JASON TURNER'S PERSONAL STORY
My Story, By Jason Turner
I grew up in the North West of England in a town called Wigan, most famous for its rugby team and for being in the title of a book by George Orwell.
The LDS Church was to play a major role in my life as I grew up. In fact, it became the focal point of my family's life, and at the age of 8 I was baptised and confirmed a member of the LDS Church by my father. My brothers and sisters would all be raised in the LDS Church and by 1980 I had 3 brothers and 2 sisters.
One of my earliest childhood memories was of having nightmares. It occurred over a period of several weeks and started after having been anesthetized by gas at the dentist. Almost every night, I would get up in the middle of the night and usually sleep walk into the living room where I would end up rummaging through the rubbish bin (trash can). Each night, when my parents got up and found me, I would be hysterical, crying, and telling them that I loved them.
As I moved into my teenage years, there was a side to my life with which I was generally content.
However, there was another side to my life which was causing some emotional pain.
By the time I reached the end of my teenage years, I had to make a decision about whether to go on a mission or not, as all young men in the LDS Church at 19 are expected to go on a mission.
After much thought, I decided that I would go on a mission, hoping that I would not be staying in the UK. I received my mission call and found out that I was going to Haiti. I was very pleased. I left England in September 1987 and flew to Utah via Chicago. It was the first time I had flown and it felt great to be away from home. In the MTC (Missionary Training Centre) in Provo, Utah, we studied the 6 missionary discussions as well as studying French and Haitian Creole.
We left for Haiti after 2 months in the MTC, and I spent the first 4 and a half months in a town called Les Cayes in the South West of Haiti. I really enjoyed my time there, and have mostly good memories of the place. I became reasonably proficient in Creole whilst I was there and gained some good experiences. After that I moved to Port-au Prince, the capital and would spend the next year or so in or close to the Port au Prince area. There were various words used in the mission to describe different types of missionaries. One such word was "straight" which had nothing to do with a person's sexuality, but was used to describe a person who stuck rigidly to the rules. Another was "brown noser" which was used to describe those who sucked up to those in authority so they could gain leadership positions themselves such as zone leader or Assistant to the President. Then there were those who "fe dezod" a Creole term literally meaning "do disorder " i.e broke the rules. One of the rules was that missionaries were not allowed to go swimming. Personally I did not fit into the first two categories but on occasion fell into the breaking the rules category, and on several occasions went swimming. Later, someone found out about this and reported this to the Mission President. For this, I was transferred from the Haiti mission to the Georgia, Atlanta mission in the USA along with another missionary. Two others were also transferred to missions in the States. There were many missionaries who broke the no swimming rule but just the four of us were transferred. I only had just over 2 and a half months of my mission left so it was not too bad and I got to experience life in the Southern USA for a while. Whilst I had been in Haiti, I had written to my best friend from college and explained what I was doing, and he had written back wishing me well. I felt that it was important that I did that in order to feel better about myself and be able to look forward.
After my first term at university, I returned home to Wigan for the Christmas vacation. During the Christmas period, I met an old school friend in a nightclub.
I had been going to church up until this point, but after having sex, I stopped going for a few weeks. However, I realised that I needed to go to church and talk to the bishop of my local ward in Nottingham (a bishop in the LDS church being the equivalent of a priest in the Catholic church or a vicar in the Anglican church) so that I could move forward with my life. In the LDS church, a person is not supposed to have sex outside of marriage, and if they do so, they are supposed to go and confess what they have done to their bishop or another church leader. So that is what I did, and after doing so was disfellowshipped from the LDS Church. This basically meant that I was still officially a member of the LDS Church and could attend meetings but I could not actively participate in any church meetings. For example, I could not pray vocally or give a talk in a church meeting. I also could not use the priesthood authority which I had been given, which meant that I could not bless or pass sacrament or perform any tasks that were undertaken by a priesthood holder.
