Observations of an LDS Branch President

It helps to have honest professional people helping you with any project.

Just about five years ago I was called as an LDS Branch President to serve in a Hispanic Branch. I enjoy being in charge, having keys to the buildings, making the final decisions and being a leader has it’s perks in some sense of the word although I had no idea what I was in for five years ago. I love the people and appreciate them. They are part of my family and you build a very close connection to people when you work with them constantly and for such a long period of time. Working with those with mental illness has been a challenge, trying to help people that are not willing to do their part is difficult. Telling some people that you cannot help with certain things is extremely difficult. In certain circumstance telling people you can help is very rewarding.

Having them understand that I am representing the Lord is difficult and at times overwhelming. We set up many different seminars including having a dentist come in 3 different times, medical people to help with health education, we had financial classes several times, several group therapy sessions as well as marriage therapy classes. We had emergency preparedness seminars with city leaders that came in to help. We had the County health department come with like 20 support staff once. We have had seminars on overcoming addiction as well as many other wonderful activities. My office is full of my books and things I am accumulated over the last 5 years. My head is also full of memories, ideas and experiences.

My Wife has been very supportive of my calling, now that it is coming to an end I have plans to join a gym with her and begin to get ready for a 3 day pioneer reenactment trek where we will pull hand carts. I also have plans to get back to reading more. I used to exercise much more than I currently am. I weight 215 lbs when the doctor tells me I should weigh 170 so I have put things on the back burner for this calling because there is just not time to do everything. I currently teach CERT for the City once a week on Thursdays and that adds to the schedule issues. I know it is hard on families to have someone in the family in such a calling. I do want to make it clear that I am gratefull for the experience of serving. Long ago when I was young many Bishops would serve for over 20 years at great sacrifice.

LDS Mormon Branch Presidents perform similar functions as Bishops from a ward but normally for smaller units called branches. We have 354 people in our branch and often we will have an attendance of over 160 and occasionally over 200. Bishops are ordained ministers and are Bishops for life but a Branch President is set apart for a specific time and then released. Bishops also get released and when they are not serving as a Bishop they cannot perform weddings or other duties of a Bishop. Bishops and Branch Presidents are also the President’s of the Priest Quorum in the unit and Presiding High Priest in the unit (Branch or Ward)

Sharing some of my experiences will help me as I reflect on the past 5 years. For some readers that may be very boring although it could enlighten some people that are not familiar with these positions. Many member of the Church have had family members killed or die in accidents or of illness. Many of these deaths occurred outside the country and most of the people could not attend the services because of circumstances including lack of funds or paperwork. I have learned to listen and often I want to solve someones problems but it is much better if I can strive to help them solve their own issues. One sister came in and her son has been killed and dropped off on the curb and there is no way I could begin to understand her pain and suffering. When there is a death in the family the church offers the building free of charge for the funeral services as long as specific guidelines are met. (No alcoholic beverages and specific music etc…)

I intend to share some personal observations although I need to be very careful not to share any of the private information that I have experienced. The calling has been incredible although it does take up a great amount of time. Nearly all day each sunday and often meetings at night as well as 1-2 days during the week after work and Baptisms on other days that also take up time taking leaders away from family and work at times. To say that this calling is not time consuming or stressful would be misleading so there is often a great sacrifice to family, work and friends. We as leaders are urged to put family first although at times that is just not possible. Other meetings are also added such as Stake Bishops trainings other committee meetings. In a hispanic branch and other units there are also many meetings and parties where food is involved, dancing is a big part of the culture and this involves planning, time and cleanup. Visiting the homes of members and non members is also a time commitment.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a lay ministry where local leaders are called to serve for periods of approximately 3-5 years and sometimes longer. These are not paid positions and not really voluntary either in the sense of the word volunteer because people don’t get to decide if or when they want to be a church leader. This is decided by revelation and inspiration. There are factors that help determine who to call that include a worthiness interview, record of paying tithing and offerings, church activity etc…. Bishops and Branch Presidents are not perfect although they should be good examples. They are also required to be married.

The Church is divided into geographical areas and our area of about 10,000 population (This can vary depending on the area) is what is called a Stake which normally has 6 or 7 Wards often with one of those units being a branch or two. Some wards have up to 600 people or more on the books other wards have around 300-400. Most wards have about 30% attendance with specific areas having much higher attendance where the members are more active like Bountiful Utah. Our hispanic unit encompases the entire stake boundry. A Stake Presidency is made up of a Stake President that is the Presiding officer or Priesthood leader in the area, he is the President of the High Priest Quorum in the Stake and he presides over all the Wards and Branches, he has two counselors as well as other support people such as secretaries and 12 high counselors that assist in much of the work.

A Branch President also has 2 counselors and a support team of clerks, secretaries and other branch leaders. The Mormon Church is very organized and normally works in a very organized way in most units. In some remote areas of the world the branches will operate a bit differently although here in the City our branch operates almost exactly like a ward. In the past 5 years I have performed 23 weddings and 6 funerals. I have met each week with members of the branch for the past 260 weeks. In a typical week I will meet with 6-8 people in interviews. My wife and I have only taken one vacation in that time period and that was just the weekend. Branch Presidents, Bishops and Stake Presidents are common judges in Israel meaning they handle any issues having to do with worthiness and church discipline. There is a process depending on the issues that also includes the high counselors in very serious cases. The Bishops, Branch Presidents and Stake President also help with spiritual counseling.

