Word on the Street, Shake ‘N Take, Pirate Versus Pirate, Cloud 9, 10 Days in the America’s are all names that LDS Church member Alan Joseph Waller is very familiar with. He is the company president of Out of the Box Publishing, which creates board and card games.
“A family that plays together and laughs together has a better chance of staying together,” he said.
The husband and father of five is very devoted to not only his family but helping other families to have quality time with each other as well.
In a society where everyone seems to be scheduled to the max, Waller has a plan to counter that.
“All our games are designed to be learned in less than five minutes and to be played in 10-30 minutes,” Waller said. “Families of today do not have the time to invest in lengthy games that take hours to learn and days to play."
Waller’s dedication to families comes from a strong faith in the gospel. He is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I call my story ‘The Conversion of Alan the Younger,'" Waller said.
"I was raised by loving parents who attended Catholic Church every week in the city of Madison in Wisconsin," he said. "Dad taught me from a young age, if you always tell the truth you never need to change your story. Mom also taught me to serve others as I watched her help many relatives and friends during my early years."
Waller attended a Catholic school and was taught by nuns from second to eighth grade and served as an altar boy.
"I learned at an early that there was a god," Waller said. "I learned about prayer and was taught how to recite the same prayers over and over again. We always offered the exact same pray over meals, but it taught me the importance of giving thanks before we ate."
His family would listen to scripture readings at church, but that was the extent of their family study. He also started asking questions.
"When I was 11-years-old, I asked our religion teacher, 'What happens to us after we die?' He was not able to give me an answer and said that nobody knows," Waller said. "By age 16, I started questioning my faith. I continued asking questions to the priests, and they did not have the answers."
And his search for answers didn't end.
“Somehow in my heart I did not accept that everything was a mystery. For a few years I was not very close to God. Not that I felt he went away, it was just that I felt I knew everything and I really did not need his help," Waller said. “Looking back now, those were the loneliest and least happy times in my life.”
Looking for new directions, he sought the Lord.
“I was 20 and took a road trip to Colorado to look for work. I was afraid of my future and knew my current path was not pointing in the right direction. I was camping up in the mountains, and for the first time in several years I decided to say a prayer," Waller said. ”I knelt in my tent and asked God for guidance on what to do with my life. To my amazement, I actually got an answer to go back to Madison and things would work out."
Waller took a health class from a teacher named Ann Cue. He decided to call her home business and order an air purifier. She suggested that he come over, and he said, “How about Sunday?” Cue politely said no, they did not conduct business on Sunday.
“I was shocked that someone refused to take my money when I wanted to give it to them,” he said. “Of course I had to ask the question why, and Ann was happy to tell me about her religious beliefs. She invited me over to her house the following Tuesday to meet her husband and children. I bought the air purifier and also agreed to return again to meet with the missionaries.”
The convert had a few eye-opening moments in his quest for learning.
“During my first meeting with the missionaries, they taught me about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. It was hard for me to accept the concept of a modern-day prophet, but then when they explained that Heavenly Father loves us just as much today as he love the people back in the time of Moses, it felt right to me," he said.
Meeting with the missionaries, Waller noticed something unusual.
"The missionaries had so many things underlined and marked in their scriptures," he said. "I asked them if it was legal to write in the scriptures. I had never seen anyone write notes or mark up a Bible before!"
After investigating the church for six weeks, he was baptized on Jan. 18, 1981.
Since Waller was already 21 years old when he joined the LDS Church, he didn’t think he needed to serve a mission. He fasted and prayed, searching for an answer.
“I received my patriarchal blessing, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord wanted me to go on a mission," he said. "I entered the MTC on March 25, 1982, and served a full-time mission in Manchester, England.“
Waller has since held many callings in the church and remains strong in his faith.
Becky Robinette Wright is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Virginia.