21 April 2008


I've always been told that I don't know how to summarize. [Apology for that last long post.] And even though blogs are not necessarily for summaries, I'm still going to try to keep it under control!

As written in the last post, Ben & I began on 5 August 2002. (Yes-a part of the reason our wedding date is now 5 August 2008). We have celebrated that day ever since. Well, not really while on missions, but I'd like to think we at least remembered it those years.

Ben and I "began" because we finally established that we liked each other more than just friends. We were acquaintances beginning freshman year, and friends beginning junior year. The summer before senior year is when it took the big turn. On the 5th of August, to be exact. To propose, Ben reenacted our 'coming together'--much of which occurred that night. I'll use color to best-tell the story to avoid confusion. Green for 2002, orange for 2008:

We began by speeding up to SLC to make it in time for the reservations at the secret restaurant. By the time we were in East Salt Lake, I figured it would have to be the fancy little Italian place, Fresco. We went there before a 2nd Beck concert together in November and had an excellent time. It wasn't crowded, we had good service, and yummy squash soup. It was fun to be a couple. We had a good time again, though it was a very crowded night--including a loud Prom group. I enjoyed the pasta and lentil soup. I just enjoyed talking to and being with Ben. We left without dessert, but stopped at the Maverick gas station on 6th South. We used to stop there by default all the time to use a phone book for directions to whatever Salt Lake event. We always got the free frozen yogurt samples. But they're not there anymore. So we just got some treats (gummy worms, JuniorMints & water), and we were on our way. I thought we were on our way home, but Ben drove around to a road directly up from the temple. When parked, it was a perfect elevated view of that amazing edifice. Then the music began: beautiful Beck songs in the order of the set list from the acoustic Beck concert in August. We ate our treats and listened and remembered things from the concert and had a good time. Though my bladder didn't want to stay there as long as we did, so our next stop was a bathroom, and then on to the freeway.

I was falling asleep on the drive, but then I tried to keep Ben awake. It was a long drive, but it was direct: he took me right home. (The drive is just as long and just as sleepy in 2008). After parking, we stopped to sit on the lawn, and Ben told the story of beginning to like me during that freshman year when we met. The conversation ended when I said "I like us." He hugged me, and I pecked him on the cheek. After parking across the street, he took my hand and a white envelope and we walked to the front lawn. This is what I saw: (THOUGH IT WAS NIGHTTIME)

Ben removed the flowers (leopard lilies--one of the first flowers I learned to classify as a goal from Summer 2002) and we wrapped in the quilt and shivered. He pulled out the envelope saying "I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget", though I think he just wrote it down so I could have it forever. The card ran on the theme of the first line:

"I knew just as much then as I know now that I want to marry you."

He didn't tell me that he wanted to marry me back then; and smartly so. But he did spill it a few months later, when I realized I really could spend the rest of forever with him, he told me he'd pictured marrying me since freshman year. I'm not sure what could be more flattering.

Anyway, after the romance, he told me I needed to stand up. He pulled out the ring and smiled as he asked. I smiled as I answered. It was so dark that I couldn't see the ring, but all I really wanted to do was hug him anyway. He was keen to remind me about the kiss on the cheek from the first time around... And of course I did want to see the ring, but I enjoyed chatting in the quilt for a bit until he told me to go and study it under the light. Then we went our separate ways--ENGAGED.

16 April 2008


Look out--long post coming through:

If you didn't already know, Ben and I began on 5 August 2002. We had met 3 years prior in freshman year seminary, but didn't become friends until junior year. It was the following summer that we became more than friends. That entire saga is a much longer story, but it is all the background needed for now.

I came home from my mission on Friday night. I first saw Ben on Saturday after his work and my family dinner at Mimi’s Café. They left me there to wait for him. He called, I walked out, we hugged, and he took my hand and led me to his car, where the dialogue began as if I'd just seen him the day before. I blabbed about my day, and he drove without my even wondering where we were going.

That night, after taking me to eat gelato, touring the 2008 Provo, visiting his parents, (and stealing a kiss in the car when I thought it was coming later on our walk), he dropped me off and said this: “This was so sweet: I picked you up from Mimi’s and it was like, ‘what year and a half?’”

It’s true. We knew that night, without even really talking it out, that we would marry. But that’s how we’d discussed marriage since 2003. Ben always says he’s pictured marrying me since that freshman year. I realized early in our relationship that I could marry him. So the talk wasn’t new, but the reality was. And it was funny. I mean, it was exciting, but more than anything, it just felt funny! I remember in those first nights, I thought about the reality of a ring. But as I opened my mouth to ask about it, I just giggled! I didn’t even bring it up until a few nights later. Which was even more funny:

“So what do we do about a ring?”

