“To Consistently Renew Your Faith” ~ Riley Jay Barrington

“To Consistently Renew Your Faith” ~ Riley Jay Barrington

Question: Why did you choose to serve a mission?

Answer: Honestly, that’s a tough question. At first I never really thought about it personally – at least not before I was actually on my mission. As unfortunate as it sounds, I started my mission mostly out of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, but mostly fear of letting my family down. At the time I felt that if I didn’t serve a mission, then the world would look down on me. My self worth kind of hinged on whether or not I served a mission. That being said, I am happy to note that with time, my mission became just that – mine. I was amazed at the effect the gospel had on people, including myself, and I came to really want to be there for me, and not for others. I came to love who I served and gained a desire to work. In the end, I chose to serve a mission because I wanted to.

Question: What does conversion mean to you?

Answer: Conversion to me really just means to consistently renew your faith. This, of course, includes both thought and action. Therefore, to me, conversion means that when you feel something is right, then you consistently try to act on those feelings. It means to be true to what you believe, and to stand up for it. It means that even when we feel down and defeated, that we still continue on until those times get better.

Question: Could you tell a trying/ challenging experience from your mission? What did you learn about yourself from this experience?

Answer: One of my favorite stories from my mission takes place somewhere near the middle of my first year as a missionary. It was transfer time and I was with a new companion, Elder Burrows. Both of us were relatively young in the mission, he younger than I, but I remember he was annoyingly chatty that day as we drove back to our apartment in Fontainbleu, Florida. It was my first time driving in the mission and I soon realized that I didn’t know the area as well as I thought I did. We had gotten onto the freeway and all seemed well until I started to see road signs displaying Key West on them. I knew that my area was nowhere near the Keys, and so I quickly exited the freeway, thinking that I must have driven too far already. My companion began to shuffle through the glove compartment to find a map, but the only one he found had been taped over to show only the borders of the Fontainbleu area. I eventually turned the car back around to head back to the freeway, realizing that Key West must advertise its whereabouts really early.

As we headed back I remember noting an intersection with a green light up ahead, and so I glanced over at my companion who was still trying to un-tape our map. When I looked back up, the street light had turned bold-red, and the car in front of me (a brown Escalade) was already at a stop about 20 yards in front of us. I was going 45 mph, and rammed head-on into the SUVs back bumper. Luckily, no one was hurt, but our car was completely demolished. The Escalade didn’t even have a dent! As the police arrived (and an ambulance) things seemed to slow down for me. When my mission president called to ensure our safety, I was told not to worry anymore – I wouldn’t need to drive for the rest of my mission… Not necessarily happy news, I began to “wallow in self pity”. Our area was massive, covering what seemed to be hundreds of miles. We had no progressing investigators, and in the past our area had been termed a “dead zone”. I didn’t really have much hope for the transfer, and already my companion was getting on my nerves. He had this ridiculously large smile on his face. I wanted to ask him what was wrong with him? Couldn’t he see that this was not a good thing that had happened? We were going to have to walk or bike everywhere in the sweltering heat and he was actually happy! Before I got a word out, he said, “Elder! Do you know what this means?” I obviously did not, but said, “What”. With an even larger smile he practically sang, “This means we are going to baptize a family this transfer!”

I remember wanting to punch him right then and there, but stopped myself. He would realize soon enough that our area wasn’t all that great. We eventually got to our area (a random man whose wife was a member pulled over and offered us a ride) and started to work. We had one true investigator at the time, but who we hadn’t been able to visit at all during the previous 2 months.

His name was Nelson Montilla, and although he came every week to church, his wife and 3 kids had shown no interest in the church and because of this, we hadn’t been able to establish a working relationship with any of them. The day after our car accident, Elder Burrows and I knocked on their door without calling them before-hand. Nelson answered and let us in! I don’t remember much of the actual lesson we gave, except for the very beginning. Elder Burrows and I had decided to begin each of our lessons with a hymn, and so on this particular day, we started our lesson with “Oh Esta, Todo Bien” (also known as “Come Come Ye Saints”). A feeling of overwhelming peace was there instantaneously, and as we sang the, the rest of Nelson’s family came out of their rooms to join us. It was truly amazing! We soon found out that Nelson was battling a brain tumor, which kept growing back after each operation. The song we sang had touched Nelson deeply and made him want more of that spirit that it brought, testifying that all would be alright. Nelson and I developed a great, close relationship and within weeks Nelson was baptized, soon followed by his wife, Jenny, and kids – Kathi, Genesis, and Nelsito. It was one of my favorite times in my mission.

