Hi I'm Sam
Well, as I said, I grew up in New Jersey and I've lived there my whole life up to College. Growing up I played violin and loved playing Nintendo with my brothers. I loved to develop talents that I came across such as origami, music, and basketball. I also came to love and appreciate guitar as I went through high school. I went to one semester at Brigham Young University taking a few general education classes. I was fortunate enough to play in the Symphony Orchestra there in the second violin section. That was a lot of fun, but it was definitely a lot to take in. My playing was definitely strengthened as we were given a lot of music and very little time to prepare. As I thought about the talents and the abilities I had developed, I decided to put them to use as a missionary for the Church. I sent in the application, and they called me to serve in the Japan, Tokyo Mission. It is truly a blessing to have that connection with the Japanese people. I truly love the people I met on my mission. I never thought I would ever be able to speak any language other than english (even though I studied Spanish for many years, I never could consider it as a language that I could speak), but I have a love and appreciation for Japanese. Anyone who tries to undertake learning such a language, 頑張って。 You've got quite the journey ahead.
Why I am a Mormon
I was born into this church and raised based on its principles. I didn't take very long to figure out that I could not keep living in this church based on my parents' or siblings' testimonies and faith. While I did enjoy the lasting friendships that my childhood in the church forged, I did not completely know or even believe that it was true. I was baptized when I was eight years old. This was an important step in following Christ, but a few years of doubt followed. I continued on, trying not to worry about the fact that I could not believe that the church was true. After about three or four years, when I was eleven, I found tremendous peace to my soul. Gathered for Sunday School, my friends and I were getting ready to be taught by our new teacher. This Brother had been in my ward since I could remember and I knew him fairly well, but this was the first opportunity I had to be taught by him. He knew the significance of having your own testimony, and knew that we were in need of knowlege and comfort. This Brother taught with the Spirit of God. For the first time in my life, I experienced God's love for me through the Holy Ghost. When he taught us, the Holy Ghost testified to each and every one of us in the room. It testified to our minds and to our hearts that this gospel is true. I didn't have to ask my dear friends if they felt the same thing I did to know that they also found a profound relief. Through these lessons I gained a testimony of Christ as our Savior, Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, and the Book of Mormon as another testiment that Jesus is the Christ. Even from such an early age, Heavenly Father has taken great care of me. He has given me knowlege, blessings, and comfort. I am eternal greatful to Him that I can say with conviction that I know my Father lives. I know that He loves me. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that through His teachings, we can find happiness in this life and everlasting joy in the life to come. That is why I am a Mormon.
Can you talk about the missions of the Church and your participation in them?
Well, a mission is an organization of those who are called to serve the Lord and preach the gospel to everyone they can. There are generally only two groups: The 19-21 year olds (up until about 25) who left school, work, and family for two years for the best time of their life. There is no greater joy than teaching others about the teachings of Christ and watching the changes that they go through in making their life better. The light that I see in the people I have helped is beautiful. These two years are filled with work that is one of the best, if not THE best, preparation for the rest of our lives. It is tough, but it really, truly is rewarding, and fun. The other group is the older ones: Couple missionaries. The young proselyting missionaries always go two by two (ocassionaly three at a time) with a companion of their own gender. The couples, however, serve a mission with their spouse. They too leave their family and jobs and answer the call to serve. They bring a maturity to the mission that the younger ones can't. I have such deep respect for the couples I have served with on my mission. I am serving in the Japan, Tokyo mission. The common thread with those couples is that the Husband learned Japanese on his mission as a young man, but the Wife has to start from the beginning. I can relate to the fact that learning Japanese is not easy, but it is always nice to talk with someone who will only speak to you in English. The bonds that us missionaries form in our work are very deep and precious. I will never forget the Elders I served with, and the memories we have together are important enough to last forever.
Why do Mormons go on missions?
Why? Because there is important work to be done. When you build a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and you really find the truth for yourself, the next step is to share it. The teachings of the gospel left a lasting sense of peace in me before I served a mission. Knowing that because my life, which was abundately blessed by the teachings of the church, was not free of mistakes and pain, others without such knowledge and guidance would really need help. I served because I knew that if I were able share that happiness with any one other person, I would have a friend forever. I also didn't leave with the expectation of helping only one person. I knew that two years of giving myself for others would bring happiness to many of my brothers and sisters in Japan.
How I live my faith
I live my faith by participating in many things with my fellow church members and community members. In my home ward (or church) in Short Hills, NJ, I always tried to be as active as possible in activities and opportunities to serve. Among the other young men I grew up with in the church, we had opportunities to grow and learn together. Many of the young men I grew up with participated in being Boy Scouts of America. Over the years of Scouting, we learned a lot of useful and important things that can and do help serve our community. We preformed service activities in which we helped others who were in need. We participated in clothing and food drives and learned to find joy in serving others. I credit much of my character as person to the valuable things I learned as a scout. During our teenage years, we started home teaching. Part of the calling is that we recieve a Home Teaching Companion, usually an older Brother in the Ward who has a family. In some cases, including my own, our own Fathers are our companion. We get assigned a few families in the Ward to teach at least once a month. We go to visit them, see how they are doing, and share with them a short lesson about the gospel. This helps keep the families in the Ward active and strong in the gospel. I am greatful for my own family's home teacher who was always excited to come teach us and make sure we are all doing okay. Later in my high school/teenage years, I also started going out with the Missionaries in the area. They would bring me to lessons where I would share a little of what I know about the gospel as they taught non members about the gospel. I came to love missionary work and loved when the people the missionaries taught gained a testimony of there own and followed the example of Christ by being baptized in the church. These great experiences led me to serve a mission of my own. I am very greatful for the chance to teach the people of Japan. I wish you all good luck in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.