“They do that thing, going from door to door because they get to go to school for free,” said Richard Montoya of the Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
“It’s money,” said Lupe. “I don’t answer my door to them because they are going to ask for money. I don’t have money.”
There are many misconceptions about what the Missionaries do and why. I’ve heard so many different explanations. The ideas range from getting a free college education to not being able to get married or buy a home if they don’t serve a Mission.
Then, there was Jeff Rutledge, a man I met outside Furr’s Cafeteria. Chantilly had taken five Missionaries for dinner, and he wanted to know who they were.
“That bunch,” he chuckled. “That bunch thinks they are going to be getting on some UFO that’s up there under the Temple in Salt Lake. Yep, that’s quite a bunch you got there.”
Regardless of the misconceptions and doors slammed in their faces these young men and woman go out day after day, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Still, I wanted to know about what they do. So, I met with two Sister Missionaries: Sister Dean and Sister Albrecht.
The first Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was Samuel H. Smith, the younger brother of Joseph Smith. Samuel Smith travled from city to city covering well over 4,000 miles in the work of spreading the Gospel.
Today, Missionaries span the globe. There are 399 current Missions with a total of 65,137 Missionaries, giving two years (eighteen months for Sisters) of their lives to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before them.
Sister Dean and Sister Albrect are just two such Missionaries, who served in El Paso, Texas as part of New Mexico’s Albuquerque Mission.
“We deovte our time to service other people, to talking about Jesus Chrsit,” said Sister Dean. “We do as much as we can to help other people feel God’s love.”
One of the key activities in the life of a Missionary is helping others.
“I ain’t a member of their church,” said Robert, who lives in Clint, Texas. “But, when I was moving from West El Paso back out to here they [a set of Elders, who are male Missionaries within the Church] helped me pack and load on one end and another bunch help with the unloading out here.”
Robert is an example of how the Missionaries don’t limit their service to just members of the Church. They also find ways to service within other Churches, as well as other orginizations. A couple of examples would be when all the Missionaries from the Socorro Ward assisted Ysleta Lutheran Mission Human Care during one of their food and backpack distributions. The same Ward also helps El Pasoans Fighting Hunger each week.
“Before I came on my Mission, I went to BYU Idaho and in a lot of my classes there were lots of Returned Missionaries,” said Sister Albrect. “Watching them in the classes and hearing their stories, it kind of like motivated me or it was very inspiring to me that they decided to give up that time of their life to serve God.”
For those eighteen months to two years, everything a Missionary does is about serving God and providing His service to others. But I wondered, do their reasons for serving a Mission ever change?
“Since being out [as a Missionary}, I realized that my reason of serving has changed,” said Sister Albrecht. “First, it was because I saw these kids coming home and I thought that was so cool. I want to be like them. Then I realized I wanted to be a stay at home mom and I still do, but I needed that knowledge for myself. Watching people, like people on the side of the road that don’t have any food or the single mom that that is struggling or whatever the situation is, I realized that I can’t be selfish and hold that knowledge for myself. I have to share it to everyone to tell people that they can find hope and find peace in Jesus Christ. So slowly my reason of serving has changed. But that’s, that’s my reason right now.”
“Once I understood that Jesus Christ is there for me, that He’s real, that He lives,” said Sister Dean. “Once I understood that our Heavenly Father not only loves me, but loves Sister A and everyone else, once you start to understand those things and how much happiness comes with having a testimony of that, then it’s almost natural to want to give that to other people.”
When you look at the life of a Missionary, and the various reasons they serve, they all reach the point of self conversion, of receiving a Testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus spoke, He spoke of action. In Matthew 25 He talks about about how we serve Him in the people we see:
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Christianity, practical Christianity as preached by Jesus Christ is a faith of service, a faith of love and forgiveness. The Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints embody this.
“I stopped going to my old church,” said Hector, “because I got into some trouble and spent some time in jail for a DWI. They just all wanted to say that I was a sinner and it was all hopless.”
For Hector, things were so bad that he felt as if he would lose hope of Heaven and seeing his parents again.
“I met the elders over near where I work,” said Hector. “I told them why I didn’t want nothing to do with them. They told me that there is forgiveness and love. They helped me through a lot of things. I became a member of the Church.”
Be it someone in need of shifting homes, mowing the lawn, or hearing of the love and forgiveness of God, the Missionaries will be there. Even when you slam a door in their faces, or your dog chases them down the street, there is no anger or animosity, only love and service.
“Well, if I have one thing to say, and it was the last thing I was going to say to the whole world, it would definitely be that Jesus Christ is real,” said Sister Dean. “I didn’t understand what that meant before that when people would say He lives, I don’t understand that. But I understand now that it means that He once had a body and He died for all of us. Then He was resurrected and He has that same body again. He’s not some force that’s just out there, but He’s close to us and He’s real. He lives. And I’ve come to know who Jesus Christ is as I’ve studied the scriptures, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, they make sense together. I promise every single person out there that if you have questions, and you feel sad, and you want answers to your questions, and you want to feel happy, if you turned to Jesus Christ, and if you look for those answers, God will help you out.”
“If I could tell every person in the world one thing, it’d probably be that they are children of God,” said Sister Albrecht. “That is the most important lesson that I have learned on my Mission is that we are loved and that Heavenly Father loves us very much and we are His children and He would do anything for us if we ask Him. We just need to put forth the effort to pray to Him and to seek Him. I know that Jesus Christ lives, that He died for us and that He’s our older brother, our Savior, and that He wants us to come back to him just like our Heavenly Father does.”
Before we close out this article it should be known that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints asked that this article and video not be shared. Several reasons were given, all of with didn’t make sense then, were that the Sisters in the video were “acting too immature,” and “don’t properly reflect what the ideal Misisonay should present.”
These young men and women enter the Mission Field at the ages of 18-19. For many, this is their first time away from home for an extended period of time. I can only imagine how hard that must be. In the end I see nothing wrong with the way they carried themselves during the interview. I think it should be encouraged, to a degree, as it allows them to show that they are just like everyone else of the same age.
I also encourage you to watch the video, either by playing it above, or following the link below to our YouTube Channel.
In this interview, we speak with Sister Dean and Sister Albrecht. They tell us why they become Missionaries in the Church and what it means to be a Missionary. We’ll also hear about what they like the most, and the oddest situations they’ve faced in the mission field.
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