Several years ago, I was called to serve a mission in St. George, Utah. For about six months, my companion and I were assigned to the two wards in the tiny town of Leeds, a few miles north of St. George.
There was one particular member who often came out with us to teach. We even spent Christmas and Thanksgiving with her family. We became friends, and she often voiced her idea that I should date her brother, who was a missionary in Mexico, once we both returned from our missions. I always shrugged off the idea because I was focused on serving my mission, not dating.
Fast forward two years. Now an RM, I was finishing my Bachelors Degree and trying to figure out what would come next in my life. I was applying for jobs all over the Salt Lake Valley and Provo area. One day I felt an impression that I should move to Provo. Within 10 minutes of this impression, my mission friend from Leeds texted me saying that her brother was moving out and she needed a new roommate to live with her in Provo. Without missing a beat, I said yes and began to line up job interviews in Provo. I finally felt like I was heading in the direction I was supposed to go.
The day I moved to Provo was the first time I met her brother. He was on the phone when I arrived at the apartment, but quickly came to help me unload my things from my car. My first impression of him was that he was helpful, easy to talk to, and looked young. After we brought my things in, we sat there on my bedroom floor as I unpacked, and we talked for a long time (hours) before his sister came home.
For one reason or another we ended up seeing each other a lot. He became a regular part of my new life in Provo.
For me, it seemed so natural when things started developing between us. We had become good friends, and half of our ward thought we were already dating since we were always together. At first we were around each other a lot because of his sister, and then it started to not be so much because of her. He brought me ice cream after I was in a car accident, and started texting me about coming over for things instead of texting his sister. Then one weekend she went down to St. George, and we spent time together as if nothing was different. We rode my ripstik and played at an arcade, and it felt so much like a date...except it wasn't.
One Thursday afternoon Zak, his sister, and I were sitting in our living room. She and I were each on one of the couches, and Zak was sitting on the piano bench facing me across the room. In the middle of the conversation, Zak turned to me and asked "Janelle, would you go on a date with me on Saturday?" To say I was caught off guard would be an understatement. I said yes, while convincing myself that one date didn't mean anything. He was probably just being nice because I had just gotten out of a relationship.
It wasn't until we were on the date that I finally clued in that this wasn't just a casual date for Zak. He had planned out every detail, down to having his car waiting at the park with a blanket for us to sit on after our bike ride down the canyon. Afterwards we went to play the piano and guitar for the residents at a retirement home, and I thought it was so sweet that he knew all of their names and they obviously adored him. I loved that music was something we could share together. Also, Zak playing his violin is one of my favorite things in this world!
As we pulled back up to my apartment, I started gathering my things to get out of the car. As Zak pulled the keys out of the ignition, he said, "Janelle, we need to talk." My honest first thought was, "Wait, is he breaking up with me? I didn't even know we were dating." But then he continued, "I really like you, Janelle." I'm pretty sure my brain went completely blank before I finally realized that he was waiting for me to say something. The only thing I could come up with was "Uh, thanks." I'm glad he laughed at that.
Since that day, we have rarely spent a day apart. Except that one time, when he told me he was "going camping" with his friend, but he actually drove overnight to California to ask for my dad's permission to marry me. I think I'll forgive him for that one!