New York is home to my kind of people. I love serving the people here. Some people can seem to have a thick shell on the outside, but as soon as you break through that shell, they are some of the most real people I have met. They’ll talk to you about anything and everything. I could spend all day naming off the reasons why New Yorkers have found their way into my heart. I definitely know through the inspired call from His prophet, God sent me here.
Lunch with Vietnam Veteran, a Former Broadway Star, and a Retired Pilot
I’m sure plenty have seen the “I’m a Mormon” video of a crazy, charismatic Brooklynite. That’s Frank Mansuetto. A convert after a rough experience in the Vietnam War, he has an infectious laugh and incredible humor. We asked him and his wife, Thea Mansuetto, if we could have a couple friends over for lunch this past week.
Our first friend Brother Miglino is a member of 20 years. He was baptized and, shortly thereafter, went inactive. We’ve been helping him answer some of his long held questions and reach out to God in prayer. He flew an airplane for a number of years and has all kinds of stories. He is definitely one of our favorite stops during the week.
Our second friend we invited over was Sean. A former Broadway Star and head choreographer for multiple productions, retired caterer, and victor in a Supreme Court Case where he represented himself, he is one of the easiest people to get along with. He met the missionaries almost 2 years ago. Actually, Elder Jeppson found him when he was here during training. Shortly after Elder Jeppson was transferred, missionaries stopped meeting with him, so when Elder Jeppson was transferred back here, we looked him up and started teaching! He’s been to church twice and is looking forward to being baptized.
As you might imagine, the lunch was super fun! And to top it all off, Sister Mansuetto is debatably the best cook on Long Island. Brother Mansuetto shared his conversion story and we learned a bit about the Plan of Salvation. It’s always enlightening to see how no matter what background we come from, the gospel is universal.
“Members are the key”
In the New York New York South Mission, we have a Mission Vision; the concept is probably not unique to us. We memorize it and recite it at meetings and the likes. Its purpose: To provide additional focus on the important aspects of missionary work. The last part of this vision says,
Baptism is the gate
The Temple is the goal
The members are the key
The doctrine of Christ is the path
The Atonement is the only way
As a missionary, we’re set apart to teach repentance and baptize converts. We work under the authority of our mission president. Because God is a God of order (Doctrine and Covenants 132:8), he organizes and delegates responsibilities. However, I learned that just because I have a responsibility doesn’t mean I am able to do it alone. I’ve seen this be most true in missionary work. Ultimately, we have the calling to teach and baptize, however we are exponentially less effective when we do it solo. When we work with members that live in the area, the Lord’s work is hastened to a much higher level. And we saw this work just this last week!
A Sister in the ward texted us and asked if we could help her neighbor set up a swing set. Of course, we said yes and we took some time later that day to help. It was amazing to see what an impact this Sister, as well as several other members, had had on their neighbor. The result of the visit? She’s coming to church this next Sunday and wants to have us over every week. I would share more, but out of privacy I won’t. The big takeaway from this experience? I realized that there are so many lives I cannot touch without being a team player with the members.
Funerals: a Sweet Memorial
This past week, the mother of one of our members died. I was asked to play the music for the funeral service last night. What a special experience.
There was an overarching theme during the service that touched my heart. The room was almost filled to capacity with family and friends alike. They’d put together a video, full of everyone’s stories of their favorite memories with their Mom, Grandmother, and–for some–their Great-Grandmother. This sweet Sister that passed away obviously left a legacy. Her greatest legacy? Her family shared their joy that because their mother joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints years and years ago, they knew they would see her again. Multiple family members bore their testimony that they would have a joyful reunion with her and that this was not an end.
I am so grateful for God’s plan and that He re-revealed it through Joseph Smith, after many of the sweet and simple truths that were once a part of His gospel were lost. Last night, I saw the gospel we teach in real action; I felt the peace, saw the hope, and felt their faith. I’m so grateful God restored the fullness of His gospel in these days!
Conversion In Action!
I love the word “conversion” when used in a gospel context. The gospel of Jesus Christ is more than something cool to know, it’s meant to be experienced, AND when it’s experienced, you and I are changed. Hence “conversion”: our very nature changes because we are moving closer to Christ. It’s been incredible to watch Betsy go through that change. She has received real, clear, defined, personal answers from God. And this last week, Gospel Principles was filled with the Spirit as she testified that God is real. In fact, the Spirit was so strong the teacher cried. And she has her baptism set for this Saturday. We are so excited for her! We love every single time we visit her. Also, she made lasagna for us this last week and it was sooo delicious. I’m sure she’s changed many lives. And she’s definitely going to change so many more.
This was a good week. It’s week 6 of the transfer, so we’ll be hearing this next Monday who in our Zone is leaving and who is leaving; we’re hoping things don’t change too much. I so grateful to be here in the Plainview Ward!
Have a great week!