My Easter Break in Utah, Part 1
During Azusa Pacific University’s Easter Vacation, a unique "summer" mission team ventured two states over to serve God in Utah. More than 90 percent of the population of the state is members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as LDS or Mormons). This team of 19 people went to Utah with a mission that was threefold: to uplift each member of the team through knowledge gained about another people group and growth in their relationship with God; to study in context as well as minister to the members of the LDS church through love and conversation; and to encourage the evangelical Christian churches in Utah as they are the minority. The following is part one of three day-by-day encounters of Utah mission team members Heidi Lynn '05 and Sean Fitzpatrick '04.
Saturday, April 12
As I stumbled out to the parking lot at six in the morning, I was greeted by the other 18 people who I would be spending my Easter Break with. Nervous and excited, we loaded our stuff and jumped onto the bus. I am looking forward to taking a nap and studying my Bible and Book of Mormon on the way up there, but I wonder if we will get all the way to Orem, Utah in a day? What a long drive!
After 12 hours on a bus, we finally arrived in Orem, Utah. I get out to stretch my legs in the parking lot of the church we will stay at for the night.
Sunday, April 13
As our bus takes us to Manti, I think back to the great lunch I had a while ago. After church at Christ Evangelical Church of Orem, the members of our team were taken to lunch by some of the families in the church. The family I had lunch with had a daughter whose best friend, Michelle, had once been a member of the LDS church. Michelle gave us some words of wisdom and encouragement. It was a great lunch, and now I am so excited to go to the Bible study tonight in Manti.
It’s back to the bus for a ride two blocks down the street to a motel that we are staying the night at in Manti, the geographical center of Utah, 30 miles from the main highway. We just spent the evening in Manti’s community center, in which a small Bible study was held. We worshipped, ate, and shared stories with each other about what the Lord has been doing in our lives. Kaziah, one local lady at the Bible study, shared her testimony of being raised in a polygamist off-shoot Mormon home and eventually finding the Lord. Tonight I realized that by living in a place as diverse as Southern California and as largely populated an area as Los Angeles, I have never experienced life in a small town. In L.A., I have the privilege to be a Christian or any other religion I choose, without being subjected to the whole town’s social stigma.
Monday, April 14
We are still in Manti, performing a service project set up by the mayor. Our team was assigned to clean up Regina’s yard, which only a few hours ago was piled high with trash that had been collected for more than 50 years! And she wasn’t even thankful for our help. She would have rather kept all that junk. Her neighbors on the other hand were greatly appreciative. We all had a lesson in service today: serving God and others does not always receive an outward thank you, but it never goes unnoticed.
What a fun day! Our team was sent to do a service project at an older woman’s house. Her yard was filled with junk and we helped clean it up to benefit her and the local community. Although the laughs we have shared during this time were priceless, what I appreciated the most about this project was the opportunity to be a servant just as Christ was a servant. I believe it is important to show Christ’s love through service to other people so that they may see who Christ is.
Posted: May 21, 2003