I had the privilege of doing an hour-long (!) interview with some friends of mine, an ATCK Christian couple: Luke & Wendy. I had so much fun talking to them… listening to their stories about identity, belonging, love and truth… This is the second part of a 3 part series that I will be releasing over several weeks. (If you haven’t read part one, you can here.) Have fun reading!
Breanne: Can you share your love story?
Wendy: Well, Luke and I met when we were in fifth grade.
Breanne: Actually, can you tell us about the onion-garlic conversation? It’s hilarious.
Wendy: Yes! I’m going to give a bit of pretext to this. So Luke’s family moved to the Czech Republic. I had gone through a tough year at the British School. I didn’t have any friends. Then we heard, “Hey, a family is coming here with kids about your age, and they are coming to your school and your church!” I was like, “Yaaaas!” Then they said, “It’s a boy that’s your age.” I thought, “Darn it! I’m ten. I don’t want to hear that.” I was kind of bummed—no offense Luke. Now I’m not bummed at all. I’m the opposite of bummed.
We met the Yurkoviches – they were so quiet! Our family is lively. So we’re in the van with them, driving to one of our houses once after church, and it’s so quiet. I didn’t know what to say. So I turned to Luke, and I was like, “Your name means onion in Russian.” And then he turns to me and is like, “Yeah… it means garlic in Macedonian.”
He looked so forlorn, like “I was made fun of in Macedonian, and you’re bringing it up now?!”, like “Why..?”
Breanne: So good… *haha*
Wendy: So he was like, “Yep… that’s me. Thanks for bringing that up. Not that it’s a sore spot or anything.” I believe those might have been my first words to Luke. Unfortunately.
We went to the same school. We actually sat next to each other in 5th grade for the first few months of the year. And then I made a best friend and had a lovely time.
Luke doesn’t remember this, but his friends would tease me about liking Luke and tease him about liking me. I don’t really know why. There was a time when he and his friend were talking, and his friend stood up and was like, “WENDY! LUKE WANTS TO DANCE WITH YOU!” We had this valentine’s dance. And I responded with a sassy “No, he doesn’t!” and was really awkward about it. Luke does not remember this at all. His friend kept teasing me, and then I pushed him into a mud puddle. I was like, “Take that, Fran!” His name was Fran. Who names their kid Fran?
*Everyone is laughing hilariously at this point*
Luke like never spoke to me again for the rest of the year. I was thinking to myself, “I have made a horrible mistake. He might have liked me, but now he hates me because I pushed Fran into a mud puddle.”
I don’t know if Luke actually liked me in fifth grade. I don’t know if he even knows.
Luke: I don’t think I thought about it.
Wendy: No, I don’t either.
Breanne: You’re not that self-aware in fifth grade.
Wendy: No, you aren’t… It was a weird environment, though, where people asked people out and gave people chocolate and flowers…
Luke: It was like, the class… well not just the class, the whole vibe of the school was “What is the new drama?” If you were somebody who had like no drama, they would try and make it so that you had drama.
Breanne: Oh my goodness, tell me about it… That’s literally all my middle school years.
Wendy: For real… So I remember it was a rainy day. Luke was cupping his hands over Fran’s mouth, trying to get him to shut up. And Fran was like, “WENDY! WENDY!” And then I pushed him into a mud puddle. It was all very traumatizing. I did write about it in my journal. I was very proud of myself for pushing him in a mud puddle like he deserved… but enough about that. That is not the most crucial part of our story.
Wendy: After that one year, I moved to the Christian international School in Prague, and Luke stayed at the British School. And I began to miss him, and my other friends, especially my best friend. But I also missed Luke. I would look forward to seeing him on Sundays. And I would think, “Why do I miss Luke? That’s weird.” By seventh grade, I definitely had a crush on Luke. And that um, continued, um, until this present moment.
*Luke silently laughs to himself*
Wendy: So in ninth grade, he came to the international Christian school, and life looked up a little bit from there. You want to take it from here?
Luke: Sure. I looked forward to going to that school. A lot of my friends were there. They were friends who weren’t super into the drama… at least sort of.
Wendy: At least it was wholesome.
Luke: For the most part. *haha* But anyway, there were friends that I looked up to. Wendy was one of them. I wanted to be with all those cool people. I was quite excited. I remember being on the bus sitting next to you. And you were like, “So what are you doing next year?” I said, “I’m actually going to CIC! (the school),” and you were like, “OH MY GOSH THAT’S SO GREAT!” and I was like, “YES I KNOW RIGHT?!!”
Wendy: I could barely hold in my excitement. I was so happy.
Luke: Yeah, so I spent some time at the school. We were in the same class together and had a lot of random interactions.
Breanne: As classmates do.
Luke: Yep, by the time our junior year came around, there came a time when we had gotten back from a homeless outreach with our youth group. We were sitting at this McDonalds, as you do at 10 at night. Wendy asked me if she could talk with me.
Wendy: My heart was beating so fast.
