Growing up I never really cared much for church. My family wasn’t active, although I was baptized when I was eight. I loved going to the swap meet with my dad on Sunday, that was our routine. He’d look for tools, and random gadgets, I looked for baseball cards.
When my older brother decided to go on a mission we started going to church. I remember my dad taking my two foster brothers and me. I don’t know how he had the patience to deal with three rowdy boys 10, 11, and 12. I never paid much attention, and by the time I turned 15 we moved into a new ward. I never really fit in, and I didn’t try to get very involved. I liked to chat with the girls, but didn’t care much for the gospel.
By the time I was ready to graduate High School I wasn’t planning on a mission. I didn’t feel worthy to go, and I didn’t fit the mold. After I graduated I realized I didn’t want to work full time, or go back to college. The spirit smacked me upside the head and said, “you’re going on a mission.” My heart and mind changed in an instant.
I went into the MTC very naive, but willing to give it a fair try. I decided to go into it with both feet. I quickly realized that I knew a lot about the gospel. It seemed to be familiar and came with ease. I also couldn’t believe how immature the other Elders in my district were. We were called in for two late night meetings with our MTC branch president. I was embarrassed by the idiocy of my district. Unfortunately less than half actually made it through their full missions.
Once I hit the mission field, I was really enjoying it. I fell in love with the Book of Mormon and its history. I read the BOM all of the time. I even started finding other books that commented on its history or validity. I became a big defender of it in a short time. Looking back I was very naive, but that childlike approach helped me to believe the book. That belief has been the foundation of where I stand today. I look back at how the Lord has gently led me to gain insight and understand from what the Book of Mormon is intending to teach.
After returning home I continued to enjoy my studies from the BOM. I didn’t always maintain a perfect schedule, but I would normally get up early every morning and study for 30 to 45 minutes from the BOM and other scriptures. I read most of the Institute Manuals. I attended a large amount of Institute courses over a 10 year period. I loved learning about the gospel. I even considered teaching seminary with the goal of becoming and Institute teacher. I never pursued it because I didn’t want to be paid to teach the gospel. That’s too close to priestcraft for my liking.
With a passion for the scriptures, my attention turned to the temple. I wanted to know what the symbols meant. I went fairly often, and tried to memorize many parts of the endowment. I pondered the sessions a lot, and started to find some of the answers I was seeking, by study, and also through revelation. I always wished someone could shed some light on the symbols, but it was a good experience for me to learn about asking God and having Him reveal them to me, rather than always relying upon others.
This is where my story begins.