Carla, Donna, Kelly and Lisa met six years ago on a cold, damp day in October, when all three showed up to volunteer for the “City Garden” beautification project. At that time none of them could possibly have imagined that they’d end up on an all-expenses-paid round the world journey. Here’s what happened.

Meet Carla– The Glue

Social, vivacious Carla made the first move. After two hours of planting tulip bulbs and picking up trash, she asked the other three if they wanted to get something to eat before heading home. In their collective memory, they all eagerly agreed and the rest was history but the reality was a bit different.

Meet Kelly– The Mom

Kelly was worried about her youngest, Isaiah, who had seemed a bit peaked when she left. But Carla was insistent, wouldn’t take no for an answer, and kept tempting her with the thought of homemade blueberry pie. Kelly called her husband, who informed her that Isaiah was so fine that he had just scribbled all over the bathroom wall with his sister’s magic markers.

Kelly decided she definitely wanted that piece of pie.

Meet Lisa– The Yoga Teacher

Lisa just wanted to go home and take a shower. She was seriously reconsidering the whole volunteering thing anyway.

Like the other volunteers, she loved gardening and being outside, but if she were completely honest with herself, she had to admit she was hoping that at least one of the volunteers was a guy who was single, straight and normal. Was that so much to ask? Then she felt a small stab of embarrassment for even thinking something so shallow so she said, “Sure. I’d love to.”

Meet Donna– The Shopper

Donna was the hardest to convince because she really, really, really wanted to check out the anniversary sale at Nordstrom and knew she couldn’t go to the mall without changing her clothes first. She had smiled brightly and declined.

Even after Carla beamed her most winning smile, Donna could only think about finding a cute pair of brown ankle boots and a teak wood cutting board, so she said, “Thanks anyway. I’d love to go another time.” Forty-five minutes later her stomach rumbled. Well, she thought, I will need energy. Maybe if I eat something, I’ll be able to shop twice as long.

So she caught the other three just as they were leaving and the rest was history.

Next: After Her Divorce Recovery, Donna Fulfills a Dream