I could stop the story there, but what came only a few months later defined the rest of my mission. Just after Halloween I was transferred to a new area, and so was not there when Nelson passed away in the middle of the night at the hospital, right after one last operation on his tumor. His funeral was beautiful – I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people come to pay respects to someone before.

Because of Nelson my outlook on my mission completely changed. Instead of it being about me and the blessings I received, or the hard areas I was sent to, I began to really feel blessed to be a missionary. I realized that what really matters are the people around me – and the happiness that the gospel of Christ can bring them. It’s not up to me to decide whether an area is bad or “dead” or not. But it was my responsibility to give those people the chance to accept the gospel into their lives. I also learned that miracles come from bad situations, and that as long as we keep faith, we will see those miracles happen in our lives.

“Be Yourself and Be Happy!” ~ Elizabeth Schumann

“Be Yourself and Be Happy!” ~ Elizabeth Schumann

Elizabeth Schumann changed my perspective on thinking about life. I’ve known her since I was in high school, and she helped me become the person I am today. I will always appreciate her friendship and the many hours we have spent talking, laughing, singing, eating, etc. She is truly beautiful on the inside and the outside. Her kindness and many talents have touched countless number of lives. She has blessed my life. She said, “Be yourself and be happy!” It’s fantastic advice, but in fact, she actually lives that advice herself. If you don’t believe me, you’d have to just meet her for a second to know that it’s true.

Question: What is a personal/favorite memory you have from your mission? What did you learn from this experience?

Answer: My favorite memory of my mission was teaching people. I know it’s not that specific or personal but it is the best. There is nothing like sitting with a humble person who wants to know the truth. They have questions about life and are honestly seeking the answers and you have them! You are able to help them find true happiness! This was the most exhilarating part of the mission for me. I was able to teach a few people and see them get baptized. Watching them find answers, accept truth, and change into a new person is amazing! Last year I had a friend in NYC get baptized. I was able to help him find the truth also. See, you don’t have to be a full time missionary to experience this, all you have to do is share the Gospel. One of the things that impressed me the most about these teaching experiences is how humble the investigators were. They would believe whatever we said. They trusted us. Their only desire was to be obedient, even if it meant doing hard things, such as quitting smoking or kicking your boyfriend out of the apartment. I often think of their humility and try to emulate it in my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I am still working on it but I will be forever grateful for their examples!

Question: What is it like to be a missionary for a day?

Answer: What is it like to be a missionary for a day? It stinks! A typical day for us was six hours of tracking. Maybe we had a dinner with members and maybe we had an appointment with members or went to a church activity or did more tracking.

Question: What advice would you give future missionaries?

Answer: Advice? I would say gain a strong testimony of the Gospel which consists of the five main things, the Savior, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, living prophet, and I forget the last one. The other is to be yourself! I felt like I had to be some super spiritual nun type which is not true. Be yourself and be happy! Share the light of the Gospel with others.

Question: What are some reasons that people should go on missions? / Why should everyone be a missionary?

Answer: People should go on missions because they know the Gospel is true and that is will bless the lives of others. Hopefully, future missionaries have lived the Gospel themselves and can testify about how it has blessed them.

“You Guys Were Made to Be Our Missionaries” ~ King Eliason

Photo: “The Area of PJ”                                               DSCF2104

Photo: Baptism                                                                DSCF1571

Photo: “me reading on one of our long drives” DSCF1993[1]

Photo: The Wedding of Tatho and Kede DSCF4343[1]

Q: Why did you choose to serve a mission?

