Two members of the local Church of Latter Day Saints will soon be sharing their faith with people in Hong Kong and Argentina.
Whitney Scott, 19, a 2016 graduate of The Dalles High School, started her nine-week training for the mission in Provo, Utah, on June 15. She is learning the complex language of Cantonese and the culture of Hong Kong before being sent to the country for 18 months.
“We are going there to share hope and the opportunity for people to be happy and know what their purpose is,” she said. “Hong Kong is not Christian so it will be interesting to share.”
Martin Carter, 18, a 2017 graduate of The Dalles High School, leaves for Provo July 26 to spend six weeks in training prior to departure to Argentina for two years.
“I’ve always felt like I was supposed to go, but after studying the scriptures, I became excited to go,” he said.
In the LDS Church, home to the Mormon faith, young men are to consider missionary work as a duty and women are encouraged to go to the field. Missionaries are sent in teams to countries in Asia, Africa, Australia, South Pacific, Europe and the Americas where the church sees the greatest need.
“It’s not so much where we would fit in, but where someone needs us,” said Carter. He was relieved to be sent to Argentina because “I hate seafood,” and the country has large cattle ranches so he can look forward to eating beef. He will be going to Salta, a city in the Northwest sector of Argentina that has a terrain similar to The Dalles.
“It’s going to feel kind of like home,” said Carter.
Scott has a longer training period because the culture she will be entering is vastly different from the U.S. in many ways. She is looking forward to checking out the international marketplaces of Hong Kong, although she will mostly be in more rural areas of the autonomous territory along the Pearl River Delta of China.
“I don’t like seafood either so I was kind of nervous, but then I learned they mostly eat pork and chicken,” she said.
She is currently learning how to strengthen her own understanding and testimony of the gospel by praying and studying the Book of Mormon and other doctrines.
Trainees are also given instruction about how to handle the emotional demands of leaving home and their familiar support system. In addition, they are prepared to handle rejection and disappointment while proselytizing on the streets and visiting homes.
“We share our beliefs and do a little bit of service work,” said Carter.
Missionaries travel with at least one companion. Physical fitness is stressed because they must be able to walk an average of six miles per day and ride a bicycle for 12 miles.
Life in the field will be busy, said Scott, with days that begin at 6:30 a.m. with prayer, exercise and personal study. At 8 a.m. the trainees meet to share what they are learning, as well as practice the language of their host country.
At 10 a.m., missionaries begin proselytizing and they return to their quarters at 9 p.m. to debrief and plan for the next day before retiring at 10:30 p.m.
“The mission really isn’t about us, it’s about serving and being sure everyone is given the opportunity to hear our message,” said Scott.
Scott and Martin are so committed to the mission that they were willing to sacrifice for the experience. The cost for males is $10,000 and is $7,500 for females.
In an email sent June 19 to family and friends, Scott shared some of her initial impressions and expressions: “Every class has been all in Cantonese, it’s been very overwhelming and I have had to rely on my Savior A LOT to trust that He will help me learn the language.
“I’ve almost been able to say a short prayer in the language though…I’ve also learned that people in Hong Kong get offended if you call the city China, don’t do that!…I heard this quote this week regarding missionaries, ‘English speakers become scriptorians, Spanish speakers become fluent, Chinese speakers become humble.’ So true! my new Chinese name is Loh Jimuih, it’s pronounced law-tsi-moy…It’s a common name like Carter or Johnson so it doesn’t have a specific meaning, but if you looked it up in a Chinese baby book or something, it would mean silk…”
In another paragraph, Scott wrote: “On day three we taught a lesson in prayer to an ‘investigator’ named Tyler, all in Cantonese, so scary! I’m sure he’s just an actor and even my companion had a hard time trying to communicate with him. We had our books and I said a choppy ‘I know that through the Holy Spirit we can feel God’s love’ in Cantonese. It was quite an experience and today we have to do it again! I know this church is true, and the work I am doing is important ….”
She noted in the email that Donny Osmond, an American singer, actor and teen idol, gave the devotional for her training group.
“He sang a bit of ‘let’s get down to business” from Mulan and shared about his life,” she wrote.
Carter said a lot of LDS missionaries that he has known have come back from abroad with a stronger work ethic and a deep love for the gospel and LDS doctrines.
“They keep that passion all their lives,” he said.
When he returns from his time in Argentina, Carter wants to study business at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
“I hear that coming back can be a culture shock, that it takes people a while to re-adjust,” he said.
Scott is unsure what direction will will take after coming home.
She and Carter invite anyone interested in learning more about their mission or the Mormon faith to access LDS.org.