Friday, September 23, 2011

Humour & Hard Work Won Her Heart - Grant and Verna O'Donnell

Grant & Verna  -  Montreal, May 1997
Verna was born in Montreal and came to Australia in May 1996 on a working holiday with a good friend.  They came to work at Teen Ranch, a Christian youth camp, located outside of Sydney. 
At my prompting, she tells her story:

"While there, with a little bit of adjusting to the Australian lifestyle/culture, my friend and I loved meeting these incredibly  
hospitable Australians, eager to show off their wonderful country. And Grant was one of the full-time staff members.

It wasn’t love at first sight, but I think we both experienced a certain curiosity towards each other. I had been told that a fair few girls had chased him in his short time at the Ranch, so I kept my distance for a while – even though there was always an unmistakable nervousness whenever we were around each other.

Grant was a quietly funny guy – he and a few of his friends were often ‘bunging it on’, keeping my friend and me constantly amused!  Humour was big in my family, so in some ways my initial attraction to Grant was probably because he could make us laugh. He was also a very hard and conscientious worker – a trait I noticed right away. He worked harder than most - very obvious in a place where people came and went so often it was easy to not carry your load … and it showed me that he took the work of the Lord seriously.

While these qualities were important, it was discovering how hungry he was for God that really drew me to him. And after being there for a few weeks, we got the opportunity to hear him lead morning devotions for the staff, where his knowledge and passion for the Lord was profoundly evident. This made it increasingly difficult to ignore the growing attraction I was having for him – he really stood out.

We both knew that this relationship was very different than anything else we had experienced, and we had no doubts of God’s hand in bringing us together. Grant took me up to Chinchilla, Queensland, in the October holidays to meet his family, and while we were up there he proposed. My parents flew us back to Canada for two weeks, so that Grant could then meet all of my family. We were married in Montreal, at my home church, on May 17, 1997. Grant’s immediate family flew over, and we had a few other Aussies at the wedding too, which was neat.

With Hudson, Kelsey and Rory
 We returned to Australia at the end of July, and settled into our life back at the Ranch, only now as a married couple. There were plenty of ups and downs, of course, being newlyweds in communal living. In many ways it wasn’t ideal, but knowing God was behind our relationship helped us through many of the more difficult times. Our first child, Hudson, was born in 2000. I became an Australian citizen in 2002, the same year as our daughter, Kelsey, was born. Our youngest son, Rory, was born in 2005.

Not knowing what we were going to do in the immediate future, Grant enrolled in Bible College for 2 years. He has always had a heart for ministry work, so this seemed a logical step. Meanwhile, I became involved in leading the church's music ministry. Then, after college, our church offered Grant part-time support as he ministered as a hospital chaplain and in various capacities within and without our congregation."

I always wondered how these two met, so thanks, Verna, for sharing your story! 


Margaret Lepke said...

What a lovely surprise...finding out so much more about the people I knew just a little. And Verna, what a chic carriage! That must have been a beautiful, memorable wedding. I hope you'll have many, many more happily married years together serving the Lord in whichever way He leads.

Rita Galieh said...

I loved where Verna spoke of their unmistakable nervousness whenever they were around each other! That often seems to be the way we act when we're really attracted to someone and we're not quite sure how they feel about us.