Monday, April 28, 2014

Missionaries make the local news! From the Anniston Star Newspaper...

Two by two ... Missionaries want to meet Jacksonville residents
From the Anniston Star Newspaper 
Apr 22, 2014
by Lori Tippets

 You can see them walking or riding a bike on the side of the road, well dressed, well groomed and always in twos.

These are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) better known as Mormon missionaries.

Two years ago president of the LDS church, Thomas S. Monson, announced a change in the minimum age for missionaries, lowering the age for the men from 19 to 18 and for the women from 21 to 19. The lowering of the ages created a surge of new missionaries and increased the number of missionaries currently serving a mission for the church to 84,820 worldwide. There were 58,000 missionaries serving when the age change was announced.

The missionaries are not paid. They, or their families, take care of the cost of their missions.
Two of these missionaries, Sister Casperson and Sister Nelson serve in the Jacksonville area.
Both missionaries were thrilled with the lowering of the age. Sister Casperson (while serving a mission the missionaries take the name of Sister or Elder rather than their first name) didn’t have to wait until she was 21 to go on a mission. She heard the announcement change when she had just turned 19 and sent her papers in right away.

Both Sister Casperson and Sister Nelson admitted that going on a mission when they were 19 was much more desirable then when they were 21. At 19 they had both just finished a year of college, at 21 they would be close to graduating and going on a mission then would be a lot harder.
For the young men, they can now leave right out of high school without starting college and interrupting their education.

While going on a mission for the church is highly recommended, it isn’t required.

After interviews with local church authorities, prospective missionaries submit their papers to the missionary department in Salt Lake City, Utah. They then wait for a letter to arrive in the mail and find out where the church will be sending them. Missions are not requested so the young missionary can be sent to any of the 103 missions in the United States or 405 missions worldwide.

Before their mission young people have an opportunity to go to four years of Seminary while in high school where they spend one year learning from the New Testament, another the Old Testament, Book of Mormon and Church History. Usually these classes were taught in early morning hours before school.

“I wish I had done more,” admits Sister Casperson about her preparation. “I did have five months from the time I received my mission call to the time I left so I did a lot more reading of the scriptures than I’ve ever done. I also took a class to prepare me to be a missionary and spent a lot of time praying for the strength to leave my family and to be able to teach people.”

Sister Casperson, from Inkom, Idaho, says that the hardest thing for her was leaving behind her family. “Especially my little cousins and my best friend’s children,” said Sister Casperson.
Missionaries live by strict and rigid rules. There is no dating, no movies, no music other than religious music, and no television.

They work six days a week, taking one day to catch up on cleaning, washing clothes and going to the store.

They can email their families once a week, usually at a public library where they can have access to a computer. They can call home only twice a year, once on Mother’s Day and once on Christmas. They can have no cell phones except for the ones that the mission gives them for the area they are in.

Sister Nelson, from Gig Harbor, Wash., explained what a day is like for the missionaries.

“We wake up at 6:30 in the morning and exercise for one-half hour. We don’t leave our apartments but can exercise in a gym if our apartment complex has one. I usually do yoga or abs and leg exercises.”

After that the missionaries shower, eat breakfast then have study time, one hour alone, another hour with their companion. They study the scriptures, Old Testament, New Testament and the Book of Mormon as well as Preach My Gospel, a manual of lessons that the missionaries teach by.

The day continues for the missionaries when they leave their apartments and go out to preach the gospel, either going door-to-door or following up on referrals. They take time off for lunch and dinner, usually at members’ homes or they grab a quick sandwich.

The missionaries are back in their apartments at 9 p.m. and they spend an hour planning for the next day. At 10:30 it’s lights out.

Missionaries always go in pairs, for safety reasons and says Sister Nelson, “to have two witnesses of the gospel; we can support each other.”

The missionaries stay in one area then one or both of the companions are transferred to another area, another companion.

All of the hard work and separation from home and loved ones is worth the sacrifice, according to Sister Casperson and Sister Nelson.

“The most rewarding thing is watching people change their lives,” said Sister Casperson. “Being able to help people who are not happy or are feeling down or don’t have peace.”

“One of the reason I came on a mission was to be able to help everyone strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ,” added Sister Nelson.

Richards D. Hanks, president of the Alabama Birmingham Mission is pleased with the missionaries.

“These are the highest quality, highest caliber, most polite young people,” he said. “They are courteous and have given up 18 months to two years of their life and money to serve their God and fellow man. They have come to teach two things, the Savior’s words and the Savior’s works. They are phenomenal young people, and we are blessed to have them here.”

Several young people from this area are currently serving missions. Spencer Douglas is in the Colorado, Denver Mission, and Jayson Parkhurst is serving in the Brazil Fortaleza Mission. Both are Oxford graduates. Two brothers who graduated from Weaver are serving missions at the same time. Kirby Fausnaught is on a mission in St. Petersburg, Russia, while younger brother Brady is in the Adriatic North Mission.

Jocelyn Cunningham, a Jacksonville graduate, is in the Washington Everett Mission


  1. Love this article! Was so happy to read it :) Thanks for posting
    Sis Casperson's mom :)

  2. Great article! These are incredible missionaries. I love the Church's missionary program!!!
    These are amazing, dedicated young people! Thanks for sharing this article. Our daughter loved serving in Anniston!
    Sister Elaine Ray