How We Met
Mark and I first met at six years old when my family moved from Moldova to Oregon to Minnesota. My family began to attend Bethany Russian Baptist Church, which just happened to be Mark’s family’s church. We slowly became acquainted through the Sunday School class that we attended together for years. We were never close, as the boys and girls in our class did not get along. At 14 years old, my family left our old church and began to attend a new church sporadically. By 15, we had fully made the transition to our new church. I did not see Mark again until I was 17 years old. The summer after I turned 17, I volunteered to help at a children’s summer camp. It happened to be the same year that our church partnered with his for the children’s summer camp. I developed a major teenage crush on him then. The crush did not last long, because after camp was over I did not see Mark much. Throughout the next 3 years I rarely saw Mark, except for some visits to his church. At that time Mark was dating another girl, and I had fully moved on. I had almost finished a year and a half of college when my sisters and I began to attend a bible study, recommended to us by an acquaintance. Mark was close friends with the members of this bible study and we attended a few times proceeding a New Year’s Eve celebration.
During the after party Mark told me about starting school in the fall at the same place I had been attending. Admittedly, I did not think much of this at the time. In the fall he began to attend the University of Northwestern, St. Paul. Mark is a social butterfly and made many friends quickly. I did not see him much at first, except for an early morning class we attended together. Through time and a continually growing friendship Mark quickly became a great friend of mine. In the spring of my Junior year I finally admitted to myself that I really liked this friend of mine. The difficult part came next. Mark did not want to begin a relationship in college, because he had quite a bit left as he is going for his master’s degree. Therefore, for the next year and a half I had a crush on one of my best friends. The last few months I was finally resolved to move on with my life. Mark and I went swing dancing with our friends, something we had done many times before. When we stepped outside to get some fresh air Mark invited me to come to Valleyfair with him that weekend. It was there, after a day of rides, that he finally told me of his feelings. And after a sassy, “Good! You’d better!” response from me we began dating on August 15, 2015.
how they asked
During the week Mark had told me to mark my calendar for a Sunday night date, which also was our 9 month dating anniversary. On Sunday he told me to dress for a hike. We headed out to Stillwater, Minnesota. The only clues I had to something happening was the go-pro and jacket Mark had with him, but I quickly rationalized these clues away. We headed to Tin Bins (a cute coffee shop). After that, Mark said we had a little time before our next stop, so we headed up the giant Stillwater steps to see the view. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of stairs, so 3/4 of the way up I was panting. Mark scooped me in his arms and carried me the rest of the way up. We then made the much easier trip down the stairs toward the dock area.
I saw the big boats and then a long gondola near them. As we approached, the gondolier asked for Mark. It became apparent that this was our ride! Which was awesome because riding one had always been on my bucket list. After Giovanni serenaded us, we headed to Nelson’s for some yummy ice cream. Finally, headed out to Taylor’s Falls for our hike. We found our trail and headed to a beautiful lookout area. I was following the path, and was about to turn onto a wooden staircase (without knowing my friends were hidden up that way). But Mark took my towards the cliff area to look out at the view. We looked at the view and with his arm around me I could hear his heart beating so fast. He turned to me, back to the view.
“You’re missing the view,” I said.
“No I’m not,” he smiled back. “Yana, I love you.” He took a giant pause staring at me, and he was so nervous I wanted to help him but knew I couldn’t at this moment.
“I love you too,” I replied.
“I love you,” he repeated as if I didn’t get it.
“I don’t want to be your boyfriend anymore.”
Ok, I thought. This can go one of two ways.
He got down on his knee and opened the ring box, “will you marry me?”
The ring drops out of the box onto the rock we’re standing on. My mind is racing. Quick! Answer him and save the ring. So I grabbed his face and said “yes” and quickly picked up the ring. We then celebrated for a moment, and as I turned around I saw two of my friends come out of the woods with cameras. It was a wonderful surprise. Then we headed down the trail and more of our friends were waiting for us. On the drive over to our friends house for a small celebration, I learned that Mark had been discussing rings with my friends for about a month. He had talked with them and gotten permission from my parents regarding the actual proposal two weeks prior. It was a perfect way to start our wedding preparation. And soon, we will be married!