Luke: She told me, “I feel these certain things. I have felt them for a while, and I wanted to say it.” I was grateful that she liked me. I think I could sense something was awkward between us. I didn’t know what or why. I felt relieved that she had said something. But at that time, I was actually interested in her best friend. It was a good conversation, but it was an awkward moment in our lives.
Wendy: I mean, it was awkward but not in the way the word is often used. It was more unfortunate.
Luke: Yeah. Because I don’t think we felt awkward afterward.
Wendy: Not at all.
Luke: It was actually quite helpful for our relationship. The air was cleared. Wendy now knew where my thoughts and emotions lied. Ironically, I was able to feel closer to her.
Wendy: It was good, though.
Luke: I did end up dating her friend for the next year or so.
Breanne: Poor, Wendy.
Wendy: Yeah, it was hard.
Luke: I wasn’t necessarily good at knowing what to do in a dating relationship. It was the first one. I didn’t know what to expect or what to talk about. It was more like a guy-girl friendship. Eventually, it became apparent there wasn’t chemistry. On our Senior trip, we ended up breaking up. It was an emotionally crazy time. I was relieved, but it was hard. It was an emotional end to the Senior year. During that time, I actually started feeling things for Wendy – in part because of the frankness and honesty that we had.
Wendy: It was about time!
Luke: Yeah… But the timing was just not great. I knew that it wasn’t smart to start any relationship at the end of high school senior year. I wasn’t going to do anything or say anything. But I did feel things. Whereas before, I didn’t really understand my feelings. But now I did. It was hard to know what to do. I ended up feeling stuff but not saying anything. That was the end of our interactions. It was not the best way to say goodbye, but we carried our feelings for the rest of our story. We moved to different colleges.
When I was in the USA at college, I tried to shut off my TCK life. Not because I was ashamed of it, but I was like, “It’s time to move on.” It wasn’t practical. I knew I wasn’t going to interact with most of the people in my high school again, I wasn’t going to move back to Prague, so it wasn’t practical.
The next time we saw each other was a year after graduation. I was living with some friends of mine from high school in Tennessee. Wendy wrote to me about an assignment she had.
Wendy: Yes, so I went to college, and I studied Psychology. One of our Psych professors was very like, you know, female empowerment, and “It’s your turn to initiate girls. Don’t wait for a man to ask you out. Ask him out.”
Breanne: That’s funny.
Wendy: This should not be allowed. But she gave us an extra credit assignment to ask somebody out on a date. I was like, “What?” but also, “I want that extra credit.” Little Wendy, who had a 97 percent in the class, thought, “I must have this extra credit.” Must. So I write Luke, and I’m like, hey… so I have this assignment. I explained the project and was very real about it. Luke responded with a “sure, sounds fun.” My heart is beating a million times an hour. I’m telling myself, I do not like this guy anymore. Why do I feel so many things right now? We talked, and it was so good. It felt so normal and natural. It felt great to chat and catch up.
(Later on, Wendy went and spent some time with Luke and his friends, and they spent some time together, both felt what Wendy describes as an “aching soul” emotion. Wendy had come with an innocent excitement to see Luke and was now confused. Luke was at a low in his life and concluded it just wouldn’t work.
If you want more in between details, check out their full story at the Wandering Optimist.)
Luke: There came a time when I was living in Indiana. I had graduated from college and was without much of a direction in my life. It had sort of came back around to me that I was actually a TCK, that I could think of myself in that way. Besides that, I didn’t have very many lasting friendships from the States. I was remembering my feelings for Wendy. I now desired to be connected to my past and to tie it to my present. I was also thinking about the future. What did I really want life to look like? I came to the point of asking myself, “Am I going to live with this regret of not seeing where this could have gone with Wendy if I don’t make some sort of initiative right now?” And so, after a lot of talking and thinking about it and wrestling with it myself, I finally reached out to her. After a couple of video calls, we had the conversation. I told her I felt things for her. I was unsure what that would look like because dating online, across the ocean, is a little complicated. (Wendy had moved to Istanbul by then.) Wendy decided that she needed a week to think about it.
Wendy: I was freaking out. I couldn’t believe that the thing that I had been aching for my entire life was actually happening to me. I was just sitting there in complete awe and wonder, thinking, “Lord, what do I do?!” I guess I had also protected myself from thinking that Luke could ever actually like me. The thought that he would was so weird to me. I took a week to think about it. After a week, I asked him some tough questions. I don’t know what I wanted or expected, but he definitely delivered. It was terrific. I said yes to dating him.
Then we found out that our friends were getting married in Hawaii and they were paying for both of us to go. That was crazy. So we had our first date in Hawaii.
Then a couple months later, he moved to Istanbul. The rest is history.
Breanne: That it is.
If you find this story absolutely amazing and want more, check out their full story here.
Isn’t God amazing? He used their experiences to mature them and bring them closer to Him, yet He didn’t let their “aching soul” feeling go in vain. He had a grand plan for them.
Keep on the lookout for the final part of the interview! Part 3 is my favorite part, as they share a lot of truth and encouragement.
Credits to Andrea Stewart Photography for the beautiful picture.
Have you been enjoying this interview? Would you like me to do more of these?