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Hi I'm Carolynn ní Lochlainn

I'm a Mormon. I wasn't always. I grew up in a family that disliked religion, but I've always been a seeker.

About Me

I'm divorced, 52-year-old who converted to the Church in 2009, while living in Indianapolis. I'm a "surprise Mormon" in a lot of ways, but most especially because of my left-wing politics. Yes, there are Progressive Mormons! My politics are completely consonant with my religious beliefs. I blog about this. As in all societies, Mormons are not identical. We have different views and habits, but we follow the same Gospel and hold the same core values. I am creative and an avid researcher, so I have become a photographer who combines a lifelong love of history and genealogy with creating images that speak to my own Long Island roots and the history of the immigrant experience. I have a few cats, and they're pretty much my kids. I like to take driving trips, particularly to areas where I know I have ancestral ties. Through family history I continue to learn about my own capabilities - look at all that my ancestors survived just so I could be here now! I feel very lucky to have found the Church - no, it didn't find me! But that's a bit of a story.

Why I am a Mormon

I'm a seeker. I tried a sorority, substances, an unsuccessful marriage, acting and lots of other "quick fixes" to give me purpose, identity, and to fill the hole inside. But, through business, I met a man who told me that he was Mormon. I remembered that I'd been carrying around a Book of Mormon for 20 years but had never opened it. I started reading because I wanted to understand what this man believed, rather than doing my usual thing - condemning out of self-righteous ignorance. I started reading to be a good friend to him, though he didn't ask me to. I ended up reading because it fascinated me. I went to church with him, so that I could blend in and see how Latter-day Saints really behaved. Everything I saw was genuine - the love and friendship was so deep. I wanted those deep human and spiritual ties in my life. In the beginning, the Book of Mormon asks the reader to pray for testimony as to the truth of its contents. I did this, and I found that I believed. No one was more surprised than I! I had a few dreams in short succession that showed me the way, and I was baptized three months after I began my investigation. I find comfort and truth in the assertion that my Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother live, Christ lives, the Holy Spirit can be my constant companion if I live well, and that ongoing revelation is available to all who seek. The Bible wasn't the end. I also take peace in knowing that my ancestors are waiting for me, and that even my cats who have passed have a place beyond the veil. Blessings for health have helped me to be strong through illness. Callings have helped me to get to know people and be a part of the ward. Members have helped me with the daily tasks of moving, shopping, even taking out trash. I have never enjoyed such community with any group of people. I am blessed.

How I live my faith

I pray daily for strength, compassion, and the capacity to live up to the needs and expectations of others. I read scripture using apps on my tablet (yes, there's an app or two for that!). I live and magnify my calling, which is to teach genealogy and family history research and indexing (digitizing historical documents for international use online) to others at my ward every week. I follow the Church's guidelines by dressing modestly (yet fabulously), living in chastity, not partaking of mind-altering substances, and eating a healthful diet (mostly healthful, anyway). For me, the most important way I live my faith is by going to church each Sunday, partaking of the Sacrament, teaching, and being taught. Being at church, in my ward with my brothers and sisters, feeling the Spirit, gives me proportion and peace for the week. With this weekly inspiration and nourishment, I find opportunities to serve others every day. Overall, I work to be Christ's emissary. It's not easy, and I don't succeed as often as I'd like, but it's a lifetime goal.

Do Mormons only help Mormons?

Carolynn ní Lochlainn
Heavens no! I was absolutely floored when I found out that the Church has an assistance program. Then, I was shocked to learn that the Church had sent aid to Haiti and South America, and that members had volunteered to go along with that aid and do hard physical labor to help those in need. In retrospect, I learned that they did the same for Kobe, Japan. Now I understand that this is the way: the Church helps all people devastated by catastrophic events. Religion is immaterial. On a smaller scale, I know some Sister Missionaries who were serving me during my conversion. They helped a protestant church of a different denomination install a playground, put up a fence, and paint the fence. When the recipients of this service found out that the Sisters were Mormon, they wouldn't allow the Sisters' names to be inscribed on the stone showing who had volunteered. The Sisters were uninvited from the dedication. I was furious, but the Sisters were serene. They explained to me that the reception of their efforts did not matter; giving service freely without expectation of reward was their job as emissaries of Christ. That amazed me. Missionaries do this every day - helping one person fix his car, another to rake his leaves. They don't care about doctrine or dogma. They serve anyone who needs help. Too few people know this, and I am privileged to have seen it first-hand. No matter the scale, Mormons are Christians, emissaries of Christ, and they are happy to give service. Show more Show less