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Teenagers in service: the life of a Mormon Missionary

By Staff | Jan 6, 2017

(Submitted photo) Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (left to right) Elder Nielson, Elder Clark and Elder Reimschiissel.

At 19 years old, teenagers are often found in their first year of college, hanging out with friends, sleeping all day and staying out all night. It is less common to find 19-year-olds awake at 6:30 a.m., ready to serve others. Yet, this is the life of Elder Clark, Elder Nielson, and Elder Reimschiissel. They are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and they are missionaries.

Clark, Nielson and Reimschiissel are currently on a mission in Rugby. Clark and Nielson moved to Rugby about seven months ago, while Reimschiissel arrived just a month and a half ago.

Clark, Nielson and Reimschiissel are all from Utah. Missionaries spend two years, starting when they are 18 years old, on a mission in a certain area. Clark, Nielson and Reimschiissel have been called to a mission in the area of North Dakota and South Dakota.

Missionaries typically spend about three months in each location, moving around while on the mission. Clark and Nielson explained that their being in Rugby for seven months is highly unusual.

“This is a record,” Clark said. “It’s usually four months, max [in an area].”

Before they arrived, two sister missionaries were called to Rugby. Sister missionaries serve when they are 19 years old, for 18 months.

According to Nielson, a typical day in the life of a missionary starts at 6:30 a.m. They wake up, and then exercise for a half an hour. After that, they have a personal study hour, in which they study the scriptures. Then, they have a companionship study hour with one another, where they talk about what they’re going to do throughout the day, who they’re going to see, and who they’re going to teach.

“From 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., we are out in the community teaching, doing service, seeing members, and doing anything we can,” Nielson said.

“If anyone needs help, we just help them,” Clark said. “We try to look for extra service like that, and we don’t accept anything in return. It’s all voluntary. We just help people and invite people to come unto Christ.”

Clark, Nielson and Reimschiissel said that they would like to help get rid of the stigma and misconceptions of the Mormon faith.

“I would say get to know [the people in the Rugby branch],” Clark said. “They are some of the best people I have ever met. When we come out here, we’re on our own. The people in the branch here treat us like family. They’re just really nice people, and they are the first to help, which I think is really important in life.”

Clark, Nielson and Reimschiissel explained that many people think they are weird because of the way they are dressed, in nice slacks, a button up shirt and a tie. However, as teenagers who just graduated high school, they like the same things as other teenagers in the area do, such as sports and student council.

“Sometimes people think we’re weird because of the way we dress, or they’re not familiar with Mormons, but our main thing is just to help people through service,” Clark said. “We’re not weird. There are a lot of crazy assumptions, but we’re just normal people. We’re just trying to do our best for the Lord, and help Him and serve Him while we’re in our youth.”

When it comes to the church, Clark explained that it is a church of restoration. They believe that the power and authority of God, the Priesthood, was lost from the earth and that it was restored through a prophet when the church was founded in the 1800s.

The Rugby branch is led by President Val Christensen and has around 50 members. Members come from Bottineau, Drake, Towner and around the Canadian Border.

There are four larger congregations, called Wards, in Minot.

While North Dakota has the lowest population of LDS members in the country, it is a worldwide church.

“I think that’s super cool because we can all share the gospel anywhere,” Nielson said.

“The same lesson and the same topics are taught in every church building in the same week across the world. So you’re not learning something different than someone in Holland or Denmark or Africa because it’s all the same. I think that’s cool,” Clark said.

“It’s the same church everywhere. The people change, but other than that, it’s the same,” Reimschiissel said.

Nielson said that one of the things that he likes most about his faith is what is taught. “One thing I think that helps us stand out is that we believe in the Bible, the Word of God, but we also believe in another book, as well, The Book of Mormon.”

The Book of Mormon is believed to be another testament of Jesus Christ in the Mormon faith.

Clark, Nielson and Reimschiissel said that wherever God leads them, they will go.

“We all have different talents and abilities that the Lord will use to help others. If he needs me in a certain calling, then I’ll be in that calling,” Nielson said.

“Every calling, every position that you hold in the church is meant to help other people. So just because you may have the title of bishop, doesn’t make you better than anyone. It’s just something that you hold. We don’t aspire for those positions, but if we’re called to them, we step up,” Reimschiissel said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a worldwide church with a total of 15,634,199 members, 188 published languages, and 30,016 congregations.

The Church’s missionary program has 418 missions throughout the world, with almost 75,000 total missionaries.

The Rugby branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints services are held on Sunday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. During that time, they have a Sacrament Meeting, which most people know as communion, and Sunday school classes. There is a nursery for children up to age three, primary classes for those ages 3-12, young women’s and young men’s classes and an adult class.

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