Jen Kwapinski, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, baked her way into the public eye on one of TLC’s reality shows, but her commitment to her Mormon standards made her stand out.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ, often mistakenly called Mormons, believe in following standards of living that include abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea. They don’t view pornography, use coarse language, or dress immodestly. They also avoid shopping or participating in sporting events on Sunday. The purpose for these standards is to enjoy increased happiness in life and to blessed with a close relationship with God.
Latter-day Saints often have to make a courageous stand to stick to their values and convictions despite voices of opposition and criticism. Their standards, at the very least, make them seem unusual in comparison to the social standards practiced around them.
Jen Kwapinski, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, found herself in this position when she competed in the “Next Great Baker” reality TV show. Kwapinski makes cakes and cupcakes in her San Jose, California, business called Jen’s Cakes. During the competition, contestants were asked to create a “cocktail-inspired cupcake.” Kwapinski designed a cupcake using Kahlua, which is a rum and coffee-flavored liqueur, and she added a filling that contained Kahlua. Because of Kwapinski’s standards, she did not taste the filling, which is not baked. (more…)
Justin Wayne Lewis has been a musician practically since birth. Born to musician parents and raised with a love of music, Justin is a talented cellist with a passion for conducting. He has a Bachelor’s from Temple University and a Master of Music in Cello Performance from Pennsylvania State University; he completed teaching certificates for both Pennsylvania and Virginia, returned to Pennsylvania State University for a Master of Music in Conducting and is about to complete his Doctor of Musical Arts from the Catholic University of America.
He loved teaching 6th- and 7th-grade choirs, but he was accepted two years ago into the U.S. Air Force to be a conductor. It was during basic training in the summer of 2012 that he learned he had been chosen as the winner of a contest to conduct the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He had seen the contest online and he sent in a video of himself conducting the Choir’s recording of “Ode to Joy.” His wife, Jenny, compiled the video.
Justin was given the opportunity to conduct the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Sunday, February 17, 2013, after their weekly broadcast from the Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
Justin and Jenny are both talented, hard-working musicians. They recognize their talents are a gift from God and should be used to bless others’ lives. They are raising a family and make that their true focus. Enhancing and using their musical talents brings them joy and allows them to share these things with others as well. (more…)
Manti Malietau Louis Te’o, (born January 26, 1991) a linebacker for the University of Notre Dame, is the son of Brian and Ottilia Te’o. Siblings include sisters BrieAnne, Tiare, Eden and Maya and one brother, Manasseh. He is of Samoan descent but grew up on the island of Oahu Hawaii, where he was one of the most decorated high school athletes in Hawaii’s history. In 2008, Te’o won the inaugural high school Butkus Award, while also being named Sporting News High School Athlete of the Year.
Te’o has been outspoken about the important role of faith in his life. As an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon or LDS), he has openly explained how he depended on prayer to select the right college from the 29 college football teams trying to recruit him. Much to his surprise, he received the answer that he should choose Notre Dame University. (more…)
Without mentioning their last names, when people hear the names Jabari and Ziggy, the first thing that may come to mind is that they are two popular rap or hip-hop singers. However, such is not the case, at least not in this particular case. If the names Jabari and Ziggy are mentioned on the campus of Brigham Young University, sports fans immediately recognize that the persons being spoken of are Jabari Parker and Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah. Both are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and both are sports legends in their own right – Jabari Parker being well known in the world of basketball, and “Ziggy” Ansah being well known in the world of football. Jabari is finishing high school in Chicago and “Ziggy” is a senior at BYU in Provo, Utah.
Ezekiel Ansah, the son of Edward and Elizabeth Ansah, was born in Accra, Ghana. His favorite food is fufu and peanut butter soup. He excels at FIFA soccer. He speaks Twi and Fante, two local Ghanaian dialects and surprisingly enough his favorite athlete is LeBron James, the one to whom Jabari Parker is compared with as for his basketball skills and talents. He is majoring in actuarial science with a minor in mathematics. He enrolled at BYU in 2008 and participated on the track team in 2009 before joining the football team in 2010.  (more…)
It’s not unusual for President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon or LDS) to talk lovingly of his homeland, Germany. But when he was presented the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on October 30, 2012, he was surprised and humbled to “receive this unexpected distinction.”
The award is the only federal decoration of Germany. It is given as a tribute to those who have achieved exceptional accomplishments of service, charitable work and distinctive social, political and scientific contributions.
German Consul General Dr. Bernd Fischer presented the award and praised President Uchtdorf for his lifetime of service and leadership, according to an article in the Deseret News. (more…)
Lindsey Stirling, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (comminly referred to as the Mormon church), was born in Orange County, California on 21 September 1986, but grew up in Gilbert, Arizona. She is an American violinist, musician, dancer, performance artist, and composer. She presents choreographed violin performances, both live and in music videos, including on her YouTube channel.
Lindsey had very humble beginnings in learning to play the violin. She recalls that money was tight for her family when she was little, and when her older sister wanted to learn to play an instrument, their father dug out an old dusty trumpet from their attic and told her that if she wanted to play an instrument, that was all they had. At the young age of 5, after being influenced by the classical music records played by her father, Lindsey begged for violin lessons. As she recalls, her parents could only afford a half-lesson. She also recalls, “The teachers were like, ‘I’m sorry, but a child isn’t going to learn how to play . . . in 15 minutes a week.” The family was eventually able to find a young teacher who was willing to teach Lindsey and she took private lessons for 12 years. (more…)