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Hi I'm Gary

I was raised atheist. Now I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I am a father of two incredible daughters, originally from Oregon - now in Utah. I work for LDS Philanthropies. I love the ocean and most things that involve water, but now I have traded the water for the mountains and love it.

Why I am a Mormon

I grew up in an atheist household. In my youth and through high school my best friend was Mormon. I could not understand how my friend and others could believe in a "God". Whether my friends we Mormon, Catholic or Methodist, I would contend with them on the validity of religion, the Bible and God. When we were younger my friend had given me a copy of the Book of Mormon. I kept the book tucked away under other books in my closet. A few weeks after I graduated from high school we moved to a new home. I had placed my books on the nightstand in my bedroom. One evening that summer I came home and went into my room to go to sleep. As I lay in bed I grabbed the book that was on the top of the pile; it was the Book of Mormon. I opened the cover of the book and read the simple inscription my friend had left in it many years earlier. She told me how the Book of Mormon had helped her in her life and she knew it could help me. My initial thought was "yeah right." I began to read from the Book of Mormon that evening. One page turned into two and two had turned into twenty. As I read I had a calm feeling that beckoned me to continue to learn. The following day I questioned my friend and her family concerning parts of the reading I had completed the previous evening. After the explanations they invited me to church. I loved going to their church that Sunday. There was something very different about the feelings I had while I sat in the chapel. I felt peace. I had no idea how much my life was changing in such a short amount of time, but I am thankful it did. After church I set up a meeting with the local missionaries. That week I met with them and they taught me about God's plan of happiness. They told me about Jesus Christ and the atonement. This was all so new to me; I still believed that God and Jesus were fictional characters. The missionaries taught me about the scriptures, prophets and the Holy Ghost. Finally, they shared with me the experience that Joseph Smith had as a boy praying to God. The discussion with the missionaries had perked my interest more than I was aware of. On the exterior I acted as if I was not too interested, but my interior was curious and my mind was racing with questions. As a self proclaimed atheist I could not figure out what was going on. That evening while back a home I waited for my family to go to bed. At this point I went into my room, closed my door and turned off the lights. I knelt and prepared to say my first prayer. I felt awkward as I had never prayed before. At first I felt as if I was going to be praying to walls, but I was curious and had to know if the things I was learning were true. I began to ask God if he was there. I asked Him about his Son Jesus Christ. I asked to know them. I asked if Joseph Smith really had seen them as he prayed in his youth. I asked if the Book of Mormon and Bible were the word of God. The thing about my prayer is I really wanted to know if these things were true. I couldn't get the information out of my head. As I was pleading with God to know the truthfulness of these things I began to have a feeling of peace and excitement. The feeling is hard to describe, but it is almost as if a light turned on in my room. A smile shot across my face and I changed. At that very moment I received a witness from God that it was true, that everything I was learning was right. I stayed on my knees for a few moments amazed by the outcome of my prayer. As I got back to my feet my first thought was, "How am I going to tell my family and friends that I believe in God now?" The answer came in time. I told many of this change and others noticed the change in me. I was baptized about five weeks after I said my first prayer. That was eleven years ago. I am very grateful for the gospel in my life. I am grateful for the joy and direction that it has brought me. I am humbled to know that God loves each and every one of His children and wants us to be truly happy. I know my Savior lives and He is the reason I can be forgiven for my weaknesses and faults. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ; it has changed me and made me a better all around person.

How I live my faith

I'm not perfect, but I am trying to become better everyday. One of the things that is helping me to become better is the opportunity that I have to provide service to the youth in our congregation. With five other men I oversee gospel teaching, scouting and activities for the boys that are 12-18 years old. This is a new experience for me, but I am enjoying the opportunity that I have to help the boys prepare to become better men in their lives.

To what do you attribute the growth of the Church?

I attribute the growth of the church to the willingness and desire that its members have in sharing the gospel. One year after I joined the church I decided to serve a two year mission. I went to England and was able to share my experience and beliefs with many others. A lot of people in England were willing to listen to my story because I had recently become a Mormon. I was excited to share with others the blessings that had entered my life. When something makes you happy you want to share it with those around you, this is why the church is growing. Show more Show less