REGIONAL – After spending more than a decade building his career as a salesman, Thai Hua sold his life on October 10, 2021.
This is the date he proposed to Laura Johnson, daughter of Steve and Teresa Johnson, Worthington, and got her “yes” to become his wife.
“You learn to read people if you want to reach them,” said Hua, national sales manager for Van Beek Natural Science of Orange City, Iowa. “There are certain skills that play into being a good salesperson, but at heart the art of selling is just about getting people to see things from your perspective and finding a place to work. agreement.”
He has fully succeeded in this mission with Laura, who shares his conviction that faith and family will be at the center of their lives.
“I knew it was important for me to marry a Christian,” Laura said.
Thai added: “Before proposing, I asked his father for permission to marry him and he asked me: ‘Are you a Christian? When I said yes, he gave me a big bear hug.
The couple married on April 22, 2022, in a ceremony at St. Therese Catholic Church in Sioux Falls, which is their new religious home.
“We went to a worship night with my best friend Jon at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church,” Hua said of her surprise engagement last fall. “Jon showed us around the shrine and he distracted her while I tried to get the ring off.
“I walked her to a statue of St. Joseph and proposed to her there,” he said, explaining that St. Joseph is a great model of a loving, strong husband and father.
Laura was swept away by it all, saying the moment had a dreamlike quality to her.
“I remember him saying ‘Laura Ann’ and realizing that I had never heard him use my middle name before,” Laura said.
Similar origins, separate paths
Thai was active in wrestling and dancing before graduating from Worthington High School in 2005. Laura, a 2007 WHS graduate, was always aware of Thai during those years, but admits they had no no interaction in high school.
“I knew him; I mean, he was the Homecoming King, how can you not know who the Homecoming King is? ” she laughed. “But I think he knew me as ‘Jason’s little sister’.”
Before transferring first to Augustana University and then to Clarkson College in Omaha, Neb., where she earned a certified nurse practitioner degree, Laura attended Minnesota West Community and Technical College for a semester.
“Thai had just moved back to town (after graduating from a technical school in Chicago) and we were part of a group of young adults who hung out together for a few months,” Laura said.
“That’s when we really met, but then I went my way and he went his way… for 14 years.”
Thai claimed, “I think there was always a mutual attraction, but we were at a different stage of life then.”
In effect. Thai had returned to Worthington, in part, to become guardian and father figure to his two younger nieces and nephews.
“I was around 20 and I heard my dad say this to me and I was like, ‘Wow,’ because when I was that age everything was ‘me, me, me,'” Laura said. . “One of the things I love most about him is his selflessness, and welcoming and supporting them the way he has is not a path many people would choose.”
While Thai’s older nephew and niece are full grown adults with families and lives of their own, his younger nephew, Johnny, is 20 and continues to live with the Huas in Sioux Falls while attending college. .
“They are a big part of my life,” Thai said.
Over the years, neither Thai nor Laura had met someone who seemed like the right fit for a life partner.
They touched in a friendly way about every two years, they estimate. Laura continued to work as an NOC at Avera Pediatric Specialists, Thai was advancing in her sales career and living in Orange City, and time was ticking.
But one day in the fall of 2020, Thai was lazily scrolling through her Facebook feed and spotted something entertaining Laura had posted.
“The funny thing is, neither of us were big posters on social media, so a lot of people didn’t know we were dating until we were engaged – but that’s how it is. that we reconnected,” Laura said. “He contacted me on Facebook, so I can’t totally hate him.”
Thai suggested a coffee date – and Laura quickly shot him down.
“She said no because it was in the middle of the pandemic, before vaccines were available, and given her line of work, she was really worried about spreading COVID to her patients or loved ones,” said said Thai. “So she kept me at bay until she had her first round of shots.”
Laura explained: “I look after children with type 1 diabetes and our hospital was overflowing. As a healthcare worker, it was a terrifying time.
When Laura let Thai know she’d had her first COVID shot, he eagerly replied, “One step closer to our coffee date.” That’s when she realised, “Oh, it’s a date,” Laura laughed.
