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Couple travels 4,000 miles to wed in Oxford



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German natives Anna Ronfordt and Tobias Witt chose to tie the knot in Oxford April 7. Photo by Lance Farrell. (click for larger version)

Ronfordt_Witt
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German natives Anna Ronfordt and Tobias Witt chose to tie the knot in Oxford April 7. Photo by Lance Farrell. (click for larger version)
April 11, 2012 - By Lance Farrell

Leader Staff Writer

Many are the paths that lead to love, and for newlyweds Anna Ronfordt and Tobias Witt, their route led straight back to the Pathway Baptist Church in Oxford.

Anna and Tobias, 31 and 33, traveled 4,000 miles from their home in Hagen, Germany to wed here April 7.

Tom and Linda McGarry, of Oxford, first opened their home to Anna in 1996 when they lived in Milton, WI. Since then, the Ronfordt and McGarry families have preserved a close connection despite the many miles and years that have come between them.

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On one such return visit, Anna Ronfordt spotted the Pathway church on West Drahner Rd and immediately recognized the site of her future wedding. A few years later she came to know the man who would be her spouse.

The ebullient pair first met back in Hagen. Their romance blossomed via heart-to-heart talks shared across their neighboring balconies. They discovered that they had many interests in common, a fact evinced by their eventual career paths: Anna teaches English and Art to upper level university bound students, and Tobias serves at a shelter for young boys rescued from troubled homes.

When not at work in Germany, Witt follows American basketball closely. Though he jokes about his inability to dunk, Witt does have a classic point guard build. His favorite teams are the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons.

They knew they wanted a smallish wedding, and Anna's second family in America were indispensable members of the party. Tom and Linda welcomed the return of their German daughter and son without hesitation.

Over the years, the McGarrys have hosted four exchange students in total, and they recommend the opportunity to others. They are members of Friendship Force International and Youth for Understanding. Friendship Force is an exchange for adults, while Youth for Understanding represents the traditional yearlong high-school age swaps.

Like Anna Ronfordt, Linda was an exchange student when she was in high school, and said the experience literally "expanded my world-view." Linda considers these connections forged across borders to be a privilege and a way "to promote world understanding and peace," something she finds in short supply today.

She joked that once she has a student from Africa and South America, then she'll have a truly global family.

Anna Ronfordt spoke of her time in the United States with fondness, an experience she was afforded through a Youth for Understanding exchange.

Her time on exchange reminded her of the great benefits she took for granted in Germany. For instance, she saw many American students who needed to work after school to save for their education and realized the advantage the state-funded model offers German students .

On the other hand, she was quick to recall, she found the friendliness and openness among Americans a stark and welcome contrast to the reserve of her German compatriots.

It was this friendliness that encouraged her to stay in touch with the McGarrys and that would lead her back to Oxford.

The experience expanded the McGarry's hearts because they were overflowing with pride at the good fortune of their "daughter" from Germany.

Upon meeting Meister Witt, Mrs. McGarry had no doubt that Anna had found her perfect match. Linda McGarry served as the matron of honor in the wedding.

Pastor Wayne Bennett performed Saturday's service and sees something divine at play in the young lovers' romance.

Bennett indicated having a wedding between Good Friday and Easter will ensure their marriage is blessed and happy one.

The pair will journey to Niagara Falls before returning to Germany mid-month.

For more information on charting a path as an exchange student or host family, visit www.yfu.org or www.thefriendshipforce.org

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