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Hi I'm James

I'm a Husband, Father, Beekeeper, Prodigal Son, Vietnam Vet, I'm a Mormon.

About Me

It is daunting for me to participate in any online community because of the unfavorable light that has been cast on some of these internet portals. I am the "Old Dog" having to learn new tricks, and I am generally pleased with the new face that "the Mormons" have placed on Social Media. I am also a classic prodigal, having been totally inactive in my faith for over 20 years. It was 8 years ago, however, that my wife and now eternal companion and I "saved" each other, and with renewed commitment, made the decision to come back to church and participate fully in all that our Savior has in store for us. My reluctance here is that some who may have known me then would scoff at this effort to share some of my story. Nevertheless, I will jump in with the hope that this will be good for you, and for me. I am a father of 3, and grandfather of 8. Our family has a long history of military service from submarines to airplanes, and that continues today. I was an Army pilot in Vietnam as a 19 year old away from home for the first time. It was my strong upbringing in church and scouting, along with awesome support from my family that got me through that year. I work for my local government as well as own a small business with my wife and partner. Beekeeping and photography are where I spend my few leisure hours. For me, working with the bees, harvesting honey, being involved with their efforts, and understanding their importance to our world is a touchstone to ancient history. Book of Mormon and Biblical references to bees and honey are testimony to this virtually unchanged, and hard working little friend. I love the bees!

Why I am a Mormon

I am the son of an angel mother from handcart pioneer stock, and a somewhat gruff WWII submarine veteran father who joined the church during that time in his life. I was born a "baby boomer" towards the end of the war, and baptized when 8 years old. So I joined the church then because my family expected it of me. From that time until I left home to join the Army, my experiences in the church programs for the youth were most memorable and rewarding. I cannot imagine my teenage years without the influence of teachers, friends, and most of all wonderful church leaders. As I mentioned above, it is this budding faith in Jesus Christ and the things I learned at the feet of church youth leaders and teachers, as well as my family nurturing that carried me through my Army years during a difficult time in our country's history. To fast forward through a long story, I moved to Eastern Utah in my late 30's and due to a number of reasons and less than stellar influences, I stopped attending church. In a very short time, I abandoned the faith of my youth in exchange for a life fraught with the dangers brought about by sin and disobedience to the very commandments that helped me survive combat in a far off land. I walked this selfish, dark, downhill path through a couple of marriages and many circumstances that could have taken my life. This self imposed exile lasted for over 20 years. Then the miracle happened. I had met and married my wife and best friend in 2001. It seemed like this was the "one" for me. Life was good again, and weekends were spent riding our Harley on 2 lane roads in this beautiful part of the country. We traveled and mended from the rough spots our individual lives had left on us. Late at night we sometimes talked about our families and Mormon upbringing. We knew we were meant to be together, but something we could not, or would not identify, was missing. Ironically, we rented an apartment within sight of our local Latter-day Saint temple. Even so, no church activity for us. Then, in rapid succession, my father . . . my hero . . . passed away suddenly, 9/11 invaded our lives, and my daughter pestered us to join her and her Navy Chaplain husband at a General Conference of the Church in October of that year. Being very faithful, they didn't wish to purchase lunch on Sunday between sessions, and wanted us to bring a picnic to share together, and to then attend the afternoon conference with them. I say pestered because it took 3 or 4 such invites before I relented and said yes. You can more fully understand my reluctance if you picture me with long hair and a full beard, and realize neither of us had been to church for 2 decades. Oh how happy I am that we made the short trip to Salt Lake City that day. We saw President Gordon B. Hinckley, a prophet of God, salute those attending in the Conference Center with his cane as he took his place on the stand. Then he spoke and we KNEW that he was a prophet. Others spoke as if to only us, and we KNEW what was missing in our lives. Tears flowed, as well as gratitude for a caring daughter who wouldn't take no for an answer. We went home that evening, poured some pretty good wine and rum down the sink, figured out a tithing amount for a month, and made plans to again become a Mormon that next Sunday in more ways than just names on a membership record somewhere. Our Bishop was warm and welcoming as were the members of our new congregation. We knew that we had made the right choice, and at the same time that there was much work to do. So I am a Mormon because Jesus never stopped loving me, even though I had stopped loving Him. I am evermore grateful for His infinite Atonement where by I could become clean, and come home again.

How I live my faith

I work close with my Bishop as his executive secretary and confidant. I schedule his time so that he can more fully involve himself with the members of our congregation or "Ward" here in the inner city. I also teach a Sunday class to the older men in our ward. They have had so much more experience in the church than I have, and many walk with canes, or walkers, or carry their own oxygen to church . . . . and yet they make me feel good in this assignment by participating warmly, and benefiting all in attendance with their knowledge and life's lessons learned.

What is being a Mormon like?

James
On the surface, it is much like membership in any body of like-minded people of faith. We take comfort in fellowship with each other. If you look deeper, however, Mormons realize that our membership is a great privilege that both blesses us, and marks us as different. Most honest folks respect these differences and perhaps even wish that they had the courage to live as we do. Some others may poke fun at us, our history, and our beliefs. Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) teaches us tolerance and patience when these rare occurrences happen. The thing is, our membership does not give us a free pass around pain, suffering, disease, heartbreak, tribulation, betrayal or even untimely death. We do, however, understand that our Savior Jesus Christ took upon himself all these burdens so that He can more fully minister to us in our time of trial. Our church membership can, and should give us joy in the knowledge that our Savior loves each of us, and only wants us to grow and return to our heavenly home. Being a "Mormon" is simply wonderful and precious to me. Show more Show less

Why are Mormons asked to donate 10% of their income to their Church?

James
I have often heard that God does not need our money. Rather we need the experience of giving it. I believe this is true. When I was young and a new chapel was going to be built, the area members did the construction themselves under the supervision of a local contractor. In addition, each family was asked to give to the building fund. This offering was in addition to the 10% tithing. Today due to the growing church membership and their faithfulness in their tithing donations, the many buildings and temples being built each year are constructed without additional building fund requests. This is both joyful and sad, in that many families grew together and were blessed "back in the day" through giving of their means to build local chapels, and in the work involved after work without complaint or regret. Our family gives a full 10% tithing to the Church, gladly and without reservation. No, God probably doesn't need our money, but we most certainly need to give it! We are now out of the apartment and managed to build a modest home, our health is good and we are gainfully employed. All these blessings would be in jeopardy if not for the promises made to all who freely give their tithes and offerings. We are not rich by the world's standards, but God generously fills in the blanks in our day to day operation with His timely providence and love. Tithing is more than a commandment. It is a privilege and a way of life! Show more Show less

Are all Mormons required to serve a mission?

James
Actually, no Latter-day Saint is required to serve a mission. One of the reasons that it may seem as though it is mandatory is that so many of our young men and women do take the time away from college and family to serve in this way. There are opportunities for members of the church to serve missions in most every stage of life. For men, it is at age 19. For women, the age is 21. For couples, it can be almost any time when their circumstances would allow them to serve a mission full time for at least 18 months. All of these missionaries serve, build and teach within the US or abroad voluntarily, and at their expense. Most, if not all, would tell you that it is no sacrifice at all, rather a sacred trust and privilege. Show more Show less