20 – 30 years old

February 4th, 2015 by admin

4 Comments

School, Sacrifice, and Service

School, Sacrifice, and Service

Rachel Esplin Odell

Although raised on an Idaho potato farm, Rachel Esplin Odell is now a PhD student in International Relations at MIT with a focus on Asian security issues. Her decision to study Chinese and become an expert in Chinese international affairs occurred while she was an undergraduate at Harvard, and Rachel feels a spiritual draw to being a representative of the Church in Chinese affairs. Speaking eloquently of the sacrifices and balances of being in a dual career marriage with her husband, who is also a PhD student, Rachel talks about her desire to contribute to and draw from her home community and parent her 18-month-old son with her husband.

January 14th, 2015 by admin

4 Comments

Moving Past Forever

Moving Past Forever

Kenna Christensen

At the age of 20, Kenna Christensen was newly married in the temple and beginning what she thought was an eternal marriage. Nine months later, she found herself divorced and shattered from the disappointment. Though it wasn’t easy, Kenna found healing through counseling, blogging, and a deepened sense of spirituality.

January 7th, 2015 by admin

4 Comments

The 3 Browns

The 3 Browns

Deondra, Desirae and Melody Brown

Deondra, Desirae and Melody are three of the 5 Browns, a piano performing quintet composed of siblings. The sisters all attended The Juilliard School together and tour and perform with their brothers, gaining the highest accolades in the classical music world and performing in some of its finest venues. Three years ago, their father was sentenced to ten years in prison for sexual abuse involving the girls, and Deondra and Desirae founded the The Foundation for Survivors of Abuse, which focuses on changing the statute of limitation legislation across the country.

November 25th, 2014 by admin

9 Comments

Searching for Kayelyn

Searching for Kayelyn

Suzie Louder, Madi Rodriguez, and Amy Fugal

On a cold and rainy November morning, more than 170 volunteers with ponchos, hand warmers, and GPS trackers canvased a one-mile radius in Murray, Utah, in hopes of finding clues that would lead to Kayelyn Louder, a 30-year-old social worker who’s been missing for nine weeks. Kayelyn was last seen on a surveillance video running barefoot in the rain, wearing a white tank top and jean shorts. She left behind her keys, wallet, cell phone, and her beloved Chinese pug, Phyllis. Her disappearance has stunned and confused family and friends. After the most recent search, Kayelyn’s mother Suzie Louder, sister Madi Rodriguez, and cousin Amy Fugal shared their heartaches and hopes in their search for Kayelyn.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kayleyn Louder’s death was confirmed on December 2, 2014, a week after this interview was published.

September 24th, 2014 by admin

6 Comments

All Here Together

All Here Together

Bianca Morrison Dillard

In her work as a filmmaker, Bianca Morrison Dillard sees storytelling as a way to build community, and a way to help people feel heard and understood. Her views are shaped by what she sees as the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “Love and inclusion. Everything that is virtuous and lovely and of good report and praiseworthy.” Bianca talks here about honoring the nuance and complexity of individual lives–one of the goals of her current project, the documentary film ‘Far Between,’ which features personal stories about what it means to be gay and Mormon.

November 14th, 2013 by admin

14 Comments

Kat S. is a family therapist in New York City and a Jewish convert to the LDS Church. She is also the semi-anonymous blogger behind the popular Tumblr page “Just Say Amen Already,” a light-hearted look at her Mormon experience. Kat says she was prompted to the task of making us laugh at ourselves. Here, she talks about the healing power of laughter and the beauty she finds in life and the Gospel.

October 15th, 2013 by admin

8 Comments

Knowing Her Worth

Knowing Her Worth

Elizabeth Smart

On June 5, 2002, at the age of 14, Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her home in Salt Lake City and spent nine months in captivity. Her kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, were both sentenced to prison in 2011. Since her captivity, Elizabeth has become an advocate for the prevention of child sexual abuse. On Friday, October 11th, MWP editor Neylan McBaine spent a few minutes with Elizabeth as part of her media tour promoting her new book, My Story.

August 7th, 2013 by admin

11 Comments

In the Lord’s Time

In the Lord’s Time

Peka Holmes

As a wife and mother in a part-member family, Peka draws on the inspiration of her mother — who was also a “single parent in the gospel” — to support her husband as he learns about the Church and teach her daughter what she believes. Issues of race have proven challenging for her non-white family, and Peka discusses how much she appreciates member friends who embrace her husband for who he is and not for what they want him to be.

April 18th, 2013 by admin

2 Comments

Growing up in a Mormon family, Jamie is a second-generation Church member in Hong Kong. In her teenage years, she struggled with her testimony of the gospel and distanced herself from the Church, despite her parents both having high-profile callings. But her parents and friends continued to love and support Jamie. She eventually returned to the Church and developed a strong testimony, which led her to happiness and helped shape her future life.e.