A: The reason why I served a mission is kind of complex. I was nineteen years old, and in the Mormon religion this is a tough age. People say that young men aren’t pressured to serve a mission, which is not the truth. For myself I was pressured into serving a mission. I did not want to go, life was good for me where I was at. I was nineteen years old I was attending a LDS institute class, we were studying in D&C 121. As we read verses 34-36, the words “…Many are called, but few are chosen…” really stuck out to me. In my head this meant God chooses favorites. I walked away from that class saying to myself, if God doesn’t want to pick me, cool, I’ll do my own thing! Later that night something told me to study that section again. As I read verses 34-36 in section 121, it hit me like a brick! God doesn’t choses favorites, we decide if we get to be chosen. Right then I told myself I’m going to do everything I can to do to have God choose me, and the first step was serving a mission.

Q: Do you believe that serving a mission is important? Why?

A: Yes! It is the greatest decision I’ve made in my short lifespan. As a missionary you learn so many things. Of course you learn the gospel; you go from believing its true, to knowing its true. Also you learn life skills, you have to make choices for yourself you can’t call mom and dad to help you make a decision. The greatest thing missionaries learn is how to love. I look at young men who don’t serve missions and I used to be mad at them, now I feel sorry for them. It is sad when young men don’t go because they miss out on so many lessons and blessings.

Q: What was the most rewarding thing about serving a mission?

A:  The most rewarding thing about serving the mission was being able to teach people. As we knocked on doors and people let us in, being able to teach them was the best feeling anyone can have. You bring light to a dark room. Still to this day I’ll look back and say did I really teach people? Did I help them on the path to their Heavenly Father? Yes I did, and there is no greater feeling than knowing I helped my brothers and sisters get in the right direction. The Savior did so much, so teaching and serving my fellow man is just a one way I can repay for what He has done for me.

Q: What’s a personal experience you had on your mission that changed you?

A: There was this couple named Tatho and Kede. I had just gotten transferred to new area called, Phuthaditjhaba. My companion and I was walking down the street and came across this couple sitting outside doing their washing. Of course we pretty much ran up to them to talk to them. They tried to run in the house, but we go there just in time. They were the nicest people you’ll meet. We taught them and invited them to church, they said they’ll come. Sunday rolls around they are nowhere to be found, so on our way home from church we stop by and they were sicker than dogs! So we made an [appointment] to see them later in the week. We went there and they ready for us, they had not only read the pamphlet we gave them, they had it marked as well. We taught the restoration, it was the most spirit felt lesson I ever taught. We saw them every day teaching lesson after lesson, they could not get enough of the gospel. When we taught the Word of Wisdom they poured out all the beer and wine. We taught the Law of Chasity, they couldn’t afford to move on their own, but Tatho started sleeping on the ground. They wanted to do everything they could to live the gospel, after that first Sunday I never saw them miss another Sunday. Their parents did not approve of them or the church, this cause[d] a great [trial] in their journey. After many struggles, we throw them a wedding, we [barely] had any money but it didn’t matter it was the best wedding I’ve ever been to. The next day both of them entered into the waters of baptism, one year to the day they entered into the temple with their son to be sealed for time and all eternity. They changed my life, I don’t know how my mission would have been if I didn’t meet them. I looked at them as we taught them and they had become more converted than myself and I was the teacher. One of many lessons I learned from them was, they know the gospel was true and they were going to do everything they could to live it. I made it my life goal to be as faithful as these two are. They used to joke with us saying “you guys were made to be our missionaries” it is so true for the first day I walked in we were best friends. If it wasn’t for them I truly don’t know how my mission would have went.



“I Learned the Lord’s Love for Me” ~ Forrest Ross

“The mission. Two years where I willingly volunteered to go beardless, to not eat undercooked meat (yep, that’s a rule), and to work nonstop with no video games or movies to break the monotony. I sacrificed my lifestyle to go around preaching the Gospel to everybody I saw.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say that a mission is the longest shortest two years of your life. Or maybe it was that it was the shortest longest two years of your life. I can’t remember. All I know is that it wasn’t true for me. My mission was the shortest shortest two years of my life. I couldn’t believe it when the end came, and I had to go home. I would have been willing to serve another two years. They say that the days are long, but the weeks are short, but for me the days were short and the weeks were shorter. The days felt like hours, and the weeks felt like days.

