For the first time in many years two young women are serving in Williams Lake as missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Sister Poulson is from Mesa, Arizona. Sister Aviles is from St. Louis Missouri.
“I came to B.C. in the summer and it snowed on Christmas,” says Sister Poulson who had never experienced snow. “It was exciting.”
Both sisters arrived in Williams Lake Feb. 8 after serving in other locations around B.C. and invite people who want to learn about the Mormon faith to give them a call at 250-303-0446.
The missionaries also invite the public to join them at an open house taking place at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints located at 3039 Edwards Drive this Saturday, April 8 from 1 to 4 p.m.
The sisters will talk about their mission which includes teaching people about the Mormon faith and helping people in need. There will also be members of the congregation there who will share what the church teaches regarding strengthening families and healthy living.
In Williams Lake the young missionaries have been shovelling snow, helping people to move, visiting regularly with six people who want to learn more about their faith, organizing children’s activities, and door knocking to deliver the message of their faith.
Visitors at the open house Saturday will also have an opportunity to learn about the Family History Centre. In addition to its extensive microfilm records available through the Mormon Church records in Salt Lake City, the centre offers ancestral research services free of charge through several websites and personal assistance with research.
The Sisters said there will also be discussions about the Mormon practice of being prepared for emergencies and disasters. Each family is encouraged to have enough non-perishable food, water, first aid and personal care supplies on hand to last a year in case of emergencies, Sister Poulson said.
Local member Abby Shoults said that because of the preparedness program the Mormon church is able to help with humanitarian efforts throughout the world. For example the Williams Lake church was able to send food and supplies to help flood victims in Bella Coola a few years ago.
In the Mormon Church young people are encouraged to spend time in missionary service which will help to prepare them for the rest of their lives.
For many years the Williams Lake church has hosted young men in missionary service, but this is the first time since the early 1980s that young women have visited Williams Lake, Shoults notes.
Girls will serve as missionaries for 18 months while the boys will serve as missionaries for two years.
Each of the young missionaries must raise $10,000 to cover the cost of their mission. Sister Aviles, who is 21, saved money working in her job as a hair stylist and cosmetologist. She also had help from her home church congregation.
Sister Poulson saved money for her mission by working in a soda shop part-time during high school. She also had some sponsorship from her home church.
To qualify for a mission young people must also abide by the teachings of the church which include not using stimulants such as tea, coffee, alcohol or illegal drugs, and refraining from sex until marriage. They must also have learned the testimony of the church teachings and be willing to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places, Shoults said.
During their service the young missionaries also don’t read newspapers or use the Internet and they always serve in pairs.
There are currently about 200 young Mormon missionaries ages 18 to 26 serving in communities around B.C.