Posted January 11, 2017 - by Ella Hadacek
Ray found out that love doesn't always happen conveniently in one's backyard. He was looking for someone within in driving distance, but instead the 51-year-old from Rochester, New York, ended up falling in love with a gal from Indonesia.
Niken, 40, found Ray’s profile and bravely made first contact, sending him an emotigram to say hello. Even though Niken lived 9,861 miles away, Ray wasn't deterred. “I was attracted to Niken immediately,” he shares. “Her pictures, her Catholic faith, her profile, her personality, her interests, and her willingness to relocate all appealed to me.”
From that first contact, the couple began corresponding through CatholicMatch regularly for three months before they decided it was time to move to Skype. Ray considers the first time they Skyped as their first date, instead of a more conventional meeting in person. “Developing a relationship with someone on the other side of the world is definitely interesting. We had to coordinate times to Skype given the fact that the time in Jakarta is 12 hours ahead of the time in Rochester (11 during Daylight Saving Time).” After that first video chat, they faithfully spoke every Sunday.
At this point, their relationship started to progress. “We learned about each others’ lives and of our jobs and families,” says Ray. He also adds that they bonded over their faith. “My faith has always been important to me and even more so since meeting Niken. Catholics are a small minority in Indonesia, which is a majority Muslim country. I am impressed with the respect that all religions have for each other in Indonesia as well as the vibrancy of the Catholic church there. Niken’s deep faith has been an inspiration to me and has helped strengthen my faith as well as the bond we share together.”
Ray’s First Trip to Indonesia
During their video chats, Niken would remind Ray that he was always welcome to visit her in Indonesia, and he finally made the trip in August of 2015. When he got on the plane to Indonesia to visit, Ray says he knew he was going to propose Niken, but he did not know where, how, or when.
“Niken is very organized and had scheduled something for every minute of time I was there.” While Ray was in Indonesia, the couple went by train from Jakarta on the western end of the island of Java to Yogyakarta in central Java and then to Malang on the eastern end. They then flew to Bali and then to Singapore.
When he saw the Singapore Flyer, which is a giant enclosed observation wheel with 360-degree views of the city, Ray knew that was where he was going to propose. However, Niken almost foiled his plans. “Niken is very frugal, and she didn’t want to go on the observation wheel because she said it was too expensive. I had to beg her to go on it with me,” laughs Ray. Each capsule holds 28 people, and Ray had hoped to be up there alone, but they ended up in there with eight or nine other tourists. “I quietly proposed to her in one of the capsules with people around. Thank God she said, 'Yes!'”
Being on Different Continents Was a Hurdle
“We have had so many hurdles to overcome,” shares Ray.
Ray was told by loved-ones that he was being scammed by Niken, and some insisted that love couldn’t develop over the internet. “They told me, ‘It won’t work,’ ‘It’s not safe,’ ‘What if it’s a sham?’ ‘Are you really going to do this?’ ‘It’s out of character for you,’ and ‘Why don’t you just find someone here?’”
But Ray shares that despite the naysayers who doubted the authenticity of his relationship, he never had a doubt—not even a single one—that Niken was the right person for him.
“Catholic means universal and despite the long distance, different countries, and customs, the Mass she goes to on Sunday is the same as the Mass I go to on Sundays. That shared faith is what kept us and what keeps us going.”
Also, U.S. visa laws kept them apart. Niken would have liked to visit Ray, but they quickly found out at that it is incredibly difficult for someone from another country to get a tourist visa.
The distance also added stress to their wedding planning. “Planning a wedding from halfway around the world is very challenging because all of the documents, forms, invitations, etc. we had to complete—some in English, some in Indonesian,” says Ray. Niken speaks English, but it is her second language, so trying to get everything correct was challenging.
In addition, when it comes to marriages, Church and state are much more intertwined in Indonesia than in the U.S., so there was a myriad of forms that had to be completed in English or Indonesian and then submitted to the Church or civil authorities to register to be married. “This was the source of a lot of stress and tension for both of us,” says Ray.
A Traditional Java Wedding
However, those barriers didn’t keep Niken and Ray from being joined in marriage. On February 6, 2016, the couple had a traditional Java style wedding. “Our wedding was very beautiful,” says Ray. “Niken gave me the choice of having an American style wedding or a traditional Java style wedding. I didn’t want to go all the way to Indonesia to have an American-style wedding, so I chose the traditional Java wedding.”
Ray says he doesn’t regret choosing a traditional wedding except when it comes to the heavy material of his wedding clothes. “It is always unbearably hot and humid in Indonesia, and the heavy material of the wedding clothes made it somewhat uncomfortable, but we made it through, and we're happily married!”
Waiting for a Visa
Although they are married, Niken and Ray aren’t able to live together yet. They are still waiting for a visa, which could take about a year. In the meantime, they text every day and continue to Skype every week. “I pray that her visa will take less than a year so that we can finally be together, raise a family and spend the rest of our lives together,” says Ray.
Despite being apart, Ray still loves being married. “Niken is by far the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I had been praying to meet a special person for years, and the fact that we met on CatholicMatch when we did tells me it was meant to be. Both of us joined CatholicMatch at about the same time and with the Lord’s help, we found each other. The best advice that I can give to other Catholics is never to give up, pray often, and do something concrete (like join CatholicMatch). Then relax and trust that the Lord will work in His mysterious ways to help match you with that special person!”