After this, I stopped drinking and started attending church regularly again, and about a year later I was finally admitted back into full fellowship in the Church. At university, things were going quite well, and I made a few good friends and had no problem in telling them that I was a Mormon. However, I rarely explained much to them about the Mormon faith except to explain that it was the reason I did not drink alcohol. Besides studying, my time at university mainly revolved around going watching different bands at venues in the Nottingham area as well as other venues in the country, and after I finished university, I was able to attend the famous Glastonbury festival on three occasions with my best friend from university.
After three years at Nottingham Uni, I graduated and unable to find some work at first I moved back to my parent's house in Wigan. I found my first job shortly afterwards as an assistant manager in a newsagents shop in a small town just outside of Wigan. After several months, the manager went on long-term sick and I became deputy manager. I enjoyed the job, but it entailed getting up at 5am for a 6am start, and the money wasn't great, so when my dad asked if I'd be interested in working at his place as an insurance agent, I decided that I would give it a go. I had helped my dad many times over the years going to people's houses to collect insurance premiums, so I knew about that side of the job and felt comfortable doing that. I started well in the job, and after about six months decided to buy my own house, and moved in there along with my brother who would pay me rent.
Around this time, I began having an affair with a woman I had met in a nightclub in Manchester. Going to Manchester on a Friday night was a regular event with my best friend who also happened to be an ex companion of mine from my mission in Haiti. He was also from the North West of England. Anyway, I spent the next couple of months or so seeing this woman, who had recently split up from her husband. When my mother found out about this, she was none too pleased. I was the Elder's Quorum President in my ward at the time, but once my relationship became sexual, I told the bishop that someone else would have to take over from me. After a while our relationship ended, and and after some prompting from my father, I went and met with the Stake President (a Stake President being the equivalent of a bishop in the Catholic Church). After discussing with him what had happened, I was told that I would be put on probation, which was a lesser punishment than disfellowshipment, and basically meant that I had to meet with the Stake President on a regular basis for a period of time. One conversation that we had concerned masturbation in which I said that I had problems with masturbation. In fact I had masturbated regularly since I was about 13. The LDS Church did not look favorably upon masturbation and it was certainly considered a sin. The Stake President's reply was honest but at the same time quite disconcerting as he said that "we all do that". He also told me about someone in the stake that was having problems with their gender identity as they had both male and female genitalia.
Around this time, I was beginning to find Sunday meetings quite tedious at times, but I found Institute classes during the week very interesting, mainly due to the teacher who was using materials in the classes that I had never encountered before. One person he referred to quite regularly was an LDS scholar/ writer named Hugh Nibley. During the mid 90s, I read several of Hugh Nibley's books, and felt particularly motivated by his book "Approaching Zion". Here was someone in the LDS church that was saying things that I had always believed but that I rarely heard anyone in the LDS church speak about.
Around this time, I began to find it very difficult to cope with going to work, and I quit my job at the insurance company. I got a summer job at a children's amusement park, but had to take a couple of weeks off there as I found it difficult to face work again. I began to feel that if I was ever going to find the truth in my life the I had to be prepared to lose everything even my life if necessary. Relationships within my family became strained and at one point, I had to order my mother out of my house. I had another job working at a gas station for a while, but quit that when the stress became too much. For about 5-6 months, I communicated as little as possible with people, grew a beard, and for the first time since I was about 13 years of age, I did not masturbate, and during this period had a couple of wet dreams, something I had never experienced up until that point. In the summer of 1996, my mother gave me some money to go to Ireland and spend some time hitchhiking with my brother around the west coast.
My financial situation was not looking too good around this time, but I had simply stopped caring about that. I had even thought about just walking away from everything although I soon realised that was not really an option. I had even spent one cold night sleeping rough in London. That simply resulted in teaching me that being homeless is not a good place to be. It also taught me that there are people out there who do care about social problems as I was given some sandwiches during the night.
I was soon sectioned, which meant that I could not leave the hospital for 28 days. During that time, I tried my best to communicate as little as possible with everyone, but did so occasionally if I felt comfortable in the person's presence. There were plenty of people who visited me, including several people from church. I refused to cooperate with the psychiatrist at first, and would not take my medication. This led to the psychiatric nurses having to hold me down on a couple of occasions so they could shove a needle in my backside. On both occasions they did this, I spat at them just to show them that I still had a certain amount of control over the situation.
