Travanna

It’s early 2019. He lives in LA and I in Germany. Both of us working jobs to get back on our feet after years of missions. Both no longer in any relationships or no current interests. I worked at a sweet little coffee shop and was acclimating to German culture again. Something I really enjoyed was regularly visiting my mom and brothers, friends, and relatives after years of living so far away. I was living in a house with two lovely single girls. Our kitchen table was where many late-evening conversations about life, love, God, and our passions were discussed. But this one question was still stirring in my heart: will I ever find a fitting partner? Is there a man out there that I can team up with, in this mission called life? I’m 33 and all the men who love God, desire to live for him, (and that I’m even slightly attracted to) seem to be taken…

To be honest, I was REALLY tired of getting to know guys where there didn’t seem to be much of a connection. The whole dating scene can be emotionally exhausting! And I was wary of opening up my heart again…

On the other side of the world was Travis, asking similar questions. Would getting married mean he’d have to really lower some of his standards? Was he being too picky or was it ok to have high standards? Especially when it came to her faith in God and how she lived that out. But he was still hopeful, even if that hope was dwindling. Besides his regular 9-5 job, he’s also a photographer and had just taken engagement photos of a friend of his. This friend, excited about how he found his bride to be, encouraged Travis to do the same…

Back in Germany, my roommate was less excited about online dating, but still rather concerned about the lack of potential partners in my close social circles. Late one evening at the kitchen table,  she encouraged me to finally give online dating a try. Now, anyone who knows me knows how adamantly against this whole ‘online dating’ thing I’ve been. (I even wrote a paper in college about why online dating wasn’t a good idea!)  It just didn’t seem like an organic way of meeting someone, but more like putting yourself on the ‘market’. And if I’m really honest, I just didn’t think God worked that way. As if signing up was me trying to take things into ‘my own hands’, and that’s not what I wanted. I believed I was fully trusting God, to bring him to me, in person! (Totally putting God in a box, I know).  But that evening in the kitchen, I felt like I honestly had nothing to lose, except a bit of my pride, and said – I can always just delete my profile if I don’t feel right about it. Sure. Why not? But there was only one site I could imagine trying. I had heard of it years ago from a friend on the mission field  – “Called Together” – it was specifically created for Christian singles who were doing some form of missions and were open to living abroad.

This was the same advice Travis got from his friend. Called together. It seemed to be a good idea since we both just got back from the mission field and were looking for a like-minded soulmate. So we both signed up. But at different times. I signed up about 3 months earlier, and although the site seemed like a really great place to meet other Christians, I decided to get off after my first month. After not finding the ‘delete’ button for my profile, I wrote the customer service and asked them to delete my profile. A very kind member of staff said that they would not delete my profile right away, but rather inactivate it. So I no longer was making any payments but also had no way of receiving or writing messages to anyone. I was fine with the temporary solution and left it at that.

Three months later, a mysterious man with the username ‘IAMFORGIVEN’ messaged me. His message said something like this “Hey, I saw that you were doing missions in Malawi. I was just there last year! What were you doing there?” He had absolutely no information in his profile (not even his name) but from the 3 pictures he posted, I could tell he was quite tall and handsome… and he’s actually been to the country of my heart! I was intrigued, and with the encouragement of my girls, I decided to try and connect with him. But… I had inactivated my profile, and couldn’t write any messages! Logging back on, I was surprised to find my profile activated! How in the world? I knew I wasn’t being charged anymore… so either this member of staff decided to graciously give me a second chance at this things called love, or it was the divine hand of God that didn’t allow me to go under the radar anymore 😉 Either way, I was excited to be able to respond to Travis’s message and see who this ‘Mr. IAMFORGIVEN’ was…

