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Far from home: a day in the life of Mormon missionaries
FAR FROM HOME—Elder Beck, 19, (left) and Elder Thomas, 20, (right) from Utah, are on a two year mission for the Mormon church.
OXFORD—After spending years with friends and family, being able to play video games and watch television, Elder Beck of American Fork, Utah and Elder Thomas of Kaysville, Utah are a long way from home.
"The hardest part of the mission is being away from family, and not being able to snowboard or go horseback riding," 19-year-old, Beck said.
Every six weeks, the possibility of being moved is a constant reminder of how much life has changed for the two Mormon missionaries. Though they are always together, if relocated, only one missionary may be moved. If that happens, they will be partnered up with a new missionary.
Only six months into his mission, Beck has a year and a half left before his return home. Thomas has been out for a year, so he only has a year remaining.
During life back home, Beck would go to school until noon, then work until 6 p.m. at a tire shop because he aspires to become a mechanic. He mowed lawns, hung out with friends and rode horses.
Thomas's normal day consisted of waking up at 4 a.m. to get ready for work as the head baker at a veteran's home. He made enough desserts and breads for 120 people a day. He would go home around 1 p.m., go to the gym, help his brother with his landscaping business, then help his father until the end of the night. If his brother or father did not require help, he would go long-board skateboarding, play video games, go to the arcade and bowling alley with friends or go on dates.
"I was a normal 19-year-old," 20 year old Thomas said after admitting he typically went to bed around 8 p.m.
Now Thomas and Beck avoid worldly entertainment. They do not watch movies, play video games, or listen to music other than church hymns. They do not play on the Internet, deal with social networking sites, or hang out with friends. Though they both enjoy snowboarding, they will not partake in the activity until they return home.
To help keep each other safe, the two are consistently within sight or sound of each other.
"Our life is dedicated to the Lord rather than hanging out with friends," Thomas explained.
But why would two young adults put themselves through such a drastic change?
"I've seen God bless my life in so many different ways. I wanted to do something back," Thomas said.
Both Thomas and Beck chuckled when asked if people are always receptive to them. Beck admitted he had been told by a priest that he was going to hell. Thomas said they commonly get confused with other religions. He has also been told that he is brainwashed.
Neither missionary allows the negativity to hinder them.
"The best thing that's happened during the mission is all of the experiences that have helped me grow up and realize what I want out of life. I enjoy serving people and helping them out," Beck said.
"The best part of my mission is watching people go from an unbelief in Christ to drawing closer to Him and watching it change their life," Thomas said.
The two have a fairly set routine during their week.
Monday is preparation day. They do laundry, grocery shopping, non-contact sports where they will not get hurt. They agreed that ultimate frisbee is a favorite.
Wednesdays they get together with missionaries from the Auburn, Lewiston and Oxford areas for a district meeting. Here they train to become better missionaries.
Fridays are spent planning the upcoming week.
Sundays they go to church.
A typical day consists of waking up at 6:30 a.m. and exercising. For the next hour, they clean up, eat breakfast and get ready for the day. From 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. they study the Bible or the Book of Mormon. The following hour is spent studying together and sharing what they learned.
After that, they go out to do service for others or find people who are interested in coming closer to Christ. They also attempt to clear up misconceptions about their church.
Around 9 p.m.,they come inside, make plans for the following day, and are in bed by 10:30 p.m.
Thomas explained that a mission is not required by their church, but rather an opportunity that many young Mormons partake in.
"My dad didn't serve a mission, he said he regretted it, so I didn't want to live with that regret," Beck said.
The two missionaries have given up a lot to travel to Maine. In the years prior to the mission, they worked hard to raise approximately $9,600, each, for their two-year mission.
"We don't get paid to do this," Thomas explained. "We had to raise all the money to be here."