It all began when that crazy family moved in two doors down. Our introduction really was not very dramatic. They had children close to the ages of our own, so my wife, Michele, said hello. The new lady was friendly and talkative; her husband seemed quiet and shy. Shortly after we met it began. Snowballs on the window at 11:30 P.M., Easter baskets on our doorstep early Easter morning—all those things “normal” neighbors do. That was the humble beginning of what was soon to become a very deep and beautiful friendship that would introduce us to the Church and eventually help to convert us.
I do not know how seriously Mike and Cindy Cosgrave thought about fellowshipping us. I think we helped them decide that there was hope for us when we accepted their invitation to spend New Year’s Eve at their “Ginger Ale Wassail and Popcorn Celebration.” By that time we knew that they were Mormons. We were curious because we had never known any Mormons before. But we were more interested in them just because they were a happy, nutty, friendly, and considerate family who were fun to be with. Religion came up only in curiosity.
One evening Mike asked if we might be interested in going to a “Meet the Mormons” gathering in Cleveland. Harmon Killebrew and Johnny Miller would be there, along with some Church personality, a President Spencer W. Kimball. Well, we enjoyed the Cosgraves’s company so we decided to go along. Johnny Miller was only there on film, but that didn’t matter too much. We had a good time and found out a little bit about the Church.
Not much happened for a few weeks, just more snowballs and Easter-basket-type antics. I was not too concerned about the Church—any church—but I was thinking my children should be exposed to some general Christian concepts. Cindy must have read my mind: she asked if we would like to have our five-year-old son, Dana, attend Primary. So off Dana went on Tuesday afternoon.
At the same time Michele and I were becoming more intrigued by the Mormons. Mike and Cindy were truly great friends of ours now, and we were interested in what made them tick. At the same time, we were wondering just what we should believe about religion. Everything we heard from the Cosgraves made so much sense. Their church didn’t seem to have any of the hypocrisy that had caused us to lose interest in our own churches. If all Mormons were like Mike and Cindy, they must have something going for them.
We were getting pretty curious now. Mike mentioned a couple of fellows who could give us some organized presentations that would probably answer most of our questions. Since our two families were in the habit of getting together whenever Mike was not working (this involved four adults and five children under five in a small three-bedroom apartment), we decided that two more fellows with a slide projector and tape recorder could not hurt too much. We took the discussions, usually two a week. The elders were pretty nice fellows. We gave them a fairly rough time, but all in good humor. (This was a bad habit we seemed to have picked up from the Cosgraves.) But the missionaries were as persistent as the Cosgraves were zany. We began going to church regularly, something Michele and I had not done for years.
The Church made sense to us both. All the pieces fit together. The ward members were all caring, fun people who really wanted to help one another. We saw true concern for other people.
Michele was ready to join the Church now, with a testimony of its truthfulness. I was a little more hardheaded. I had no objections to the Church, but I felt I needed more than a simple logical basis for joining. I needed something that could defy even logic if need be. I needed a testimony!
We all—the whole ward—worked hard at it. At times I felt bad because I felt like I was letting a lot of people down. But no one ever pressured me. They all helped any way they could. And through it all there were the Cosgraves. Together we went to Pageant, we went on picnics, we shared dinners—and they answered questions. They were patient and loving.
Then one day, after all the fasting, prayers, and love, seemingly for no particular reason at the time, I knew. I was overjoyed. Michele was thrilled; she had waited patiently for me. The Cosgraves and the whole ward seemed glad for us.
Now we look back on what seems like a few short months with many fond memories. We remember three sets of missionaries we went through. We remember all the love and kindness that a whole church-full of people gave to us whenever we came in contact with them. We remember those deeply moving times we each had at prayer in search of our own testimonies.
But most of all, we remember the beautiful family who took the time to care, who took Some of their precious time and spent it on us. It is our prayer that someday someone will look back on us with the same remembrances; that we may be able to share ourselves with others as the Cosgraves shared themselves.