I was in Prison and You Visited Me
by G.G. Vandagriff
Tommaso Cardullo was what is known as a “golden contact.” Meeting some missionaries on a train in Sicily, the eighteen-year-old began a gospel discussion with them himself. Unable to contain his enthusiasm for this new gospel, he rode his scooter twenty-two miles each way to church, staying for the entire three-hour block. With this eager beginning, it was not long before he was baptized and started on the road to the adventure that changed his life.One Sunday in Priesthood meeting the instructor taught that he must do three things-go on a mission, be married in the temple, and do genealogy work. Until that time Tommaso had little understanding or appreciation of work for the dead. But as his widowed mother could not understand his new faith and would not allow him to go on a mission, he decided he must begin to learn about genealogy. His father had died seven months before Tommaso joined the church, so he prepared his records to be sent in for the temple work to be done, but for some reason he could not define, he delayed sending them. He was not comfortable with the idea. He had not yet learned that in doing work for the dead, we invite miracles to take place in our lives.
One night as Tommaso lay sleeping, a glorious, luminous personage appeared to him. He recognized him as a “more radiant” version of his father. The experience shook him greatly. It was his first evidence of life beyond the veil. Filled anew with love for his father, Tommaso desired suddenly that his father should share his knowledge of the gospel , and receive its saving ordinances. Since he did not live near a temple, he sent the work in to be done by a temple proxy.
Less than a year later, he had strong feelings come upon him that he must serve a mission. He knew his mother would not approve, but after much fasting and prayer, he sent in his papers without her knowledge. He was called to the London, England Mission. His mother was very angry when he left, but he felt strongly that he had to go.
The mission was difficult. He had no English and was struggling with two English speaking companions who had completely different accents. The language was not coming to him. One night he knelt and poured his heart out to the Lord describing how he had left an angry mother in Italy, how he had given up everything to follow in faith and come on this mission, but how now he was being prevented from doing the work because he could not speak the language. All at once, he felt a comforting hand grasp his shoulder. Thinking it was one of his companions, he turned around and saw that they were both kneeling in prayer. Into his mind came the words, “Put me first. The rest will come.”
Then came the first of three glorious dreams which were the apex of Tommaso’s mission. In the first dream, he saw himself in a beautiful place-a glorious garden. In this garden there was a gate. Beyond the gate was a place which he describes as a jail with benches. He went through the gate and sat down on one of the benches and his father came to join him. They had a wonderful conversation. They laughed and visited and hugged and kissed, and then Tommaso left through the gate. He was elated when he awoke, feeling he had truly been in the presence of his beloved father. The second dream occurred a short time later and was exactly the same. Then came the third dream. Tommaso entered at the gate, sat and visited with his father, hugged and kissed him and then they left by the gate together into the glorious garden. When he awoke Tommaso was overcome. He knew that he had just performed the greatest missionary work of his life. His father had accepted the ordinance work that had been done for him in the temple.
Even though he is now sealed in the temple to his own wife and family of three children, it is a great comfort to Tommaso to know that he is not alone in his family of origin as a member of the gospel. He feels the love of his father coming to him through the veil, and knows that the decision he made all those years ago in Sicily to join the church was the right one, not only for him, but for his father as well.
2001 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.