These four friends, Philip Henderson, son of Alan and Linda Henderson, and Daniel Vicznesky, son of Scott and Starr Vicznesky, both of Acworth, both Eagle Scouts and both recent graduates of Etowah High School, and Earl and Lynn Mecham of Woodstock will soon be leaving for their mission assignments; Henderson to Chile, South America; Vicznesky to New Mexico to serve the Navaho Nation people; and the Mechams to southern England.
This will be the Mechams’ second senior mission who recently served two years in Siberia, Russia, where they were involved in serving the Russian people, those who had recently joined the church.
These four will be joining 10 other Cherokeeans in the Allatoona and Woodstock congregations now serving church service missions, at their own expense, throughout the world.
All four will begin their missions in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, where they will receive intensive training in gospel principles and language skills so they will be more able to serve those in their mission area.
These 14 Cherokeeans will go out and become a part of the ever-growing church missionary body, a body expected soon to top 100,000 volunteers, beginning at age 18 for boys and 19 for girls for two years.
But there is no age limit for qualified seniors willing to leave home to serve their fellow-man, both spiritually and temporally.
Serving church missions is a vital part of our faith; and of our family. Joan and I are but two of the 19 members of our extended family who have or are currently serving church missions throughout North America and the world.
We both understand the Mechams’ desire to serve a second mission.
Joan’s desire to serve a second mission was great but my health issues got in the way.
Our mission to eastern Canada brought to each of us a feeling of inner peace and personal joy, a feeling that comes from believing you are in the service of your God when you are serving your fellow man, as did the Mechams in Russia and will again in southern England.
Our mission assignment, in public affairs, was to build bridges of understanding between our church and 45 other faith groups and to help bring our church out of obscurity.
Having training in TV production my assignment was to help other faiths, mostly small churches, to write and produce for airing on their national TV channel their own gospel messages.
Joan’s efforts were centered on producing and staging what was at that time the largest “Tribute to the Family” ever staged in North America, a production staged in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, the second largest museum in North America where all 45 faith groups put on display their beliefs.
What a way it was in building bridges of understanding amongst faith-groups. It was an extraordinary success with nearly 15,000 attending the two-day event.
Both Joan and I gained far more from our mission than any of those we worked with. Our testimonies of the Living God were strengthened as we saw the Gospel of Jesus Christ active in the lives of so many other faith groups.
And I have yet to see a member of our family who has faithfully served a church service mission who has not returned home better for their service, and better prepared to step into leadership roles, both in the church and in their communities.
No matter one’s age, there is always a place to serve, as I’m sure there is in other faith groups, as both Joan and I witnessed on our mission in Canada. And this has brought both of us great joy and happiness as patriarch and matriarch of our growing family.
As these four church friends leave home to serve they do so with a faith that will only grow as they watch those they serve change and become more Christ like.
Few opportunities in today’s world can bring more personal satisfaction and inner-peace.
Four friends willing to serve their fellow man. What faith, what courage they display.
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.