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Hi I'm Jarvis

I met a missionary at a local science museum. Elders visited me at home, sharing messages about God's love. I'm a Mormon.

About Me

Among the apprehensions I had, I worried that my family would make fun of me at gatherings. After I was baptized they looked at me and said that I was the happiest I had ever been in my entire life! I love the Gospel. I have diabetes - type 2. This lead to an amputation a little over three years ago. This was devastating. I wanted to give up everything and spend the rest of my life in seclusion. Many were the nights I cried myself to sleep. The surgery was the weekend of Stake Conference and I still don't know how the members knew. But my ward family found out and came through, though. I had multiple visits in the hospital. When I returned home members brought me meals, continued to share scriptures, readings and testimony with me -- they even did the dishes and cleaned my apartment! One family made cards for me on one of their family home evenings. The entire Primary made cards and drew pictures for me. (Several of them followed up with me individually to ask how I liked them.) My other friends were quite impressed with the service of my ward family . Soon they began bringing meals and canned goods and offering to help, too.

Why I am a Mormon

I didn't just jump on the Mormon band wagon. I was a smoker. I had smoked about a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years. When they taught about the degrees of glory I asked which were smoking and which were non. They persisted. They invited me to be baptized and join the church every week. A few months later I remember commenting about how good I felt when the missionaries came over and that these guys are going to be very disappointed when I didn't join the church. A couple of months later I really began to despair. I felt damned for all time because I was a smoker. Some of the lessons began to focus on the Priesthood and I learned about Priesthood Blessings. I thought a blessing might help me to overcome smoking. The Elders made a special trip over to do a blessing one night. For the first time when I contemplated quitting I did not dream of cigarettes. When I woke the next morning I was feeling a glow much like that I had seen in the missionaries. I thought this was a profound manifestation of God's love and the power of the Priesthood. I remember a missionary telling me that I had a tremendous capacity to feel the spirit and that I would have some great spiritual experiences with the gospel. I thought to myself that there is no way I could feel any better than I did then. The Elder was right. I have had some awesome spiritual experiences - many of them in the Temple. All but one of the Elders who taught me joined me when I took out my endowment in the Salt Lake Temple 54 weeks after I joined the church. (The other Elder was still serving here in Ohio - turns out I was the first person he taught. His parents took his place in the Temple.)

How I live my faith

I've always been involved in community activities. For the last eleven years, I've volunteered at a church downtown that hosts and provides a community lunch for about 200 people weekly. Many of the guests are marginally housed or employed. For a few months following the amputation, I worried that the reason I did service with these folks was to surround myself with people who were "more pathetic" than me. I've come to better realize that we all face obstacles and that life's challenges can help us draw closer to God and humanity. Several people tell me that I am an inspiration to them. But, oh, how they inspire me! I also enjoy visiting people with the missionaries -- those who are curious about the gospel as well as those in hospitals or other facilities. And I prepare a lesson to share at church once a month. Like King Benjamin said when we are in the service of others we are in the service of our God! I met the first missionary at the science museum. He offered to have some missionaries visit me at home. I agreed merely to be hospitable - I figured they didn't get invited into a lot of Black homes. I had absolutely no intention of joining the church. The first meeting was brutal. I shared my issues with organized religion (attitudes about Blacks, women, gays). Once my rant was complete the missionaries shared their message about Joseph Smith's first vision. They asked if they could visit me again. I was shocked that they wanted to come back!