Next fall, when other members of the Providence High School graduating class head to college, Nathan Anderson, 18, will not be joining them.Anderson was accepted at the one school to which he applied – Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah – but he will attend only the summer session there before taking a two-year leave of absence. Anderson, who became an Eagle Scout this year, is in the top 10 percent of his class, is president of the Junior Classical League and is a competitive gymnast. So what is it that has him breaking the college mold? “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always planned on going on a church mission trip,” he said. For Anderson, raised Mormon, that trip is a two-year assignment to any country, including the U.S., and one considered a duty among Mormon young men. A recent lowering of the age requirement from 19 to 18 has seen a surge in the number of Mormon missionaries worldwide. Young women also are able to go on mission trips, but, says Anderson, “It is their choice, whereas for men it is more of a duty.” The duty is one he is happy to fulfill. “My church has benefitted my life so much, and it has made me really happy,” Anderson said. “I just want to share that with other people and help them experience the same joy.”He sent in his paperwork to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the leadership of the Mormon Church worldwide, and they then made assignments based on where there is a need and a good fit. “There’s a saying that there is no such thing as a bad mission,” Anderson said, “just a bad missionary.” With that in mind, Anderson was prepared to embrace wherever he was assigned, but he was hoping for Africa or “any place that would give me a different cultural experience.” Anderson’s father, Paul, served in Santiago, Chile, when he was 19, and told his son it was one of the best experiences of his life.Anderson found out in mid-April that he will be doing his missionary work on the northeast coastline of Brazil, the port city of the Amazon river.“I am so excited,” Anderson says. “It fits my personality really well. Learning a language really appeals to me.” The new language is only one of many things Anderson must learn to prepare for his assignment, although “I feel like I have been getting ready my whole life,” he said.Recently, he has attended a class Sunday evenings and before school at 6 a.m. called “Missionary Preparation,” which includes instruction in practical matters like staying healthy mentally, physically and emotionally, and learning how to communicate effectively. Once in Brazil, Anderson will be assigned a partner with whom he must spend every waking moment. His contact with home will be limited to one letter each week and two phone calls per year (one on Christmas Day and one on Mother’s Day) because, he says, “We are supposed to stay focused on work and not have distractions like homesickness.”To that end, his daily schedule will be regimented, with a 6:30 a.m. wakeup, two hours of scripture study, long days of proselytizing and no television or Internet for purposes other than his teachings. Anderson, who hopes to study classics when he returns from his mission trip, is excited. “I am sure I will miss my family, but it will be worth it,” he says.
Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2013
Charlotte senior will head to Brazil after graduation
Katya Lezin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Katya? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less