“My mission was not a sacrifice. I hear a lot of people say that missionaries “sacrifice” two years of their lives to serve the Lord. Well it didn’t take me that long to figure out the truth: I didn’t make a sacrifice to go on a mission; the Lord made a sacrifice to let me go on a mission. I wasn’t ready to be a full-time disciple of Jesus Christ. I don’t think any 18-20 year old is. I was immature. I was inexperienced. My testimony was just in its baby stages. For the Lord to allow me to preach His gospel full-time showed a lot of sacrifice on His part. He let a young man who was still learning from his mistakes go into a new and different world to ultimately turn me into the man I need to be. Elder Bednar has said that the Lord doesn’t send us on missions to learn how to be missionaries. He sends us out to learn how to be members of the Church.

“So I want to share some of the things that I learned on my mission. Some of the things that have shaped me into the man that I am today. Some of these things are obvious and are talked about regularly. Some are a little more obscure.

“First- I learned how to be a husband. For two years you spend 24 hours attached to somebody at the hip, whether you like them or not. You have to learn to get along, regardless of your differences. Sometimes my companions and I had almost nothing in common. I was the nerdy city boy from Las Vegas. He was the simple farm boy from Kingston, Utah (population 100). I had to learn how to compromise and accept that we had differences, just like I someday will have to do with my wife.

“Second- I learned how to work. On a mission, you do nothing but work nonstop. You wake up at 6:30 and go to bed at 10:30. The time in between that is filled with work. From studying, to teaching, to knocking doors, to planning, everything was devoted to furthering the Lord’s work. Free time was just something that didn’t exist. I didn’t know what to do with free time when I got home. My work load was intense, and it taught me how to handle working and going to school now that I’m home.

“Third- I learned how to love unconditionally. It was hard sometimes. One time my companion and I knocked on a door, and the person answered and told us that he prayed every day that our ministry failed. People like that are hard to love sometimes, but being a missionary and being constantly surrounded by the Spirit really helps to learn how to love them. I learned to love people regardless of their circumstances. And today, I’ve learned how to love people for who they are, and not to judge them by their mistakes.

“Fourth- I learned how to be a leader. I spent over a year of my mission as a district leader. I had to use the Spirit to learn the best way to further the Lord’s work. I had to motivate and inspire the missionaries in my district, some of which were in very difficult areas. I learned how to encourage obedience without condemning every flaw a missionary had. I learned how to speak simply and clearly. And I learned how to love every missionary in my district, regardless of who they were or what they were going through.

“And most important, I learned the Lord’s love for me. I thought I understood God before I left on my mission. I thought that I had felt His love and was ready to preach that to the world. I had only seen the very tip of the iceberg. I felt the Lord’s love and saw the answers to my prayers on a regular basis. I woke up every morning knowing He was going to be with me that day. It was a beautiful thing. I learned the joy of repentance, and of seeing other people repent. It was beautiful, and it changed my life and shaped my testimony….

“Missions aren’t just about preaching the Gospel. They are about becoming the person that you are going to be for the rest of your life. They are the Lord’s way of shaping us into His vessels, the people who are going to be the example of Christian living. I will never regret having served a mission, and I will always be grateful for those beardless, movieless two years of my life.”

“Whether or Not We Are Wearing a Black Name Tag” ~ Katherine Welch

“Whether or Not We Are Wearing a Black Name Tag” ~ Katherine Welch

She is talented. She is beautiful. She is a missionary. Here are some responses from my dear friend, Katherine Welch:

Question: What is a personal/favorite memory you have from your mission?

