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New York security guard drawn to LDS Church after working outside the Manhattan Temple

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 1:42 a.m. MDT

Edward Matos stands near the entrance of the Manhattan New York Temple. (Janet Peterson) Edward Matos stands near the entrance of the Manhattan New York Temple. (Janet Peterson)

MANHATTAN, N.Y. Every day that Edward Matos worked as a security guard at the building where the Manhattan New York Temple, three Manhattan wards, the New York Office of Public and International Affairs and the Family History Center are housed, he saw friendly, cheerful people. Many of them would stop and chat with him, especially those who passed by his station frequently. Often, food served at various ward activities was shared with him. He thought these people were “very nice” and wondered what made them happier than most people he had contact with. Born in the Dominican Republic, he immigrated to New York City with his mother, brother and two sisters when he was 17 years old; his father had come to the United States several years earlier. As a youth, Edward Matos learned English through his classes and friends in high school. During his growing-up years, his mother had taken the children to church every Sunday—“good preparation to be in the habit of going to church on Sundays,” he said.

Edward and Valeria Matos, with their children, Kelvin, Leslie and Ethan, pose for a photo with the missionaries on the dday of Sister Matos's and Kelvin's baptism. (Courtesy Janet Peterson) Edward and Valeria Matos, with their children, Kelvin, Leslie and Ethan, pose for a photo with the missionaries on the dday of Sister Matos's and Kelvin's baptism. (Courtesy Janet Peterson)
He married young and had a daughter. After he and his wife divorced, he went back to the Dominican Republic, where he met Valeria Massiel Ventura, who had a son by a previous marriage. They found they had much in common, and their courtship eventually led to marriage. In 2010, they decided that he should return to New York and earn money to bring her and her son, Kelvin, to New York City, just as his father had done for his family. When he found a job with a security company, he was assigned to work at a building in midtown Manhattan that houses the Manhattan New York Temple. He knew very little about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though he had seen ads about the Church in the Dominican Republic. He also knew about missionaries on bikes but didn’t associate them with the Church in Manhattan.
Edward Matos has worked as a security guard at the building where the Manhattan temple, three Manhattan wards, the New York Office of Public and International Affairs and the Family History Center are located. (Janet Peterson) Edward Matos has worked as a security guard at the building where the Manhattan temple, three Manhattan wards, the New York Office of Public and International Affairs and the Family History Center are located. (Janet Peterson)
Watching people going in and out of the temple piqued his curiosity. What did they do in the temple? Why did these people smile so much? What made them so happy? Of course, no one told him what took place in the temple, but several said they could explain about the foundation of their happiness and suggested that the missionaries could explain it even better. Thus, he started meeting with missionaries two or three times a week and was baptized in March 2011. His wife felt it “was the right thing” and “had no problem” with his being baptized. He traveled to be with his family as much as he could and anxiously awaited the day they could be together again. Three years later, on Feb. 22, 2014, Brother Matos no longer had to just observe people going into the temple. He himself entered the temple doors to receive his endowment.
Valeria Matos and Kelvin were baptized by Brother Matos seven weeks after his own baptism. (Janet Peterson) Valeria Matos and Kelvin were baptized by Brother Matos seven weeks after his own baptism. (Janet Peterson)
“It felt good,” said Brother Matos. “The Lord blessed me.” His family, now including 2-year-old Leslie and 4-month-old Ethan, arrived in New York the next week. On April 19, Brother Matos had the privilege of performing the baptisms of his wife and 10-year-old Kelvin at the meetinghouse where they attend the Harlem 2nd (Spanish) Ward. Brother Matos’ testimony and how he strived to live the gospel were positive influences on his wife. “Valeria saw how I had changed after joining the Church and liked what she saw,” he remarked. He feels she was ready to be baptized for some time. During their daily phone conversations, she often talked about the importance of family life in the Church and expressed a desire to have their family sealed in the temple someday. Once Sister Matos arrived in New York, the full-time missionaries taught her and prepared her for baptism. In April 2015, Brother Matos plans to enter the Manhattan New York Temple doors with his wife and their children. Brother and Sister Matos anticipate that on that day people who see their family coming through the temple doors will notice their very happy smiles.

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