On February 17, 2010, I met the love of my life, Elisabeth Baldanza. Our story is pretty amazing, if I do say so myself. Elisabeth was a resident director at SUNY Delhi. Realizing that there were no Christian groups on her campus, she started a Bible study completely on her own. She sent an email to BASIC Central to see how we could help. Within a few weeks, a dozen students were attending. I stopped by her office since I was already traveling to SUNY Oneonta to speak.
As soon as I met her, I knew she was special. She was confident and smart (and ridiculously BEAUTIFUL). We briefly discussed her Bible study, which was about the last thing on my mind at that moment. I stepped outside her room to make some phone calls. Before I left, I paced outside her office for about five minutes trying to talk myself into asking her to coffee. I finally got up the courage and tried to play it cool…”So, uh, I was going to get a coffee before I left. Want to join me?” To my astonishment, she said yes!
That began an incredible journey for us with all sorts of exciting milestones: watching our first movie together (a documentary about radical Islam…in retrospect, a poor choice for a first movie), our first 2-hour phone call, holding her hand for the first time at Dunkin’ Donuts, watching my niece puke on her neck, etc.
I enjoyed every moment I spent with Elisabeth. Soon, it became clear that I wanted to spend the rest my life serving God together with this incredible woman.
I love our story because I’m convinced God brought us together. We were both doing college ministry independently; it was only through both of us trying to serve God in our present situations that we even met.
When trying to decide how to propose, I was clueless. A restaurant? A BASIC conference? I wanted it to really surprise her, and I wanted a memory that would last forever. I started to get discouraged the idea would never come.
Finally, laying on a couch at my friends Dave & Rachel Bode’s house, the idea hit me: a fake movie trailer. How epic is that?! After a few iterations of the idea, I presented the idea to two good friends of mine, Dave Bode & Andrew Manzano. They are both incredibly talented video producers. They loved the idea and rallied behind me!
The filming took two full days, and I’m sure the editing took a bunch more. They brought in a professional voiceover actor, an actress, and another video producer (and now friend) Josh Pies. They even drove three and a half hours to film the actual proposal!
I’m so extremely grateful for all the help I received, especially from Andrew, Dave, and Josh. They have given Elisabeth and I a memory that will last a lifetime. Hope you enjoy the video!