Hi I'm Diane Paynter
I love to travel and have been blessed to work with educators trying to improve the quality of their schools all over the world. I've ridden an elephant along the borders of the Golden Triangle, stood at the top of an Australian rainforest, and swapped stories with women who had gigantic rings around their necks, arms, and legs. I've stood in the midst of emotionally charged demonstrations where tens of thousands of people were trying to oust government officials and I have walked pathways where a step off the beaten path might set off an active land mine. I have seen many of the wonders of the world, but in doing so have seen great poverty and dispair. In all my travels I have learned to love the various cultures and people of the world, seeing that they too have strong bonds with their families, great hopes for their children, and great faith in their gods. I now have five beautiful grandchildren who have richly blessed my life and I think of every excuse I can to travel where they are so I can spend time with them. When they put their arms around my neck and say, "Grandma, I love you" it is a piece of heaven here on this earth. In all my experiences in life I have learned that what matters most is not what you have in earthly possessions but rather the bonds you have with other people. I have seen people who had literally nothing in worldly wealth be richly blessed because they had family and friends who love them.
Why I am a Mormon
My paternal great-grandparents joined the Mormon church in Iceland in 1854 and migrated to Spanish Fork, Utah. Their names are listed on the Icelandic monument there that honors the sacrifices they made to come to this country. My maternal great-grandparents also joined the church in Europe, crossing the plains under extremely difficult conditions to reach the Salt Lake Valley. Answering a call from church leadership, both sets of my grandparents left Utah, heading north to homestead in Southern Alberta. Yes, I was born of pioneer stock. Many of my ancestors suffered great trials and persecution to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But I am not a Mormon because I was born into the church but rather, I am a Mormon because I want to be. Who wouldn't want to belong to a religion that puts family first, that emphasizes charity and honesty, and whose vision is that loved ones can be together forever. I am a Mormon because it all just makes so much sense. We don't get paid for our service in the church, we take care of our own members, and the donations that we make to the church provide relief for millions of suffering people around the world. We are about living a Christ-like life and working hard at trying to focus on the things in life that really matter. Some people try to get others to believe we are weird or have more than one wife. While some of us might be a little weird, it is not because we are Mormon and believe me, one wife is all my husband can handle. I am a Mormon because it keeps me focused on an eternal view of my life and what is really important in that eternal view. This life is a chance for me to prove to my Heavenly Father that I can be more god-like on this earth and the emphasis of the church is exactly that. Be more thoughtful, be kinder, be more understanding and forgiving - in essence - be more like Jesus Christ and emulate his life. I guess if that is weird - then I am very weird.
Why do Mormons go on missions?
Mormons go on missions because they are asked to. It is as simple as that. If a prophet of God asked you to do something, wouldn't you do it? One of the happiest days of my life was when my son left for Spain to serve a two year mission for the church. For years he had heard his Dad talk tenderly of his mission to Australia and through these stories he set his own goal to serve a mission. I cannot express to you the joy he experienced in his service as a missionary. Not only did he strengthen his own faith, but he was able to help strengthen the faith of others. He went out a boy and came back a man. I missed him more than I could ever have imagined and the day he came home I knew that every moment he was away from me was worth it.
How I live my faith
Living my faith is a challenge because it requires a lot of me. On a daily basis, I need to read my scriptures, find time for personal and family prayers, and fulfill the responsibilities of my church callings. Being a Mormon isn't just a Sunday thing. It is a daily commitment to becoming a better person. My friends all know I don't drink or smoke but I hope that's not what they feel sets me apart as a Mormon. I hope they see that I care about others, that I am not gossipy or a troublemaker, and that sacred things matter to me. I hope that by knowing how I live my faith, they are drawn to be better people themselves. In other words, I hope that how I conduct myself inspires them to be more Christlike. Through the years I have been given many opportunities to hold church callings and grow my leadership skills. One of my favorite has been to work with the youth whether it be to teach early morning seminary classes or to organize a youth conference. In helping them to sort through the many trials of this life, I have been richly blessed by their strength and courage. Knowing that I am an example to them, to my friends, and especially my children and grandchildren helps me make better decisions in life.