By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Two Mormon missionaries living and volunteering their services wherever it is needed in Tucumcari said they have come to think of the community’s residents as family.
“We are away from home and focus on helping the residents of the community and in doing so have come to be close to them,” said Ryan Arave.
Arave and Calvin Preisler are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have been living in Tucumcari for the past three months.
The two are on a voluntary two-year mission that sends them to various communities around the country to volunteer and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ.
“A common misconception is that we are going to go around beating on your door to preach to you,” Arave said.
Preisler said missionaries move into a community with the goal of helping people get closer to Christ, which they accomplish, by helping others. He said this could range from a variety of ways, including mowing lawns, and volunteering at local events and facilities.
Arave and Preisler helped out with the Tucumcari Rawhide Days activities at the Tucumcari Historical Museum, as well as setting up displays and making repairs.
“These two young men have been such a blessing to the museum and the community,” (??? WHO SAID THIS?)
Arave said another misconception about their missionary work is the belief that it is forced or required of church members. He said missionaries save up to pay their own way through the two-year mission.
“A resident was shocked when I refused to take money for mowing their lawn,” Preisler said.
Arave said he is a strong believer in the concept of paying it forward.
“There is nothing more Christ-like than helping others without the thought of what is to gain,” Arave said.
Arave said helping people is what Christ did and that he did not always preach as he went about and aided those in need.
“Jesus Christ is our greatest example,” Arave said. “Bringing people closer to him is our main goal. Whether it’s by us serving others and them feeling the love that we have and that Christ has for them or actually teaching them about Christ.”
Preisler said LDS members are eligible to volunteer for a two-year mission from the ages of 20-26.
Arave said his two-year mission would conclude on Wednesday, at which time he will return home to Idaho. He said while on the two-year mission, they only speak to family and friends by e-mail each Monday and communicate via Skype only twice a year — on Mother’s Day and Christmas. The reason for the lack of communication with our loved ones back home is so we can focus on our mission here, Arave said.
“With the absence of our families we come to know and consider the people we are helping as family,” Arave said. “I have grown close to the residents of this community and I am going to miss them when I leave.”
Arave said he served four years in the Army National Guard but he has learned more about service and life during his two-year mission than his service in the military. He said his plans once he returns home are to enroll in college and start a family.