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Hi I'm Gary

I'm a retired teacher who lives in the United States, spends as much time as possible in Finland, and I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I grew up in Utah, but, after marriage, moved to Washington State, where my wife and I have done graduate work, been employed, raised our children, and are now retired and finding joy in our grandchildren. People have all kinds of assumptions about retirement, but my experience is that I'm doing as much as I ever did, and, though I'm not being paid wages or salary, there are certainly great non-monetary rewards. I'm active in at least three volunteer organizations and, because of limitations on time, have had to decline invitations to participate actively in at least that many more. I'm impressed by the wide array of opportunities for people in their "golden years" to give to the communities in which they live. While I hope to be doing some good for others, I feel younger and healthier myself. I don't want to leave the wrong impression, however: volunteer work doesn't occupy me totally. My wife and I spend time traveling, taking care of our yard, doing modest household projects, participating in several book groups and enjoying opera, symphony, ballet and theater. Still, our greatest happiness comes from having our children, their partners and our grandchildren around us. When we are together around the dinner table, I feel contentment and completeness.

Why I am a Mormon

I'm a multi-generational Mormon -- a product of the conversion of forefathers and mothers in England in the 19th century. They, like many thousands of others, chose to come to Utah, to gather in their Zion in the tops of the mountains. They established homes, worked hard, raised families and devoted themselves to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were not exceptional as judged by the standards of this world. Some were barely literate, none were of high estate and all had their flaws; still, I am immensely grateful to them for their acceptance of the Gospel of Christ as preached by those early missionaries in Great Britain, for their willingness to confirm that acceptance by being baptized and for their courage in leaving hearth and home to join their fellow converts from many lands in the valleys of the Great Basin. However much my pioneer heritage means to me, it has not converted me. Like my ancestors, I had to gain my own inner conviction (a testimony in LDS parlance) of the truthfulness of the Gospel. That did not come through the preaching of missionaries, but rather from parents, grandparents, teachers, neighbors and friends. Ultimately, I had to do as converts did in the original Church of Jesus Christ, as well as in his latter-day Church: I had to have spiritual truth confirmed the only way it can be -- by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is through this witness that I gained faith in a loving Father in Heaven who has provided a plan of salvation for His children here and hereafter, in an atoning Savior -- the Only Begotten of the Father -- who died so that I might be forgiven of my sins and have hope of salvation, in continuing revelation through prophets who guide us through the perplexities of an often perilous world, and in the Restored Church of Jesus Christ with all the essential saving ordinances and the priesthood necessary to make those ordinances binding on earth and in heaven.

How I live my faith

I believe in the words of James, that those who call themselves disciples of Christ must be doers of the word, and not hearers only. It is that same James who says that pure religion is to visit the fatherless and the widows and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. James understands that being a follower of Christ means not only looking after one's own life, but being involved in the lives of others in positive and authentic ways. I have obviously fallen short of the Savior's example of service. His was motivated by charity, which is, in fact, the pure love of Christ. My love is not nearly as pure as his, but I am inspired when I read how he went about doing good. I am also impressed by the good works of others, especially those around me in my formative years, particularly my mother, who was very active in the Church's women's organization, the motto of which is "Charity never faileth", and my father, who served as lay bishop of our Church congregation for more than a dozen years. I have had many opportunities to work in the Church, but the most satisfying is always one-on-one interaction with others, whether watching over the Church members by assignment or attempting to respond to the needs of others as those needs become evident to me. Surely, one of the most memorable opportunities for my wife and me to assist others came when a couple from the Four Corners area came to our vicinity for his cancer treatment. What soon became obvious to us is that our own lives were improved by what we learned from this courageous, long-suffering husband and wife. I hesitate to say more about living my faith at the risk of sounding self-righteous. During the Savior's ministry he made plain that we should not do our alms before men. The best service is anonymous -- if not to the receiver, surely to others. I agree with Charles Edward Montague that "there is not limit to what a man can do as long as he does not care a straw who gets the credit for it."