5 cylinder engine, all leather interior, sun roof; the Audi 5000 was one cruising machine! This car actually listed for $25,000 when it was new! That was a chunk of change for anyone to pay for a four door sedan.
I bought this one in 1988 for my fiance as a welcome to California gift when she moved from Omaha. You may think I was the man with all of the big bucks but actually, surprisingly, I got her Audi for a whole lot less than $25 grand and boy was it a pretty car. I had picked out two cars, the other one being a 1984 Volkswagen Cabriolet convertible, but I decided she may be happier with something a little more “sedan-like”. I remember listening to this automobile start up and run with a low but powerfully solid purr. Taking it out on the curving roads of Northern California was a dream come true.
This Audi had five cylinders and turbo so the configuration was a bit unusual. Driving it was certainly “European” in feel. It didn’t start off quickly but once she got running, it was like driving a large yacht on land.
Yes, I now had a fiancé. Please humor me a little to hear how all of this happened. In the last chapter I mentioned that there was a Christmas gift that was about to change my life dramatically. Well, that is true. During my first year as a house leader at Love In Action I struggled greatly with my relationship with Vileen. We weren’t really dating since we lived 1500 miles apart from each other. She came to visit a couple of times and I went home to visit as well. But one would hardly call that a dating relationship.
We wrote letters a whole lot and spent time on the phone but the relationship was missing something that seemed to keep us focused. With counsel from some more mature men it seemed that the right thing to do would be to release Vileen from the relationship and free myself from the ongoing conflicts. Actually, I was advised to either “crap or get off the pot”. Sorry for the explicit analogy but I needed to get some motivation to do something.So, my plans were in place.
We’re Breaking Up
In July of 1987 I had arranged a trip to Omaha and knew that my assignment was to take care of this uncomfortable business of telling Vileen that I had to break up with her. So, a dinner was planned and as we sat down, before I could say anything, Vileen said, “John, I have something that I have to tell you.” She went on to say that she felt a strong leading from the Lord to release our relationship from any kind of dating or romantic expectations on either of our parts. I am sure my face turned white. “Vileen, that is very interesting because I have the same message from the Lord as well. We both looked at each other in astonishment.
So, after our visit I returned to San Rafael with a new freedom and a new search. I wasn’t done with my dream of getting married. I remember wondering who would come into my life next. I saw one lady who drew my attention but I found out that she had become engaged to another man that I knew. That didn’t stop me and I continued to pray and look further.
Vileen and I didn’t stop our communication, it just felt different now that we apparently were not an “item” any longer. As Christmas drew closer I had gotten a large box in the mail from Vileen. It looked like some sort of picture. I thought it might be one of those collage picture arrangements that she had put together from our friends from the singles ministry. When I opened up the box I was completely blown away!
I had sent her a photograph of my favorite cabin at “The Lord’s Land”. It was Faith Cabin and the surrounding redwoods and fog had really captured the ambiance of the place. Inside the box was an oil painting of the picture that I had sent her. She had a friend of ours paint it for me.
My emotional reaction to this picture drew me to an inner truth that had been hidden away. Vileen and I really did love each other.
We’re Back Together
So, shortly thereafter, I asked Vileen if we could start over and rekindle our relationship. She agreed so we moved forward into a rediscovery of our goals. Vileen was coming to visit in the summer so I decided that would be an excellent time to ask her to marry me.
I was enthused about her coming, and the plans I had in my heart, so I wrote a letter to my sister and included in it that I was going to ask Vileen to marry me.
Well….. I had said some other things in the letter that I wanted Vileen to read and absentmindedly copied the whole letter and sent it to her. So, Little did I know that she now knew my plans, but didn’t tell me that she knew.
When the trip came about, we traveled to the Lord’s Land to spend a few days away from the ministry. My kids were there and we began to enjoy the wonderful place that Lord had set aside. I had planned on proposing there. Vileen loved the sunsets on the ocean which was only a few miles to the coast from where we were staying.
In my desire for complete obedience to the Lord, I made a deal with Him. I said, “Lord, if there is a sunset on the ocean, I will know you are in agreement with me to marry Vileen.” The day I was planning on asking her was overcast, dreary and wet. I woke up with FEAR in my heart. “Oh, no, what am I gonna do now?” I just kept praying, “Lord, help me, I want to marry her but without a sunset on the ocean – it is off!”
We’re Getting Married
As the day progressed I remained focused on my plan waiting for the Lord’s will to be made known. At 5:00 PM we drove to the ocean view. As we got closer something became clear – a sunset began to shine through as the clouds and fog lifted. Wow! This is amazing. God had shown me that we were free to go forward.
So, as I planned, I wanted my daughters to feel included and yet we needed some privacy. So, I asked them to take the camera across the road so that they could take pictures of me asking Vileen to marry me. They did and we have a picture of the exact moment!
So, our plans became a reality and we had set a date of December 10th to get married. Interestingly enough, Vileen’s job was coming to an end in Omaha so she made arrangements to move to California in September to get things settled in. A good friend continued on with all of the plans for our wedding which would take place in Omaha were all of our family and many friends remained. We were also excited to get married in the church where we had met and spent most of our time together for the previous two and one half years.
My aunt who was a second mother to me had passed away just a few months earlier. I found out that she had left me a little money from her savings. We were thrilled to be able to finance our wedding and some other things with what she had given us through her passing. As the time drew closer for Vileen to move to San Rafael, she decided to sell her car in Omaha before she came. This is where the Audi came in to play.
As September arrived I tried to think of a way to present her with her new car. She didn’t know I had gotten it. I have always wanted to give someone a car with a huge red bow on it like on TV. So, when she arrived I went to show her the apartment that I had arranged for her to live in. It had a garage attached so I parked it in there with the front end pointing out. I put a huge red bow on it. When I opened up the garage all you could see was the bright gold car with the bow. Needless to say, Vileen was quite surprised. I think it was a winner!
During the next few months as we prepared for marriage we talked a lot. Our pastor at church went through some premarital counseling with us. We made all the preparations that we could from 1500 miles away. We talked with our pastor in Omaha at length, Vileen had a new pastor on the church staff that she spoke with about our plans. I called her parents to get their blessing as well as my own. Throughout all of our conversations and discussion, there was not any hesitation in those who knew us and loved us. The wedding was on.
During the first month of Vileen’s living in San Rafael she got a job as a travel agent. This became a great asset right away. A friend of ours who worked for a travel agency had won a one week vacation in Hawaii. It just so happened that the date he was scheduled for the trip was the week right after our wedding. He was unable to use the package and offered to give it to us for our honeymoon! And, her new boss offered two airline tickets for our trip. We were so ecstatic about what God was doing!
Preparing For A New Life Together
We had just a few months to prepare for our new life together. We were really enjoying our conversations, our walks on the beach, in Sausalito, CA, and many other very romantic places I felt tremendously privileged to be engaged to Vileen in such a wonderful location in our world.
Many surprises waited for us after our wedding.