Nephi Garcia and his young family had hit rock bottom. They were living out of a motel room and had no home and no money. But what they did have was a season pass to the happiest place on earth—Disneyland.
“We had our little passes before we lost everything,” says Garcia in a video posted to the Light of Christ in Upstate Instagram account, which is run by missionaries in the New York Syracuse Mission. “The motel’s not such a fun place to hang out in, but we have our season pass that’s already paid off,” Garcia recalls thinking. “We’re just going to bring sandwiches to the park and just hang out there—it’s a much safer environment for the children anyway.”
When they weren’t making excursions to the theme park, Garcia and his wife visited the temple often. One of them would go into the temple while the other waited outside with their two toddlers and their three-week-old baby, and then they would switch places. They made temple trips often, at one point even visiting every day for over a week.
During these temple trips, Garcia often thought about his dream of designing clothing and sought answers about whether he should pursue that dream. “Every single time, the Lord was like, ‘This is what you need to do.’ And I was just being stubborn!” Garcia recalls.
Soon afterward, Garcia decided to give it a shot. From a few scraps of blue and pink fabric, he created a stunning costume for his young daughter to wear to Disneyland. “I made her a Fairy Godmother dress because that kind of matched the colors I had,” Garcia says.
The costume was a huge hit at the park. “It was a blast,” says Garcia. “Everybody was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is crazy—where did you find that dress?’ And everybody was just freaking out.”
Garcia told the admirers that he had created the dress himself. “Everyone was asking for my social media handle, and I didn’t have any,” says Garcia. “And I’m like, let me make one right now.” So he created an account, @designerdaddy_, and posted a photo of his daughter as the Fairy Godmother.
The next day, Garcia got a text from a woman who played Cinderella at the park: “I met your daughter—her costume was incredible. … I have a friend that’s opening up a princess company, and we’d be interested in hiring you to design the costumes.”
“I’m like, ‘That sounds good!’ Because I have nothing to do [and] we are staying at a motel,” says Garcia. When he reported for work, the company told him, “Start sewing whatever your heart desires. Just create something amazing and beautiful.”
Nephi started creating, and he posted pictures of his designs on social media. His family was eventually able to move into a small apartment and buy a better sewing machine, and his Instagram following continued to grow.
But things really took off when Garcia’s wife, Beth, challenged home to create something extra creative for their daughter to wear to a themed event at Disneyland. In response, he created a “transformation dress” that turned from a simple smock into a stunning gown with a few turns and tugs. And of course, he posted a video to Instagram.
Within a day Garcia had 2,000 emails from parents requesting similar dresses for their young daughters, and the costume was featured on news outlets nationwide. Garcia’s transforming dress had transformed his family’s life for the better.
“Now we get to do what we love doing,” he says. “We get to post it on our social media and provide for my family.” And he credits it all to a willingness to listen to God’s voice, whispering to him in the temple when he felt he’d lost it all.
“Just because I listened—literally like the leap of faith,” he says. “So now, whenever God tells me to do something, I just have to do it. It’s still not easy—sometimes He doesn’t tell you how, or He won’t tell you the end result, but you just have to do it. And then you will find out. And it’s so much greater than you expect.”
Watch the full video of Garcia’s story in the player below.
Check out more videos made by the creative missionaries in the New York Syracuse Mission on their Instagram and YouTube, and read more about how they’re putting their filmmaking skills to work to spread the gospel in this article by LDS Living: ‘This looks like something straight from Salt Lake!’ 1 missionary’s crazy impressive video editing