The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is rooted to the times. Those in the Church promote their missionary services on social media sites. They send missionary teams out into the community to do presentations. And I recently chanced on a missionary service announcement posted on Craigslist.
This prompted me to ask: Who’s never sought help? Or never found themselves under the weather? Overwhelmed by chores? Lonely? With unexpected responsibilities? Short on cash? Hamstrung by the clock?
The Oregon Eugene Mission supports the work of 240 LDS volunteers with a reach that includes Corvallis, Coos Bay, and even extending south to Medford, Grants Pass, and Klamath Falls. Closer to home, the Eugene/Springfield/Santa Clara region supports roughly 100 missionaries serving communities from Florence east through Eugene/Springfield to Oakridge.
Most of the mission’s local volunteers are young adults who have donated two years of their lives to the church and community service. They come to their mission from across North America, plus a handful of missionaries from overseas. Church teachings and values are integral to their work. The missionaries are bright-eyed. Their missions are married to messages of faith, hope, and goodness.
The missionaries fulfill whatever needs the community has: landscaping, house painting, roofing, work parties in local parks, packing and moving household goods, genealogical research, virtual academic instruction, tutoring, music instruction, vehicle repair and cleaning, harvesting fruit, baking, grocery shopping, soup kitchen assistance, office work, clothing repair, gutter cleaning, gardening, and on and on.
“Take a young man or woman, maybe 18 to 22 years old,” says Bret Weekes, president of the Oregon Eugene Mission. “At that season of life, everything tends to be about ‘me,’ ‘my schooling,’ ‘my work.’ You come out of that with two years where you do nothing focused on ‘me.’ Everything you do is about somebody else.”
So the young missionaries invest in a new way of life. Their training includes several weeks of orientation. They rise at 6:30 daily to confront ambitious work schedules. They’re back in bed by 10:30 that night, with new friends, new associates, new approaches, and new outlooks.
Ask a missionary, the challenges and work assignments can be daunting—but the rewards can be rich.
Photo by Greg Burns