In 1998, Stephanie Larson was searching for an adventure. Working as an actor and spokesmodel, the same questions kept surfacing in her mind: "Does what I'm doing have a real purpose for God? Does it make the world better?" The search for an answer led her to Mustard Seed Communities.
Over the following years, MSC played a large role in Stephanie's life. It helped her determine that her now-husband Sam was "right" for her, connected her to countless friends across the United States, and allowed her to access deeper love with her family.
Then and Now: Stephanie and Sam Larson visit MSC together in 2002; the Larsons and their two kids, Jessie and Julian, visit MSC in 2023.
Earlier this summer, Stephanie brought a mission group of her family and friends to Jamaica. Stephanie embodies the welcoming spirit of MSC in many ways, and she shares the lessons and inspirations she's gathered across the decades with us now...
MSC exists, I think, because of love and faith.
When I first came to Mustard Seed on a mission trip, I remember Msgr. Gregory said, “We all have love oozing out of every pore of our bodies.” I try to use that love every day, because it makes a difference.
I think if you ask the Lord to open your heart and mind, God will make many beautiful connections with others. When you’re on a mission trip, you will be able to communicate with residents who may not speak with words.
Gracie and Stephanie draw with sidewalk chalk; Stephanie connects with a resident.
There is a huge ripple effect of love that goes out into the world and makes a difference when people spend time with the residents of MSC – people experience extraordinary love at MSC. They learn that they, one person, can make a difference. They learn to stretch themselves out of their comfort zone to love and communicate with the kids and residents. They deepen their relationship with Christ and their group members too.
They take all this back home and whether it is conscious to them or not, they come back transformed: loving more, having more compassion, and more willing to do things of service in their own communities. You cannot go to MSC and not be transformed in some way!
The Larson Family and Friends team wraps up their stay at Sophie’s Place; Stephanie spends the day with a resident.
I have seen with my own eyes how MSC has improved and grown. They are committed to caring for the residents for life. That is no small task. There are several different types of communities providing care, education, spirituality, growth, and above all love.
I give of my time and talent to MSC when I can because it is a win-win. Everything that you give to MSC goes to help some of the most beautiful people in need. You see children who have been abandoned, left for dead, or some with “impossible disabilities” being uplifted, loved, and treated with care. It’s extraordinary to witness so much growth – growing more fully into the beautiful people they truly are.
Witnessing this is doubly exciting because you also see growth in your mission volunteer group and in yourself. We all grow and transform spiritually through time and experience with love at MSC.
Stephanie reunites with Cedric at Jacob’s Ladder; Sam, Stephanie’s husband, reads to a group of residents at Jerusalem.
Returning after 19 years I was amazed to see whole new homes, food being grown, improvements in equipment and beds for the kids, improvement in food for the mission volunteers, better vehicles, and more. It was very moving to see children we had met 20 years ago now as adults, living to their fullest potential.
MSC truly works to uplift those who are in great need and transform lives. MSC brings out the best and fullest potential of each resident. They commit to life-long caring for kids who are abandoned, challenged, and vulnerable. There is a huge variety of challenges and disabilities and MSC embraces the whole person with love and is an agent of true transformation.