Well, I've had a few requests to dedicate a post to how Dennis and I met. If you've heard this story too many times, feel free to quit reading now!
The summer after my freshman year of college, my parents were taking a trip to the midwest to see Nauvoo and some of the other church historical sites in the area. I tagged along with them because I was their only child not married. My dad didn't really think I needed to come, but my mom thought it would be fun. So, we flew into St. Louis, Misouri and drove across the state. We had our whole trip planned out, but halfway into the first day we were already ahead of schedule so we continued on to some more sights. That's how we ended up in Adam-Ondi-Ahman that fateful day... ;)
So, now to Dennis. He and his brothers had been down from Iowa City to Kansas City to see a Nascar race. (I know... kind of white trash). Anyway, on the way back home the air conditioning in their car went out and they were getting miserable because it was the first part of July and extremely humid. One of the brothers suggested they stop at Adam-Ondi-Ahman since they were close by, but Dennis just wanted to keep on going. He was the only one who didn't want to stop, so he got out-voted and they stopped.
There are two look-outs at Adam-Ondi-Ahman that look out onto some soybean fields (and that's about all that is there). As my parents and I were done with the first one and headed up to the second, a good-looking guy (Dennis) came up to us and said, "How far is it to the look-out?" I checked for a wedding ring (a habit I'd formed in college that year), and there wasn't one. I thought that was it until this same guy and three more looking vaguely like him showed up while my parents and I were still at the second look-out. My dad is a home builder, so he was wearing a Utah Home Builders shirt that day, and Dennis' oldest brother (Russ) noticed this and started up a conversation with us because he also is a home builder and so is one of the other brothers (Neal). After the conversation about building, they started in on farming because what do you know? The Hunger brothers and my dad all grew up on a farm. Gotta love it... They asked us about our vacation and when we told them our final destination was Nauvoo, they told us that was their home stake center while growing up. The major tip they gave us was that we HAD to stop at the Fudge Shoppe because the stake president and his wife owned it.
I remember trying to figure out all the brother's ages that day and thinking that Dennis was the cutest, the tallest, and he seemed really funny, which is super important to me. I figured he was about 24 at the time and I was 19, which seemed like no big deal. Dennis later told me that his thoughts that day were, "Why can't there be a girl like that in Iowa?"
For the next 4 or 5 days, my parents and I constantly referred to "The Hunger Brothers." They said this or that, or whatever it was. So, my mind was on them a lot and I had it in my mind that I had nothing to lose and that I would regret it if I never saw Dennis again. Like I said, I knew from the first day that Dennis was who I was interested in although 3 of the 4 weren't married. We went to the Fudge Shoppe at least 2 or 3 times that week, but on our last day we were going to stop one more time on our way out of town. We'd already told the owner how we met "the Hunger Brothers", and she just went on and on about what nice boys they were. Out of the blue, my mom told me that I should write Bryan a letter because we'd all figured he was the youngest. I told her that I already had considered writing Dennis a letter. She was very shocked that I'd consider her suggestion, and even more shocked I even knew I'd rather write one to Dennis! So, I sat down in the hotel room and wrote a short little letter about myself and gave him my address. I stuck it in an envelope and wrote his name on it, and then I asked the Fudge Shoppe lady if she could get it to him. That was that - I told my parents as we walked out of the Shoppe that I didn't want to talk about it, so they shouldn't ask any questions and they weren't to tell ANYone that I'd done it.
I decided if I didn't get a response within three weeks that it wasn't going to happen. Meanwhile, Dennis got the letter at his parents house after more than 2 weeks. He said that at first he couldn't remember who on earth "Jeny Mitchell" was, so whether it was after an hour or a few days he remembered and decided to write me back. He said at first he wasn't going to tell me his age, but he ended up doing it because I had told him. So after about 3 1/2 weeks (I'd given up hope), I got a letter from Dennis but he told me all about himself and that actually he was 26 - almost 27. I got kind of worried about how much older he is than me, but my mom told me that she didn't think it was bad at all.
That started our letter writing but after probably 2 months, I felt like it was taking TOO long. I was always on the computer, so I asked him to write me e-mails instead. Well... once again I was impatient. I noticed that no matter when I wrote him(after a day or four days), Dennis would always respond on either Sunday or Monday nights. Somewhere during this time, his brother Russ came to Utah to see some old friends. He actually stopped by and visited with me one afternoon. After that day, I was just miserable thinking how I wanted to see Dennis and talk to him more so that we could get to know each other better. Russ went home (he and Dennis were roommates) and said, "Don't mess this one up."
Well, I decided we needed to start instant messaging on the computer. I gave him detailed instructions on how to set up an account, and I waited on a Sunday night for him to get online. It was so nice to finally ask a question and get a response quickly! We started "talking" most nights for a couple hours at that point and I think it was in early November. A couple weeks after that, I stumbled upon Dennis's phone number... oops! I saw that the University of Iowa had a phone list for all its students, so I easily found Dennis. I was too nervous to call him because I figured he needed to take the next step for a change, but one of my roommates talked me into it. Russ answered and Dennis wasn't home, so I didn't want to leave a message but Russ recognized my voice and I was caught!
We'd already been talking about how Dennis was planning on visiting Utah over his Christmas break to see some friends from BYU, so we decided we'd see each other then. What it really was is an excuse for Dennis to come see me without having to put himself out there too much. He ended up staying at my parents house the whole time and saw 2 friends in one afternoon. The rest of the time, we spent having fun and going on tons of dates. We both had a great time that week.
Anyway, that was the end of December and we scheduled a trip for February when I could come meet his family. We actually got engaged on that trip, and every 3 weeks or so we visited each other until May when we got married.
The funny thing about this whole story is that this is SO not like me. I'm very timid when I meet people, and I don't like to put myself out there to try to make friends. I usually wait around until someone is friendly to me and then I'll reciprocate. I guess the Lord knew I needed to do this to make it work because Dennis says that we always prayed he would know where he stood with a girl.
Wow! That's a long story... now I'm sure some of you wish that Dennis and I did meet in a gas station. That would have been a much shorter story.