Elder Jacob Lattin

Elder Jacob LattinFrom one of Elder Lattin’s recent letters to his parents:
“This last week I read something in Preach My Gospel which I really liked. It was a quote by Elder Oaks that says, “We do not preach and teach in order to ‘bring people into the Church’ or to increase the membership of the Church. We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives. … We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the celestial kingdom to the sons and daughters of God. No one else can do this”. The first thought I had was “If only people knew this about us.” We sincerely have a desire to make their lives better and we ask for nothing in return. Already, I feel like more people would give us a chance. After that, I reflected a lot more on the part that says “We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives.” I really liked that because it is so true. The missionary work that we do is definitely a message of peace, love, and tolerance. A beacon of hope and peace in the world. But it is SO MUCH MORE than that. I have a testimony and knowledge that God is our loving Heavenly Father and that He wants us to be happy. To help us achieve this incomprehensible joy, He provided the way back for us through His son, Jesus Christ. The way to return to Him is once more available on the Earth in its plenitude, the truths and ordinances needed for salvation have once again been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith and they are still available to us in His restored church today. It is SO IMPORTANT! I love it:) This work is so great and it is a joy to share it! It is important to share it! And I hope everyone that I talk to understands that:) I hope you all have a wonderful week!”

 Elder Lattin returns home December 28, 2015

A Story of Thanksgiving: Part 4

By Camille Kerr

Writing Specialist on the Woodbridge, Virginia Stake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Oryangs

1994 ended up a very busy and life changing year for the Oryangs. Christine was baptized in April, David proposed to her in June, they got married in September and just a week or so after their wedding David was called to be the Branch President.

Of that time as Branch President David said, “That was a choice experience to minister to many many individuals in the community who had many needs and seek for inspiration to know what to do. I don’t think I’ve felt that much in tune with the spirit ever since, being branch president in that branch.”

He explained that in that small branch there were only three priesthood brethren to minister to about one hundred single sister families with their children. David said, “And so you have to give blessings and you have go visit and help take care of issues.”

David explained the result of all of that work: “It was a choice time to be able to counsel with them, pray with them, cry with them, and just help them to progress in their lives spiritually and temporally.”

The Oryangs were also feeling the spiritual and temporal blessings of their service. At the time David was busy working at Tuskeegee University in the Veterinary School writing proposals to get grant research funding in the field of computational epidemiology. He was trained as an engineer, but found a home computationally modeling epidemiologic systems, modeling the dynamics of disease in populations of animals, people, cells, and plants.

He says, “I know that my mind was quickened and my abilities were improved because I knew I had to go and perform all the church work so I had to be efficient. Many times I’d just get on my knees and ask Heavenly Father to help me with this work related issue. Sometimes I’d stay at work all night just to fix problems so that I could have all weekend to do church things. And that was going on all the time. I know that many times I just received enlightenment to help me think of ways to fix things that otherwise wouldn’t have come. All I can say is that all the blessings that I received temporally are a direct result of consecrating my life to the gospel.”

He and his team developed a model of the cardiovascular system of a dog which could be used as a simulator for the vet students to practice on before doing actual work on a real dog. This model ended up saving the lives of many dogs and cats. David says, “It was a great success. I know that it was all because of prayer and asking the Lord for help in that specific job.” His success led him to a promotion and eventually to a new job at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as a Risk Analyst. This brought the Oryang family to the Washington, D.C. area.

They lived in Maryland, in the Silver Spring Stake, the White Oak Ward, from July 2001 until November 2003 where David served as counselor in the young men presidency, counselor in the bishopric, stake young men president, and a member of the stake high council. He also served as Bishop of the White Oak Ward from June 2003 till March 2004.

In November 2003 they moved to Southbridge in Dumfries and became members of the Quantico Ward in the Woodbridge Virginia Stake. He continued serving as Bishop of the White Oak Ward in Maryland even after their move, until March of 2004. In the Woodbridge Stake, President Oryang has served as primary teacher, 2nd counselor in the stake Young Men presidency, 2nd counselor in the Quantico Ward bishopric, member of the stake high council, and he has been serving as the 2nd Counselor in the Stake Presidency in Woodbridge Stake since June 2009.

Their experiences have led them to be able to share a strong witness of the truths they have come to know in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

President Oryang says, “I’m just so thankful that I joined this church and was able to exercise my faith through being challenged in so many ways, just being made a branch president when I really knew almost nothing, and all these different callings, that I’ve been pressed into. It’s just remarkable. I always have asked, ‘Why me? I’m not worthy to do that. There are so many other people who know so much more than me. Why should I be selected for this?’ Every once in awhile I receive a revelation even before I receive a calling that I’m going to receive it and that has further converted me to know that the Lord is mindful of all of us and knows what he wants for his people and for us individuals. This gospel is true and there is nothing else that can help us more than truly turning ourselves over to the Savior and His will so that we can become what he would have us be, and qualify to have all that the Father has.”

