Monday, April 9, 2012

A Friend's Conversion

I'm not sure when, where or why Sue gave me this account, but I don't want to lose it, and I'm sure others will appreciate her testimony.  Sue passed away due to poor health a few years ago, faithful to the end.  I miss her.

Suzann Pirotta’s Conversion Story

It was in the fall of 1974 when Joyce came to live with us at Illinois State University. I was pursuing a Master of Music Performance Degree on my major instrument which was bassoon. My teacher called me asking if we had room for her in our off campus apartment and said she was a bassoonist majoring in the same degree.  Now musicians are fiercely competitive in many ways. We auditioned for the same limited performance slots with the semi professional orchestra in the next town as well as other opportunities many times a year. As fate would have it we did have one more bed available in the basement of Mrs. Bright’s Home. A phone was provided for us by our landlord and we were listed as “The Bright Student House”. Before she even arrived we heard the rumors that she was a Mormon. Now the only contact I had ever had with the church was during a tour that I participated in that played a concert in Salt Lake City. They immediately corralled us to show us a movie on the Mormon faith. Another performer and I snuck out a side door to do some much needed shopping for me as my luggage had never arrived.

It was during this time that the Washington DC temple was dedicated and Joyce made plans to sing in the choir at the dedication. When Joyce returned from her trip, I felt something extremely different in her countenance as she was truly glowing from within. Every Sunday she cheerfully prepared herself for church and would always ask … “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to come with me?” Every Sunday I answered just as cheerfully … "ahh No!” She never gave up and I never gave in. The second semester 3 of the 7 girls had graduated in December and Joyce and I decided to find an apartment for 2. We had several discussions on the subject of religion and I always stated my viewpoint thusly… “I believe that man has corrupted the practice of true religion and I believe I have a personal relationship with God which I find more than adequate.” She probably noticed my frequent nature walks which were where I went to talk to God. She lived in Baltimore and I lived in Pittsburgh. Yet there we were in the middle of the Illinois cornfields having moved to an apartment complex with 8 other young adult members also attending school. Now considering the location and the concentration of young members surrounding me, 9:1, I was definitely ambushed as my Heavenly Father perceived just what it would take to convert me. During Christmas break, Joyce sensed a golden moment and decided to teach me all of the discussions in the car! We got as far as the Indianapolis Bypass when I pulled over and emphatically demanded that she either cease or get out of my car! But the seeds were more or less strewn and left alone with the inquisitiveness of my personality I began to question things.

Upon returning to school in January of 1975, I was in a positive frame of mind contemplating the testimony of my roomie! Of course I did not let her know this one bit! She was far too close to the issue with me and definitely too forceful. The idea began to take shape and I decided that if religion were going to come to the forefront at this time in my life, I definitely should examine all faiths equally. It much have driven her crazy as I invited a host of individuals into our home to discuss their belief systems, all of which did not change my opinion of a non-authority based attempt at worshiping God. Little did she know that when I decided to give her missionaries a turn, I would not even hint that it was happening. There were a couple of young men in apartment 12 upstairs and on the opposite end from us and I chose them mostly for the location. The day of the first missionary discussion quickly approached. They gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon which I gladly accepted and promised to read. They had no idea I had already read most of Joyce’s book! So during the week, I sought out the young married couple in apartment 10. They had a whole wall of shelves filled with church books and they gave me a key. The first week I read the assignment for the missionaries and President Kimball’s book the Miracle of Forgiveness. Yes the entire book! I wanted to hear what the man called a modern prophet was saying to the world. I discovered their stash of Ensigns and browsed through a few of his talks there too. I had yet to pray about it though. In the subsequent weeks I read more than a few other books. The feelings were genuine and warm but I had a major obstacle in my life approach called my graduate recital which was worth 6 Master Degree credits. Without passing the faculty audition and then successfully performing the difficult music that was required I would not be awarded my degree. I told the missionaries and talked with God about a temporary hold on my investigation and promised that after Feb 19, the date of that recital, I would return to my lessons. I had 4 other people going to make sure that would happen. The day came and went. The recital was passed and my degree would be shortly awarded. As promised I returned to meet with the missionaries. Returning to our apartment with the bright blue Book of Mormon in my right hand, I discovered I had locked myself out. To add to my dilemma I looked up to see Joyce sprinting across the large empty field that separated our home from the college campus. I was delighted for a moment realizing I would soon gain entry to our abode and then I remembered that I was holding my copy of the Book of Mormon. Thinking quickly I went down to our mailbox and shoved it in. She saw me and as she unlocked the door she asked, “What was in the mail?” I stammered a bit not knowing for I had not even thought to look.

I prayed that week sincerely desiring to know if this were the truth and if the authority of God was truly resting with this Church. The witness was undeniable as my entire soul was filled with light and an overwhelming sense of peace. The very next lesson the missionaries challenged me to accept baptism and I said “Yes!” A few days later I met with the bishop and we discussed when I wanted to be baptized. I told him that Saturday was my birthday and I thought that would be a most excellent time for me. I was to be baptized on March 29, 1975. I returned home to Joyce cooking and singing in our kitchen. I rather casually asked her what she had planned for Saturday and asked her if she would like to attend my baptismal service.  We hugged for a very long time and of course she cleared her schedule. Then we two music majors sat on the floor of our living room singing the hymns of the restored gospel and choosing just the right ones for my baptismal service.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome story! It gives me hope that the people I have talked with will ponder what I've said!