Since returning home from my mission in Hong Kong, I have been studying as a pre-dental student. I have recently started a new chapter of my academic career at a university called Brigham Young University. This isn’t your everyday institution. It being a private school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been dedicated by church leaders as a place of learning where the spirit of God, our Heavenly Father may dwell and influence the studies and efforts of all those who have chosen to become a part of it. With that, the University offers religious study classes. This semester I am enrolled in an ancient scripture class in which we as students will, more specifically, be studying The Book of Mormon. Some of you may have noticed that I have mentioned this book more than a dozen times in the entries accounting my experiences serving as a full-time missionary. Although this book is an ancient historical record containing the history of over a thousand years of early North American inhabitants and comparatively complex doctrine explained by prophets who witnessed many events that had occurred during the time, the message of the book is actually quite simple. It shares of God’s love for his children and how that love is manifest through miracles once we decide to let Him into our lives. As a matter of fact, the entirety of the record may be explained in a few short sentences at the beginning of the book. It begins with the writings of a young man named Nephi. “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;”, Instantly, this Nephi character is relatable to each and every one of us who have been raised by parents trying their best to teach us and help us grow and develop along the pathway of life into adulthood. However, what I find interesting about this line is Nephi’s use of the word “somewhat”, indicating that his father had not revealed all things known unto him, but rather had allowed his son to act on the things he chose to teach Nephi. I believe all good parents follow the same pattern in raising their children, in hopes that they may be able to learn and grow into something better and stronger than if they had not experienced hardships and slipped up along the way of life a time or another. “and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.” Again, we may automatically see our own lives through Nephi’s account. Afflictions. Everybody has experienced them once or twice on their mortal quest to happiness. In this sentence, Nephi uses a cause and countereffect relationship which is apparent in his usage of the word “nevertheless”. Once again, I believe that most individuals reading this can attest that there will always be a countereffect to our afflictions as long as we are willing to handle them the right way and perceive them through hopeful eyes. Each of us have different ways of arriving at the results of a trial. Nephi goes about doing so with his faith in God being his Father in Heaven, a higher being he, Nephi, may look to for guidance and counsel when it seems as though there is nowhere else to turn. I, like Nephi, have chosen to believe in God not only as a source I may look to for direction, but as a physical breathing personage who lives and watches over me; someone I may rely on to reveal truth to me and those I love, someone who exists to understand and care about my most minute fears, hopes, and dreams. He is my father and my friend.
This is only but one account out of dozens throughout The Book of Mormon, written firsthand by eye-witnesses of miracles, written by fathers, written by imperfect people living in an imperfect world, but believing in and striving for goodness, people like you and I who make mistakes and have doubts and flaws, but nonetheless, get right back up the next day and try again. In Hong Kong, I shared this book with anyone and everyone I could. I knew that it had a certain power about it to fill the people of Hong Kong’s lives with hope, hope for a better world, for answers to long-awaiting questions, hope for peace and comfort within family relationships. It has done so for me. Something beautiful about the world is that we, as individuals, are each entitled to our own opinions and beliefs. That makes us who we are and helps us to express a uniqueness that each one of us hold. The intent of me writing this is not to force my opinion upon anyone, but rather to share what I hold near dear. We may not judge a book by its cover, but by the first page, maybe so.