One of the most rewarding aspects of this journey includes the friendships you gain on the course of your travels. One really good friend I made on this journey was a young woman with the name of Holly Tuttle in Palmyra, New York. Holly’s friendship is unique to me because she introduced me to a whole new aspect of American life that I did not know much about. She let me and my journey-family into her life by opening the doors of the Mormon faith to us. She not only invited us to learn about her faith but also agreed to show us the sacred sites in Palmyra, New York and Salt Lake City, Utah that serves as the foundation the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
Holly invited us to visit Palmyra, New York. We were greeted at the doors of the Palmyra Church by the President of the Temple, Brent Cederlof and his wife along with Church Elders and Sisters. We were given an extremely warm welcome and even an introduction during the weekly Church service. After the service, we were taken to the most sacred sites of this faith, The Sacred Grove and Joseph Smith’s House. We were graciously accompanied at these sites by The Stake President of Palmyra, President Clark. They so graciously dedicated the entire day to explain us the main tenants of their faith in order to bring understanding and clear misconceptions about Mormonism.
They showed true dedication in assisting us with our project when they offered to help us in our trip to Salt Lake City, Utah as well. Holly not only introduced us to our hosts Church Elder Banks and his wife, but also flew into town during our stay here. Elder Banks and his wife spent two full days taking us around town, showing us sites ranging from the Family History Library to Brigham Young University. In just two days, they gave us a really holistic view of Mormon life in Salt Lake City. My favorite part of the trip was visiting the Humanitarian and Welfare Center with Mr. and Mrs. Banks. The structure, organization and the scale with which they make efforts to help the ones in need was truly inspiring.
I knew walking out of Salt Lake City, I had gained new found understanding of this faith regardless of what the media portrays and to my surprise, my experience after talking with the Mormons reflected to me quite closely the Muslim struggle in America. What moved me in particular was that they all went out of their way to reach out to Muslims like me and Ambassador Ahmed just to show support of the struggles and challenges Muslims are going through currently.