In the end, the thing that broke my resolve to keep fighting the system was when my nana (grandmother on my mother's side) visited me, and I decided that I wanted to go home. There were some difficulties with this and after spending a couple of days at my nana's house and a couple of days in my own house, I resorted to taking to my bed again as I felt disconnected from everything. This time, the police came and after a little bit of a struggle on my part took me back to hospital. Soon afterwards. I left hospital and moved back in with my parents as it was obvious I could not cope on my own.
I felt like a broken man physically and emotionally and now felt like I had nothing to lose.
After working at the bakery for a few months, I came home one day, and knew that I couldn't face it again. After I hadn't been in contact for a couple of days, my mother came round to see me, and as she could tell things weren't right, she stayed the night. The next day, I wouldn't let her leave the house and effectively held her hostage for a few hours. Fortunately, that day I had arranged for the cable TV company to come round, and when they knocked on the door, I left the house, and just held on to their van, and refused to let go. Obviously, something was not right, but it felt like the only way to feel connected to the world was to do what I was doing. Eventually, the police came, handcuffed me, and took me to the psychiatric hospital. The hospital I was taken to this time was on the other side of Wigan as the hospital I had been in a couple of years previously had either closed or was in the process of closing down.
Things ran more smoothly this time and after a couple of weeks or so, I left the hospital and began to feel better. During the year 2000, I worked for a finance company for a few months, but soon realised this was not for me. In the summer of 2000, I did a two day TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course which I enjoyed, and from then on, began to look at the prospect of teaching English overseas.
During the late 1990s, I had begun using the internet, and had contacted a few old friends from my mission in Haiti. I found that one of my friends (the one who had been transferred to the Georgia Atlanta mission with me) was teaching English in Korea. After looking at the best places to teach English, Korea looked like a good choice. In March 2001, I left England and flew to Korea to begin teaching in a town called Yongin, just south of Seoul. I began teaching at a private language school called Jungchul English Junior. When I first arrived at the school, I soon realised that a certain Korean teacher was attracted to me. As I was new to the country, and needed help with various things, she was able to take advantage of the situation and we ended up sleeping together on several occasions. However, she was married with two children and when I demanded that the affair had to stop, she wasn't happy, and I was left with only one option, and that was to talk to the school owner's husband, and tell him what had happened, and to let him know that either she left or I would. I also told him that I was a Mormon and that I would like to attend church. I hadn't been to church for about 5 or 6 years at this point but felt that I needed to talk to someone in the Church about what had happened since I had been in Korea. He found the address of an LDS church for me, and took me there on the Sunday. The service was all in Korean, so I didn't understand much, and didn't feel right about speaking to any leaders there.
I decided that I would contact my Stake President back in England by email, and tell him what had happened, and that I wanted my name taken off the Church records as I no longer felt that being LDS/Mormon was right for me. He replied and told me that there would have to be a church court because of the things that I had told him. I then emailed him to tell him to contact a certain family friend who had been a member of the Stake Presidency, who I had told about sleeping with lots of prostitutes. Eventually, the Stake President wrote back to tell me that I had been excommunicated from the LDS Church. It felt right as I no longer desired to be a member of the LDS Church, and it felt like a burden had been lifted.
Towards the end of my first year in Korea, I was able to return to my birthplace,Sydney, Australia, and spend a week with some old friends during the Christmas period. During my second year in Korea, I was able to attend a couple of World Cup football games, one of which (Ireland v Spain) was with a Korean woman with whom I had become good friends. The second Christmas in Korea, I travelled to the Philippines and spent a week with a Filipino woman and her family that I had met while living in Korea. After 2 years in Korea, I decided to return to England, unsure of what I would do next. After a couple of months at home, I decided to go to Santiago de Compostela, Spain and do the Cambridge CELTA course (a one month course in teaching English as a foreign language). This was only the third time I had been to continental Europe. The other two times being trips to France, once when I was 15 and the other when I was 21, when I did a 3 legged (chained to a friend) hitch-hike to Paris from Nottingham University. After the course in Spain, I returned to England with the intention of going to Japan, and attended an interview in London, but whilst I was waiting for the references to come through, I was offered a job in Oman in the Middle East, and decided that I would take it.
