Chat With a Mormon Online
I like to think of myself as a husband and father first. Next a statistician, maybe a seminary teacher, and last a board game fan. I married my wife in 2001, and we have four children, a boy, girl, then 2 boys. They are about two years apart in age and the oldest was born in 2003. I have learned I never know as much as I thought I did about how to raise children. I teach statistics, but I'm still in grad school, trying to balance study, research, church, family, and my class. I probably qualify as a math dork because I love the mathematical theoretical stuff. My research interests are in math, finance, and biology. I serve in the church through teaching. It is a lot of work and time to prepare a lesson (especially in seminary), but it is worth it. I love the complex board games. Just to list a few: Settlers of Catan, Dominion, RoboRally, Puerto Rico, Scotland Yard, and Thurn and Taxis.
I was raised as a Mormon, but that is not the reason I have stayed in this church. When I was a teenager I realized I would be asked if I wanted to serve a mission. That's a big sacrifice! I would lose two years of school, pay about 10,000 dollars, and who knows what would happen to the girls I was interested in. I took the challenge to seek the Lord seriously. I read the Bible, I read the Book of Mormon, I attended church. I spent long hours thinking and I prayed. I'm the type of person that needs to understand something in my head before my heart can listen. I realized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has answers you can't find anywhere else. The teachings match the Bible, and they explain how God's plan works in a way that makes sense. What keeps me in this church is the feelings I experienced. Describing it seems shallow - peace, calm, clarity... I just knew. I know this is the work of God. I knew serving a mission was the right choice. I know this church teaches the truth about Christ. I know the Bible contains the word of God. I know the Book of Mormon contains the word of God too. The feeling of the Spirit is clear, and it directs me to the Lord's path. I have sought the Lord many times in my life since then, and the answer is as clear and peaceful as the first time. I have learned that as I follow the Spirit I can have peace and happiness no matter what trials I face.
I can tell you why I went on a mission, and there's more than one reason. I wanted a chance to serve the Lord more intensely. The feelings of the Holy Ghost are very strong when you serve God night and day, and I wanted to feel what it was like. The gospel has brought me peace and I want others to feel that too. The teachings through the Church of Jesus Christ help me in difficult times, and I want to share that joy. I wanted to follow the examples of those who had served before me. Their missions turned them into adults, and I could see that experience would help me to guide my future family to Christ. All those reasons changed when I found out my call was to Brazil. Brazil? Seriously? Who wants to go there? What do I know about Brazil? I decided maybe I would turn down the call and try again next year. I went to the Lord in prayer and told him I thought Brazil was not the place for me. When I prayed I knew the Lord wanted me to go to Brazil. I knew it. I went because the Lord told me to. Later I learned Brazil was the right place for me. The Brazilian people are so wonderful and open. The Saints in Brazil taught me about being a disciple and I was given the opportunity to teach others. Leaving Brazil was so hard - I miss the people and the country. I thank God that He told me to go. It is expected that every young man serves a mission. Some people mistakenly think that means young men serve missions because they feel pressured. If any young man believes that it is their own fault - I was asked many times if the choice was what I really wanted. I have friends who chose not to serve missions, and not one has been cut off from their family or friends. The right to choose is at the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I taught seminary for four years, and now I am a supervisor over other teachers. Seminary is like a "Bible Study" class for high-school aged teenagers. They meet every weekday before school starts. Every young man or young woman in the church is expected to attend all 4 years of high school. Each year a different book is studied, Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants. It takes time to prepare a lesson and teach, but it is great to start the day at 6:00am with the spirit of Christ. That's the reason teenagers will actually choose to wake up an hour early to come. Now I visit other teachers in my city and nearby cities. I try to encourage them when they are worn out, give them tips to improve teaching, and together we ask the Lord what he wants done in the classroom. Those who have been involved in seminary will testify that bringing teenagers to Christ is worth the effort, time, and money it takes to keep a class going. Thank you to all you seminary teachers out there - remember "In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"