Little Red Brick House

Little Red Brick House

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

Little Red Brick House

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.

James 2:8

We had been renting a house in Oklahoma City for a couple of years when my husband decided it was time for us to buy. I was reluctant to purchase anything because his job required frequent moves. However, I went out with a Realtor one day, and as we drove through the Sky Ranch subdivision, one little red brick house seemed to catch my attention. We walked through the house, and for some reason—unknown to me at the time—I knew it was the house I wanted. I brought my husband back to see it, and because I seemed so sure of this house, he agreed.

The Allen family next door had seven children. I watched as they all piled together in the van to go to church each Sunday. I watched as they all worked in the garden together. The children came to our house to play, and I was very pleased with the example they were setting for our children. Our children played at their house and came home to tell me of all the fun things they did as a family; they even told me about all the barrels of food they stored in their garage. Their children invited ours to church, and one of our daughters went a few times. Mrs. Allen often called to say, “I’m going to the dairy. Can I pick up a gallon of milk for you?” She had to be one of the busiest women I knew, and her taking the time to think of me meant more than she’ll ever know. I didn’t know what made this family so special, but whatever they had, I wanted it!

One day on my way home, I stopped to visit with her as she cleaned vegetables at the side of her house.

“I heard Donny Osmond got married today,” I laughed. “I guess our girls’ hearts are broken.”

“You know, Donny Osmond belongs to the same church we do,” she said.

“Really?” I asked. “I thought Donny Osmond was a Mormon.”

“Well, the real name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are members of the Church here.”

“Oh.” I wasn’t quite sure what to say. I mumbled something about my father being a minister and never having all the answers to my questions.

“You know, we have the missionaries at our house all the time,” she said. “Maybe they could answer your questions. It’s worth a try.”

“Okay.”

“What about one day next week? Would Tuesday work for you?”

Before I knew it, I had agreed to meet with the missionaries.

On the appointed day, my daughter and I went to the Allen home to meet with the missionaries. I didn’t go with any expectations. When I left home at sixteen, I declared that I’d never go back to church—but as my children were born, I realized we needed to be involved in a church. Every time we moved, I would try a church in the area, but each time I left there feeling empty.

I don’t remember what the missionary discussion was about that day in 1978, but when it ended, I remember that they asked me to offer the prayer. I was nervous about it, but I agreed. As I started to pray, I remember my body being filled with an energy I’d never felt before. Tears came to my eyes, and I knew that I had found something good.

As we walked back to our house, I asked my daughter what she thought. She said she liked it. I said, “I think what they are teaching us is true.” She was only eleven years old, but she agreed that we needed to learn more.

We continued with the discussions and I knew I wanted to be baptized. It wasn’t until they said they would need my husband’s permission that I knew I was stuck! I hadn’t even told him I was taking these discussions. I thought I could just get baptized and go to church, but this was an important decision that involved my entire family, and I was told I’d need to talk to him about it.

I prayed about it and went to him with my request.

“Joey and I want to be baptized.”

“You’ve already been baptized,” he reminded me.

“Joey hasn’t. Besides, I wasn’t baptized in the right church.”

“Are you talking about those Mormons?”

“Yes.”

“No. I don’t want to be married to a Mormon.”

The conversation had gone about as I expected. He refused. I decided to leave it alone for a few days and try again. The results were the same. No.

I went back to the mission leader and told him about the situation. The missionaries and all those who had been involved in teaching us agreed to fast that Wednesday, praying that my husband’s heart would be softened and he would allow us to be baptized. I started my fast on Tuesday night and exercised every bit of faith I had that the Lord would answer my prayers.

The next day, a coworker invited me to lunch. I told her I was fasting, but I would go and visit with her while she ate. Once inside the restaurant, I looked around and saw that the ward mission leader was having lunch with some friends. I walked over to the table and asked him about it. “Isn’t today the day we’re fasting?” I asked.

“I started my fast yesterday at noon, and am breaking it with this meal.”

“Oh,” I responded. I wasn’t sure what to say, but his explanation was good enough for me. I believed what he said and continued with my fast.

Four days later, as I got up on Sunday morning to get ready for church, our youngest daughter said, “Daddy, why don’t you let Mommy and Joey get baptized?” At that point he said, “I don’t care if they get baptized. I’m just tired of hearing about it.”

I rushed to the bishop’s office to tell him that we had approval for baptism. Somewhat apprehensive, he asked me to tell him exactly what my husband had said. I could tell by the look on his face that he wanted something more positive! That day after church, he greeted my husband in our front yard. “I’m sure glad to hear that you’ve agreed to allow Joyce and Joey to get baptized.” My husband didn’t object, so he set the wheels in motion, and that Friday, he took both of us into the waters of baptism.

I believe the Lord led me to that little brick house that day. The Allen family next door was prepared to talk to others about the gospel, and when the appropriate time came, Sister Allen offered me the opportunity to talk to the missionaries. They had taught their children correct principles that made it easy for my daughter to accept. Our hearts had been touched, and we were being prepared to hear the message. I am so thankful for a woman who had the courage to extend an invitation to someone who was probably not a logical candidate for baptism. I am thankful for a daughter who heard the truth and accepted it. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who heard my prayers, knew the sincerity of my heart and made it possible for me to change my life.

Joyce Pierce

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