Mormons Elders sacrifice two years on mission
Published: Monday, June 25, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07
Wearing their signature white button ups, ties, and nametags, Elder Chang and Elder Chavarra stand out from the crowd next to the sandwich board in the middle of Academic Plaza. Despite their presence on campus, few students realize these men have given up everything to be here.
Chang and Chavarra are on mission to Bryan-College Station as representatives of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They do not attend classes or work in the area, their sole purpose for being on campus is to share their faith and bless others.
“As missionaries we take two years off, we leave our families,” Chang said. “We give up everything to do missionary work. So we do this all the time, 24/7.”
Their mission work includes sharing the gospel on campus, meeting with students, and doing volunteer work in the community. There are 55,000 full time Latter-day Saints missionaries around the world.
Going on mission is common practice for Mormons ages 19 to 26. While it is not required, it is expected. When they submit their applications for mission, the 12 apostles who lead the national church review it, and then send back an assignment.
“You don’t know where you’re going to go. We believe it’s by inspiration that they are sent to a particular part of the world, and that’s where you stay for two years,” Nixon said.
A Mormon’s mission lasts for two years. While serving as missionaries, one is expected to follow a strict schedule. Every day they follow the same schedule. They wake up at 6:30 a.m., work out, study the Bible for two hours, spend the rest of the day doing mission work in pairs and go to sleep at 10:30 p.m.
“For me the drastic change (was difficult),” said Chavarra. “10:30, going to sleep and 6:30, waking up was a drastic change for me, but I’m used to it.”
This means they are not allowed to see movies, television or listen to popular music. They are allowed to call home twice a year, on Mother’s Day and Christmas. Dating is off limits for missionaries, as is living by their own schedule.
“It teaches you how to rely on the Lord, and definitely pray. Because you can’t call home,” Chavarra said.
Kalan Clark, senior philosophy major, completed his mission and now serves as the world mission leader. He organizes mission efforts to the Bryan-College Station area. He said at the end of the mission, the hope of the missionary is to have served God in a way that pleases him so that he can accept your service.
While serving in Idaho, Clark was told by a fellow church member that at the end of his mission he would know where he stands with the Lord.
“He said to me, ‘Live so that when that moment comes, you will know that your service was accepted.’ I took that to heart. I worked my absolute hardest,” Clark said.
When he returned home, Clark said this moment was emotional and meaningful.
“He sat me down and he said, ‘Elder Clark, I’m going to take your nametag from you, and I release you from your calling.’ Of course, I cried quite a bit because I loved being a missionary, but I knew in that moment that the two years that I served were accepted by the Lord.”
Both Chang and Chavarra’s parents were converted to Mormanism by missionaries, so the cause is especially meaningful to them.
“I know that it is because of two elders, it drastically changed my family, specifically my parents, for the better. I wanted to be able to do that in someone’s family as well,” Chavarra said.
After serving their mission, Chang and Chavarra will return to a world outside of tucked-in shirts and nametags. They both plan to finish earning their college degrees and pursue a career while living a missionary lifestyle.