12: Love Is What Brings Us Together Today
Stories in this episode: A last-ditch quidditch match in the MTC brings Rylan and Diana together years later when they reconnect at the temple; Tyler’s side hustle as a singing telegram puts him in the unique position to find real love; Sarah’s wild dream about a flying kite proves the key to her courage when love comes in an unexpected way; Friendship takes a turn toward romance on a disastrous road trip for Melea and Dean.
KARYN LAY: Welcome to This Is The Gospel. An LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith, every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay. It's the week of Valentine's Day. And for some people, it's a light-hearted celebration of all the love in our lives. But for others, this holiday can bring expectations that are hard to meet. Or it might remind us of the ways that love hasn't worked out as we might have hoped. Well, whether you adore or dread the candy heart holiday, I think as people of faith, we can all agree that love and family are some of God's greatest gifts in this life. And it's actually nothing short of a miracle when two people find their match. This week, we're celebrating those miracles with four stories from couples who saw the hand of God at work in bringing them together. We'll let our storytellers take it from here. Our first story comes from Rylan and Diana.
RYLAN: I remember praying. I was like, "Please help me find a wife and get married." And then I remember feeling like pretty strongly that, for me specifically at that time, rather than praying that I would get married is that I should pray to recognize the person who I should marry.
DIANA: I was really, really busy. I didn't even realize that I hadn't been on a date in forever. And so I, I actually prayed to be able to go on a date, or at least, to have some ideas of what I could do.
RYLAN: I had an internship in Maryland. And, I decided that rather than going back to BYU, I would extend the internship and stay for the fall semester. And I was at the temple one night. And a man, a temple worker approached me. And he said, "You should come work at the temple." But in my, in my mind, I knew that Wednesday nights was the only night I was going to be able to work. And I didn't tell that to him. But he said, "And we could really use an extra brother on Wednesday nights. And besides, all the pretty girls come to the temple on Wednesday nights." And he kind of- he laughed about it. So I started working at the temple. And towards the end, it was my last temple shift that I was going to be working before going back to school. So it was at the end of December. And I went into a temple session. And I saw a family there. And specifically, I saw one girl who not only was she beautiful, but I thought I recognized her. And I like was like, "Where is that girl from?" But I had a strict "No flirting with girls in the temple, no talking to girls, you don't know, in the temple" kind of policy. And so about an hour later, I was thinking about it, this time temple session had ended. And I was trying to put my finger on it where she was from, and I could only picture her in athletic clothes wearing these baggy gym shorts. And I was like, Where is- where is that girl from? You know was— did she go to the gym at the same time as me or something? And I finally realized that we had overlapped by a few weeks at the missionary training center. And they're like, "What does she look like?" And I was like, "Well, she's gorgeous."And we had gym time at the same time. And one day, I had orchestrated a Quidditch game while I was at the MTC, which was just essentially "handball" but I called it Quidditch so more people would play with us. When I realized that, my shift ended, and I went out to my car, and I texted all the sisters in my MTC And she, in her gym shorts, was one of the missionaries who came and played with us. group and I said, "Does anybody remember this, this girl?" They didn't think that was an adequate enough description. And so I decided that I probably needed to abandon my search for the time being and head home. And while I was leaving the temple parking lot, I saw this girl and her family leaving the visitor center. And I, you know, immediately screeched to a stop and triple parked my car and jumped out of it. And chased after this girl with her family. And, I guess to other people, you know, maybe they would have felt a little embarrassed or awkward about it. But I just had to- I just had to let her know that we knew each other. And so coming from behind. I said, "Excuse me, did you- did you serve your mission in Ukraine?" And I had served in Russia. And I knew that you know if she had had a gym time, and if I had seen her, she likely served in a similar mission.
