At some point most Hood River residents have run into missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their white shirts and ties, but they might not know that two local young adults recently left to serve similar missions in other parts of the world.
Hood River Valley High School graduates Chad Tyler and Alex Ostler have joined in a long tradition of members of the church leaving Hood River to share their religion’s message across the earth.
Some missionaries are asked to serve overseas, others in the United States. Tyler is serving in Salt Lake City, Utah. Despite being home to the headquarters of the LDS church, only about half the city’s members are Mormon.
Ostler is serving in Cusco, Peru. She left for the Missionary Training Center on June 5.
“I am so excited to fall in love with the beauty of Peru and the people who live there,” she said before she left.
Ostler and Tyler will spend the next two years proselytizing door to door, teaching the LDS doctrine to interested parties and doing service. In order to minimize distractions they have committed to giving up things like television and secular music while on mission.
Young men and women who choose to apply for missionary service must be recommended by their ecclesiastical leaders as worthy.
Tyler is following in the footsteps of his older brother Reese, who served a mission in Recife, Brazil. In order to prepare for his mission he studied his church’s doctrine and learned to cook, clean and otherwise live away from home.
During high school he was active in the Lions’ Follies for four years and helped with the fourth of July fireworks. He left for his mission on May 8.
Ostler has been studying therapeutic recreation at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. While in high school she played several sports (cross country, track and ski team) and enjoys outdoor activities like windsurfing, rock climbing and mountain biking — all things she is giving up for the next year and a half in order to minimize distractions while delivering a message that is even more important to her.
“I have the sacred responsibility to let people know how much their Heavenly Father loves them, that he has a plan for them, and that families can be together for eternity,” she said.
Ostler is following in the footsteps of her parents, who met while each was serving a mission in the Birmingham, Ala., area. However, she said she isn’t just going on a mission because it’s what her parents did — she said being a member of the LDS church brings her happiness and she wants to bring others that same happiness. She also firmly believes its doctrines are true.
“I have prepared for a mission by really finding out for myself if the church is true. No one should do anything half way, especially religion. I have read The Book of Mormon many times and believe it is the word of God,” Olster said.
Sharing that message in Spanish will be a little harder, but Ostler said even though she is nervous about dealing with a language she only took for a few years in high school she feels her message is an important one.
Both Tyler and Ostler will be some of the first missionaries to try out a recently-announced 21st century approach to missionary work that will include proselytizing and answering questions on Facebook during slow times of the day.