The Road to Indiana
So here we are, in the home of the Hoosiers. Our new neighborhood is neatly tucked in between a couple cornfields, and the giant sky puts on a sunset show every night that might as well be fireworks. There are crosses on every corner and the people next door as well as the salesperson you just met are all praying for you and praising Jesus. There's tornadoes, humidity, and oh so many bugs, but then some of those bugs are fireflies. The Midwest is not a place I ever imagined we'd be, why would I? But in the occasional quiet lulls, I am washed over with a sense of peace. After so many months of unrest, it is the sweetest relief to know, this is our place. This is the place God intended us to be.
Getting turned down from the PhD program at BYU in March was, in a word, devastating. And not because it was our alma mater, no, not because we had put an offer on a dream home down the street from my sister in law so our kids could go to school together, no, not because Evan could've kept working with his spectacular faculty and our dear friends, no, not even because we had been assured by professors within the program that we were a shoe-in. I mean, none of those things softened the blow to be sure but that wasn't the heart of the matter. The thing about it was that we had been terribly prayerful and purposeful on the decision of whether or not to pursue a PhD to begin with, and then very specifically where to pursue it. And the answer had been overwhelmingly clear. Having acted in faith on the answer we had received but then somehow watching that future evaporate with a single email sent us in to a tailspin. How had the answer been so obvious? Had we somehow both misinterpreted it? Maybe we didn't understand God at all? Maybe we didn't even know how to pray? How many other choices had we made, under the impression we were responding to heavenly guidance, when in fact we were completely confused? Decision making, even for the simplest tasks like planning a meal, became a painful reminder of our inability to choose the correct direction to go. I'm being dramatic...but only because it felt dramatic. And I knew, even in that moment that other people were dealing with much bigger, much harder problems, but this mystery of a dead end answer put me in a crisis of faith that left me spiritually gasping for air.
Fast forward two months to May. We flew out to West Lafayette for Evan's masters graduation and out of nowhere, stepping on to the campus of Purdue University strangely felt like entering the eye of our storm. The chaos of confusion still swirled around us but right there in the center, we caught a glimpse of a clearer view. At the graduation reception, Evan's professors encouraged him to apply to their PhD program and he regretfully informed them that in his line of work there was no possibility of transferring, and we simply couldn't leave his job, not with a wife and two children to support... could we? Sitting in the terminal the next day preparing to board the plane back to Salt Lake City, we drafted an email. Admission deadlines had long passed, funds had all been distributed, out of state tuition would be crushing, but what could a Hail Mary hurt?
We went to the temple the week we got home, that same temple we'd gotten our answers in before, and again our answer to a new question was crystal clear. We didn't tell anyone what we were doing, because of what had happened with BYU we just couldn't bear it if we'd misunderstood God again somehow. But we acted in faith and applied. Slowly and all at once, things fell into place. Despite a late application, they wanted Evan in their program immediately, they found a scholarship for him and a job as a teaching and research assistant that would allow us a living stipend. We put our house up on the market, it sold, we bought a house in Indiana over Facetime, we sent our notice to Seminaries and Institutes, and we packed up everything we own, and drove through millions of acres of farm land to grow our crops right here with them.
Elder Holland's video so perfectly teaches the lesson we lived. How grateful we are that God sent us down our "wrong road" so we could take this crazy leap with complete confidence. As far as we're concerned, West Lafayette Indiana may as well be paradise, cicadas and all.