I understand and acknowledge that I am not qualified to be a therapist so I have taken advantage of the Church resources to help many of my people with professional state licensed therapists during the last 5 years. The cost of this therapy is similar to any therapist you would go to so at times Bishops and Branch Presidents will ask people to preform volunteer work so they feel like they have some skin in the game. I have been very appreciative for this resource since many people that have been abused or that are going through very difficult issues have been helped tremendously with this therapy. I have seen people improve and continue with their lives because the therapy helped.

Bishops and Branch Presidents assist with the administrative decisions and also have to sign off on every financial expense. There are 2 financial audits every year that take about 1-2 hours to make sure that the books are being done properly and to assure that any assistance that was given to the Bishop’s or Branch Presidents family was approved in writing by the Stake President beforehand. Two audits ago the auditor had me pull every check that had been made out to me or my wife to make sure each expense was justified and was done properly. I mentioned that this is a non paid position so an example of a check that would be made out to me be something like me buying a bus pass for someone with my own money or card and then putting the receipt in the file an d then the Church would make a check out for me. In the Branch there are only 4 people that can sign checks and if the check is made out to me I cannot sign it. Each check has to have two signatures.

In emergencies I have paid for hotel rooms and other expenses with my own credit card and on a normal basis if I pay for a youth activity I turn in the receipts and document what it was etc…IN one emergency I paid the hotel bill for a week for a family that had their home burn down. Their daughter had burns over 30 percent of her body and was in the primary children’s hospital and the family needed assistance with several things at once. The red cross was able to help some and some other people also go involved.

The Church also has the ability to help people with food,clothing, furniture and other items in time of need. The goal is to help lift the people so they can pay their own expenses so service missionaries help train people in budgeting and analyze their situation to help them get back on track and be self sufficient. Normally the church does not pay rent for people each month or their bills. An example of when this might happen would be a situation that recently happened in my branch where a sister got cancer and we helped with some of her expenses during her treatment. The church doe not normally pay large medical bills either but helping with food and clothing can help families so they are not as stressed. I have assisted many people that are non members of the church as well. We have to be very careful because there are those that would seek to take advantage of the church and this has happened so Bishops and Branch Presidents strive to use the money of the Lord prudently.

Another resource that the Church has is the DI program which works closely with the employment office of the church to help people get trained or get a job or a better job. In my situation we have used this extensively where we could. DI can also help people with English classes to help immigrants learn the basics and get a job. The concern here is that the DI program requires people to be in the country legally to take part in this program. Many of the people I deal with are not here legally although that is not may job to even ask so we make that program available and explain the limitations. I have thoughts on immigration although that would be a whole other blog.

I mentioned that the Wards and Branches are organized and they function as a team.

Bishopric or Branch Presidency – Bishop/ Branch President and Two Counselors with a clerk and an executive secretary
High Priest Group (Leader and 2 assistants – These are Stake Callings)
Elders Quorum Presidency also President, 2 counselors and a secretary (They will call instructors as well to help them teach)
Priest Quorum Presidency – Bishop or Branch President is the President with 2 boys 16-17 being assistants
Teachers Quorum Presidency – Four young men are called to serve between the ages of 14-15
Deacons Quorum Presidency – Four young men from 12-13 are called to serve
Relief Society Presidency (Oldest and largest women’s group in the world) They also call 2 counselors and secretary. The RS President works constantly with the Bishop or BP
Primary Presidency – Four Women are called and the Bishop or Branch President works very closely with the Primary President.
Sunday School Presidency – There are about 10 instructors under them
Young Men Presidency – They lead the Young Men groups and help them with the Duty To God program to progress and prepare to service a mission and go through the temple
Young Women Presidency – The girls area also divided into 3 age groups 12-13 – 14-15, 16-17 and at the age of 18 they go into the relief society – Same as YM goals different program
Other callings such as library, family history, single young adult callings for men and women etc…

The new material is helping us allow the young men and young women to help teach the classes and learn how to be leaders.

Note: When a President is called by the Bishopric or Branch Presidency the President or leader of that organization will pray and decide on the counselors and secretary and other callings. The Elders Quorum President and the High Priest Group leaders are stake callings since they deal with the higher priesthood.

So I have mentioned the organization and that the calling requires quite a bit of time. Without may counselors I don’t know what I would do because they help out so much. The entire team works together to help the people come unto Christ.

Serving the hispanic community for the past 5 years in a Hispanic Branch of the LDS Church has been a great opportunity, Blessing and an enriching experience.

I don’t claim to be a writer and I have not spend time editing this so please forgive any of the spelling and grammar errors. This is a tiny glimpse of the calling and not really even an overview

Debate both sides logically and emotionally

They have to be planted, grown, picked, packed, shipped and sold.

They have to be planted, grown, picked, packed, shipped and sold.

Often we make decisions based on several factors including logic, facts, our own opinions, the opinions of others, personal experience, how we feel and our emotions. We tend to make these types of decisions for voting, church, jobs and life. As much as we would like to think that we make logical decisions often we end up using our gut feelings to make important decisions. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it is not so good.

Trying to convince someone that they are on the wrong path as far as religion goes is difficult because they may have been in a church or group of people with years or maybe their parents were part of a church before they were even born so it is more of a culture thing than religion. You can’t argue faith based commitments.

A friend of mine told me that they ended up voting for a certain person just because they did not feel good about the other person and it had nothing to do with facts or their voting track record or the issues. The same applies to religion and our personal purchases. It may be better if we did things like SPOCK from Star Trek but it does not work out that way.

