Hi I'm Carlos
I am a 21 year old Latin American Canadian currently serving a mission in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! I was born of goodly parents who have taught me the value of maintaining a strong, happy, and loving family through the Gospel of Christ and moral values. I am a HUGE fan of Beauty and the Beast and I also really love great books like The Count of Monte Cristo, LotR and The Little Prince. I also have a deep appreciation for artists, poets, cheesy shows, and I love chick flicks! ANYWAYS, a great ambition in my life was to become a video game designer or famous musician. I really love music and art, however, recently my greatest desire is to become a greater disciple of my Lord Jesus Christ, all because having Eternal Life with my family greatly outweighs that of reaching the honors and temporal praises of men. I am a paradox that tends to follow an impossible reality, but I believe in the power of faith in Jesus Christ that allows us to begin a life long journey of joy, prowess and accomplishment. I love the challenge of trying to go an extra mile (or two), and in spite of all my failures, I truly believe that God has given us the capacity as His children to accomplish all the desires of our heart. Therefore, we must be keen in discerning what is most important, for the Savior said, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Why I am a Mormon
Well yes, I was born into the church; now that's not to say I couldn't have my own conversion story. I've been quite an awkward sort o' lad growing up, I've been very self-conscious and frankly it seems like the worst enemy in my journeying has been my own mind. Things seem to make sense backwards for me and sadly it has gotten me into a lot of trouble. I can say I believed things were true growing up, it all seemed to make sense. I even had the privilege of feeling the Spirit burn so deeply in my heart and clarify my mind as to know that it was. Yet, as a teenager I never wanted to feel obligated to change my ways, and repentance always brought the greatest dread upon my soul. I found myself being beckoned by two opposing forces: God my Heavenly Father and the adversary of all things pleasant. It has taken time, but I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is very real, and it has healed a heart as broken and empty as was mine. I had no love for myself, nor could I give any in return, but what has filled the depths of an all consuming, darkened and putrid soul was the infinitely giving love of Jesus Christ. I am out here as a missionary in Pennsylvania because I know that Christ has payed the debt of our sins in full; that we can partake in the fullness of salvation through faith in Christ, repentance and covenants such as baptism. It is because the Gospel of Jesus Christ has provided a lasting change in my heart and has brought me a true happiness that I'm a Mormon.
Please explain the part prayer plays in your life?
There are times when my prayers become mechanical, but I have learned something very dear to me about prayer. When I pray, I'm not speaking into my pillow; I'm not talking to the wall nor am I giving myself a pep-talk in my head. When I pray I am communicating with my Father in Heaven, my Maker and Almighty Creator of All Things, I can let Him know of the things I cherish and am grateful for. I let Him know my sorrows and trials, I can confess my short-comings and sins and feel relieved. I receive guidance from the promptings of the Holy Spirit as I pray sincerely. I have felt all of these and more from sincere prayer. It's hard to describe that feeling that comes to me when I feel His presence, but I know I'm not crazy, I am truly loved by my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, I am ever so blessed when I prayerfully study from the holy scriptures. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to pray. It is an unfailing source of peace and comfort that I can always tap in to.
Please share your feelings/testimony of Joseph Smith.
I am grateful that the young boy Joseph Smith had the pure desire to know where God's true church was, the world may try to condemn out of ignorance or just plain bias but the fact remains that Joseph Smith jr. was called through revelation by God the Father and Jesus Christ, and that the keys to the Priesthood have been restored and man can act in the name of God once more upon the face of the Earth through obedience to God's comandments. I know God called Joseph Smith to restore the broken chain in history, to prove that He (God) has all power and that He has not abandoned us. He has yet again called Prophets to guide His children as a witness for His love to them. Out of that solemn responsibility to be God's mouthpiece on the Earth, I know that Joseph Smith also sealed His testimony of our Heavenly Father, the living Christ and the Book of Mormon with his blood as a witness to the world that he willingly layed down his life for what he knew was true, and I also testify that Joseph Smith is as much a prophet as Moses was in the Old Testament, and that the Book of Mormon and Holy Bible combined into one (Ezekiel 37:16-17) contains the fullness of the Gospel of Christ. I also know that by sincerely reading it prayerfully, you can also come to know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that all that has been said is true, and that you can too add your own witness to what has been stated, and that the one true church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the Earth once more!
What is hope and what do you hope for?
Hope is a natural fruit of faith in Jesus Christ. Hope is what sustains us when all forces combine into one and threaten our very being. It is the assurance that there will always be something grand, pleasant and worthy of enduring all hardship to attain; it is trust that will carry you when you lack the strength to press on. Hope is what allows me to endure the bitterness that arises from injustice, selfishness, calamities, sin and apathy. Without hope I would be but another lost soul not knowing what purpose, or potential, resides within his reach. With the hope I have in Christ and His Restored Gospel in its fullness, I know that each day I can make a small difference in the life of another. I know that I can repent daily, and account before the Lord to become more like Him and our Heavenly Father. I hope that I can be the man worthy to protect and provide for one of Heavenly Father's elect daughters, and help raise a household built upon principles of righteousness, with the end goal of being united to live an eternal life of joy, laughter and love. I hope to rejoice with them and all those whom I love dearly, in the tender kindness of our God and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.