DIANA: Yeah, I was standing outside in the parking lot with my family. So we were there on Wednesday in particular, because my brother was also a temple worker. And this was Christmas break. I was home. And we decided to go as a family; go do a session. And we wanted to go over to the visitor center to look at the nativities. And so that's why we were there a little bit longer. And we were just leaving. And this, this guy comes running up around from behind me and just stops and goes, did you serve in Ukraine? And immediately I start thinking, "Shoot, I'm supposed to know this guy." And so I told him yes, yes I did. And then he says, "Did you ever play Quidditch at the missionary training center?" And I was like, "Yes, yes, I do remember one day, for whatever reason, I joined a game of Quidditch." And so it was enough. Normally, I would be really wary of random guys approaching me in the parking lot. But he had enough evidence and that we had met before that we kept talking. And I could tell my family was really excited. We exchanged names didn't exchange numbers.
RYLAN: I thought it would be awkward to ask for her number in front of her parents. And I thought maybe I could ask her in Russian but then that would present the same problem because it would be pretty obvious that's what I was asking for when I pulled out my phone and wrote down her number.
DIANA: And it was a good thing because my Russian numbers are really rusty. So that would have been probably would have gotten the wrong number. But we had enough. We had names and so I looked him up on Facebook later. And so I was able to message him.
RYLAN: Yeah, and there was just lots of lots of miracles. It was a miracle that I had decided not to not to go back to school and just for that one semester. So that I was able to work at the temples. That I was able to work those Wednesday nights when it just so happened that she would be at the temple. It was a miracle that they stayed for an extra hour after the session had ended so that I was still able to run into her in the parking lot. And, you know, I did literally recognize her. And a year, a year after our first date, to to the day, we were able to be sealed in the temple, and the same temple that we met in. And that was the biggest miracle of them all.
KARYN LAY: That was Diana and Rylan. I think this story teaches us two things. First, as author Emily Belle Freeman says, "There is beauty in taking the time to look back and see God's fingerprints in the details of our lives." And secondly, a "no flirting in the temple" rule could be the secret to lasting happiness. Our next story comes from Tyler.
TYLER: I was a vocal performance major at Southern Utah University. I wanted to make some extra cash. And so I decided to do some singing telegrams to the students on campus. I put flyers all over campus to try to get my name out there. And I started to get some pretty good business. I would dress up in silly outfits, and try to embarrass the people that I sang to, but also to try to make it fun for them. And I got a text one day from a girl saying, "Can you come sing to my roommate for her birthday?" I said, "Sure, I'll be happy to do it." I went and then sang to this girl. I was pretty nervous to sing to her when I first saw her because she was beautiful. The most beautiful girl I'd ever seen. And, she was funny and sweet and very nice. I usually don't get nervous singing. I sang my whole life. But she made me nervous. And we exchanged numbers after that. And we started to go out on dates. And it went from there. About four months after we started dating, I started to have some health issues that I had had in the past. And they came up again. Between 2007 and 2009, I experienced 13 brain surgeries due to a congenital brain condition I've had since birth. So four months after we were dating, those same symptoms came back and I told Caitlin. I said, "There's something I need to tell you. I have this condition that I've had since birth. And I've had these surgeries in the past. And it turns out that my brain is starting to cover my spinal cord on the top. And they're going to need to remove part of my skull." And that's kind of a shocking thing to tell your significant other four months after you've been dating, honestly. But we both had the faith that everything would turn out okay. And it did. Through miracles and through priesthood blessings, the surgery went well. And we continued to date. And she started to go to church with me and I had the privilege of eventually baptizing her. She knew the gospel was true immediately after my surgery. And so we started preparations for marriage. And those preparations were interrupted by another health issue. I suffered a back injury and I eventually would end up having three back surgeries. Those surgeries shook us again. But it didn't deter us at all. We were faithful and we got married in 2013. And we were sealed in the Redlands temple in December of 2013. I had another dip in my health recently. I actually just had a surgery about a month ago. It was the same kind of issue that I had with my brain in the past. And my wife, who has been my rock, and who has been my strength, told me that everything was going to be fine and that she knew everything was going to be okay. And it turned out well again. And I attribute my strength and my courage to my wife. Not many couples can say that they've gone through, you know, three or four surgeries within a few years of each other. And she's been there for me through it all. The night before I met Caitlyn. I prayed to Heavenly Father to basically, you know, I just said, "Heavenly Father, I don't know what, what else to do or where else to turn. I'm kind of getting frustrated with all the surgeries I've had. And I need help." And my wife was the answer to that prayer. I met her the very next day. And, she was the answer. So I am grateful for her, she is my everything.
