Let me start way back, before we even got to Niger, before Theo even bought the ring.
For a while, I believed that Theo was going to propose to me while we were in Niger. One night, though, he told me he wasn’t. We both felt led towards marriage and we felt that God was telling us to go ahead. I thought Niger would be the perfect place, and Theo was certainly not opposed to it, although he did not feel that he had enough time before leaving for Niger to make plans and find the ring, etc, etc.
Fast forward to Niger, on the day of August 6. My morning started with the sound of pounding rain on the roof. Trust me, any day that you wake with pounding rain on the roof in Africa is bound to be a good day… Theo had come over and was making breakfast for me, but I got out of bed because the rain woke me up. He sent me back to bed and then brought me eggs and toast in bed. The second plan of the day was to go and see the wild giraffe’s right outside of Niamey. We were really excited for this, but because of the rain the trip was cancelled. It just seemed to hard on the vehicle’s to try and take them through the mud. Not worth the hassle for the driver and owner of the vehicles. We ended up just watching Monk and playing Dutch Blitz, then going to the rec center for the afternoon. Trust me, at this point I had no clue. (However, if I had planned the engagement myself, it would have gone down exactly like Theo did it. The whole day I was trying to tell my girlish heart to not even think about getting engaged because Theo had clearly told me that it wasn’t going to happen!!).
We drove out to the dunes, and had to cross a flowing river (ok, it wasn’t that bad, but there was a current!). The road was horrible, it even gave me a headache. We got to the correct location, but since it was rainy season we couldn’t drive our car as far towards the dunes as we wanted to. We had to walk and carry all our picnic stuff quite a ways. When we got to the dunes, there were a lot of kids playing on them and sliding down them, but we just set up our picnic and ate our meal. After the meal, my mom told us to go for a walk, so we did. As we were walking down the sand dune, Theo kept talking and rambling, a sure sign that he is nervous. He also seemed very breathless, which was curious to me because we were walking DOWN the dune not up it. We got to the bottom and seemed to be alone and Theo told me that he had something for me. I began to get super excited but also tried to tell myself that it was not happening, because last I knew he told me it wasn’t happening in Africa! He pulled out a piece of paper and in my head I was like, ‘Oh, its just a piece of paper… told you not to tell yourself you were getting engaged…’ He told me that it was a poem that he had written, and he read it to me. I honestly don’t remember any of it when he read it through the first time, except the last two lines that said, “I have a question for thee, Suzanne Esther DeValve, will you marry me?” I didn’t know what to do so I just started crying and I think I said yes a couple of times and there he was just down on one knee and there was this beautiful sparkling diamond and I just couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening to me it just seemed to happen so fast! He stood there smiling and finally I said…”I think you are supposed to put that on my finger now…” so he did! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
One of the best parts of the whole proposal was that some African children approached right when he was reading the poem. They weren’t looking to bother us or be annoying, we just happened to be two white people doing something awfully in the same direction that they happened to be walking. It makes for a good story, though, because Theo and I could not hug or anything with them standing there. After a few minutes, we climbed back up the sand dune and started jumping around with my parents. Boy, the African children really thought we were strange then!
Trust me, on the way back, I didn’t feel a single bump.