It only takes one photo to tell a story. The man you see here is someone I had the pleasure of meeting last September. He just returned home after being stationed in New York. After his active term in the Army was over, he started a life that was much different than the chaos he was used to, even since childhood.
While respecting his privacy, all I can say his how much I admire him for following his desires to find peace and truth. In Palmyra, New York, he learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For a year he read the Book of Mormon, taking his time to read, ponder and pray until he chose to learn more.
When he moved back to Arizona, I won’t lie, I was immediately fascinated after spotting him at church. And thankfully he was more amused then creeped out, but eventually our friendship solidified and I learned just how awesome he truly is. At first glance, one could easily assume him to be a nonmember or convert. His tattoos are the first to give that impression, but to me they’re proof of his artistic talent considering he did a few himself.
What’s cooler is his heritage. Just recently I learned that not only is he Mexican descent, but part Native American as well. Lately he’s been diving into family history, which brings us to this photo here. We took a very long road trip to St. George, Utah to hike Zion’s National Park, and walk the grounds of the oldest running LDS temple in history. We stood on decades worth of history and he asked me to take a picture of him.
Originally I had the intention of taking different posed photos with him. I wanted this project to highlight some of his best features, which includes his smile. Instead, I found the best angle and pose to take one photo that spoke volumes to me.
On the way there, someone was very quick to profile us. I didn’t blame that person for jumping to conclusions. But what they saw in my friend was only the surface. But what I’ve seen since the beginning is a man who has always turned his back on the past to face God’s light. Not that he forgets it entirely, but embraces where his past has lead him so he can learn and continue to move forward.
If he’s reading this right now, he’s for sure laughing at how much of poetic cheeseball I am. He’s not one for being in the spotlight. But how I see you, is how God sees you. And I hope this picture will remind everyone to do the same for all people. I think I speak for everyone when I also say, thank you for your service.