Mormon missionaries share faith with community

Published 11:00 pm Monday, December 9, 2013

If you live in Troy, you have probably seen them walking down the street. They wear white shirts with ties and long, black pants. They walk everywhere they go. They are Troy’s local Mormon missionaries.

After high school, most Mormon men elect to serve two years on a mission trip in either the United States or another country. They spend two years assigned to a specific community where they perform door-to-door ministry and engage in community service.

Elder Crook and Elder Blair are both originally from Utah. Elder Crook hails from Herriman, while Elder Blair hails from Spanish Fork.

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Both said they were surprised when they were assigned to south Alabama. “When I first found out I was going to Alabama, all I could think about were the stereotypical things,” Elder Crook said. “Once I got down here, though, I discovered that I enjoyed it.”

“Some of the stereotypes exist,” Elder Blair said. “It isn’t as stereotypical as we imagined though. People really do love football down here. That’s one thing we learned.”

Elder Blair said he thinks it is a privilege to be able to serve on a mission trip. “It says in the Bible that we need to spread the Gospel to all creation,” Blair said. “It’s a commandment from our Lord. It’s not just that, though. We both have a personal testimony that we want to share with the community.”

The two try to reach as wide an audience as they can. “We talk to as many people as we can,” Elder Crook said. “We think it is a blessing to be able to share the Gospel with other people.”

Being so far from home is not always easy for the two. “I would say the hardest part is having to be away from your family for two years,” Elder Crook said.

And, sometimes, spreading the ministry door-to-door can be frustrating. “It can be difficult when people don’t listen to what you have to say,” Elder Blair said. “We try to teach, but sometimes we get ignored and pushed away. It’s definitely not the easiest thing to do, but we tough it out and move on.”

When they finally breakthrough to someone they have been teaching, they said, is the most rewarding part of their missionary work. “It’s always exciting when we see someone who wants to talk to us and learn more,” Elder Crook said. “We get to see how the Lord has helped in their life. Nothing beats that feeling.”

They said preaching in a college town has its advantages and disadvantages. “Working in a college town can be a good and a bad thing,” Elder Blair said. “It’s good because we always have a new group of people to work with. It’s bad because sometimes we don’t see the people we’ve been ministering to for a while, and they start to lose interest.”

The missionaries do more than just door-to-door ministry. They also do service around the community. “We try to do a lot of service,” Elder Blair said. “We’re involved with Habitat for Humanity and the Pioneer Museum.”

“We also do a lot of work with family history and ancestry,” Elder Crook said. “We believe God is a just God and wants to give all people the opportunity to hear the Gospel.”

For people interested in learning more about their ancestry, the LDS church sponsors a website. “The LDS church runs a website called,” Elder Blair said. “It is open to anyone and offers billions of census records. We believe that families are eternal, and we want to give people the opportunity to find their families.”

In Troy, the missionaries said they have found a community that is deeply conscious of its faith. “There has been a mutual respect between us and people of other faiths,” Elder Crook said. “We have shared our beliefs with people of many different faiths, and there is a lot of respect on both sides. We always extend an invitation to them to learn more about what we believe.”

The missionaries said they recognize that many people may have questions about their faith.  “The websites and answer a lot of questions that people might have about our beliefs,” Blair said.