Whether they have knocked on your door, messaged you on social media, or walked up to you on the street, you likely have or know someone who has interacted with a religious missionary.
When they come of age, missionaries are sent to a predetermined location away from their homes and family to complete what they call a mission. Missions include getting involved in their community, going to the local ward, volunteering, and managing social media pages.
Clarington, a town within the Durham region, is currently home to two Mormon missionaries: Samantha Jewkes, who comes from Idaho, and Julie Davis, who comes from Georgia. Jewkes has been here for over six months, and Davis has been here almost five weeks.
Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as the Mormon church) have various responsibilities they must uphold during their mission.
“We are also responsible for helping people coming closer to Christ,” said Jewkes. “We help them recognize and come closer themselves who Jesus Christ is, why he is important, and why we have to come closer to him.”
The missionaries like to keep up with guidelines for their missions. These facilitate talking and dressing formally.
“We wake up at 6:30 [a.m.] every morning and go to bed at 10:30 [p.m] every night,” said Jewkes. “[We keep] a standard look because we are representing Jesus Christ, and that is such an important thing that we [must] treat sacredly.”
The two missionaries speak very highly of the people of Durham. They talk about how kind everyone is and how interwoven and connected everyone feels. They say the community, particularly the church, helps anyone going through trials and tribulations.
According to Jewkes, Durham Region – specifically, Bowmanville – is very similar to her hometown in Idaho and makes her very comfortable when doing her missionary work.
“Although it is missing the mountains,” she said, “the culture is kind of the same. So, when I am here, I can treat it a little like home. I can do my missionary work a little more comfortably versus when I am in Scarborough.”
Jewkes and Davis say Bowmanville feels more “warm and fuzzy.”
The missionaries said they would love to return to the Durham Region after their mission work ended.
“Absolutely. 100 per cent. I am already making plans to come back already,” Jewkes said.
Jewkes says their favourite part about being a missionary is that “everyone needs what you are sharing; everyone needs the good news of Jesus Christ.”
According to the missionaries, the biggest misconception in the region is that people often mistake them for Jehovah’s Witnesses or Seventh-Day Adventists, and fail to recognize that they are actually missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Another big misunderstanding is people think that missionaries only knock on doors.
“A lot of it isn’t knocking [on] doors,” Jewkes said. “Actually, we don’t do that very often. We honestly find a lot of people to talk about by them reaching out, or by them being friends of members of our church and want to learn more or we just meet them on the street.”