Love can find you anywhere you go. Just ask American Laura Gravino. In 2005, she made plans to work in Ireland for a few months. Much to her surprise, four months turned into seven years when she fell in love with the both the country and an Irishman!
An Unexpected Romance
Laura originally went to Ireland on a four-month work visa. After that was up, she decided to extend her stay in Ireland by pursuing a Master’s degree there, which bought her another 1.5 years in the country. She explains, “I thought I would be there for four months and then I would move on. [But] I really enjoyed myself over there and never decided it was time to leave.”
During her studies, Laura took a job teaching preschool in the same fitness center where her future husband, Ian Taylor, was a manager, and their paths began to cross. They were friends, but a relationship wasn’t in the cards for them yet. Ian was preparing to climb Mount Everest with a friend, and training took all of his time and attention.
Things changed when Ian returned from his Everest trip in September 2008. “When I came back I was pretty dead-set on her. I convinced her to go out with me,” he says. Their relationship took off, and the couple was married in 2010.
A Passion for Travel
The couple admits that they sometimes experience small cultural differences as they work to blend their Irish and American heritages, but common interests have helped unite them. Their love for travel is a key part of their relationship. “We’ve been to Asia and all over the place together. We’ve been very lucky,” shares Ian. Laura echoes his thoughts, saying, “We are passionate about the same things. We’ve traveled around the world. We just love to experience new things.”
In fact, they’ve built their shared love of travel into their livelihood. Together they run Ian Taylor Trekking, through which they lead worldwide adventures. “Now it’s an opportunity where the both of us can work and develop that [love of travel] together,” Ian enthuses. They ran their business from Ireland for several years, but in 2013, they began a new chapter in their marriage, as they moved to the U.S. to establish their company stateside.
A Heart for Africa
Service to the poor has been another significant part of Laura and Ian’s marriage. During the preparation for their Everest climb, Ian and his friend decided to use the attention they’d be garnering to raise money for a charitable cause. Ian had personal experience with Fields of Life, an Ireland-based Christian child sponsorship and sustainable development charity working in Africa. His grandmother, mother and other family members had been sponsoring children through the organization for many years.
When he talked to the charity’s director about how he and his friend could get involved during their climb preparations, the director suggested, “Why don’t you build a school?” This $100,000 project was more challenging than the plans they’d originally had in mind of raising around $20,000, but the end result of their fundraising was the Mount Everest Primary School, which now serves hundreds of children in Uganda.
Together, Ian and Laura have remained involved with Fields of Life. They both sponsor children through the charity, and they have traveled to Uganda together twice to visit the school. Laura shares, “Out of everything we’ve done, everywhere we’ve been, it’s been the most lasting thing. It was just such an amazing experience, especially what Ian did raising the funds to get the school open. It’s definitely my favorite place that I’ve ever been, and I can’t wait to go back.”
Between following the command in Galatians 2:10 to “remember the poor,” traveling the world together and blending the cultures of two countries, Ian and Laura’s life together has been filled with plenty of adventure. “I never would have expected any of that,” Laura admits. What was originally planned as a four-month trip turned out to be an experience that would forever change her life. She reflects, “[It was] like it was all lined out for me.”
Have you, like Laura, seen life events fall into place for you, sometimes in unexpected ways? Share with us how God has guided the path of your life.