Chat With a Mormon Online
I live in a small city in New York. I teach at an elementary school. I have two sons and a wife who is kind enough to put up with me.
I was born into the Church. The Gospel has always been a part of my life. My testimony of the gospel has always been present in my life, but it has grown and changed through each stage. I liken it a lot to being in "love" in high school. You feel as much of the emotion as you can, it's real and powerful, but once you reach your twenties and get married, you learn that there was even more to that love, and once you have children, you learn love runs even deeper. I am a Mormon because the more I live the gospel, the greater I feel, now matter what my circumstances in my life are.
Practicing what my wife and I call "The Big Four" has helped us shield our family from unwanted influences. The Big Four are 1.) Regular family and personal prayer, 2.) Regular family and personal scripture study, 3.) Weekly Family Home Evening, 4.) Attending the Temple regularly. We have family prayer once in the morning together before we start our day and once in the evening together before going to bed. Since our boys are young, we help them with their personal prayers before they go to bed. We study scriptures together after dinner or breakfast. Again, since our boys are young, we use a lot of gospel pictures, although my wife and I strive to have a more formal scripture study together. Family Home Evening we have once a week. It is one evening set aside a week by our family, generally on Monday night, where we have a favorite dinner, a gospel lesson, an activity, and a special treat. My wife and I try to attend the Temple once a month, where we perform baptisims and other gospel ordaninces for people who did not have a chance to receive or know about the gospel in this life. These four things are simple practices, but done consistently, we've found that they strengthen our home. It ensures that no matter what the world outside, our home can be a shelter from the storm. These simple actions have been likened by others to small strokes of paint on a canvas. By themselves, they seem minor, but done consistently, the small things add up to beautiful piece of art.
I was baptized by my father when I was eight years old. It was an event I looked forward to. My older sister had been baptized two years before and I was both excited and proud to be able to dress in white and be baptized. I asked some of my primary teachers in church to speak at my baptism. One of them spoke about the Holy Ghost and how from now on I would be able to always have the Holy Ghost with me. My grandparents who were not members drove up to see my baptism which meant a lot to me since they hadn't gotten to see my older sister's. I recall being baptized twice because my father forgot a word in the prayer. I felt lucky to get to go underwater again and I learned how seriously Heavenly Father takes his ordinances to be done right. We had cider and doughnuts for refreshments and my parents gave me my first set of scriptures as a gift which I had helped pick out earlier. I later used those scriptures as a young boy, throughout high school, and then on my mission to the Philippines. I still keep them today and look forward to sharing a spiritual thought from them at the baptisms of my sons in several years. One of the events I remember was that immediately after the baptism I went behind the church with some friends and ended up throwing rocks at a nest of spiders on the gutter of a shed. After the fact I remember my eight year old mind realizing that right after becoming clean through my baptism I had already messed up and needed to repent. I did and prayed to Heavenly Father that night about being sorry for being mean to the spiders. Since then, I've made more serious mistakes than throwing pebbles at arachnids, but the gift that I gained at my baptism, that I can change and repent through the atonement even after making silly or serious mistakes, has always remained with me.
I've learned in life that there are certain laws. Some of them are basic. When you drop an apple from a window, it will fall because of the law of gravity. If you exercise, you will be healthier because of biological laws. The most important laws I have learned are spiritual laws. One of the easiest to experience is the spiritual law associated with the Book of Mormon: when you read the Book of Mormon, you will feel closer to your Heavenly Father. Few books I've read deserve an encore performance because the feeling just isn't the same the second time around. For the Book of Mormon it is the opposite. Each time I reread, I feel the same power and spirit as before, and it actually increases each time.
I have a deep love and affection Joseph Smith. When I think of the calling that Heavenly Father asked him to fulfill, to restore the Church of Jesus Christ again to the earth, and Joseph was able to fulfill that calling, I rejoice. The more I learn about his life, the affection I have for him increases. Because of Joseph Smith, I can know Christ.
My wife and I have Family Home Evenings each Monday night where we have a favorite dinner, a gospel lesson, an activity, and a special treat. We believe that Family Home Evening is one of the "Big Four" things that strengthens the family. The other three are family and personal prayer, family and personal scripture study, and attending the Temple regularly. When we do this things, not only do we feel the Spirit in our home, but we feel much more united as family instead of four people just living in the same house.
The Book of Mormon has taught me that God loves all of His children, regardless of their geological or chronological location. We learn from the Book of Mormon that Jesus Christ not only ministered to the inhabitants of the old world, but to the people of ancient America. God prepared prophets to teach these people of Christ's coming and his atonement. Additionally, God preapred the Book of Mormon to come to us in our time as a another testament of Jesus Christ. So not only has it helped me understand that God loves all of his children, but that Christ is the center of that love.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has three missions: proclaim the gospel, redeem the dead, and perfect the saints. All three of these missionas point towards helping ALL of Heavenly Father's children return to Him. We proclaim the gospel to allow people to accept Christ in this life, we redeem the dead through performing Temple work to allow people to accept the gospel after this life, and we perfect the saints by striving to help ourselves and others become like Christ. When we are baptized, we promise to participate in each of these misisons. I proclaimed the gospel by serving as a missionary in the Philippines for two years, although proclaiming the gospel is not limited to formal missionary service. I serve in various callings in Church, share the Book of Mormon with others, correct misconcpetions about the Church, answer questions on mormon.org, and so on. I redeem the dead by studying family history so I can perform Temple work for my ancestors. I help perfect the Saints by serving others and striving to utilizing the atonment of Jesus Christ in my life daily.
My wife and I attend church in our ward each Sunday with our two young sons. Between the two of them, church can be somewhat of an athletic event, but we enjoy it. Each Monday night we have Family Home Evening, where we have a gospel lesson, a favorite dinner, an activity, and a special treat. I work with the young men in our ward and my wife serves with the young children in primary. We strive to teach our boys the Gospel of Jesus Christ while they are young so they can have the blessings of the gospel throughout their lives.