“Oh my. A favorite memory from my mission. That is hard. There are so many! Probably one of the most poignant and memorable would be teaching Ike (said eye-kay) with Sister Lin. Sister Lin was from Taiwan. Ike was from Nigeria. Sister Lin was still learning English and Ike spoke English with a thick African accent. It was our first lesson with Ike, and Sister Lin and I had agreed earlier that we would take turns teaching the lesson and that she would be the one to invite him to follow Christ’s example and be baptized. Sister Lin’s past two companions had let her do very little teaching, and although she was excited to teach Ike, she was very nervous. (Just as a side note about Sister Lin, she was a very simple and child-like person. In many ways it was hard for her to understand the American culture, and to pick up on social cues. But her direct teaching was perfect in many ways.) So, throughout the lesson, when Sister Lin would teach, Ike would indicate that he did not understand, and I would end up translating most of what she had said. Well, we came to the end of the lesson, and Sister Lin knew it was time to invite Ike to be baptized. She extended the invitation, in her high-pitched, Chinese voice: ‘Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?’ Ike just sat there. He looked at me, and I looked back at him, refusing to translate. He had to understand on his own. Sister Lin looked at me, knowing Ike didn’t understand, and I kept looking forward at him, expectantly. Suddenly, I saw a light come into his face, and I realized that the Spirit had translated every word that Sister Lin had said. Ike sat taller and exclaimed, ‘Of course I will be baptized! When will it be? Will it be in a river or a church somewhere? Can my friends come?’ I couldn’t hold back my emotions any longer and started to laugh and cry at the same time. It was incredible.


Question: What did you learn from this experience?

“I learned many things from this experience.

1. I learned to trust God.

2. I learned to trust my companion.

3. The Spirit will teach us what we need to say and will tell us what we need to hear.

4. Heavenly Father loves His children.

5. I am one of Heavenly Father’s children, and He will be there right when I need Him.

6. The gospel is true!


Question: What is it like to be a missionary for a day?

“Here is the schedule from one of my blogs.

6:30 – Drag myself out of bed, pray, exercise.

9 – Drive 25 minutes to the Visitors’ Center to pick up the phone and then 25 minutes back home. Sister Welch (that would be me) forgot to grab the phone before we went home the night before. (Ai yi yi. I try to be perfect, but sometimes it just doesn’t work.) 

12:30 – Go to teach Linda, from Peru, but she’s not home, so we teach her sister Roxy instead. Roxy tells us, ‘You know, I don’t think it’s a coincidence I met you today. I think God has a hand in everything.’ Yes!

2 – Check on Stafinia, but she’s working, so we talked to Solange, her co-worker, who is from Benin, Africa. Sister Gros made her day because she speaks French, which is Solange’s native language, and she hasn’t met a French speaker in months.

2:50 – Got a phone call from Elder Bleak with the news that Sheri went to church!! It’s been SO hard to not see her/talk to her/be there for her, since she moved, but she had surgery on her knee and still went to church the Sunday after. She’s incredible…and she’s getting baptized the beginning of March. Eeeeee!!!

3 – Taught Cheryl the Restoration. We all got teary-eyed. Cheryl is from Guyana and has a lot of questions, but is very sincere in her desire to learn.

5 – Made the fastest and ugliest batch of cookies I’ve ever made in my life. Thank goodness for frosting.

7:30 – Gave the ugliest batch of cookies I’ve ever made to our less active. Thank goodness he’s not picky.

10:30 – Crawled into bed and fell asleep in two seconds. 
And lots of contacting people and phone calls and prayers in between.


Question: What advice would you give future missionaries?

”Some advice: Always be developing and strengthening your relationship with the Savior and Heavenly Father. The atonement is the most important part of life to understand and experience. Also, you can never study the missionary purpose too much, and Preach My Gospel should be read as scripture. Know that being a missionary will be one of the hardest times of your life, but also one of the most glorious times. (I am missing it so much as I am remembering and writing about it!) Choose to love it.


Question: What are some reasons that people should go on missions? / Why should everyone be a missionary?

“I feel that people go on missions for many reasons, but those reasons can be summarized into three main motivations:
1. Fear,
2. Duty, and
3. Love.
The best reason (and I may suggest the ONLY reason) a person should choose to go on a mission is because they love the Lord and want to serve Him. Anyone can have this motivation. New converts, young single adults, parents, leaders, senior couples that have been on 10 missions – this should be the reason that we want to be missionaries. Jesus Christ’s life sets the perfect example for what a mission should be… and our lives today can follow that example, regardless of whether or not we are wearing a black name tag.