Elder Jeppson and Elder Smith, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called to the Tennessee Knoxville Mission, have been assigned to serve in Ooltewah. Over 65,000 missionaries of The Church serve around the world in some 399 missions. Missionaries are not paid for their service. All missions are voluntary. As Russell M. Nelson, prophet of the world and President of The Church said, “All missionaries, younger and older, serve with the sole hope of making life better for other people.”
Missionaries invite all to come unto Christ, who is the “Savior of all humankind.” As officials state, “No matter your story…we can all experience more joy in our individual lives when we turn to Him – who loves us most.” Elder Jeppson said, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ has the power to help us overcome any personal weakness or spiritual illness. He is the Master Physician of hearts and souls, and He knows us personally.”
“Jesus Christ lives, and has called Prophets and apostles to lead His people today, just as He did in times of old. The Church of Jesus Christ is on the Earth, and Christ stands at the Head of The Church. Any earnest seeker can discover these truths because our Heavenly Father desires to reveal His will and love to us at all times,” Elder Jeppson said.
Elder Jeppson is from Spanish Fork, Utah. He is serving a two-year mission and has completed 19 months. When he returns home, he will go to college and may pursue a career in dentistry. He has an older sister named Ellie. His dad is Joseph, and his mother is Elizabeth. Elder Jeppson said it is a miracle he is able to serve a mission, as he suffers with chronic stomach issues. Due to his health, he missed about 30 percent of his high school days. But he said his health has improved on his mission and he truly feels that the Lord has called and qualified him to be a missionary.
Elder Smith has been serving for about 15 months. He has spent the majority of his mission in the Chattanooga area. He was raised in Fort Worth, Texas but his family currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. Elder Smith comes from a blended family of 10 children between the ages of four and 25. He is the third oldest.
“My mission has been a life-changer,” Elder Smith said. “I am more focused on Christ. Like Elder Jeppson, I know our Savior lives, and I love to share my testimony about Him. I love being a missionary.” Quoting the ancient prophet Jacob, Elder Smith asked, “‘Why not speak of the Atonement of Christ, and attain a perfect knowledge of Him?’”
“My mission has taught me that happiness is available to everyone if they seek Christ with an open mind and real intent. The miracle of a mission is being able to come unto Christ, and invite others to do the same,” Elder Smith said. “Serving the Lord has made me happier than ever before.” After his mission, Elder Smith plans to attend Southern Utah University where he will study Secondary Education in hopes to become an English teacher.
Elder is an office of the priesthood, not a reference to age. Young men of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged but not required to serve missions. Missions are typically two years for males, 18 months for females, and one to three years for older couples.