By Andrew Adams
OKLAHOMA CITY —
While many people look to Christmas as a time to spend with family, two missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will spend their holiday with their church family.
Elder Brandon Forsyth and Elder William Motey are two of the six LDS missionaries in Stillwater.
The two said being away from home on Christmas is different but they will spend time with the other Stillwater missionaries and a family from their congregation.
Forsyth said he will do some of his family’s traditions by himself, such as reading Luke 2.
“Christmas is all about traditions,” he said. “As missionaries, there are no traditions.”
Forsyth, originally from Seattle, Wash., said he doesn’t feel alone on Christmas because he is with his church family.
Christmas Day will bring a unique opportunity to both missionaries, each will have the opportunity to call home and speak to their parents, something they only do twice a year while in the field. The missionaries are also able to speak to their parents on Mother’s Day.
They are able to e-mail their families each week, but Forsyth said talking to his parents is special.
“We get to hear their voices and talk to them,” he said.
For both missionaries, spending time with their family won’t happen for a while. Forsyth has been on mission for 14 months and will conclude his time in October 2011. Motey will end his time as a missionary in 2012.
The missionaries will serve two years in the mission field. Forsyth started his mission when he turned 19, like most LDS men do.
“It’s asked that every young man who can serve ... does serve,” he said. “It’s volunteer — but it’s well known that its good for you.”
Forsyth said the church prepares each missionary through teaching. The elders also spend time at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. Forsyth spent three weeks at the MTC because he did not need to learn a language. Other missionaries spend up to three months learning a language at the MTC depending where they will serve.
The two elders have been serving together for 12 weeks, or the length of two transfers. A missionary’s location may change after six weeks, also known as a transfer.
“We have a chance of staying together or moving,” Forsyth said.
During his time on the field, he has had seven new companions. He said each new companion has become one of his good friends.
“The first week is weird because you don’t know what they’re about,” he said. “You have to figure out who they are.”
He is able to stay in contact with past companions via e-mail.
The missionaries said the day-to-day life can be somewhat monotonous.
“We do the same thing everyday,” Forsyth said. “The people we see change but the way we do it doesn’t change.”
Their daily schedule begins at 6:30 a.m. when the elders wake up, eat breakfast and exercise. From 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. they read their scriptures and from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., they travel around the community to discuss their faith with others.
Forsyth said knocking on people’s doors is the least effective way for them to reach people but when they don’t have other ways to share they start knocking on doors.
The monotony can be discouraging, he said, but they are encouraged by reading the scriptures.
“The Holy Spirit is like the best friend who makes you better,” Forsyth said. “It gets hard but actually seeing someone find the joy of accepting the gospel makes you think ‘Wow, that really is worth it.’”
While most young adults enter college right after high school, Forsyth went on his mission. He said that for most missionaries, the first year on the mission is similar to the first year of college — a time to find yourself.
“Instead of losing ourselves to other things, we are able to find ourselves in God,” he said. “I’m so much more converted to the Lord now.”
Forsyth said he has increased his knowledge about his faith and has gained life skills through his mission. He said being on mission is encouraging and that he is more spiritually involved.
When he finishes his mission, he plans to attend college somewhere in Washington. He wants to be an American Sign Language interpreter.