Same Difference

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“Same Difference,” New Era, Sept. 1997, 21

Same Difference

Not only are these twins alike in appearance, but they’re also alike in what really matters.

There’s something different about Chris and Jason Trevino of Huntsville, Alabama. Something different in a positive way, a way that makes you want to understand why they’re so upbeat all the time and why they seem to have life all figured out.

This is made all the more intriguing by the fact that the two 19-year-old brothers are identical twins—twins so much alike that people get confused, yet with something so different about them they stand out among their peers. For example:

—They spend a lot of time helping their neighbors, the Wellmans, take care of their three youngest children, Michael, Jennifer, and Nathan. They play and laugh with and tease them in a good-natured way. They organize parties for them and take them fishing or boating. Sometimes they all camp out as a group in the Wellmans’ backyard. Chris and Jason are more like older brothers than neighbors to them. And what do the twins get in return for their kindness? A squeeze play. The kids smother them with hugs.

—They take care of three horses at a nearby riding club, mostly in return for the privilege of being allowed to exercise them now and then. They do the dirty work without complaining. They show up when they say they will and do all that they’re asked. They help with expenses. They’re totally dependable.

—They love their family. Put Jim and Barbara Trevino and their twin boys together and it’s like you’re with a group of best buddies, friends who treat each other with ultimate respect. Add 15-year-old sister Allison to the mix, and it only gets better.

Bad mood? The twins make it disappear.

Help with homework? No problem.

Want to tag along while we go somewhere? Great. Hop in.

Yes, the twins treat everyone well, most of all mom and dad and sister. But there’s something else—fondness may be the closest description. This family really enjoys being together, in a way that lets you know they’ll always be close.

—Most of all, at a time in life when many young men of their age and athletic ability concentrate on which college they’ll attend, what teams they’ll be on, and what young women they’re dating, the twins are leaving all that behind.

Argentina. That’s what they want to talk about right now, because soon that’s where they’ll be. They’ve both been called to serve as full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Chris in Bahia Blanca. Jason in Resistencia. Two years at their own expense. Two years bearing testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. Two years focused entirely on the needs of other people.

And maybe that’s the clue to figuring out the Trevino twins. The difference that makes them both the same is their love for other people. It’s a love that comes from following the Savior and living his teachings, from concentrating on what really counts instead of wasting worry on worldly things. It’s a dedication that brings happiness so filling it spills out into everything they do and everyone they meet. Add that to personalities that have always been spontaneous, and you’ll find Chris and Jason telling everyone what they’re up to:

—Getting passport pictures taken, they keep telling the photographer about how they’ll be representing the Church. “That’s why we brought our suits for the pictures,” Chris explains.

—Meeting with the county sheriff, who has to sign letters for their visas, they can’t help explaining how excited they are about spreading the gospel. “I can tell,” chuckles the sheriff, who already knows their father.

—At the county government building, they tell the clerks about going to Argentina to preach the gospel. “Isn’t that great?” Jason beams.

—Their mother’s boss, Victor Howard, is a Church member who works across the street. Dropping in to visit, they soon have him joking along with them. But after a few minutes, they talk seriously about the mission he served and how much he loves the Lord, the gospel, and the Church.

You have to understand. Chris and Jason are the kind of guys who, if you ask about diving and you’re close to the community pool, will show you the dives they do. Never mind that they didn’t bring their suits. They’ve been lifeguards here, and the caretaker, who knows them well, gives permission. They look at each other, accept the challenge, and even though they’re in jeans, jump on the board and plunge in the pool. You get the feeling that’s the same way they’ll plunge into missionary work—follow the rules, be dependable, work hard. But get with it—no wimpy excuses.

It’s sort of like a lesson Chris says he learned at the stables.

“Horses are good,” he explains. “If you work with them you learn to love them. But there’s one named Alvin. I don’t like to ride him a whole bunch because of his attitude. He fights me and tries to get the reins from my hands. He thinks he should do what he wants when he wants. There are a few missionaries who are like that. If their mind’s stuck on somebody back home, or if they go out just because everybody else thinks they should be there, they’ve got to change their attitude. You can’t complain about the reins; you’ve got to concentrate on where you’re going.”

And that’s what Chris and Jason are doing—concentrating on where they’re going. Not just on their missions but in their lives.

Sure there are some things that will be tough to leave behind. Family first of all. Friends a close second. Even the horses they’ve taken care of. And school, and work, and just having a blast. But nothing stands in the way once you gain the perspective of eternity. Even having to work in separate missions.

“Chris opened his call letter first, and I saw Argentina,” Jason says. “Then I opened mine, and for a split second it was like, ‘We’ll be in the same mission!’ Then we read more and found out we’d be in different parts of the country. We’ve been together for 19 years, and now we’ll be apart. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is what we’ll be doing.”

Serving others. Bringing them the truth.

Like the times when they’ve talked with Mrs. Wellman about her oldest son, who died in an accident at age four, and where he is now and what he’s doing. Like the times when they’ve shared Church magazines with her, or watched the video Called to Serve.

“Don’t just let her borrow it,” Chris said then. “Let’s have her over here and we’ll all watch it together.”

These are, after all, brothers who are close in more ways than appearance. “We talk about everything together,” Jason says. “Now we’ll just do it through our letters.” That will make for some pretty great letters. Letters they’ll share with Mom and Dad and Allison. Letters they’ll share with the Wellmans and their kids. Letters they’ll share with close friends. Letters in which they’ll bear testimony and record the adventures of two years spent preaching the gospel.

“In the past we looked at missions like they were something they ask you to do,” Jason says. “Once we got closer to it, we thought, ‘It’s the Lord and the prophet who call you, and their way is the right way to go.’ We’d go to church and come home in such a great mood. We talk to everybody about it.”

That includes the 12- and 13-year-old Sunday School class he and Chris teach together.

“I’m learning more and more about the gospel,” Jason says, “especially when we talk about things like the plan of salvation and patriarchal blessings. It’s a learning experience. And I think a lot about Heavenly Father and how much he loves us. He gave up his son for us. He must have a lot of love for us to do something like that.”

“Being as close as I am to my brother,” Chris continues, “it gives me some understanding of how close I should be to the Savior, who is also my brother. Even though Jason and I will be apart during our missions, we’ll be close to Him. And that will make the bond between us even stronger.”

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the something that makes these twins different from a lot of their peers, but exactly the same in what truly counts.

Editor’s note: Since this story was written, both Chris and Jason have arrived in Argentina and are faithfully serving their missions.

Photography by Richard M. Romney

What makes Chris and Jason so much alike? There’s more to it than meets the eye. Sure, they have similar interests, like riding and taking care of horses. But they also have a strong desire to follow the Savior and live by his teachings.

Diving into a pool or plunging into full-time missionary work, the Trevino twins are the kind of young men who do everything with enthusiasm. Just ask their sister, Allison, who knows they are always full of surprises and are always good to her.

Sure, while they’re away in the mission field, they’ll be leaving behind their parents (center photo), friends like their neighbor Jennifer, and others. But they’ll also be making new friends, the same kind of friends who have strengthened them and helped them to prepare to serve.