Gordon Weynschenk opened the trunk of his Dodge sedan and peered inside.
He had forgotten the suitcases at home several hours away, and he feared his wife's temper. On the edge of divorce in 2005, he and Andrea had come to the marriage conference as a last resort.
Weathering a Decade of Storms
The Canadian couple had weathered a lot in their 10 years of marriage, including conflicts with Gordon's family, declaring bankruptcy after their restaurant failed and raising 2 kids.
Their relationship continued to deteriorate. Fights were common.
One night, Andrea stopped Gordon from leaving in the car, as they shouted at each other. Gordon punched the dash in frustration until his hands bled.
"It was really scary," says Gordon, now 38.
Remembering the Beginning
But because of the missing suitcases, Gordon thought they would argue and leave. But uncharacteristically, Andrea laughed.
"Let's go shopping," she said.
That weekend, their resentments melted. They learned about trust and how to understand each other, especially through God's power. Most importantly, they remembered that they loved each other.
"It may sound sappy," says Gordon, "but when Andrea isn't there, I feel like a piece of me is missing."
Helping Others Do the Same
After the conference, their marriage continued to improve.
Last year, Gordon and Andrea attended their fourth conference, and they now serve as volunteers.
"You can always make your marriage stronger than it is," says Andrea, 43. "I love sharing our story, because we learned that there is hope."