“Oh. Yeah. I, uh… came across some diamonds…”

What? I just laughed more! In fact it was so funny, that I didn’t even keep asking about it. It wasn’t until the next day that I asked for more information. He explained that he’d inherited some diamonds from his grandma, Mary Deane Andrew, who died the spring before I left. He later showed them to me. Shame on me for not at least taking a picture of her ring and earrings before we let the jeweler melt them down! But here are some drawings I used to explain:
Ben also had a family friend who is a goldsmith at Sierra West. This was great, because he actually was the same jeweler who originally worked on Mary Deane’s ring through the years. After I’d explained to Ben a bit of what I wanted, we went in to explain it to Richard Beech.

Now we rewind to a mission moment: while in the MTC in the DR, a roommate, Hna. Harvey, got a fun letter from her newly-engaged friend—complete with ring photos. It was the first time I ever remember loving a ring. You know, living/attending BYU doesn’t allow much room for not seeing diamond ring ads all the time. As a college girl—of course I always related every ring I saw to my own taste and wedding wishes. I never really saw anything I loved, so I never knew what I’d want. The only thing I’d ever decided I liked was the look of a solid, thick, flat yellow-gold band. (Richard Beech later described it simply as a slice cut off from a pipe). Yes! Then he showed us different parts of different rings, and I drew what I thought in my head. These are those drawings:
Richard helped design it using one round stone from an earring, and several small diamonds from the ring. He explained that in a week he’d have a wax model for us to approve, and if all was well, the ring would be ready about a week after that.


Except then everyone kept talking about trading in all the diamonds to get a newer, bigger stone. I was completely persuaded and thought, ‘Sure, why not? Such an opportunity probably won’t come again.’ So we went back into Sierra-West to have our diamonds appraised. We worked with the manager, Sean, who was great. He and Ben had some good watch conversations. After explaining it all to us, they kind of were suggesting not to do the trade-in, as the diamonds were of a bit lesser-quality than they like to buy, and we’d still have to pay a bit extra on top of the trade-in. I hated the decision-making, but Sean was great, and we decided to go with the original design.

Then came the day to approve the wax: but Ben had school stuff all day. So the next day, on Ben’s break from work, we went in and saw the following:

Sean said, “Yes, it’s a little different from what I think you were thinking. It’s a bit more tall.” And it was. It was a lot different from what I’d drawn! But then I put it on, and I liked it! Richard stood watching in a proud stance with his hands on his hips and just smiled. But I kept looking at it wondering if I really liked it better than what I’d originally thought. They brought out our diamond and set it in the wax so I could get an idea of what it would look like. I must admit I was intimidated as Ben, Sean and Richard sat there waiting for my reaction, and my decision. They made some jokes about the blue and orange wax made to fit my taste in color. Finally, after running thoughts through my head, I found myself saying yes. “Okay, well, we’ll let you know when that’s gonna be done—or is that a secret?” Sean took Ben aside and I sat looking at the rings in the case, trying to find something similar to mine to give me an idea of how it would be. I didn’t see much. Sean had pointed that out, “One thing’s for sure—you know you’ll have something unlike anyone else!” It was for sure. But that wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I really just wanted something I loved. It didn’t really matter if it was different, but it did so happen to be.

I drove home alone and nervous. I was talking it out to myself in my mind, wondering if I’d really done what I wanted. Luckily, Julianne called at that point—even just to say ‘hi’, and it was just what I needed. She did an excellent job of assuring me I’d love it, and I believed her.

The next day in church, I hate to say that I allowed my thoughts to be distracted during Sunday School and I kept drawing the original compared to what I’d ordered. I kept asking Calvin’s opinion. I thought about how I just didn’t know if I could do ‘tall’, and thinking about how I wouldn’t even be able to wear gloves! I told Ben and he teased about being embarrassed to go in again. So Monday, on my own time, I went in alone, determined to draw it how I wanted. Neither Richard nor Sean were there; it was another jeweler that awkwardly watched me look at the ring. I realized I had made it bigger in my head over the weekend. Because I put it back on, and all of the sudden I liked it again. I took that as a sign, and let it be. “Never mind. Thank you.” And that was it.

Two days later, I acquired valuable information. The ring I’d seen 18 months before had been modeled after a certain celebrity’s engagement ring. I learned the name of the celebrity: Sienna Miller. How interesting, because I’d just seen a movie with her in it, and otherwise had no idea who she was. But I really liked her in the movie Stardust. I searched for the ring on the internet, and by default learned about her engagement to Jude Law, which was later broken-off. I found one poor image, but it made me ponder even more if I wanted it that ‘flat’ way, or the ‘tall’ way. I couldn’t decide, though it didn’t really matter because I liked what I’d approved! But what if it looked bigger when it wasn’t in wax? This was going to be with gold and diamonds!

