Current and prospective missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said despite social distancing and mandatory quarantines, they continue to share their message.
Sister missionaries Laura Underwood and Maren Lauder were both reassigned before arriving to their original calling in Hawaii. Underwood, from Arizona, said she was temporarily reassigned to the Texas Dallas West Mission for seven weeks. She said, “[I] have now been serving with sisters who were originally assigned to more missions than I can remember.” After quarantining for two weeks, Underwood said she jumped right into online missionary service.
“At the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center, we have a unique opportunity to give virtual tours to people all over the world,” Underwood said. Her companion, Sister Lauder, who is from Utah and was temporarily reassigned to the New Mexico Farmington Mission before coming to Hawaii, discussed their use of Facebook. Lauder said the site helps them connect with new people, make daily phone calls, and do what they can to serve the community. “You name it, and we are doing it,” she said.
Even though today’s missionary efforts look and function differently, Underwood said miracles are still evident in their work. “Yes, our days look different than they did before, but we are still focused on our purpose.” Underwood said the purpose is, and always has been, bringing people to Christ.
“To be a missionary doesn't necessarily mean you have to be called and set apart as a representative of Christ,” Lauder added. “Being a missionary is helping people come closer to Christ, whenever and however you can.”
Isaac Willard, an undeclared freshman from Utah, said he is trying to practice this purpose of bringing people to Christ in preparation for his upcoming mission. This preparation, he said, was motivated by his calling as a ward missionary in the Hale La’a Ward.
To Willard, being a missionary means “always serving others and building friendships with those we have an opportunity to know.” In his personal missionary service, Willard said he has had great experiences in searching for people to serve.
Underwood said her favorite experience as a missionary thus far was when she and her companion had the chance to teach an investigator over the phone.
“As we were finishing a lesson, we asked her if she would like to offer a prayer and she said she would.” Underwood continued, “As she prayed out loud for one of the first times in her life, the Spirit filled the room, and I felt an incredible and overwhelming sense of joy.” By the end of the call, Underwood said she and her companion were overwhelmed with gratitude for the gospel and their beliefs.
Underwood said she strives daily to share what she feels is the message of the Church, even though it is difficult. “So much of this experience has been about learning to connect with others and build meaningful relationships even in this new socially distanced, tech-centered and extra cautious time.”