Mormons have had their fair share of the limelight—and have let their light so shine at the same time. Find out where some Latter-day Saints have made appearances on reality TV shows, read about their successes, and learn how they stood for their values and beliefs through it all.
Members of the Church who have competed on reality TV shows know all too well how hard it can be to stay true to their faith under pressure. Of the many Mormons who have appeared on reality TV shows, here are a few of our favorite stories.
The Amazing Race
Competing on The Amazing Race was a dream come true for Connor O’Leary and his father, Dave. The father-son team were strong competitors after they first beat Dave’s prostate cancer and Connor’s testicular cancer. “From the outset,” says Connor, “we wanted to race, hold our integrity, and show our true character, which is what you do in everyday life.” But theirs was a dream cut short. Like their LDS predecessors on the show (Lena and Kristy Jensen, who were eliminated early in Race 6 in a challenge that came down to luck), the O’Learys also went home early after Dave tore his Achilles tendon in Leg 2. “That,” Dave says, “at least mentally, put an end to the Amazing Race for us.”
Losing 140 pounds is no easy feat. Just ask Trent Heppler. Never in a million years did he believe that he would one day shed the weight, let alone run a marathon. But Heppler learned that the power to overcome his physical weaknesses—whatever they may be—comes from a spiritual strength gained through the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Photo by Marissa Gifford.
Growing up overweight and self-conscious, Latter-day Saint Trent Heppler always felt that exercise was just another form of torture invented to make him feel inadequate.
But he masked his insecurities well. “I learned at a very early age to poke fun at myself and get a laugh before anyone else could,” says Heppler. “I now realize that was a common coping technique. That is why I became the ‘funny fat friend.’”
It was a role that Heppler played well, but it never made him truly happy. Year after year passed with no real change. It wasn’t until Heppler was nearing 35 that something switched in his mind. After hovering somewhere around 350 pounds for some years, he set a lofty goal: to run a marathon.
“I thought I needed something big and personal in my life to reach for,” says Heppler, “and this goal would help to accomplish many results like weight loss, fitness, and the praise of man. Where it took me was way beyond those first thoughts.”
The goal to run a marathon didn’t become a reality for many years. But on the eve of his 40th birthday, he decided that the time had finally come.
So on what seemed like a whim, Heppler asked his friend and fellow in the Young Men program in their ward, Scott Gifford to become his personal trainer and help him train for a marathon—and Gifford said yes.
But before you start studying the New Testament this year in Sunday School, here are six things you need to know about how the New Testament Gospels were written.
How did we get the New Testament Gospels? As it turns out, the process was quite complicated, but very interesting. Here are a few important things you should know about how the New Testament Gospels came to be.
1. Matthew and John were not eyewitnesses to all the events they wrote about.
There may be some who assume that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John simply wrote down what they saw as they accompanied the Savior throughout His mortal ministry. Certainly apostles like Matthew and John were eyewitnesses for some of the events of the ministry of Christ. But some events they record these apostles never saw for themselves.
For example, it is not likely that Matthew was present at the birth of the Savior (Matthew 1-2) nor the events of the Savior’s ministry before his own call to be an apostle (Matthew 9:9). Similarly, it is not likely that John was present when Jesus spoke with Nicodemus (John 2) or the Samaritan Woman (John 4). It is possible, if not likely, that there are other events in the Gospels of Matthew and John for which those apostles were not eyewitnesses.
2. Mark and Luke were not eyewitnesses to the mortal ministry of the Savior.
Luke tells us that when he compiled his Gospel, he received his information “even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” (Luke 1:2). The King James Version translation of this verse can be misleading. At first glance, it may sound like Luke is saying he was an eyewitness who received information from others. But that does not make much sense. If Luke was an eyewitness, why would he need to receive his information from others?
So many wonderful experiences have happened in the temple--here's one way that LDS writer S. Michael Wilcox found healing in the temple.
I enjoyed a very sweet moment one afternoon while participating in sealings in the Jordan River Temple. We were sealing members of families from our ancestry. My daughter and I had found them while searching old wills and censuses. Some questions arose in my mind as I sat there watching the uniting of husband to wife and parent to child. It was not the first time I had pondered these particular questions.
What were their relationships like in life? Did they carry pains inflicted upon one another or loving trust? Was there joy or resentment, peace or hostility? Had there been divorces, rebellious children, neglectful parents, cessation of contact and conversation, financial traumas, or was all in harmony, all gratitude for loving, supportive, relationships?
Pondering these questions this time was different. This time I received an answer.
I think there are no more beautiful words in all the ordinances of the Restored Gospel that can match those said in the sealing rooms of the temples when at the altars families are eternally formed. I love them so deeply. In regards to my own wife, when I knelt there for myself they represent the summit of this life’s happiness—the greatest moment of my life—the best blessing in a life of God-given bests.
Today’s the day. The Christmas decorations are back in storage (maybe?), the Times Square celebrations are over, and you’ve finished off the last drop of sparkling cider. 2014 is now a thing of the past.
Today is a new day. Actually, today is an entirely new year. You can do anything, be anything, and achieve just about anything you set your mind to this year.
In celebration of the New Year, we’ve rounded up 6 popular self-help books written by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ve read most of these books and can personally vouch for them. Reading even just one of them this year may change the way you look at life.