Bon Echo group

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 Jackson.

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 Leah and Timo in Peterborough 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? :-) Click on me!

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.

Timo's shorts up the flagpole

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.


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