Funmi and Joel Rivera have been servant leaders at VOUS Church since the beginning. From helping with load-in, connecting guests to the right resources or supporting families in VOUS Care, their service has been invaluable. We can't thank God enough for this powerful couple in our church family.Funmi had a lot to say about their journey. It has impacted us and we know it will do the same for you.[/lead]Serving is what brought us together in the first place. We met at an I Love My City event in October 2015. From there we started a friendship that developed over the course of a year.That year of friendship helped us talk through many ideas people tend to have while dating. Ideas that would help couples sort out if they’d like to pursue a bigger commitment. It helped me see in Joel the qualities I wanted in a husband—protective, strong work ethic, a healthy perspective on life despite challenges. I had the sense that he would be able to make me feel secure and be willing to work hard for his family.So, naturally, I was open to the idea of dating. But the thought of starting a romantic relationship made Joel feel a bit apprehensive at first. He held back because he wasn’t sure that he was ready for the responsibility. But the thought of me dating someone else just wasn’t going work for him. So, he took a leap of faith and told me he wanted to see where our relationship could go. And it paid off. Once we began to date we knew we’d be heading towards marriage.Fast forward, we got engaged on Memorial Day 2017. It’s funny that I was totally caught off-guard when he proposed. Since I knew marriage was eventually going to happen, I wasn’t in a rush. But I did warn him not to propose at a restaurant or I’d say no.Anyway, in the middle of him doing a lot of improvements to his house, we took a trip to visit his family in Panama. You would’ve thought I got the tip because my sister was very adamant that I get my nails done. During the trip, after a long day of sight-seeing and me being ready to just end the day, Joel was being pretty picky about finding the right setting for a final photo op. We were in an old part of town and he kept insisting to get the right pictures the entire day so I thought nothing of it, I was just tired. Finally, when he found the perfect spot for us, he popped the question and I was just shocked. It was truly the perfect picture.We have an incredible support system. So many people at VOUS have become our family. Whether we need prayer or advice in our marriage, we know our church family is here for us. It’s part of what makes VOUS such a central part of our lives. Not to mention that serving at VOUS has helped us remember that people really are our heart. It is not just an idea we hold to on Sundays, this value is part of our daily lives as we seek to encourage and support other couples. To serve and hold true to our values is paramount to the health of our relationship. When we serve it’s a blessing that keeps multiplying. It’s our life’s purpose.Our relationship “makes” by implementing what we know is right regardless of our feelings. We prioritize communication and do our best to understand each other versus trying to be understood. It’s not always easy, but it’s an underlying theme in our relationship. We remember that we are on the same side, pursuing the same goals. Plus, it’s difficult to hold onto unforgiveness when we know Christ has forgiven us.Oftentimes, people hold on to offense and don’t meet their partner's needs because their own aren’t being met for any number of reasons. But that leads to resentment and we try our best to always come back to one another. Life is better when we forgive quickly and seek to meet each other’s needs.It’s easier to be understanding with my husband and to love and respect him when I know I’m honoring God in the process. Our relationship with God enables us to be healthy as we relate to one another.Christ is the center of everything we do. As we get closer to him, we become closer to one another.
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