I work at a large Alarm company (Peak Alarm) and we are the only company that has a full Guard/Patrol and a Local UL listed Central Station in Utah and there are several other positive aspects about this company as far as them being insured, licensed, factory trained and the list goes on but if your neighbor heard of a negative experience regarding Peak Alarm then logic gets thrown out the window. I know of two such negative experiences that I read on the Internet about Peak Alarm and one of them was posted on several web sites so we investigated and found that this person did not complain to the Better Business Bureau because I assume they did not want both sides investigated. This person had not paid their bill and Peak tried to collect and when accounting did not get a payment plan set up they sent it to collections and the person then got upset.

Another instance of a negative comment was about fire code. The customer wanted Peak Alarm to do the work without contacting the fire marshal and as per Utah and National code for commercial work we are required to notify the local fire marshal and get approval for the work. This customer felt that Peak Alarm through them under the bus and yet we are required to notify the AHJ Fire Marshal. So just these two negative experiences can pass by word of mouth to many other people which can cause people to ignore the real figures and facts about Peak Alarm and go with someone else because they did not study out the information and find out the real truth. One of our competitors has over 3000 complaints in the last year compared with 3 complaints that have been filed against Peak Alarm Better Business Bureau web site www.bbb.org

Our management team has read all the negative feedback and used it to put an action plan in place to make Peak Alarm better. Changes were made in our accounting department and we changed who we used to do collections because apparently they were not the nicest people in the world when calling to make the collections. We have given training to all of our employees and we do so on an ongoing basis. Peak overall is a great company with four offices, a Guard/Patrol division, central Station for monitoring, alarm division, AV division and not only are all of our employees licensed but they also go through the FBI background check and if they cannot pass it they lose their job at Peak Alarm.

Our average monthly monitoring rate with interactive services to arm and disarm remotely (We call it Elite control) starts right around $46 dollars a month and most of our competitors start around $49 and go up from there. We can compete well with guard services because you can contract directly with us rather than paying your alarm company who would hire a guard company so we can be competitive in pricing.

Call Larry Love (801) 428 1384 Larry@peakalarm.com Peak Alarm web site ask for Larry Love Larry is certified with the State Fire Marshal’s office as a Master Fire Alarm Tech Level 3 and also Larry is NICET II Certified in Fire Alarm, he is an AXIS Certified Camera Professional and Certified in Access Control Systems and is Certified to design UL2050 High Security Systems such as Government SCIFs.

LULAC Utah Press release applauds Peruvian producer

Press release: May 4, 2016

Peruvian produces a musical about Jewish people in English

The Mission of the League of United Latin American Citizens is to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States. www.LULAC.org

As the Utah State director of LULAC, I would like to recognize Andres Paredes, a native born Peruvian, as an example of an individual who is living the principles LULAC promotes. Some of his outstanding accomplishments include graduate of the University of Utah with a bachelors in biology, fourth year medical student, commissioner on the Salt Lake City planning commission, and author/composer of the recent musical production, “The Prodigal Son,” a musical that will be presented in the Salt Lake City Conference Center Theater on May 12, 13 and 14, 2016. He is an example to all of us of what can be obtained through education and hard work. LULAC Utah congratulates Andres on his debut with his first professional musical production.

Larry Love
Utah LULAC State Director


Noticias Mayo 4, 2016

Peruano produjo un musical de judíos en inglés.

La Misión de la Liga de Ciudadanos Latinoamericanos Unidos (LULAC) es mejorar la situación económica, los logros educativos, la influencia política, vivienda, la salud y los derechos civiles de la población hispana de los Estados Unidos. www.LULAC.org

Como el director de LULAC del estado de Utah, me gustaría reconocer a Andrés Paredes, un nativo del Perú, como un ejemplo de un individuo que está viviendo los principios que LULAC promueve. Algunos de sus logros sobresalientes incluyen graduado de la Universidad de Utah, con una licenciatura en biología, estudiante de cuarto año de medicina, comisionado de la Comisión de Planificación de Salt Lake City, y autor / compositor de la reciente producción musical, “El Hijo Pródigo”, un musical que será presentado en el edificio de la Conferencias de Salt Lake City el 12 de mayo, 13 y 14, 2016. Es un ejemplo para todos nosotros de lo que se puede obtener a través de la educación y el trabajo. LULAC Utah felicita a Andrés en su debut con su producción musical.

Larry Love
Director Estatal de Utah

Tickets for The Prodigal Son by Andres Paredes

The Prodigal Son from 2013 produced by Andres Paredes

The Prodigal Son from 2013 produced by Andres Paredes

LDS guidelines misunderstood on same sex families

It's about respect for the families and the children

It’s about respect for the families and the children

I love the fact that we live in a free country and we are able to worship how, where and what we may or not worship if that is your decision. Religion does not always define us as who we are although many times it plays a big part of who we are, how we act and how we treat others. Church should cause a positive change in our lives.

A recent announcement has caused quite a bit of emotion and concern.

On November 5, 2015 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints made some changes to handbook 1 which is the guidelines for Bishops, Branch Presidents and Stake Presidents of the Church.

The update affirmed one of the church’s fundamental doctrines that God recognizes marriages between a man and a woman. It also clarified that entering a same-sex marriage is considered apostasy and requires a church disciplinary council. The update states that homosexual relations, especially sexual cohabitation, are serious transgressions for which a disciplinary council may be necessary.

The Church recognizes that recently the law has been changed to allow same sex marriages in the US and many other countries throughout the world. The changes to the handbook make it very clear that this is not a rite that exists in the church nor will it be reconciled with church doctrine. Elder Christofferson one of the Apostles released a video which explains this in a very clear and loving way.

He explains that members of the church should be loving, understanding and accepting of everyone although we take a very clear stance on what is right and wrong. Just because the world begins to accept a certain behavior does not make it right.
The savior Jesus Christ was very loving although he did not redefine sin or excuse it although he taught forgiveness and love when people wished to repent. Sin does not bring happiness and there is no kindness in misdirecting people as to what is right and wrong. This clarification allows for no question or doubt.