KARYN: That was Tyler. Isn’t it nice to know that God can even work with the awkwardness of a singing telegram? Our next story comes from This is the Gospel producer, Sarah Blake. You might remember Sarah and her dog Lucy from our episode on forgiveness. This time, she’s got a great story about a dream that gave her the courage to try something difficult in love.
SARAH: So, I believe that most of the things that happened to us in life are just random coincidences. But there are some moments and some events that are carefully orchestrated by loving Heavenly Parents or angels or whatever. There are a few things that happen that are supposed to happen. And this is the story of how a bunch of those things lined up for me. So in summer 2008, I moved to Washington DC from India, where I had been working at a charity. I moved here because I was dating a guy who lived here. But it only took a couple of weeks for us to figure out that that wasn't a good fit, and it wasn't going to happen. And that left me in a new city with no friends, no job, no boyfriend, now, an intestinal parasite, and a weird roommate I found on Craigslist. And it was kind of a dark summer of like not knowing what I was going to do next, or why I was even here.And the last day of living in my apartment with my weird Craigslist roommate. That night, I had the most amazing dream of my life. And it came at a time when I really needed a really great dream. The dream was I was on the roof of my apartment complex and I was flying a kite. And the wind was just perfect. And I would hold on to the kite and it would kind of lift me up. And for some reason, in the dream, my normally very weak arms were strong and able to hold on take to this kite while it would like lift up my whole body and like fly me a little bit.And this physical feeling of my arms up above my head, while I held onto the kite string, and it pulled me around in the air, was a big part of the dream. Anyway, like there were a few little practice runs with the kite flying around the area. And then, it flew me all the way across America. It was the most amazing, detailed, exciting, exhilarating, flying dream ever, like, so much detail. Like all these beautiful landscapes. It flew me all the way to the coast. I see the beach in California. And then it turned around and it flew me back across the country and landed me on my rooftop. And I woke up from that dream. And I just felt amazing. For the first time in months, I felt like hopeful, this promise of good things around the corner. And it felt very much like a gift from Heavenly Father. Like in most dreams are just weird, random combinations of whatever's been going through my head. But this one came from elsewhere. And it was a gift to me. But at the time, I just thought it was just to give me hope. And just this feeling of like good stuff's coming. This crappy summer is almost over. I didn't think it meant anything more. But a couple months later, my mom calls me one day and she's like, "Hi, how come you never mentioned family home evening." I feel like she's very worried that I'm single, you know. So she's like, "I feel like you need to be going to family home evening and meeting more people. And I was like, "Okay, fine, Mom I'll go." So that night, I went to family home evening. And now, because I had moved into a new apartment. I was in a new singles ward. And the reason I moved into a new apartment was I ran into an old friend, who also- it all felt like it was meant to be. All these things lined up. So I was in this new apartment, which meant I was in a new ward. And I went to family home evening in this new ward and a member of the bishopric asked if I'd be interested in being set up on a blind date. And the blind date was with a guy from California who was coming to visit family out here. And the date was to tour the West Wing of the White House. So I was like, "Yes, I will go out with anyone to tour the West Wing of the White House. That's really hard to get." So I went on this date was this guy named Casey from California. I totally thought, whatever, I'll never see him again. In fact, everywhere we went on the tour, he would take a picture of like one of him alone and one of me alone. And then we take one together because it felt rude not to but we were both like, "Like I'm ever going to want these random pictures of this person I went on a blind date with." But looking back we can see, for at the start of the date, we're standing like far apart and our arms are folded in the pictures together. And then by the end, like, literally the last picture, he put his arm around me and was like, "Let's make this one good. So we can use it for an engagement photo."Anyway, it was a great date. And it felt like we really felt like a match. And I remember I called a couple of my friends the next day and was like, "I think I might be crazy. But I think I might have met the guy I'm gonna marry." And they were like, "You are crazy. You're never supposed to say that out loud. That's, that's insane." But anyway, it felt really good. And it was exciting but still scary. I had literally just moved across the world to date a guy. And now, here was possibly another long-distance, dating relationship. I think I would have been very gun shy of that and like not even interested except I had this dream that just made me feel like excited about life and like things are possible.
