They are from small towns like Emmett and Preston, Idaho, Rangely, Colorado and Gilbert, Arizona and the city of Provo, Utah. Two have parents that are university professionals, and a couple are more at home on farms and ranches like we have here in Jackson County.
Three are young men; two are young ladies. They are properly dressed; conservative dresses on the women; white shirts and ties for the men. All are high school graduates and a couple are already embarked on higher education goals: engineering, nursing.
The men are elders in their church. The women are addressed as “sister”. All have committed to two year mission periods for the males; a year and a half for the females. They have paid their own way, either personally or with family members or friends assisting.
They are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Sometimes we call them Mormons. Both are honorable titles. The young men and women here in Jackson County prefer the former, for they, in their own words: “Believe in Jesus Christ as the true way to go”.
They were queried on their work, and they laughed about the dogs they “met” and then told of the folks that they talked with about becoming Christian believers. They have found more fertile ground with people who profess Christianity but are still looking for a faith that fits them and gives them hope for the future.
When asked about their acceptance in the community, they admitted to some “not so good” experiences as they went from door to door, but they were not deterred. Had Mitt Romney, presidential candidate, made it easier for them to be accepted? It was not too evident, but a couple of them expressed surprise when they learned that John F. Kennedy had met resistance because he was a Catholic when he ran for the same office.
The LDS Church has a history that goes back two centuries and touches our continent from Illinois to Utah. We are familiar with the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but few of us know about the Bishop’s Storehouse, the centerpiece to the Church’s humanitarian services. This effort reaches into one hundred countries and provides food, clothing, personal hygiene kits and medicine to people affected by disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 Haitian earthquake and the 2011 Tohoku tsunami.
When you see these strangers among us you will know that you have seen five young folk who are concerned and are doing something about it in their own way. They are Elders Kirk, Coombs and Farris, and Sisters Nelson and Jensen, and they are most welcome!