LDS Policy Video

(Link to the video, you can copy and paste it to your browser if the link is not active)

Elder Christofferson said the new policy restricting children of same-sex couples from baptism until they are 18 originated from “a desire to protect children in their innocence and in their minority years”.

“We don’t want the child to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the church are very different.” This is about respecting families and parents. This policy comes from a desire to protect children.

The same applies to blessing a baby because that makes them a child a record and that child will be assigned home teachers and be on the roles of the church and this may not be in the best interest of the child for many reasons. The blessing triggers many expectations and conflicts that the child should not have to deal with, including the differences in the family and church for those living in same sex relationship families. The Church has had the same practice with polygamist families and children.

The release of this clarification came about to help families not to exclude them. Some people say there will be many unintended circumstances from the clarification. The church has considered the implications of the policy and there will be exceptions made depending on specific circumstances. The pressure that can be placed on a child can be great and the church does not want to have children deal with issues that could place them between choosing their parents or the church.

Some people are quoting the second article of faith from the church where it states “we believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” Some feel that this new policy is punishing children for the actions of their parents and feel that this is anything but loving. Once again the Church does not want to pit children against their parents so this is not a punishment but a policy to help families.

Children can become informed and make their own decisions when they become of age to do so. To allow these ordinances before 18 could cause many problems for the child and the family hence the church is choosing a prudent course of action based on the welfare of the children and the families of same sex cohabitation families or marriages.

If you believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true and you believe the scripture that says that once the Gospel was restored in the latter days it would never again be taken off the earth then you believe that the Prophet and the Apostles receive revelation and guidance from God hence we need to trust in God, that He knows what he is doing. If you don’t believe that the Church is true why would you want to be a part of it? Why would you want your children blessed or baptized in such a church? Some people do it because it is part of their culture and it has become part of them and it is hard to leave your culture.

A co-worker of mine told me that her daughter is gay and she is not an active member of the church although after the release of this policy she intends on writing a letter to take her name off the church records. She said maybe this is the churches way of getting rid of all the black sheep. The negative spin the press put on this new information upset many people and most people won’t take time to watch Elder Christofferson’s video to understand the reasons the church is doing what it is doing.

Many say that perception is reality or becomes your reality and if you just read the new articles and comments that were negative your perception will be negative and if you have read both sides then you can decide how you feel and where you want to stand on this matter. Many comments have compared this information to the Church not giving Black men the priesthood and how that ended up changing.

The church said they do not want to mislead anyone into thinking that the Lord will change his mind that sexual relations between two men or two woman is a sin and will not be accepted. When the news first released the information and I read the article I said to myself that I wanted to wait and read and hear the official statements from the apostles and Prophet before making any judgement or opinions. There are people that I love that will be affected and this is a sensitive matter.

I am one of those 29,621 Branch Presidents and Bishops that will receive these updates and I firmly believe that the Apostles and Prophets are inspired of God to help administrate the church and minister and bear witness of God and Christ.

Before anyone coming out of a polygamist family or a same sex marriage family can serve a mission they would need to disavow the idea of polygamy or same sex marriage. They would not have to disavow their family. A representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints needs to have a clear belief in all the doctrines of the church and this policy is not put in place to divide families but to no mislead people on the stance of the church and to respect families.

The church avoids baptism of Muslims in many instances because of the problems that could occur within their families and respecting and acknowledging these issues is very important.

The church still feels that human rights are very important, protecting rights of all to not be discriminated against and recently the church supported these laws and will continue to do so.

Elder Christofferson said that the church does not practice mind control and that people are free to have their own opinions although he said it can become a problem if a member of the church begins to advocate and lobby against the accepted standards and doctrines of the church. When members write books or begin to influence people against the church standards and doctrines that is when the Church takes disciplinary action because belonging to the church means that you support the standards and doctrines and when you get to a point where you do not accept and support the standards of the church then the question is asked if you really should continue to be a member of such church.

So to some it up, the church is not seeking to keep blessings away from people that want to be associated with the church nor is the church trying to exclude people, they are trying to protect innocent children from conflicts they should not have to deal with at such an early age. Having an church teach your children something completely opposite to what they see at home will cause conflict in the family, conflict within the child and is not be in the best interest of the child or the family.

Some comments I found interesting:

I’m so sad. I have to say something though. I believe that the LDS church’s new policy about denying baptism to children of same sex couples is about respect for family. It is about respect for that family and it invites all would be converters, (grandparents, neighbors, worriers in Zion,) to step back and respect the choices of that family to live an out and proud LGBT lifestyle, complete with children they love who will explore and want to learn about faith. How can you ask a child to be baptized into a faith that says that the marriage they were born into is not right? That’s so much confusion. And so for those might try to rip families apart by saving the children, the mandate is clear. Leave the children alone. Honor the parents by establishing a firm policy so that children will not be asked to make these choices that pit them against their parents. Having said that, the most confusing part is finding my own reconciliation between the faith that I love and my knowledge that being LGBT is not a choice and love is always the answer. Still working through things. Still praying for understanding. Eve Speer Garcia – Another posting of a friend from facebook 110515

If there ever are exceptions, they can be approved through the First Presidency. My parents were polygamous and I couldn’t be baptized without meeting the same criteria. I wrote to the First Presidency, met with an apostle and was approved for baptism. It took me six months but so worth it! The Church is true. It is worth waiting for. Abby Wheelwright (One of my good friends) Facebook 110615

Here is a blog that put most of the issues into context and explained the issues very well

Great answer to this issue in this blog click here

What have you noticed?

