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Hi I'm Sam

I am from Pennsylvania, but I am now an IT consultant in Silicon Valley. I'm a Mormon.

About Me

The youngest of three, I was born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania. I served a two-year full-time mission in Idaho. After graduating from college in Utah, I spent some time in Kenya volunteering with a microfinance organization, helping impoverished families support themselves and educate their children. I then moved to Silicon Valley where I began working as an IT consultant. Here, I met my beautiful wife, who will be joining me for a work rotation in Europe next year. Although I'm a technology geek, I also love to play sports (soccer, basketball, baseball, football, volleyball). I love traveling to new places and have come to appreciate focusing more on memorable life experiences than on buying expensive possessions. I'm not an avid reader, although I wish I was. I do stay fairly informed, though, as I enjoy reading and watching the news.

Why I am a Mormon

Not a lot of Mormons live in Pennsylvania. I grew up attending a branch where 30-50 would attend weekly worship services. In most social circles, I was "the Mormon." I often felt like expectations were much higher for me to make good decisions. Although this sometimes put me under a little pressure, it was for the best. It prompted me to find out for myself at an early age. Is it true? Is it worth it? I studied the scriptures--particularly the Book of Mormon, but also the Bible. I prayed to know that it was true. I didn't really have the dramatic turning point in my life some experience. It's not like one moment I was completely lost, and the next everything was different. It was a slow, steady process. I came to know the gospel was true by living it. As I obeyed a commandment, I'd look for the blessings promised. The greatest blessing was typically peace of mind and a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father. Being faithful to what I know to be true helps me be a better husband. A better friend. A better employee. Someday, a better father. Eventually, I know I have a path back to my Heavenly Father. But even if it was just for right here, right now, I'm happier living God's commandments and the standards of the LDS Church.

How I live my faith

One of the most important elements of faith is the way it influences who you are and what you do. I'm not perfect, but I'd like to think I'm getting better today than I was yesterday. I believe God is more concerned with the direction we're headed than we're at this second. You need to be honest with other people, but you also need to be honest with yourself. Pick out one or two things to improve on, and make it happen. One of the best ways to do this is to think beyond your own problems and find opportunities to serve others. My wife and I have been really lucky this past year. She has been a leader for the young women, and I have been a leader for the young men. That means that a good portion of the time we spend volunteering with the youth, I also get to spend time with my wife. It has been so much fun seeing the youth learn and grow in the gospel. Even though I was called to teach them, I have learned a great deal from them as they serve each other, other church members, and the community. It seems like it's becoming a rare thing in the world to see teenage boys volunteer to perform exhausting manual labor to clean up a city park. Then again, these aren't ordinary individuals. They're spiritual giants. They have learned to set their priorities straight at a very young age. Many of them have very strong, spiritual families that have provided a winning formula for success. Others have had to take the initiative to rise above extreme adversity. All of them are inspiring. It is evidence to me that God places us here on earth for a reason. That we all have a purpose to fulfill. I also serve as a home teacher. We are asked to visit a few families from the congregation each month to reach out and offer support when needed. It's a simple way for members of the Church to stay connected, and lets each family know there's someone they can call if they ever need help. Some of my closest friends in the church have often been my home teachers or those I home teach.

Do Mormons only help Mormons?

Absolutely not. I personally have been a part of countless efforts to serve those not of our faith. We don't just serve others because we want them to join our Church. We serve because it's the right thing to do. Because it's what the Savior taught and exemplified. I think God often places people in our path when we are in a position to help. Sometimes, this can be a litmus test for how committed we are to living a Christlike life, especially if this "opportunity" comes at a very inconvenient time. Perhaps we sometimes overlook opportunities to help because we are too focused on the problems staring us right in the face. I do know, however, that the Church makes a very concerted investment of time, talent, and resources in humanitarian aid throughout the world. We are often some of the first to arrive and the last to leave in cases like Hurricane Katrina, Haiti, and areas affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004. We often coordinate our efforts with other organizations like the Red Cross or the Catholic Church. Show more Show less

Are Mormons Christians?

Yes we are. There are a lot of competing sets of beliefs within what's traditionally deemed "Christianity." Even on issues as fundamental as the nature of the Godhead or Trinity, there are several opposing schools of thought. Here are the facts on our faith We believe Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God. We believe Jesus Christ is our Savior. We believe Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah. We believe Jesus Christ submitted perfectly to the will of the Father. We believe Jesus Christ was baptized to set the example for us. We believe Jesus Christ held the Priesthood authority of God. We believe Jesus Christ called apostles and organized the Church in ancient times. We believe Jesus Christ atoned for our sins and suffered through everything we suffer. We believe Jesus Christ is our only way back to our Heavenly Father's presence. We believe Jesus Christ is our perfect role model. We believe Jesus Christ lives. I am not sure what else would "qualify" us to be Christian. Honestly, I am less concerned with labeled as Christian than I am with following Jesus Christ's teachings with exactness. He is at the center of everything we do. It means everything to me that Jesus Christ speaks to us today through a prophet. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is just that. It is His Church on the earth today. It is not a protest or a split off from another church. It is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. I'll let you decide if that is Christian. Show more Show less

What is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' attitude regarding homosexuality and same sex marriage?

Recently this topic has seemed, in the media, to be a defining issue for the LDS Church. Living in California, this has been a particularly interesting subject to me over the last couple years. I have relatives, friends, and co-workers that are homosexual. They are great people, contribute well to society, and are generally very respectful of other lifestyles as well. To me, it's a tragedy that the reaction to Proposition 8 and similar statutes across the world have driven such a wedge between the Church and the LGBT community. This issue is important to members of the Church because of the high value we place on our families and the sanctity of their role in God's plan. The family is not a supporting institution of the Church. To the contrary, the Church is almost akin to a large support group for the family. To be more clear, I support traditional marriage. I believe the traditional family is literally ordained of God and the fundamental nucleus of society--more important than governments, churches, or any other organization. While death, divorce, and other unfortunate situations may demand adaptation, I believe children are entitled to a loving mother and father. Anything less, I feel, places more opposition in the way of the successful development of the individual. However, I condemn any form of abuse or unfair treatment toward someone because of their sexual orientation. As Mormons, we should be able to empathize with much of the pain and persecution homosexuals have suffered over the years. Many homosexuals have, in fact, been mistreated by members of the Church who did not display Christlike compassion. Whether they misunderstood/misapplied gospel principles or just let personal animosities and prejudices get the best of them, these members of Church do not reflect my feelings, my beliefs, or my faith. As a society, we can do much better to treat others fairly while respecting the sacred nature of marriage. I believe homosexuals should have the rights necessary to live their lives the way they wish. Things like insurance and hospital visitation rights should not be denied them simply because they are different. Show more Show less