How can your talents and gifts bless others?
I believe that God has given everyone a talent of some sort, whether it be contagious laughter, outstanding leadership, or being able to sing like Pavarotti, Justin Bieber or some other famous singer (broad range, I know~) and that it can be used to help out another if you have the desire to do so. When there is a will there is a way, and we have an incredible potential as God's children to accomplish whatever our hearts desire. As a missionary, I have found many great opportunities to make fun visuals to help people learn more about Jesus Christ and His prophets, modern and old, I have been blessed to sing in front of some congregations, and to sometimes cheer people up with something as ridiculous as a giggle-snort (although it seems whether I'm a missionary or not, it happens regardless). I have been profoundly impacted by the Savior's parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-29, whether we have ten amazing gifts or one, the Lord knows our potential and capacity to make use of them, and has entrusted us to develop them. For example: Say I can only speak, well then I should learn to speak well. Once I have learned to speak well, perhaps I will want to write down what I say, if I am not a good writer then I can practice. Once I have practiced that, maybe I will want to write books or become a motivational speaker of sorts! If we end that right there, automatically I will have gone from one gift to at least five or so. On the other hand, if I don't speak at all, I will undoubtedly forget how to speak and embarass myself and further embarass myself with nervous giggle-snorting. At any rate, there are plenty of ways we can bless the life of another, you just need to first observe, and then serve!
How has the Holy Ghost helped you?
The Holy Ghost has been my greatest friend, and I didn't even know it! Christ and our Heavenly Father place so much emphasis on obtaining and keeping the Holy Spirit's influence that you are even condemned if you deny him. Thankfully I have never dared to do so. But alas, I have felt the burning in my bosom, I have known peace and comfort that the world does not, and cannot, bring to a soul as melancholic as mine. I know for myself that you can come to know of things (without a shadow of a doubt, mind you!) through the feelings that stir your heart from this wonderful friend. The world may tell you that these feelings deceive you, or that you are merely convincing yourself to believe in falsehoods that seem pleasing to the mind, but I know for myself that the Holy Spirit can tell you the truth of ALL things! (Moroni 10:5) If you seek to find any truth, and are willing to do all you can to receive it, the Holy Spirit can confirm the truth of what you do if you give out a sincere and fervent prayer before the Lord. He can cause you to feel words of peace and comfort. It may not make sense to feel words, but it will if you seek to listen to the voice of the Spirit. It is from the Spirit that I have confirmed the love which God has for me, it is what fills me with light, when a spiritual blindness engulfs my being. I promise, that though it may seem silly to you, if you kneel down and pray seeking and trusting that you will receive an answer to your prayers, you too can feel the still small voice that pierces the heart with eternal truths. Not as you will, but as the Lord intends, when it will benefit you the most.
How has the Book of Mormon brought you closer to God?
I have been pondering on my testimony of this book a lot recently, and I want to begin with an experience as usual: Halfway through my mission I had thought that I already had my witness of the Book of Mormon also being the word of God, and I did. After seeking and truly desiring to know for myself if I could receive an answer to my prayers I had felt the Spirit burn so powerfully in my bosom that there was no place to for me to deny it's truth. However though, the scriptures tell us that by "the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established," and it was suggested by some of my mission leaders that we try to gain another witness of it's truth. In that instance the challenge didn't sink very deep but I determined to read and pray and hopefully gain another witness. It was as I was reading in 1 Nephi 11 that I received this witness again. In this passage, Nephi is receiving a vision concerning his people, the coming of Christ and His earthy ministry. Nephi is asked if he knows what the meaning of the tree of life is, and his response is that it is the love of God, the soul's most desirable possession. And the angel added that it was also the most joyous to the soul. In that instant I felt such an immense joy come into my soul. It was as if my Father in Heaven's arms were securely wrapped around me, and I could not deny that God truly loved me. I have felt His love previously, but never to the extent that this occasion had rendered unto me. From this experience, my feelings and knowledge that the Book of Mormon is a true record and testament of Jesus Christ has been solidified; and I know that if I continue to follow it's teachings throughout my life, with faith in Christ, I will never feel excluded from God's presence. The book itself is a fruit of God's love that springs from His treasured 'tree of life', even His Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.
How I live my faith
I try to show love and respect to all those that surround me. I feel if God shows me so much unconditional love, then I too must at least strive to show others that same love at my own capacity. Smiling and laughing have been great comforting tools in strengthening and living my walk of faith, although to put on the full armor of God, scriptures and constant prayer (whether formal or informal) are my greatest reinforcement. I am eternally grateful for those tender mercies that the Lord has provided His children. So more than actually nurturing myself, if I do something more for those all around me, God sends through the Holy Spirit the gift of faith, which seems to allow my faith to take leaps and bounds far beyond what I would accomplish on my own power. If I can't be who my Heavenly Father expects me to be, and show it forth, then all of my efforts may as well be in vain. Overall, I desire to make the effort to counsel with the Lord in all I do, and to ultimately place the affections of my heart unto Him, (Alma 37: 36-37) because I know that He will give me a greater happiness if I do things according to His will.