Ryan was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. Shanna grew up in California and moved with her family to Portland, Oregon during high school. Both were raised in Christian homes, with parents and siblings that loved them and supported them. Both attended Portland Community College and were part of a Christian campus ministry, but didn't meet until 2008.
- From Ryan's perspective -
In 2008 I moved into an apartment with two other Christian guys, and we would often have friends from church or college ministry over to hang out. Shanna and I had a lot of the same friends because we lived so close to each other and went to the same nearby college, but hadn't met each other yet. In October of that year Shanna got invited to a party at my place by one of my room mates who did college ministry. I came home from work to an apartment full of people (which was not unexpected). Then I saw her, and thought she was cute, and we started talking. I had that thought run through my head like, I wonder if I'll ever see this girl again, if we'll ever be friends, or more... or if this will just be a nice, one-time chat. She was so bright and joyful and we both enjoyed talking about various things. We did exchange phone numbers, but then we didn't see each other after that for quite a while.
Summer of 2009 she found me on facebook and we added each other as friends. That's when I started to see her status updates, and I noticed that everything she wrote was full of joy and thanksgiving to God for everything, she was praising Him with everything she wrote. It touched my heart. Then at the end of August I decided to visit a nearby church that I had driven by from time to time, to see if they had people my age or a college ministry of some kind. I went to the morning service and decided to check out the little bookstore they had. I walked in and saw a girl I knew from the college ministry that I was already part of (her name was Christina), and behind her was Shanna. She just smiled at me like she was so glad to see me, and said hi. It was like being reunited with a family member I hadn't seen in years, like I had a connection to her already. I started going to their college group on Thursday nights and made some new friends, but she was always the one who saw me first and we just started talking all the time. There were other girls, but I had no reason to focus on any of them, Shanna was always so excited to see me.
I had also been going to a young adults group at another church on Friday nights, and I invited Shanna to that group, but she was never able to go for some reason. Finally she suggested that I help her with a school assignment because she had to go out to a museum about a half hour drive away. So in early November I picked her up for the first time and we drove out to the museum. On the way back we had a bite to eat, then I took her home. I came in with her and met her mom for the first time. The following week she finally came to the young adults group, and when I took her home that night I met her dad (and mom again). Thus began our dating relationship.
After a few months I was still wondering what kind of relationship we would end up having, and there were a few things she said that seemed to hint that we were still just friends in her eyes, so I finally had a conversation with her and asked her what her thoughts were. We figured out that we were both interested in each other and whatever God had planned for us. This was now February 2010, and we were an official couple. She met my family, and we were now seeing each other more than once a week and texting pretty much every day. We started talking more about our relationship and what we expected. Early on I told her that I had never kissed a girl and was still a virgin, and waiting until marriage. She confirmed that she was also a virgin, though she had kissed a boy or two in high school. We both agreed from the beginning to keep our relationship pure, and that whatever happened in our relationship or how far it progressed we would save ourselves for marriage.
We enjoyed the summer together, going on walks and enjoying picnics and events with friends, and we even took a day trip to the beach (a couple of hours away). That was where she shared with me that even if I were ever somehow out of the picture she wouldn't want anyone else, it was me or no one. I could hardly believe it. I don't remember exactly when it was, but I remember telling her to never worry about me leaving her. We were already so emotionally connected by now that there was no one else for either of us and we both knew it. We pretty much agreed that we would get married the following year sometime. I was already trying to figure out when it would work best to propose.
- From Shanna's perspective -
When I first met Ryan I knew that he had a heart for God and that I wanted to get to know him. We exchanged phone numbers and texted each other a few times. I was nervous to call him after that because I didn't know what he would think or how he would reply. Then we didn't see or hear from each other until the following summer when I got a Facebook account and we became friends on facebook. Shortly after that he saw me at the church I go to, in the bookstore, with my best friend Christina, and I was happy to see him again. After that Ryan and I started going to the college and young adults Bible study on Thursday nights at the same church. That's when we started to get to know each other more and that's when I became very interested in him. I remember texting him every Thursday to see if he was coming to the church group that night. We even sat next to each other when the pastor was teaching us the Bible and shared drinks with each other.
Eventually Ryan started sending me messages on Facebook to see if I would be interested in going to his church and hang out with him. At first I was nervous about meeting a new group of people and what they would think of me, and whether or not Ryan liked me as more than a friend. Then I decided that I wanted to go on a date with him. I told him that I had a school geology project and needed to go to a rock museum, and that we could do that together and then have lunch. After that I started going to the young adults group at his church, out for coffee, smoothies and lunch. We got to know each other a little more as time went on and I started to get curious as to whether we were just friends or if he was interested as well. It even got to a point where I thought that he only liked me as a friend because of some of the conversations we had. I told my girls Bible study group all about Ryan and how much I liked him.
In February 2010, Ryan and I went to another church gathering and at that point I really just wanted to tell him how I felt and that I liked him. I called him the next day and we discovered that we were both interested in each other. We went to a smoothie place the following Monday and talked about our feelings for each other and our goals in life. I was so happy that I finally had a boyfriend for the first time in my life. We had many fun memories that we shared together that year and it was a blessing to see how our relationship progressed over time. We even started text messaging each other every night before we went to bed.
- Story continued on the next page...