Christine adds her thoughts and testimony, “I know that God is real and that He loves me deeply. I know that He sacrificed His only begotten son to accomplish the atonement for each of us individually so that we can have joy and peace in this life and eternal life to come. I know that Joseph Smith was called to be the prophet of the restoration and I am thankful for the teachings of restored gospel, I deeply treasure the insights of eternal progression and personal revelation and agency. Because God loves us He gave us instruction in scripture (the Bible and the Book of Mormon) on the ways we should conduct ourselves in order to live with Him once more. I know there is a prophet on the earth today. I know that we are all ambassadors of Christ if we chose to be. I love and believe in my Father in Heaven and in His son Jesus Christ who is my personal savior and redeemer.”

 

 

 

A Story of Thanksgiving: Part 3

By Camille Kerr

Writing Specialist on the Woodbridge, Virginia Stake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

View More: http://takeheartphoto.pass.us/oryangfamilyfall2015Three years after his baptism, still growing in the gospel and busy serving in the church David took a station wagon full of young men to a basketball game and stopped at a gas station after the game. The boys bought candy and soda and David said, “There behind the counter I saw this beautiful lady just doing her thing and something just struck me. I think the first time I saw her I knew. I personally knew. The first time I saw her I thought this is a special person that is going to mean something important to me. I wanted to find out more about her.”

At the counter the conversation went something like this. David asked,“Where are you from?” She said “Africa.” “Where in Africa?” “East Africa” “Where in East Africa?” “Uganda.” “Where in Uganda?” “Teso” And then David greeted her in her dialect and gave her his phone number. Christine said, “So I looked at him and I said, ‘Whatever.’ He said he was from there too, but I didn’t believe him.”

After about a year of visits to the gas station, Christine slowly began to believe him and they struck up a friendship. Then they began meeting every so often at a restaurant for dinner. During the week David’s mother would often take Christine to Relief Society at the church. Christine had no idea what Relief Society was, or what church she was visiting and she didn’t know that David was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In August of 1992 missionaries knocked on her door. At the time Christine had been visiting a lot of different churches and was open for hearing religious messages, so she let them in and listened. After about a year of meeting with the missionaries, she decided to get baptized. She said, “I didn’t tell anybody about my baptism. It was mine, personal. I didn’t tell my uncle who lived in Alabama, I didn’t tell my workmates. I didn’t tell anybody. I wasn’t sure about this faith. Everything felt good, but it was so strange, an out of the box kind of faith. I’d never heard anything like it in my life. So I wasn’t really telling people for one because I didn’t know how they would receive it. And for another reason I didn’t want to write up on the wall that I’d done this and then fall back to my old ways.”

Christine received quite a surprise when she showed up for her baptism. She said, “I wasn’t pleased with (the missionaries) that they had invited all these people. Guess who I find in the chapel? David.”

A baptism, an engagement, a wedding and ten years later David admitted his part in it all. He said “Either I marry her before she was a member and I didn’t want that because I didn’t want all these clashes. So I put my faith in the Lord and I said, ‘Look, I think I’m interested in her but I’m going to put my faith in the Lord that he will provide a way for her to be baptized and if so then I will get serious and let her know what my intent is. Until then I cannot let her know what my intent is.’ And so it enabled me to be strong and firm because it became a matter of trying my faith in the Lord and being patient. And it’s amazing; the miracle happened. She accepted to be baptized, on her own. I did send the missionaries. That I admit to. And that’s the one thing. She has to be exposed to the gospel. So I called up the missionaries and just told them, ‘Don’t ever tell her that I’m the one that sent you, because if she knows she probably won’t accept.’”

Christine smiles when she says, “So that’s how I became a member. It all had everything to do with him, but I didn’t know, which was very wonderful. That was beautiful, because if I had known he had anything to do with it, I’m not one who wants to follow.”

A Story of Thanksgiving: Part 2

By Camille Kerr

Writing Specialist on the Woodbridge, Virginia Stake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Christine and David

Different circumstances brought David and Christine to the United States. Christine came to visit her uncle in Alabama in 1989 and ended up staying longer to offer her support while he cared for his wife who was suffering with cancer. Christine decided to stay and work on an MBA in Information Systems at Auburn University in Montgomery which she completed in 1991.

David came to the US in 1981. He attended North Seattle Community College for a year, and then went to Washington State University where in December 1984, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. After various part-time jobs in Seattle and Alaska, David applied for and moved to Tuskeegee, Alabama in 1986 to pursue a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering.