We were honored to work with Cactus Jack in this production. Larry Love on left, Cactus Jack center and Claudia Paredes on right

We were honored to work with Cactus Jack in this production. Larry Love on left, Cactus Jack center and Claudia Paredes on right

Eat and sleep when you can. Always have extra water with you. (In your home, car and on your person when walking). Focus on the most important things. Avoid toxic substances, people and get them out of your life as soon as possible. Perfect practice makes perfect. Don’t ever depend on anyone else to pack or take care of your stuff, ever. Say less and listen more. Write important items down and review them. Have a book with you in case you have to wait for long periods of time. Expect the unexpected and learn from it don’t complain when situations don’t turn out like you think they should have. Always be observant of who and what is in a room or place. Always clean your equipment so it will be ready when you need it to function. Always have a backup plan. Don’t ever just have one pen with you.

These are a few of the things I remember from my Military training. I strive to notice what others don’t, although I find myself being caught up in the norm of complacency, movies, TV and the busy life that ends up wasting my time. A doctor told me about a strange concept once called intuitive medicine, I won’t let it take the place of professional medical advice although it was interesting. He said many times your body will tell you what it needs if we will only listen to it. Example: When I eat too much cheese or the wrong type of cheese I get allot of flem so we can gauge the appropriate amount of things we eat so it won’t cause problems. All of us have heard “Moderation in all things” and I believe it.

People can be extreme with anything and then it can turn into an addiction. My definition of addiction is

“Anything that you do that causes negative consequences and you keep doing it anyway”

It could be spending too much time on any one thing which causes you to ignore your family or the important things in your life. I have seen friends spend so much time at the gym or watching sports that they began to loose their families, I have seen people become too religious or spend too much time on reading that their relationships suffer.

All too often people fall into addiction and then claim they are depressed. Real depression hits you when there is no cause for it otherwise it is not depression if there is a cause. If your mother dies you may say you are depressed which is incorrect because there is a cause for your sadness so it is not depression. Learning to deal with STUFF is important. Once a licensed therapist told one of my children “What does your inner therapist tell you?” they thought about it and answered and the response was actually quite insightful. We are now back to intuitive medicine listening to our own bodies or our inner therapist.

Strive to have balance in your life by looking at what is most important at different times of your life. For young people some of the legs of their four legged table that required you to have all four legs on the ground and supported might be the leg of Education, another leg may be Family and spiritual, another leg may be taking care of your body by eating and exercising and another leg may be emotional and mental support. Ignoring anyone of these legs can make the table fall. Often adults spend too much time at work and the other legs fall or they spend too much time away from family doing something else and they end up in divorce. I work with lots of people that place most of their important on their financial leg or work and money. They lack in their personal relationships and their lives are out of balance.

I have a friend and his legs are as follows: CHURCH – MUSIC – WORK – FAMILY

This is not a bad setup because this man is quite balanced and is very happy. He spends time serving others and has a great and healthy relationships with his friends and family. This friend of mine just finished medical school so he concentrated on EDUCATION for years and now he is taking a break and composing music.

When I was young my four legs were KARATE – MUSIC – SCHOOL – CHURCH and later I added girls to the mix which can be quite distracting. I am not saying we can only have four legs although I am saying that spending too much time on any leg can cause you to be off balance.

So the military affected me and I will hold on to those teachings for the rest of my life and recently I have been observing the lives of many people and trying to learn from watching them. I am so grateful for the life that I have and I am trying to put my life in order so it becomes balanced. Is your life balanced or do you need to make some changes?

One question at a time 16 Mormon Myths

Intrusion Systems in Utah

Not everything you hear is true.

Not all the information you get from the Internet or from 3rd parties including books is true. I am not an official spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons / LDS Church) I am however an active Member and local leader of the Church.

1. POLYGAMY: Mormons have more than one wife. Over a hundred years ago Mormons practiced polygamy and only a small percent of the church did so and there were several reasons for it although one of the main reasons is that the Mormons believe that everything needs to be restored and the prophets of old were given more than one wife in the Bible and that is one of the principles that was restored. This has not been practiced for over 100 years and at the time the Mormons started polygamy there was not a law against it, later when some laws were passed they stopped the practice although they did not divorce the wives they already had and many of the Mormons went into hiding so as not to get arrested by the Federal Marshals. Many Mormons fled to Mexico at that time and there are still colonies in Mexico that have Mormon roots. Any active Mormon today would be excommunicated if it were found out that they were living in polygamy.

2. SUPERIOR THAN OTHERS: Mormons say and think they are better than everyone else. Obviously this is a myth although with many myths there comes some truth and it is a perception. Doctrine does not teach that Mormons are any better than anyone else and you will notice that the attitude of Mormons in Utah and outside of Utah are a bit different. Some Mormons may seem more judgmental than others or may act self righteous. In reality every person on earth is a child of God and no one is better than anyone else. God does favor the obedient in the Bible although many current Mormons don’t fall into that category of being obedient. Mormons should be happier than most people because of the hope and knowledge they have about the afterlife. Interestingly enough many members of the church end up feeling inadequate and get depressed because they don’t feel they are doing enough and they don’t feel they are perfect enough. Doctrine is clear that we won’t obtain perfection in this life. Others overeat or overindulge in other areas because the church prohibits smoking, drinking alcohol, black and green tea, coffee, the improper use of prescription drugs and illicit drugs. Mormons according to their doctrine have information that the rest of the world does not have and hence they are a very strong missionary church with over 80,000 missionaries that are volunteering their time and money to share this information.