I flew out to Oman in the fall of 2003, and began teaching at Sur University College in the town of Sur. Whilst I was at the college, we were short of a teacher and so the college offered a job to a New Zealander who had been travelling around Oman after taking a break from DJing in Abu Dhabi, UAE. This guy happened to be an ex Mormon, and we soon struck up a good friendship. Around this time I had also been spending time on an LDS dating website, and had contacted a woman who had been born in Korea, moved to Oman as a young child, before moving to Australia in her teenage years and becoming an Australian citizen, before becoming a Mormon and moving back to Korea to teach English. Connecting with these two people got me thinking a lot about the Mormon faith/Church and I reread 'Approaching Zion' during this period as well a book about Joseph Smith and polygamy. During my time in Oman, I also read the Koran and did some travelling around Oman, as well as taking a trip through Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. I think Jordan was the highlight of the trip, bathing in the Dead Sea, as well as taking a plunge in the River Jordan, whilst the Israeli army watched on from the other side of the river. After about 15 months in Oman, I returned to England before leaving for Korea a couple of months later.
In March 2005, I returned to Korea and a few weeks later after contacting the Korean-Australian woman that I had met online, I began attending church. This was an English speaking branch, and I enjoyed going to church and meeting some new people and became good friends with a few people. I also began to contemplate whether getting rebaptised in to the LDS church would be the right thing to do.
During this time, I began reading lots of books about religion, particularly Buddhism and other faiths such as Bahai and Caodai. I also bean searching on the internet, and came across various websites on Mormonism. It ws around this time that I came across the www.thesealedportion.com website and as I read through the Sealed Portion, I knew that if the Book of Mormon was true, then so was this. As I was a believer in the Book of Mormon, I was able to accept the Sealed Portion. It answered a lot of questons that I had pondered in my life, and it soon became obvious that I no longer needed to carry on attending the LDS church. Having this knowledge was great, but I also felt that having this knowledge, and then having to face work and the world in general was not proving to be easy. In the spring of 2006, I moved to a new school. During the year that I was there, I managed to visit Beijing, in China and Taipei, in Taiwan. By the time I went to Taiwan, around the fall of 2006, I could feel my life was beginning to unravel and after being unable to sleep on my last night in Taipei, I went out and had sex with a street prostitute in a brothel. A few months later, in Korea, I would find myself drinking in a bar/brothel in Seoul, vomiting, falling over, and being taken to a hospital in an ambulance.
By this time, I knew that I had to return home to England. A couple of months later, I returned home, but found it difficult to deal with being in the same house as my father, and after a confrontation with him, I hit him and then left for Dublin, Ireland to give myself some space. After several days in Ireland, I decided that I would return to Oman. However, I was not in a good frame of mind, and things slowly began to fall apart, and after I had been there about 4 and a half months I attempted to kill myself by driving my car off the road. However, I simply succeeded in making a mess of the car, and doing little physical damage to myself. I was carried from the car by some passing Omanis and taken to hospital, where I asked to see a psychiatrist. People automatically thought that the crash had been an accident, and so I played along with that. My father flew out to spend a few days with me, before I resigned from my job and flew back to England in February 2008.
It was only in the summer of 2009 that I was able to tell my sister and then my parents that the crash was not an accident and that I had briefly wanted to take my own life. After returning from Oman, I had felt extremely depressed at times,and the thought of suicide often entered my mind. At some point I began looking at the sealed portion website again, and found that more books had been added to it. Eventually I read the Human Reality book, and it answered a lot of questions that I had had for a long time, and helped me to move forward with my life. In 2011, I got a job, working in a supermarket, and as of November 2012, I am still working at the supermarket, and am generally looking forward to the future.
I have now read all the books of the MWAW that have been published so far and watched the videos.
It all fits neatly into my personal belief system.
If you have read any of the books from cover to cover feel free to contact me.
WHAT IS THE VOICE OF THE 'ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS' TELLING US? Ask Him Yourself!
© 2005 A Marvelous Work and a Wonder Purpose Trust