Tag Archives: Word of Wisdom

Sharing My Faith: An Interview with Hunter Romano

Hunter Romano grew up in Woburn, Massachusetts. When he turned twelve and joined the deacons’ quorum he was on crutches with a broken leg that was still mending. That didn’t stop him from passing the sacrament. He and his quorum worked out a way for him to get the job done. Hunter is now a freshman at Brigham Young University.

What are some experiences you had talking with people at Woburn High about how you live and what you believe.

Once they hear I’m a Mormon, people always ask about multiple wives and polygamy. It’s the first thing to explain. Once you explain that then they ask, “What’s the deal with Mormons? What makes you a Mormon and not something else? I say we’re peculiar because of the Word of Wisdom and law of chastity, but it’s more than that. I also talk about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

In the first month of my freshman year of high school, my history teacher brought up Mormons in a lesson but didn’t know that I was one. He made the comment that Mormon men currently still have multiple wives. I spoke up to clarify that we do not and then was asked if I would be comfortable getting in front of the class. I was, and I talked about my faith and answered questions for the rest of the class period.

I find people aren’t interested in the things you would think. When it comes to drinking, smoking, and sex before marriage, they say, “Yeah, those are good to avoid. My religion says the same thing, but in my religion they are overlooked.” They really are more interested in Joseph Smith and the Church’s origins.

Who was your best friend in high school who was not a member of the Church?

His name was John. He played lacrosse and was really busy. Pat was also a good friend. He played on our ward basketball team and attended church because this was a requirement to play. He’d also sleep over at our house. Pat became good friends with Jared, a Mormon friend of mine, and even went to his mission farewell. He came to seminary a couple of times and learned more about the Church that way. At one point, he and I went to a party out of town. I had my “Stormin’ Mormon” sweatshirt on and someone from the other town came up and commented on multiple wives and all the things Mormons can’t do. Pat spoke up first and started answering questions. Pat is now a sophomore at UMass Amherst. I hope one day the missionaries will knock on his door. I hope he’ll read this interview when I invite him.

You’ve talked about some wonderful experiences. In your high school years, did you have some bad experiences being a Mormon?

Yes. In high school kids drink and swear and do things that are not exactly aligned with the gospel. I got comments like, “Why aren’t you drinking? That sucks.” They steered clear of me, saying, “Why talk to the sober kids?” In the girl scene, some girls said, “He’s a goody two shoes.” Sometimes I was not accepted and people steered clear of me because they felt I wasn’t like them. If they can’t respect that, it’s not worth worrying about it.

But you were class president your senior year, right?

That was huge because it put me in a lot of positions where I had to be an example. When setting up certain activities, they would ask me if I was comfortable with this or that aspect. Everyone in the whole school knew I was a Mormon, and they found out that they could learn about my faith from a source other than the Internet.

You are just starting your freshman year at Brigham Young University. Did you always know you wanted to go to BYU?

It was always high on the list because my parents went there. And it’s very affordable! I grew up watching athletics. When I did well in football, I was recruited by Williams College, Middlebury College, and other small New England schools. I prayed about it. What it came down to was to meet more members of the Church, especially girls, and be around people who would put me on the right path to my mission. Going on a mission is such a big goal for me. Being in other environments could have affected my path to a mission, and after a mission it would have been hard to get to Church and hard to meet girls.

Do you feel any concerns about being at BYU?

I’ve gone from being one of the few to one of the many and not having to be the only example. I thought this would make me feel like I could waver. But, as it turns out, people at BYU are great and they help build each other up.

