Hi I'm David
For me, I wasn't good at a lot of stuff. I had tried out for everything and pretty much failed. Then I auditioned for a play in Jr High and fell in love with it. I moved on through school to do many different plays and musicals and even though I wasn't always the lead character, I had the most fun being around my friends and being able to pretend to be someone else for a while. I love to do all sorts of things! I enjoy sports, reading, doodling, singing, acting, and learning. I do enjoy camping the most I would say. I find that being in the woods, away from civilization and being able to listen to nature and gaze at the beauty of the world are the times when I come to appreciate life most. I absolutely love to rock climb, even though I'm pretty much terrified of heights. I love to swim and see how long I can hold my breath for. I enjoy playing around with my nephews and nieces and my dog. I love my family most of all.
Why I am a Mormon
The main reason I would say I am a Mormon is because I was raised in the church. Now that doesn't mean I didn't have to come to my own conclusions about everything. I wasn't going to let my relationship with God be solely based on something that someone else had told me. I had to gain my own knowledge of the truth. As any person does, I came to a point in my life where I really didn't know what church was true. I questioned the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I always remembered, though, what James 1:5 says. "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him." I took that challenge and turned it to God. There is no question in my mind that this church is the true church of Jesus Christ. It is where He want's us to be and where we can best grow our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Can you talk about the missions of the Church and your participation in them?
A mission in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is when a 19 year old man can choose to go out and preach the gospel. A mission is something that we decide to do, not something that is forced onto us. When we have decided to go on a mission and have followed the proper steps, a member of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles follows the Holy Ghost and assigns us to a specific mission area. Like, for instance, I have been called to serve in the Missouri St. Louis Mission. That includes many of the surrounding cities as well. I have another missionary that goes out with me so we can declare the gospel two by two. Our next two years of life are completely dedicated to the Lord and His gospel. We don't watch TV, we don't read the news, we don't surf the internet. We are to be completely focused on the work of the Lord. While we are out here, we going around doing various things. The most famous thing is to knock on doors, or to tract. We try and talk to as many people as we can about the church. What we do as missionaries is teach about the church, where it came from and what we believe. The most important thing we invite people to do is to read from the Book of Mormon and to pray to God asking if it is a true book. We in no way want to convice people with the logic of man. We want them to come to know the church is true because God told them that the church was true. Ulitmately, we are there to be guides. We answer questions and try to help all the people we can. We are always out looking for service opportunities. We are always looking to help people accept the gospel so that they can have the same blessing that we have. I know that it may seem hard and like it is a waste of time, but I can quarantee you that there is no where else I would rather be. I know that I am doing the work of the Lord and that it will continue on with or without me. I know that this church is true.
In what ways have your prayers been answered?
In my life, I have had many prayers that have been answered. One of the major times that this happened was when I was 6. It was around Christmas time and my dad had been laid off from his job a couple of months earlier. His attempts at finding a new job were unsuccessful.Things were not looking good for Christmas. My parents told us children that Santa wouldn't be making a stop by our house this Christmas. As a six year old, I was pretty devastated thinking that I had done something horrible to cause Santa not to come. We spent a lot of our time trying to find other things to do that would lift our spirits. We focused a lot on giving and helping others in need, even though we ourselves didn't have a lot to give. Before we went to sleep on Christmas Eve, we said a family prayer that our needs would be taken care of and that we would be able to have a nice Christmas in the morning. We went to sleep. I remember talking with my sisters about it trying to lighten our spirits and focus our minds more on the Spirit of Christmas rather than the gifts. I went to bed calmed down. We woke up in the morning and were able to open up the presents that we had gotten one another. It was a great day. As we sat down to eat breakfast, there was a knock on the door. We went to it and found no one there. We called out and no one answered. What we did find was an envelope. Saomeone had left us a lot of money in it. We were able to have a wonderful Christmas dinner and able to get the necessities and some other gifts that we needed. Most important, we felt the Christmas Spirit so strongly. To this day we still have no idea who it was that gave us that money. All I know is that they were led by God to do such a wonderful thing. It was a direct answer to our prayer and a confirmation that our Heavenly Father was watching over us. I am forever thankful for His eternal love, care and guidance and to whoever it was that sacrificed so that we could have a good Christmas.
How has your knowledge of the Plan of Happiness changed/benefited your life?
