A few years ago I had the honor and privilege of becoming a “daughter” to my elderly widowed neighbor. We’ll call him Carlos to help protect the identity of his living family members. As of the writing of this post Carlos has passed away and my husband and I miss him.
Carlos was born into an LDS family and was raised in the LDS (Mormon) church. I don’t know how “active” he was or if he had ever studied the gospel, read the scriptures or pondered much about God in his youth. What I do know is that in his 40’s he was married with several children when he met a beautiful neighbor who was younger than him, had children and was in an abusive marriage. As Carlos helped this woman he fell in love with her and an affair began. I don’t know if it was an emotional affair or if it turned physical, I never asked. One day the woman’s life was in danger from her abusive spouse and she asked Carlos to help her escape. He did and in the process of helping her he lost everything dear to him: his children and his membership in the LDS Church.
Carlos became very bitter towards the LDS church. He felt that he was abused by his priesthood leadership. He felt that his excommunication was unjust and unloving. When he moved into our neighborhood a few years ago no one knew he had been LDS. The bishop went to meet his family and the door was essentially slammed in the bishop’s face.
Eventually Carlos’ wife passed away and on her death bed she asked Carlos to please consider being rebaptized into the LDS church. A few months after her passing, my husband was prompted at work, several times, that we needed to go and meet our neighbor that evening. It was Christmas time so we took Carlos a plastic candy cane full of chocolate and knocked on his door. We first offered our condolences on the passing of his wife. We then extended our friendship. Just as we were getting ready to leave, my husband felt impressed to mention that we were also members of the local LDS ward. Carlos grabbed my husband and said, “Get in here, I need to talk to you!”
That first meeting began an eternal friendship. We loved going to Carlos’ home, sitting in his front room and talking with him about God and Jesus Christ. Carlos was rebaptized a few months after our initial meeting. The day of his baptism he heard Christ’s voice declare, “Carlos, there are many men and many churches that can excommunicate you, but only you can excommunicate yourself from me!”