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I’m back. I just finished a wonderful two years serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, during which time I was able to help many people with their lives. Here is my report on it all




We get up.

we communicate with others.

We get mad.

we cry.

we rejoice.

we live.

How we live. That’s not related to photography is it? at first it may not appear so, but this is a topic that transcends and adds beauty to the whole ideology of why we photograph. By understanding this we can live happier and more complete wholesome lives, and surely in some shape or form, finding this joy in our lives is at the root of what motivates us to be better photographers.

So I would like to relate a few things from the many experiences I’ve had the past couple of years, and perhaps you’ll learn a thing or two, or perhaps more importantly you’ll be more motivated to do those things you know you could be doing better at.

Christ turns outwards when we would turn inwards –Elder Bednar

To start of, think about a recent day that stands out as being a little more fun. Perhaps it was just a relaxing break from life with some friends. Think of a day that stands out as a an experience an opportunity you were glad to have engaged in. We make many choices. Our ability to choose has got to be the greatest gift we have. When we make choices that will continue to reward us throughout our life, isn’t that not only more meaningful, but it brings us true peace and lasting happiness.

Who we are, the choices we make, they are not just part of our how we live, they are the purpose of life.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned as a missionary would have to be the importance of always looking outwards to others instead of looking inwards to ourselves. This is what made our savior Jesus Christ who he is, and this is what will fill our hearts with lasting peace, which when compared with all the short-term forms of pleasure around us is so much more worthwhile.

People I met

One way I’ve come to understand this concept of loving others is from the great example of people I met in Arizona.

One such person is this kid who had down syndrome. He was always joyful and full of love. He quickly made me and my companion his friends, and whenever he saw us in church or elsewhere he would loudly greet us. It was almost embarrassing if everyone else did not already know who he was. One day he came over and sat next to us during church. Throughout the meeting he would pull out different church magazines from his bag and look at the pictures, then he pulled out his journal and started writing in it. curiously, I leaned over to see what he was writing.

His writing, barely legible, and consisting of short incomplete sentences showed such great love for those around him, and in a moment I came to realize how pure and how caring this guy’s actions were. Underneath his rambunctious loud behavior, his concerns in life dealt very much so with those around him.

The next great person that I met was one of my missionary companions. He was humble and diligent. He understood what I once heard put this way “the only was to have everything go your way is when your was is God’s way”, and he was willing to put in the effort to make sure this happened.

It shows. There have been countless other great and wonderful people whom I have had the privilege of meeting. There have been those who have yelled at me cursed at me, and slammed the door in my face, and then there have been random strangers of other faiths who have invited us in and fed us. You can definitely see the difference in the happiness of these people, and I can testify to you that true happiness comes when we loose ourselves in the service of others.

However we must realize as Elder Bednar once said “[we] become a saint by becoming more like the savior, not by doing more stuff.”

Fun Stories

Now to interrupt with a few fun stories. When you stick a bunch of 18 and 19 year olds together you’re bound to get all sorts of stories.


I’ll start off on the stinky side of things. Let me tell you the obvious, you don’t ever want a skunk living under the house. It didn’t even have to spray us just it’s presence under the house was enough.

I remember one day in a meeting receiving the comment that it smelled like skunk, and me and my companion just had to raise our hands and admittedly announce that that was us. Sad thing was, we didn’t even smell it on ourselves anymore.

We finally caught him though, and that was the end of our skunk problems… until we found his mate.

we found a skunk  

The Lizard

Don’t make fun of us. I know it shouldn’t be that hard to catch a lizard, but after time after time of failing we decided to turn to trapping one.

Try #1. Peanut butter baited cup slicked up so they couldn’t climb out. The result. A whole bunch of Cockroaches.

Try #2. Packaging tape sticking face up. The result. Well we kind of spaced the fact that lizards are cold blooded — one dead lizard.

Try #3. While helping a neighbor blow some vegetation droppings with a leaf blower we spotted and proceeded to stop the lizard with the leaf blower. The result. Success. We caught a lizard.

The Dog Story

There’s always a dog story. You can ask any missionary if they have had any dog stories, and they’re bound to have at least one, so here is mine.
So me and my companion,Elder Smith, were leaving to see the “junkyard family”, and as we turn onto this little dirt road, a bunch of dogs start chasing Elder Smith. Dogs must just know how much I like them because they always chase Elder Smith instead of me.

