Called to serve in a pandemic: Utah County missionaries find creative ways to serve


Editor’s note: Thousands of missionaries across the world are facing upended plans during the pandemic. Some are returning home before completing their missions, others are serving in quarantine and many are receiving new calls. The Daily Universe is looking at how these missionaries are grappling with challenges in a series of stories.

Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints found some new ways to share the gospel and serve while cooling off on Saturday, June 27.

Provo missionaries offered a free car wash 12-4 p.m. to anyone who came by, while missionaries in Spanish Fork invited people to join them for a drive-by prayer from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

They’re not the first groups of missionaries to offer these services. Elder Preston Poulton and Elder Braden Zinn, who are currently serving in Springville, did a car wash last week, and they said they washed 91 cars.

“Hosting events like these is a great way to increase how effective we are and share messages of peace and love during times of chaos and fear,” Elder Poulton said.

Sister Scarlett Uribe, who was at today’s car wash with her companion Sister Rayelle Poulsen, said one of their main goals was to let people know that the missionaries are still around.

“With coronavirus, lots of people think that missionaries have all gone home and that missionary work has stopped, but that is definitely not true. We’re still here and we want to help,” Sister Uribe said.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionary prayed with passersby in their prayer drive thru in Spanish Fork, Utah. (Preston Crawley)

The missionaries doing the drive-thru prayers said they had a similar purpose: they want people to know that they are available to help them with whatever they need.

Sister Tess Gilliland and Sister Cierra Dickey, who were part of the drive-thru prayers, said they’re hoping people will feel more comfortable around missionaries and they want to find more ways to reach out even though they aren’t able to visit people in person.

“We are hoping people will feel God’s love for them, because prayer’s really powerful,” Sister Dickey said.

Missionaries in the Utah county area have recently started using Facebook, with each city having its own page. Elders and sisters use social media to promote videos about the Church and about God and to reach out to people and organize events like these.

Elder Nicholas Metzger, who was also at the car wash with his companion Elder Dylan Thomas, said the missionary experience has been a little different, but they’ve been able to find new ways to accomplish their goals.

“At the core our mission hasn’t changed, but a lot of how we’re doing it is way different,” Elder Metzger said.

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