By Ryan Spelts
When Ryan returned home from his missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines, he was a little awkward. The first thing he did when he walked in the house was take off his shoes and run his toes through the carpeted flooring. It had been a while since he had seen carpet. He was only home for about two weeks before he left for school at Ricks College. From the tropical heat of the Philippines to the frigid plains of Rexburg, Idaho, he was in for another shock.
Those first few days when you don’t know anyone can be a little intimidating. Luckily, Ryan found friends in his roommates and they decided to go to the first football game of the season together. When they arrived, they found a large section of the bleachers empty though the rest of the stadium was packed. They took it as a sign and sat right in the middle. There was a welcome committee out on the field who had previously sat in those seats but were out doing a welcome skit for the students. When they came back to their seats, everyone started filling in around Ryan and his roommates. A young woman walked up the bleacher benches toward Ryan and looked up into his eyes. “Hi,” he said, nervous and awkward. “Hi,” she said, then promptly fell on her face on the bleachers. Now if you remember, Ryan was still quite awkward, especially around girls. He stepped back in surprise and didn’t help her up. He just looked at her. She popped right up and laughed an uncertain laugh and quickly rejoined her friends further up the stands. Neither Ryan nor Melissa realized that they had just met their future spouse. They always say their future kids must have tripped her.
Several days later, Ryan was walking out of a building on campus and here came the girl from the stadium. She had the most remarkable blue eyes and infectious smile. When Melissa saw Ryan, she said with a big smile, “Do you remember me?” Ryan said, “Do you want me to?” And they went on their way. A few days later when Ryan and his roommates were going door to door for girls to come to a party, they ran into each other for a third time. When Melissa started talking about how she had been fly fishing all summer, Ryan was sold. He didn’t even remember her name but he would tell his roommates, “I am going to go visit that fly fishing girl.”
Their relationship blossomed over the next few months and became serious. Ryan was a notorious slow mover and took his time to move to each next step but he fell in love with Melissa and wanted to be with her as much as possible. The only weird thing was he had promised his mom that he would date 50 girls before he got married so he could make sure and pick the right one. While he and Melissa were dating, he would often go out on dates trying in vain to get 50 dates in, which was quite painful for Melissa who had also fallen in love with him. The thing was, Ryan would take girls out and go to dinner or something and then take them home early so he could go hang out with Melissa. In hindsight it was not the most romantic thing to do and Ryan eventually realized that the woman he wanted was the first one he had met and gave up on his goal of 50 dates.
Melissa and Ryan dated for about a year and a half and went through some ups and downs. They even broke off an engagement after the announcements and pink napkins were already ordered. Ryan had moved back to Las Vegas (hometown) after completing school at Ricks and was attending UNLV. Ryan and Melissa had grown apart and weren’t even talking at this point. Ryan remembers a friend who came to him and asked how things were going with Melissa. He told this friend that they had broken up, she wouldn’t even answer the phone, and that her roommates were screening his calls. This friend then said, if you are not going to marry her do you mind if I try and date her?
Ryan came out of a slumber with that conversation and vowed to find a way back into her life. One day his grandmother was passing through Honeyville (Melissa’s home town) and asked Ryan if he would like her to drop by and pick up the things he had left behind there. Ryan said yes and called Melissa’s house to see if that would be okay. Somehow fate intervened again. Melissa picked up the phone. She had run back into the house to grab something quickly before they left for St. George where she was slated to run the St. George Marathon. She happened to hear the phone ring and it happened to be Ryan. After speaking for a minute, he asked, “Can I come to St. George and watch you run in the marathon?” Melissa answered with an uncertain “Sure.” Ryan watched her and they quickly rekindled their relationship and even got secretly engaged. The family wasn’t too happy that the heart breaker was back in Melissa’s life. One day her brothers saw Melissa’s engagement ring on her finger and confronted her. Both offered to beat Ryan up if she wanted, luckily she didn’t. She just wanted to marry him. The cat was out of the bag and they asked the family to rally around them as they prepared to get married in just a few months’ time.
Ryan and Melissa often reflect on those tumultuous couple of years and realize that much of the new marriage struggles they watched their friends go through had already happened during their courting months. They had very little that they didn’t get along about and were inseparable. Living in Las Vegas while Ryan attended UNLV and worked, Melissa was a country girl in the big city. It was a culture shock for her this time. One day early on, Melissa was out looking for the address of a job interview she had. Ryan had her on speaker phone so his office mates could help her find her way. She was near downtown Las Vegas and drove past a street named after Octavius D. Gass, an early Las Vegas settler. She said over the phone speaker, “Okay, I just passed Gass!” The entire office erupted in laughter, she didn’t quite realize what it sounded like she had said.
Ryan and Melissa had their first child, a boy, in 2001. They named him Koby. He was the sparkle in their eyes. He had the biggest head they had seen on a baby. He was strong though and was able to control that huge noggin from day one. In the hospital warming bed, he picked his head up and looked around the room. Ryan asked the nurse, “Is he supposed to be able to do that?” She said it is not common. Two years later they welcomed their second child Camryn who was the exact opposite. She was petite and small all over and was a normal baby. They were not used to having to cradle her head because Koby never needed it.
Elly came next in 2005. She is their brown-eyed, blue-eyed girl. She has what is called heterochromia or two different colored eyes. Then number four came along, their third girl, Lucy. She embodied much of Melissa’s Swiss heritage and was starkly blonde with beautiful blue eyes. She was the baby of the family for four years and then her brother Grey was born in 2011. These five children increased the connection that Ryan and Melissa felt for each other and they have grown more and more in love over the years.
Shortly after Lucy was born, Ryan and Melissa decided to move to Utah to be closer to Melissa’s family. After 10 years of living in Las Vegas, it was Melissa’s turn. They have loved living in Utah despite Ryan’s previous insistence that he would never live here.
We would like this to become the first of an annual tradition in the Roy Connection Magazine. We want to tell the love stories of this community. If you would like to have your story told, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. Happy Valentine’s Day.