A couple weeks later, a work trip brought Casey back to the east coast and came to pick me up for a date. And I put my arms around his neck to kiss him hello and Casey is really tall, he's 6'5. And so when I put my arms up around his neck, all of a sudden, it hit me that this was the feeling from the dream of my arms up high holding on to that kite string. And it just felt so overwhelming this sense of belonging. And in the dream, I had really had this feeling that I could trust the kite and the wind. That it loved me. That I was safe with it. And I had all of those feelings come flooding back. And it was a really strong assurance that I needed to keep going with the relationship against all odds. Ten years and four kids later, my life with Casey has actually, literally, taken- carried me from Virginia to California and back again. We've moved. We moved there. We moved back. And I still have those feelings; the exhilaration of that adventure, and the sense of trust and safety. And I think it's- I continue to marvel at the way Heavenly Father arranged all the details to bring us together. From my mom calling to tell me to go to family home evening that night so that I happened to be the person that the guy in the bishopric asked to go on that blind date. He would have just asked anybody else. To the dream that made me open to it and gave me the answer about the right fit for me. And a bunch of other small ways. Like no matter what I doubt, or question, or feel unsure whether Heavenly Father is involved in the details of my life. I can never deny that he miraculously arranged so many things to give me the greatest gift of my life: my family. And I love this love story and the way it shows Heavenly Father's love for us too.
KARYN LAY: That was Sarah. We're so glad that she and her ridiculously tall husband Casey are part of the This is the Gospel team. Stories like this next one might be the reason that young single adults hang out in the foyer at dances. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Melea and Dean.
DEAN: The first time I remember seeing my now, sweet, dear wife, Melea, was at a fireside. And she had done a lovely musical number. And as she came off the stand, she swished. She had a silky black and white dress and it swished. And she knew she swished. And I think she likes that she knew she swished.
MELEA: So one of the first times I remember meeting my wonderful, now husband, Dean, was later that summer, after the "swishing incident," when we had been, again, at a Sunday evening, young adult fireside. And afterward, we were all standing around. People were having refreshments. Visiting in the foyer and hall. And suddenly, he came up to me and I was standing in a group of four or five others visiting. And I didn't know these people very well. But he came up to me, put his arm around me, and introduced me to these people as his fiance. He was teasing the friend that I had come with on a date to that fireside. And they were old friends from high school. And I knew what his name was, but didn't know him well. Anyway, he said, "Yes, this is my fiancee and we are planning to get married and live in a cabin in the mountains and have 12 children." And he made up this whole story. And the funny thing is it kind of all came true. I was still dating this same young man; who was Dean's old high school friend. And this young man decided he really cared more about a girl who was on a mission than me and wanted to dump me. But he, to do it gently, he for over a period of a couple of weeks, he would call up and say, "Would you like to go out for ice cream or something?" And I'd say, "Sure!" And he'd come to pick me up. But you know, Dean lived in the same apartment complex. So he'd say, "Let's stop by and see Dean." And so I actually wrote in my journal that Fall, "Lance and I were going to go out for ice cream but we spent the evening visiting and laughing with Dean Mortensen. That guy is so desperate to get married. Watch out for Dean Mortensen."
DEAN: So that Fall, we both returned to BYU. Not really having dated or really been that interested in each other. But we ended up living in the same apartment complex. And Melea had hurt her foot and she was on crutches. And she put a note around the complex that she needed a ride to campus. And I thought that's risky. So I went around and took all her notes down and told her that I would give her ride so that some creep wouldn't start giving her a ride.