November 14th, 2012 by admin

5 Comments

What Marfan Means to Maya

What Marfan Means to Maya

Maya Brown-Zimmerman

Maya Brown-Zimmerman is an outspoken Latina mother of two special-needs children. She has Marfan syndrome. Maya earned a Masters in Public Health from The Ohio State University and has particular interests in patient advocacy for those with chronic illness. She writes for WebMD and teaches the Valiants in her ward.

September 14th, 2012 by admin

17 Comments

Humbled Through Affliction

Humbled Through Affliction

Elizabeth Perry

Elizabeth Perry’s evangelical upbringing caused her to loathe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. An eating disorder she developed in college helped soften her heart. An LDS boy from her high school introduced her to the Church; she later embraced the gospel, then married that boy.

June 20th, 2012 by admin

22 Comments

Understanding Who She Is

Understanding Who She Is

Bridey Jensen

Currently the president of Brigham Young University’s Understanding Same Gender Attraction club, Bridey Jensen has spent her college years coming to terms with the fact that she is gay. Although she’s suffered through years of struggle and depression, Bridey now feels more confident and loved by God than she ever has before.

June 14th, 2012 by admin

8 Comments

As one of her polygamous father’s 47 children, Vilate Nielsen was never lonely. But as a young adult, Vilate chose instead to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which she felt has manifestations of truth that were absent in the religion of her childhood. Although she’s had to get used to not having her large family around her and sometimes being lonely, Vilate today wouldn’t exchange her church membership for anything.

May 2nd, 2012 by admin

8 Comments

A Model of Many Talents

A Model of Many Talents

Summer Bellessa

Summer Bellessa spent her youth living in Paris, Japan and New York as an international model. So it was an easy transition for her then to start Eliza, a magazine for “women who want to be stylish, sexy, and engaged in the world while retaining high standards in dress, entertainment and lifestyle.” Now as a new mom, she’s shifted her talents to producing and staring in a variety television show with American Idol alum, Brooke White, while continuing to be a representative of her faith.

April 18th, 2012 by admin

18 Comments

At a very young age, Heather Farrell began thinking about her role as a woman and the place of women in God’s plan. That led to a Women’s Studies focus at BYU, a passion for studying women in the scriptures, the publication of her blog, Women in the Scriptures, and deep-seated feelings about birth and motherhood.

February 8th, 2012 by admin

7 Comments

Born in Bolivia and raised in California, Dayan traveled the challenging road of becoming the first college graduate in her family. She knew she wanted to help young people like herself who had great potential, but often lacked the knowledge of how to go to college. Inspired by her 2007 Brigham Young University Thesis project, she founded Teens ACT, a nonprofit that helps at-risk students go to college.

August 10th, 2011 by admin

21 Comments

Over the past 18 months, as the MWP volunteers and I have asked over a hundred women to tell us the stories of their lives, we’ve been repeatedly surprised by how often childhood sexual abuse has been a part of their pasts. Because many interviews at the MWP examine women’s reactions to challenging circumstances in their lives — from disease to infertility to family losses — we felt that examining faithful LDS responses to childhood sexual abuse would be in keeping with our mission. In this collection, you will find three very different anonymous accounts of childhood circumstances, followed by an interview with Julie de Azevedo Hanks, an LDS therapist.

July 13th, 2011 by admin

23 Comments

At 15, Beth lost a few pounds at camp and came home to increased attention and concern. Liking that attention, her mind was overtaken by anorexia. In college, her disorder evolved into bulimia. Seeing an eating disorder therapist allowed her to get pregnant, and Beth is now heading up the first Anorexic/Bulimic Recovery Program in the church.

June 22nd, 2011 by admin

25 Comments

A Different Kind of Pioneer

A Different Kind of Pioneer

Bindu Sudhir Sabbavarapu

Bindu Sabbavarapu joined the church in her hometown of Visakhapatnam, India, in the face of cultural and familial barriers. She married another Indian Mormon and together they are striving to pursue lives that bear witness to their families of the goodness of the gospel. Soon after her marriage, Bindu immigrated to the United States, where she and her husband are pursuing advanced degrees and raising their 10-month-old baby girl. Although the gospel transcends culture, Bindu’s interview reflects the challenge of practicing a religion in a nation where Christians and Mormons in particular are a significant minority.

June 15th, 2011 by admin

6 Comments

Snapshot Portrait: Mary Decker

Snapshot Portrait: Mary Decker

Columbia, MO, June 13, 2011

The hardest choice I’ve made in my life was when… I chose to be happy. My life was crumbling around me. I was sad, angry, depressed, and mourning the loss of my marriage. My husband had kicked me and my baby out of our own home. I was homeless and helpless.

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