During the first week of writing, we quickly realized that we seemed to connect on so many levels. It was almost too good to be true. So he thought ‘she’s probably a catfish’ and I thought ‘he’s probably a liar and is just giving me the answers I want to hear’. We might have been burnt a couple of times before and were fairly skeptical, but still continued to get to know each other. Something I really valued about his approach, was that he was very honest and transparent from the beginning. He told me of his intentions and where he was coming from. After a week of writing, we video talked for the first time. That’s when he saw I was a real person, and I got a feel for his genuine personality. It was exciting because, from all that we were learning about each other, we seemed to have really similar goals & desires, a love for God that infiltrated our everyday life, and a growing desire to meet each other in person! Our very-long-distance getting to know each other was hard. We really wished we could just meet up for coffee or spend an afternoon together but had to resort to video calls for now… until, he invited me to come and visit him in LA. In fact, he paid for my entire flight and even made arrangements for me to stay at a lovely friend’s home.

To be honest, I was hesitant at first. He seemed to be a genuine person, but in our crazy world today, you can never fully trust a situation like this… right? I prayed about it and talked to a  couple of wise people in my life, and with a ‘Plan B’ of escape (in case he was a psycho), I took a flight out to LA to meet this man! I was nervous but mostly excited! Walking out of the terminal and into the sea of people waiting for their visitors, he spotted me and called my name. There he stood, with a rose in his hands, and a big hug waiting just for me! And for the next 9 days, we were able to get to know each other in person – face to face! He took me along to his church, bible studies, and we drove up the central coast to meet his family. During these days together, we fell in love with each other and realized that our hearts had finally found a home. At the end of my trip, he asked me “ I feel like I’ve finally found the woman of my dreams and I don’t want to let her go back to Germany… what do I need to do to make this work?” We knew that long-distance wouldn’t work for much longer if we wanted to move forward in our relationship, but the second step would be for him to come to Germany and get to know my family and friends. And 3 months later, that’s exactly what he did.

Seeing the other person around their closest friends and family was a huge confirmation of who we had perceived the other person to be. The more we talked to each other’s friends and family, the more we saw the beautiful character in them. Also seeing that our friends were protective of us and wanted to get to know the other, said so much about how important they were to them. Thankfully no red flags came up during our little undercover investigations, and we felt so much peace about being in a committed relationship, heading towards marriage!

Travis and Johanna Silva

During our last 3 months apart, Travis had the brilliant idea of going through a marriage counseling book together. It really helped us to dig deep into a lot of the topics that were important to talk about before getting engaged. And it’s defiantly something we could recommend anyone to do.

After Travis’s visit to Germany, I packed up my suitcase and came to visit him for a longer period of time in the US. Two weeks after I arrived, Travis’ had planned an unexpected day of adventure and fun. He prepared a treasure hunt, which took us on a mini airplane ride to Catalina Island, then to our favorite ice cream place. The map led us to the beach just before sunset, where we dug up the buried treasure. Inside the box was a beautiful love letter, and after I finished reading it, he pulled the ring from the box and asked me to marry him!! Both on our knees in the sand, and our hearts bursting with excitement. (If you like, you can watch his sweet proposal here.)When asked why he proposed so quickly, he says ‘I wasn’t going to let her go again’. Here we were, sure of what God had brought into our lives, and ready to receive it with arms wide open. God’s peace really went before us, and we could see His fingerprints all over it! We were so excited to get married! A long-time dream come true.

Travis and Johanna Silva

Not only did God bring this unexpected partner into our lives, but He also gave us a dream-wedding to top It off! God once again exceeded our expectations and with so much help from friends and family, we celebrated this ‘miracle’ in style! Our ceremony was under a huge oak tree, and our reception in a beautiful old barn. And it almost felt like a piece of heaven, because so many of our friends and family from all over the world came to celebrate with us! This was the day we had waited for, for so long. And it was a true celebration of love and God’s goodness poured out on our lives!

Travis and Johanna Silva wedding

Travis and Johanna Silva wedding

Travis and Johanna Silva wedding

Wedding Photos by Jeff Newsom (www.jeffnewsom.com)

Read Our Love Story, Before We Met (Part 1)
Read Our Love Story, (Part 3) Coming Soon
Read more Stories here.

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forgiven • January 8, 2021


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