By Judy Chauncey
Carlsbad Stake Media Specialist, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Twenty-year-old Carlsbad college student, Kei Riggins, is putting her college plans at BYU-Hawaii on hold by giving up eighteen months of her time to volunteer as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Miss Riggins left on December 18th for the Mexico, Cuernavaca Mission. She first will spend two months at the LDS missionary training center near Brigham Young University in Provo, UT where she will learn to speak Spanish. By the end of February, she’ll be in Mexico. As all LDS missionaries do, she’ll proselyte and take part in service projects for the local people.
At a December 9, 2013 going away address for her friends and family at the Carlsbad 3rd Ward LDS church Sacrament meeting, she said to the members, “I’m excited, yet humbled by my assignment -- to serve and teach the people of Cuernavaca, Mexico.”
Kei Riggins is one of a group of eleven young women from Carlsbad, who are 20-years-old, or younger. And most of them are Carlsbad High School graduates, who have left town in the past year to serve as LDS missionaries. They leave behind their college and professional pursuits, and personal lives, to serve in places all over the world. All LDS missionaries serve at their own expense, with help from their families.
All of these young women would not have had the opportunity to do this until they were at least 21-years-old, until a change in age requirements was announced just over a year ago. At the October 2012, LDS Church General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, church President, Thomas S. Monson, made a historic announcement. He announced that young women could serve their missions at 19-years-old, instead of waiting until they are 21, the age requirement that had been in place for decades.
While it is not a requirement or obligation for women to serve church missions, they are welcomed to join the ranks. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the church leadership’s Twelve Apostles, said of the age-change announcement, “I’m absolutely delighted if this change in policy allows many, many more young women to serve.” He said, “The women who serve are stunningly successful.”
According to the church’s Newsroom page (Mormonnewsroom.org), during the past year, the total number of LDS young men and women serving in the world has dramatically increased from about 59,000 at the end of 2012, to over 80,000 as of December 31st, 2013. Over 11,000 of these new missionaries are young women.
This writer’s own 20-year-old daughter, Catherine Chauncey, a 2011 Carlsbad High graduate, is on her way to Europe. She will serve her mission in what is called the “Adriatic North” Mission, which is headquartered in Zagreb, Croatia. The mission boundaries also extend into Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Bosnia, which are smaller countries made up of most of the former Yugoslavia. She is leaving for the Missionary Training Center on January 14th, where she will learn to speak Croatian and Serbian, before her arrival in Croatia in late March.
Here is the complete list of “Sister” missionaries from Carlsbad, that tells where they are serving 18-month missions with the year they graduated from Carlsbad High School in parenthesis:
Kylie Foote (2011) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Heather Lane (2012) Fukuoka, Japan; Jordan Newman (2012) Pocatello, Idaho; Tatum Powell, Lima, Peru South; Sydney Reed (2012) Spokane, Washington; Katelyn Woolley (2012) Utica, New York; Melissa Hoynacki (2012) Denver, Colorado North; Juliette Wardle (2011) Lima, Peru Central; Amy Singh (2012) Taipei, Taiwan; Kei Riggins, Cuernavaca, Mexico; and Catherine Chauncey (2011) Adriatic North Mission.