“An Engineer of Joy,” For the Strength of Youth, Jan. 2022.
Patrick L., 16, from Bavaria, Germany, says his favorite subjects in school are math, physics, and chemistry. In fact, he likes science so much that he wanted to share it with others by writing a book about physics (on thermodynamics and magnetism, to be precise).
He wants to be an engineer for his career, developing technical equipment like automotive engines. (By the way, the headquarters of automakers BMW and Audi are just an hour and an hour-and-a-half away from where he lives.)
But science isn’t the only place where Patrick finds energizing, exciting things.
Yes, Patrick has a deep love of science, but his interests range far beyond cold, hard facts and formulas.
“I’ve written a physics book, but now I’m doing a fantasy book,” he explains. “The book I’m writing is about magical creatures and their world. And then there are a few young people who solve the problems.”
This latest side project was inspired by Patrick’s love of fantasy novels such as the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series. Writing books on the side is something Patrick got into after his uncle told him how much fun it can be. “He infected me with his joy,” says Patrick.
That infectious joy led Patrick to take what he had learned about the rules and realities of the physical world and write a book about them. It also made him want to create a marvelously fantastical story. And there’s no contradiction in this. Patrick seems to know that truth and beauty and joy can be found in many places. And he wants to find, create, and share those things wherever they may be.
Patrick understands a great deal about the laws of the physical world. But he also looks beyond facts to see beauty there.
“I live near a forest,” he says. “That’s an advantage of living in a small town—you can go into the forest quickly and find peace there.”
He loves the many forest paths for hiking or, especially, biking. “I like cycling. It’s a big hobby for me,” he says. “I ride a lot. I once biked 1,200 kilometers [745 miles] in two weeks.”
Sometimes he likes to go hiking or biking in the forest with his whole family (Mom, Dad, two younger brothers, and two younger sisters) or just with his dad. Often he’ll go by himself. But he always finds peace and beauty in nature.
“Sunrises are especially beautiful around here,” he says. “Sometimes you can see the Alps from here even though they’re so far away. And when the sun rises, it’s mirrored, and with the mountains, you see this gorgeous red sky, and it’s really beautiful.”
In addition to the facts of natural science and the beauties of the natural world, Patrick also values truth—the kind of truth that can be found only through prayer.
“I have a strong testimony of prayer,” says Patrick. “Kneeling down, folding my hands, having peace and quiet, and then praying. This is what I have the greatest testimony of.”
He explains that his testimony comes partly from something he was told in his patriarchal blessing. “It says that I should always remember that Heavenly Father is only one prayer away from me,” he says. “You can talk to Him everywhere. He is there for you everywhere, and you can get answers everywhere.”
His experience with receiving answers to prayer is enhanced, he says, when he takes certain steps. “I feel the Holy Ghost so strongly with some prayers. When I consciously set goals, consciously have questions, consciously sit down and act as it says in the scriptures, and wait and invest time—when I manage to do that, I always have a strong testimony and feel the Holy Ghost.”
Patrick remembers one time he offered such a special prayer. “We talk a lot about Joseph Smith and how at age 14 he prayed and received an answer,” he says. “And so I sat down—I even went into the forest—and I prayed. And I received an answer. Then I was happy. And that strengthened my testimony.”
Just as he’s sought to share his scientific knowledge and his creative imagination, Patrick also seeks to share his spiritual knowledge.
Beginning at age 12, he has spent time helping the full-time missionaries. He also once invited a friend to his home to receive the missionary lessons. “We talked about the Restoration. He was interested. He listened well and participated and read scriptures. We read James 1:5, which Joseph Smith had also read. And I had him read from Joseph Smith—History. He was really engaged.”
His classmates at school respect his faith. “Instead of persecuting the Church, they support it,” he says. Even his teacher in his school’s religion class supports him. “He thinks it’s cool that I have faith in God and even helps me to achieve my goals.”
After he finishes school and qualifies for university studies, Patrick also plans to serve a full-time mission. “I’ll probably prepare by reading Preach My Gospel,” he says. “I’d like to stay on the ball and read, do the lessons, and also spend a lot of time with the missionaries.”
Patrick has learned that there are many things out there that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy,” and so he seeks after these things (Articles of Faith 1:13). And when he finds them, he shares them.
Whether in science, imagination, or nature, he finds exciting knowledge and sublime beauty wherever he turns. And he finds the highest knowledge, beauty, and truth through his relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.