Naomi and Uriah first met briefly in the Cambodian border town of Poipet in January of 2017. Naomi was leading a team of young leaders from Myanmar and Uriah was in charge of helping arrange transportation to a training 3 hours away. Though both of them had joined Youth With a Mission (YWAM) at the same time in October 2003, (Uriah even attending in Naomi’s hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii) neither of them had ever met before. The countries they lived in were close, and the mission the same – but they were still worlds apart – Uriah was leading the base he had pioneered a couple years earlier in Cambodia and Naomi was leading the school she had started a couple years earlier in Myanmar.
That week in January 2017, Uriah attended the same training as Naomi and although no strong bond was formed, Naomi still remembers the first thought she had when meeting Uriah – “his wife is so lucky.” It was also at this time that Uriah heard two specific things from the Lord: 1) that in the next year he was going to visit Myanmar and 2) that he should offer to teach on relationships in the Siem Reap DTS (Discipleship Training School) that year.
Three months later, in April of 2017, when Uriah arrived in Siem Reap to teach in the DTS – lo and behold the first person he met as he walked into the YWAM base was Naomi’s mother Sandi Hokyo. After talking for a while she mentioned having a single daughter who was a YWAM leader in Myanmar, to whom there was no equal in all the world – or so she made it seem. Naomi’s mom raved of how when she wasn’t starting schools in Africa, Malaysia, or Myanmar, she was loving children, learning languages, working on her master’s degree and enjoying being beloved by all. While Uriah nodded politely and listened intently, he thought surely no person could truly be this good – or at least this good and also good looking.
Two months later in June, chance and maybe a little dash of scheming, brought everyone together over coffee in Thailand where Uriah saw first-hand that Sandi’s description of Naomi didn’t even begin to do her justice. It was at this time that Uriah realized he would need to seriously step up his game if he wanted to pursue Naomi’s heart. Over the next several months he sought out the advice and counsel of his leaders and friends regarding how to grow and prepare himself for an intentional relationship with a woman who was so obviously out of his league.
Meanwhile, Naomi tried to continually remind herself that the handsome, brilliant and charming Uriah was just her friend and nothing more. Though the meeting was brief she couldn’t seem to forget the way Uriah’s stormy eyes twinkled as he spoke of visions and plans so big they challenged and inspired her heart. Little did she know that when she sent the occasional encouraging email, it was demonstrating such humor, wisdom, and love that Uriah continually was reminded that no matter how difficult the process of growth might be, in the end, if a life spent in union with Naomi was the reward then he’d be mad to not do whatever was necessary to win her heart.
With Uriah working in Cambodia and Naomi in Myanmar, they built a friendship through emails, video chats, and phone calls until the time came in late April of 2018 when Uriah went to visit Naomi. Their shared love of God, people, coffee, books, missions, personal development, and spicy noodles, complemented ever so nicely their many contrasts. Uriah’s innovative and enthusiastic big picture visions fit like a glass slipper onto the foot of Naomi’s strategic, highly focused, detailed personality. Over the next 5 months of dating and travelling through Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Hawaii and the Pacific northwest the assurance, and confirmation that God was bringing them together for marriage only became clearer and clearer.
In October of 2018, with the love and support of both their families and all their friends, Uriah brought Naomi to the top of a mountain with the most gorgeous view. After a romantic picnic and talk of their shared dreams and vision, Uriah surprised Naomi by getting on one knee and asking her to marry him. With wide eyes and a mouth full of Japanese crackers Naomi said yes!
On February 23, 2019, in the mountain town of Kalaw, Myanmar which Naomi has called home for the last 5 years, Uriah and Naomi will be married. In addition to wanting her Myanmar friends and family to be able to join in the celebration, Naomi requested the wedding be there because it will be her goodbye to Myanmar as she moves to join Uriah in life and ministry in Poipet, Cambodia. And while Uriah and Naomi truly feel so very blessed and consider each other as the “happily ever after” they have so long waited for – they also rejoice in the knowledge that the adventure is only beginning!