MELEA: Get my phone number.
DEAN: Yeah. So I would take her to campus and I wouldn't just stop in a parking lot. I actually had a small Datsun car I'd drive on the sidewalk and take her right up to the steps of whatever building she had class in.
MELEA: It was kind of embarrassing, very thoughtful and kind. And he was going- taking me a time he didn't necessarily need to go just to help me out. And a lot of fun. But he would drive right up to the door on the sidewalks to let me off with my crutches
DEAN: And so began our friendship, which grew and grew and grew until Christmas time. And we were going to ride home together in my Datsun car. We had planned to go from BYU and drive home to Denver, Colorado that Sunday, but first, we're going to church. And I had ditched Sunday school and maybe priesthood
MELEA: We weren't in the same ward. But that Sunday we were going to go to church together so that then we could go to dinner at his grandparents afterwards and drive back to Colorado.
DEAN: So, I think I must have ditched Sunday school, and maybe priesthood, to stand in the hall and visit with some friends. Which did not impress my wife, my future wife, in the least. And she was pretty mad, upset
MELEA: He just was not impressd— I was not impressed.
DEAN: I was getting the cold shoulder and I thought this is going to be a long drive home. I had an old Datsun car. And the window, if you roll it down too far, more than four or five inches, it would fall into the door and be not retrievable. And we were driving somewhere in the flats between Utah and Colorado. It was cold and lightly snowing. And I was getting a little bit tired. And Malia said, "Why don't you let me drive? So I told her, "If you drive, don't hit anything."
MELEA: And he said, "Whatever you do, don't roll down the window because it'll fall in and don't hit a box. Which seemed like such a random thing to say. Why would I hit a box? No one hits boxes, right?
DEAN: Okay, so we were out in the middle of nowhere, and I had just nodded off to sleep when all of a sudden I heard this horrific noise. Boom.
MELEA: I hit a box. Suddenly, there was a box blowing across the road. And I didn't want to swerve and miss it and wake him up. And so I hit it and it caught underneath and dragged. It made this really loud sound. So we pulled over to the side of the road and he climbed down under to pull the box out. While he's down there doing that, I thoughtfully roll down the window to check on him and the window fell into the door of the car. So I did the two exact things he asked me not to do. And...
DEAN: So we got on all our winter clothes, our hats, our gloves.
MELEA: Well he was very sweet about it. I was afraid he'd be mad at me because it was kind of stupid. And he was very patient and kind. So we had to bundle up because the cold air was blowing in that window.
DEAN: So we drove another probably 60 miles until we could come to a gas station and get some garbage bags and some duct tape,
MELEA: To tape it in the window and then it flapped and billowed in the window.
DEAN: And so after we got it all taped up, I got into the car to continue driving. And she reached over and said here this will warm you up. And she gave me the kiss of all kisses. A kiss to be remembered for all time and eternity.
MELEA: Well, anyway, I gave him a kiss to show my gratitude for his forgiving me for my stupidly hitting the box and then rolling the window down and breaking the window. And we've been kissing ever since!
KARYN: That was Melea and Dean. Whenever I hear stories of how people met, I'm immediately reminded of how intoxicating new love can be. And I'm also reminded of just how quickly we can start to take those relationships for granted. It takes real effort to keep our hearts knit together as one and honestly I don't know anything that brings us closer to heaven than the work of relationships and their many, many forms. So, however you decide to celebrate love this week, I hope you'll be able to recall all the miracles that brought that love to you in the first place. And that it makes those celebrations all the sweeter.
That's it for this episode of This is the Gospel. Thank you to all of our storytellers. And thank you for listening. If you have a story to share, call our pitch line at 515-519-6179 and leave us a message with a short synopsis of your story. And of course, be sure to check out past episodes of this podcast. As well as the All In podcast at ldsliving.com/podcast. If you love the stories we've shared, leave us a review on the apple podcast app or anywhere you listen to your podcast and tell your friends. It'll help more people find us.