By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal
AMORY – The Christensen family of Amory welcomed their son Dane home from his Mormon mission last week after the 22-year-old spent the past two years in Brazil traveling the Sao Paulo state, helping people draw closer to God.
“It is a commandment of God to preach to your neighbor,” said Christensen. It is this principle that the Mormon rite of passage is founded on.
Christensen said people are more open to traveling ministry in the South American country. They are a very humble people, lacking the modern luxuries we take for granted, such as air conditioning, carpet and cars, he said.
“I walked everywhere for two years,” he said, “I spent a lot of nights in a hammock and ate mainly rice and beans.”
The simple conditions renewed his appreciation for American life.
“He walked in and was like ‘Mom, we have a really nice house,'” said Robyn Christensen, Dane’s mother.
He also said poverty is far more widespread in Brazil, due to the lack of a middle class and the safety nets in place in American society. The disconnect between rich and poor fuels ongoing drug conflicts in the country.
“We walked through some of the worst places imaginable,” he said, “but we were respected as missionaries. We weren’t afraid because the Lord protected us.”
Young people in the Church of Latter-day Saints have the option to embark on a two-year mission when they turn 18. After interviewing with local church leaders to determine they are living the standards of the church, they submit an application to the first presidency of the LDS Church. In a few weeks they receive a letter telling them when and where they will serve.
In Brazil, Christensen was transferred every few months to a different region. Missionaries always travel with a partner, but these partners also are rotated and reassigned as they transfer regions.
On his mission, Christensen was allowed to email home once a week and call or Skype twice a year – on Christmas and on Mother’s Day. There was no time for recreational activities, and he was not allowed to date.
“These rules are to keep us safe and focused on our mission,” Christensen said.
Christensen will continue to participate in his church and finish school at Utah Valley State, where he studies business and plays golf. After that he plans to go to law school.