Quince Orchard Class of 2018 graduate Christopher Hunter plans to study aviation at Utah State, but first, he jets off to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to make a journey of faith and service.
Hunter, a Kentlands resident, is a member of the Gaithersburg ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He chose to do his two-year mission upon completion of his secondary school education because part of his aviation major depends upon accumulation of flight hours and is better not interrupted.
“Overall I’m very excited,” he said, “but I’m nervous, too, because it’s unknown.”
Most young men in the Mormon faith serve for two years as missionaries in this country and around the world. “It’s expected but not required,” Hunter explained. Individuals serve between the ages of 18 and 25. Young women also do mission work wholly supported by the church, but their service is more optional, Hunter added.
Members of the Gaithersburg ward are currently serving on missions across the country and all over the world. Missions staffed by this ward include Mexico Torreon Mission, Taiwan Taipei Mission, Mexico Queretaro Mission, Nevada Las Vegas Mission, Florida Orlando Mission, Arizona Scottsdale Mission, California Rancho Cucamonga Mission, Utah St. George Mission, Ivory Coast Abidjan West Mission and Europe East Area Mission.
Hunter’s father, Richard, completed a two-year mission to South Korea. “He’s excited for me,” Hunter said. “My mom’s nervous.”
Hunter is the youngest of three, and the first to go on a mission. Missionaries don’t have a phone or computer, but they are able to email family once a week from an Internet café. They also Facetime/Skype twice a year, on Christmas and Mother’s Day.
The Mormon community in Sao Paolo is strong, with 88 wards or congregations and 120 missionaries. Hunter will be welcomed into a supportive community there, and his preparation for the mission has been extensive.
“All of my life, being a member of the church, I’ve been preparing,” he said. “I also did a missionary preparation class on the second Sunday of every month for the last year and a half now. And I went to early morning seminary, we had our Bible study class before high school every single day … from 6:15 to 7 o’clock.”
When he arrives in Sao Paulo, Hunter will spend six weeks at a training center to learn Portuguese and be introduced to the culture. He’ll also be assigned a partner who is a trainer.
“After the six weeks, I’ll start as a missionary, going to the church with the members and going out and preaching, but I’m assigned a trainer who will really teach me the ins and outs of everyday life where we are. There will be what they tell us at the training center, and there will be the real-world applications of what the trainer will teach me.”
Missionaries work in pairs, and they live independently in an apartment. In Hunter’s Sao Paulo mission, all missionaries walk to where they need to go. Other missions, Hunter explained, may use bicycles or even cars.
On a typical day, “I’ll have a study time where I’ll be reading the Bible and other books or scripture and then we’ll go what’s called ‘tracting’ and we’ll talk to people on the streets, have appointments and teach people in their homes and lots of service for people, doing whatever they need,” Hunter said. “I’m really looking forward to meeting others and learning more about Brazil and trying to help people, serving them.”