Missionaries from Fort Walton Beach Stake

Special to The Log
Madi Riley’s destination is the Adriatic South mission where her language will be Albanian.

In 1986 when Kevin McSheehy, a new convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received his mission call, many friends and relatives gathered around the dining table for the “Grand Opening” of that special envelope.

In 2014 when son Noah opened his mission call letter, dozens of friends and relatives witnessed this memorable occasion, but they were not all gathered around the dining table.

From Idaho to New York City, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents observed the opening on Google Plus as well as in person. And Noah was called to … Reno, Nev., for two years of teaching the gospel and engaging in a variety of service projects. During these two years he will not come home; he will not call home except Mother’s Day and Christmas. Emails on Mondays and snail mail letters will be their communication.

Robin, his mom, recalls vividly Thomas S. Monson’s announcement in October 2012 declaring the new age requirements for missionaries, from 19 to 18 for guys and from 21 to 19 for ladies.  It meant Noah would be going sooner than they thought.

Thus started a huge influx of prospective missionaries. Some went straight from high school and many were already enrolled in college, but they put it all on hold to serve the Lord. This Lord’s Army leaped from 55,000 in number to 85,000 in just months. 

New additions to the training centers were added, more trainers joined the staff, teaching the “greenies” a new language and new cultures. Elder Bednar from the Quorum of the Twelve emphasized the use of social media to enlighten friends and relatives and missionary investigators. Very soon, every missionary will be using IPads to spread the Gospel.

Elder David Russel from the Niceville Ward missed his Seminary Graduation ceremony to leave for Provo, Utah, for his training and then on to Korea. This month Andrew Moore will train and then leave for Malaga, Spain. Madi Riley opened her letter with a bevy of friends at BYU, Idaho, while folks at home watched on Skype. The Adriatic South mission is her destination; her language will be Albanian. Her twin sister, Eliza, is already serving in the Belgium/Netherlands area. Her brother, Isaac, was serving in the Ukraine until unrest there prompted the Church leaders to transfer him back to the states. Already serving in the mission field are Spencer Mailles in Japan and Mitchell Edginton in Independence, Mo. All are from Niceville.

From Crestview, serving in the Brazil Sao Paulo Interlagos Mission, is David Mathews; Katie Toolan is teaching in the California Rancho Cucamonga Mission; Taylor Denee Corbin serves in the California Arcadia Mission; and Austin Boyd has been out for a year in Oregon awaiting his visa for the Brazil Curitiba Mission. Also from Crestview is Daniel Chance who serves in Chile and Kelsea Kind who teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Mexico Veracruz Mission. From Baker and serving in the Guatemala Mission is Harrison Walker who has been out since 2013.

Also serving from the Fort Walton Beach Stake are Matt Crabtree, Fort Walton Beach; two in Japan; Hyrum Sumrall from Fort Walton Beach Ward 1 serves in Idaho; Jason Jones, DeFuniak Springs, is in Las Vegas, Nev. And anxiously waiting to leave is Joseph Brill who is from the Fort Walton Beach Ward 2. His destination is France.

These are the missionaries serving all over the world from the Florida Fort Walton Beach Stake. They will say it was the best two years of their lives.