A change of heart through song, dance and missionary service

One of 20 stage missionaries joining in dance with a couple missionary during their production of "Sunset by the Mississippi." (Photo courtesy of Heidi Camp.)
Missionaries dance during their production of “Sunset by the Mississippi” in Nauvoo. (Photo courtesy Heidi Camp)

Missionary work is at an all-time high, and constantly progresses by changing the hearts of many through service. Every summer, 40 individuals get to serve the Lord by using their talents in song and dance to share a message as Young Performing Missionaries (YPM).

Serving a Young Performing Mission provides young men and women with a unique opportunity to share the gospel using the talents they have been given.

For those who have participated, many have returned forever changed.

“Nauvoo holds a special place in my heart,” said Rachelle Elbert, who spent summer 2013 serving as a stage missionary. “It changed my life, my perspective on things, on my future and on my career.”

Elbert, a freshman in the music dance theater program at BYU, said serving a YPM was an unexpected challenge.

“It humbled me. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Elbert said. “I learned that the Holy Ghost works in a special, unique way and you have to trust it.”

Some young performing missionaries, like Elbert, decide to serve a YPM in substitution of a proselyting mission. Others serve in addition to a proselyting mission. Regardless, once serving in Nauvoo, these missionaries have been grateful for their experience and the life changes the mission brought.

“It means everything to me,” said Merritt Moore, a senior psychology major. “After serving as a proselyting missionary and in Nauvoo, Nauvoo was the culmination of everything wonderful for me. It was exactly what I needed, and I think about it every day.”

The change in those who serve continues to occur, year after year, summer after summer. The director of the YPM, Elder Craig Camp, has noticed that change.

The 2013 YPM stage missionaries spent this last summer singing, dancing and sharing the gosepl with visitors to Nauvoo. (Photo courtesy of Heidi Camp.)
The 2013 YPM stage missionaries spent this last summer singing, dancing and sharing the gosepl with visitors to Nauvoo. (Photo courtesy Heidi Camp)

“There is a promise that if you serve in Nauvoo and consecrate your talents, that Nauvoo will change you,” said Camp, who has served each summer since 2009 with his wife as directors of the YPMs, and are both looking forward to serving again during the summer of 2014.

Camp has seen the growth that comes from the mission experience and advises those who are considering applying to ponder deeply on the matter.

“Get on your knees and pray,” Elbert said. “I think people get nervous and think they’re not good enough. If you’re meant to be there, it will happen.”

Camp has seen how the mission process works and how lives and hearts of both the missionaries and those who attend are changed through song, dance and missionary service.

“You grow to love the people you are with; you grow to love the people you serve,” Camp said. “And you grow to love your Heavenly Father.”

To apply, interested applicants can download an application at www.historicnauvoo.net/participate/ypm. Twenty stage missionaries, 16–18 band missionaries and three to four technical missionaries are needed each summer. Prospective stage and band missionaries should be prepared to create an audition DVD, and technical missionaries to fill out the application no later than Nov. 30. For more information, contact Heidi Camp at .

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