Chapter 1: Arrival

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College. The sun shone down on the crisp September scene as I waved goodbye to my parents. It would be a few months before I would see them again. I was in college. I had my own apartment, kiddy corner from the BYU-Idaho stadium. What was I getting myself into? My thoughts wandered as I walked back down to my halfway-underground apartment to start unpacking my things. My apartment was the nicest one in the building. It was the Manager’s apartment until a few weeks before I arrived, so it had many upgrades, such as nice suede and leather couches, beautiful kitchen tile, a shower with two shower heads, an HDTV, and several other perks. The maintenance guy was there setting up our beds as I worked to unpack my stuff. I wondered about who my roommate would be. Would I even have more than one roommate? According to the apartment managers, there was another person who was considering buying out the entire second bedroom. They hadn’t heard from him for a couple of weeks, though, so it was unclear whether this would happen or not. I was not excited for roommates. It couldn’t be worse than having a missionary companion, though, could it? I didn’t have to spend every waking moment within sight and sound of my roommate, so that would be nice. I hoped my roommate was cool, though.

No matter what happened, I was glad to move out of my parents’ house. I love my parents dearly, but that summer had been rough. I have spent my entire life living in Utah County. I was born in Provo, lived in Orem until I was 7, and then in American Fork until I went on my mission. I returned home from my mission to a brand new house in Saratoga Springs. We had an amazing view of the valley, the lake, and the mountains from the second floor of that house. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough bedrooms up there, so I got stuck on a thin piece of foam mattress among the boxes of junk in our unfinished basement. A space heater, rolling clothes rack, cardboard drawers, and a semi-wall of boxes served as my room. Not even a cleared out section by one of the windows down there. No, I was in the middle of our basement. I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I was happy that my parents were letting me stay there. I was happy to be home. Not long after I moved in, I began moving stuff down there to clear a “bedroom” for myself next to two windows at one end of my basement. I made myself a blanket wall, and was really rather content with it. I was happy about many things, but mostly I was happy that I was no longer a missionary.

I had a rough mission. Those two years I spent in Nebraska were awful. I hated almost all of it. I didn’t hate Nebraska. Nebraska is a funny Midwestern state, and I enjoyed life there. The people were great. I spent a lot of time in some very small towns. I found it interesting how different each town was. The smallest town I lived in was named Broken Bow. One of the founders of the town had found a broken bow at the site of an Indian burial ground. From then on, the town has been known as Broken Bow.

Broken bow was a cute little town of 4,000 people almost exactly in the center of the state of Nebraska. A couple miles south of town was the largest cattle feedlot in the state, with over 80,000 head of cattle, which everyone in town works for. My poor nose could always tell if the wind was coming from the south. There were days my companion and I never went outside. You could almost see the haze of cattle stink in the air. Broken Bow was charming, even if it did stink every once in a while. The small old houses, the “square”(a small park in the center of town with a Victorian gazebo surrounded by historic shops and restaurants), and the bustling railroad line that ran through the middle of town were nothing short of a quintessential American town, but my time there was terrible. I wanted to go home throughout most of it, and even asked my mission president to send me home twice while I was there. For some reason beyond my full comprehension, however, I stayed and went on to serve in Lincoln: the state’s capital and my favorite city there, Blair: a medium size town about an hour north of Omaha, Omaha itself: the largest city in Nebraska, O’Neill: the Irish capital of the state, McCook: the hotspot of the state, and a few other places. Yes, I finished out my entire two years. Somehow I stuck it out.

I had been convinced that the Lord would take care of me if I could only finish my mission. He would take care of me, and get rid of the part of myself that I hated. I could be a normal person if I would only serve the Lord for two full years. He had promised me that. He had promised me that I would find a girl to marry. “You will be prepared, when you return from your mission, to take the hand of a worthy daughter of Eve and lead her to the temple to be sealed to her for time and for all eternity.” It was straight from Him via my Patriarchal Blessing. Now I had returned from my mission. Surely I was prepared to marry a woman. What better place to find a worthy daughter of Eve than BYU-Idaho? I was here to go to college, yes, but I was going to find myself a wife. It was a promise; a promise from God. I had done my part; served my time; finished my mission. Now it was His turn to fulfill his end of this bargain. It was time for Him to show me that He was indeed real, that my doubts about His existence were wrong. That he cared about me. I had done everything I could think of to be worthy of this. I had even turned down an eight thousand dollar scholarship to a different school because He had told me to. I had done everything He had asked of me. Now it was his turn. He had promised me.

Did you like what you read? Then you might also like: “Keith” as well.

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