Two Islands, Two Hearts - Salvation Army Canada

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  • Feb14Wed

    Two Islands, Two Hearts

    The couple was separated by half a world, but love found a way. February 14, 2018 by Tamiko Ramabuke
    Filed Under:
    Faith & Friends
    Tamiko and Atonio (Photos: Yoshi Kawai, Ocean Studio Fiji)
    Tamiko and Atonio (Photos: Yoshi Kawai, Ocean Studio Fiji)
    “Slim to none.” Those were the bleak odds a relative gave me during a telephone call one day 10 years ago this month, when I asked him what he thought the chances were that I would find a husband at the age of 36—one who had never been married and who had no children.

    If I’d been a gambler, I’d have to say that I wouldn’t have touched those odds, either. Fortunately, God didn’t think I was such a long shot.

    Prayer in a Treasure Chest
    My love story starts in 1997, when I met a fellow member of The Salvation Army at an international youth forum in South Africa. Ulamila (Mila) was from Fiji, and over the years, we kept our long-distance friendship going.

    Tamiko and Atonio’s wedding dayTamiko and Atonio’s wedding day
    Fast-forward to 2007. By now, my friend had become the first single female Salvation Army divisional youth secretary in Fiji. Captain Mila invited me to another international Army conference in New Zealand, and on my way home, I arranged for a stopover to spend time with her on her home island.

    On one of those days, Mila was tied up with work, so she asked Carolyne (Lini), the teenaged daughter of two Salvation Army colleagues, to show me around.

    Lini took me to see her Godmother Mere. During the visit, the godmother noticed that I was not married and showed me a small “treasure chest” of prayer requests that people had given to her and that she promised to pray for. She asked me to write down my own prayer for what I was looking for in a husband.

    “A handsome, God-fearing husband who loves the Lord (and me),” I wrote.

    The godmother and I prayed over the chest together and then I left to continue my vacation with my friend. Days later, I headed home to Bermuda.

    Unbeknownst to me, a couple of months earlier, a man named Atonio (Tony) went to visit that same godmother. He, too, wrote out all the qualities he was looking for in a prospective wife, and Tony and Godmother Mere said a prayer over the request and placed it in the chest.

    Three months after my visit, Tony was sitting in the living room of his home during a family gathering and the topic of marriage came up.

    “I’ve got a friend that matches what you are looking for,” his cousin Lini told him. “She lives in Bermuda.”

    “Where’s Bermuda?” he asked.

    “Bermuda's a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean,” she explained. Knowing that Fiji was located in the Pacific Ocean, Tony knew that we were worlds apart!

    But despite the distance—and 15-hour time difference—that night, I received an email from Tony.

    Love at First Text
    Although it was rather strange to receive a message from a complete stranger half a world away, from the beginning there was a connection.

    A Salvation Army band played at their weddingA Salvation Army band played at their wedding
    Tony was two years older than me, unmarried with no children.

    Almost immediately, he asked me about my vision for the future and what God was doing in my life. And he used the exact same words I had used in my private prayer request.

    While he was in university working on a degree in business, he’d prayed for a wife with a similar degree in business administration and a similar vision. Not only did I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in business administration but the dreams for our future dovetailed almost exactly. It turned out that we have similar faith backgrounds, as I am a member of The Salvation Army while Tony’s father is a pastor. We also have similar musical interests—both of us know how to play the guitar and the piano.

    That was the start of daily Skype conversations and email exchanges. It soon became clear to both of us that we’d fallen in love without ever having met!

    Tony’s proposal was as unconventional as our courtship. One day while we were texting, he typed, “Would you like to get married?”

    I replied with one word: “Yes!”

    Fiji Meets Bermuda
    We finally met a year later in early 2009, when I travelled to Fiji. Neither of us was nervous about this first encounter, just excited. We’d spent a year talking to each other about everything under the sun, so there was a comfort level in place. Indeed, it felt as if we had known each other for years.

    Tamiko and Atonio, happily marriedTamiko and Atonio, happily married, are active Salvationists in Bermuda
    I was in Fiji for two weeks, where I stayed at the hotel he’d recommended for our wedding reception, and I was able to spend time with his family and experience Fijian culture and hospitality.

    Most importantly, Tony and I got to spend time together. If anything, it only confirmed how fortunate we were to have found each other. God had placed us together where we needed to be.

    Our wedding that August encapsulated all we held dear. There were more than 50 of my family and friends who came from Bermuda, Canada, the United States and South Africa to celebrate our union, and an equal number from Tony’s family and friends from South Korea and Australia. We had a traditional island wedding, where my bridesmaids and I were dressed in Fijian attire. We then changed to western dress for the reception, which was a mix of Fijian and Bermudian cultures. We had traditional Fijian music as well as a Salvation Army band.

    Happily Ever After
    Today, Tony and I have been married for almost nine years and we are the proud parents of a baby boy whom we adopted in Fiji. We named him Matteo, which means “gift from God.” We split our time between both islands and we are happier than we have ever been in our lives.

    We are active with The Salvation Army, helping to feed the homeless and volunteering during the Christmas season. I still practise with the church worship group and direct our puppet ministry.

    Only God could bring two people from two islands, half a world apart, together through the power of prayer. And prayer is what sustains us, now and forever.


    On Saturday, February 17, 2018, Danny Simmons said:

    What a beautiful story and testament of God's handiwork!It is a pleasure,priviledge and an honor to have Tony and Tamiko as fellow believers and friends. May the LORD shine upon this marriage and family, and use this testimony to encourage others to trust in Him whatever the odds.


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