We wrote this recap of our story for our wedding website, but I wanted to post it here so we’ll always have a record of it. Love is a beautiful and crazy and weighty and challenging and vulnerable and gracious and emboldening gift. And I’m humbled and baffled and grateful that Nick and I get to venture into what it means to be and become love together.
The short version is: It was a set-up. We have our friends Marin & Brady to thank (forever!) for that. M&B were a part of Nick's team on the World Race and Marin was a good friend of Alida's from high school.
A: Funny twist however, if that I didn't know it was a set up. I got a message from Marin telling me that a good friend of theirs was coming into Vancouver and asking if I'd be up for them passing on my information so that we could possibly meet up. I said yes without really thinking of any of the potential implications. I get asked to host and give local advice for people coming through Vancouver a lot, so I figured this was much of the same. And Marin is a dear friend so I assumed that a friend of theirs was a good person to meet up with, especially someone who had traveled all over the world with them. I honestly figured that I'd likely just pass on a few restaurant or trail recommendations and that would be it. Nick did message me and after a bit of back and forth and trying to coordinate times that might work with Nick's Vancouver Island trip and my being in Ontario for a week for work and my cousin's wedding (Nick was persistent!), we finally found a night that worked to meet up.
We grabbed sushi in Kitsilano and then headed to Jericho Beach to watch the sunset. I thought I was just showing off Vancouver in the summer, but it didn't take long for me to realize that I didn't want the conversation to end. We talked for hours, well after the sun went down - the conversation flowed so easily.
N: Okay, OK, sure. I asked Brady & Marin to set me up with their Canadian friend. So what?! I've pretty much known Alida since September 2014 (the month that Marin & Brady first mentioned her to me). Alida claims she didn't know it was a date, but I still find this hard to believe because she planned our night to consist of sushi by the ocean and watching the sunset. I mean - sushi (a meal you share: super romantic) and the beach & sunset?! C'mon! I remember suggesting to order an unusual item off the menu, so we settled on eel. And Alida just rolled with it. (Pun intended - that one's for you Beej). I know it's a small thing, but it gave me a glimpse into Alida's adventurous and relaxed spirit which is really attractive.
Fun side note: as a true Albertan, I'm pretty sure I've only had sushi 3 times before this "date". I actually googled "how to eat sushi" beforehand (to not look like an imbecile in front of my potential wife - that was my literal thought, I'm not even kidding). Did you know? Sushi is meant to be eaten with your fingers (chopsticks pass though); meant to be eaten as soon as it's prepared (i.e. takeout sushi is frowned upon by purists); and, please do not go crazy on the soy sauce - it's offensive to the chef.
A: I walked away from that night feeling hugely encouraged and honestly, quite surprised. I had never had a first conversation feel so effortless or safe. I was pretty blown away by who Nick was (he hiked mountains! he played hockey! he talked about missions and the nations and his relationship with Jesus with such ease and passion! he had a great sense of humour!) and I was certainly taken aback by that smile and his laid back and kind demeanour. But he was in Edmonton. And I lived in Vancouver. And I didn't even know if this was a date or not and had no idea what he was thinking. So I drove home from the beach desperately trying to not overthink all of it and trying to convince myself that this was just meant to be an encouragement that guys "like Nick" were out there.
N: I knew by the end of the night I wanted to see Alida again. Everything went so well: good food, I didn't spill, easy and encouraging conversation, and Alida stayed the whole night! Brady was absolutely correct when he told me that Alida and I had a bunch in common: running, hiking, mountains, missions, and a sports fan?! What?! I was blown away.
I remember that Alida literally jumped up from the log we were sitting on the instant I mentioned that I'd been to Uganda and loved East Africa. I should have known right then and there that she was in to me because who feels that comfortable to that kind of thing on a first date? What I knew is that I didn't want this to be our last conversation. So the whole drive back to my sister's place in Burnaby I knew I had to think of a way to be in Vancouver again soon. And one fell in my lap a few days later as I learned that the 2017 medical school hockey tournament was going to be held in Vancouver at UBC. There it was! A miracle. I could tell Alida I just "happened" to be in the area and take her on a second date without her even knowing it.
A: I tell Nick a lot that he's my favourite surprise, because I had no idea that he was coming. And I certainly never thought I'd be willing to move away from Vancouver (and to Edmonton of all places!) for a guy. Now I just laugh at God's sneakiness in that.
We both felt really early on that God's hand was clearly in this. And the more we talked and spent time together, the clearer and clearer that became. We started booking as many weekends together as possible (you're welcome, WestJet), carved out as much space as we could to introduce each other to our family and close friends, and, pretty quickly, started talking, praying, and dreaming about where this was going long term.
When did you "know"?
