So, I've decided to blog our story. You see, I religiously wrote in a hand written journal during our many months of dating. But, that journal may grow legs some day and walk off. I want to have these details down so that I always have them. If you don't like it, don't read it.
Larissa. Pre Meet.
I was walking on the BYU campus in between the library and Kennedy Center when a flier caught my attention. In essence the flier described an opportunity for Elementary Education majors to study abroad in New Zealand for a semester of student teaching.
I was hooked from the moment I saw that poster. I was ready for a change. I was ready to leave the Provo bubble and simultaneously avoid a Utah winter. The price tag was expensive but I knew I would find a way to go. Looking back, it was weird that I was so convinced I would go. I never even considered or thought about study abroad prior to that point.
Months went by, I completed 2 more semesters at BYU, worked an entire summer as a tour guide at Meteor Crater, and put every penny I earned towards my trip. When the time came to apply to the program, I was all go. By this time I was so ready to go that I could almost touch the black sand and smell the ocean breezes. At first there was not enough interest in the program so the Education department tried to pull the plug on the trip. I was not going to let that happen. I, along with my classmates, did our part to show how interested and committed we were. We must have played some small part in making sure the program happened.
More months went by and I happily packed up my boxes and got the heck out of snowy Utah. I said goodbye to my family and got on a plane bound for Auckland on January 3. When I left it was snowing but I knew it would be summer when I landed on the other side.
That long 13 hour plane ride gave me plenty of time to think. That I did. During that plane ride I wrote down some goals that I wanted to accomplish during my time in New Zealand. None of them had anything remotely to do with meeting boys or finding someone to marry. They did have to do with making the most of my time. Living, enjoying, and experiencing everything about New Zealand.
I felt in my heart that I was doing the right thing. At the time I thought it was just for my preparation to become an educator. I thought New Zealand would help me be more well rounded and more understanding of cultures and practices different from my own.
The first significant and special part of our story is the arrival.
After I collected my luggage, went through immigration lines, custom lines, and met my host family, I set foot on New Zealand soil. I stepped out on the footpath and was overwhelmed with one simple, sweet, profound, and inspiring message. "Larissa, this is HOME."
I remember feeling that message so strongly that I actually did pause for a moment and tried to take it in. You know the feeling you get when you pull into your parents' driveway for the first time in a long time, maybe even years? That feeling of knowing that this place made you who you were and how the memories and experiences therein shaped you--that's how I felt when I took those first steps outside the terminal. Can you believe that? It was bizarre because I knew it was true I just didn't know how or why.
Jason. Pre Meet.
disclaimer: I asked Jason for his first hand account of what went down before he knew that I existed. I tried to get him to blog it himself but he refused, saying that blogging is not for boys. So, here it is in my words, his account short and sweet.
2 weeks before my arrival in New Zealand Jason went to a young single adult convention for the young adults all across New Zealand. In connection or as a result of the conference, Jason met a nice young lady and began dating her. Jason says that the girl was plenty nice but he never felt good about it. He abandoned ship even though he really didn't have any concrete reasons to besides his bad feeling.
The conference was during Christmas Break 2007. Jason has told me that he felt very strongly that his life was taking a new course for 2008. Like me, he didn't know the specifics but he felt like he was being prepared for a new and important thing in his life, something that would change everything.
More to come :)