For me, the Plan of Happiness is a great blessing of comfort. It is a great feeling to know that everything is taken care of. God planned for everything. He has created this perfect system for us to be a part of. He knows what is going on. The part that really hits home for me is the fact that after we die, we are all able to be with our families for all eternity. I will be able to know and recognize my family and enjoy eternity with them. My family has stood by me throughout all of my trials, successes, and in between. They continue to love and support me to this day. We have been through so much together already. I could not imagine losing that after we die. It would crush me. I honestly would have no hope and would probably sink into a life of 'gloom and doom' and live it how I wanted to. This fact alone is a major reason of why I continue on the path I am on. It is why I strive to keep the commandments. To be able to live in heaven with God AND my family is a blessing that is worth any sacrifice to me. This comes to the second part that I am thankful for. Christ's atonement. I am so thankful that even when I fall short, even when I mess up, I am able to overcome that and be forgiven. That is able to be erased and I can strive to change that and become a new person through Christ. I am so thankful for His willingness to go through that so that I could gain the blessings of exhaltation, no matter how much I messed up. I know that as long as I continue to try to learn from my mistakes and correct them, God will forgive me and help me along the way. He wants us to have success. He wants us to live with Him again. Why would He not? He is our Eternal Father in Heaven. He could not make it easy for us. We have come down here to learn and grow. If everything were easy and given to us, then what would be the point? I know that families can be eternal, I know that we can be clean of our sins, and I know that God loves us and created this plan for us our benefit.
How has the Book of Mormon brought you closer to God?
The Book of Mormon is amazing. Period. Lately I've been trying to read it more and more so that I can constantly try to get closer to God and be able to be the person that He sees in me. For a long time as a teen, I didn't read the Book of Mormon. I didn't have time, I had other things I wanted to do, I don't want to read that I'm reading another book: all of these were the excuses that I used to not read it. So I didn't. Instead I continued on in some bad habits, whether it be watching TV all day, or playing video games, or sitting around really not doing anything productive. I got caught in this downward spiral until the thought of reading the Book of Mormon was at the end of my list. Then one day I was challenged to try and read the Book of Mormon in a year. I like challenges, so I took it, fully intending to win. I am so thankful that I did. It was hard at first to try and start reading it every day. Honestly I forgot half the time and ended up having to scramble to make up for it. But the more I kept at it with my determination to finish, the more important it was to me to read. I grew to love it. It wasn't until this past year that I really truly started to study from it and since then, my life has gotten so much better. My understanding of God's will and ultimate plan for all of us has grown so much. I have been able to receive guidance in my own life as I search for my own way. Everytime I have a problem, or am down, I turn to the Book of Mormon. Whether I continue to read from where I left off or just flip to a random page, everytime I have been able to find something that has brought me comfort and direction through my trials. I know that those things are revelation from God to me. I know that through the Book of Mormon, He is able to help me realize my potential. I love the Book of Mormon and I have a testimony that it is the word of God just like the Bible. I know that through it anyone can come closer to God, just like I have.
Please share your feelings/testimony of Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith is a man of great respect in my eyes. I do not worship him or anything, but he has done so much good and I have been blessed because of what he has done. After he had his First Vision, he never really had an easy moment for the rest of his life. He was hit by trial after trial after trial, and yet he kept going. He kept moving forward. Never did he give up and go back on what he said to be true. He kept going until his work was finished. Until he did everything that he was called to do. He worked so hard and accomplished so much for the good of the world. Yet people think he was a fake, a liar. I know that he was not. I know that he truly did see God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet and to restore the fulness of the Gospel to the earth.
What has helped develop greater harmony in your home?
It's funny, because the thing that comes to my minds is very simple: Board Games. We started a tradition that we would all play a board game everynight as a family, and it was great. We were able to talk, joke around, and be able to relieve ourselves of the stresses of everyday life before we go to bed. I feel that through playing those games I was able to develop a greater trust in my parents. I began to know that I could talk to them about things if I ever had a concern. Through that I was able to ask for help when I needed it and my love and appreciation for them grew. I also feel that you can really get to know who someone truly is through board games. Are they a strategist? Are they honest? Are they merciful? Do they hold a grudge? When something came up we were able to talk about it and help them to get over a bad habit or thought. Also through playing those games, I was able to see qualities about me that maybe weren't the best. I have a tendency to get really competitive and I was able to recognize that and work on it so that I would be able to have a better time instead of being stressed and angry when things weren't going in my direction. I was able to develop things that have helped to bring me closer to Christ. Those games also helped us to laugh more and enjoy the time that we had together as a family. I began to look forward to playing and being able to spend that time with my family. Those night have some of my fondest memories because of the impact they had on me. Something simple, but in the end it made a big difference in my life.
How can your talents and gifts bless others?
Everyone has a talent. It could be something as open as being able to sing or dance, or it could be something not as noticable like being kind hearted or being able to know how to help people. What we need to do is to recognize what those talents are and look for ways that we can use them to help other people. In my life, I have noticed that I do not like people to be sad. I always want to do what I can to make them happy. As such, I feel like I have a talent for getting to know people and being able to get along with them fairly well. This is important to me because it means that I can use that and maybe get along with someone who doesn't have as many friends, who is lonely, and help them to feel that someone cares. I like to uplift people and make them happy by joking around, goofing off, or just giving them compliments. As such, I rarely have arguements with others and I feel like I have been able to be a positive influence in lives. I am thankful to God for this ability. Sure it is not perfect. There are plenty of people that annoy me still, but I am trying to perfect the blessing that God has given me. I know that God has given each of us a special talent, even if you don't think you have one. It is just hidden somewhere inside you waiting to come out.
