Valdur Rosenvald’s side of story
I met Johanna for the first time in Kolgata congregation in 2011. She sat there with Reelika and after the service I went to meet them. Turned out they were ladies for Saaremaa who had come to the mainland to study. Soon me and Johanna started to see each other often for she joined our youth activities and we also had some subjects together. I remember that it was quite a boring lecture where I sat with Johanna, when Henri Lehtsaar invited me to play disc golf. I decided to go and invited Johanna along. I was absolutely sure she wouldn’t come for she seemed too well-behaved to skip lectures. But to my great surprise she joined. My understanding of her changed at that moment, I realized she’s a girl who dares to skip lectures.
Conversations or growth of the friendship
In October 2012 I went to serve time in Jõhvi Viru infantry battalion. I called friends when I could. I thought I called everyone equally, but some claim I actually mostly called Johanna. It seemed suspicious to some people. ‘
I know there was a time we went for runs together. I even remember the first time. Johanna lived in Roosi street at the time, I ran behind her door and invited her along. She said she already had had a tough exercise on that day, but again, to my great surprise, she came along. Our friendship grew deeper and we did many awesome things together with Kogalata’s youth community. Unfortunately, I don’t remember anything of it.
Lightning light or beginning of a relationship
In spring 2014 I realized our “friendship” had become so close that we should have a talk. For example, I wrote to my diary on April 8, 2014:” I discovered I think about Johanna a lot.” I decided to take some time off to go to Männimets to think and pray for way forward.
On May 20, Johanna had to submit rough draft of her bachelor’s thesis. I called her quarter before midnight to ask how it went. She called me back at midnight to say it went fine. Then she invited me for a walk. We talked and walked when we got caught in a thunderstorm. We took shelter under Biomeedikum’s roof and Johanna asked if she’s more than a friend to me. I said I really like her. And mentioning it just in case – we hugged. We prayed to find out way. There was a small obstacle – Johanna had decided to be single for the rest of her live, because she thought she could serve God better that way. Our final decision was made on June 16, 2014.
After praying and thinking, Johanna had come to conclusion she can serve God also when she’s married. It would just be different. On June 16 2014, our relationship began and our first official date took place in Tartu, in Kapriisi cafeteria.
Good plan, better plan, Toplaan
Two years went by quickly, we became to know each other closely. We have gotten along great, we haven’t had a single serious argument even when I have tried to have one. But I must admit the time hasn’t always been easy. Difficulties teach people and so we have become to know better ourselves, each other and God.
I started to take up earlier to listen to Timothy Keller’s sermons that have grown me a lot. In April, last year, I told Johanna we could take a hike together. Johanna agreed and planned herself a weekend off. I didn’t tell her where we’re going and left downtown.
I had bought a lot of food by accident. Johanna looked at it, and, seeing cheese and sausages, she asked:” Are we going to visit Mati?” It was incredible for I initially planned to visit Mati Lohu. She knew it by the food where we’re going. After spending night at Mati’s place we flew from Riga to Norway Stavanger.
We climbed on the top of Preikestolen mountain, which is 604 m. high. On the way we stopped three times to pray for our relationship. One there, I asked:” Johanna Toplaan, will you marry me.” She thought six seconds and agreed.
Usually I’m not an emotional person, but it made me cry like a baby. We ran down fast for the last bus was leaving. And I kept on crying like a baby even on the bus. Probably the thought of this decision being for life touched me deeply.
When you’re reading this story, all has probably gone well and we’re married. We have to grateful to God who took and has kept us together. There’s a little chance we would have met outside the church for it was our first and main meeting place. The main purpose of the marriage is to allow each other to polish oneself into clear diamonds that reflect God’s love. I hope and pray we’re on our way there.
Johanna Rosenvald’s side of story
In 2011 I finished high school in Saaremaa and autumn took me to the university town – Tartu.
I began going to Kolgata Baptist congregation, which is where I met Valdur for the first time. He had just begun his studies as well and we even had common lectures. He seemed to be very interesting and cool person, so I was glad we met often. Valdur was spirited and good communicator and great at inviting and involving people, thus I was involved in many things in congregation and outside of it. Valdus was actively involved in youth activities of Kolgata congregation and I started to help him. Our team became a strong fellowship. I learned to know him in different situation and understood, how special he is.
In July 2012 Valdur was supposed to start serving in the army. It was delayed due to leg injury. So, Valdur had a lot of spare time in the other half of summer and he wanted to visit me with friends. They came for several days. Valdur met my family for the first time and came to know my parents and siblings. Since we were on very good terms with Valdur, my family thought we have a greater sympathy. It was sort of funny to me. We got along really well, but it was just a friendship, nothing more.
And in October 2012 Valdur went to the army. The thought of him not being in Tartu, not being able to talk to him, seemed sad. But he called me already in the first week, said how he’s doing and asked how am I and others. When was able to come home in the weekends, we always did something nice with friends. So, me and him actually became even closer during that time.
