In a recent youth video filmed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (mistakenly referred to as the Mormon Church by members of other faiths), 19-year-old Caleb Ceran shares his testimony of the 2013 youth theme, “Stand Ye in Holy Places.” In the video he shares how the plan of salvation has helped him to see the blessings that can come through trials.

On Christmas Eve in 2006, while the family was driving home from a cast party for Hale Center Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” Ceran’s life was drastically changed in an instant when his mother, brother, and sister were killed in a tragic car accident.

Ceran recalls certain events just before the accident that he would later recognize as blessings.

“It was really interesting because my older brother, who passed away in the accident, was able to go and see some of his very best friends just before he died,” Ceran said. “He saw one of his best friends in a store, and he got to talk to him, and then he saw one of his other best friends in a ballet performance.” [1]

Ceran Family MormonCeran also recalls how he was able to spend time with his 7-year-old sister Julianna shortly before she was killed. “Before the accident, it seemed like everybody was kind of coming together, like people were able to say goodbye without even knowing it,” Ceran said. [1] He doesn’t remember a lot of the details of the accident, but he clearly remembers when his father came to tell him about the passing of his family members. “My dad told me we’d been in a really bad accident, and instantly my thoughts turned to my mom, Ian and Julianna,” Ceran said. [1]

As his dad gave him the news that three members of the family had been killed in the accident, Ceran said that he felt what he describes as an “overwhelming peace.” With a single tear wetting his cheek, he turned to his father and said, “It’s OK, Dad, we’re still a family.”

This was not the first time that Ceran had dealt with the loss of a loved one. He had in fact experienced the loss of five other siblings: three all under the age of 2 from a malignant brain tumor and twins who died at birth. Because of his strong LDS background, he was taught and grew up believing that families are eternal – that is, families can be together forever. The moment that he received the news that he had lost two more siblings and his mother, his testimony of forever families was reaffirmed with an “overwhelming peace” that has never left him. Instead of feeling anger and remorse, he was grateful for a merciful Father in Heaven who would reunite his mother with the five children who had passed away years earlier.

“I knew at that moment that God loved every one of us,” Ceran said. “There is no way my mom could have handled losing two more of her children. I can’t think of a better Christmas present for her than to see her children again.” [1]

Being able to forgive the drunk driver that caused the accident has also been a major blessing in Ceran’s life that has enabled him to move forward.

“I’ve never even thought to be angry at him, which sometimes makes me feel like I’m not a normal person,” Ceran said. “I hope that one day he’ll be able to find that hope and joy and find forgiveness through the Savior, so he can live a meaningful life.” [1]

Ceran strives to stay close to his mom, Ian and Julianna by trying to follow Jesus Christ and live His teachings, often thinking about what his mom would think of his life or if she would be proud of him. “I feel like those people beyond the veil are guiding me,” Ceran said.



He looks to his father as an example when it comes to being grateful rather than


questioning God. Instead of asking, “Why are you doing this to me?” or “Why are you not blessing me when I’m doing what’s right?”, Gary Ceran asks this question:


“Why are you trying to make me more like you?” [1] It is this perspective on life that has helped the Cerans to understand why they go through the trials and adversities in life that they do.

Ceran also cherishes the relationship he maintains with his 25-year-old sister, Clarissa, and his dad (the two other survivors of the accident), as well as new family members. In March of 2008, his father remarried, and a stepmother, Corrine Peterson, and four step-siblings joined the Ceran family. “I can’t even express how blessed I am that I have two amazing moms,” Ceran said.

In October of 2010, the family hosted four orphans from Ukraine for two weeks. After spending days attempting to communicate using a few words from each of the two tongues, the Ceran’s decided they wanted to adopt three of the children who were siblings. They were able to raise the $51,000 they needed by having garage sales and selling items door-to-door in different neighborhoods. Caleb was even able to sell the portrait he drew of President Thomas S. Monson for just more than $2,000.

During the adoption process, changes in Ukrainian laws attempted to ban Americans from adopting in that country, but after two trips to Ukraine, the Cerans returned with their three newest children: 14-year-old Christina, 11-year-old Alex and 9-year-old Jacob. “They are honestly some of my best friends,” Ceran said, speaking of his three new siblings. “I feel like I’m in a movie or something. It’s just too good to be true that we have them.” [1]

During his senior year of high school, Ceran began to struggle with resurfacing emotions of loss and to feel pain he’d never experienced before. Although he felt like a truly happy person, he realized he hadn’t completely been able to heal from his recent loss.

“Those pains and sufferings that I felt really helped me feel close to the Savior, and now I have so much more compassion for others,” Ceran said. “One of the greatest blessings of my trials has been to speak with other people who have dealt with trials.” [1]

It is through his times of trouble that Ceran has relied on prayer, scripture study, and playing the piano to bring him peace and comfort. He recently recorded a CD which will be released in the coming weeks. The proceeds from the sale of the CD will be used to help fund his LDS mission. One of the songs from the CD titled Part of Me has already been released on YouTube. The song was dedicated to the memory of his mother and his best friend who moved to Germany after high school graduation. Ceran says that the song is in essence his way of saying thank you to these two important people in his life, how grateful he is for the way that they inspired him, and that he will never forget them.

Additional Resources:

Mormon Families

The Meaning of Life

Worship with Mormons

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