Al Fox | A Modern Mormon Pioneer

She calls herself “the Tattooed Mormon,” but I call her a modern Mormon pioneer.

Why? Because the story of her conversion so similar to that of the early pioneers…

Although my ancestry is rich with pioneer heritage, I’ve really never known what its like to convert to Mormonism. Oh sure, I’ve had my own “conversion” to Mormonism (wherein I had to decide if I really believed in it) but I’ve never really had to pay the price for that conversion; a price previously paid by my pioneer predecessors.

But Al? Al’s a modern Mormon pioneer.

LDS Living Magazine

LDS Living Magazine

Like Joseph Smith (the very first Mormon pioneer), Al’s conversion began in the Sacred Grove, with her first vocal prayer to know the truth. After discovering the reality of God, and the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel, Al decided to be baptized. But, like Joseph Smith and those early pioneers, Al also discovered that there is “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11), even good things. She lost friends, started having problems with her family, and even struggled with members in the Church that judged her because of her tattoos.

Although she knew she was doing the right thing, Al felt very alone. In her loneliness, Al turned to God and “did a lot of experimenting,” testing His promises in The Book of Mormon and pressing forward with all of the good things she felt prompted to do.

And this is the part where Al proves she’s a modern pioneer: Without really knowing anyone in Utah, Al felt prompted to move to the Beehive State (keep in mind, this is a convert moving from a place near Palmyra—the similarities are stunning!).

So Al packed her bags and headed west. When she reached Chicago (not far from Nauvoo) to eat and rest she said: “I was consumed with fear and doubt and anxiety and temptation—temptation to go back where things made sense, back to New York. And I knew I needed to keep going, because I knew it was the right thing.” 

And so, not daring to stop her car for anything other than gas (seriously, she didn’t even stop for food), Al drove across the Mississippi River and didn’t stop until she reached Rocky Mountains (is that not a modern pioneer?!).

But the real thing that causes me to view her as a modern Mormon pioneer is her colossal faith—a faith that would cross the plains, build a temple, and overcome any obstacle. And look at the fruits of her faith! Since coming to Utah, Al has been on magazines, in the newspaper, on television, on the radio and is one of the most sought after LDS speakers. Her schedule is literally book every day until the end of the year (I know, I saw it!).

Hanging out with Al Fox!

Hanging out with Al Fox!

But more than all of the media coverage, Al’s story has reignited the faith of thousands. I can’t tell you the number of people who have been touched by Al’s testimony (they are innumerable), but I can tell you that I have personally been touched by her story.

Since 2006, I’ve produced a lot of LDS videos (mostly for YouTube) and I’ve done quite a bit of blogging and other things to promote the Church and Joseph Smith. However, for the past two years…I just hadn’t been feeling it, you know? I used to have such enthusiasm for the Restored Gospel (especially Church History and Joseph Smith) and I’ve been struggling to find that zeal again.

But Al’s testimony brought the fire of faith back into my life. Honestly, the woman exudes the Spirit. She is a powerhouse of faith and insight (the video I published isn’t even a tenth of what we talked about). After our interview, I drove from Provo to San Francisco, pondering for hours the things she had shared—and deeply and profoundly changed for the better.

Since our interview, I have remembered numerous spiritual insights, renewed several commitments, and have even updated my website to share my reignited faith (check out all my Joseph Smith stuff as an example). I even decided to publish my article “Recalled to Serve A Mormon Mission” in large part because of the enthusiasm I felt after my interview with Al.

I can’t thank you enough for your faith, Al. Please keep moving forward—your brave pioneering is blessing more lives than you know!

"Ask God, not Google." My favorite Al Fox quote (she said it during our interview)!

“Ask God, not Google.” My favorite Al Fox quote (she said it during our interview)!

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21 thoughts on “Al Fox | A Modern Mormon Pioneer

  1. God could be feelings-based. People join a church for social support and stability in their lives on a regular basis. Other religions go by their feelings too. Does that mean their religion is true? The real answers to the truthfulness of the church can be found on the churches own websites (LDS.org, josephsmithpapers.org, and byu.edu) but you have to read, search and think. You can also find the truth by reading books printed before the Book of Mormon, such as “Late War” by Gilbert Hunt, published before the Book of Mormon. Or look at page 184 of “A Key to the Classical Pronunciation of Greek, Latin, and Proper Scripture Names” by John Walker and see where the “Amalekites” and “Ammonites” really come from. Within that same book on page 205 you can see where the names “Laban,” “Lehi,” and “Lemuel” all come from (plus many others).

    BYU.edu has “History of the Church,” and you can see everything that led up to his death in the 6th and 7th volume and see how you feel about that. The Joseph Smith papers have the many differing accounts of Joseph Smith’s first vision. Read all of those and then ask God what to make of it. Read the new essays the church is putting out on LDS.org. You may have to use the evil Google to narrow down your search by typing in “LDS Church Essays.” You may have to go through a news source, such as “Deseret News” to get you there first, but you will see the new essays are on LDS.org. There is more to the church than just feelings. There are facts too.

    There are also red flags:
    “Follow the Prophet”
    Pay tithing to enter the temple
    “Doubt your Doubts”
    Sustain Your Leaders

    Be careful of the knee-jerk reaction to recoil and pretend you didn’t see this comment, or to make light of everything I’m telling you. I’m giving you honest truths to consider. Remember, there are many faiths out there that think they have the truth. They go by feelings. Google can really help a person consider the facts (reliable) before their feelings (not as reliable). Any church could say “Ask God, Not Google.” And to be honest, I’ve received some pretty good medical advice by asking Google, where I wouldn’t have if I had asked God.

  2. Seth, thank you for sharing all of your awesome adventures. And Al, I want to thank you for being so strong in the Gospel and for living it. You are a great example and your testimony is amazing. Thank you for being strong and for being a modern pioneer; your story is very inspirational.

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