“Mormon male missionaries, or ‘elders,’ are recognized in many parts of the world by their suits and black name tags. However, in some parts of world with hot climates, suit coats are impractical.
“To reduce the financial burden on missionaries and their families, elders who are called to serve in missions identified by the Church as having hot climates will no longer be required to purchase or wear suit coats. Missionaries called to serve in these missions will be notified in their call packets.”
Mormon Newsroom also provided a list of missions where suit coats are no longer required. We’ve provided an image of that list below, or go to their blog to download the PDF version.
Editor’s Note: We love how detailed and accurate this description of LDS missions is. It describes preporatory steps like Seminary, the process of receiving a call, learning the language, day-to-day work, and coming home. Many people are curious about LDS missions; it’s always appreciated when reporters mention little details that non-members might not know, such as that missionaries don’t choose where they go.
For seven generations members of Benjamin Taylor’s family have served as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
So as the Tyler resident approached high school graduation, it hit him that his turn was coming.
In July 2013, Taylor, now 22, left Tyler for Brazil, where he served two years.
“I feel like the mission, the whole experience, I got so much out of it, I don’t think if I could go to school for 20 years, I couldn’t learn what I learned in these two years,” he said.
Taylor, who returned this month, was among the 85,000 missionaries serving in 2014 for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to information provided by Laura A. Mikulecky, director of public affairs for the Tyler Stake of the church. A stake is a certain geographic area of the church.
Like his peers, Taylor didn’t know where he would be assigned. Missionary applicants do not request a location. However, they do say if they believe they could learn a foreign language easily. Taylor responded in the affirmative on his application.
About two weeks after sending in his application in January 2013, Taylor received his assignment: Rio de Janeiro, a city of more than 6 million people.
Preparing for a mission
The preparation for a mission begins, in some sense, with the start of high school. At that time, members of the church are encouraged, but not required, to attend seminary class five days a week for four years.
During this class, which Taylor attended from 6 to 6:50 a.m. each weekday, members study the sacred texts of the faith, which include: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.
This ensures that by the end of the four years, the student will have a solid knowledge base of the scriptures.
Upon being assigned a mission, Taylor’s first stop was São Paulo, where he spent six weeks at one of the church’s Missionary Training Centers to learn Portuguese. After that it was straight to Rio, which would be his home for the rest of his service.
Southeast Idaho potato farmer Kevin Loveland will leave his farm in the control of his young daughter in order to spend the next three years serving a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
FORT HALL, Idaho — The past few months have been a crash course in agriculture for 26-year-old Rebecca Loveland.
Her father, Kevin, considered it a privilege he couldn’t refuse when he received an unexpected calling in October to serve the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as a mission president.
Rebecca was fresh out of graduate school, having earned a master’s in public administration from Brigham Young University, and had just started a job running business internships with Utah Valley University in Provo.
But she’s left that job to manage the family’s 5,000-acre grain and fresh potato farm, while her father spends the next three years training 200 LDS missionaries in Bentonville, Ark. Her mother, Ann, will be charged with overseeing the health of the missionaries. Her 15-year-old brother, Neal, will also make the trip to Bentonville.
Jesse Armstrong is currently employed at the Missionary Training Centre in New Zealand, and thought he was pretty ‘missionary savvy’. That was until he met the missionaries in San Diego, California.
These missionaries didn’t have recognizable name badges and they certainly didn’t sound anything like any of the missionaries he trained back in New Zealand. These, very interesting missionaries were speaking Arabic and are assigned specifically to teach Arabic speaking ‘friends of our faith’ in approved missions.
“Check this out…I’m sitting here watching missionaries being taught the Arabic Language. They are teaching the Chaldean people who descend from Abraham! These are the people whom the Saviour walked amongst in his day…How cool is that?!?! They told me that there are less than 100 of them [Arabic speaking missionaries] around the world”.
An LDS Church News article released on Friday, June 5th, gave an account of the unfortunate car accident that has claimed the life of one missionary and left another in critical condition:
“Two sister missionaries serving in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission were involved in a car accident in Atlanta on May 29, according to Church officials. Sister Natalie Anne Barnard, 20, of Snoqualmie, Washington, was killed and Sister Rachel Beckstrom, 19, of Tooele, Utah, was hospitalized in critical condition. The sister missionaries were hit by a semitrailer truck traveling at 45 mph after trying to make a right turn on a road with limited visibility due to trees, said Sister Beckstrom’s father, Curtis Beckstrom.”