How has The Book of Mormon helped you understand the purpose of life?
The Book of Mormon has taught me a lot about what the meaning of life is, what my purpose in being here is, and what I need to do while I have this time. A while ago, I had realized that I had never really had true moment where a scripture stood out to me, applied directly to me, and helped me through a tough time. I wondered if He truly did care and if he knew who I was. Well, I took that to God and asked him for one, so that I could strengthen my testimony of His plan. After that I started to read the Book of Mormon from where I was and almost immediately I found that verse that stood out to me, that applied directly to me, and helped me through that tough time. It helped me to learn that when I am in tough times I need to remember how merciful the Savior has been instead of dwelling on the hard. That Jesus Christ knows what I am going through and that it is hard, but that it will be the best for me. Thanks to that, I have a confidence in my life that no matter what is happening, everything is for my good and that God is ultimately in control. It helps me to continue on and learn the things that God wants for me. It has helped me to grow to be more like Him. I am thankful for the Book of Mormon and for the peace and guidance that it has brought into my life. I continue to learn about God's plan for me as I read it. I know that all who do so with real intent will find that same peace that I feel.
Why/How do you share the gospel with your friends?
Well, as I have been on my mission, I have learned a lot about sharing the gospel. In my mind, the 'why' of sharing the gospel is because it has been a blessing to me and I know that it can be a blessing to others, and so I want them to know about it. I didn't have that at the beginning of my mission. I had to develop that as I went on, and it is still not to the point of perfection, but as I have tried more and more to love those who around me as Christ would, it has become easier and more of a joy for me. As for the how, there are many different situations in which we can help to strengthen each others testimonies. For me, and for others, I am worried more about coming across to overbearing, or that I am using my friendship in order to get them to join the church. That is not why I do it and it is not the way I want that to be seen. I have come to learn that whatever situation we are in and want to share the gospel, that before I do anything I need to check my motivation. Am I doing it out of an obligation or am I doing it out of love? Love is the reason we want. When we do things out of love for one another and they know that we love them, then nothing we say will be overbearing because of that pure motivation. That has helped me a lot and I hope that it helps you. Ultimately it all hinges on our love. Our love for God and for others. If we have that then we won't have to worry about the 'how' becaue God will help us with that.
Which of the Savior’s teachings have influenced you in your life?
I would say that the teaching that has influenced me the most is in Matthew 7:1-5. When I was younger, I was impatient. I wanted things my way and if people didn't do things that I thought was needed then I would get mad. I got into arguments many times with my little nephew over silly things that I felt he was doing wrong and I would try to correct him by forcing him to do things my way. As I have grown older, I have come to truly undersand what Christ is saying to me with these verses. For me it means something like, 'you don't know what they are going through, you don't know they are thinking, you make mistakes yourself, so why don't you work on impoving yourself instead of just seeing the faults in others.' Since I realized this, I feel like I have become so much more patient with people. I don't get frustrated when little kids make a lot of noise during church and on buses and such because I know someday when I have kids they are going to make a lot of noise, that I am going to be that person at some point. I don't get as frustrated when people make little mistakes because I know that I make tons of little mistakes, maybe even more than they do. I try to bring happy thoughts right at the beginning of those situations and I feel so much happier when I do. Now I am definitely far from perfecting this. There are still many things that get on my nerves that I am working on, but overall I feel a great improvement and I am thankful for that. I don't argue with my nephew anymore. He used to be just plain annoying to me, but now I love him and love to be around him. We talk and have good conversations and when he does something wrong I give him a gentle nudge in the right direction instead of trying to force him to do everything. I feel more at peace at home and around others and I love it.
How does making right choices help us make more right choices?
Have you ever had that moment where you eat something just to eat. A snack or something. Then, suddenly after you eat it you want more of that snack. You don't want anything else, you just want that. I think that is because we still have the taste in our mouths. We still have particles of the food on our tongues and weknow it tastes great, so we crave more of it until we drink some water or eat something else. I feel it is the same with making right choices. When we make a right choice, it feels good. Even if others don't think so, we feel that it was good. The impression it leaves on us gives us a desire to do more good so we can keep having that good feeling. We are more open to doing good because we have done it before. Thus, when we make one good choice, we feel a want to make others because we sincerely want to. This continues until we make a bad choice or maybe wait for a long time. We looze that good feeling for a time until we make another right choice. It is so important to make right choices. Actions build our characters. If they are for better, then we become better and desire better things. If they are for worse than we become worse and desire worse things. It's simple. Kind of like the phrase, you are what you eat. Well, you are what you do. We should always try to live our lives so that others can see the good in us. Then it becomes habit, our second nature to do good.
How I live my faith
Right now I'm living my faith by serving a full time mission. I am going out and preaching the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to those in Missouri. I am striving to be better at this calling by giving everyone a chance to hear that message so that they can come to know the blessings that can come from living it. I am also giving service to all who need it. I am here to help and I always pray that as I go out, the Lord will bless me with the strength, courage, and love to keep going.