Missionaries provide a helping hand

Elder Bjornn Tolman and Elder Noah Johnson, from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alpine, pause for a photo at Kokernot Park. 

Being a part of a purposeful and meaningful mission to serve the community in profound ways is what motivates Elder Noah Johnson and Elder Bjornn Tolman, two young missionaries embarking on a journey to enlighten people with the Gospel, and to exemplify how service work is a rewarding way to help others.

The duo is based at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alpine, but also serve Fort Davis, Marfa, and Valentine. The church is located at 43108 A Highway FM 1703. Both missionaries do tasks such as moving and yard work, with certain restrictions.

Tolman is originally from Utah, and Johnson is a native of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Although both graduated from high school in 2019, they aren’t first timers in the world of missionary work.

Both Johnson and Tolman volunteer full-time for two years, and can be reassigned to various locations during that time. Johnson did service work in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, something required for him to obtain a U.S. visa. Before arriving in Alpine two weeks ago, Johnson was assigned to Ruidoso and Hobbs, N.M.

“Back home in Canada, I am from a large city - about a million people - so it’s quite a contrast. But when I was in Ruidoso, it was about 7,800 people,” explained Johnson.

Tolman previously served four months in Ecuador. However, in March when the coronavirus outbreak hit, Tolman was evacuated, and flew back home to Utah. He was later assigned to the Lubbock, Texas, mission which brought him to Alpine.

“Everyone I have met so far is really courteous and kind, and I don’t have a problem with anybody I have talked to, which I think is really cool,” said Tolman.

There is no denying that the coronavirus has affected every facet of people’s lives, and missionary work is no exception. Johnson and Tolman said that before the virus hit, they would knock on doors and meet people on the streets, but that is not allowed now. One way they meet people who need help is on social media through the Facebook page “Jesus Christ’s Church in Permian Basin.”

“As far as the services we provide, and helping people out, it’s just a way to build a relationship with the community,” said Johnson. “Our main purpose is to teach people about God and the love of Christ, and hopefully with helping people out, there will be more people interested in meeting with us to learn about our beliefs and our church.”

Johnson and Tolman agree that today, the most important thing is that people focus on family and building relationships with them.

“Families are one of the biggest things we teach in our church, and on top of that, just being respectful and kind to others,” explained Tolman. “If we can get into a habit of being respectful to our peers and people we don’t know, even if their opinions are different than ours, I think we can go a long way with that, and just try to be Christ-like in as many ways as we can be.”

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