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Hi I'm James

I'm a student. I'm a husband. I love Slavic cultures and languages. And of course I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I'm currently working to finish my undergraduate work in international relations and Russian. I love what I study because it includes a bit of everything: history, political science, economics, geography, and more. I enjoy expanding my understanding about the world and the people that live in it. Over the years I've developed a special affinity for Eastern Europe. I've studied Russian for about 8 years now. I served a mission for the Church in Ukraine, studied in Russia for a summer, and lived in Belarus for some time. My experiences in that part of the world have changed the course of my life academically, spiritually, and personally. I actually met my wife while travelling over there. I look forward to putting my knowledge and experiences to good use in my career and share them with my family.

Why I am a Mormon

It’s sometimes hard for me to explain why I’m a Mormon. Sometimes I even think that had I been born into a different family in different circumstances that I might be one of them. In the end, though, I am a Mormon by conscious choice, having received and experienced inspiration from God. I was raised in the Mormon faith, and my family traces its roots to the very beginnings of the Church. My parents taught me to believe as I grew up, and I naturally accepted what I was told. Still, people should understand that to adhere to a faith as demanding Mormonism – a religion in which God requires you to actively devote everything you are and have to Him – an untested, immature acceptance of one’s parents belief is far from sufficient. I needed to know for myself that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and began to live its teachings. In my teenager years I read all the LDS Scriptures, the Bible, and just about every other book about the Church I could get my hands on. I began to pray daily to my Heavenly Father. After exercising faith, I received spiritual evidence, and divine confirmation, of the truth. Since then, of course, my faith has been challenged by doubt, pain, and sacrifice. Still, I have never experienced anything that could make me deny the testimony of the truth that the voice of the Lord has whispered time and time again in my heart and mind. It is up to each individual whether to choose faith, despite the doubts, and spiritual test God's words.

How I live my faith

There are a couple passages of Scripture that beautifully and succinctly summarize my attitude towards living my faith: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” (Proverbs 3:5-6) and “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” (Matt 6:33). For me, living my faith is a matter of dedicating myself, my time, talents, and all that I am to serving God and the people around me. Living only for myself brings me no deep or lasting satisfaction; living for God and others, though, brings incredible meaning and happiness to my life. And I know that as I put God first and align my desires with His will, He will care for me, no matter how rough or challenging my circumstances get. I try to show my dedication and devotion to God in many ways. I know that sometimes God asks big things of His children. Many of my ancestors were Mormon pioneers that dropped almost everything to go to Utah because their God and Church expected it from them. In my own life, I put off my education for two years and left home behind to serve as a missionary in Ukraine. That was an experience unlike anything else in my life before or since. Still, I think we more fully show show our faith and trust in God in the small, simple, everyday acts of devotion and service that sometimes we consider ordinary or mundane. For me, I have tried to live my beliefs in very simple ways: helping a random stranger get their car unstuck from the snow; doing the dishes for my wife; listening to a friend when they need someone to talk to. I try to imagine how Jesus Christ would act in the situations I find myself in. I can't say that I'm perfect all the time - I'm far from it. Still, each day I try to do my best, ask for forgiveness for my mistakes at the end of the day and for the strength to do better the next day.