"My mission forced me to get out of my comfort zone in a positive way; that I really needed," commented Brich. "Prior to my mission I was withdrawn, bound by fear and unable to assert myself socially."
Mormon missionaries work in pairs called companions and usually serve in multiple areas within the boundaries of their mission.
Some travel on bikes, on foot or drive cars. More than 52,000 missionaries are currently serving in 350 missions around the world. They proselytize in every country where the government and political climate allow it.
"The greatest joy on my mission was watching people accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, get baptized and make changes for good in their lives," commented Brich.
Since returning home from his mission in September, Brich has acquired employment as an IT intern for a construction company, CW Driver. Eighty percent of his job is customer service, which requires hard work, strong communication and social skills. He attributes these qualities as some of his greatest strengths since his mission.
He has enrolled in online classes with BYU Idaho and attends a Latter-day Saint single young adult congregation in Rancho Cucamonga.
"My mission taught me perseverance, the value of good hard work and most importantly, the role of God in my life," stated Brich.
Like Brich, a common goal for Latter-day Saint youth is to serve a mission. Young men are eligible to serve a mission at age 18 and young women at 19. Most missionaries are under 25 years of age, although a good number of church members volunteer to serve after retirement.
In fact, it is a regular practice for most members of the church to share the gospel with their neighbors and friends whether they have served a mission.
All prospective missionaries turn in applications to church headquarters in Salt Lake City, and they receive a call to a specific mission around the world. They spend a few weeks or more in a training center where some of them learn a new language and all of them rigorously study and practice teaching the gospel.
Then they set off to their assigned locations and begin their service. They usually pay their own way and put off school, dating and work for 18 months - 2 years in order to focus entirely on doing the Lord's work.
LaDawn and Craig Godwin, a retired couple from Highland, Utah, have been serving a mission since July 2010. They have 5 married children, and 27 grandchildren. They left their loved ones to fulfill Craig's call to serve as mission president in the California San Bernardino Mission, which covers all of San Bernardino County. A large part of their time is spent in the mission office, 6541 Woodruff Place, Rancho Cucamonga.
As a mission president, Craig Godwin's ultimate responsibility is administrative. He directs the financial, clerical and general operations of the mission along with several assistants who also serve as missionaries. Together they handle the finances, housing, missionary referrals, transfers, and vehicle coordination for 60 fleet cars.
Merilee Welsh, a single retired missionary from West Jordan, Utah, serving in the mission office commented, "As the mission secretary I handle all the paper work regarding incoming and departing missionaries."
When asked what sacrifices she made to serve a mission and what it had done for her personally she said, "I left a widowed daughter and 3 grandchildren to serve. I will go home a better person, more compassionate, calmer and a better support for my daughter and grandchildren.
"It has broadened my horizons and strengthened my testimony in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have received many blessings. I haven't had any health issues in the 18 months I have been here."
As a mission president, Godwin's main focus is the 190 young men, young women and senior missionaries who serve within the area of his mission. He is their chief trainer.Godwin said that missionaries donate 3,000 hours of community service each week. They come from various states and countries throughout the world. English, Spanish, Tongan and Samoan are the languages spoken throughout the California San Bernardino mission. All missionaries, including President Godwin and his wife, volunteer their time without pay.
LaDawn Godwin assists her husband as a trainer and mentor, fixes meals for the missionaries, mends their pants and shirts, and helps them when they get sick.
"I sometimes get calls from missionaries at all hours of the night. I am their mom away from home," commented Godwin. When asked what part of their service has been most rewarding, LaDawn Godwin said, "The love I feel for these young people has brought me the greatest joy."
Elder Braden Light, 21 of Lehi, Utah and Elder James Coombs, 21 of Rifle, Colo., are serving as missionary companions in Rancho Cucamonga."I came on a mission because I wanted to clear up any misunderstandings others may have about our church," said Light. "Feeling inspired to know exactly what each person needs to make them happy has given me the greatest joy."
Coombs was a cross country runner prior to his mission.
"I have learned to be disciplined, but my lifestyle here is even more disciplined. It was always in my plans to serve a mission, since age 14. My purpose here is to serve the Lord by helping others come unto Jesus Christ," stated Coombs.
As a community service, the missionaries have the option to teach a Stop Smoking 7 Day program. While Light was serving in Lucerne Valley, prior to being transferred to the Rancho Cucamonga area, he and his companion there used the program in helping a man who was addicted to cigarettes and wanted to improve his life.
Light added, "The man told me he never would have joined the church and stopped smoking if it weren't for learning about the gospel and utilizing the stop smoking program." The program is offered to anyone who would like to stop smoking. Taking the missionary lessons is not a requirement.
Why do Mormons go on missions? Brich replied, "Because they love the Lord. The Savior taught, `Go ye therefore and teach all Nations."' (Matthew 28:19)
For more information: mormon.org or call Mission Office: (909)466-1129