It all begins about 6 weeks ago. Sarah was up at the Nehemiah house for the weekend and we went over to the downtown public library because I had a paper to write for my church planting class. This paper had to be on a historical missions movement, not necessarily Christian, the goal was to just evaulate historical missions methods. So I did some digging around and found out that the library had a copy of Noticias De Californias a collection of old letters and writings of some of the early padres that founded the first missions in Baja California. While searching through this book I came across a copy of this letter:
Now, I dont read Spanish but I did notice that it was written in 1755. This peaked Sarah and my's interest so I made a photocopy of it to have someone translate it for me. After about a week I got it back from a friend with this translation:
(this manuscript was found wedged in the binding of the original document, but was not included in the final facsimile as it is unclear whether Venegas intended it to be in the final document. In addition, it’s authenticity is greatly in question both by scholars and Venegas himself. We include it here as an insert however for research purposes)
Andres Marcos Burriel, holy father and humble chronicler of the work of our Lord and holy mother through the labor of the apostles of the most honorable Society of Jesus in New Spain, on the seventh day of the month of December, the year of our Lord 1755:
With much prayer and troubled spirit I have decided to include this testimony copied in my own hand, of Father Jaime Bravo, honorable founder of Misión de Nuestra Señora
Father Andres Marcos Burriel
The rebellion of the savages continues, threatening to plunge the light back into darkness. The missions of
I attest to the truth and accuracy of this testimony, before our Holy Mother and glorious Christ
Needless to say, Sarah and I both were intrigued about this letter so we began researching it. I was pretty busy with school and ministry so Sarah kind of took over the research. She found that Jaime Bravo was a real person, there was an Indian rebellion at that time, and other interesting details that seemed to support the veracity of the letter. In the meantime, a group of 8 of us were planning a spring break camping trip to Utah. When that fell through, Sarah suggested that we drive to Loreto in Baja California Sur, which apparently was beautiful and try to pick up on the trail of the letter. After some convincing all 8 of us agreed to go and preparations were made. Everyone drove down to my parents house on monday night and we loaded up the supplies. After a delicious Italian meal cooked by Mama Freiberg, and a little screening of Indiana Jones to get us in the mood, Sarah gave a short presentation on where we were going and all about the letter.
So Tuesday mornings we packed into two cars and began our 16 hour drive south. Other than the beautiful flora and fauna (I've always wanted to use that in a sentence) the drive was fairly uneventful, except for one of the girls driving the car off the road and getting stuck in the sand, if it wasnt for the help of about 10 mexicans we would have been stuck for a long time.
Once everyone was up, we got back in the cars and headed into Loreto. After some breakfast we split up into two teams: one to find the mission and one to try and secure a boat to take us out to the island of Coronado.
After circling the coast, we settled at a beautiful beach. We hung out here the rest of the day, snorkeling, swimming, finding dead things on the beach (moray eels and severed shark heads), reading, sleeping, doing a photo shoot, and having a time of Bible study and worship.
After a night lit by the brightest full moon I've ever seen, we woke up and decided to hike south along the coast to see if we could find anything oyster-like. After about 30 minutes of hiking Sarah spotted a small cave about half way up a cliff face (she totally missed the oyster like rock on the coast below it). I got up to it first with Sarah close behind. In the dim flashlight I could see what seemed to be a small rope of some sort coming from a pile of rocks. I was too big to crawl back into the whole however so I waited for Sarah to get up there. She shimmied into the hole and pulled on the string. To our amazement a burlap bundle was attached to it. Trying not to freak out we brought the package down from the cliff. We cut through the old rope, began to unwrap the burlap, found another cloth, unwrapped it and found a beautiful wooden box, inlaid with the emblem of a violin. With wide eyes we opened the lid...and music started, both figurativly and literally. It was a music box and inside it contained only one item. A ring. I took the ring, got on my knees and looked Sarah in the eyes. "Sarah, there are so many reasons why I love you, but the most important reason is that we are both in love with the same person, our Lord Jesus Christ. Will you marry me?" After a few, very long seconds of silence, she blurted out, "are you serious!?" After assuring her I was she burst into tears and said yes.
As you probably have guessed by now, the whole treasure hunt thing was made up. I totally surprised her.
Special thanks to Brad, Juliet, Kornut, Marybeth, Derek, and Jeanet for being such a huge part of our adventure!
The wedding is July 22nd. Let me know if you want an invitation
by God's grace, for God's glory,