Guest Blogger Annie: Receiving Answers through the Holy Ghost

The evidence of God’s love for his children is abundant. As a loving father, one thing that is very important to him is communicating with his children, which he does by means of the Holy Ghost. After an individual is baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This means that, as we keep ourselves worthy, we can enjoy the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Even those who have not been baptized can feel the influence of this Spirit. This is especially important if you are learning about the gospel, because it means you can ask God questions and he is able to literally answer you. God and Jesus Christ both have physical bodies, just like us. Since the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost, has no physical body, he is able to speak to us through thoughts, feelings, and promptings. Getting in touch with the Holy Ghost is a delicate process. In order to create a relationship with the Holy Ghost, you must behave in a way that invites his presence. God gave us many commandments to help us to do this. Abstaining from alcohol and drugs keeps our minds clear, sharp, and more able to receive communication. Watching movies that do not contain violence, distasteful language, etc. keeps our thoughts in a good place. Following commandments not only keeps us out of situations that are uninviting to the Spirit, but also our obedience shows Heavenly Father that we are responsible and ready to be instructed.

This all must seem a bit hard to swallow—that God can speak to people, and that he can even speak to you. It is a beautiful truth, and fortunately, one that can be easily tested. Once you learn how to access the power of the Holy Ghost, your many questions and doubts about gospel principles, church standards, and our beliefs will begin to come to light. The Holy Ghost will be one of your most important tools in the learning process. So whatare some ways to find out whether the Holy Ghost actually works? Let’s run an experiment.

First, following the commandments is a good place to start. Try to reduce negative influences in your life in order to create a spiritually conducive environment in your heart. Next, start praying to God; have sincere conversations with him in which you tell him your thoughts about the gospel, ask for help to understand the concepts that confuse you, and ask him questions about the concepts you don’t believe. Specifically ask him for help to feel the Spirit. Ask him to help you understand the language of the Spirit, to teach you what the Spirit feels like.

Moroni was a prophet and the final record-keeper of the Book of Mormon, about six hundred years ago. In his conclusion of the record, he gives this invitation and promise: if you read, ponder, and then “ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith… [God] will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:4-5).

If you do not immediately feel that your questions have been answered, don’t worry. Heavenly Father teaches us patience by working on his own timetable. Additionally, the Spirit often speaks to us through the words of prophets—both modern day prophets and those from the scriptures. If you diligently keep listening, reading, studying, and pondering, you will receive an answer, just like Moroni promised.

I know that the Holy Ghost is a real being, and that he has the power to communicate to us the truths of God.  I have learned this for myself through hard work and patience. Though my connection with the Holy Ghost is not perfect, it is one of my favorite relationships. He has the ability to comfort me in times of pain. He helps me learn, both spiritually and academically, beyond my natural abilities. He guides me as I prayerfully make decisions. His influence makes me a better person, more loving, more understanding, and more willing to serve others. He is a dear friend, and I encourage you to prayerfully invite him into your life.

Mormons do have fun

I feel like I spend a decent amount of time defending my very conservative lifestyle as a Mormon and as well as trying to convince my co-workers that Mormons can and DO have fun. The interesting thing that I found is even though my peers perceive my lifestyle choices as odd, they respect me for it and even applaud the fact that I have been able to abstain from pre-marital sex and have never tasted alcohol in a culture where those two things are social norms.

As members of the Mormon church, we are asked to live the Word of Wisdom as well as keep the Law of Chastity. Those are the two main areas of lifestyle that I believe separate Mormons from main stream America.

So what do Mormon’s do to have fun? Personally, I love the outdoors and exploring the city I live in. My friends and I enjoy trying new restaurants, visiting museums, competing in races, taking road trips. We still go out to sports bars once in awhile, but instead get a non-alcoholic drink. Many of my friends enjoy dancing at the various clubs our city has to offer.

As each day goes by, I am more and more grateful for those standards that I have been asked to live by and expected to uphold. Although they seem restricting to others, I feel that they have given me more freedom in my life.

Does the religion you are a part of require you to stay away from certain aspects of the mainstream culture of your country?