Funnier, their “coffee date” never happened. Thai was still living in Orange City at the time, but let her know he would be in Sioux Falls to attend a birthday party for his goddaughter.
Thai suggested she stop by the party – and she did.
“They have a big family, so she walked into what could have been a hornet’s nest and handled it like a champ,” Thai said.
The two hadn’t seen each other in 14 years and Laura didn’t know anyone at the gathering but him.
“I still don’t know how I had the courage to do it,” she said. “But they were playing ‘Kids Against Maturity’, I participated and ended up winning the game!”
Their second “date” was equally unique; Laura had fallen ill and couldn’t meet, but Thai offered to come see her anyway.
“When he was on his way, I asked if he could go to Hy-Vee to get me some Sprite,” Laura said.
“I brought Sprite, Club crackers and grapes to her house and sat with her while she tried not to vomit,” laughed Thai.
But his attention and care greatly impressed Laura, making her realize he was a genuine winner.
“I felt he was so much more mature than any other guy that age I’d ever met, and he’s observant and intuitive about my needs,” she said. “He loves me in the way that I need most and is good at reading my emotions. And it’s so easy for me to talk to him.
Thai, in turn, appreciates Laura’s kindness, loving attitude and patience.
“And she keeps it light,” he said. “She has a good sense of humor and an endless supply of surprises.”
Laura thinks she may have inherited these traits from her late grandmother, Sally Ann Johnson.
“In our wedding homily, the priest listed the things that make for a happy marriage and then added, ‘One of them – laughter – is something Laura does a lot,'” Laura noted.
Laura regrets that her grandmother Sally died at 88, just a month before their wedding.
“She was so excited about the wedding,” Laura said. “Grandma told me that she had been praying for a long time that God would bring me a good man – and he did.
“I’m so happy Grandma got to meet Thai. She said, ‘Oh, and Laura, he’s so handsome!’ »
With 17 nieces and nephews on the Johnson side of the family, the couple hosted a “junior bridal shower” rather than identifying one or two bridesmaids or ring bearers.
And this family abundance has contributed to the realization of one of Laura’s long-held dreams.
“Growing up, the only thing I imagined about my wedding was dancing with my nieces and nephews, and we have to do just that,” Laura said. “It was so much fun.”
Laura chose an A-line style gown with an illusion neckline and soft floral lace applique overlay, purchased from Ellie Stone Bride in Sioux Falls. Thistle & Dot Floral Design of Sioux Falls provided the flowers, including a flower crown which Laura exchanged for her veil at the reception.
“I loved the flower crown,” Laura said, adding that junior bridesmaids wear them too.
Thai looked stunning in a black tuxedo and black bow tie.
The Huas’ reception, which hosted their 300 guests, was held at the Blue Haven Atrium on the west side of Sioux Falls. And although Catering by Cleavers provided a classic meal (chicken, pork, mashed potatoes and green beans) and Chef April whipped up a scrumptious raspberry-filled white cake, neither Laura nor Thai had much ability to take advantage of it.
“We had the stomach flu the Tuesday before our wedding and we were still not very hungry at that time. But we heard the food was great,” she laughed.
Brianna Lien-Onsy of LO Photography shot their engagement and wedding photos; she was a classmate of Thai in high school and has been a good friend ever since. Stovetop Productions provided DJ services for the wedding dance, which ended in a scintillating image that delighted Laura.
And a week-long honeymoon at a resort in the Dominican Republic was a relaxing start to married life for the Huas.
Thai fits right in with the Johnson family; Laura’s brothers (Matt, Kyle and Jason) happily add her to their golf foursomes, and Thai’s enthusiasm for golf inspired Laura to take up the sport as well. Laura, meanwhile, assumes her role as “Granty” (grandmother/aunt) to Thai’s adorable grandnieces.
Spending time with each other and with their family is always a top priority.
“We’re old,” Laura joked. “We just haven’t been married that long.”
They agree that although they loved their marriage, their marriage itself is what is most important.
“We complement each other well,” Thai said.
Laura added: “And our wedding day was exactly what we wanted it to be. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”