When people ask where we met, we reply “in Chile and Argentina.” After a moment, people mostly ask “really?” Yes, really. Well, technically, we met in the Miami International Airport, but saying South America is much cooler.
In October of 2010, Kelly was at the Mission to the World (MTW) Global Missions Conference and while there heard that her friend and fellow Disaster Response Ministry volunteer Dan Jenny was taking a backpacking trip to South America through Tumpline, his ministry of Christian discipleship through outdoor adventure trips. Always up for an adventure, and feeling the need for a fun and refreshing trip, Kelly thought this was a great idea and placed her name on the list.
Aaron, a friend and fellow church member with Dan, had been on several Tumpline trips with him and knew it could only mean one thing — a fantastic adventure! Having always wanted to travel to South America, he signed up and started making his plans.
Prior to the trip and wanting to use his 2 weeks of vacation time to the fullest, Aaron explored and made further plans to travel to Argentina for 3 additional days of hiking and glacier climbing. These would take place after the Tumpline portion of the journey. Sending an email to the rest of those signed up, Aaron invited them all to join him for the later portion of the trip. After figuring out that this was actually feasible, Kelly jumped in with two feet even though she was concerned about how traveling to another country with a complete stranger, and not only that, but a SINGLE complete stranger, would work out.
Well, God had big things in mind.
Aaron was excited that he would now have 2 traveling companions as Scott joined the plans for the side trip as well. Aaron and Kelly started communicating via email and Facebook prior to the trip. After a flippant comment on a Facebook chat, Aaron later told Kelly that he thought she was a brat and was having second thoughts about traveling an extra 4 days to Argentina with this girl.
Well, as you know, the trip was fabulous and Aaron and Kelly hit it off almost immediately (after Aaron started thinking that this brat was kind of cute). In February 2011 the group of 6, including Aaron and Kelly, spent 10 days hiking through the mountains of the Southern Andes Range in one of the most beautiful places in God’s creation. The views were breathtaking, the hiking fantastic, and the company superb. After hiking through Chile, Aaron, Kelly and Scott departed for their next adventure to Argentina and spent 3 days hiking through a marine fossil field and going ice climbing on a glacier. It may be the most romantic backdrop in the world!
Aaron and Kelly were pretty much inseparable on the trip. In fact, Aaron would hike so closely behind Kelly so they could talk that if she stopped abruptly he would bump into her! They got to know one another in a very unique environment and talked about all manner of topics from their Christian life, theology, politics, to what music they liked and their favorite foods. In fact, Kelly was reassured that Aaron liked her when she considered the fact that he had seen her with “bed head” and her retainer and knew that it couldn’t get much worse than that.
Ironically, one of their first conversations of any depth was related to long distance relationships, how they both had experienced them, that they felt they just didn’t work, and that neither of them really wanted to embark on one again. They’re both so grateful that they chucked those thoughts to the wind!
Once returning home and being faced with the long distance dilemma, Aaron and Kelly decided to pursue being “just friends” for a while and wait and see how God led. They talked everyday in some format and Aaron traveled to visit Kelly in North Carolina. It was a great time of connecting; though it wasn’t until Aaron joined Kelly’s family in Tennessee 2 months after their trip for Easter that she realized things were serious. That weekend, Aaron finally kissed her, and they knew that things were going to change. After making it official, Aaron and Kelly dated long distance for 5 more very long months (although really it’s what they had been doing all along) before Aaron proposed.
How did Aaron propose? Find out!