Sister Barnard’s family released a statement reported in the Deseret News that said they are “deeply saddened by the loss of our loving daughter, sister and granddaughter. … Her loving family and all of her friends will miss her larger-than-life smile and the radiance that made her instantly lovable.” An article published by KSL included loving remembrances from family and friends. Her mother, Deborah Barnard, recalled that “One of Natalie’s best qualities was her ability to always put people ahead of her problems. She gave and expressed love with joyful abandon.”
Natalie Anne Barnard’s funeral services were held on Saturday, June 6th, in Bellevue, Washington. Her obituary in The Seattle Times recalled Natalie as being a ‘natural peacemaker’ and a ‘true friend’ who ‘loved being a missionary’.
Sister Rachel Beckstrom remains in a coma, according to reports. Updates are made periodically on a gofundme account set up on behalf of her family. One update from her mother, Kathy, indicates that Rachel’s coma will likely last 2-3 weeks, and that she will be facing 6-12 months of rehabilitation after that. Another update from Kathy says: “We continue to be hopeful and feel good about her progress. We are grateful for everyone’s prayers and expression of love and hope.”
Here at LDS Missionaries, we ask everyone to continue in those prayers and expressions of love and hope for Sister Rachel Beckstrom. We also remember the family of Sister Natalie Anne Barnard in our prayers and in our hearts as they mourn her passing.
Burundi is in the news right now because of the political unrest. The reports and pictures are disturbing, and many members of the LDS Church may know very little about the country except that it’s in Africa, and the missionaries have been evacuated.
Here at LDS Missionaries we believe in the spirit of optimism, especially when it comes to missionary work. When we report on missionaries who have been evacuated for any reason, our hope is that the news will inspire prayers and hope, not fear or discouragement. So here are two news stories from a few years back that will help us all feel peace and a little more connected to the country of Burundi. Our prayers are with the country and the Latter-day Saints who reside there. May this political unrest subside soon.
When Sister Tingey and I were living in Africa, I was sent to the little country of Burundi in east-central Africa. Several faithful families had been holding Church services in their homes, and they desired to have missionaries assigned to help them.
I met with a fine gentleman who represented the government. I explained who we were, what we taught, and how establishing our Church in his country would bless the lives of the people. When I finished, he said, “I do not see where anything you have told me is any different from what is currently available in our country. I see no reason to approve your request to bring missionaries into our country.”
I was devastated. My meeting was almost over, and in a moment I would be ushered out. I prayed secretly in my heart for something to say. In an instant, a thought came to my mind. I reached into my wallet and pulled out a little copy of the For the Strength of Youth booklet, which I have always carried. In the remaining moments of our visit, I quickly shared with him how each of the young people in our Church had a copy of this pamphlet. I read some of the topics and explained that we teach our young people these patterns.
“You mean to tell me you expect the youth of your church to live these standards?” he asked.
“Yes, and they do,” I replied.
“That is amazing,” he said. “Could you send me some of these booklets so that I could distribute them to the youth of my church?”
I returned to Johannesburg and sent about 500 copies of the pamphlets in French and English. A month or so later we received official recognition from the government of Burundi, authorizing our Church to be established in that country.
I do not know the significance of my participation in that event, but I definitely know that the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet was quickly recognized by this good man as something of great value and was likely instrumental in our securing official recognition.
Taken from “Establishing Eternal Patterns,” Elder Earl C. Tingey, Ensign, October, 2004.
The second story is from is from LDS Church News (Originally Published: Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010)
Apostles bless two African nations
Two African countries — Angola and Burundi — have been dedicated for the preaching of the gospel after two apostles traveled a combined distance of 120,000 miles — 34,000 of them in seven African countries. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve traveled for two weeks visiting and instructing Church members gathered throughout the Africa Southeast Area. …
The chosen dedication spot for the country of Burundi was located on a hill overlooking Bujumbura, the capital city, with Lake Tanganyika shining in the distance beyond.
Elder Holland offered a blessing on the people and the nation, dedicating the country of Burundi for missionary work on Oct. 19.
