Hello, I would like to address you today as fellow observers and here is why: my topic relates to what we see versus what it is, meaning: perceptions.

One of the most “not to use it socially” themes is our faith. How curious is that! Think about this: believing is not the problem, it is how you present the subject which is often done very poorly because fighting is better that explaining right? And trying to prove everyone else wrong can bust any ego. So, to talk about faith we need to do it pointing out that it is a matter of perceptions.

I’ll talk, discuss, myself. What do you see right now? What are you thinking? Am I super religious? Am I an atheist, agnostic, jew, Christian? I’m a Christian, big wow for some, I’ll give you more details, I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a very long name typically shorted to: hey, my name is X and I’m a Mormon.

Yes, like Mitt Romney. You probably have been never met one, or at leats one that says it openly, however, according to Church’s data I’m one in 15 million members from SLC, UT to Manila. Let me give you some facts: it is the 4th largest denomination is the U.S, having more that 29,000 congregations worldwide (wards and branches), probably unknown to you is that just around 40% of Mormons actually lives is the U.S, the rest that’s saying the majority, lives elsewhere, 40% in Latin America, Spanish is the second most-spoken language in the Church and no, we don’t practice polygamy today. Yes, we did, no we don’t.

We, I, believe in The Book of Mormon, The Bible, Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price to be, all of them, Scripture, however, defining “scripture” is a perception. I’ll go there later as we discover the speech. Twice a year we attend “General Conference” where our top leaders speak for two days from SLC and one of them summarized what an average member does by using these words ”

Once there was a man who dreamed that he was in a great hall where all the religions of the world were gathered. He realized that each religion had much that seemed desirable and worthy.

He met a nice couple who represented The Church ofJesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked, “What do you require of your members?”

We do not require anything,” they replied. “But the Lord asks that we consecrate all.”

The couple went on to explain about Church callings, home and visiting teaching, full-time missions, weekly family home evenings, temple work, welfare and humanitarian service, and assignments to teach.

“Do you pay your people for all the work they do?” the man asked.

“Oh, no,” the couple explained. “They offer their time freely.”

“Also,” the couple continued, “every six months our Church members spend a weekend attending or watching 10 hours of general conference.”

“Ten hours of people giving talks?” the man wondered.

“What about your weekly church services? How long are they?”

“Three hours, every Sunday!”

“Oh, my,” the man said. “Do members of your church actually do what you have said?”

“That and more. We haven’t even mentioned family history, youth camps, devotionals, scripture study, leadership training, youth activities, early-morning seminary, maintaining Church buildings, and of course there is the Lord’s law of health, the monthly fast to help the poor, and tithing.”

The man said, “Now I’m confused. Why would anyone want to join such a church?”

The following questions was WHY WOULD ANYONE WANTED TO BE A MEMBER? I have my answer, my perception BECAUSE IT IS HOW I CHOSE TO WORSHIP THE DIVINITY. Do Catholics, Jews, Evangelicals and so on, are right? Of course! Even Pope Francis tweeted that all religions were O.K.

At any given Sunday, you can see this happening nearby a big high school within walking distance from a tube station: 120 humans gathered inside a neat room, sit, some talking while others fit widely between keeping kids under control to simply reading. We are waiting for the Sacrament meeting to begin. Then a big robust Dutch man stands up at the pulpit and welcomes us using his broken Spanish full of joy and sincere gratefulness. His name is brother Van Doorn, a man in is 60’s with one of the most strong and well-rounded testimonies and mind, that I’ve ever seen. I listen, ponder, go to the restroom, etc, hour and 15 minutes later Sunday School begins, let me describe the scenario: I watch sister Boerr while she teaches her lesson about Disciples found in the New Testament, she has five kids and a job – along sided a crappy husband- regardless her everyday stuff this lovely woman prepares each class faithfully week after week and encourages us to read and perceive our doctrine. I’ve always admired our learning capabilities, but on that Sunday it came to my mind a realization: she has had been learning from us as well. We don’t know all things about God, we are Mormons!

Perceptions may give you the impression of perfect families or people are found among believers of any kind. Moreover, these people are basic, stupid, brainwashed or weak, it’s common to hear that faith conquers all or avoids explanations, but it is also forgotten that faith is a daily exercise knowing suffering and doubts like all of you, brother Holland said this a few years ago

“Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, 10 we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.”

And quoted one of my favorite passage from Doctrine and Covenants, section 84:88

88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.