Young duo spend holidays far from home as they complete mission service
Terry Mathews | News-Telegram Arts Editor

Dec. 13, 2006 - This year, two young men will be spending the holidays in Sulphur Springs, far away from family and friends.

Trevor Townsend, 19, from Rexburg, Idaho, and Jeffery Snow, 20, from Mapleton, Utah, will wake up Christmas morning in a Sulphur Springs apartment leased by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The pair are living away from home for two years as part of their missionary service to the church.

Snow, the veteran, has been in the field for 10 months, serving first in Richardson, Greenville and The Colony before coming to Sulphur Springs about a month ago.

Townsend left home four months ago and spent some time in Paris before hooking up with Snow.

The young men's days have fallen into a comfortable routine.

"We get up at 6:30 in the morning," Snow said. "We exercise, eat breakfast and get ready for personal study."

Personal and companion study is held from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. Then, the pair go into the community to share their beliefswith any who will listen.

Teaching others about their church and what they believe is at the core of their missionary service, which lasts two years.

"We do get some doors closed in our faces," Townsend said. "But there are some really nice people who invite us in." 

The visits usually last between 30 and 45 minutes, according to the two.

Asked what they thought was the most prevalent misconception about their faith, they said there were two.

"We don't believe in polygamy," Snow said. "That's a sect of the faith, but not the part of the one we belong to."

"The other thing I think people don't know is that our Book of Mormon is not intended to replace the Bible," Townsend offered. "It's a companion to the Bible, but not a replacement."

After the morning visits, they break for lunch, then make more visits or do community service in the afternoons.

"We're required to perform at least four hours of community service each week," Snow said. "We do things like help out at the nursing homes or rake leaves and mow yards. We also work at the library every Tuesday."

Members of the church take turns providing dinner to the pair. After a home-cooked meal, the two make more home visits. Sometimes, members will go with them. Other times, they strike out alone, returning to their apartment about 9 p.m. They are in bed with lights out by 10:30.

They communicate with their families via letters. They use the library's computers to send a weekly e-mail. If their families are in the area, and they make prior arrangements with officials, they can meet for an hour or two for a meal, but there are no extended visits. They do not go home during their time in the field.

Their apartment has no television or video games. It does has a CD player, with music furnished by the church. The apartment has a telephone, but the two say they do not miss knowing what's going on in the world.

"That's the beauty of it," Townsend said. "We don't have to worry about what's going on out there. We spend our days teaching about Jesus and our faith."

The church furnishes an apartment and a vehicle for the young men, but they pay the rest of their expenses.

"I raised $2,000 for my mission," said Snow.

"I sold my mare and saddle to come," said Townsend, who carries a lariat with him during the day so he can hone his roping skills. "I had $6,000. When I go home, I'll go back to college and will start rodeoing again." 

When their obligation to the church is finished, they plan to go home, return to college and resume the lives they had prior to fulfilling a promise to their faith.

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