Humorous–and Mutual–Misunderstanding

I teach English. I saw this in one of the classrooms at my school as I was walking down the hall. As a Mormon, the top bit caught my eye:

Bless the educated teacher who teaches this to his or her students! I think the Amish are awesome, faithful, and amazing people. Though Mormons and Amish may share many things, I would think that most people know the difference between the two faiths and that neither of them is limited to northeastern United States.

This sort of misunderstanding happens a lot. In my mind, Mormonism is one thing, but to some non-members, it is something very different. We all do it to each other. I know I don’t know nearly enough about Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.

Here’s a typical example of how this plays out:

In my mind being Mormon means thinking about Christ, constantly praying for guidance in life, pondering my relationship with my Heavenly Father, etc. But, some people know Mormons only by stereotypes–some false, some true–that float around in the media and what not.

We believe in Jesus Christ with all our hearts, that we have a direct connection to our Father in Heaven, that we can pray for guidance and help, that the Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets, that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father knows and loves us each personally, no matter who we are. From an Amish man plowing a field to an enlightened Muslim imam preaching in a mosque, God loves each of us. This is the meat of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yes, Mormons abstain from alcohol and cigarettes; we stay away from non-marital sexual relationships; we give 10% of our income to the church for humanitarian assistance and church maintenance. We are peculiar in many ways, but our belief in Jesus Christ is the absolute foundation of our faith. I testify of that!

To those of you non-Mormon readers, I do apologize for any over-generalizations about your religion, culture, etc. that I’ve made. It’s easy to do as humans. Anyone of other faiths experience this type of situation?

Run and Not Be Weary

This past Patriots Day I had the opportunity to watch some of the 115th Boston Marathon in Wellesley. Unfortunately by the time I got there all the elite runners had been through already and all I saw were very tired runners. Some of them were walking and being cheered on by animated spectators.

I did however, follow up on the winners online and I was happy to see that both the winners for the men and women categories had set significant records. The Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai, whose time was 2:02:59, set new Boston Marathon and world records. Caroline Kilel – also from Kenya – set a new record for the Boston Marathon. She finished the race in 2:22:26.

It is impressive how much endurance these guys have to run at an average speed of 13 miles per hour while all I can do is a 30-minute run at 6 mile-per-hour pace. Of course we are talking about serious professional runners.

There is a whole lot of preparation involved in training for a marathon and the Lord has taught us something called the Word of Wisdom.

If you have Mormon friends, you might already know that we don’t drink alcoholic beverages, tea or coffee, neither do we smoke or use illicit drugs. We believe that such substances are not good for our bodies either because they can harm our health or because we can become addicted or lose control over them. We believe that because God loves us He wants what is best for us. That also applies to other types of food or drink that might be harmful.

It was little bit of a challenge for me to give up coffee when I became a member of the Mormon Church. I grew up on coffee – that’s part of the Brazilian culture! But I knew I had to give it up if I believed in the Mormon doctrine. It took a lot of prayer and perseverance but I did it! Although I understand how hard it can be to give up on something you are used to, I also know that if it’s for the better it can be done. Blessings that can come from obedience to the Word of Wisdom include having more energy and not being weary – and perhaps even run in the next marathon!

Are All Mormons Hotties?

This is a long-standing joke with my Mormon friends from all over the country.   We’ve heard people talk about how many of the Mormons they’ve met they think are good-looking, and then ask if all Mormons are just…beautiful…

My answer?  Totally.  I think that your lifestyle and how you take care of your body really can affect how attractive you are.  Part of being a Mormon is following a set of physical standards:  We don’t smoke (anything) or drink alcohol, we don’t use tobacco in any form, and we don’t drink coffee.  The result?  Great smiles, great smells, better skin in our older years, and great breath (sometimes…).  We are also counseled to “retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated”, and, to the extent that we really try with this one, we also have great…whites of our eyes.  And littler bags under them.

So if you want to look like…the Cullens Family… (not Mormon but definitely pretty enough to be)…try out our lifestyle for a few months.

Shout Out (to all you that still practice your religious traditions)!

