"A guy from Texas had to go all the way to England to meet a girl from Oklahoma." That's the line I end with when I tell people how Juli and I met nearly 13 years ago. We were both in a short-term apprentice missions program and we were blessed to have worked with a great group of Christians in Nottingham in the East Midlands of England. Juli began the program a year earlier than I did, so our time in the UK only overlapped for about 4 months (I should note that Juli's a year and a half younger than me though).
It only took me about 2 months to realize that Juli was the one for me, although as she remembers it, I was fairly smitten as soon as I got off the plane. Let's just say it took Juli a couple of years to come around. In fact, one evening as I walked around our local village of Long Eaton wrestling with my unrequited emotions, I sat down next to three lads having a pint outside a local pub. I didn't know these guys from Adam, but I had to talk to someone. I proceeded to share my girl problems and they patiently listened. Once I had regurgitated my sad story, I thanked them for their time and continued on my journey. I wonder if those fellas ever remind themselves of the time when they served as the advice column for a strange American chap? I sometimes remind Juli of what mental anguish she put me through.
Fast forward to 2012 and its been nearly 10 years since Juli and I were last in Nottingham. We've been to other parts of the UK since then and last May I actually passed Long Eaton on a train, but we've not had the chance to walk around, see the sights, hear the sounds, and smell the smells of the place where our relationship began. On Wednesday and Thursday of this week we'll have that opportunity as we travel to the East Midlands to visit a church that's involved in serving their community in some ways that we'd like to emulate here in Dublin. We're looking forward to learning a lot as well as seeing some familiar places and some familiar faces. - Shay