If you’ve read “The Relationship Story” on my blog, you know that I had been seeing Leonardo Ramirez since we reconnected on a mission trip in July 2015. Things had been going very well and we’d been meeting with his pastors on a regular basis since we became official-official in January. We’d talked about marriage, but with my 3-month departure for the US looming, I wasn’t expecting anything to be set in motion until I was back in Peru in September.

A few days before I was scheduled to leave Leo said to me, “You’re going to miss our dating anniversary on the 10th and you’re going to be gone for three months. Pick a nice place to eat and I’ll even put on my sport jacket and get dressed up.” I didn’t really think much of it because Peruvians like to celebrate. Even my small group had a special dinner to tell me goodbye and scoffed when I said I was “only” gone for three months. It’s a very considerate culture.

I considered a few differently Lima restaurants, but we finally decided that we wanted something with an ocean view. There’s a shopping center built into the cliffs overlooking the ocean on the coast of Lima. We’d been there and walked along the path that follows the cliffs on various different dates over the last year, so we settled on going there, though I settled on a restaurant in advance. There were several good options there.

Leo had Monday off from work, so we chose June 6, 2016, for the special dinner. We had the taxi take us to a lighthouse along the cliffs. One of my favorite early photos of us was taken at that lighthouse on our third date, if I remember correctly. So, we got out there, took a new photo at the lighthouse, and then walked along the cliffs toward the shopping center.

Faro 1

The new lighthouse picture we took that night. June 6, 2016.

When we arrived at the shopping center, I proposed that we start at one end of the line of restaurants that have an ocean view and just ask if an inside ocean view table was available – it was chilly that night, after all. The first restaurant that we came to, Tanta, had a table with a nice view, so we took it!

At Tanta 3

At our table in Tanta – clearly I was saying something at the time. June 6, 2016.

Dinner was normal, from my perspective, though later I learned that he was quite nervous. Maybe I should have picked up on it, but I didn’t! Apparently when he went to the restroom at one point, one of the waiters stopped to ask him if he was okay. He was at the sink splashing water on his face and trying to compose himself, so he must have looked rough! He told me that he said something to the waiter like, “It’s a very exciting day for me.” When he came back to the table he first asked if I was ready to leave but then asked if I wanted dessert. We decided on dessert, which is always really amazing at this particular restaurant.

After dessert he was telling me how much he had appreciated getting to know me over all this time and so forth. I thought he was just being flowery – most Peruvians are able to give a small speech at the drop of a hat. I was listening but also trying to think how I would respond in kind to properly say goodbye for the three months. It’s not in my nature to be so flowery, though I have tried to learn while living in Peru. Suddenly Leo stood up and threw his chair out of the way. I thought, “Why is he standing up? Everyone is going to look at him.”

He was saying [in Spanish] in his loud, deep voice, “…and I want to tell you in front of all these people that I love you….”

I watched in shock as he pulled something out of his pocket and I was thinking, “Surely that’s not a ring box. It’s a ring box.” Later Leo told me that I looked really pale! It’s a moment that one tries to imagine in life, but when it actually happened, it was quite startling.

He continued, “…and I want to ask you, and it cost me a lot to learn this, [switching to English] ‘Will you marry me?” Later I asked him who had taught him to ask me in English and he said, “Oh, I had to use a translator app and have it repeat it to me over and over.” What a sweet gesture to hear the proposal in my heart language!

After asking in English, Leo knelt down on one knee and returned to Spanish, “Robbye Fielden, quieres casarte conmigo [will you marry me]?” I am thankful that he asked in both languages because it meant so much for me to hear it in my native tongue and I know it resonated more with him to ask it in his.

As he knelt there I could feel that not only was there a physical ring in his hands, but he had completely laid out his heart between us in the most vulnerable way and was offering it to me. Of course I happily said “Si!”

As we hugged I heard an American two tables down exclaimed, “Oh how sweet!” I also realized the entire wait staff had lined up and was applauding. I had briefly forgotten that others surrounded us in the restaurant. I was still in shock for a while – it felt surreal! I think Leo was shaking from adrenaline for the next two hours. It was definitely an exciting night for us! We’re eagerly anticipating our next big adventure which will begin on November 26, 2016!

Hands 3

Engaged! June 6, 2016.