3. EARN YOUR OWN SALVATION: Mormons or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe that they can and need to EARN their way to heaven. This is a myth. Mormons believe that we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ although they also believe that to activate this grace you need to do more than give lip service. The act of saying one accepts Jesus as their savior is not enough. Jesus himself said, “If ye love me keep my commandments” So someone that truly loves God and Jesus will strive to do what is right and repent and try to change when they fall short. The actual Mormon doctrine about the atonement of Jesus Christ is very beautiful because it states that those that accept him and strive to do his will can receive forgiveness and that he suffered for more than just our sins and we can get relief from our sorrow, pain, heartache and loneliness. Christ himself also said that not everyone that says LORD LORD will enter into his kingdom and for those that are familiar with this verse you will will understand the context.

4.MEN BECOMING GODS: Mormons believe they can become just like God HIMSELF and his wife if your a woman. Part of this is true. Members of the Church of Latter Day Saints do believe in a mother in heaven and they also believe that we can progress and eventually become perfect through the suffering and atonement of Jesus Christ so that one day we could assist God in his work of creating worlds and procreation. Mormons do not believe that they can become just like God or take over his position. So becoming a god is not the same thing as taking over his position. The only God we have anything to do with is God the Father and of course his Son Jesus who according to the bible became Lord of Lords, King of Kings. Since members of the church will never end up suffering for the sins of the people like Jesus did they don’t believe they will be a God in the same way that God the Father is our God. “As man is God once was and as God is man may become”. This type of teaching has existed in the church since the early 1830s.

5.ADAM BROUGHT FROM ANOTHER PLANET: Mormons believe that Adam and Eve were brought from another world and placed here on this earth. This sounds like an alien story although this is not a myth. Mormons actually believe this. They also believe that God send Jesus to create the earth and plant the garden of Eden and without getting the seeds from somewhere planting would be creating out of nothing and what God did was organize matter not create matter.

6. MEN ON THE MOON: A Mormon prophet said that there could be men living on the moon. This seems to be confirmed although when you research it many people of the time believed the same thing. There were even article published where they said they were looking through a large telescope at the moon and they were describing what the men in the moon were doing. This turned out to be a hoax that was published. What you can read from what the records say is that the Prophet believed that people actually lived on other planets and this is still a strong belief in the Mormon faith today. They believe that God created (organized) many worlds “worlds without number” and placed men on each of them. So the belief in life on other planets is not so outrageous although the theory of men living on the moon was something that many people of the day accepted and they did not feel it was far fetched because of the doctrines they were learning and the moon was just the closest planet type place knew about or could see.

7. BLACKS ARE INFERIOR AND THERE IS A CURSE OF DARK SKIN ON THEM BECAUSE OF DISOBEDIENCE IN HEAVEN: This is a MYTH and not a MYTH because the attitude in the US at the time was what it was and that affected Mormons and non-Mormons. The statement is untrue although the perception at the time was that it was true. Some people say that perception is reality. Can we have an incorrect perception of things? Yes we can and they did. Joseph Smith did ordain Elisha Able as the first black Elder although Brigham Young did not continue the practice. Besides the fact that they would not be able to magnify their callings in the priesthood because of the lack of respect at the time the attitude of the Mormons was not any better than the rest of the country at that time. They looked for justification and reasons and they actually held those beliefs which would be different than official doctrine but the belief was that blacks has not been as obedient as others before we were born so they were cursed with a Dark Skin. We know this was wrong. Should God have told the Prophets and Apostles back in the 1800s to change to give them the priesthood and should God have made the Mormons change the way they were acting? Some people cannot conceive of a God that would allow this to go on. God allows men to sin and to make errors in order to learn and grow and he does not force us or take our freedom away. God has all knowledge and he know how long it would take for progress to be made and where it would happen. God let men and the Mormons learn and grow and obviously we are doing better than we were back then although there is a long way to go. In 1978 The Mormon Prophet announced in Conference that every worthy male member 12 and above could receive the priesthood. There were many faithful black members that had waited for years for this to occur and the documentary “No-one knows my story” tells the story in a very powerful way. Check it out. Do I personally think less of the Mormon Prophets that did not change this doctrine sooner or did not bring out the untruth of the prevailing attitudes about blacks? No, I don’t think less of them. I know they were men and had faults and they dedicated themselves to a work that they felt was important and true and they concentrated on that work of preaching the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth. Did they have shortcomings, faults and sins? Yes they did and so do we although they were part of a great and marvelous work.

8. JOSEPH SMITH TRANSLATED THE BOOK OF MORMON GOLD PLATES WITH THE A SET OF SPECTACLES AND A METAL AND STONE BREASTPLATE THAT WAS USED FOR TRANSLATING: This is a MYTH because Joseph used a SEER stone in a HAT for much of the translation and he got to a point where he did not even need that. This information hurts some peoples perception of the Church because they believed it was the case for so long that they did not know there ws any other way. Joseph Smith translated the plates with the gift and the power of God. It is believed that he also used the breastplate and the so called eyeglasses part of the time but much of the translation was done with the SEER STONE. I learned this many years ago when studying about the Book of Mormon and to me with was very interesting and did not hurt my testimony of the Church at all.

