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Church missionaries stationed far & wide


Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sent out a record number of missionaries in 2018.

Dan Kohler, spokesperson for the church, said it’s more than he can remember at any time. 

Young men in the church serve for two years and young women serve 18-month missions in which they spread the word of their faith by visiting other communities near and far. All of the missionaries pay their own way during their travels.

Here are the some of the Keizer Stake missionaries, where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing. 

Brock Neddo, Utah Orem Mission

Neddo has been sharing the gospel in the area around Orem, Utah, since January of 2018 and taking part in a variety of community service projects. 

Abby Johnson, Italy Milan Mission

Johnson left in June 2017 and was expected home this month. She’s been in Prodenone, Bergamo, Modena and Alessandria since departing. She was also selected to become a trainer, helping newer missionaries to learn the culture and how to be an effective missionary.

Parker Dean, Chile Santiago West Mission

Dean reports access to a a bounty of fresh bread that would be a problem if not for all the walking he’s done as part of his mission. 

The dedication to patriotism and parties has caught his attention on more than one occasion. He said Chilean flags fly from every available space. 

“They take parties and music to a different level here! I was at the coast and just in like two days the whole country came to the beach to start the celebration week,” Dean said. 

Elizabeth RussellMexico City Northwest Mission

Russell departed in September and has been teaching English to children in Guanajuato.When she’s completed her mission, she will return to Brigham Young University (BYU), but she’s not sure where her studies will lead. 

Between spending time in Germany and now Mexico, the lure of foreign places is enticing. 

Samuel Elder, Utah Provo Mission

Elder is currently a district leader in Springville Utah. Elder also had the opportunity to serve four months in the Asian wards of BYU and Utah Valley University. In the transfer, he was required to learn Korean, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese.

Hyrum Kohler, Georgia Atlanta Mission

Kohler has been all over the outskirts of Atlanta and is now serving as a district leader. One of his recent service projects included helping move a goat pen and installing 650-feet of fence. It was an epic undertaking the group completed in 10 hours. 

He was also unofficially assigned to play the piano at church when the members found out that he had musical skills.

“My mission has been and will continue to be the most rewarding thing of my life. Though I’m in a new place with new people, the teachings and worship I love are the same. Seeing people changing their lives and overcoming addictions and bad habits are among a few of the greatest treasures I will carry with me throughout my life,” Kohler said. 

Jacob Grimmer, New York Utica Mission

“It’s great in New York. It’s nothing like you first think. No Broadway shows. No giant skyscrapers. No hustle and bustle. It’s actually a lot like Keizer. Oneonta is a college town full of students curious about God,” Grimmer said. 

Grimmer also recently completed his first baptism of a new convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

Isaiah Holt, Bolivia Cochabamba Mission 

Holt has been in Bolivia for almost two years. 

“I have been able to become fluent in Spanish and also learn a little of the native Inca language of Quechua seeing as most people can speak both languages here. The people here are truly humble. Many live in poverty. However their happiness comes from their families and their generosity. It is very humbling to see people give so much when they have so little,” Holt said. 

His experiences have included helping rescue an elderly man when a fire broke out in his home. The family had tried using gasoline and matches to rid themselves of an ant problem, but it got out of hand.

“We ran up the stairs with buckets of water, not knowing the cause of the fire, and got to work smothering the fire. The lady then informed us that her father was still in the room so we went into the smoke filled room to pull out her father.”

I have a feeling the God was there with us that day fighting the fire with us,” Holt said. 

Abe Nelson, Arkansas Little Rock Mission

Nelson time in Arkansas is greatly informed by his time at McNary High School. 

“As a student of McNary, I would walk the halls surrounded by my peers and friends with the average ignorance most teenagers have toward their fellow classmates’ own struggles and questions.  I now learn how to share with more sincerity and enthusiasm the cure to all the struggles I once saw walking those halls, and more,” Nelson said. 

Kody Lewis, Guatemala Retalhuleu Mission

Lewis has had to learn a new language and new culture, but he reports that the immersion has helped him overcome his typical shyness. 

One of his most powerful experiences was witnessing an alcoholic man give up the bottle and begin sharing his experiences with the churh with friends and family. 

Adam Nelson, Argentina Salta Mission

Nelson’s has been in Argentina for about nine months and seen the good news change lives in awe-inspiring ways. 

“I have seen personally lives change from addiction and heartache to freedom and joy. I am so blessed to have seen these miracles in their lives and in mine due to this Church and the Gospel,” he said. 

Jameson Becktel, Belgium Netherlands Mission

Since leaving Keizer, Becktel has become fluent in the Dutch language after spending time in Zandaam, Maastrict, Ghent, and Enchede. He was most recently in  Alkmaar, a city about 40 miles north of Amsterdam. 

When he’s not spreading the gospel of the church, Becktel’s favorite activities have been visiting castles, windmills, museums and the Flanders battlefield. 

Lance Becktel Ukraine Dnepropetrovsk Mission

Becktel is at the missionary training center in Provo, Utah, and will head overseas after the nine-week session. He is learning Russian before heading to Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. Becktel is hoping lessons from McNary’s two German teachers prove useful in picking up a new language. 

Brent Olson, Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission

Olson departed two weeks ago for the Mexico City Training Center where he will get a crash course in Spanish before heading to Oklahoma where he will focus on engaging the area’s Hispanic community. 

Cambrian Partridge, Utah Ogden Mission

Partridge is taking a break from her studies at the University of Nevada Las Vegas beginning in January. She will be spending 18 months in the Ogden.

Pherson Shepherd, Texas Ft. Worth Mission 

Shepherd has been saving for his mission since he was small through babysitting gigs, his first job at McDonald’s and then at Windsor Rock Products. He will leave in March 2019.