A good love story gets harder to come by every day. But, if you look closely, there are some truly phenomenal ones around you – in the person you walk past every day, in your teachers or a friend of a friend. Love can be found in the strangest of places, and the weirdest of ways. For Sara and Obeja, love was found on a campus in a university in sunny Nairobi.
Their story starts with Sara, two months into a new life far away from her home in Spain, walking along campus happy and excited to be here. Obeja, a Ugandan born and Kenyan based structural engineer, is on campus working on a building project when he sees Sara walking along smiling to herself. Struck, his brain reaches for a quote from St. Josemaria; There is only one race, the race of the children of God.
“Well actually, you said you thought I looked dumb,” Sara says laughingly, looking over at her husband.
The conversation continues in a similar tone; each taking turns narrating their story, with the other interjecting to add the little details that make a story. They look into each other’s eyes, sharing the occasional touch and smiles laced with memories. Totally lost in each other on the walk down memory lane as though all alone.
Watching them now, you’d never know that she once sent him an email in response to his handwritten letter, asking that they just remain friends. He was deep in the friend-zone, blue-ticks and all. But he was determined. So determined, in fact, that when her mother came to Strathmore in 2016 to give a 3-hour lecture on the history of Spanish cinema, he attended and took notes, only later revealing that he only understood 10% of the lecture, and asked if she might be open to explaining the other 90%… perhaps over coffee the following week. Only as friends though!
The first and subsequent coffee dates went well, but he kept insisting that it was purely platonic, which was a relief to her. He kept insisting even as he invited her on a date on Valentine’s day 2017. This was her chance to shut things down once and for all. She got there with a plan in place to tell him all the worst things about herself, and emphasize all the ways they were too different for anything other than friendship. To her surprise, he listened carefully, understood and embraced everything she had told him. She went in intent on cementing their encounter into just a friendship, but on that day, something clicked and everything changed.
It was a whirlwind from there. They spent every single day for the next month together until Obeja moved to Nanyuki for work. A relief to his wallet! Their relationship progressed through the year and by August and September, they were visiting each other’s countries and introducing their two families. For, Obeja in fact, it was on a flight home from Spain, with Sara sleeping beside him that he was hit with the realization that he was going to spend the rest of his life with her.
“I knew she was the woman I wanted to marry because I felt very at peace in my life and in our future.”
And so, on the 8th of December 2017, they met early for breakfast and exchanged letters they had been writing to each other as part of a 9-day novena. He had flowers with him, and they walked to the shrine of our lady. As Obeja was collecting his thoughts and mentally rehearsing his speech (that he fully intended to deliver in Spanish), Sara was nearly tipping the whole statue over as she attempted to put the flowers in the arms of the statue of our lady. When she turned, there he was, down on one knee. He panicked and forgot every word of Spanish. She was so overwhelmed that all she could say was “Yeesh”. They now affectionately refer to the shrine as their engagement point.
They were married in Spain in 2019, followed by a honeymoon in Rome, then Diani, Kenya.
In 2020, they had their first son, their second in 2021 and most recently, their third son at the end of 2022. He was with us as we spoke, sleeping peacefully at first. When he woke up hungry, they took turns soothing him and gently rocking him back and forth as the other continued the story. Being from two different cultures, they have raised their children with a perfect mix of both. Obeja speaks only Acholi to their children, and she, only Spanish. So they are multilingual and have had the chance to visit both Uganda and Spain while living full time in Kenya. Their littlest will get the chance to visit Uganda for the first time later this year.
They say opposites attract, which proved true for Sara and Obeja who are as different in personality as the countries they were born in. Over the years, it has caused misunderstandings as they continue to grow in love with each other. Communication is at the heart of their relationship. But most importantly, God. They feel His grace in their lives daily and live in the belief that marriage is a three-way commitment. At their very core, they are exactly the same; two people with big hearts that hold a lot of love for God, their family and each other.
Seeing as how it all began with a Valentines date, they continue the yearly celebration of the day. By now, they have racked up a box full of handwritten letters to each other and hope to add two more this Valentines.
This article was written by Celia Kinuthia.
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