A Surprise Proposal

The ring

Shh…It’s a Surprise!

Saturday night, I (Connie) greeted Levi from South Dakota and Jessica’s and Mara’s sister Kala from Iowa at the door.  They were spending the night for the great surprise.  Shh!   Mara, the unsuspecting fiancee-to-be (who has been away from home in Minnesota staying with her sister Jessica here in California all Summer) was to have NO IDEA they were in town.

Up early the next morning Levi was amazing as he put the ring in the mason jar and picked out the “right” shirt to wear.  I was privileged enough to hear their whole love story from when they met to this moment. Levi was so hilarious because he was very nervous as he made sure everything was set up perfectly.  Next Kala and Levi headed up the Grieb Ranch Hills in the RTV to saddle horses and hang the ring tied in the tree that over looks the Arroyo Grande Valley so everything would be just right . . . and it was . . .

The proposal

What Mara Was Thinking

Proposal July 31, 2016

Saturday night my sister Jessica and brother-in-law Daniel told me that we needed to go up the hill in the morning to get some fire wood for a BBQ we were going to have on Sunday night.

Sunday morning before church Jessica, Macy my twin sister who was visiting us, the boys and I headed up to the hill to get what I thought was wood! While we were driving we saw a horse in the distance. Jessica thought that was weird and thought that we should go check it out..

It was saddled and tied to a tree. As Jessica and I were walking up the hill to where the horse was Jessica said we needed to be careful because someone could have a gun. I then became really scared and kinda followed her. When we were up there I then noticed another horse tied up to another tree. I was confused. Behind the tree I saw a person! I had no clue who it was I just noticed someone with a bun on top of their head. I thought it was an Indian stealing the horses so I tried yelling at them and then they would duck and disappear.

Macy then came walking up in the distance with Payson, I yelled down at her and told her it wasn’t safe and that she shouldn’t come up here with a little boy. Jessica said, “Look! There is a jar hanging from the tree I wonder what that is?” I then thought someone was living out there will these stolen horses. When I turned around, Levi was standing on top of the hill! I couldn’t believe it! Levi got on one knee and asked me to marry him! I said, “YES!” My sister Kala then popped out of the tree where she was sneakily taking photos of our engagement!  


Close up together

Levi came out for a visit at Grieb Ranch this Summer. He then decided it would be a fitting location for a proposal and planned the whole event. Four of the five Van Essen sisters took part in the proposal and now all have it as a shared memory. What a great start for the young couple.

Photos: Mara’s sister Kala



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