Elder Ritchie, 20, and Elder Night, 22, are literally young men on a mission. They arrived in Miller March 16, and will spend from six weeks to six months in the area serving as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Each church member who decides to serve on missions will devote two years serving 24/7. Elder Ritchie said, “Young people, usually between 18 to 20, are encouraged to serve as missionaries, but it isn’t required. However, most do.”
It isn’t an easy decision. Missionaries are not paid, and it usually costs them about $10,000 during the two years they are in service.
As mentioned, their time is structured. Although they are allowed to send letters through the mail, they are only allowed to e-mail family members once a week. They are allowed to call home two days of the year…on Christmas and Mother’s Day.
Elder Night agreed that while the two years is demanding of the missionaries, it also expects much of their families, because of being unable to be in touch often.
Elder Ritchie explained that once required paperwork is filled out and approved, it is sent to Salt Lake City for review. “That’s where it is prayerfully decided where best we can serve the Lord.”
The missionaries receive a “call to serve”—an official notification of their location assignment.
Both were called to the Rapid City Mission. Each is to serve in North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming and Nebraska. They have both served in each of those states except Nebraska. Elder Ritchie, from Star Valley, Wyo., is somewhat familiar with the area involved. Elder Night, from Pink Hill, North Carolina, had no idea what to expect when told of his assignment.
All missionaries are required to do certain things, the men explained. They must undertake thorough study every morning for two hours, including study of the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Missionary Handbook. One day a week is considered preparation day, when they wash clothes, get groceries and can do other chores. But when they are in public, they are the young men wearing white shirts and ties.
The LDS Church is one of the most active modern practitioners of missionary work, and according to Internet information, throughout the history of the church, over one million missionaries have been sent on missions.
“Our purpose is to invite others to learn about the church, and to teach people as our mission progresses,” said Elder Ritchie. “We don’t try to tear down others’ beliefs. We believe in the Bible, as the word of God, and also in the Book of Mormon, which contains writings of people in ancient America. We belief first and foremost that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world and the Son of God.”
In addition to teaching others about LDS beliefs, the missionaries want to be involved in meeting people and performing community service.
Once their two years of service is completed, Ritchie and Night will take up their “regular life” once again, which will include additional schooling, and down the road, marriage and a family.
But right now their focus is on their mission. “We would like to invite anyone interested to worship with us on Easter Sunday, at 10 a.m.,” Elder Night said (1025 East Third Avenue).
They suggest people visit mormon.org to find out more about the LDS faith. The men may be reached at 605-591-9533.
Ruth A. Moller|The Miller Press
MORMON ELDERS Ritchie and Night are “on a mission” in Miller to serve their Lord and serve the community.