Last August, my friend Beka Lowe, left a comment asking for an update on my life "pronto!" A year later, and all of us older and wiser too, and here we go:
I was scheduled to come home from my mission (Iowa Des Moines) on September 30, 2005. 5 months previous to my planned departure, I was in an interview with my president, Dirk Driscoll, when I broached the subject of extending my mission 6 weeks. I expressed to him some of my feelings about my service so far, and how I felt like I could give and do more. I said, "I know it doesn't work like this, but I want to make up for things." He said, that, actually, it DOES work like that. A very clear and concise teaching of pretty important aspects of The Atonement, I think. President Driscoll asked me to think about it some more, pray about it (which I hadn't done yet), and see what my parents thought. Next transfer, I told him what I wanted to do. He thought it was a good idea, and so I was able to stay in Iowa an extra 6 weeks. They were some of my hardest, and some of the best, not that it was exceptionally different than previous transfers.
So, I left Iowa and arrived back in Arizona on November 11, 2005, with no plan for my life at all. My first companion, Elder Sorensen, pretty much thought it was a sin to spend time planing your life at home when you should be doing the Lord's work. He felt that it's your job to kill yourself for the Lord, and he'll pick you up after the fact. Interestingly enough, I knew of quite a few stories to back this idea up. I pretty much picked up his philosophy on the subject. Meaning I didn't plan jack about what I'd do when I got home. By the way, I stupidly interpreted these ideas, there's a good middle ground available here, where you use the Lord's time wisely, and with your own few hours of preparation, lay some plans for the next leg of your life.
I got back to AZ and immediately it was like I never left. And I mean that in the worst way possible. I enrolled in community college, just because I was "supposed to." I started attending my stake's singles ward, which was almost sheer torture the first few weeks. I knew a few people, but didn't have any friends in the ward. I have loved going to church for a long time, but I hating going to this ward for probably the first 9 months I went. I felt so uncomfortable and useless. I would see groups of people talking and think I should go and talk to them, and then I would think, why, for what reason? I had no purpose. Purpose is one of the biggest things I learned about on my mission and through studying Preach My Gospel. I did meet some really cool people, don't get me wrong, but it was like I had lost all my friendship making skills. I got a calling after talking to the Elders' Quorum president. It was to put the chairs up after priesthood. I don't believe any calling is b.s. but this one FELT like it was. It felt like appeasement.
I was doing pretty good on the dating front, or so I thought. One time I was home teaching and dating came up, my companion said he went on 8 dates a month! Suffice it to say, he beat all 3 other guys in the room with that score. I had a friend-girl that I felt an interest towards, but it didn't go anywhere. When I told her I had a huge thing for her(something I've NEVER done to a girl before we become official), all she said was "I don't know what to say." Which is kinda inexplicable, since at the time she was dating the man she eventually married! It's also hilarious that even though we were friends, I didn't know she was dating anyone! I was pretty perplexed by the whole thing at the time, though not very tore up. Now I think it's one of my funniest stories.
Flash forward a few weeks, it's May of '06, and I decide I should CONCENTRATE on dating, and date once a week. For the inaugural of my new campaign, I decided to play it safe. I called an old crush from high school up (RE: Ashley Higgins, now Kutler, so you KNOW the story doesn't end well for ME) and asked her out. We went out and had a really good time. I planned to call her again in about two weeks, but the next day she called me to go watch a CES fireside with her. Then, on Thursday, we saw the Joseph Smith movie at the Mesa Temple Visitors Center and got ice cream afterwards. She paid, saying that she owed me for the date. When she dropped me of at my house, she walked me to the door, and gave me a hug! Like we were on a date, or something! I immediately called my friend Steve Bentz and said "I think I'm starting to hook up with Ashley Higgins!" Now a word about Ashley. I had an immense thing for her in high school, like big-big-time. And mostly, I wanted to be her friend, not necessarily go out with her at the time. I had pretty mixed feelings about serious dating during high school. I would always ask Beka to call her to come hang out in our little group, so I could spend time with her. One of the worst memories I have of being a teenager is looking to my right and seeing Jason Cross and Ashley holding hands while we were at the discount theatre watching Mr. Deeds. I wanted to die/run out of the theatre screaming. For various reasons, we never got to know each other that well, or hang out much one on one. Back to the future: So, for me the fact that we were hanging out a lot and it appeared she was starting to like me, meant a very great deal.
TO BE CONTINUED... I'm just tired of typing.