What of the




Senior Missionaries

United Nations Mission




Norm and Luana Shumway

Dear Friends:

While we hardly qualify as denizens of the Big Apple, Luana and I have developed a comfort level with this teeming metropolis which provides us with 8.2 million neighbors. We have survived through 15 months of our assignment here, and anticipate returning to our Utah home after just a few more months. Not unlike "trunky" missionaries, we are suddenly realizing that we have deferred many things normally done or seen in this city, so we are planning to visit a museum, attend an opera, visit a national television studio, etc., during the next several weeks. Such outings will have to be squeezed into our schedule, however, because we are still busy with many activities at the United Nations.

Just a couple of weeks ago we organized a parallel meeting at the United Nations in conjunction with its annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meetings. Since the CSW theme pertained to the financing of programs for women, we elected to present information on the Church's Perpetual Education Fund. We assembled a panel consisting of Elder John K. Carmack, emeritus Seventy and managing director of the Fund, Dr. Karen Hyer, a professor at BYU and member of the Women's Research Institute, and Rose and Gary Neeleman, donors to the fund and parents of JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman. The panel's presentation was well received by some 65 attendees, most of whom were representatives of non-governmental organizations from some two dozen nations. This activity introduced the name of the Church to a broad audience and allowed us to demonstrate the Church's concern about the plight of women in the world and the need for education.

During the months of December and January, we busied ourselves by walking to each of the missions (home offices for ambassadors and staff) of the 192 member nations of the UN. Yes, it was a huge task! But since not much was happening at the UN over the holidays, we decided to present a simple gift to each ambassador. For those identified as Christians, we gave pertinent information about the Church and two Tabernacle Choir CDs. For the non-Christians, we provided the information plus samples of Deseret label foodstuffs - peanut butter, jam, honey or vanilla pudding, supplied to us by Welfare Services.

Because of weight and bulk, together with colder weather, distributing the latter proved to be more difficult than the Choir CDs, but the overall effort was fun for us.

Visits to missions engendered several extemporaneous meetings with ambassadors. Without exception, we were cordially received. The ambassador of Swaziland told us of meeting LDS missionaries as a youth and forming positive impressions about the Church. He expressed a desire to visit Utah and attend meetings of the World Family Policy Center at BYU. The ambassador of Sudan, after expressing appreciation for all churches "because of the good work they do in the world," thanked us profusely and
expressed the hope that we would remain his friends. The ambassador of Somalia, a very humble man, asked us to pray for him and his nation. He promised to invite us to visit Somalia when the dangers of war had subsided. The ambassador of Guatemala called me after our visit, and was effusive in his praise for the Church. Noting the humanitarian aid provided to his country, he said (with reference to himself), "You have a good friend in Guatemala." The ambassador of Bhutan had seen the impressive temple in Washington, D.C., and expressed appreciation for the Church in fostering good citizenship throughout the world. The ambassador of Mauritius had followed the Mitt Romney campaign and was impressed with Romney's honesty and demeanor. When we told the ambassador of Liberia about our teachings regarding families, he said, "I could not agree with you more." 

Another diplomat who has become our friend is Under-Secretary-General (for Communications and Public Information) Kiyo Akasaka. During our visit with him he recalled studying English in lessons offered by two LDS missionaries in Osaka during the 1960s. He proclaimed, "I have benefited from the LDS Church." When I spoke to him briefly in Japanese, he politely bowed and engaged me in a conversation. He said he would like to visit Salt Lake City, but declined to do so until after Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had taken advantage of such an opportunity.

Luana and I have established personal relationships with over 60 ambassadors. This has allowed us a degree of social ease and acceptance which we did not have a year ago. We are often invited to receptions hosted by the missions, and at such occasions now find it comfortable to mix and converse with many of the diplomats in attendance. I recently attended an event held at the India mission with Ahmad Corbitt, the director of the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. Between us we conversed with 18 ambassadors with whom we had developed friendships.

The United Nations is certainly beset with problems. In the face of so many international challenges, it has often proven to be inept and inefficient. It has largely departed from the lofty purposes envisioned for it upon its creation in San Francisco in 1945. Its efforts are frequently clouded by duplicity and corruption. The United States, with its one vote in the General Assembly (and often countered by a veto from another permanent member of the Security Council) has largely been marginalized. Yet it is a global forum which fosters regional alliances and promotes peacekeeping efforts in troubled areas of the world. It provides an opportunity for nations to at least speak to one another, although usually in terms consisting of nothing more than "hot air."

We think there is good reason for the Church to have representatives here. Our presence demonstrates an interest in the communities and cultures of the world. It opens opportunities for influence and service. It establishes us as a "player" among the league of non-governmental organizations, helping achieve a degree of ecumenism and platform for cooperation. It results in trust and friendships from many who are leaders of the world. As expressed in D&C 1:30, it is a proven method to bring the Church out of obscurity. We believe President Hinckley was inspired in sanctioning this program and other government relations efforts in the world.

We are grateful to have been called to New York City with the directive to work at the United Nations. We have appreciated your support. We thank you for your prayers on our behalf. We look forward to a  renewal of our friendship with you. In the meantime, we ask that you may be blessed for your many good works and service to others and the community.

With sincere best wishes,

Norm (and Luana) Shumway