Halfway Around the World:
Lisa: This was an amazing experience. I lived in Hengyang, Hunan, China for
almost one full year. I taught English at Nan Hua University. My highest purpose
in being there was to share Christ with those who had never heard His name, and
there were many! The Chinese people are beautiful, very generous, and
desperate for Ultimate Truth. I could tell you of this experience for hours if not
days….but back to Jon. While I was in China, Jon was very faithful in e-mailing
and calling, and our friendship grew and deepened. After several months, I realized
that I eagerly awaited his letters and thoughts, and that I loved sharing my daily
experiences and bad and good “China moments” with him. Because of China’s
communist government, we could not write openly about our faith in God or
religious activities. So Jon and I became quite creative in talking in code and
discovering each other’s love for and knowledge and faith in our Heavenly Father.
We learned how to communicate on deeper levels over great distances (A skill we
will greatly use as a military family). This was such a comfortable and fun time of
discovery. After almost nine months of this, Jon decided that a visit was in order. I
hinted that my birthday was April 11th, and so he came in early April for nearly two
weeks and helped to celebrate my birthday royally! During this visit it became very
clear to me that I was interested in seeing if Jon was potential husband material. I
was still concerned about the Air Force factor, but my opinions and thoughts on
many other things were being shaped, and I wanted to be open to the Lord’s
leading and direction in our friendship. Through the counsel
of our families, we decided to wait on pursuing an official courtship until we were
both back in the United States. My parents counseled us
to keep our friendship open but not to commit to anything further, because my
heart’s focus needed to be in China so that I could finish
strongly the work that I had been called to do there. I could not have agreed more.
It was such an important time.
I am grateful beyond words that Jon was able to experience that part of my life.
One of the moments I cherish the most about his trip was
when we were studying the Bible together with two young men desperately
seeking for Truth. It was so awesome to tag team and allow
the Spirit to work through us in reaching those souls! When I wrote to tell my
Chinese friends and students of our engagement, they were
thrilled and sent back the cutest emails. Here are just a few excerpts:
Dear Jon and Lisa:
I’m so glad to hear from you!And Jon,I admired that you can marry a beautiful
girl,treat her sincerely. Enjoy your days and be happy!
I’ll congratulations to you at first. I’m very happy to hear that. I can imagine you will
be the most beautiful bride in the world and happiness
on that day. God bless you and jon. Of cours, the wife is the best in his heart.
The coming next is honeymoon. Where you are going to stay. Hawaii, Paris or
other placese. I think china is the best choise . At last wish
you and Jon happiness. I’ll always miss you!
Dear Sister Lisa,
Since you are the very good example for all of us ,I am confident that you can do
very well in acting as a wife just as you are a good friend
ans sister.I do hope your that you two will get along very well in the fouture,and
your love grow stonger and stonger as the love for our
father gains its powerr in our hearts.May everything goes well in your coming
wedding and marriage as well.
Best wishes for you ,your family and your future husband .
It’s so wonderful to hear your good news!
You are going to be married!I will ask every good things come to you and Jon.
Wow, So lovely news!
Dear Mrs. Jon Shaffer:
I’m very very glad to receive your letter again and hear your wonderful news, and I
have to tell my classmates your lovely news (Could I do
that?)and I’m sure they will feel amazing. Now, I can imagine the scene that you
showed us at a speech about American marriage. An
arch decorated by a lot of flowers, the bride wears beautiful wedding sha, oh!
Thats very very beautiful! I bless you happy and happily
loyally. I hope I can see you and your handsome husband someday, in a warm
family in America. This day is coming, right?
I have many more stored away and it delights me to read them and share them
with Jon. I love that he understands and connects to this
place and people that have so captured my heart!
Jon: Over the summer before Lisa left for China, it was my pleasure to hear about
all of her preparations and fears. I also was privileged
to get to help both her and Jan (one of her best friends from school) financially in
getting to China. What a treat! On Aug 23rd Lisa left for
China, and on Aug 24th I deployed to the country of Kyrgyzstan for Operation
Enduring Freedom. Over the next nine months I enjoyed
keeping in touch with Lisa through the phone and e-mail. It definitely was a
valuable time of growing deeper in our friendship and learning
more about each other in a no pressure environment. While Lisa was in China, I
made three separate trips to Kyrgyzstan and spent a total
of about six months there flying troops and supplies into and out of Afghanistan. It
was a good time to focus on reading and growing
deeper in my relationship with the Lord, when I wasn’t flying. While I was
deployed, it was one of my greatest pleasures to go to the
morale tent to read Lisa’s e-mails or to write to her.
