“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"1
Several people who don’t actually know me personally have called me racist and bigot because I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If they really knew me and the Church they would discover how untrue the statement is. I used the last stanza of Ms. Lazarus’ poem, The New Colossus, because in a way it also describes the LDS Church; any person on the earth, regardless of religious beliefs, is welcome to enter through the church doors anywhere in the world, and gain membership if they love Jesus Christ our Savior. Anyone, regardless of their nationality or social status.
It is wonderful to know that wherever I go I can meet new people, who share the same love for Jesus as I. Wards, or branches, are also very international. When I was living in Bologna, Italy, our branch had an American (me), a Greek and an Egyptian, an Armenian and lots of Italians. My first branch here in New York was mostly composed of wonderful Caribbean islanders (Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti, Guyana, Barbados, etc), several of our brothers and sisters from Nigeria, and a few Americans. The branch I’m in now is even more diversified with several Latin American countries added to the group, along brothers and sisters from India, the Philippines, China and Korea. We even had a brother from Pakistan for a while, until he moved to Arizona.
Some of my favorite activities are when we have an international cultural evening and everyone brings food from their native countries, a well as singing their national anthems and telling us about their country’s culture. I always go as Italian, although I also join in on the American section.
Paul said in his letter to the members in Ephesus: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”3 And that is what you will find in any group of the LDS Church.
1Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, 1903.
© Mary Purpari. April 30, 2015. All Rights Reserved