Love Conquers Fear

by Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical on October 21, 2010

My Girl and II met my wife in 2001.  It was during a time in my life when I was interested in connecting with people from around the world.  So I did what any normal person would do and I got online and started meeting people.  I made friends in Japan, Korea, Philippians, Singapore, China and Indonesia.  It was fun getting to know people from other cultures and listen to what they thought about the United States.  And I did this all online from the comfort and safety of my computer room.

Then one day while looking through Excite.com personal ads I saw a photo of a woman from Indonesia.  I read the ad but then clicked on through to the next one not really giving it much thought.  But over the course of a week that one ad kept popping up on my screen.  Over and over and over again.  So I replied not really knowing at the time where Indonesia even was (I later discovered that it was indeed on planet Earth).  But there was something about this woman that kept me interested so I replied to her ad with an email.

After a few days I received a response in my inbox “Hello, nice to meet you.  It will be better if you come to my country….I hope my wish come true.”  And so began the early stages of a wonderful relationship.  We exchanged photos.  We sent emails every day.  We even talked on the phone. 

Side note: When calling internationally it is important to have an International phone plan.  I became very aware of this after receiving a $700 phone bill.  Thankfully the phone company was gracious enough to sign me up for an International plan and apply that pricing to all my previous calls. Of course now we have Skype and other VoIP solutions.

Our relationship grew over the next couple months.  In fact it really grew.  Even though we had never met in person we felt this connection with each other.  Some may scoff at the idea of a soul mate and that there is one person out there somewhere in the world that is meant just for you, but I truly believe that and it was then that I realized I had found my soul mate. 

We had only been emailing and calling now for a few months (we first exchanged emails in December of 2000) but I knew she was the one so I asked her to marry me during one of our phone calls.  That is how sure I was.  All I had was a few photos, a ton of emails and lots of phone calls.  We had never met in person.  But I knew she was the one.

Getting Married

So we set a wedding date of April 30th which at this point gave me less than 2 months to prepare to fly to Indonesia to get married.  I had a passport to apply for, a suit to buy, plane tickets to get me there and plane tickets to get us both back.  I had to request time off from work, find someone to watch my cat.  It was crunch time.

Here is the thing though.  I was terrified!  I had never been outside of the US.  I was deathly afraid of flying.  And, at the time there was a travel advisory to Indonesia thanks to the Christmas bombings in Jakarta.  What the hell was I doing?

Despite all these concerns and fears I was actually really excited.  Here was my chance to live outside the pages of a National Geographic Magazine, to do something exciting and amazing and to marry the woman that I loved!  So I got my passport, booked my tickets and started to read and learn about Indonesian culture.  I wanted to be prepared for anything that life threw at me.

April came quickly and finally it was time to head out.  Everything was packed and I had my passport and tickets in hand.  Some friends dropped me off at the airport and I was on my way.  The first leg of the trip was from Eugene to San Francisco.  In San Francisco I walked the terminal while I waited for my 1AM flight to Hong Kong.  Again, fear and doubt hounded me.  Why did I want to do this?

There is something about airports that is exciting.  Maybe it’s the idea that you are in a place where you can hop aboard a plane and head off to anywhere in the world.  All it takes is a ticket and a passport.  You get to people watch and wonder where they just came from and where they are going.  These days when I see the contrails of a plane overhead I stop and imagine all the destinations it may be heading.

Finally I boarded my flight.  I had a lot of time to think on my 16 hour flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong.  How did I end up on this plane?  I had no idea what to expect when I finally landed in Jakarta and that made me a bit nervous.  I was a seriously green world traveler.

I finally landed in Hong Kong after starting to think that I was trapped in some kind of time warp and would never leave that giant metal trap with wings.  As we taxied into the airport I distinctly remember looking out that plane window and seeing all of the airport workers and the strange looking vehicles and thinking I was in a whole different world now.  I was no longer home.

