Monday, December 20, 2010

Preaching The Gospel LDS-Style In Anchorage, Alaska: The Story Of Elders Kyle Offley And Lorenzo Matamua

The Anchorage Daily News' Focal Point: Mountain View blog has published a superb profile on two missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are reaching out to the Samoan community in Anchorage's Mountain View neighborhood. It includes nine photos. The editor of this blog obviously researched the subject thoroughly prior to publication.

Elders Kyle Offley And Lorenzo Matamua were called to their missions in Anchorage, and have been assigned to the Northern Lights Samoan Ward. Both live in a small apartment on Lane Street. After getting referrals from the Samoan community, they make appointments with prospective investigators and teach them the Gospel -- in Samoan. Both received Samoan language training at a Missionary Training Center, where the amount of preparation time varies from three weeks to 12 weeks, depending upon whether or not foreign language training is required.

When not interacting with targeted investigators, the missionaries also engage in random door-to-door tracting, which they generally find unproductive. However, the experience can thicken their skin by teaching them how to deal with rejection. The Samoan community is more welcoming, and often insists on feeding them, which stretches the missionaries $135 monthly allowance for food and other incidentals. Many missionaries save up money to pay for their missions; the total cost of a typical two-year mission may reach $10,000. Sacrifice is another lesson the missionaries learn during their tour. They don't ride the stereotypical bicycles (cyclists are considered prey for motorists in Anchorage), but each companionship is issued a car by the local mission president.

Elder Offley hails from Meetetse, Wyoming, a town of 400 east of Yellowstone National Park, while Elder Matamua is from Sydney, Australia. Both are 21, and during their mission, they live an ascetic lifestyle, which means no dates, no TV or computers, and no music unless it is Church-related. The purpose is maximum focus upon the mission with minimum external distraction. Missionaries always go out in twos to afford maximum personal protection. The official LDS Church guide for missionary work is the 244-page manual "Preach My Gospel". The Mormon Mission Prep website provides a wealth of information in the form of individual posts about how missionaries are selected, processed, and trained.

Elders Offley and Matamua are two of the 36 missionaries based in Anchorage. Another one, Mathieu Squires, blogs about his experience HERE.

To find out the location and meeting times of the nearest LDS congregation, and to familiarize yourself with what to expect at an LDS service, visit

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