And those were my thoughts--all of them. Congratulations if you have made it here to the end.

I love my ring. Even if people react like Maya did, “It’s huge!” But I love it. Thank you to Hna. Harvey for sharing your letter. Thank you to Ben and Sierra-West for your patience. Thank you to Grandma Andrew for the diamonds.

15 April 2008


I sat this morning in a little block of time before work to write the stories in the computer lab at the Law Library. I didn't get much done at all, but it was due to a very fun experience.

A weathered man with much beard and long curly greying hair walked in confidently, saying 'Good Morning' to all in sight. I loved it, and immediately was reminded of the DR, and wished I could just be like that still even though the culture here is quite contrary.

It didn't stop there: he began a great conversation with me. He asked of my origin, commenting on my turquoise and braids. After I mentioned the Guatemala origin, he told me of the many Guatemalans he worked with in Texas and briefed a bit of his Human Rights work history. He said he got to a point in life where he wanted to know what lawyers know and had spent time in law libraries (before telling me how long, he paused, asked my age--23) since 12 years before I was born... He asked, "Y'know why God made Guatemalans? . Because He darn-well felt like it!" He used this same joke later in referral to Mormons, after declaring himself a member of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Southern Baptists" or something similar. I got a kick out of it. And so did he.

I was mostly just glad to have the encounter, because it reminded me of the advice I loved from my Mission President before I left: to not allow myself to become 'closed'. Walking in somewhere and saying good morning--or some kind of salutation to everyone in the DR (or any latin culture for that matter) is totally normal, if not seriously expected. I have allowed myself to lose the habit. But I felt much more fulfilled having that small conversation with the stranger-even if it was sort of one-sided (him expounding on the science of gasoline and their relation to cars, and how really the car mostly runs on water vapor; how it really is mostly hydrogen and oxygen that work to run our cars.) and even if I didn't get to write my ring stories.

Thanks, Judson.


14 April 2008


Well, the ring sure looks much better up-close than do my fingers, but you all know the real purpose for the post. Good stories soon to follow: how it got on my finger, and how the ring itself came to be. Sorry, but the pressure to post the photos was higher than the story demand, and I don't have enought time to post both. YET.

12 April 2008


On 400 East and 200 North in Provo, my friend Ashley Christensen put up a show/installation type thing. I read about it, and then went outside and my family was weeding. As we loosened up more and more soil, I thought about how I wanted to plant seeds, so I took Maya to get some with me. I can do that because I'm in Provo. Learn about it here.

10 April 2008


This really isn't particularly unique to Provo, but it is fairly common here, and I just really am grateful for it: THE ELECTRIC CLOTHES DRYER. This morning I was particularly grateful, as I caught the load right out of the dryer. I put on warm, soft pants and a warm, soft shirt. It is a simple pleasure, and can be found outside of Provo, but I know some places it can't be found.

08 April 2008


General Conference is wonderful, but it was super-wonderful while overseas. It was such a taste of home, and I remember really feeling removed from all things Dominican and just feeling Provo for a bit. When investigators didn't show up, we had the blessing of sitting in our own English room. Unexpectedly, it was so uplifting to sing in English and hear the voices of the brethren, and even just to be reminded of childhood culture. I became so determined to take advantage of living in Provo once I got home; determined to attend Conference!

It was a blessing only to wait a month, but even still, I wasn't on-the-ball enough to secure tickets. At my mission reunion on Friday, I jumped at the chance for one ticket given away by the past mission president's wife. Ben was sure if we made a sign, we could get another ticket on Sunday morning. While brushing his teeth that morning, Ben gave me the bright orange and lime green Sharpies and the white cardstock. I made a bright sign. We had parked in SLC at about 8:30 or later, but we were both worried: VERY MANY PEOPLE had signs for 1 ticket. I admit I was not very confident as we walked through Temple Square and across to the Conference Center passing ticket-wanters on all sides. I waited until Ben decided where we would stop and wait. It was a crowded area at the top of the stairs with at least 5 other people holding signs for tickets. We stopped walking, and I held up the sign, and at about the same time, I saw a man walking towards us. About 5 seconds later, he made it to me, opening his ticket envelope and placing his extra ticket in my hand with a smile! We couldn't believe it! As we walked to the assigned door, we were able to donate our successful sign to another ticket-seeker. Ben and I sat together in the balcony and I felt QUITE privileged the entire time.