Sunday, September 29, 2013

They Had to Travel Long Distances...

Do you believe in miracles? Not necessarily the walk-on-water or miraculous-physical-healing variety (although I definitely believe in those too), but do you believe in the small things that come together just a little too perfectly? If you don't, then this next installment of my story might seem like nothing more than an interesting string of curiously fortunate coincidences. To me, however, all I see is a merciful, omnipotent hand rapidly assembling the confused jigsaw of my life, and it is nothing short of miraculous.

I love temples. In the LDS Church, we have quite a few of them across the globe, and in my home state of Utah, there are upwards of fifteen. Before setting off on my crazy France adventures, I was in the habit of going to the temple at least once a week, both because I love the peace I feel there and because they are so accessible. But here in Europe, they aren't as easy to come by. The nearest one to Lyon is just outside of Bern, Switzerland--four hours away. The distance isn't too terrible, but going there requires advance planning--finding transportation, figuring out a place to stay, getting a travel group together, etc. Since one of my job hazards includes not always knowing when I'll have enough of my own time to travel, putting together temple trips has been a challenge, and by March of this year, I had only gone once to visit the temple. Fortunately, I finally had a weekend where I knew for sure that I would not be traveling with the Roneys, so I immediately started organizing. In no time, some friends and I were preparing for a temple day on
April 13.

Not long after Roby and I started writing to each other and in the midst of all my secret hopes and thoughts and dreams of spending time together in person, he asked me one day if I ever had the chance to go to the Swiss temple. Of course I told him about our anticipated trip in April and how I was excited to finally be going again. His next message, though, came as quite a surprise. It turned out that he had been planning to go to the temple the same week as me.

Now, you might easily say that he decided to go when he heard I was going to be there. We had both been hinting at each other that we would love to meet up, and we hadn't been writing for more than two weeks before he invited me to come to Italy. But you have to know that Lecce, Italy is nearly 13 hours away from Bern. It was even more difficult and rare for Roby to get the chance to make that journey than it was for me. Furthermore, he had been invited the day before asking me by some friends who were making the trek. This was not a sneaky plot just to see me. The first puzzle piece had simply been put in place.

Of course, things always have to be a little complicated. It turned out that I wouldn't be at the temple until Saturday whereas Roby's friends were leaving early Saturday morning. My initial excitement crashed down into disappointment when I realized we might not be able to see each other. But Roby just kept saying "we will see." The day before Roby left, he told me that somehow, there wasn't a place for him to stay near the temple on Friday night, and he was trying to figure out what to do. A crazy idea came to my mind. My friends and I would stay Friday night in Geneva--two hours away from the temple. What if I invited him to stay? Of course, it would mean taking a train down to Geneva and taking one back to Bern as our car was already full. It didn't seem logical at all. But the idea persisted in my mind, and I finally asked him.

It turns out he had been praying that I would invite him to Geneva.

Although I thought my idea was crazy and improbable, he also said he'd been hoping I would then take the train back with him to the temple. Puzzle piece number two. Furthermore, he had found someone who could give him a ride to Geneva that day--piece number three. And once again, if you'd still like me to be counting pieces, it turned out he would be able to stay all day on Saturday as there was yet another person who could give him a ride back to Italy even though his friends were leaving much earlier. It all seemed so perfect.

Friday, April 12--finally, the day arrived! I was so anxious and excited and nervous that I could hardly teach at all. Roby and I had just Skyped for the first time a few days before, and I had realized that he was even cuter than I thought from his pictures or my fuzzy MTC memories. But what if he didn't like me in person? What if things felt awkward? What if there wasn't any chemistry? What if we didn't fit well together after all? He had known me as his teacher--what if I was just imagining that he was really interested? What if I had to deal with a horrible disappointment yet again? I imagined dozens of scenarios for our first meeting--everything from a cold greeting and a miserable train ride to swelling orchestral music and a love-at-first-sight kiss. Soon enough, we were on the road and I was headed closer to my uncertain fate.

And, of course, things got complicated again. I had arranged for a friend to meet him and take him to where he would be staying, but the intention was always for me to meet up with him that night as well. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. I spent the whole day anticipating our first meeting that night, but coordinating our locations became too complicated, and we ended up staying 20 minutes away from each other. I was keenly disappointed. It seemed too ridiculous--so close and yet impossibly far away. Fortunately, we still planned to meet early the next morning at the Geneva train station.

I think I slept about two hours that night.


  1. Donna I just saw these posts and I am LOVING reading your story!! Can't wait for the next one!! :) -Gloria

  2. Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!! Oh my heavens. Please write the next one fast. I love this.

  3. This is an awesome story. I am enjoying it immensely.

    1. Thanks! You know, just trying to fill the void left when Sanditon just couldn't deliver... :D

  4. Ok Donna ... I should not pass my sunday on internet ... but I just love reading your blog! You should write a book! Mamma mia ... What have I missed so far? :)