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Hi I'm Van

I teach and translate Japanese literature. I was adopted at birth. I'm a convert. I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I'm a professor of Japanese language and literature. I have translated several literary works by the Japanese Catholic novelist, Endo Shusaku. My wife and I have been married for 41 years, and we have two children and five grandchildren.

Why I am a Mormon

Even though I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah—the world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—I was raised in a good Protestant family. And though virtually all my friends in the neighborhood and at school were Mormons, I really knew next to nothing about their beliefs or practices. I did read a bit from the New Testament, and I accepted Jesus as my Savior. But I didn’t know much about my Father in Heaven, though I felt that if He truly loved His children, He would be fair to all of them. Wasn’t that what the Atonement was all about, after all? In my mid-teens, our preacher visited our youth Sunday School class and answered questions. Someone asked him what happened to all the people, such as those in Africa, who never had the opportunity in this life to hear about Jesus Christ. His answer hurt me deeply: “I’m sorry to say they all go to hell.” No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t reconcile that notion to what I understood of God. In my late adolescence, a dear friend posed some challenging questions that got me reading the Book of Mormon. The story was all new and a little confusing to me—until I reached the point in the book of Third Nephi that describes the visit of the resurrected Lord to His followers on the American continent. In my youthful reading of the New Testament, I had been intrigued by the Savior’s declaration to His disciples in Jerusalem that He had “other sheep” He must visit. When I read in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 15:21): “Ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold…,” I knew, through a witness of the Spirit, that I was reading a true account of a Savior for all mankind, not just those privileged to hear His voice in Jerusalem, or only those who met and accepted the message of His followers in mortality, but a Savior who made Himself known to all of God’s children, whether in this life or in the next. That witness of the Spirit paved the way for me to learn subsequently about the great Plan of Salvation, designed by a loving Father to make salvation possible for everyone. Since my baptism into the LDS Church over forty years ago, I have had many, many more witnesses of a God and His Beloved Son who labor without ceasing to bless our lives—through living prophets on the earth today, through modern scriptures, and through personal inspiration He lovingly provides for us. And, in my own small way, I have felt His guidance working through me as I have served in various positions of responsibility in the Church. Each time that inspiration comes, I feel the warmth of His love for those I am seeking to counsel and aid. And I know that He knows and cares about each individual, and that He wants every one of us to return to live in His presence forever. That is the great and ultimate message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ: that through the grace of Christ, we can be partakers of the heavenly gift, that unspeakable gift of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is because we acknowledge and are profoundly grateful for that gift that we follow Jesus’s injunction: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Without him, we are without hope. But with Him, as Paul teaches, we can do all things. I know this to be true, and I know that He loves us enough to have made it possible for us to live together in love, as families, in His eternal presence.

How I live my faith

The Church today is guided by prophets and apostles, just as it was when Jesus organized His Church on the earth. That inspired pattern of leadership is the same in local areas of the Church today: three men are called through divine inspiration to serve as presiding authorities, and they are assisted by an additional twelve men. I am presently serving as one of those twelve assistants. We carry out assignments given to us by our local leaders, speak on assigned Gospel topics in each congregation, and help to see that the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are available to each member of the Church in our area. It is the same organization as the Savior's Church in ancient times.

What will the Mormon missionaries talk about when they visit my home?

Each missionary is given a charge from the Lord to "invite others to come unto Christ." If you allow them into your home, they will teach you about our Heavenly Father--that is He is literally the Father of each of us, and loves each of us equally; and about His plan to help us return to live with Him forever, a plan made possible only through the Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They will teach you that, because of their love for us, our Father and His Son visited Joseph Smith in 1820 and began the process of restoring the fulness of the Gospel through him as a prophet called in latter-days. They will invite you to pray and ponder the truthfulness of these things, a prayer that will be answered by the Holy Ghost. Show more Show less