It is an experience that is not out of the ordinary: Someone has a desire to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a parent or loved one voices concerns.
Such was the case when Tommaso Cardullo told his mother he wanted to join the Church. In fact, she was so against it that she gave her son an ultimatum: He would need to choose between his family and accepting the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Years later, Tommaso feels strongly that his response was inspired of God.
And when Tommaso’s mom again became concerned when he was desirous to serve a mission, she received a dream that can only be described as revelatory that calmed her fears.
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones Pearson: Tommaso, you mentioned that if your mom had found out, it would have been the third world war. Your mom was not happy when you joined the Church and I loved, you shared something with her that I thought was really interesting. I wondered if you could tell listeners what you said to your mom about your decision to be baptized, and how you've seen what you promised her to be fulfilled in your life?
Tommaso Cardullo: Yeah, thank you for asking. That's a very precious experience for me. You know, my mother and I were very close, very close, I was the oldest son, she was a widow. And I felt this responsibility, but also this beautiful connection. She and I were very, very close friends.
So when she heard that I, when I got baptized, and I wanted to go, I used to go to church every Sunday, it took me an hour and a half to travel to church, she really was upset to the point that once she was so, so upset with me that she said, when I came back from from church, "You have two options, either you accept this church, or you accept us. If you accept this church, you're no longer welcome in this family. And that's it."
So for the weekend we didn't talk about it, and Sunday came, I get up early, getting ready to go to church, to take the train, and so on and so forth. And my mother said, "Well, I guess you made a decision." And I told my mother, I think was inspired, but I said, "Mom, I love you and I love my Savior and His Church. I don't see why I need to choose between two things that I think they can, you know, live together, marry together. I want both in my life. But this is your choice."
So I left, went to church, returned around 1:30 in the afternoon, with a big question mark. Will the door be locked? Or will I be accepted? And she had softened her heart, because my mother was beautifully kind. But she was also strong, and very stubborn. And she just said to me, "I really have a hard time with this."
As a result of that, I said, "Mom, as I mentioned, I love you. But I want you to know one thing, you shall see a tree by its fruits. If the fruits of this choice of mine are good, then the tree is good. If the fruits of this choice are going to be bad, then I will be the first one to say you were absolutely right. I made the wrong decision."
It took decades and decades. But my mother one day told me, "Tommaso, do you remember when you told me about the tree? I want you to know that this has been a good tree." And the joy that I experienced that day, it was full and complete. Because even though there were probably two decades, she saw that the way I lived my life, the way I raised my children, the way my children were living life was an example of a good choice.
Morgan Jones Pearson: That's so sweet. I love that it kind of came full circle. You had a bit of a unique experience that I think a number of people have within the church, in that you served a mission shortly after joining the Church. You served in London, England. What was it like for you to serve a mission as a recent convert to the Church?
Tommaso Cardullo: I didn't serve immediately after. I wanted to. I wanted to. In fact, I served a mini-mission two weeks after joining the church for two weeks. And then I talked to my mother. I said, "Mom. I'm 20. I want to serve a mission." And she said, No, you're going to kill me. There is no way that you're going to fill the mission."
So age 21, I did the same, and she said, “On my dead body. There is no way that you're going to serve a mission.” Age 22 I did it again, and this time, I felt very prompted, in fact, a friend of mine that went to the temple in Zollikofen, Switzerland. She said, "Tommaso, we pray for you. While we were at the temple, I think you should go on a mission." I really felt the Spirit so strong that I said, "OK, I will send the paper. C'est la vie. We'll see what is going to happen."
So that call came. And I was called to the England London mission. And my mother, she was furious. I mean, literally, probably some of the worst times in my life was the time between when my mother found out that I was going on a mission to the time that I went on a mission. But it's a long story, I will not share everything.
I want to share another only one thing that finally ... two true miracles. I was able to leave age 23 to go on a mission. And for the first three, four months, I was extremely worried about my mother. I used to write to her every week, and she never wrote to me. I used to call her once a month just to make sure that she felt that I was loving her and caring for her, sometimes even twice a month.
But month number four, she sent me a letter, the first and only letter that she sent me. And she said "Tommaso, I had couple of dreams lately. But there's one dream that really meant a lot to me. In this dream I saw the Savior, Jesus Christ, He was coming towards me and He was holding your hand. And he said to me, "You see your son, he's doing my work; support him, because he will come home safely."
Her heart was changed. My heart was changed. We both were at peace to know that God was involved in this plan, and my mission was one of the most glorious, the most rewarding. I mean, my English was challenging but what an amazing experience. It truly became the foundation of who I am today, of my faith and my love for the restored gospel for Jesus Christ.