Last year Ashly Medlyn was fighting forest fires in Nevada and Jaclyn Anderson was rowing on the lake at Versailles Palace in France and one semester away from college graduation. Now they are here in Fort Walton Beach on their bicycles, in skirts, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

They have joined thousands of ladies who are part of  this exploding missionary force since their Church president, Thomas S. Monson, announced during the October 2012 General Conference a lowering of the ages to serve.

In the past, women had to wait until they were 21 to submit their paperwork, now they can go at age 19, increasing their presence from 15 to 25 percent of the missionary force. Young men can now go at 18 rather than wait until 19 and the missionary force has reached 85,000.

Why would a young lady choose to leave an exciting career as a firefighter and another about to graduate drop everything  to serve a mission? Because they have a passionate desire to share Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness.  In their own words  Sister Medlyn says, “I studied athletic training at BYU doing internships with the BYU football and baseball teams and the dance department and worked summers as a wildland firefighter to earn money for school and my mission. My father passed away two months before my mission call. After his passing I wanted nothing more than to share that families could be together forever and that it was all made possible through Jesus Christ. To be called to serve 18 months  here in the Florida Tallahassee Mission is the best decision I ever made.”

Sister Anderson shares: “ I spent four years at BYU studying international relations. Last year I lived three months in England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Although I am only a semester away from graduating, I put everything on hold to come on a mission. The Lord made it clear that a mission was the next thing I should do with my life. The MTC that I attended is bursting at the seams. And where else would we find a group of 18 to 22 years olds spending their Friday nights studying the scriptures and discussing what they have learned?”   

These lady missionaries invite you to hear them teach about Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness. They can be reached at 543-2923. And be sure to stop and talk to them when you see them on bikes or on foot.