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Today I watched a great 30 for 30 video on Shawn Bradley that described his “lackluster” NBA career. Although his career wasn’t as good as what everyone hyped it up to be when he was drafted, he was an excellent player and lasted over 10 years and finished in the top 15 all-time for shots blocked.

shawn bradley blocking a shot

One thing that I always respected from afar with Shawn Bradley was that he always seemed to put his faith first. He did not enter the NBA draft when he could have in order to serve a full-time mission to Australia. Also, when he was a player, he tried his best to be faithful as well. In the short documentary, he describes being fined for not going to a strip club with the team for a meeting because it was against his belief system.

I had a chance to meet him in the early ’90s and say a few words and stand next to him. I was in Jr High and he was attending BYU at the time. He was giving a talk to all the LDS youth in the region and it was very inspiring for me as a youth to hear a famous Mormon standing up for his beliefs.

Other Famous Mormons I’ve Met

Watching the documentary and reflecting on my experience with meeting Shawn Bradley caused me to reflect on other famous Mormons I’ve met. Here are a few more:

Steve Young

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When I was in high school I competed in ballroom dance. While I was at a large dance competition at BYU, Steve Young was the MC of the event. I had the privilege of shaking hands with him and asking him a few questions about himself. If it were today, I would have taken a selfie with him!

Gordon B Hinckley

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I only met Gordon B Hinckely one time and that was before he became the LDS Church President. It was in the early ’90s at a large conference and I was fortunate enough to be able to shake his hand and say a few words.

When I was 18 and preparing to serve a mission, he was highlighted in 60 minutes and did an excellent job of answering tough questions. It was very inspiring for me as a youth and his great, positive attitude was infectious during the whole time he was President.

When I was getting ready to leave to fly to Germany on my mission, I was companions with his grandson. He had requested that his grandson visit him in his office at temple square and extended the invitation for me to visit with him. The only problem was that my family had traveled hours to come and see me off at the airport and I was afraid that I wouldn’t get to see them if I visited President Hinckley so I declined the offer. When I told my family about it, they said “I would have gone and visited the Prophet!” Looking back on things, I sort of wish I would have done it because I could have seen my family still. But hindsight is always 20/20 as they say!

Mitt Romney
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I volunteered for the Romney presidential campaign in 2012 in Washington State. When he came to visit our state, I wanted to meet him in person, so I took the whole family with me and drove an hour. It was very awesome seeing him in person and although there were a lot of body guards and everything, I was able to go and shake hands with him briefly and say a few words as he thanked me for volunteering for the cause.

Alex Boye

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When I was living in Utah I went to a party in Salt Lake City at this huge mansion. I don’t even know whose house it was, but it was one of those things where word spread and a friend invited a friend and so on. The music was going and everyone was dancing when I noticed a big crowd gathering around me…including more girls. I wasn’t doing anything special and wondered what was going on. I then realized it wasn’t me everyone was gathering around for. Rather, it was Alex Boye. I had never heard anything about him at the time and he was basically right behind me. I basically did one of those “What’s up?” deals that guys who don’t know each other do and kept dancing. It wasn’t until after the party that I realized he was a former pop star and since then, he’s become a pretty famous LDS musician.

Here’s a most recent song that I really like that he did in collaboration with The Piano Guys:

Dallin H Oaks

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Just a few years ago, Dallin H Oaks came and visited our stake. When he gives official talks at General Conference, he seems very calculated and serious, so I was surprised at how jovial and funny he is in person. He answered a lot of open questions and just had a lot of fun with the crowd and it was great!

L Tom Perry

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When I was on my mission, L Tom Perry visited us. Just like with Elder Oaks, I was very impressed with how personable and close to the Spirit he was, while being fun and jovial at the same time. I learned a lot from him in a pretty intimate setting of only about 100 missionaries. We spent about 4 hours together and each one of us had the chance to meet with him afterwards. He’s very tall!