Finally after another flight from Hong Kong to Singapore, a 5 hour layover and a quick 45 minute hop to Jakarta I arrived in Indonesia.  Here I was a nerdy white guy with absolutely no travel experience, a severe fear of flying, an inability to speak the Indonesian language, having passed through Indonesian customs, now walking out of the airport and onto foreign soil for the first time ever.  How did I do it?  How did I conquer all these fears that for years had always held me back from doing incredible things and living my dreams?

Love Conquers Fear

I did it simply for love.  Love will conquer fear.  If you love something you will do it.  You won’t let anything stand in your way.  Fear cannot stop you.  I’m not just talking about romantic love here or the flowery love with rainbows and unicorns.  I’m talking about anything that you love, anything that you feel passionate about. 

Maybe you are an artist and love painting but have been scared to step out and make a life out of it.  If you love it enough you will find a way.

Maybe you love traveling and have always wanted to live in another country, or travel around the world.  If you love it enough you will find a way.

Whatever it is you love, if you love it enough, you will find a way to do it.

In case you are wondering my wife and I have been happily married now for 9 years.  We have two sons and are looking forward to creating a new chapter in our life with our 1 year sabbatical to Indonesia.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Gillian October 21, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Wow…I am seriously inspired…and speechless! What an amazing, tremendous, leap-of-faith story. Thank you.

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matt October 22, 2010 at 12:45 am

I’m glad you were inspired Gillian! Thank you for your comment. This was an incredible time in our life and our beautiful journey continues.

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Karen October 22, 2010 at 2:27 am

I am Matt’s mom. My daughter in law is truly a wonderful person. Not only is she beautiful on the outside, she is beautiful on the inside. She’s smart, funny, talented and a good mom and wife. Ok, so maybe we had a moment of wondering about this unconventional way of courting but after meeting Irene we understood completely how Matt fell in love with this lovely young woman. I am so lucky to have her as part of our family.

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matt October 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Haha…I’m sure there was more than just a moment of wondering. I agree with everything you wrote.

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Heather October 22, 2010 at 8:23 am

What a wonderful story Matt! Having been through that long trip to Indonesia, I can’t imagine that being my first international trip! I was nervous flying from Ohio to the Dominican Republic, and that was only about 5 hours!
Heather recently posted..In Which I Set a Goal For Myself

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matt October 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Thanks Heather! It’s definitely a brutal flight from the US to Indonesia. Last time we went back we had our son with us. What I didn’t write was that we had some issues at the US embassy and I had to fly back solo after we were married. I then turned around 2 weeks later and flew back to Indonesia to complete the visa process and fly back with my wife. But I will admit that for my first experience overseas Indonesia was an eye opener. A bit of culture shock for sure. But I sure have grown to love that country and can’t wait to get back and experience more of it. How did you like Manado/North Sulawesi? You have some awesome diving photos!

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Torrie October 22, 2010 at 10:54 am

This is an amazing story. It does seem true that the more you know you love something the seas part to bring it to you. The hard part can be figuring out what we love. For me that’s the hard part.

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matt October 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I find that when I really love and am passionate about something, like photography for example, I go all out. I’ll take bigger risks, I’ll put myself out there more in situations I might not normally put myself in. But I hear what you are saying. Sometimes it’s difficult to really know what you really love and want to do. I’m in that spot a bit now. What is it I really want to do? I’m hoping this sabbatical will be a time of reflection and self-exploration to discover new things about myself. What’s funny is when my kids act up I give them a timeout to think about things and I think at times adults need a timeout to think about things. Sabbaticals are good for that. Thanks for adding your thoughts to the site.

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Mary R October 25, 2010 at 12:31 am

Dear Matt,
I really love stories like this! I met my husband online too, and in hindsight, there was something special about him from the start too. The first picture I ever saw of him- he was sitting in a pumpkin patch, and somehow that image just stayed in my mind.

