On this fascinating journey, I first met ‘Miss. Becky’ in Alaska.
In June of 2007, a friend invited me to go on a short-term missions trip at the Kako Retreat Center, in Western Alaska. I had no idea what to expect as I jumped out of the bush plane. I soon found out there was lots of work to be done! Almost immediately, I was introduced to dish washing, Kako-style. It was in this kitchen that I saw the proficient camp cook, and do-everything lady, known as Rebecca Noll.
I did not stay very long that first year, but the time I spent there, working with her and the staff was enjoyable. (I would add that I normally found it difficult to work with women and tried to avoid them) It was a great experience, and I went home happy, and excited for the next year.
Arriving back at Kako in the summer of 2008, I knew the staff there, and was able to fit in, and enjoyed seeing Rebecca again. I discovered that I could actually talk to a woman, and kind of liked working with her. I had an admiration for her abilities and gifts, and valued her. This was the year that we had our Yukon Adventure. I still had no idea I really liked her, but did find myself doing a lot of dishes for her!
It was another short summer for me, and then I went home, and enjoyed thinking about my adventures and stories of her.
In 2009, I found myself much more involved, and working closely with Rebecca, as the activities director and go-to man. One of the activities that I brought in was rappelling. And I brought Rebecca on the team with some other helpers to assist with the operation. She was invaluable to me in her work.
But there was one unfortunate incident where we had to deal with a situation of hair getting caught in the hardware, and the staff had to work closely to safely correct the situation. This allowed me to see Rebecca in a difficult situation. In this situation, she was on a rope, under a lot of pressure, trying to help. I saw her remain calm, and do what I asked her to do, even though it was very hard. I learned much about her in those times.
This summer found me doing many dishes for Rebecca. I had the ability to do so because of my staff position, and no one else seemed to interested in doing dishes a few times everyday, so I gladly did dishes, partly so I could be in the same kitchen as her.
Sundays were wonderful, when we would have some tremendous music, and had a blessed time as a large group to come together and worship. I also much enjoyed seeing Rebecca on Sunday, super clean and looking very nice. I like my friend Rebecca! She is a good friend!
At the end of my stay in Alaska, I was a bit confused as I went home. I did not know what to think, because I felt weird.
Now before you think I am going to say ‘next year’, there is more to say!
I came home from Alaska, and went to work. But not to long after, I got a call from Kako, and they were asking me to return, and help with some special, late summer camps.
God provided, and I was shortly returning to Alaska.
I had some weird feelings though, because I was not sure I wanted to see Rebecca, because it made me feel funny, and I wanted to avoid it/her.
For the next month, because of these special auxiliary camps, I worked even more closely with Rebecca, especially with less staff to help.
I will just say that we experienced some really tough circumstances together. Between spiritual warfare going on, the inclement weather, incredibly tough logistics, etc.
The fact was, we worked very closely together. To share how I felt in this time, let me share a little story!
‘We were in the middle of the Kong Island Bible camp. Isolated on an island with just the skeleton staff and the children. We had just finished some really tough situations in the evening. It was lightly raining. I had injured my foot. We were exhausted.
I had just finished putting the young men to bed, and was trying to warm up a little by the fire, and Rebecca finished doing her part with the ladies shortly after I did.
I saw her walking to her shelter, and remember thinking; “I so wish she would come over here! I so want to talk to someone, and I can talk to her!” And then I thought; “But I hope she does not come over here. That would look bad if she did, and it feels weird talking to her, and I am not sure it is a good idea.. So I hope she does not come!”
Those were some of my thoughts.
She DID come over, and spend a few minutes, chatting and sharing before going our ways.
I won’t forget that time. Rebecca was so amazing!’
At this point, I still had no idea what was going on. And it was not until after camp cleanup, on August 5th, 2009 that something happened.
I was walking to the shop, past her cabin, and I stopped dead in my tracks! And at that moment realized that I liked Rebecca. I could live with that woman!. I was not actively seeking a wife, and had no idea that one could be found in Alaska. But right there, I started to figure out why I felt funny. Could this be love?
Sure seems like it could! This scared me to death, and because of our situation, withdrew from any socialization, if I could help it. I could not, at that time, ask her father. Of course, that did not help our working and social relationship, as I stay away from her, but I felt it was the only thing I could do without speaking to her father.
And then I went home. This time I was almost glad to leave, since I was working pretty hard to avoid her, and I felt sick in doing it.
I went back to work, but I could not, for the life of me, forget her. How irritating! Can’t I just forget her? But it did not go away. My mom knew something was up, and I went to my parents and told them that something might be up. To make a long story short, I was on a plane flying out to Iowa to visit Rebecca’s father in September. (And she happened to be on leave, and home at that time as well)
I can’t believe that I was doing this! I was asking Mr. Noll if I could court his daughter. A few days later, I went ahead, and asked her if I could court her. I told her that she could give me an answer later after she thought about it. After a week or two I went back home. I had no idea if she liked me at all, but she now knew I liked her, enough to ask to court her. The ball was in her hands now.
Weeks went by, and then many weeks. I was sure she would write me. I didn’t think she was cruel, and wanted to kill me with suspense, but at last, I did get a letter.
Towards the end of 2009, the letter explained that she could not court at this time. My response? God closed the door right now, so I will be content, although I missed her terribly. I respected her answer though, and still did not know if she was even interested, but it was agreed that nothing would be brought up, until after summer camp the next year. So the ball was kind of back in my hands.
In June, 2010 I found myself back at Kako working for the summer camps And not sure I was even liked by Rebecca. And so for the next couple months, I kept my promise to her, and treated her like any other woman, keeping my distance. I disliked doing it this way, but that is what I agreed to do, and could do no more. (During the summer Bible Camp season, time is very scarce and everyone is very tired anyways)
In August, the last major camp/event was finished for the summer. People have gone home, and we caught our breath. But Rebecca and I are still practically ignoring each other at Kako.
But a weekend came up, and I asked Rebecca and another lady if they wanted to go pick berries. (That is the time of year when we harvest them) She agreed, and on the mountaintop, I brought up the subject again, and tried to figure out where we stood. I discovered that day, and through some letters/notes we exchanged, that she might be interested, but did not know me very well.
It was agreed that I could come visit her in Iowa in September, and then after that, we would fly to my home in CA. I highly suggested that she meet my family, and see where I lived, and how I lived, and it would shed much light about who I was.
We agreed to not bring up the subject again until we were in California, a couple months after this day.
I will jump to October 2nd, 2010, which was the day we were enjoying some adventure, and doing high angle ropes work on a cliff in CA. Rebecca and I were both hanging in mid-air, when I asked her, (over a year after the first time) if I could court her. She said YES! The next couple days were special, and then we saw her off at the airport as she returned to Alaska.
The month of December found both of us back in Iowa, together for Christmas at her folk’s house. On Christmas day, right after a few inches of snow fell the night before; Rebecca and I were making fresh tracks in the snow together in the woods. And somewhere in the forest, I proposed to Rebecca.
There were two pairs of tracks, close together, that led back to the house that day.
And the rest is not history. It is a journey. And far from being easy! But I am so thankful for the clear direction God has given me, as I can honestly say, I never once have had a second thought, since we began our courtship.