Anyhow on the way back we develop this scheme to get past the dogs. This time Elder Smith is going to be in the front, and we’re going to bike as fast as possible to get past the dogs.

So as we start biking the dogs still chase Elder Smith, and they are jumping up at his leg. I start laughing. He tries to push the dogs away with his foot, and then as he looks up. boom. car attack.

Now to wrap up the story. Elder Smith broke the tail light of the car, but the car didn’t brake anything on him so that was good.
The person wouldn’t accept any money for the damage to the car. We saw which house she pulled into, and we went back to try to make up for it by doing service for her, but it was a different family who lived there, and then shortly after that I got moved to a new area.


Service Opportunities

Charity Yard Sale

I was able to have many enjoyable opportunities as a missionary to serve others in the community, such as this yard sale we held. It was a great interfaith activity where we were able to raise $1000 for a local charity! Thanks to all who helped.

Missionaries doing a charity yard sale

John Adams House

We were able to participate in another service project to help a nearby neighbor build what he calls a “John Adams”, so called because it was patterned after the little study house where pulitzer prize winning novelist David McCullough wrote his book entitled John Adams.  

Bobbie’s Farm

You’d think that 73 years old would be too old to run your own farm, especially for a women living by herself, but that’s what Bobbie does. She’s completely self sufficient, living off of her little farm. I had the opportunity of being able to help her every week. She taught me many things about farming throughout it all.

Thought Provoking Stories


Putting God first

There was a lady I baptized who left quite an impression on me. She was such a nice lady and she was unemployed. teaching her was kind of unusual yet neat, as we would teach her a concept she would jump to conclusions that lined up with the next thing we were going to discuss. Eventually she found a job, and we scheduled a baptismal interview for her. Unknown to us, her job wanted her to come in for some training at the same time as the baptismal interview. Her decision was to come to the baptismal interview instead because she wanted to put God first in her life. Now we could have easily rescheduled that baptismal interview, but her desire to put God first, that has left a big impression on me.  

Successful life

So many people view a successful life as not having any problems. They strive for this, not realizing that it’s ok to barely be scraping by. It’s ok not to have a car, barely have money, sacrificing much to pay the bills, and even having to move back in with your mom. It doesn’t matter what life throws at us, we can be happy, or in the least we can be at peace with whatever trials life throws at us through the gospel of Jesus Christ, through loving others the best we can. Some people get so caught up in making sure life is perfect, that all the so called necessities, and then all the desired luxuries are in place that people forget that it is love that makes the world go round. We shouldn’t become obsessed with securing a perfect future for ourselves, we should spend time seeking after a good future, but we can become so busy in this pursuit that we are not willing to pause to serve those around us, to spend time with loved ones, to love others, We must live our lives relying on the Lord, and not man’s wisdom, and surely the Lord’s presence will be in our lives more as we seek out opportunities to help those around us.  

The Devil’s Influence

A year ago we went by a middle aged guy who “has” schizophrenia . He also has some addictions with drugs and cigarettes. We’ve been trying to help him with his smoking addiction. We went by his place and we realized he was high on drugs, probably heroin. The guy was in a complete disarray. I don’t think he was born with schizophrenia; it’s come from the drugs he’s taken in. It’s very scary to see the way drugs have altered his mind, as well as the mind of someone else we were meeting with who would occasionally overdose on adderall, and a third person we were meeting with who was convinced his house was possessed and demons came in and knocked everything in the house over. When you see the influence the devil can have over you, if you let him. It’s scary. Our ability to chose is the greatest gift we have, and the devil wants nothing more than to take that ability away. I saw the devils influence, and the consequences it brings, and it is scary.  

spiritual prisons

While having dinner with some members one day, this idea was relayed to me. The idea of spiritual prisons. Although we’re not in a physical prison, we are all in a spiritual prison of some sort. She’s helping out at the prisons with our church’s program there, to teach and bring hope to those in our state prisons. She and others who have helped out there have said that people there have commented on how they feel more free in prison than out of prison because they have been able to escape their spiritual prisons, and have found the freedom that comes from the gospel.

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