Following the trail of a campus missionary

ABy Sarah Miller Among the Frisbee disc players and sunbathers that frequent Northrop Mall during the summer months, pairs of well-dressed people wearing name tags can sometimes be seen approaching strangers.

Although many students have been approached by missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, some University students have been on the other side of the situation – they were the missionaries.

Isaac Erickson, a history senior, spent August 1998 to August 2000 in the islands of Guam, Yap and Saipan on his Mormon.

Erickson underwent a series of interviews with members of the Mormon Church and filled out countless applications called “mission papers” before receiving his assignment from the president of the Mormon Church.

After being granted a mission, the men and women go to mission training centers around the world. The total cost of a mission is approximately $10,000, which the missionaries or their families pay in full. Erickson attended a mission training center in Provo, Utah, where he spent 13 hours per day learning scriptures, learning how to teach others and becoming immersed in his faith.

Most of the missionaries learn the language of their mission country. In the Micronesian islands, there are nine different dialects spoken and Erickson had to wait until he arrived to learn the language.

During the missions, men and women are discouraged from making phone calls to family and friends except for certain holidays.

The reason for this, Erickson said, “Is to help us maintain our focus for what we are there for.”

After training is completed, each missionary is paired with a companion for the mission.

On an average day, the missionaries wake at 6:30 a.m. to work out, eat breakfast and shower. Then they spend approximately two hours studying scripture before they head out for a 12-hour day of knocking on doors, teaching and discussing scripture – basically spreading their message to those who will listen. They do not receive any money for their efforts.

“We respect people’s beliefs that are different from our own; we are not trying to change them, just add to or build on what they already believe in,” Erickson said.

Like any organization with a cause, they do receive opposition.

“In general people are nice; they will invite you in for a glass of water, but we do get shot down as well. It gets discouraging at times, but I feel that what I am doing is important,” Erickson said.

Sarah Miller is a freelance writer.

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