Since talking about Luke always gets me excited (especially when it's about romantic and lovey things)...I am happy to oblige such inquiring minds.
The short story, when time does not permit for me to gush into the whole story, is:
"Luke visited my homeland of Colorado to train for soccer...and stayed with a mutual friend of ours...who introduced us to each other at a bar."
It gets to the point.
...But it’s not the whole story.
First, a little background:
*While Luke was in college, he was involved in a Catholic campus ministry program called FOCUS.
*His mentor during this time was a missionary named Thomas (who moved to CO after Luke graduated from college).
*Since Thomas knew all the missionaries, at least half of whom were women, Luke often told Thomas, “You gotta find me a good, Catholic girl.”
*Shortly after graduating from college, I became a FOCUS missionary and got to know Thomas through “work” gatherings and trainings.
*I never asked Thomas to find me a “good, Catholic boy,” but let’s face it, it was no secret that I was waiting patiently (eh, enthusiastically seeking?) for my Vocation!
Our Story begins almost two years before I knew Luke existed.
Let's flashback to January of 2005. For some reason, I was the FOCUS poster child that year, and there were three pictures of me in the brochure for our annual conference. Luke saw the brochure and asked Thomas about me. “She has a boyfriend,” Thomas replied.
No big deal for Luke…there are more fish in the sea.
Fast forward one year (December 2005). On his way from Boston to California, Luke stops in CO to see Thomas. While looking at FOCUS pictures on Thomas’ computer, a few shots of me come up. “So, what about this girl?” Luke asks again. “Oh, she just joined staff, and she is on a dating fast.” (First year FOCUS missionaries have to go on a year long dating fast…but that’s a whole other story…).
No big deal…there are more fish in the sea.
Well, winter turned to fall, and Luke found himself in CO again…this time to train for soccer.
Each year FOCUS puts out the infamous “map”—a large, full-color poster with the name of each missionary, along with the university at which they are serving and their picture. Now I don’t know what the boys do when the map arrives in their mailbox early in the fall semester, but us girls get quite giddy about it. We study the map carefully, mentally noting who would possibly… maybe…you know if it worked out…if they happened to be at the same school—or even the same state—would make a good spouse. It’s like your junior high year book all over again—I would not rule out little smiley faces or stars (or the more subtle asterisk) being strategically placed beside those with the most potential. Sounds crazy, you say, but there have been many, many successful marriages within FOCUS…and I would venture to guess several of them started with the “map.”
Luke's copy of "the" map. He saved it and gave it to me in a scrapbook the day he proposed.
Apparently, Luke happened upon the newly distributed 2006/07 map during his stay with Thomas. Denver is just a stone’s throw away from Boulder, where I happened to be serving my second year. Upon this discovery, Luke said, “Hey, that girl is in Colorado now. I want to meet her.”
Off the dating fast? Check.
That evening I got a voicemail from Thomas--something along the lines of, “Hey, my bro, Luke, is in town, and we want to come hang out with you and your team tomorrow night.” (I literally thought his brother was in town…). It sounded good to me, so I rounded up most of my team and we met Thomas and Luke at an Irish pub in Boulder.
Let’s just say Luke and I did not exactly hit it off.
He thought I drank too much and played with my hair the whole time.
I thought he dressed funny—very east coasty—and had no idea that he was there to meet me…and I had no intention of falling in love with someone who lived all the way across the country anyway.
At the end of the night, we all said our goodbyes and that was that.
At this point, I am sure Luke was a little disappointed with the reality after the fantasy he had surely conjured up in his head about me over the previous few years.
But God would not let these less than favorable first impressions get in the way of His Will!
The next evening, through an odd series of events, I ended up going to Mass at the Cathedral in Denver for the first time in over a year. And who do you suppose was there? Luke!
Now remember, I still had no idea that he knew I existed, let alone was interested in getting to know me.
After Mass a bunch of young adults went out to the Rio for some food and margaritas (…just two—the fellowship and the Rio—of the many, many reasons I miss CO). Luke spent quite a bit of time talking with me, and as I was leaving he asked me if he could get my number from Thomas—you know, so he could come hang out with our team (…right).
Well, he got my number and called the next day to see if I could hang out. I told him I was busy ALL day but that my team would love to have him over for dinner. It was finally coming clear to me that Luke wanted to see me more than the rest of my team. We had a lovely night—ate dinner at home with the team, cheered on the Broncos with some students (yes, as a missionary, even first dates involve students), and met up with friends for drinks.
Before he left to go back to Denver—possibly never to see or hear from me again—Luke gave me his email address and said to “do with it what you will.” (I had every intention of using it). And then he added, “if you make it to Denver before Thursday, let me know,” as he was heading back East Friday morning. That night, my teammate Julia (who in now in the convent) said she was going to pray that Luke and I would go on one more date before he left—like THAT would ever happen, I thought.
Ironically enough, I was going to be in Denver on Wednesday…but I would be there to see my girlfriends coming into town from Kansas…not to see a boy. I decided early that I would not call him, even though I wanted to.
First stop in Denver was the seminary for Mass—and who did I run into? Yes, Luke. “What are you doing here?” he asked, obviously surprised to see me, given that I hadn’t called.
Guilty as charged!
I began explaining the situation about how, yes, I was in Denver, but I was here to see my girlfriends, yada-yada-yada. He suggested getting coffee later, but I knew I wouldn’t have time because I needed to be in Boulder to attend Mass with my disciple that evening (but I had already gone to Mass that morning…).
Thankfully, Luke was persistent, and as my afternoon with the girls was coming to an end, I looked down at my phone and saw this text message:
“Aight girl! So if ur not goin to 530 mass and uld like to let me get u a cup of coffee after u drop ur gals off, that wld b awesome. Let me know.”
My very understanding disciple encouraged me to go with Luke and just meet up with her after Mass.
Luke and I did, in fact, go out for coffee…on a scooter. Off we went, two of us on a one man scooter driving down four lane traffic in Denver without helmets. Did I mention we had no idea where we were going? But it was wonderful.
Looking back, just in that short week, we can see the Hand of God working in our relationship in so many ways!
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…
Little did I know that less than a year later, Luke would be my fiancé!
…look for that, and other stories about our relationship, coming up soon!
Luke and I early in our relationship.
Oh, and I did not find out the details concerning our meeting until a few months later...sneaky boys!