The country of Kyrgyzstan used to be part of the Soviet Union. It sits just below
Russia and just to the east of China. In fact, it shares a
border with China. While I was deployed, I was about 2,000 miles from Hengyang,
where Lisa was in China, and when I visited in April, I
had to travel the long way around. I covered twenty-one time zones in ten days
and was ecstatic to be able to visit Lisa. I had an incredible
time there visiting the people that she had grown to love so much and having the
opportunity to share the gospel with two hungry seekers.
What a blessing! In China I finally shared my true feelings towards Lisa and my
desire to see if the Lord might take our relationship
beyond a friendship. Lisa reciprocated my feelings, and it was quite exciting to
hear after pursuing her for over a year. Since we wanted to
respect both of our parents wishes and seek their counsel, we waited to begin an
official courtship until we were both back on US soil.
Lisa: I got back to the US two weeks before Jon returned from Kyrgyzstan. It was
a good time of readjusting and facing the reverse culture
shock. My heart had done so much changing and shaping under the skillful hands
of the Lord and I had begun to desire a relationship
with Jon unlike any other! He had become one of my closest friends and I was
intriqued by this man and eager to know him more and be
known by him! On July 17th, 2004, I stood among other dear friends as we met
Jon and others who returned from Operation Enduring
Freedom on the runway in Montgomery, AL. Later that night, after dinner with
friends, we went for a ride once again on his motorcycle up to
Emerald Mountain. There he told me that he had asked for my father’s permission
to begin a courtship with me, and now he was asking
for my permission. I’ll spare you the details of the other wonderful things that he
said that night! And so our courtship had officially begun.
Jon and I were serious in our desire to save our best for the person that the Lord
had for each of us to marry. In our desire to seek purity,
we had decided to save our kisses for the person we were going to marry, That’s
right, neither of us had ever been kissed! I am so
grateful for the commitment to purity that I feel like the Lord asked of me when I
was 12 years old. I felt so protected and free to be in love
with Christ and Him only until He brought His best to me. In courtship, our goals
were to get to know each other on a deeper level as we
determined along with our families and friends if this relationship should proceed
towards marriage. Until we knew for sure, we continued
to guard our own and each other’s hearts and save our kisses. This time of
waiting was very, very special and well worth the wait!
Jon: I was more than a little excited to see Lisa along with all my other friends
waiting for me on the ramp at Maxwell when we arrived
home. On our trip home from Kyrgyzstan, we spent the night in St. John’s, New
Foundland, Canada, and the night before we were to arrive
in Montgomery, I called Lisa’s dad to ask his permission to court Lisa. To my great
thrill he said, “Yes,” and on July 17th, 2004, I took Lisa
back to Emerald Mountain to ask if she would like to pursue a courtship and see if
the Lord led us to marriage. And so our beautiful
I have always felt that I wanted to save my first kiss for the woman that I was going
to marry, so I had never kissed a girl. Early in our
friendship Lisa and I had discussed our desire for complete purity, and how we
both desired to save our first kiss for the person we were
to marry. So we agreed to save our first kiss for our engagement if the Lord led us
to that point. Throughout this past fall I have been
fortunate to not deploy again, and I have lived in Alabama while Lisa has lived with
her family in South Carolina. We have logged many
miles traveling between Montgomery and Columbia (nearly every weekend), and
have many stories to tell of our adventures. We grew
closer and closer together and found that our views on God, family, and life
seemed to naturally mesh together. Through a lot of prayer
and advice from our parents, we both felt the Lord was leading us to begin a life
On December 4th, 2004, I took Lisa on one more motorcycle ride to Emerald
Mountain, and at about 9:30 in the evening I asked her to
marry me. She said, “Yes”, and we shared our first kiss– and it was AMAZING!
Read our “Proposal” to hear the rest of the story. . . .