Ruth & Luke - A Match Made in Kenya
Apr 06, 2019 03:54PM
By Kristy McLean
Ruth was born in a small village in Kenya where poverty is the norm and the only children who receive an education are those “lucky” enough to end up in an orphanage that is funded by foreign donors. At an early age, she knew that if she didn’t do something to improve her situation she would end up like her mother; destitute, abandoned, and uneducated. It took years to work up the courage, but at 17 years old, she set off on foot, in the dead of night, and headed toward an orphanage that was 10 miles away. She told them that she was an abandoned street kid with no memory of her past – it took two separate attempts and homelessness in between but they eventually took her in.
Meanwhile, Luke was being home schooled by his mom in a middle class Christian family living in Reno, Nevada. His dad worked for Washoe County Child Protective Services. When Luke finished high school, he went straight into the work force. He found himself discouraged and frustrated by friends and coworkers who were making poor life choices. Luke remembered his dad telling him about a friend who worked for the Reno Police Department and was the founder of an orphanage in Kenya. Seeking adventure and new purpose, he asked his brother, Daniel, to go with him to Kenya to visit the orphanage. So, they booked a flight and off they went. Luke was 19.
The trip was hectic and, at times, they feared for their lives but eventually they made it to the orphanage – a mud hut with a grass roof, no electricity and no running water. Soon after they arrived, Luke and Daniel realized that money was being poorly managed at the orphanage, they intervened to minimize corruption. And, so they found their purpose and lived at the orphanage for six months.
Over time, life at the orphanage became a new “norm.” A common practice was to gather all of the kids and walk a few miles to the next village to play a game of soccer with another school. During one of the first games he attended, Luke was taken aback by one of the women playing soccer. She was vivacious, energetic, and had the most beautiful smile. It was Ruth.
He was intrigued by Ruth but he knew he must resist any feelings for her. On the many walks to soccer and elsewhere, they naturally gravitated toward each other and a beautiful friendship developed. Ruth had learned some English in her year at the orphanage prior to Luke’s arrival (she was now 18) and he had picked up a bit of Swahili and they actually managed to communicate quite well. By the time 6 months had passed and it was time for Luke to go home, the two had, in fact, fallen deeply in love.
Luke promised he would be back. Ruth was hopeful but did not know what to expect. She loved her life in Kenya, it was all she knew. As promised, Luke returned to Kenya one year later and decided he could not be away from Ruth any longer. All odds were against him – this was during the recession in Reno – money was tight, jobs were scarce, but Luke was willing to spend every penny he had to bring Ruth to America to be his bride. It took years to obtain proper documentation for a fiancé visa, let alone continue to develop a relationship with Ruth and convince her to leave her country. But, finally, after 5 years and over $10,000 invested in this process, there he was with Ruth by his side on a flight from Kenya to Reno-Tahoe International Airport. One month later, following an intimate ceremony on the beach in Maui, Luke and his Kenyan bride, Ruth, were married.
Fast forward to today, Luke is now an Operations Manager for AAA and Ruth is a stay at home mom. They live in Sparks, Nevada with 2 boys, Isaiah (6) and Isaac (4), and Ruth has settled into life as an American. “She is still amused when she sees Chihuahuas wearing clothes,” Luke laughs, “And I still treat her like my princess.” When asked about their tips for a loving, lasting marriage, Luke would urge couples to spend time in the marriage, go on dates, and remember that marriage is forever, you stay together no matter what. Ruth agrees and says, “love, patience, and forgiveness are what make a marriage work.” And, they both agree with Luke’s mom when she adds that the key to marriage is to laugh with each other every day.