- Associated Press - Sunday, November 8, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) - It is not easy serving a mission call for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For two years, you start early in the morning and do not finish work until well into the evening.

And there are no days off.

There are many restrictions including no television, no parties, no Internet and no chatting with friends on the telephone.

But the young Mormon men and women on mission consider it an honor getting to spread their message around the world.

“Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life,” said Elder Rhett Hiatt.

“Whatever we go through is worth seeing the sparkle in someone’s eyes when they get to truly know their savior.”

Hiatt, 20, is from Mesa, Ariz., and has been doing missionary work in Columbus for six months.

Others serving here are Elder Adam Saurey, 19, of Melba, Idaho; Elder Devin Porschatis, 20, of Centerville, Utah; and Elder Micah Lloyd, 19, of Moscow, Idaho.

Two local men are also getting ready to begin missions in September: Elder William Murphy, 18, of Columbus, will head to Fort Collins, Colo., and Elder J Penton Clark Hollist of Harris County is going to Madrid, Spain.

No one gets paid. In fact, each pays $9,600 for expenses.

The missionaries travel in pairs.

Saurey said that ensures everyone stays focused, and it also provides protection.

Saurey said the day begins at 6:30 a.m. with exercise.

There is an hour to get prepared, followed by an hour of personal study. The missionaries then get together for an hour of group study before heading out into the city. They work until 9 p.m. or later.

Saurey said they talk to people on the street. They also go into neighborhoods and knock on doors. Sometimes, a member of the local church will have a friend for them to meet.

“We stay away from stores,” Saurey said. “We don’t bother people shopping.”

Lloyd said the missionaries do not know what to expect out in the field, but most people are receptive to talking about Jesus, and the missionaries are usually well received.

But not always.

Hiatt said one time he was chased off with a gun.

“Some days, everyone is just mad at you,” he said.

Porschatis added, “Sometimes, you just have the best day ever,”

Hiatt called Columbus an “awesome place” where many seem knowledgeable about Jesus Christ.

Porschatis said the missionaries may help someone with housework. They might even cut a lawn.

“We are always looking for ways to help people,” he said. “Being in service of your fellow man is being in the service of God.”

Hiatt said there is an 82-page book of rules to follow.

Asked about the lack of entertainment and very limited contact with family, the missionaries said it can be difficult, but the rules keep them from being distracted or getting homesick.

To some it would seem like a brutal two years.

“If I give two years of my life to the Heavenly Father, I know I will be blessed tenfold,” Hollist said.

Murphy said the blessings outweigh the sacrifices.

“Everything will still be at home when we get back,” Lloyd said.

Before heading to the area in which they will work, missionaries attend a training center where they are taught how to teach the Gospel and, if necessary, begin to learn the language of the people they will be teaching.

Nobody requests an assignment. All are sent to their area by leaders at church headquarters.

Hiatt said church leaders are inspired by God in making their decisions.

Murphy remarked that potential missionaries do send information about themselves to the church headquarters prior to training.

Missionaries rarely stay in the same place for the entire two years.

Hollist, who is excited about going overseas, is practicing his Spanish. He is apprehensive about having the ability to communicate well in a different language and sharing his message correctly.

As for Murphy, he is thrilled about heading out West.

“I want to bless other lives and teach them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

___

Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, http://ledger-enquirer.com

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