Like Nephi, I was born to goodly parents who raised me in a Christian environment. I had rarely even heard of a Latter-day Saint, let alone met one. I certainly wasn’t looking for a different religion at that time.
I grew up on a ranch in the flat lands of Oklahoma. My parents were both school teachers, and my father farmed and ranched on the side. I only had one brother, so our family always did everything together.
Our Sundays started with rising early for church. The Baptist church was the largest church in town and we went to everything that was offered. Sunday school and Congregational meetings took 2 ½ hours, and then we came back in the evening for two more meetings. Oh, and let’s not forget the Wednesday night service and choir practice each week.
I began playing the piano at an early age and was an accomplished pianist by the age of 12. On Sunday night I played piano and my mother played the organ. My grandmother taught me how to play the hymns with “flare.” Runs, arpeggios, and glissandos were a great part of my playing. By the time I was in college the Baptist Student Union and my Baptist life style consumed me.
After I graduated from college I got a teaching job at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma located in Chickasha, Oklahoma. I was an adjunct faculty member teaching piano, organ, and elementary music classes. That fall a tall, distinguished Latter-day Saint young man named Richard was hired to teach instrumental music and music theory.
I remember walking up to him and saying, “I have heard that you are a Mormon, and I am a Baptist, and if we are to coexist in this music department, don’t you ever speak your religion to me.” I then turned around and walked away.
Later, after we had been dating for a few months, I asked him, “Why did it take so long for you to ask me out?” He exclaimed, “It took awhile for the effects of that first conversation to wear off.”
Needless to say, I had one million questions about the church. There was also so much new terminology to learn. He once asked me to attend a stake house with him on a Saturday night. Well, you can imagine my surprise when we drove for 45 minutes to the stake center, and there was no food involved.
My eventual conversion took two sets of young missionaries and one set of stake missionaries before I would say yes to baptism. Many times they were afraid to come back because I asked them to leave so often. The Branch President counseled Richard to relax, sit back and let the missionaries do their work.
Fortunately it worked out, and I was able to join the Church. Now after over 30 years, I am still the only member in my family. In that regard, I am a pioneer and am truly thankful that the tall, distinguished music director, taught, baptized and married me.
This story was told by Laura Couch Ross.