Well, that first dinner at her mom’s house turned into many other dinners, romantic dates, double dates with friends and family and beautiful times alone together as their love for one another grew and blossomed.
My dad and mom both worked secular jobs in addition to being in ministry to make ends meet and one such job Dad worked was at the New England States pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. He coordinated events and when he was off work he would take mom on strolls around the fair. He would show her things she’d never seen before, take her to meet people she’d never met before and though she was reluctant, he tried to get her to try new foods at some of his favorite places in New York City
She said that he was always a perfect gentleman and very charming. He was never pushy and quickly wound his way around her heart and she around his. They prayed together, they dreamed together. They laughed together. Yes, they were truly in love.
One cold February day in 1965 Dad asked mom if she would marry him. She believed that this young man of God was truly her life’s mate, her ministry partner, the man of her dreams and they began to plan for a September 11, 1965 wedding which would be held at her home church, the Huntington Assembly of God Pentectostal Church. (that’s what it was called then)
One of my favorite things to do as a little girl was to look at my mom’s wedding album. Page by page I would go through the photos and tell her how beautiful she was and how funny it was to see the styles that were in back then. She would point out all the people that I might know and would tell me who those I didn’t know were. She never failed to say how special it was to have had them in her wedding or at her wedding. She would say, “Now that was one of the best days of my life. The second was when you were born.” And she would hug me.
She pointed out that the youth of the church (then called C.A.’s “Christ Ambassadors) decorated their car with paper carnations and made it so special. (thank God it didn’t’ rain!) She told me about the catering from Zorn’s and how delicious the food was. Their wedding reception was held in the fellowship hall of the church that had been built fairly recently at that time. She, dad, some family and friends helped to decorate for the occasion and it was so special to them, the best that they could make it!
Her brother, Nelson Meringola gave her away because her father had passed away suddenly a couple of years before while she was away at Bible College. She attended an Assemblies of God Bible school called (EBI in Green Lane, Pennsylvania) She always referred to those four years as “the best four years of her life”. It was a time when she was trained to preach, to speak, learned proper etiquette for a ministers’ wife, among many other things I’m sure but it was a time of her learning to find God’s direction for her life. She believed that He had a special path for her to follow and did her best to follow that path each day to the best of her ability. She did that for all of her life. I saw it firsthand. She truly had a living, practical faith and an awesome, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
They went on a local honeymoon that was cut short by the death of her grandfather, Nelson Meringola Sr. They headed home, attended the funeral then began to work, mom at Lafayette Electronics in “order fulfillment”. She liked her job and did it well. Dad, in addition to his great ability to preach and administrate, was a fantastic short order chef and worked at the Pancake House on Route 110 at that time. Mom used to go and sit and watch him work sometimes. She said, “I would nurse my cup of coffee along and watch him work. I never got tired of seeing my husband. Without saying a word, we knew what we were saying just by looking at each other. Lovers can talk with their eyes.” Whew! They really were in love!
They began to put our resumes. Dad was looking for an administrative position at a mission type organization. Prior to his time in New York he had worked for several years overseeing programs at Good Will Home and Rescue Mission, he had done a great amount of fundraising for the Catholic Church’s programs building several rehabilitation type centers out on the West Coast (that’s a story I will share at another time) and he loved people, all people. He loved to sit and talk with them, he loved to share the gospel with them and he loved to help to meet their needs and see their lives transformed. He had hoped to find a job where mom could work in the offices too or at least nearby. So many resumes went out and few phone calls came in. It was a time of waiting and praying.
One evening he received a call to go to interview for the position of Executive Director at a well-established mission, Faith City Mission in Amarillo, Texas. He was so excited. The job would come with a good salary, a nice house, a dependable car, great benefits, a comfortable office and it was doing just what he wanted to do, ministering to people and helping to grow the mission. If this worked out it would just be perfect! Off to Texas he went!
The interview time came and he felt that it had gone well. He returned home as there was a waiting period while other candidates from around the country were interviewed. My dad and mom were so thrilled when the phone call came a couple of weeks later offering him the job! They celebrated and thanked God for opening this door.
They felt that their prayers had been answered and told their family and friends that they would be moving to Texas in late January. Mom was offered a job in the offices there. This was just going to be so perfect! They would work their jobs on Long Island until then, they would save some money and then they would be ready to begin their new life and work in Texas at Faith City Mission!
Kim (Gaines) Gambino serves as the President/Pastor of the Helping Hand Rescue Mission in Huntington Station.