How does a Hawaii boy go from pineapples to potatoes?
I grew up in Hawaii as the oldest of five children and was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as LDS or Mormon). My Mother is a convert to the church and my Father is a second-generation member. My religious upbringing played an important part of shaping my life and I’m grateful my parents did their best to teach me the gospel.
I spent most of my childhood living in a pineapple plantation house that my Father’s company rented out to us. We had no neighbors growing up and we had all the space we needed to have a large garden and keep many animals in our backyard. We had a pony, chickens, dogs, chameleons, and even a goat at one point. My Father was the scoutmaster when I was growing up, and thanks to his work connections, we would often have exclusive access to some of the best hiking trails on Maui.
Being a Hawaiian Mormon
Growing up in Hawaii, I value the Aloha culture of the islands, which is still a major factor that influences my behavior today. Most commonly, Aloha is used as a greeting to say hello and goodbye. However, Aloha is also the word that represents the core values for the Hawaiian people, which include affection, love, peace, compassion, and mercy.
A major part of the Aloha culture revolves around the importance of selflessly giving. Living the Aloha culture means that individuals don’t just live for themselves. Rather, they strive to sincerely give back to their families and community. Hawaiians also place a strong emphasis on the importance of the family, also known as the ohana. (If you’ve seen Lilo and Stich, I’m sure you remember the famous quote “Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind.”) I believe that the spirit of the Aloha culture goes hand in hand with the teachings of the gospel and I’m proud to be a Hawaiian Mormon.
Why I’m a Bronco Instead of a Cougar
I was homeschooled and when I was 15, I started attending classes at a community college. At the age of 17, I transferred as a junior to BYU-Idaho to finish my education. Going to BYU-Idaho was a great opportunity for me to develop my education and also strengthen my testimony of the gospel.
I graduated from BYU-Idaho with my bachelor’s degree at the age of 19 and went home to Hawaii for the summer before leaving on my two-year mission in Fresno, California. My mission was a great opportunity for spiritual growth. It helped fortify my personal testimony and develop a Christ-like love for others through my service. It was challenging and demanding work, but I learned a lot and I’m grateful to have had the experience.
After my mission, I returned home for a year while I applied for graduate school. My Mother suggested looking into Boise State University’s graduate program and when I did my research, I was impressed by their program and what Boise had to offer. I briefly considered applying to BYU-Provo. However, after doing my research, I felt that several of the faculty members at BSU had specific experiences and backgrounds that would best allow them to help me with my areas of interest and with my upcoming Master’s thesis. I was accepted to all the universities I applied for, but felt that Boise State University would provide me with the greatest long-term opportunities. I turned in my letter of acceptance and moved to Boise during the Fall of 2008 to start my graduate program.
Coming to Boise was a leap of faith, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I had a good experience at Boise State and to this day, I’m still a proud Bronco. I graduated with my master’s degree after three years. After graduation, I worked part-time as a contractor at a public relations firm for about six months before finding my current position with a local nonprofit.
Living the Dream in Boise
I love living in Boise and as of this Fall, I’ve been living here for five years – the longest I’ve ever lived in one place outside Hawaii. I have a zeal for life which is largely because of my involvement with my church. I truly believe that being Mormon creates the best possible lifestyle for a single adult. Having received a personal testimony of the truthfulness of the church through the Holy Ghost, I do my best to live by the teachings of Jesus Christ, which gives me a purpose and a core set of values that guide my life.
Mormons have the privilege to serve in the church in different roles, which are referred to as church callings. I also currently serve as an Assistant Stake Secretary and assist the counselors in my Stake Presidency, the church leaders who lead the single adults in the Boise Valley. I help set up interviews with the counselors, so if you’re in the stake and need to schedule an appointment, you’ll need to get in touch with me. (I’m pretty sure there’s a call me maybe joke in there somewhere, but I’m not going to say it.) I’ve also served on student committees that helps run the Boise LDS Institute of Religion, which provides free religious and leadership training to Mormon single adults.
So how does a regular Mormon guy like me decide to set up a blog for other Mormon single adults? Like every superhero, I have an “origin story,” so here it goes.
About two months ago, I made the decision to resign from a part-time ghostwriting position so I could free up personal time to work on other goals. I was relaxing at home and was pondering what goals I should work on. Out of nowhere, I had the impression that I should start a blog for Mormon single adults, which was surprising to me.
I had toyed with the idea of starting a blog before in the past, but never gave it serious consideration for two reasons:
1) Blogging sounded like a lot of time-consuming work.
2) Because I’m a private person, I didn’t find it appealing to put myself out there on the Internet and deal with trolls and Internet pyromaniacs.
