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Read About 9 Unique Service Mission Experiences

Young men and young women serve locally as their circumstances allow, using their unique talents, skills and gifts

This story appears here courtesy of TheChurchNews.com. It is not for use by other media.

By Mary Richards, Church News

Traditionally, when Latter-day Saints talk about “serving a mission,” the expectation has been that the individual would serve a full-time proselyting mission for 18 months to two years. But a growing number of young men and young women are fulfilling service missions.

As of August 30, there are 2,238 young service missionaries in 234 service missionary areas across the world.

The purpose of a service mission is “to help others come unto Christ by serving them as the Savior would.”

Worthy young men ages 18-25 and young women ages 19-25 may serve a service mission for six to 18 months, as close to full time as their capability and circumstances allow. These missionaries live at home and serve locally, and each young man or young woman is provided a customized mission experience uniquely tailored to his or her talents, skills and gifts.

The key objectives of a service mission are to:

  • Provide an opportunity for all willing young women and young men to serve the Lord and increase in testimony of Him.
  • Help each service missionary prepare for a lifetime of service.
  • Provide needed and valuable service to Church and community organizations.

To learn more about the service mission program, including how to get started, resources for leaders and the role of parents, go to ChurchofJesusChrist.org/service-missionary.

Below are stories of nine unique service mission experiences.

1. Building the Kingdom Through Service and Love

A young woman studying scriptures in Brazil. © 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

When Sister Kaytlin Jenks’ stake president first asked her if she would consider a service mission, she wondered if the calling meant there was something wrong with her — but she didn’t yet see the bigger purpose behind service missions.

“Ultimately, I realized that I wasn’t called to a service mission because I was inadequate, but because this was Heavenly Father’s direction for me,” she wrote in the Liahona magazine.

“I wasn’t ‘less than’ proselyting missionaries; rather, He needed me to help build His kingdom through other means of service.”

2. Texas Missionary Honored for Giving His All During Service Mission

Elder Caleb Wood with his mission leaders, Sister Julie Atkinson and Elder Mark Atkinson, and Courtney Weaver, front, operations manager at Trusted World. Photo courtesy of the Wood family, courtesy of Church News.All Rights Reserved.

At a special banquet on July 21, Elder Caleb Wood was named the Dallas, Texas, “Volunteer of the Year” by D CEO Magazine for his work at the nonprofit organization Trusted World.

“I’ve been asked several times why serving is so important to me,” Elder Wood said. “The more I answer that question, the more I realize my answer is kind of selfish — I like making others happy, and making others happy makes me happy.”

Elder Wood, 20, has brain tumors and mobility and cognitive struggles due to complications from the tumors. But pushing through his limitations brings him joy, satisfaction and peace.


3. Missionary Wins 3 Medals at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games

Elder Max Reynolds, with his parents, Trent and Pamela Reynolds, shows his gold medal for the 100-yard butterfly event at the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Florida, on June 8, 2022. Photo courtesy of Pamela Reynolds, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Among the thousands of athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators in Orlando, Florida, in June for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, one young man stood out — he was wearing a missionary name tag.

Elder Max Reynolds, 22, is serving a full-time service mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Gilbert, Arizona. He’s also a really good swimmer, and he was selected to represent Arizona and swim at the Games June 5-12.

Elder Reynolds has autism and serves as his capability and circumstances allow, with a customized mission experience uniquely tailored to his talents and skills.

See more about the swimming and service

4. Service After the Almeda Fire in Oregon

Seth Cannon of Medford, Oregon, served a service mission with United Way of Jackson County for a year and a half starting in August 2020. He was tapped for a key role in interviewing survivors of the Almeda Fire to determine fire relief funding, thus saving the United Way from spending money on a full-time staffer. Photo courtesy of Seth Cannon, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Seth Cannon began a service mission for the Church in August 2020 at United Way in Jackson County, Oregon. When the Almeda Fire hit, CEO Dee Anne Everson asked then-Elder Cannon to review applications for aid under the fire relief program.

