This is the story of how we met.
And we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our friends.
The story goes like this:
FOUR YEARS AGO ON THIS DAY, Melinda found Israel. May 20th, 2015.
It’s an important day, to say the least.
Melinda moved to the Midwest in March of 2015. She moved here on a whim to work on a small farm in the middle of town – the Borner Farm. She packed up what she could fit in her car and even lived in the farmhouse for a few weeks upon arriving. She didn’t know a single person.
Soon she was joined by another farmer. Farmer Friend was an outgoing and athletic person who went to Monday night Adult Volleyball at the local middle school her first weekend in town. Farmer Friend invited Melinda to come, since they’d quickly become friends.
Melinda said, “Sorry, but volleyball night is almost literally the last thing I’d ever go to. I am terrible at sports, and especially dislike playing volleyball. Plus, we have to walk and it’s freezing outside.”
So Farmer Friend went alone. But by the next week, Melinda was so desperate for more human interaction (Melinda is a huge socializer and people person) that she was willing to go. They walked through the town and made it to volleyball night.
When Melinda walked in, she saw the most handsome man she’d ever laid eyes on. AND he had tattoos, which was a plus, and she hadn’t seen many tattoos since moving here. Oh, and no wedding ring either. That was another thing she realized… she had moved her 25 year old divorced self to a town with only families. It wasn’t exactly bustling with hope for her own future… but there he was.
And he noticed her, too. At least enough to introduce himself to her during the “half time” part of volleyball night.
“Hi, I’m Israel,” he said.
“Hi, I’m Melinda. I just moved here,” she said.
Then the dreaded volleyball game started again. Farmer Friend and Melinda left that night and on the walk home, Melinda told Farmer Friend she was pretty sure she met the man of her dreams. “But he looks like he’s 28 and he probably lives in Minneapolis. I bet I’ll never see him again. That’s the best looking man I’ve ever seen in my life.”
For two whole months Melinda wondered about this man. He had a strange name, so she didn’t forget it. When she went to the grocery store, she was sure to walk past each aisle, just in case she spotted him. He was never there. Melinda and Farmer Friend would do their farm work and occasionally, for a laugh, Melinda would say out loud, “I wonder what Israel is doing right now?”
The chance meeting at volleyball night was a lost cause and a wasted opportunity, she was sure.
Until one day, everything changed.
On May 20th, 2015, a group was coming to the farm for a night to discuss volunteering and plans for the coming year. The group was from Torrent… a church Melinda had never heard of.
She was so worried she’d made a mistake by moving herself all the way to a small town of less than 5,000 people. So worried, in fact, that she didn’t even want to come down the stairs of the farmhouse due to the mood she was in. Luckily, Farmer Friend saved the day and convinced Melinda to “just bring down the salad bowl, at least.”
So Melinda carried down the salad bowl and met the folks from Torrent. She was making small talk and that’s when it happened.
She heard someone say the name Israel.
“Blah, blah, blah, Israel… blah blah blah…”
And she immediately went up to that man, pointed her finger and said, “Did you just say the name ‘Israel?'”
Everyone turned to look. (It was a small group, and Melinda can be quite loud when she is excited.)
“Yes, I did,” the man said. “Do… you know him?”
“Well, I met him. I’ve been looking for him.”
And immediately, a woman swooped in and said, “How did you meet him?”
“At volleyball at the middle school two months ago… WHO is he??” Melinda was dying at this point. Farmer Friend was staring at the whole thing in disbelief.
“Well… ” she said, “he used to be our pastor!”
Melinda was shocked, but not one to be deterred.
“My dad’s a pastor, I know all about pastors,” she said. The women let her know he was no longer a pastor, but again, Melinda was not deterred. With all the pastors in her family, she was very well aware that they, too, are real human beings.
The woman continued, “He did NOTHING wrong, and he is the most AMAZING man, but… he is recently divorced.”
“Great, me too!” Melinda said.
“And he has three kids.”
“And he lives just up that way,” she said, getting the hint that Melinda would take all the info she could get.
“Is he on Facebook?” Melinda asked.
“Yes he is! His last name is ‘Haas’, that’s H-A-A-S. Find him. I’m friends with him. You can friend me, too!”
Melinda didn’t need any convincing.
She joyfully continued her evening, chatting comfortably and happily with these new people, and the sun set while they were all still there. The people she met that night turned out to be the friends who would make the biggest impact on her life yet and are still her (and Israel’s) very closest friends to this day. (and she wrote this blog post that night)
But before she knew that, she friended them all on Facebook and proceeded to send Israel this message:
This typo-ridden message was sent before she even thought twice. She copied it and sent it to her twin sister, to see what she thought.
Melinda’s twin sister said, “DUDE, DO NOT SEND THAT!”
Melinda said, “DUDE, I ALREADY DID!”
And Meredith said, “Well, I sure hope he isn’t freaked out. Good luck.”
Well, Melinda and Israel hung out the next night.
And turns out, THEY were meant to be friends for a while, before anything else. They spent time together, and slowly got to know one another. Their favorite activities included hiking, sitting on the roof drinking whiskey and talking about whether or not love truly exists, and seeing each other for who they really were – two broken people who had just happened to meet in a random small town in the middle of the Midwest.
Eventually, Melinda met those kids. She was his “special farmer friend” for quite a while. And they lived happily ever after. (Or something like that.) All because of a few good friends.
(In conclusion, the moral of the story, for those of you who like morals: Keep your close friends and keep them close. You never know when they might meet your future wife at a farm.)