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Utah father, sons find spiritual fit with Lego hobby

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 29 2010 7:00 a.m. MST

Steven J. Van Wagenen and his sons have attached scripture study to their love of Legos.

The Sandy, Utah, family loves building things with Legos. Van Wagenen and sons Taylor, 12, and Matthew, 10, own more than 50 different sets. In the summer of 2005, they put together a visual diorama of a Book of Mormon story using Legos and role-played the story about Nephi, Sam, Laman and Lemuel going to retrieve the brass plates from Laban.

When they finished playing, they discussed the scripture story together — and "likening the scriptures" took on a whole new meaning.

With encouragement from his wife, Samantha, Van Wagenen and his boys put together a book called "Brick of Mormon Stories" containing depictions of beloved scripture stories using Legos.

"We started building the Lego scenes during our family vacation," Van Wagenen said. "Over the course of two weeks, I selected stories that we might want to illustrate and the scripture passages that we would want to use."

Van Wagenen then went to work with his sons to build a Lego diorama of each scene. Samantha's parents volunteered the family room at their home as a production studio as well as a giant stash of Legos to help build the story dioramas. Using pieces from more than a hundred sets, they put together scenes covering 26 stories and took 400 photos of their work.

Not everything from the Book of Mormon could be built with Legos, so only a limited selection of scripture stories were included.

The cover, selected photos, text and copyright all came together within a year, and the family project was ready to be printed.

"One of our favorite scenes to design was the tree of life and the great and spacious building from Lehi's dream," Van Wagenen said.

Each story in "Brick of Mormon Stories" contains a short synopsis along with photos of the sets. Below are full-text excerpts from the Book of Mormon.

The soft-cover, 220-page book was self-published and printed locally. To date, approximately 400 copies have been sold.

"Hopefully we have played a role in the lives of some children in helping them learn to love the stories from the Book of Mormon, especially in our own home, because we are having more frequent discussions about the stories in the Book of Mormon and the gospel principles they teach," Steve said.

For more information, visit www.BrickOfMormon.com.

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