With this in mind, I didn’t understand why I felt prompted to start blogging. I tried to put it out of my mind, but for reasons I didn’t understand, I felt pushed in this direction. Finally, I listened to the promptings and started researching the needs of single adults and existing Mormon single adult blogs.
Single Adults and Mormon Blogs
I learned that single adults are a rapidly growing demographic, both in American society and in the Mormon Church. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, about half of American adults, or 100 million, are single. It’s been estimated by independent Mormon groups that up to one-third of the church’s adult Americans are single, a trend that will likely continue. Anecdotally, it’s estimated that half of the Mormon single adult population is not active in the church.
I thought there would be an abundance of blogs by Mormon single adults to provide support and encouragement to fellow singles. When I did my research, I found a plethora of “Mormon Mommy” blogs that showcased family and home life and plenty of other Mormon blogs that focused on church doctrine, family life, and relationships. However, I found few blogs written by LDS single adults or blogs written with this specific audience in mind.
Of the Mormon single adult blogs I found, many of them seemed inconsistent, self-promotional, or in some cases, even whiny. Quite frankly, I felt that many of these blogs were inadequate at showcasing the Mormon single adult lifestyle. I was disappointed with the limited selection of Mormon single adult blogs and wanted to see how other Mormon single adult members were finding happiness through living gospel-centered lives. After I finished my research, I felt the whisperings of the Holy Ghost prompt me, saying, you need to tell people your story.
Origin Story: Receiving Divine Inspiration
Before starting a blog, I wanted to make sure I could provide genuine value to my readers. When pondering how I could create value, the Holy Ghost brought a tender experience to my memory that happened a few months ago.
My friend Daniel was in the process of making a major decision about whether he should relocate to Salt Lake City. When speaking to him, I got the impression he was making the decision out of fear and asked him if he had prayed and fasted. Daniel admitted that he hadn’t prayed about his decision and for his own reasons, was hesitant to go through the process of seeking personal revelation. I bore my testimony to him of the importance of including the Lord on such a major decision and offered to teach him a lesson about personal revelation.
Daniel accepted my offer, and a few days later, he came to my home and we had a powerful spiritual experience. After the lesson, Daniel seemed touched and commented, “I wish you could take every struggling member of the church and teach them a lesson.” After having that memory brought to my remembrance, I realized that by blogging, I could do exactly that – use my testimony and personal experiences to help uplift fellow single adults across the world.
I prayed for inspiration, thought about my experiences as a single adult, and sat down at my computer to draft a few ideas for possible blog posts. I was expecting to brainstorm a list of less than ten topics for articles, but instead, I got a list of over forty possible topics. That was a good indication that Heavenly Father was pushing me in this direction, but I still had my doubts.
I went to the Mormon Boise temple and pondered my choice in the Celestial room. I received the impression that I had been blessed with specific talents that I needed to use to help others. Given my educational background (I have my Master’s Degree in Communication), it made sense, but I was still nervous about blogging.
The tipping point was when I went on a LDS single adult camping trip and had my own “Sacred Grove” experience. We had a morning devotional in the beautiful wilderness near McCall, Idaho and the speaker challenged us to go into the woods, pray out loud, and ask the Lord for direction in our lives. I walked alone into the forest and found a small clearing, where I knelt down and asked the Lord for a confirmation about whether I should start blogging. After my prayer, I felt at peace and received the prompting that the Lord has prepared me with a specific set of skills and life experiences to help other single adults through a blog. It was a glorious feeling to be in the wilderness, apart from other worldly distractions, and receive reassurance in a peaceful setting.
Moving Forward in Faith
After receiving my confirmation, I moved forward in faith. I realized I could be more effective if I found people with specific skills that could help me with the blog, so I wrote an overview of my project and pitched the idea to prospective team members. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find the right people, but thankfully, the Lord inspired me to ask specific individuals who accepted the challenge at hand. My experience was like the scene in the Fellowship of the Ring, where Frodo declares his willingness to carry the One Ring and his friends rally behind him. (You have my sword. And you have my bow. And MY axe!)
Gina, a friend who had moved out of my ward a few years ago, agreed to be my editor. Kirsten, one of the people in my core group of friends, expressed willingness to help with graphic art and design when I told her about the goals for my blog. Finally, Marc, a new friend I met in my church congregation, agreed to help with photography. I’ll give more information about my team members in a future post, but I just wanted to let you know that I have a great group of people helping me with the ambitious goals of this blog.
I’ve always been one of those quiet, unassuming people in the background, so putting myself out there like this is definitely out of my comfort zone. However, I know from my own experiences that when we receive a revelation from God and we choose to obey, we are always blessed. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the journey.