Great Opportunities on a Small Island

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“Great Opportunities on a Small Island,” Ensign, Feb. 1996, 12

Great Opportunities on a Small Island

In the fall of 1994, Lamont and Janice McDowell Gingerich bid good-byes to their children, left their home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and headed for Provo, Utah. Upon arrival at the Senior Missionary Training Center, Elder and Sister Gingerich spent two weeks involved in “the most delightful, spiritually uplifting and yet physically tiring training and activities sessions,” Sister Gingerich reported. Conditions at the SMTC are “designed to make your stay there as comfortable and as spiritual as possible,” she continued.

On September 15, the Gingeriches headed for Guam. After a brief orientation, they continued on to Ebeye, a small island in the Kwajalein atoll. “This isn’t your typical tropical paradise,” Elder Gingerich said. The island is about three-quarters of a mile long and about 120 yards wide with approximately thirteen thousand people.

“As a missionary couple, we picked up as many of the administrative and other duties as possible, thereby allowing the younger missionaries maximum time for proselyting activities,” he said.

But the Gingeriches have done more than that. Twice a week, they volunteer at the island hospital. Their work does not go unnoticed. In fact, Elder Gingerich was told that after waiting almost a year, the mayor of the community finally granted permission for a local meetinghouse to be built, primarily because of the Gingeriches’ community service work. Initially the community leader had been concerned about the perception that all the Church members wanted was to baptize people, but when he saw the missionaries volunteer their time, he realized that they truly cared about the community and local people.

“Couple missionaries also enjoy great success in helping less-active members come back to church,” Elder Gingerich observed. “The only problem this mission has with missionary couples is that there aren’t nearly enough of them to go around!”