Elder Jacob Orse, longtime resident of Fort Walton Beach and graduate of Choctawhatchee High School, returned from his two-year mission to Mesa, Arizona.

During this time he could not visit home or call except on Mother’s Day and Christmas. His entire focus was on service to his fellow man and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Orse was greeted at the airport by his brother Ethan, parents Paul and Katie Orse, Bishop Dorley, his wife, Bonnie, the ward mission leader, Stefan Atrice and Libby McSheehy. His brother eagerly awaited his return so they could play his favorite game, Apples to Apples.

Jacob always knew he would serve a mission for his church. He faithfully attended early morning seminary, which is held daily at 5:45 a.m. before high school begins to hone his skills with the scriptures, the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and Church History. He said that this scripture study strengthened his testimony that Jesus is the Christ and this testimony continued to become stronger on his mission.

His most spiritual experience involved a woman who was an addict. In Jacob’s words, "the full weight of her addiction has crashed down upon her. Her ability to trust, communicate and face this issue had become an extensive obstacle. We taught the 12 steps of a common recovery program but infused with spiritual components. As we taught her there was hope and confidence that fueled her willpower. The doctrine of Christ had become an anchor to her soul. I learned the depth of God’s power. God can calm troubled seas, and troubled hearts. He can heal our body, mind and soul."

One lesson he learned on his mission was how to view his priorities.

"I grew to realize that some of the greatest joys and freedoms come as I focused on who I am and am becoming. and that who I am becoming is worthwhile and true," Jacob said. "And never losing focus of that has been a huge lesson learned from these last few years.”

Jacob plans to continue his college education.

“After studying the scriptures for two years, one lasting residue is the love of learning," he said. "I am excited to continue my education not just to fortify a foundation for a career and future, but to continue my love of learning.”

Jacob would strongly encourage anyone to serve God and there are many ways to do this.

“Knowing you are on the right road in life is a powerful feeling of confidence," he said. "A mission is a huge sacrifice, yet the rewards are immeasurable and cannot be quantified.”

Jacob is the son of Paul and Katie Orse of Fort Walton Beach. He has two sisters, Arienne and Hannah, and one brother, Ethan.