Yesterday I took my brother over to see my favorite building on our campus:  The Class of 1959 Chapel.  It’s a non-denominational little modern church built kind of like a seashell with nothing but concrete walls and bamboo chairs inside, and an occasional set of prisms, if you catch it when the sun’s just right.

At the front there’s a tiny alter and after exploring I found that the front of it contains bits of pieces of several different religions:  I think there’s some sacrament trays, bells, some sort of Jewish cloth, some stuff I’m not even really sure what it’s for, and a prayer rug.

My brother started telling me about his co-worker friend who, even at work, takes time out five times a day to find a clean, quiet place to lay his prayer rug.  My brother absolutely loves to see him do this.  We started talking about how rare it is that people our age actually do their religious things on a daily or even weekly basis, and we realized that we are very few in numbers.

If you pray, are sacrificing something for Lent, study your scriptures, keep your Sabbath Day holy, plan to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, practice your religion’s dietary norms, meditate, or go to church meetings, we join you!  And we think you’re really cool, too!

A Mormon’s Neon Hunting Vest

One thing that always gives a Mormon away is that we don’t drink alcohol. It’s bound to come up when we’re in social situations. Some people don’t really know what to think of it, but there are many different reactions. At my husband’s office holiday party one guy asked me while we were sitting on a party trolley and alcohol was in abundance, “I mean, it’s a personal decision right? You’re not judging me because I’m drinking and you’re not, right?” My response to him, “Of course, I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

Many of my husband’s coworkers get together in bars and clubs. Even though he doesn’t drink he still goes along and enjoys the company and down time. I don’t run into the situation as often because I’m with my son most of the time and not many people drink at play dates. I hate the idea that people may feel that I am not drinking to either prove a point or to show moral superiority. That is not the case at all. I don’t drink for myself. It is a personal decision that is between God and me. That’s not to say that I have my own opinions about the negative affects of alcohol. Driving drunk? I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that it’s not good. Getting hammered every night or every weekend? Probably not a great idea. Addicted to alcohol? Get help. I’m a nurse as well a Mormon. I did rotations at a chemical detox facility. Alcohol can have extremely harmful effects on the mind and body. But, to be honest I really don’t think that social drinking has a huge societal or health impact. I still don’t drink.

But, just because I don’t drink alcohol and I think it can have negative health and societal effects does that mean I am judging everyone that drinks? Absolutely not. Do I think people are bad because they drink? Not at all. I understand that alcohol is a huge part of many people’s culture and I am not going around thinking, “sinner” every time I see someone drink. We can be friends even though we choose to live different lifestyles. You can have your wine or beer or your drink of choice and I’ll have my Perrier with lime and we can have a great time. I went out to dinner with some girlfriends this weekend and we declared that it was a judgment-free zone. We can each eat as much or as little as we want and we’re not going to judge each other on it. That’s how I see it with alcohol. I think we’d all prefer a judgment-free zone. I know I do.

Are Mormons Only Friends with Mormons?

Last week my co-worker friends at the flower shop started teasing me that Mormons only hang out with other Mormons.  My first thought was to tell them they were wrong–but then I started thinking about it and realized that a lot of my friends really are Mormon, and I’ve been wondering–why is that, and is it okay?

First off, no, Mormons aren’t only friends with other Mormons.  There’s no “rule” that we can only hang out with each other.  We absolutely have all kinds of friends.  Actually, I think we would like to be friends with even more kinds of people, but I think that “lots of people” just think we’re weird…

However, it is true that Mormons tend to clump together–we’re in general an extremely tight-knit group.  I’d like to try to explain (and hopefully figure it out while explaining) why this is.

Not just a “Sunday” church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the actual but much longer name of our church) is not just a “holiday” church.  (It’s not even just a “Sunday” church, for that matter.)  It’s actually a pretty intensive church–we have a lot of interactions with each other, and each interaction strengthens our bonds and friendships.  We serve each other and serve with each other.

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