Chat With a Mormon Online
I was born in Utah and grew up there, got married in the Salt Lake Temple, and lived there with my wife until we moved to Virginia more than twenty years ago. One thing about being a Mormon is that you feel at home no matter where you live. The members of our local congregation are just as loving and supporting here as they were in Utah, and that's true all over the world. I develop software for a living, and my wife and I have authored a number of books (she is an excellent writer and editor). We have been married for more than 30 years, and fall more in love each day. As the kids would say, we are BFF (best friends forever) and love spending time with each other, even if it's something as simple as cooking dinner. In my free time, I make stained-glass windows and create scrapbooks of our travels and family adventures. I also enjoy photography and editing videos. For family vacations, we love going on cruises and admiring the great diversity in this world that God has created for us.
My parents were Mormons, so I grew up going to church and learning about it in our family and in our congregation. But there’s a saying that even those born in the church must someday be converted, and that is true. When I was old enough to make my own decisions, I had to decide whether I wanted to live on my parents’ faith or develop my own. After praying and reading the Book of Mormon, I did develop my own testimony (conviction) that being a committed Mormon would bless my life, and the life of those around me. This was a conviction obtained not only through my own study, but through spiritual confirmation. I have felt the Spirit of the Lord many times in my life since then, and it has always confirmed that this is the path for me, and that God loves all of His children to a degree that we cannot even comprehend. In the final pages of the Book of Mormon, there is a great promise made by an ancient prophet named Moroni. That promise states that anyone who reads the book may pray and ask God if the book speaks the truth. If this is done sincerely, and with faith in Christ, we have the assurance that God will answer that prayer. There are millions of us who have done that, and our membership in this church is the result. I would invite you to do the same, because the Lord always keeps his promises.
Mormons refer to each other as “Brother and Sister.” Although that may seem odd to outsiders, that really reflects the way we feel about each other. We are all children of the same God, so that does literally make us siblings. We do not just go to church on Sunday, and then forget about each other for the rest of the week. We get together during the week for social events and service projects. Many of our youth get up before the sun each school day to meet together for religious instruction. Sometimes this may make us seem cliquish to others not of our faith, but we try to reach out to everyone (there’s just not enough time!). It is a great thing to know that you can go anywhere in the world, find the nearest Mormon chapel, and be instantly surrounded by hundreds of friends. Church services are more than just religious instruction. It is a weekly gathering of the family of God.
One of the reasons that our church builds temples is so that we can bring our families closer together. Doesn’t it make you a bit sad when you attend a wedding and hear the words “until death do you part?” But Mormons believe that being married with the proper authority allows couples and families to be joined together forever. Wouldn’t a God who really loved his children want the happiness they achieved on Earth to be extended beyond death? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if marriage and family relationships could continue beyond this life? Marriage vows spoken within the walls of the temple make no mention of death, but the participants are promised eternal companionship and eternal progression if they follow the laws of God. But what about my great-great-great grandfather who never heard of the Mormon Church? And what about all of those good people who lived when the authority to “seal” (bind) families together was not present on the Earth? Well, that is the reason we have such an emphasis on genealogy and family history. Once I have found the names of my ancestors, I can take their names to the temple and perform these important works for them. I can represent my great-great-great grandfather, and my wife can represent my great-great-great grandmother, as we take the same sacred marriage vows for them that we took for ourselves. Some have criticized us for “trying to make Mormons” out of all those who have gone before us, but that is not true. One of the founding principles of our religion is agency. As much as God loves us, he will never force His children to do anything against their will. Just as our missionaries walk the Earth today, we think there are missionaries who preach the same gospel in the “spirit world,” where souls go after death. If those souls accept those teachings and wish to make further promises to God and commitments to their families, they can still benefit from the blessings of the temple through their relatives who have made promises in the temple on their behalf. This is an opportunity available to all of God’s children, and shows that His blessings can apply to everyone regardless of their circumstance.
At any time, most Mormons have one or more “callings” or opportunities to serve in their local congregations. We have no paid ministers, so all of us pitch in to make sure things are running well. I am the leader of one of several “quorums” (groups) of men who provide service to their families, the congregation, and the community. We follow the Savior’s example and try to serve those around us, whether or not they share our beliefs. For more than 15 years, we have also volunteered our time as workers in the Washington D.C. Temple. It is a familiar landmark to anyone driving on the Capital Beltway, but few who drive by realize the blessings that can be found inside. We have never finished our service there where we did not come out feeling refreshed and invigorated. Our temples are not like our chapels (in fact, they are closed on Sunday!). But the work that is done there provides great blessings for us and our ancestors.