In autumn 2013 I moved to Nelgi street in Tartu, to share a residence with friends Reelika, Ingel, and two younger sisters. The new home was a lot closer to Valdur’s house – about five minutes on a bicycle. Me and Valdur already were quite tight friends, but living close by made us communicate even more. I remember Rael-Astrid asking, what is with Valdur coming to our house, where only girls live. He has to visit it for someone, right? We didn’t question it. He was Valdur – a friend in a whole different category.
Valdur was an important person to me – beloved like my own brother. He said repeatedly I’m like a sister to him. We went to the same congregation, we shared the same closest friends and it was good to do something with Valdur or discuss things with him. Most of the time we weren’t alone for we both understood a boy and a girl can’t be too close friends.
But sometimes we planned to go running with friends, but only the two of us went. It was good for these exercises gave us an opportunity to talk on more personal level. It seemed Valdur liked it too since I knew he didn’t really like running, but he was still motivated to do that.
In spring 2014 I started thinking Valdur takes me a bit differently. He had always been very polite and caring, but then it seemed he was extra caring. It raised some questions. I tried to evade them since I speculated I was just thinking too much and there’s nothing unusual in how Valdur treats me. But I came to the conclusion I should talk to him. I sensed that the friendship had become very close – several people thought we were probably a couple.
One May Sunday, when I was writing my bachelor’s thesis, a doorbell rang late at night. When I opened the door, I found a gift behind the door. It contained my most favourite things – avocados and dark chocolate. Valdur had added a note that said:” Good luck with studying!”
And I thought it’s a bit too sweet and I should ask from Valdur. And the opportunity presented itself the next day. We got caught in a thunder storm and went looking for shelter under Biomeedikum’s roof. We talked for quite a while before I worked up my courage to ask:” Is that friendship for you a bit more than a friendship?” Valdur said he had wanted to talk about it for a long time, but he planned to wait until my school is finished so I could focus on it. But since I asked so straightforward, Valdur admitted that it’s more than just a friendship for him and it can’t go on like that.
We agreed to take time to pray for the situation and think about how to go on. We also agreed in a date on when we’ll talk again – it was three weeks or a little bit longer.
On June 16, 2014, we met and shared where we had reached in our hearts and minds. We were happy to know we had reached the same point – it’s only right to go on together, to know each other w little better, and, God allowing, to marry in the future.
Two years have passed very quickly. In autumn of 2014 Valdur continued his studies, and I, wishing to be where he was (a student) started my major’s degree. We have gone on supporting and learning to know each other. It has been a joyful time. But I am also very grateful for more difficult times we have passed, for they have taken us closer to God and each other. I understand more and more, how much I love Valdur and how much I want to share my life with him. I want to be dedicated to him for the rest of my life.
And in April, 2016, Valdur organized a hiking trip for me, knowing how much I love hiking. He said that we’ll have a multi-day hike and I should pack my backpack according to it. I thought we’ll hike in Estonia. Only on the plane I understood we’re headed for Norway.
And on April 24, 2016, in Norwegian mountains, on a mountain tip called Preikestolen (pulpit), Valdur proposed to me. I couldn’t expect it at all, but, trusting God, I said “yes.”
Today I can tell I anticipate the marriage happily, knowing that with God we’ll pass everything that may come before us. I’m very grateful for Valdur, who’s a great present and blessing in my life.
What do you like about your future spouse? What makes you similar, what different?
Johanna: Valdur has many great qualities I appreciate. He’s God-fearing, helpful, caring, reliable and honest. He has strong values and principles. I like that Valdur accepts challenges and dream big. He sees opportunities instead of obstacles and when he’s going something, he dedicated – be it studies, photography or something else. I like that Valdur is very oopen. It’s important that he shares his thoughts and feelings instead of keeping them to himself. I’m slightly more introvert than Valdur. We both value being organized and using our time wisely. Valdur likes efficiency (he talks about it quite a lot).
Valdur has lot of joyful playfulness. I tend to take life very seriously, but Valdus has brought more playfulness into my life and we balance each other nicely.
We’re actually quite similar, even if you wouldn’t say it at first.
Just a fun fact: we both like good books and reading and we both have had a dream about a large bookshelf that would have many great books by categories.
Valdur: On May 3, 2014 I wrote down what I really like about Johanna. I’ll add comment on myself to mark similarities and differences.
•Johanna’s heart is with God and she has personal relationship with Jesus.
•I wish that my heart was always turned to God as well.
•Johanna is beautiful, sweet and very attractive. I look OK as well.
•Johanna is active in local congregation. Hopefully we can do it more in the future.
•Johanna cares a lot about other people. I care a lot about myself, so it’s a good balance.
•Johanna is honest and sincere. When something needs to be criticized, I can be quite honest too.
•Johanna is intelligent. I’m yet to do an IQ test.
•Johanna likes sport. So am I, when Johanna calls and says it’s time to go running.
•Johanna can play piano and sing well. I can play guitar and play very loud.
•Johanna likes travelling. So do I. We’ll travel together.
•Johanna is free, she doesn’t care about minor details. Sometimes I don’t care even less. When I try to throw a chewing gum into a trash bin and it falls on the floor, I don’t care. But Johanna does and then she throws it into a trash bin herself.
•Johanna is very joyful. So am I, when I am in a good mood.
•Johanna is very encouraging. I am always happy to accept that spirit.