Saturday, November 6, 2010


If you haven't heard yet, I guess now the news is out. Benjamin and I are engaged and we're getting married in February! People have been bugging me for the whole story, so here goes.

Benjamin and I met in our singles ward last summer (August 2009) when I had just received a new calling as a Gospel Essentials teacher. He was the Sunday School teacher and had been told to give me a copy of the manual our stake uses. The way he tells it, he asked a friend of mine, Luke, who I was, and Luke said he would point me out. I'm really glad that Luke didn't just take the manual and pass it on to me. Luke pointed me out to Benjamin at the beginning of a Sunday School class, and Benjamin came over to give me the manual just as class was starting, so he took the seat beside me.

I remember him commenting at some point in the lesson something about learning Russian on his mission, so after the lesson was over, I asked him where he had served. He replied that he was in the Donetsk Ukraine Mission, a mission where several of my friends had gone (it's interesting to note here that I asked about an old boyfriend of mine who had served there—turns out that the old boyfriend was Benjamin's trainer). We talked about our respective missions and the difficult languages we had to learn and seemed to have a pretty good connection.

The quality of the connection was confirmed when he called me a little while later and asked if I would go to see "The Importance of Being Earnest" with him at the Pumphouse Theatre the following weekend. We had fun, but the way things were in both our lives that semester, we didn't go on another date for quite some time. I thought of asking him to Preference, but he got asked by another girl and we even ended up being part of the same group date.

During this period of time, we sat together at church most of the time. He liked to sing the hymns in Russian, and I love to bring my Finnish hymnbook to church, so it seemed to make sense that we would sit together and not distract everyone else with our foreign language hymns. I found out later that a lot of people in the ward thought we were dating then—nothing like a singles ward for gossip! I also remember the wife of our bishop repeatedly telling me that I should date him, to which my response was usually, "Maybe. He seems like a nice guy, but I'm not sure how interested I am."

By the time Christmas break rolled around, I was thinking that it would be nice to go on another date with Benjamin, who had turned out to be a good friend. I knew he was planning on a semester abroad in Hong Kong after Christmas, and I would be taking a trip to China and Thailand with my family over the holiday, so when my mum suggested that I propose an evening of Chinese food and comparing trip plans, I decided to go for it. That date ended up being a lot of fun, but he still just felt like a good friend.

When I got back from my trip, he called and invited me in my jet-lagged stupor to go see "Fiddler on the Roof" and eat Hungarian food with him later in the week. I wasn't super coherent due to the jet lag, but apparently I said yes, and we had a great time. At the end of the date, I was starting to think that I wanted to stay in touch with Benjamin while he was away, so I contrived to trade email addresses with him so that I could send him some of the information about my trip that he asked about, like the part of the Great Wall that we visited. We kept in touch for the whole five months that he was gone and I looked forward to his emails.

At the end of June, when Benjamin came home, I was excited to see him but wasn't really sure how things would go—we hadn't seen each other for so long and I was pretty nervous. The first day we saw each other at church, he asked me out on a date, but I was busy with work and visiting teaching every night that week. I was disappointed, but hoped that he wouldn't take it to mean I didn't want to go on a date with him.

When my tutoring fell through on Tuesday night, I decided to call Benjamin and ask if he was still free. I ended up driving to the other end of the city to play board games with him and his cousins. Despite the general exuberance of his cousins (one called me a deceiving vixen when I claimed what he deemed to be "his" route in Ticket to Ride Europe), I had a nice time and decided that I'd be interested in going out with him again.
All through the summer, we met for lunch downtown when he had a day off, we went for walks and other dates on the weekends, and in general had a wonderful time together. By the beginning of August, we had determined that we were interested in dating each other exclusively and had a very happy and fun relationship. About a week after we had starting dating, we were already getting comments on how tall our kids would be (with me at 6'1" and him at 6'6", it's a valid observation).

We had determined that we would be spending the weekend after Thanksgiving down in Cardston for his sister's wedding—I had already met some of his family the weekend before, and I was excited to meet the rest of them, but dreading a tiny bit the inevitable jokes about "You're next" and "So when are you guys getting married?" which we'd already been getting from our friends. Whenever we discussed putting up with the teasing, Benjamin always said, "We just look too happy together, we can't help it!"

The wedding was wonderful and despite the teasing, we managed to stay looking happy. The night before the wedding, we decided to go for a walk around the temple grounds and take some pictures. It was apparently then that Benjamin decided to go ahead with his planned proposal for later in the weekend, despite the fact that the ring hadn't arrived yet.

Sunday morning, Benjamin wanted to go see the sunrise from the temple grounds, so we bundled up, drove over, and waited in the car until a few minutes before the sun came up. We moved to a bench on the corner of the temple grounds and waited for it to come up. It was really cold, so we were snuggled together, trying to stay warm. We watched the sun come up and talked, I can't even really remember what about. I just remember as the sun came right up over the horizon, Benjamin turned to me and said,

"I have a question for you." after which he got off the bench and down on one knee. My reaction, in typical Janine fashion, was to blurt out excitedly, "Are you serious?!?"

After reassuring me that he was, indeed, entirely serious, he asked me to marry him and I said yes. I was so happy! And still am, as a matter of fact. We could hardly wait to go home and call family to tell them the good news.

There you go, the story of Benjamin and me. Sorry it took so long.