Your Turn!!

I’ve shared with you a few of the most famous Mormons I’ve met. Now it’s your turn. Who are some of the most famous Mormons you’ve met and how did you meet them?

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For anyone interested, here is a message from an editor at Meridian Magazine, who compiled over 100 talks given by President Hinckley.

Here’s the link:

http://www.ldsmag.com/churchupdate/080129talks.html

Just in case you didn’t know about this, there is a new website dedicated to President Hinckley.  It has talks he’s given, pictures and stories of his life, etc.  Check it out:

http://www.lds.org/gordonbhinckley

My mom recently gave me a good book for Christmas called The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.  Lee was a hardened journalist and could see no reason to believe in God or Jesus.  To prove his point that there is not a way to prove that Jesus was the literal Son of God, he describes various bible scholars he visits and evidences that he finds that prove various aspects of Jesus’ life to be true from both christian and secular historical documents.  It is a very interesting book and very informative from a historical standpoint. 

In the book he poses the question: “Are there writings outside the gospels that affirm or support any of the essentials about Jesus or early Christianity?” (pg. 97)  He then goes on to discuss ancient records of people who talk about the three days of darkness during the time the Savior died, ancient jewish records that prove that there was a Jesus and he claimed to be the Son of God, that he raised people from the dead, and more. 

As I read this, I thought about his corroborating evidences and appreciated his discoveries and his research.  However, I thought to myself how much time he could have saved if he had simply read the title page of the Book of Mormon states that one of the main purposes of the Book of Mormon is for the “convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God…” 

The Book of Mormon is “the case for Christ” because it confirms and clarifies every point of doctrine that is discussed in the Bible for salvation.  The Book of Mormon contains many witnesses that Mr Strobel discusses in his book such as: three days of darkness after His death, evidences of the Gospels, evidences that there is a Bible written by the Jews and apostles.  In addition, the Book of Mormon contains accounts of the personal ministry of Jesus to the inhabitants of the American continent and the saving doctrines of faith, repentance, baptism, and recieving the Holy Ghost are confirmed and support what is in the Bible. 

President Gordon B Hinckley said of the Book of Mormon “…I read its words. I have read Joseph Smith’s explanation of how it came to be. To the unbelieving it is a story difficult to accept, and critics for generations have worn out their lives writing books intended to refute that story and to offer other explanations than the one given by Joseph the Prophet. But to the open-minded, this critical writing has only stimulated them to dig deeper; and the more deeply they dig, the greater the accumulation of evidence for the validity of Joseph Smith’s story. Still, as has been demonstrated for a hundred and fifty years, the truth of the Book of Mormon will not be determined by literary analysis or by scientific research, although these continue to be reassuring. The truth about the origins of the Book of Mormon will be determined today and tomorrow, as it has been throughout the yesterdays, by reading the book in a spirit of reverence and respect and prayer.” ( “Praise to the Man,” Ensign, Aug. 1983, 4)

It is true that despite many evidences that The Book of Mormon is a legitimate book and the history is accurate (see Book of Mormon Evidences, Evidences of the Book of MormonEchoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, and many other websites) many decide to ignore it’s truth.  However, there are many who decide to embrace the book’s truths as well and they find as I have found that the Book of Mormon, together with the Bible provide the most accurate case for Christ there is. 

The introduction of the Book of Mormon gives us an invitation to “all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true.  Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

I have read the Bible and I have read the Book of Mormon.  I know the Bible is the word of God and contains a witness of Jesus Christ as our Savior.  I know the Book of Mormon is another witness of Jesus and confirms and clarifies the truths in the Bible.  To all those who are searching for a “case for Christ” I invite them to read the Book of Mormon.

Yesterday the Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints passed away.  LDS people believe that the prophet of the church recieves modern day revelation for the church just as Peter did for the Church of Jesus Christ after Jesus was crucified. 

I believe President Hinckley was a prophet and want to share my thoughts and experiences with President Hinckley.

