Sam's parents like us have four children and his dad was in the corporate world until five years ago and this meant they lived all over including in the USA for four years and finally returned to Wollongong. This was where Sam's parents grew up. In 2008 they took up a business enterprise.
Sam moved to Sydney for university the same year as Salley and both resided at Flo Harris Lodge, Petersham Baptist Church, the residential college for Baptist (and other Christian denominations) young people coming to the city to study.
Flo Harris Lodge has been functioning since before WWII - it's been going a long time, and Baptist officardo refer to it as "Marriage Central" - for decades Central Railway Station was the hub of the universe, hence the name link. Those who have enjoyed the experience of Flo Harris Lodge refer it such relationships as a 'Flomances".
So too Salley and Sam, but it wasn't for a couple of years before they 'connected' as they say, and their first date wasn't to the movies or some other traditional first date experience, rather it was a walk around the Sydney Botanic Gardens. And it was back to the Botanic Gardens two years later the proposal was made and accepted.
Sam is one of our Press Service International young writers, one of 50 young people from across Australia and New Zealand who write a monthly column for Christian Today.
But funny things happen at engagement parties as people from 'all over' converge for the festivities and sometimes meet people that they recognise from years back and those friendships are renewed.
This was such a situation at this engagement party. Our eldest daughter recognised one of the young mum's as she herself is. Our eldest and Alicia were were good mates at Kingswood high school in 1991 - Year 7, and at that time, they were both aged 13.
This was 24 years ago and yet Alicia was very recognisable and they renewed their acquaintance.
Didn't connect the two
Alicia was at the engagement party as Salley baby-sits for them occasionally (they have two little ones and a 3rd due in December).
Alicia told us that she was invited to our home by our eldest one Saturday in 1991 as school friends do – nothing uncommon about that, this is an Australian tradition and enjoyed by children and young people across the national alike.
But, on this occasion, and why it was so memorable, was that for the very first time in her life of 13 years, Alicia heard a family say grace before the meal (lunch).
Alicia couldn't get over the different wherewithal in our family's conversation and attitudes and that as a 13 year old set her off on a search and Alicia became a Christian. Obviously this was not the one and only touch from the Lord into her life as she pondered these deeper things. But it was the start!
She eventually married and went to Bible college where she and her husband took up the role as the Student Advisor Ministry at Flo Harris Lodge and are taking up a pastorate in 2014.
This is a great truth: one never knows how much young people take in.
Meanwhile, to complete this cyclical story, last year, Alicia got a call from her dad, a manager in a national plumbing company, who sought her to work in their accounts office but Alicia said she was too busy with the children but knew someone who was graduating in accountancy - this was Salley. An interview followed and Salley subsequently secured the job, which turned out to be one week after graduation.
Until the engagement party none of those connecting links had been joined between Alicia, Salley and her elder sister - that way back in 1991 Alicia had come to our home and the rest of the story.
As Delma my wife of 36 years says, only God could put all those dots together.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at