Right after moving out of the DDI, I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the summer. I had acquired a summer job as a field hand in the experimental wheat breeding fields of the University of Minnesota, and I lived with my grandparents, both of whom are lifelong citizens of Minneapolis.
I discovered a couple of things pretty quickly. First, the singles ward in Minneapolis was far and away the best singles ward I had ever attended. I formed more solid friendships in my three months there than I had in any other ward in a comparable length of time. This was especially impressive because our ward was spread out over a large section of the city instead of being compressed into a single apartment complex like I was used to (no pun intended). But within the first week of my arrival, I had friends who called me when things were going on and were willing to come pick me up for activities and for church.
The second thing I discovered was how great my grandmother is. While I was there, I began interviewing her to put together her biography. It was so much fun to listen to stories of her Lutheran, Scandinavian upbringing, with memories of her parents and her sisters and growing up next door to my grandpa. My favorite evenings of the week were the ones where Grandma and I went up to her room and she would relate story after story for my tape recorder.
The internship itself was an interesting, broadening experience that will prove very valuable if I do end up going into a plant-related field. It was also a lot of hard work. I don't think I've ever been so dirty in my life as I was after I spent two days helping to harvest the experimental plots of wheat- dust and chaff everywhere. I kind of looked like a chimney sweep.
I did take one glorious long weekend from work when Danielle flew out to visit. We rented a car and, saying lots and lots of prayers, we drove to Minneapolis to Nauvoo, about a seven-hour drive. Danielle had somehow achieved a miraculous connection that allowed us to stay in a pink Victorian mansion just down the river from Nauvoo for free. Kim was getting married in the Nauvoo temple and Danielle and I were there both to see her and to see Nauvoo. We walked through the JSB, where we had lived (it was housing youth groups for the summer), and walked around Nauvoo, and made sure that we saw the sun set over the Mississippi, like old times.
When I came home to Utah, instead of setting up in a new apartment, I moved home. It was a very difficult choice to make, but it felt right. My older brother Matt, who had spent the summer in Russia, also moved home. We were both BYU students, so we made the commute from Orem to Provo together almost every day. Although this was challenging, it was also one of the most rewarding things about living at home. I've admired and looked up to Matt my whole life, and now I had about half an hour of built-in conversation time with him every day.
Instead of having a roommate my own age, I now shared a room with Laura, seven years my junior. She was very gracious about letting me move in and proved to be a good roommate. I generally stayed up later than she did with my studies and oftentimes right when I was getting ready for bed, she would be sound enough asleep to start sleeptalking. She offered me lots of unintentional entertainment that way (my favorite night might have been when I heard her say, "Oh . . . no!" followed by a sudden burst of laughter).
I continued to be challenged intensely by my classes and I continued to love it. This was my first year of taking classes with a set of three boys who were all cousins. We ended up in at least one class together each semester for the next two years, and they were about the best study group I've ever had. They pushed me to excel, and I did pretty well, with their help, and they did with mine. We were good enough friends that when I told them I was dating someone, they offered to come fix him for me if he didn't treat me right (then I told them that my then-boyfriend was studying car design and they all got intensely excited. What is it with boys and cars?).
This was also the first year that I had a job as a TA on top of my research job, and I loved it. I already knew I enjoyed teaching, but working as a TA solidified the idea in my mind. I started toying with the idea of becoming a professor someday.
My biggest lesson from this year was that oftentimes we receive revelation and we act on it, and we may not know for a long time why the action was necessary. We may not ever know in this life. But we will be blessed for our obedience regardless.