar interests, and even grew up in the same community. Yet within 30 seconds it was abundantly clear we would never grow beyond friendship. The differences were too vast in the cornerstones of who we were.

Despite our very real cultural and racial differences, I have never felt more at home with someone in my entire life than I do with David. As our marriage continues, I’m constantly surprised by how compatible we really are—in both our differences and our similarities.

Our God

David and I don’t believe in soulmates. We don’t even find the idea romantic. We instead believe in a loving God who will guide us to good choices, even in choosing a life partner. He knows what we need even when we don’t know what to ask for. He can fashion the character of someone who will enrich your life, draw you heavenward, and increase your love of Him—even from 8,000 miles away.

Callie Buruchara and her husband, David, live in Nairobi, Kenya. Callie has led service projects, taught high school, and preached throughout parts of the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East. She works as a software developer and writes at worriedsapling.com.