I've decided I'm going to start a little series. Over the last few weeks, I have been remembering. Looking back and seeing what my life has been and where I have been. Some of these moments still seem surreal. Moments that I do not know if you could ever really create and that you still wonder how on earth did that happen to you. I have several. I'm fortunate that several of those I share with Mike as well. Really, I have more that I hold on to during the 2004-2005 school year than any other. I lived overseas that year and so did Mike. This is actually how we met. Mike was working with the same organization (CRU - formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) in southern Italy and I was working in Liverpool, England. We didn't really meet until January of that year, but the experience we both had was life changing. We would do it all over again - separate and together. And yes - we did meet during this year, but neither one of us would say that's why this was the best year of our lives. The amount that unfolded in that year is just crazy! Truly - CRAZY! But, I am blessed that we met that year and under very odd circumstances. So, let's start there.
Our team leaders had met earlier that summer and had become friends. In January all of our teams were getting together for an annual conference and our leaders were eager to see each other again. So - as soon as Mike's team arrived, we all started hanging out. This conference is also known as the "meet your mate" conference. Everyone talks about how all these couples meet and get married. It didn't take long before we were busy people watching and looking to see who the "famous" couple would be that year. And next thing we knew - NOTHING was going on! How boring...
So Mike and a couple of other girls decided to play a prank on the rest of his team. They wanted to make it look like a relationship was developing. Mike had never really had a girlfriend so they thought it was only fitting to make the most impact. Next up - a girl to pair him up with. Somehow I was nominated.
Let me stop for a minute.
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
This is just dumb. Seriously, the worst thing you could do for your heart and someone else's. Well...stupid us...
So we started to hang out. Our first conversation was on the way out dancing with both of our teams. We hung out in the back of the line and quizzed each other on the basics of our life and everything someone might ask us. We were opposites - as in NO WAY this is believable because I don't talk to people like you, let alone date them! The feeling was mutual.
So, we hung out all night with our teams. The rest of the week we pretended to like each other. Somehow in this craziness, we became friends. Once we went our separate ways, we both realized very quickly how much we liked the other one. Next thing we knew we were dating Internationally and flying back and forth to see each other. I'm thankful for a God that knows better than we do and somehow made us friends so we could become husband and wife later. We make a great team and I wouldn't have it any other way.
So, our first date was at a pizzeria in southern Italy overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. hahahahaha Isn't that hilarious? It never seems real when it comes out of my mouth. That was just normal to us. It is what we did to see each other, spend time together, and get to know one another. It's really wild for either of us to think about. I mean, how do you impress a girl in the States after your first date is like that?!?! He's done a pretty fabulous job. It also helps that neither of us thought of that date as crazy until after we were back in the U.S. Like I said, it was just normal.
Let me share a few of these unforgettable moments. The first photo was right before we said goodbye after that conference. Mike and his team came through Liverpool on a layover and we all hung out for another day. This is after we told everyone that all the time we spent together was just a joke and nothing was really going on with us. hahaha....joke's on us! The week to follow became very interesting. The second picture is the night we first went out with our teams. We went to this place to go dancing. Seemed like a dance club. Well, really it was just a bar. They were playing all sorts of music and I think 2-3 local guys were hanging out at the bar before the 20 crazy Americans walked in. Once we were there, they switched over to play all sorts of 80's and 90's music. It was fabulous! I have NO idea what is happening in this photo, but it is one of our all time favorite photos and moments. Every single person is crazy. The last photo is from our first date, or maybe second. Anyhow, southern Italy is awesome and that first date was followed by five others as we were spending our spring breaks together and with part of his team.