As Elder Holland spoke prior to the dedicatory prayer, he commented on the nearly three million people in the busy city below who had no idea of the great event that was happening, quietly and without fanfare, on the hillside above them. They were unaware of the blessings about to be invoked by an apostle of the Lord over this long-suffering, war-torn land. With the blessing that was pronounced, the gospel in its fullness could be extended to Burundi and thousands would hear the message and embrace it.
Elder Holland encouraged those present to dedicate their lives as he dedicated the land. He encouraged them to join their prayers with his as he acted as voice to ask for the blessings of the Lord on the little African country of Burundi. He spoke of the group’s rare opportunity to be present at the dedication of a country for the preaching of the gospel.
Citing his commission from the prophet and president of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson, Elder Holland then formally dedicated Burundi for the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the building up of the kingdom of God and for the establishment of Zion in the country.
Elder Holland spoke of growth and progress in Burundi’s future. He asked God to bless all who would play a role in the growth of the Church in Burundi. He made mention of members, missionaries and government officials. He asked the Lord to bless the land to be fruitful and prosperous. …
Elder Holland expressed his feeling that Africa had been held in reserve by the Lord in the spirit of “the last shall be first” and that Africa would someday be seen as a bright land full of gospel hope and happiness.
The LDS Church moved missionaries out of Burundi as anti-government protests led troops to fire bullets and teargas into neighborhoods roiled by a constitutional crisis.
Burundi is part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Lubumbashi Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Due to political unrest in the area, the church has moved several missionaries serving in the African nation of Burundi to other areas within the mission,” LDS spokesman Eric Hawkins said. “Moving missionaries within a mission to ensure their safety is a common practice throughout the world.”
Sometimes missionary work by churches turns up more than expected.
Just ask Scott Peery and Trevor McKenzie, elders with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As the two young men were going door-to-door in Carthage, they began to see a need beyond their church outreach.
It had to do with the Spanish-speaking members of the community and how those families wanted to learn the English language —not only to speak it but also to learn to read and write in English.
At first, Peery and McKenzie set aside time to teach the language at the homes of the people they visited, but that soon became an overwhelming task that took away from their regular missionary work.
ATLANTA — A missionary of the LDS Church died and another was seriously injured following an automobile accident with a semi truck Friday in Atlanta, church officials confirmed.
Sister Natalie Ann Barnard, 20, from Snoqualmie, Washington, died Friday as a result of her injuries sustained in a car accident, according to church spokesman Eric Hawkins. Sister Barnard’s companion, Sister Rachel Beckstrom, 19, from Tooele, was also seriously injured in the accident, Hawkins said.
Sister Barnard had been serving in the Atlanta North Mission since October of 2014, according to Hawkins.
“We extend our love and prayers on behalf of their families and loved ones at this difficult time,” said Hawkins on behalf of the church.
Houston experienced extremely stormy conditions last weekend, with severe flooding and a tornado that hit a large apartment complex, leaving at least 250 apartments uninhabitable. As city workers set about organizing relief efforts, the language barrier was evident between the mostly English speaking workers and the mostly Spanish speaking apartment residents.
When the city reached out to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for assistance, a total of 31 missionaries were sent immediately to help. They spent the day translating and helping residents retrieve any salvageable belongings from the safe areas of the complex. The missionaries helped relay important information to residents, such as which apartments couldn’t be entered without a firefighter escort. The city was grateful, and the help of the missionaries was mentioned in several news outlets.
The Houston Chronicle reported on how helpful the missionaries were, and how quickly they responded to the call for help:
“‘We have resources set aside to help with moving costs, first month’s rent, getting them settled,’ Mayor Annise Parker told reporters gathered at the complex. ‘The most important thing I can say is how lucky we were that no one was seriously injured. The second most important thing I can say today is how appreciative I am of all our first responders and volunteers who came out here quickly.’
“Later, when the mayor’s assistant and a fire department spokesman passed an amplified radio back and forth, relaying updates in English and Spanish, the hundreds crowded around the squad car applauded.
“Residents and officials reported that communication had been a barrier during the initial response Sunday because many residents did not speak English. City leaders called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for extra translation help.
“‘We had people there within 30 minutes,’ said Brian Ashton, president of one of three Mormon missions in the Houston area. ‘Because they are available 24 hours a day, we can respond very quickly to something like this.’
“Dozens of missionaries in bright yellow T-shirts helped pack cars and answered questions, including which buildings required a firefighter escort to enter.”