Some of you loyal followers may have noticed my content has been lacking as of late. Now you will know why. Last night I competed in a Male Beauty Pageant called Mr. Fountain Valley.

How did I get roped into that you ask? Because I’m a Mormon! Let me explain, a few months ago I was getting ready for Church and listening to Sunday School Bonanza. The hosts were talking about how faithful Latter-day Saints should be more involved in their communities and referenced an old talk by M. Russell Ballard.

“Be in the world, but not of the world.” Elder Ballard suggests, “Perhaps we should state the couplet previously mentioned as two separate admonitions. First, “Be in the world.” Be involved; be informed. Try to be understanding and tolerant and to appreciate diversity. Make meaningful contributions to society through service and involvement.”

I was already the President of my service club, Fountain Valley Kiwanis, but I felt like I should be doing something more. So I prayed about what I could do and looked for a real public opportunity to tell people who I was. Then the opportunity presented itself. The Mr. Fountain Valley Pageant was coming up and our club needed a representative. I thought, “if it is to be, then it is up to me!”

Mr. Fountain Valley is a charity fundraiser and we elected to support our special project Brittany’s Closet. Twice a year we take kids in need shopping for new school clothes in memory of a little girl who passed away when she was only 4. In the past, the contestants from our club raised a couple thousand dollars at the event. Brittany’s Closet takes $5,000 a year to run, so I was feeling a lot of pressure to raise the bar. A friend of mine in last years event stripped down to a speedo and “accepted money into it.” He raised almost $1,000 from that alone! He suggested I do the same.

I decided that just wasn’t for me. I thought back to Peeta in the Hunger Games, “I just don’t want them to change me… Turn me into something I’m not… I wanna still be me.” I committed to have all my routines be in alignment with the For the Strength of Youth (which I think equally applies to adults) in regards to dress and grooming. Besides, not only do I represent the Church, as a member; but I also am officially representing a children-centric organization. So instead of focusing on sexy, which I would certainly fail at anyways, I’d focus on fun! Some friends helped me do One Direction’s “Beautiful” which I hope someone has posted you YouTube and The Aquabats donated a costume for my swimwear.

I had an absolute blast! It was so stressful coordinating with costuming not getting delivered, selling sponsor seating, creating routines, but once the day came and I arrived at the theatre all the nervousness melted away. I tried my best to be fun and helpful by bringing snacks and sodas to share and be kind to everyone backstage, I made sure to go out and greet and thank everyone who came to support me, and I did my darndest to put on a show that was well worth the price of admission!

But best of all, I helped to raise just about all the funds we needed to fund Brittany’s Closet for an entire year. No, I didn’t win, but I did come in as First Runner-up which isn’t too shabby. It was actually a great relief, as I feared I would hold to my standards and as a result not raise any money. Second place was a dream for me, and I have gotten so much positive feedback from the show and gratitude for what I have done for our organization.

As Mormons we do an awesome job at taking care of our own. When it comes to moving day, meals for families in crisis, or a blessing for the sick and afflicted we are there! As Latter-day Saints let us show that same level of dedication towards our communities. Be the PTA President, coach the kids’ soccer team, be on the board of the local Chamber of Commerce, you can even dance on stage for charity!   Christ has said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”