We met for the first time on August 3, 2001, during a church young adults camping
trip to Bon Echo Provincial Park. Strangely enough, our paths crossed several times
beforehand in previous years, but it took until that weekend for us to finally connect.
Ottawa Youth Alive! (O-YA!): 1992-1995
During a three and a half year period, a youth ministry existed called Ottawa Youth
Alive! (O-YA!); they held monthly youth worship events (called "Power Connection") in
various locations throughout the city of Ottawa. Timo was involved in the leadership
of O-YA!, first behind-the-scenes then later up front leading worship. Leah attended
several of the Power Connections with her youth group friends. However, we didn't meet
each other, although Timo did connect with one of Leah's youth group friends, Shaun
Billy Graham in Ottawa: 1998
Billy Graham came to Ottawa in June 1998 for several days of crusade meetings.
Beforehand, area churches were holding teaching meetings to prepare people who
would take on various roles: counselling, ushering, administrative work, etc. One
set of meetings were held at Arlington Woods Free Methodist church, Leah's home church.
Lifestream, the worship band that Timo was a part of, was invited to lead worship at the
beginning of each meeting. After worship, there was a 5 minute drama followed by
the teaching session itself. Leah was in charge of the dramas. So, we followed each
other on stage at the church, but again, we never met.
Sunnyside Wesleyan Church: 1998 - 2001
Later in 1998, Leah began attending Sunnyside Wesleyan Church. Timo also ended up
at Sunnyside a couple of years later in the summer of 2000. During the next year (August
2000 to August 2001), we sat in the same pews and hung out with the same young adult
crowd. But again, we never met.
Bon Echo Camping: August 3-5, 2001
When the annual young adults camping trip to Bon Echo came around in 2001, we
both signed up for it. Timo had a car so he was willing to take a few passengers.
Chris Moffit, already in Timo's car, went off to find another passenger and returned
with Leah. Finally, we met. During the two hour drive up to Bon Echo, we
had some great conversations about life and work (Leah was getting ready for her
last year of nursing).
Over the weekend, we hung out casually now and then, nothing serious although
some of the chemistry sparks were beginning already (as was attested by Timo's
friend Curtis). The catalyst perhaps was at the end of the camping trip when Leah
opted to return to Ottawa with Timo, but with his car key broken, we ended up
spending the day driving back and forth looking for Timo's spare keys (read the
"car key adventure" story here).
At one point, we ended up in Peterborough. You'll notice in the picture to the left (taken
at the Peterborough Greyhound bus station) that Timo's got his arm around Leah; how did
that happen? :-)
Leah was kind enough to buy lunch for the three of us hunting down the car keys. And
when we finally got the spare keys, the two of us drove back to Ottawa together. We had
some great and interesting conversations. Yes, the interest was already beginning.
At that point though, neither of us was looking for a relationship. Leah was looking
to spend time with just herself and God while Timo was in the middle of trying to
understand what God might be saying in a certain area of his life. This allowed us to
approach one other simply as friends and just hang out together now and then. But
with the fact that we lived so close to each other and that our friendship was growing,
we ended up spending quite a bit of time together.
Summer & Autumn 2001
Timo: "So we began to hang out quite a bit. I would offer to drive Leah to church on
Sunday mornings because I was passing by her place anyways."
Leah: "And sometimes after church, we would hang out with our church friends
at the beach, play mini-golf, or go to lunch together. There was even one
weekend when Timo had the Sunnyside young adults up to his cottage that I and
Jen Clark decided to put Timo's swimming trunks up the flagpole. All
in good fun."
By Christmas time, we were both seriously interested in each other. However,
it seemed through discussions we'd have at Tim Hortons (until midnight) or on
late night walks together that each of us thought that the other person was only
interested in being friends. We couldn't see the interest, even though some
of our friends around us could. This would soon change -- the story
continues on the "courtship" page.