NZH

Woman finds love with fellow gamer 11,711km away

IT'S time to delete Tinder - a Te Awamutu woman has met the love of her life living 11,711km away in Texas while playing a mobile farming game.

Mother-of-four Alice Hall, 31, had just gone through the end of her marriage when she met Jon Kennedy while playing Hay Day, a game where players grow crops on a virtual farm and trade with others.

Looking for a distraction from the turmoil of a relationship break-up late in 2014, she instead found her soulmate in Kennedy, who was living in a tiny town of 16,788 called Mineral Wells in Texas.

Hall said Kennedy tracked her down on Facebook and reached out to her when he noticed she hadn't been as active on the game as before.

"He asked why I wasn't on the game as much and I told him what was going on and he said he was going through a similar thing himself," she said.

"We just kept talking on Facebook chat here and there, and it just became more and more from there."

She wasn't initially impressed after trawling through the 30-year-old's photos on Facebook.

"I wasn't that keen because he had a big beard, a big hat and a gun, and I was just like nah, not my type."

As they continued to chat his personality eventually won her over.

"It was nice to have someone to talk to ... the more I talked to him, the more I started liking him."

The online chats turned into long conversations over the phone, and then video calls through Skype.

"Then I thought, actually he's not that bad looking," Hall said.

"You start to like someone for their personality and you don't really care. Everything was so similar with us, we liked the same movies and the same music and everything, and we decided we really had to meet. We were talking every single day for hours and hours and hours."

Two months after they started talking Kennedy booked a flight to New Zealand to meet Hall, who was full of nerves when she picked him up from Auckland Airport.

"He flew into New Zealand on February 4, 2015, and he'd never been on a flight for more than three hours in his life.

"Immediately I liked him. I said to him 'what will happen if we have no chemistry?' and he said 'well, it will be a long two weeks' because he had planned to stay for two weeks.

"But it was perfect, he was so amazing, he's 6'2", and good-looking, just amazing."

Importantly for Hall, Kennedy was loved by her four children, Summer, 10, Dillon, 7, and twins Bentley and Weston, 4.

Kennedy was a bit overwhelmed at first about having travelled halfway across the world to see a woman he had never met in a country he couldn't point out on a map, but Hall said once they began spending time together they quickly fell in love.

"Considering he thought New Zealand was above Australia before he came here ... he kept calling me an Aussie on the game, but he learnt pretty quick that New Zealand wasn't actually Australia."

After two weeks together, Kennedy was ready to up sticks and be with Hall in New Zealand.

"I told him I'll think about it, but I just couldn't say no. It was a big call because he'd have to move in with me, but I couldn't say no," she said.

"We never looked back."

The pair have been to Texas to meet Kennedy's parents, who disapproved of the sudden union.

"He's their only son, he's their golden child ... and it was a big deal for him. They called New Zealand a pithy little island with no opportunities, they were just a bit closed-minded. It was an interesting experience," she said.

Undeterred, Kennedy quit his job in the oil and gas industry and booked a one-way ticket to Te Awamutu.

The couple are now preparing for their wedding after Kennedy proposed to Hall in October, but have given up playing the game that brought them together.

"I never expected anyone even if they were down the road to want to move in with me and four children, let alone give up everything and move here," Hall said.

"He said 'You're everything I ever wanted, and why would I want to stay here when that's what I want?'.

"We don't play the game any more, but it's amazing to think he was just a random name I was trading carrots with.

"We've both been married and I never thought I'd get married again, but I know he's the right person. We're just best friends, I've never had a best friend like this before."



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