N: I knew Alida was "the one" when she didn't correct my grammar when we were messaging back and forth during our first month together. Kidding. I actually knew Alida was the person I wanted to be with in September. I actually have a screenshot of it saved on my phone. It was just a simple and encouraging text while I was studying for my first final exam of the year. After I read it I felt supported in a way I've never felt before and it was then when I knew I wanted to team up with Alida, forever. If you're into timelines, that exam was at the end of September which meant "I knew" about a month and a half after meeting Alida. I know, I know, super cheesy. All of the following weekends spent together only confirmed what I knew back in September.
A: It wasn't a single moment for me, but there are a few moments that stand out that made me realize I was definitely falling in love with Nick and that he's who I want(ed) to spend the rest of my life with. One was over Thanksgiving weekend and seeing Nick interact with my little cousins - he jumped right into their beautiful crazy and goofed off with them and then read them books for hours while they hung all over him. Or when I texted him on a particularly stressful day at work and he sent a challenging, but incredibly encouraging response - that made me feel so seen and championed, but also pointed me to Jesus and the invitation of the Kingdom to do hard things well. Or when he took me for a sunrise over Vermilion Lakes in Banff and even brought a french press to make coffee (and he doesn't even like coffee himself). Or when he cried with me over my Dad not getting to be here for any/all of this. Or how easily & cheerfully he gave up going to the Flames-Canucks game that he bought us tickets for (a big deal for us!) so he could come to a wedding of one of my close friends with me. I think I just kept catching these glimpses of him in different contexts that showed me the depth of his character and heart.
N: Alida has simple, nay, straightforward and obvious tastes, Seriously, after talking with her for 15 minutes you figure out pretty quickly that all she needs to be happy is a view of mountains or the ocean. I couldn't think of a better weekend to propose than Easter weekend. I mean, it's Easter, her very best friend was in town, and we were camping in Alida's favourite spot in the world (Porteau Cove). The proposal had all of Alida's favourites: ocean, mountains, sunrise, coffee, and camping. It was a pretty simple decision - almost as easy of a decision as marrying Alida. By far, it was the most excited I've ever been to wake up at 6 in the morning!
A: Behind the scenes is that Nick actually started the process of his proposal almost two months before Easter. He started sending me letters recapping every weekend we had been together - complete with flight information and little souvenirs from whatever we did and his commentary on what each weekend entailed and the development of our relationship. Each letter talked about the future and included dreams/prayers for our lives together, and I now have a stack of letters recapping the entirety of our relationship from the first day to the day he proposed, which I love! On Easter morning when we were at Porteau Cove and hiked up the little hill overlooking the ocean where he proposed, he gave me the last envelope in person and it had the date (April 1, 2018) and simply said: "This is the weekend I ask you to marry me." The rest? Well: I said yes. :)
Favourite things about each other?
A: Do I have a word count? Easily my favourite thing about Nick is his steady and rooted love for Jesus and the way that that relationship flows into everything he is and does. He has this deep trust that God is exactly who He says He is and is one of the most compassionate, empathetic, and generous people I know. He believes for the best in people, authentically cares about their stories, and doesn't just talk about justice and loving the marginalized, he actually structures his life around ways he can build relationships with them. He makes me laugh - all.the.time. He loves life and lives with a contagious joy, reminds me to not take myself or life too seriously, and is the biggest support for my work, passions, and all the dreams I aspire to. He's humble and doesn't even know how brilliant and kind and hard-working he is. He loves mountains and sports and being outside, which is the best! He loves me and supports me and challenges me (in good ways!) in ways that humble me and encourage me and is one of the clearest examples of God's generosity and grace in my life. Also, those ocean blue eyes, that smile, & that athletic build...
N: Alida is intelligent, passionate, athletic, beautiful, down-to-earth, tall, loving, supportive, confident, considerate, self-aware, and selfless. Need I say more? No. But I will. The second sentence Alida ever spoke to me was about Jesus and how much He meant to her. I was still a stranger to her! So one of my favourite things about her is her confidence in who God is and who she is in Christ. The way Alida loves other people is... is... is... I can't even describe it! Her love for others goes beyond my comprehension. Alida's love and inclusion of others is the way God intends us to love others - that's the most accurate explanation I can give. And that's probably my favourite thing about Alida if I had to choose only ONE thing. But there's more (of course). Another one of those things is that we share favourite things! Everything that I enjoy Alida is right there keeping up with me and everything she wants to do, I want to do too.
So, seeing God's grace and leading all over this, we're getting married August 19th, 2018, in beautiful Vancouver, BC! After our wedding we'll be living in Edmonton, AB while Nick is in Dental School at the University of Alberta and where Alida will continue to work with CLAC (transferring to the Edmonton office at the end of August 2018).