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Hi I'm Anneke

I am from Montana, and I've lived in the US, Japan and now Taiwan. I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I'm a graduate student currently living and teaching in Taiwan. I love studying languages and education and learning how to cook all sorts of cuisine. I love hiking and camping in the outdoors and I miss my family; my little brothers and sisters and my sweet baby niece. But my students and friends here are a great family away from home.

Why I am a Mormon

My amazing mother has been my role model throughout life. She joined the church when I was a baby and she was looking for the right church to raise me in. I grew up going to church and loved the friends I made and the activities we had, but I don't think I really thought about my own beliefs seriously until I was in high school. My grandpa passed away when I was 16 and I was suddenly very aware of some of the big questions about life and death that I had always taken for granted. Where had the person that I had always known as "Grandpa" gone? Was he just over, disappeared? Or would I ever get to be with him again? For the first time in my life I started reading through the Book of Mormon and the Bible with purpose. I had always been taught that "Jesus died for us," but hadn't given much thought to what that meant. But through my scripture study I really started to appreciate the depth of what that meant. He atoned for us, which has two separate facets - He suffered for our sins, and then He died and was resurrected and, though we don't understand the science or miracles behind how it worked, we know that this was necessary so that we could be resurrected. That means that everyone who ever lived will live again. That means that Grandpa isn't gone, that means that the injustices of life and death on this tumultuous earth aren't the end. Throughout the years, I've learned more, both in the Gospel and in school and life. My favorite thing about the teachings of the LDS church is that they're never so confined that they're threatened by science. I've been encouraged by my church leaders to pursue my education and to explore all of the hardest questions. My education and my faith have supported each other, and I still look forward to years of learning and growth, while the simplest doctrines continue to get more and more profound and meaningful to me.

How I live my faith

I am so grateful for my participation in the church. At home in the US, I taught Sunday School and early morning scripture classes for high school students; it was a great preparation for my work as an educational researcher and a teacher. Here in Taiwan I attend church every Sunday and try to understand everything in Chinese, but the smiles and laughs of the other church members make it through when the translation doesn't. For me, a big part of living my faith has always been reading the scriptures and studying; now with so many resources available online it's that much easier. I also love the connectivity that the internet offers. Through facebook, email and blogs, I'm able to talk about my beliefs and get inspiration from my friends here, the people I met as a missionary in Japan, and my friends and family back home in the Rocky Mountains. I love that the church is a living community of people who study, learn and grow together.

Why do some call Mormonism a cult?

When my mother first started investigating the LDS Church, she was living in the American South. She had been to a few church meetings and was interested in learning more. She went to a local Christian bookstore and asked if they had any books about Mormonism and was told with a bit of a sneer, "I think we have a few, they're in the 'Cults' section." My mom was baffled and couldn't understand why a Christian could think such a thing unless they were misinformed. I believe that that's exactly what a lot of it is - people who are misinformed about what the church believes and practices are afraid of what they don't know. They hear stories about sordid underground practices and assume the worst. But I've grown up as a member of this church in a larger society, and have always known that my participation at church was voluntary and beneficial. I never felt coerced, pressured or manipulated. A lot of people might be mystified by what goes on in our temples, because the temple ceremony is sacred and we are asked not to talk about it in public. So of course that sounds to some people like the perfect cover for secret, scary rites. I hope anyone who is intimidated or put off by this would feel welcome to attend a temple open house before it's dedicated or to talk to an LDS friend about what their experiences are like. Because my temple covenants are sacred, I don't tell my friends exactly what we are taught in the temple, but I do tell them freely that it is nothing sordid, scary or contrary to any of our church's public teachings. In fact, most of the teaching in the temple comes straight from our scriptures, which are free and available to anyone. While cults are characterized by coercion, control and pressure against the outside world, the LDS Church is characterized by openness, honesty and personal agency. We teach people that their most basic gift from God is agency and that we are here on earth to learn to use that agency wisely for ourselves. Our leaders constantly remind us that it is our responsibility, not to listen and blindly obey their every word, but to take their teachings home, pray about them, and ask God to confirm the truth of it to us. Show more Show less

Why do Mormon missionaries proselyte?

I was a missionary in Japan, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I woke up every day with the intent to work as best I could to give the people I met the opportunity to learn about the truths that made me so happy. In the manual that missionaries receive from the church, entitled "Preach My Gospel" - available online for free at lds.org - the very first chapter begins by defining "My purpose as a missionary." Our purpose, we learned, was to "invite others to come unto Christ." The teachings of Jesus Christ mean a lot to us, but this is a big world and billions of people have never had the opportunity to hear them. We consider it important to do all we can to make sure that everyone who wants to study the teachings of Jesus Christ can have that opportunity. I met many people in Japan who had never heard anything more than some cursory cultural explanations of Christianity. Many of them were not interested in reading or studying our beliefs, and to them we thanked them for their time and smiled and wished them a good day. But there were some who wanted to know, who were merely curious or perhaps searching or even desperate for answers to some aching questions in their lives. I will never forget one of the women that I taught as a missionary. When I first saw her walking down the street she looked like one of the least likely people to be searching for more information about God, but my companion was happy and willing to open her mouth and ask this woman if she was interested in learning more about Jesus Christ. She was surprisingly willing, and particularly curious about what our church taught about marriage and family. After a few months, she and her little boy were baptized members of the church, and she said to me "Thank you for giving me a chance. I know most people who saw someone like me wouldn't have given me a chance, but you've changed my life." I remember those words to this day, and I can't help but feel that desire to be there to give someone the opportunity to hear the same teachings that have made me so happy. I'm not here to force the world to change their beliefs, but I want to be here and be available and give everyone a chance who wants to know more about their Heavenly Father and His plan for them. Show more Show less

What is the Law of Chastity?

The Law of Chastity is the church's teaching that sexual relations should only be between a married couple. It can be summed up as "complete abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity afterward." As a single young adult, I've been so glad for the Law of Chastity in my life. I really feel like contemporary culture cheapens and devalues and objectifies women. It teaches us that our only value is our physical appeal and our only power is seduction. When I work in a professional or church capacity with men who follow the church's teachings on chastity, I feel valued and respected as a human being. When I date people who share my standards, I feel treated with dignity and tenderness. I am waiting for a husband that I can give my whole self and devotion to, and I never regret a minute that I've spent meanwhile living a chaste life. Show more Show less