Cannon said his assignment was unlike anything he expected or thought a mission could be. “There were certainly times when I thought I couldn’t handle any more tough stories, but getting to wake up and spend all day at United Way helping fire survivors was a true gift.”

Everson hopes more young adults choose a service mission: “Our community is only better for good young people. My life is so much better for knowing Seth.”

5. How 5 Missionaries From One Family Impacted Their Arizona Community

Josh, Caroline, Chad, Hailey, Ashley and Kelly McKendrick are pictured in front of the Snowflake Arizona Temple. Photo courtesy of Kelly McKendrick, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Chad, Ashley, Amy, Caroline and Hailey McKendrick all served service missions in Gilbert, Arizona. They are five of Kelly and Christina McKendrick’s 24 children, who range in age from 5 to 40 years old — 17 of whom were adopted.

Some have developmental delays or health challenges, and a service mission gave them flexibility and a tailored experience to their needs. One returned home early from a teaching mission and transferred to a service mission, which taught her how to deal with change and have faith.

When asked how watching her children serve service missions has strengthened her testimony, Christina McKendrick said: “Heavenly Father knows these kids. He knew where they needed to be.”

6. Getting to Know One of Australia’s First Service Missionaries

Elder Domonic McKendry.© 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Elder Domonic McKendry from Ballarat, Australia, loves his calling.

“Our purpose is to help others come to Christ by serving them as the Savior did,” the 23-year-old said.

The missionary serves in a variety of ways including cooking, gardening, temple ordinance work, indexing and volunteering at the local family history center and charities. He encourages others deciding to serve missions to not be scared, but rather be open and rely on Jesus Christ’s love.

7. Serving a Service Mission With a Smile in New Zealand

Elder Alex Murphy holds the New Zealand national flag at the Hamilton New Zealand Temple in May 2022. Photo by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Elder Alex Murphy always wanted to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now, despite physical and mental disabilities, he has become what is believed to be the first service missionary for the Church from New Zealand.

He serves in a variety of capacities such as at the Church’s Camp Tuhikaramea, which was developed by his great uncle. Here, Elder Murphy does maintenance and enjoys driving the “buggy” utility vehicle.

In addition, the New Zealand elder teaches early morning seminary alongside his mother, attends weekly classes for the institute of religion, sings in the Hamilton Interfaith Choir, takes piano lessons on his great-grandfather’s piano, has helped the St Vincent De Paul organization and his personal favorite: groundskeeping work at the Hamilton New Zealand Temple.

8. Continuing to Serve After Going Home Early

Sister Bekki Andrews smiles on a forklift at the Bishops’ Central Storehouse in Mira Loma, California, on July 29, 2020. Photo courtesy of Bekki Andrews, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

When then-20-year-old Sister Bekki Andrews learned she would have to leave the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission early in March 2020 because of COVID-19 precautions and her asthma, she was devastated. 

Before Sister Andrews was released, her stake president in West Covina, California, suggested she consider transferring to a service mission. She got the necessary approvals and began serving at home.

“She jumped right in and she was just so enthusiastic about serving,” said Elder Rod Hulet, service mission leader in the California Arcadia Service Mission Area.

9. Artist Missionary Makes Mural for Utah’s Ancient Tabernacle Exhibit

Nathan Hale of the Roy Utah Stake stands by the mural he helped create for an ancient tabernacle exhibit in Kaysville, Utah, on June 4, 2022. Photo courtesy of Kelly L. Taylor, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Many visitors to an ancient tabernacle exhibit in northern Utah were drawn to a large mural on the wall in the visitors’ center section of the tour.

“The Covenant Path,” by Nathan Hale of the Roy Utah Stake, measures 8 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Hale made the mural in March while serving a Church service mission.

President Kelly L. Taylor, Hale’s stake president and mission president, said the mural came about in just a matter of days, which was truly miraculous for something of this magnitude. And it shows how the Lord uses His people when they offer their time and talents and get to work.


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