In January of 1988 his mother and three siblings flew to the US to join him. After the long car ride from the airport in New York back to Alabama and having taken measure of the challenges before her in the USA, David’s mother knew she needed to find the gospel for her family. David said that she began “praying to the Lord to send her messengers who would teach her the gospel and her whole family the gospel so that we could have peace in that house and so that David could reform his life.” As an answer to her prayer representatives from several churches began knocking on their door. David said, “After some time of sitting down with all these different people she chose these two young white boys to teach her the gospel. She came to me and said, ‘These are the messengers the Lord sent to teach me the gospel, to teach us the gospel.’” They were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When his mother decided to get baptized, David decided it was time to find out what she was learning. “So I had to start spying on them to figure out what they were brainwashing my mom about. So I’d sit in the room next door and listen to all these things.” He heard all about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and the plan of salvation and he said, “I listened to all these things and they all seemed to make sense. And the one thing that really drew me out was when they talked about the temple, and the focus of the temple, and how all her ancestors who were never baptized, but who were dead could now be baptized. If their names were taken there, they can receive the ordinance of baptism. I’d never heard anything like that before. So I finally came out and started asking questions.”

David’s mother and siblings were baptized in March and David started getting himself ready to be baptized. There was a lot he needed to change in his life and he said that he didn’t see why he needed to make those changes. But the missionaries told him, “The Lord’s church has standards and if you want to enter into the Lord’s church you need to be living those standards so that you can truly be set apart. If you can’t commit to live these standards now, then you can’t commit to anything.”

David said, “I thought about it. I was angry with them. They said, ‘You pray about it so that you can know what to do.’ So when I did pray about it, I knew. The Spirit witnessed to me that obviously what they were saying was true, that I had no reason to be angry with them and that I needed to repent.   So then I had to brace myself and be courageous.”

One Sunday shortly thereafter David met the Mission president. He asked if David wanted to be baptized. David said yes. “And he looked at me and said, ‘Then you know what you need to do.’   I remember, President Cannon was his name. I remember his eyes and I accepted and I said, ‘Yes, I know what I need to do.’ We ended up sitting on a curb and I was just weeping; I was so touched by the spirit. I knew exactly what I needed to do and I yielded basically at that point. I put off the natural man and said ‘Hey, I’m going to do it.’ That was a turning point actually, very clearly. Sometimes some leaders don’t know what impact they might have on individuals. That particular mission president was a great turning point for me.”

“If I can come from being the natural wild man that I was to being where I am now, I know that anyone can come into the church and make something of themselves and continue to progress. When I look at others I see them as… as just wonderful. I mean there are so many good people out there and I just wonder sometimes how they can’t see the goodness in themselves. In leadership it’s really helped me, I think, in being able to strive more to know how the Savior sees people, partly because I know that most people are much better than I was when I joined the church. We all have divine potential. That’s something that I feel very strongly about: people have to be given the chance to stretch and to grow.”

David was given just that with his baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was baptized in July of 1988 and by October he was ordained an Elder and called to be a counselor in the branch presidency. He also served concurrently as the branch clerk and the Elders Quorum president. David said, “So I had all of the above responsibilities. The branch president lived in another city. I was the only person who lived in that town. There was a missionary couple so the elder was first counselor in the branch presidency. So it was just us. My learning in the church was accelerated because I had to do everything.” They met for church in someone’s trailer until they had enough members to rent a building.

A Story of Thanksgiving: Part 1

By Camille Kerr
Writing Specialist on the Woodbridge, Virginia Stake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

View More: http://takeheartphoto.pass.us/oryangfamilyfall2015The Oryang family has much to be thankful for. Their lives have been completely changed and blessed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and by their membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You may know them as President David Oryang, 2nd counselor in the Woodbridge Stake Presidency, and his wife Christine, who serves as the secretary in the Quantico Ward RS. Talk a walk through their story to see how they came to be where and who they are.

David is a Mathematical Statistician and Risk Analyst with the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and serves as the 2nd counselor in the Woodbridge Stake Presidency.

Christine works for the Metro as a Computer System Analyst. She serves as the secretary in the Quantico Ward RS and volunteers with the International Affairs Office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Washington, D.C.

They are the parents of a recently returned missionary, Joseph, who served in the Mozambique Maputo Mission and a fourteen year old daughter, Faith. Their children also have their own amazing stories.

Both David and Christine were born in and grew up in Uganda. Christine spent her childhood in Kumi – Teso and David was born in Gulu town in the Acholi district, but lived most of his childhood years in Entebbe and Kampala. Childhood in Uganda according to Christine was fun. She said that she and her siblings, “played as hard as we could, worked as hard as mother wanted us to, got up very early, made our own breakfast before school, and walked to school about two miles away from home.” When she turned twelve, she went to a boarding school and then to Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

David says of his childhood in Uganda, “Growing up in Uganda was humbling and inspiring.” He was the second oldest of nine children where he learned to share and be a leader. He was christened as an infant and was a devout Catholic until he was 12 and was then sent to a Protestant boarding school. He explains, “In boarding school I elected to take a scripture class where we studied the New Testament. It was during that study – at the age of 13 – when I developed a testimony of the reality, life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Living thru the instability of the dictatorship of Idi Amin, and political turmoil in Uganda helped to stoke the fires of my quest for spiritual understanding. What I experienced and was taught in Uganda helped me to be grounded in faith and humility, consider the needs of those around me, and feel blessed and loved by the Lord in spite of my afflictions, trials, and shortcomings.”