Church Youth on Mission Trips by Trent Thomas

Dozens of young adults in our area recently received notifications they were selected to serve on a mission trip. They will join around 74,000 others that are currently serving locations in the United States and around the world. All of these young adults are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). “The purpose of the mission is twofold. These youth will find independence and self-confidence through being on a mission. The second purpose is to bring others unto Christ,” said John Hancock. John is a bishop of an LDS congregation in the Vail area.

Generally, those that volunteer for a mission trip are between the ages of 18-25. Most missions are nearly 2 years long at the same location. “This enables the missionary to get to know the culture, attitudes of the people in that area, and to be able to relate to them more directly,” John added.

Locally, the church currently has youth supporting international mission trips to places such as Uruguay, South Korea, Japan, South Africa, Argentina, and Chile. In addition to their international programs, local church youth from Vail are supporting locations in Missouri, Idaho, Washington, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Oregon.

Nick Harlow recently returned from a 2-year mission trip to Minnesota. His focus was communicating with people who only spoke the Spanish language in the Minneapolis area. “Prior to my mission, I only had 2 years of Spanish classes in high school. So I was sent to a 6-week mission training center in Mexico.” Nick added his language improved when he arrived in Minnesota, “I just learned from talking with the people in their language and I became quite conversational by the time I left.”

Like all LDS missionaries, Lindsey Henderson received the famous ‘big white envelope’ in the mail. Surrounded by family and close friends this last December, Lindsey opened the envelope that revealed her assignment location. “Ultimately, it was the inspiration from God of where I was needed the most,” Lindsey said.  She learned that starting in April she would spend 18 months in Long Beach, California. Although she doesn’t immediately have a language requirement, “It is a unique location because in the area I will be working, people speak both Cambodian and Spanish.” It is likely that she will need to communicate in multiple languages while on her mission.

For young adults challenged with such a big responsibility, the rewards can be great. “The most rewarding part of my mission was seeing the change in my maturity, growth of my personal strength, and my reliance upon my faith,” Nick said. Growing up, Nick admitted that he was pretty shy. Since his 2 year trip to Minnesota, he recognizes that he has expanded his comfort zone and is now quite social.

Mission volunteers are not paid for their work. “The church will fund my travel expenses, but all my necessities come from my family,” Lindsey stated. Lindsey also has a job and will continue to save prior to the start of her mission so that she can pay for her expenses.

As for the benefits of having the kids participate in these missions John stated, “I see a night and day difference from the youth that are leaving and the young adults that have returned from missions. They have confidence in themselves and noticeable excitement in their life. They realize life is not all about them, but about helping others.”

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