Missionary haircut: A love story

“I would never date Elder Whitlock. He’s super young and has really bad hair.”

-A stupid person, probably

montana billings mission

Mind the gap.

One thing not many people know about Eric and I is that we met while serving as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Montana.

Montana absolutely transformed me. Us, really. I think of it every day in some way or another. Eric and I talk of it often and loved visiting several times while attending school in Idaho. So many sacred things have happened there. Most importantly, a friendship that was a foundation for our family.

We have so many treasured memories from Montana. Our home is slowly and surely becoming a shrine to the state. We have proudly displayed the Montana flag, rock a “Get Lost” bumper sticker and have enough Montana-themed prints that multiple people ask us if we’re from Big Sky Country.

A tie that means something

But I have to tell you about my favorite new shop for missionary memorabilia and gifts. Statesman Ties is what mission story dreams are made of. It’s a tie of your mission, people! The tie is 100% woven silk with designs inspired by the state’s or country’s flag. Well, coming from a couple that decorates with the Montana flag, how could we pass this up?

There are dozens of missions to choose from, with more on the way. Rob and Amy, who own the shop, (who also both served missions, hashtag totes presh) are so friendly and kind to work with. They are truly passionate about giving and creating a mission keepsake. I can’t wait to gift a tie to my brothers. (Don’t worry, there like a 2 percent chance they read this blog, so they’ll still be surprised.)

statesman ties

statesman ties

statesman ties

statesman ties

statesman ties

statesman ties

“I don’t know how to look sexy, so I’ll just look confused.”

Eric loves the tie. And I love Eric. So really, it’s a match made in heaven. Or Montana. Which is basically the same thing anyway.

This is our story.

When I got my mission call to Billings, Montana, in November 2009, needless to say I was somewhat deflated.

 If you’re LDS, you know that so many prospective missionaries talk about that moment they read in their letter where God has sent them to labor in his wide, white field that is ready to harvest. The spirit overwhelms them, often times to tears, and they just. know. that’s where they are meant to serve.

Yeah. That didn’t happen for me.

It was a different kind of tears that overwhelmed me. The angry, confused, disappointed, someone-at-Church-headquarters-has-a-twisted-sense-of-humor kind of tears.

Alas, after some solid humbling from God to me, I knew that Montana was where I was meant to serve. I just had no idea that while I was serving with my whole heart in Montana, God was preparing it for the greatest blessing of my life.

Eric Whitlock.

Granted, Eric wasn’t the reason I served a mission. Far, far from it, in fact.

I served for a woman named Jane. A man named Marvin. A family named the Callisons. Ultimately, I served for Jesus Christ. For the opportunity to be “called of Him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.”

Eighteen months after stepping foot into Big Sky Country (yes, it really is bigger), I boarded a plane back home to California, giant tears streaming down my face. I still feel the pain of leaving my mission.

For about a year afterward, I wandered through school, one and a half relationships and a million more first dates, finally swearing off dating for a long time.

In June of 2012, I must have told God these plans, because the ripples of his belly laugh rattled my neatly folded and planned out life.

On June 26, I got a Facebook message from an old mission friend, Eric Whitlock.

Elder Whitlock and I had served around each other for the backend of my mission. We met in Kalispell, Montana, where we served in the same general area, called a district. We struck up a friendship but I remember distinctly thinking, “I would never date Elder Whitlock. He’s super young and has really bad hair.”

Oh, bless your heart, Sister Buchanan.

Call me maybe

But it was his Facebook message that did the trick.

“HIIIIIIIIIIII:D I am home. And it IS crazy. Here’s my number. Call me maybe!”

I laughed, called him and we started chatting regularly on the phone. A few weeks later, we met up in St. George for a mission reunion to celebrate the homecoming of our mission president and his sweet wife, who had just finished their three years of service as well. When I saw Elder Whitlock, now Eric (the newer model had much better hair), he picked me up off the ground, twirling me around in our first hug. Missionaries, who dedicate their time, efforts and heart to teaching about the Doctrines of Christ also avoid physical contact with the opposite sex except for handshakes. This was some serious new territory for us.

montana billings mission

St. George, 2012.

Yet we were nearly inseparable for the rest of the weekend, and I knew I had someone special when he stayed up until 2 in the morning to talk to me on the phone so I would make it back home to Rexburg, Idaho safely after driving the full trek back from St. George.

We went on our first official date to the world’s worst haunted house in October, saw Les Miserables for a magical date in December when he kissed me the first time and were dating exclusively by the first of 2013.

montana billings mission

Eric decided to come to BYU-Idaho to pursue his education me. In February we sat in the Rexburg Temple and decided to be married. On March 27, Eric officially asked me to be his wife and on July 13, 2013, almost a year to the day since he literally swept me off my feet in St. George, Eric and I were married for time and all eternity in the Mesa Arizona Temple.

statesman ties

And through it all we have each other, God, and some perfect memories of Montana.

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