My first experience was when he visited my home town in 1989.  I went to the regional meeting with my Grandpa and Grandma Anderson.  The meeting was packed and I heard him speak.  I was young–about 12 years old, but afterwards I was able to go up and look into his warm eyes that had a twinkle in them and shake his hand.  Looking back it is amazing that he took time to shake everyone’s hand.  There were a few thousand people in the auditorium.  He would mention in his conference talks how much he wanted to get out amoungst the people and shake their hands.  He would say how his hands would hurt sometimes but he was determined to meet everyone.  I’m grateful to have been a recipient.  This is the only direct contact I ever had with him.

The next significant influence he had on my life was when I saw him on 60 minutes in 1995.  I had just graduated from high school and had started my first semester in college.  For many years it seems to me like Mormons had hid and sort of shyed away from getting out in the public and sharing their beliefs and becoming a part of society.  As I watched President Hinckley speak that day I not only felt the Holy Spirit testify to me that he was indeed a prophet, but I felt a great desire to share this message.  A few short months later I had the opportunity to do so as I went on a mission to Germany.

One of the unique things about my mission was that President Hinckley’s grandson was in my mission.  I remember the day he came into our district (group of missionaries) at the MTC (Missionary Training Center where the missionaries study scriptures and learn the language for 2 months before going to the country). 

The first day we all gathered around Elder Hinckley and bombarded him with questions on if President Hinckley had ever seen Jesus or how he speaks to God and many other questions.  Elder Hinckley took it very well and said “he’s just like a regular grandpa…you know, likes to fish and tells jokes.  He’s a good guy.”  The only thing his Grandfather ever said was that receiving revelation was like how Elijah describes it in the Bible in 1 Kings 19: 11-12.  The Lord usually communicates through a “still small voice.” This was a bit anti-climatic for us missionaries, but it made sense!

As it came time for us to depart to Germany, Elder Hinckley was assigned to be my travel companion.  As we were waiting at the airport, Elder Hinckley’s father (Gordon B Hinckley’s son), came and said that President Hinckley wanted to see him before he left and that his companion (which was me) could go and visit in his office as well, but if he wanted to stay with his family he could.  I was torn because my family had traveled many hours to come and see me off, yet I wanted to meet the prophet as well.  I decided to stay with my family and so Elder Hinckley went without me.  When Elder Hinckley returned, I asked him what his grandpa had said.  It was very characteristic of what we usually hear President Hinckley saying with his sense of humor.  When President Hinckley asked why I didn’t come and heard I had decided to stay with my family he said something to the effect of “Well, that’s a good choice.  I can’t blame him for not wanting to see an old man like me!”  I’m sure he had the same twinkle in his eye as he always did when he was joking. 

Although I didn’t have any direct experiences after this encounter, I was inspired many, many times.  When he gave the talk “This Thing wasn’t Done in a Corner” on my mission about how the Church of Jesus Christ is coming forth out of obscurity, I wanted to share the gospel with everyone with a passion I’d never had before that lasted throughout my mission. 

When he announced that he had a goal of having 100 temples by the year 2000 I wasn’t sure how he would double the amount of temples in 3 years, but he did it.  I was inspired.  His books, Standing for Something and Way to Be were inspirational and helped me in college.  When I saw the way he interacted with his wife of 67 years as they would speak together I thought to myself: “that is how I want to treat my wife.”  When he appeared on 60 minutes and Larry King Live and I heard him, I was inspired and motivated as well.

I will always be grateful for the leadership and inspiration that President Gordon B Hinckley gave me.  Although I had limited personal contact with him, he was a part of who I am today because I have tried to live the words he imparted as a prophet of God.  I thank God for a prophet like Gordon B Hinckley to guide me. 

If you are interested in hearing directly from the prophet, here are some links:

For a testimony from the prophet click here. 

For a photographic memorial of the Prophet click here.

God be with you til we meet again.

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