Hi I'm Eric Ray
Currently a college student doing my best to get through life. Some of my hobbies in the past, including things I did in high school are swimming, wrestling, cross country, marching & concert bands, and various clubs & student organizations including Student Council and Honor Society. At my core, music is my true passion - whether it be singing in the shower, playing my clarinet, or relaxing my fingers on the keys of the piano. I love life, long walks on the beach, and Christmas music. I enjoy simplicity and am consistently craving Mexican food. I love blogging and laughing. My height doesn't amount to my love, or the amount of food I truly eat. I am proud to be a Filipino. I am proud to be my mother's son. And I am proud to be a Mormon.
Why I am a Mormon
I am a convert, having spent nearly my whole life as a devout Roman Catholic. While a member of the Catholic church, I participated in nearly every ministry and also volunteered as a Sunday School teacher. Yet it seemed as though although I did the most I could within the church, there was still something that lacked in my life. When I was sixteen years-old in high school, I went through trials that, I was convinced, were beyond my ability to handle. Being newly called to leadership positions at a young age, taking my first advanced placement classes, and being an active athlete as well (let's not forget about the grades and school work), put pressure on me that a newly turned, sixteen year-old just couldn't seem to handle. It seemed that my grades were going down, while my racing times were going up. Being blinded by my young mind and the trials that sat in front of me, I was convinced that things were just never going to get better, that I was all alone, and that no matter what I did, I was never going to please my coaches, directors, teachers or parents. Life didn't seem worth living. I was ready to give up. But little to my knowledge, all along, another sixteen year-old boy, alongside me in leadership in our high school marching band, had been guided to watch over me. He saw me as his brother, saw my struggles, and because of his faith and his sincere love, he gathered the courage to pick me up and introduce me to the church. He talked me through nights where I never thought I would make it through and helped me feel I wasn't alone. Through his example and love, I agreed to take the missionary lessons, and although skeptical at first, it didn't take long for me to see that this was truly the true church of Jesus Christ which I was able to learn through constant study and prayer. I know that I never truly experienced real happiness until I became a member of this church.
Please explain the part prayer plays in your life?
Explaining how important prayer is in my life would be something that doesn't seem possible. Growing up, I was always taught to pray - as any child in any good Christian family is instructed. I don't think that I ever really realized how important prayer was until I moved out of the house. Moving to college and living by myself was something I looked forward to, but didn't anticipate would be as difficult as it was. On top of it all, I learned that college was definitely on an incomparable scale of difficulty over the academic standard of high school. Being more stressed, and being on my own, I learned the true value of prayer. Prayer to me is comfort. It's counsel. It's a way to just know that all will eventually be well. Prayer consistently continues to change my life and my view of life. It's strengthened my testimony that we have a Father in Heaven Who loves us, guides us, and provides to our needs when we are righteous. Prayer has taught me patience and also humility. Prayer has taught me to trust. I know that miracles are not wrought be wishing or dreaming, but I do know that miracles are wrought through prayer.
Please share your feelings/testimony of Joseph Smith.
I can remember back to my first few days and weeks looking into the church and hearing about Joseph Smith. For a very, very long time I could not accept his story to be true. Listening to it just made me roll my eyes and think that he was just some other founder of just any other church. As time went on though, my feelings drastically changed. Even after reading book after book and talking to person after person that tried to disclaim the account of Joseph Smith, through thorough research, I began to know about the truthfulness of his story. It is hard to believe and swallow - God the Father and Jesus Christ answering some random 14 year-old boy's prayer, but through diligent searching, I came to know that Joseph Smith was truly called of God. I researched about the first members of the church and the persecution they went through. Then, I considered the millions of people that believe around the world today that exponentially grows every week. I considered the church and it's organization. I considered it's members and the consistency in values. I thought to myself how this could not be something made up by a 14 year-old boy, who's made up story seems to be changing lives across the globe. Lies always seem to come out - that's what my mom always tells me. So if this truly was a lie, it just didn't make sense to me that even some of the smartest minds in the wealthiest homes would give in to believe a story like this. I eventually decided to just take it all to God. Even though I had asked many, many times for weeks and weeks before, my prayer was finally answered. No man in his right mind could lie about and create a church that builds people and families the way this church does. I know with all my heart that Joseph Smith truly did see our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that the church was restored through his works and sacrifice. I'm thankful for him, because because of his sacrifice, I found the way to experience genuine, eternal happiness.
How does making right choices help us make more right choices?
This could be related to an economic theory that talks about increasing returns. This theory (I'm no economist, so I'll apologize ahead of time if this is incorrect) states that with frequency, over time, the enjoyment level of a specific event will increase. Examples could be exercise, competition, or playing a musical instrument. All are somewhat dreaded to begin with, but prove to be more rewarding as frequency increases. I know that making right choices works according to this theory. There are very few things in life, if any at all, that can bring us true happiness then living the way that God intended for us. Good decisions always bring out good results. Sometimes the results aren't what we expect, but they are undoubtedly, always for our good. It brings pleasure that's eternal and fulfilling. I feel like it's an addiction that we should all try to acquire. There is just such a great feeling when doing things like holding open a door for someone, or helping an elderly person with their groceries. How about that special Christmas card you made for the friend you weren't that close to or a surprise party for someone you knew didn't know that anyone even knew it was their birthday. I know that some of the best things in life for me have been making my parents proud, especially my mom. I wasn't the best teenager, but I can vividly remember, one day home from college, coming home on time and seeing the happiness in her eyes. Simple things. Good things. I can only imagine how much more our Father in Heaven is proud of us when we make good decisions by choosing to keep the commandments that he gives us to protect us. Sow good, reap good, live good.
How I live my faith
This is simple, I know I live my faith by the way I live my life. Becoming a member of this church and having a testimony of Heavenly Father's love for me as His son has truly changed the way I look at myself and other people. It's in the small things. It's just all about doing the best I can everyday to live the way that Christ would have me live - whether it be holding the door open for the next person after me, helping an elderly person carry their groceries, or calling my mom just to tell her I love her. It's about smiling, making the best out of every situation, and just being positive. Life is hard as it is, I know that I don't need to make it any harder on myself.