The first email... I had signed up for, an online dating service a few days before I recieved an email from Peter. I was expecting to meet some new friends since I had recently moved to Chicago for my job. When I recieved Peter's email I was excited and intrigued, but would never have guessed that our friendship would develop into what it has! For several weeks Peter and I emailed each other and he kept inviting me to do different things with him. It was during a busy travel time for my work, so I kept turning him down. I actually thought that he was going to give up soon!

The first date... Donielle kept saying she was busy and turning me down, and I was frustrated and about to give up. But suddenly one day I received an email from her inviting me to go to a play that evening. So we finally met and went to see the play Annie. After the play we spent hours sitting and talking in a Chinatown restaurant. We found a lot of things to talk about. And I found that she is a very easy going person and laid back. My instincts told me that she was a good person. Even if it wasn't going to develop into a romantic relationship, I thought that it would be worth it to become good friends with her. So I decided that I wanted to continue to see her. And we did for the next several months and became very good friends.

The first Christmas... I invited Peter to join me at my family's house in Grand Rapids because I knew that he didn't have his family here to share the holiday with. I have always loved Christmas at my house and knew that he would enjoy it too. The minute he walked through the door, my family took him in and enjoyed his company. I could tell that he enjoyed them too. He took about 200 pictures of the few days we were together! All the "kids" enjoyed our Christmas Eve together, especially the little pranks we played and Peter stayed up all night waiting to open presents in the morning. He was adorable. I was falling in love with him. Our first Christmas together was one filled with laughter and memories that helped to bond our friendship and cement our relationship.

Meeting the family... Donielle invited me to her family's home. As Grandpa Dodde said, I fit right in. I had so much fun with Donielle's mei meis (little sisters) and other siblings. When I left I realized how much I loved this family!



The relationship starts to brew... We continued to see each other more often and spent a lot of time together. We went to church together, went to the gym to exercise together, played games, cooked for each other, and spent many more times having conversations in Chinatown restaurants. More and more I found that Donielle was a good woman with all the attributes that I was looking for in a wife. She was cute with her knitting and sewing. She has a strong faith and values her family. She is young at heart and honest. I found I'm in love with her.

The first kiss... I knew that I was attracted to Peter, but I still wasn't sure what he thought. Finally, I had to ask him to kiss me goodnight. And he did. And then I knew that our relationship was going in a new direction. To think back on the moments of our first kiss is wonderful. As time went on, our friendship continued to grow and we became closer and closer. I knew that our relationship could lead to marriage and I was very excited to think about sharing my life with him. I never dreamed that my future husband would bring so much culture and diversity into my life. I have enjoyed learning about his life in China and look forward to seeing his hometown someday. I knew that keeping him in my life would add untold adventures and happiness.

The ring... We had been seeing each other for ten months and I realized that she is the woman God has made for me. I was looking for an opportunity to propose to her. Donielle had told me many times about Mackinac Island and how much she loved it there. So we decided to make a trip to visit there in July before we met up with her family camping trip in Northern Michigan. I knew that would be the perfect location to propose to her. I told the plan to Meridith and she spread the word to the whole family, except Donielle. I have to admit that I purchased the ring first before I asked her father. My dear friends, Jude and Fr. John Neville, accompanied me to the local jewelery store and helped me pick one. We spent one whole evening to choose the wrapping paper to get it ready to give her. They spent a lot of energy to find the perfect color of paper for this special gift. At the same time, Donielle called me and asked me what I was doing. She had no idea we were wrapping the ring! I was planning on inviting friends to join us on our trip to take pictures of the historical moment, but none of them were available. I had to do the work myself!

The proposal...