9. JOSEPH SMITH WAS A GOLD DIGGER AND TREASURE HUNTER: This is NOT a Myth but it is TRUE. He belonged to a group of men that did exactly that, looked for buried treasure. This was not uncommon at the time. No wonder the men got so upset when he claimed he had found a large box with gold plates (most likely around 60 lbs or so) The men were so upset that they tried many things to get their hands on the plates including paying a physic to find the hidden plates and at once point the medium took them to the barrel making shop of the smiths only to find that when they dug up the floor boards the box the plates were once hidden in was empty because God warned Joseph to move the plates. There are many interesting stories about this. If you belonged to a group like this and made an agreement to share the treasure imagine how upset you would be when one of those from your group found gold and did not share it with you. Some people believe Joseph actually found the gold plates and then made up the story of the angel to throw them off track and as a story to pacify the people that wanted the gold. Others say he made all the stories up. When you study the life and read his journals you find out how complex he really was. The other possibility is that the entire story really was true.

Don’t believe everything you read or hear. This goes for Mormonism as well as other religions. Checking with someone that is in a position to answer you is the best option as well as looking at official sources of doctrine making sure you are reading in context which means reading before and after the specific verse or verses. Many people that write books or blogs against the LDS/Mormon faith do not include all of the story and leaving information out is just as bad as adding false information which occurs quite often. If you want to know more I suggest you ask the missionaries to come and visit you. Actually reading the Book of Mormon is another step going right to the source rather than reading all the negative information about it.

Can you think of any other Mormon Myths?

God’s laws

There is a reaction for every action

There is a reaction for every action

1.Something that seems very important to God is obedience. We learn in the Bible that when God placed Adam and Eve in the garden he gave them some rules or instructions of what they should do and what they should not do yet they were told they could choose because if the chose to break the rules or the commandments there would be consequences. Later on we see men added hundreds of commandments and the Bible was full of different little rules and Christ later got on their case because of the picky ways and their strict rules. He gave examples of the Ox in the hole and so you pull it out on the sabbath or not, he spoke of people that prayed just to be seen of others and not for the right reasons. This law of obedience continues to be important today just as it was in the day of Adam. Some people feel that being obedient and conforming is wrong and they say we should be rebellious and creative. They say that Jesus was a non-conformist. I would say that if we feel there are unjust laws that we should go about changing them in legal ways. I do admit that the example of Rosa Parks is a good one and there are times when the government needs to be corrected by the people.

2. Later we learn about animal sacrifice. In the old testament we read about people sacrificing animals and the entire purpose of this was symbolic of the future sacrifice Jesus would make when he would suffer for our sins and have his life taken on the cross. Men were commanded by God to sacrifice and specific instructions were given. Later in the Bible we read that God no longer wanted animal sacrifice but a broken heart and contrite spirit. As time went on a better understanding of The Law of sacrifice came about and Christ himself taught people to forgive and that they could be forgiven. He taught love and said “If ye love me keep my commandments” the attitude of why and how we should sacrifice changed. They no longer had to kill birds or other animals to be forgiven.

3.We also learn more about the Gospel or the good news. Understand that men are not forced to obey God although they are told that when they do they will be blessed and when they do not there will be consequences. Some people believe that when Moses came down off the mountain the first time he had a higher law of the Gospel more like what Christ later taught and when he came down and the people were clearly not ready for the higher law he broke the tablets and went back up to get the 10 commandment which were simplified version of the law. Christ said “Moses said thou shalt not kill but I say unto you that you should not even be angry with your brother. This type of law or higher law requires more discipline, love and commitment. Do men obey laws because they are afraid of the consequences (hell) or do they obey because they love God? In the Bible we read where a man asked Christ what the most important commandments were and Jesus distilled all ten into two. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, might, mind and strength and love thy neighbor as thyself. These commandments would lead to the last paragraph where I talk about a life based on Christ’s teachings where people want to do the right thing because of the love they have for God and each other not because they are afraid of being caught in sin.

4.The Law of Morality given by God in the scriptures became more clear when Christ taught. Christ said “Moses said ye shall not commit adultery but I say unto you that you should not even think lustful thoughts.” Obviously lustful thoughts could lead to adultery. Adultery is having sex with a married person to whom you are not married. Fornecation is having sex with a person that is not married but it is also a serous sin. In the Bible there were serious punishments handed out to those that broke this law of morality and later when Christ was preaching he made a very poignant example when a group of men were going to stone a woman they had found in adultery. Christ said let him that hath no sin cast the first stone and then when all the men dropped their rocks and left he told the woman that he was not going to condemn her either and yet he told her to go and sin no more. This is what is expected after someone repents, that they stop doing the sin and begin a new life. True repentance is not just accepting Jesus as our savior, it also include a change in our hearts, a change in our attitude that requires us to love God and others and show this love with our actions. It is true we cannot earn our way to heaven although as it states in Timothy “Faith without works is dead” Someone that has true faith will naturally bring forth good works although we need to understand that it is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we are saved not not through our own works.

Christ’s teachings also included information that could lead people to believe in a way of life where everyone could help each other, share and live in peace together. This law or way of Charity which would be a true love for Christ would allow people to live the above higher law of the Gospel in peace where everyone would share responsibilities, their talents and of themselves. Most societies have not gotten to a point where they could live such a law and prosper. Some of the communes that have tried this either failed in the way they were set up or in the practice because they were not set up and administered in God’s way but in in the ways of men. Some Christians believe that when Christ comes back that men will live in peace for a 1000 years and life will be much different not fighting against one another and having peace for 1000 years. What a beautiful vision this would be.

One question at a time 15 being right

Would you get close to her?

Would you get close to her?

Being right often gets in the way of having a good relationship or a great one. We should not let people walk all over us although don’t get caught up in the small things. Ask yourself what really matters, will this small trivial thing really matter 5 or 10 years from now?

Sometimes being right does matter even when we are swallowing our pride and trying to be humble. We don’t want to give up our principles and we don’t want to admit that we could have been wrong. Sometimes people will hang on to ideas, thoughts, feelings and beliefs even when it does not make sense to others.