So happy that you followed your heart to Bali!
Mary R recently posted..Magical Moments in Moorea

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matt October 25, 2010 at 12:53 am

Hi Mary! How wonderful that you met your husband online as well. I hear from so many people that have met this way. My wife is definitely the best thing that has ever happened to me and I am so blessed to have her in my life; and blessed that she puts up with me 😉

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Mark Powers October 25, 2010 at 2:32 am

Matt, it’s so great of you to share this story with everyone. I’m so happy to have gotten to personally meet you and Irene (& the little guys) this afternoon! Looking forward to some more time with you all before you take off on your big family adventure- Mark Powers
Mark Powers recently posted..Want To Travel Do It NOW

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matt October 25, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Thanks Mark! It was awesome to meet and spend time with you on Sunday. We will definitely be connecting more over the coming months. Looking forward to hosting you in Indonesia as well. 🙂

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ivan October 25, 2010 at 6:46 pm

wow…awesome story matt…thanks for sharing…god is love….peace
ivan recently posted..How To Overcome Your Ultimate Fear

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matt October 25, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Hey Ivan! So good to hear from you. You’ve been an inspiration to me and keep me focused with your writing. Keep up the good work my friend.

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Jenny October 26, 2010 at 1:04 am

Wow. What a great story Matt. It is inspiring that you took such a leap of faith! I’m so happy that everything worked out for you. I believe that everything happens for a reason… to bring us where we are today.
Jenny recently posted..You know you’re preparing to go around the world when…

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matt October 26, 2010 at 1:12 am

Hi Jenny! I totally agree with you. Things do happen for a reason and each experience we have has not only brought us to where we are today but has shaped us into who we are today.

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Helchan April 13, 2011 at 12:40 am

Hy Matt!
Great! U dare to realized wht u love.. I live in jakarta,,
Ur wife must be a lucky woman..

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 13, 2011 at 12:47 am

Hi Helchan! Thanks so much for commenting. I feel that I am a very lucky man. My sister-in-law lives in Jakarta but we spend most of our visits in Bandung. Good to hear from you. Cheers!

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Tony November 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Fantastic story Matt – and I can’t help feeling I must be your evil twin – as yet again I have a similar story (but unfortunately not the same outcome). After my divorce in 2003 I was feeling depressed and I decided to reach out to people all over the word too – remember ICQ? I used ICQ and Yahoo Messenger for a while. Those were heady days and I had a lot of fun meeting people online – some I am still friends with nearly 10 years on. I ended up a witness at one friend from Singapore’s wedding here in the UK. We still keep in touch.

I ended up meeting a lovely lady in Thailand – despite all the warnings and naysayers I went there, we fell in love, and had a wonderful relationship that lasted nearly three years. Ultimately, it didn’t become a marriage (my fault) but I can remember being as scared as hell on the way out to meet her, but incredibly excited at the same time. I’ll never forget that feeling when the plane landed at BKK and the nav system showed the plane was near Victory Monument. It was one of the most incredible sensations of excitement I’ve ever experienced.

I look back on those years as a significant high point in my life, and the time when I started living consciously – for me, not someone else’s agenda. I have finally settled down with a lovely filipina, who is just as adventurous as myself, but she was living here in the UK, so the journey time for dates was somewhat reduced 🙂 I am really enjoying your blog, and look forward to the many further adventures I think you’ll have.
Tony recently posted..When your health fails

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical November 16, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Wow Tony! We have such similar stories. As an IT person I certainly remember ICQ. I had a great time meeting people from around the world and making many new friends.

I too still remember that feeling of excitement, anticipation and a little fear of the unknown when I landed in Jakarta. My first International voyage! It was just incredible and such a culture shock. But I think that everyone should experience culture shock as it really opens your eyes to a much wider and rewarding world view. I love that feeling of landing in a foreign land. I have to say it’s a bit addicting.

I love that you mention that it was a time you started living consciously. I feel the same way. It was such an incredible eye-opening experience. Over the past years I feel that I slipped back into a routine that wasn’t living consciously so I’m happy to feel like I am back on track again.

Best wishes for your latest adventures.

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