Nancy and I just got back from Lake Tahoe. We’d gone to attend the wedding of Corina Nour, a young Moldovan woman who’d first come to live with us about ten years ago to attend Emporia High school as an international exchange student.
I was the “officiant” at the ceremony, thanks to a gracious invitation from Corina and her fiancé, Sherwin Sheik. It was one of the great honors of my life.
Looking back on things now, it’s clear to us that God has had his fingerprints all over the plan for Corina’s life.
It all began quietly. Nancy and I had just gotten back from a short getaway to Chicago. As soon as we got home, Nancy went upstairs to her office and began catching up on all the news here in Emporia. She browsed through the back issues of the Gazette and read a short blurb from Glen and Carol Strickland about their need for a host family for a young woman from Moldova. Nancy was intrigued and suggested we consider contacting the Stricklands. I wasn’t too sure at first, but Nancy convinced me that hosting a student would be a healthy exercise for us.
Corina left Moldova sometime in early August. She spent a couple of days in New York, thanks to the big east coast blackout of 2003. When she arrived in Wichita she looked like she’d been through the mill. After finding out that their airline had lost her luggage and then making arrangements to get it to Emporia when it was found, we headed home.
It took her a few days, but Corina plowed her way through the early problems she faced. It wasn’t long from there till she was thriving in an atmosphere where opportunities were ever-present
As the weeks and months passed, Nancy and I came to see how special our relationship with Corina had become. It never became a parent-child relationship. We saw from Corina’s life that she had wonderful parents in Moldova. There was no need to reinvent the parent wheel. We felt strongly that our best role was to be Corina’s friends and that, at the appropriate times, to be advisors and confidants.
She excelled in everything she tried, whether it was languages, history, literature, or debate. The reports from the school validated what we’d come to know. Corina was one in a billion.
Her year in Emporia was over in a flash. As we got her to the departure gate in Wichita we were all overcome with emotion. Was this to be our last time ever seeing each other? And what of Corina’s life? How would all her incredible potential be fulfilled?
The years passed. She did quite well back home in Moldova. She went to Romania to do her undergraduate work in finance. When she was close to graduating we saw a new door of opportunity we could make available to her – a masters’ program at E.S.U. We were confident that she understood how to take advantage of the opportunity. She accepted and came back.
The next four years were a whirlwind. She parlayed a 4.0 G.P.A. and her work ethic into a job at the Granada Theatre and another as a graduate assistant at the university. By the time she was in the throes of her last year the big opportunity came – an internship at Cisco Systems in San Jose. She completed the internship, came back, graduated, and was then offered a full time position with Cisco.
But it doesn’t end there. She met Sherwin, the man who is now her husband, in California under the most incredible circumstances. There’s not enough space to write about it now. Suffice it to say that it was truly a match made in heaven.
How do these incredible things happen? Chance? Luck? The only explanation that I find satisfactory is the grace of God. What else could explain the tight connection between a young woman from a liberated Soviet republic and two American retirees who answered a last minute call for help? What else could explain the fact that Sherwin’s family had come to the California to escape the clutches of the Iranian revolution? And, the timing of the internship at Cisco? It was perfect.
As I watched Corina come down the aisle with her father to take her vows I had to fight back the tears. I was awestruck by her stunning beauty, but I was even more amazed at how God had taken such disparate pieces, cultures, and events and stitched them together with such love and care.
We’re back home now, settled in. In quiet moments we occasionally find ourselves wondering how Corina and Sherwin’s dreams will be realized. However that plays itself out, we’ll be eternally grateful for being a small part of setting it all in motion.