In many third world countries people have superstitions and beliefs that may not make sense to us. They make seem silly or foolish yet the people continue to believe in them. In Guatemala people will place a small piece of red thread on the forehead of a baby when they get hiccups and they strongly believe that this will help. Does the string actually make a difference, is it the persons faith that makes something like this work? Family or culture traditions continue to be taught even though society is moving forward. Some of the young people point out to their parents the foolishness of these old ways of thinking and they let their parents know what a myth is and often they often the older generation because of their lack of respect. Interestingly enough I have taken time to listen to many of these old traditions from the Philippines, Mexico and Guatemala. Sometimes there may be some truth among the traditions and learning them and respecting the older people enough to be interested makes all the difference in the world.

I suppose learning some of your culture’s traditions and respecting the elders is very different than allowing your entire life to be determined based on what your parents believe. Each generation has to decide these things for themselves. Religion overall is evolving in such a way and it seems to be changing because of the Internet and all the available information that is out there. We do need to be careful as we can get so much information and much of it is not dependable.

Having faith in something that you cannot see is difficult. We look at the effect of religion around the world and we look at the effect of it on our parents, family and culture and overall we need to ask if it has benefited them or not. People are deciding to move into other aspects of being spiritual and often these do not include a religion or church. Organized churches can help us or sometimes they can close us in from the world where we close ourselves off to others. Analysing our past, our present, our beliefs is not a bad thing. Sometimes loosing something we have had helps.

China has been learning for thousands of years and some of their herb remedies and things like acupuncture techniques have been honed over so many generations and some of the herbs may not be based in science although I have seen people treated with these things when traditional medicine was not effective.

The cure is often the disease

Los pasos de arrepentimiento

El hijo prodigo. Aqui estoy como padre en este musical.

El hijo prodigo. Aqui estoy como padre en este musical.


Hay que reconocer que necesitamos cambiar y tenemos que tener el deseo de cambiar.

Como recibir el perdón:

1. Tener el deseo de cambiar

2. La fe en Cristo conduce al arrepentimiento (Véase Alma 34)

3. Sentimos pesar según Dios (Véase 2 Corintios 7: 9-10) Reconocemos que lo que hicimos o estamos haciendo no está bien.

4. Dejamos de hacer lo malo y continuamos haciendo las cosas correctas.

5. Confesamos nuestros pecados, y confesamos pecados graves a los líderes de la Iglesia, quienes nos pueden ayudar
a arrepentirnos (Véase D.Y C. 58: 43) ORAR – Pide perdón a Dios y a las personas.

6. Restitución – Hacer todo lo posible para corregir los problemas que nuestras acciones hayan causado. (Ejemplo: Si robaste algo debe pagarlo)

Recibimos el perdón: el remordimiento y el pesar son reemplazados por la paz. (Véase Alma 36: 17-21)


Have a desire to change
Faith in Jesus Christ leads to repentance
Feel bad when we sin
Recognize that what we did or are doing is wrong
Stop doing bad things and do good things – Leave places and people better than you found them.
Confess our sins – In prayer and also to the proper people – Say I’m sorry and ask for forgiveness.
Restitution – Do everything possible to correct the problems our actions caused. (Pay back etc…)
Receive forgiveness sorrow and hurt are replaced by peace

One question at a time 14 answers

Lets get along

Lets get along

An error that many Mormons make is trying to get people to join their church for the wrong reasons.

Most Mormons learn their basic doctrines and when you ask them about their Church they will quote the 13 Articles of faith which goes over their basic beliefs. Many Mormons are a bit pushy and try to get you to come to Church. They feel it is their duty to help you, to encourage you to learn about their religion. They feel they are obligated to share the gospel which is part of the promises they make when they become members of the Church.

The problem is that most Mormons or LDS people don’t know how to go about sharing the gospel the right way or in an effective way. I myself normally give out too much information and too many facts which would scare most people away fast. Some of them feel they need to become your friend by inviting you to play a sport and unfortunately when you play the sport and don’t accept the gospel message sometimes the Mormons stop being your friend which is nuts and sad. I suppose those people just go on to the next person and try it all over again.

If we as mormons were more concerned about the questions other have instead of our own prepared answers we might actually have more success. In a time when most religions are loosing people not to other religions but to sports, hobbies and attitudes of “I don’t have time because of work or family” Mormons really need how to share their message to show how being Mormon will help their lives if they join the Church.

Many people don’t really want to be helped but they have a desire to help so we all need to feel needed. If the LDS Church were more inclusive and let people know they were needed they would get more people to come to Church. So I am admitting the Church is not inclusive? Yes I am, you see sometimes the church seems like a club and when people that don’t conform to the LOOK or the rules come they get looked down on. We have a young man that has been investigating the Church that has very long hair (very nice and clean) and some people have made comments about his hair in a negative manner. This just shows the insecurities of people because it should not be about the hair but about the person.

Other people feel the church can financially help them and they try to use the church in that way. This works for a while although later on when the Bishop wants them to do service and assignments they lose interest in the Church because they can no longer get free things without doing something so they leave.

The people that actually get into the doctrine and find that the church helps them because better and have more joy are the ones that can really spread the gospel in a genuine way because they are happy people. You see, in any group of people you will have some of them that are sad, depressed, some that are happy, some that are mean, some that are nice and others that are not so nice. The key is getting into the doctrine and helping people see it can help them become happy, it can help them change and not be mean, it can help them learn to be more loving people. This only happens when people want to change and have a desire to be better.

To do this we really should address their concerns individually and answer their questions not with our canned answers but with a genuine heart.