“And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” -Leviticus 19:33-34
Quincy, Illinois. February 27, 1839
Four months after Missouri Executive Order 44 was signed into law by governor Lilburn Boggs, the Democratic Association of Quincy, Illinois meets to consider the plight of the Mormons, now classified as “enemies” in neighboring Missouri. After deliberation, Quincy residents adopt the following resolutions:
Resolved, That the strangers recently arrived here from the state of Missouri, known by the name of the ‘Latter-day Saints,’ are entitled to our sympathy and kindest regard, and that we recommend to the citizens of Quincy to extend all the kindness in their power to bestow on the person who are in affliction.
Resolved, That a numerous committee be raised, composed of some individuals in every quarter of the town and its vicinity, whose duty it shall be to explain to our misguided fellow citizens, if any such there be, who are disposed to excite prejudices and circulate unfounded rumors; and particularly to explain to them that these people have no design to lower the wages of the laboring class, but to procure something to save them from starving.
Resolved, That a standing committee be raised and be composed of individuals who shall immediately inform Mr. Rigdon and others, as many as they may think proper, of their appointment, and who shall be authorized to obtain information from time to time; and should they [the committee] be of opinion that any individuals, either from destitution or sickness, or if they find them houseless, that they appeal directly and promptly to the citizens of Quincy to furnish them with the means to relieve all such cases.
Resolved, That the committee last aforesaid be instructed to use their utmost endeavors to obtain employment for all these people, who are able and willing to labor; and also to afford them all needful, suitable and proper encouragement.
Resolved, That we recommend to all the citizens of Quincy, that in all their intercourse with the strangers, they use and observe a becoming decorum and delicacy, and be particularly careful not to indulge in any conversation or expressions calculated to wound their feelings, or in any way to reflect upon those, who by every law of humanity, are entitled to our sympathy and commiseration.
Aintab, Turkey. 1921.
Following the outbreak of political violence in 1909, Latter-day Saint missionaries withdraw from the region. The outbreak of World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire prevents their return until 1922. In the interim, the small band of (primarily Armenian) Mormon converts is scattered. Some, including the entire presidency of the Aintab Branch, are among the millions killed in the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Others, like Moses Hindoian, serve in the Ottoman Army. Following the conclusion of hostilities and his return home, Hindoian writes to church leaders in Salt Lake City, “pleading earnestly for help and advice.” Latter-day Saints in Utah hold special fasts for their Armenian sisters and brothers, and send supplies and relief funds with Joseph Booth, newly-called to return to the region as Mission President. Booth arrives to find the Saints in Aintab living in poverty and ongoing fear over future outbreaks of violence. He secures permission for fifty-three Latter-day Saints to leave the city. Traveling by foot, and in true Mormon fashion, by covered wagon, the beleaguered group finally finds refuge in the Swaka District and Jewish quarters of Aleppo. Yes, in Syria.
In the 1970s, a young family meets missionaries in the rural village of Santiago de María and becomes convinced of the truthfulness of the message they share. The mother, father, and two oldest children are baptized, becoming the first Latter-day Saints in the community. They host the first sacrament meetings in their small living room. War between a violent and oppressive government and guerrilla insurgents breaks out in 1980, and eventually, American (and later, Guatemalan and Honduran) missionaries are withdrawn from the war-torn nation. Church meetings stop in Santiago de María, and the young family’s matriarch, and later, the second eldest daughter, flee El Salvador in search of a brighter future in the United States. They share a small apartment in inner-city San Francisco. The daughter begins attending the local ward there, and eventually returns to full activity. She marries a returned missionary, and together they raise a family of four children. In 2005, her oldest daughter graduates from high school, and enrolls at BYU that fall. Three years later, she graduates with a degree in Communications, becoming the first college graduate in her mother’s family. In 2007, she marries me. We return to El Salvador often, and hope to take our children soon, where we plan to worship in the beautiful chapel that now stands near the center of Santiago de María.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. November 1, 2015
The bishop of the Logan Ward in Philadelphia stands before the congregation and reads a letter from the First Presidency. ?It is with great concern and compassion,” he quotes, “that we observe the plight of the millions of people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships.? The bishop, with tears in his eyes, then offers a short sermon, noting that for many members of the congregation that day, these issues are quite personal. I look around the chapel. Many others in the pews are also in tears. I realize then that my own eyes and cheeks are wet. During Sunday School and the third hour, several members—including many of the West African congregants, some of whom fled bloody civil wars in their native lands of Liberia and Sierra Leone—speak of the assistance they received from both Americans in general, and Latter-day Saints in particular. They speak also of the need to now pay that kindness forward. This, they testify, is what the gospel and the church is about.
 My thanks to Alan Morrell, who posted the full text of the resolutions on facebook.
 For more on the history of Mormonism in the former Ottoman Empire, see “The Armenian Exodus” at lds.org, curated by James Goldberg and based on the exhaustive research of Ardis Parshall, some of which she has posted at her blog, Keepapitchin. Fair warning: You won’t be able to stop reading, and it’ll likely take up a good chunk of your day.
 I have begun collecting oral history interviews with my wife’s family members in El Salvador, and eventually hope to write more about the history of Mormonism in El Salvador. If you would like to assist in anyway—sharing your own experiences there or with Salvador immigrants in your American congregations, transcribing and translating the interviews conducted, etc.—please let me know.