What could compel a 21-year-old college athlete on a full-ride scholarship to put her education, dating life, and basketball career on hold for 18 months?
That's a question Josefin Dolsten recently examined on Refinery 29 as she took an in-depth look at the missionary service of Sister Kili Franks.
After giving an overview of the recent changes in missionary work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—including lowering the age when missionaries can serve, changing dress codes, and allowing missionaries to call home once a week, women to wear slacks—Dolsten launched into a look at the day in the life of a missionary.
"As I follow the pair around on a chilly winter day, I find myself amazed by how confident and assertive they seem when talking to a group of strangers who have a collective reputation of being brusque," Dolsten writes.
What makes Sister Franks so willing to strike up conversations with strangers on public transportation and so optimistic in the face of rejection?
As Sister Franks explains, she and her companion hope their message of faith in Jesus Christ will reach someone—now or in the future. “They’re not forever rejecting our teachings.” Sister Franks says. “It’s just not their time right now.”
And Sister Franks has taught 16 people who have converted to the Church, a number that will soon rise to 17.
At the time Dolsten shadowed the missionaries for a day, 60-year-old June Mullings was a few days away from being baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dolsten shares:
"Prior to learning about Mormonism, Mullings was searching for a church and says she was confused by the plethora of Christian denominations that she encountered. She was captivated by the missionaries’ warmth after meeting one of them on a bus.
"'The sincerity that they give, that is what really drew me to them, the love, their dedication,' she tells me. 'If they tell you they want to meet with you, they’re always here. They never cancel on me.'"
But the missionaries' cheerfulness doesn't stem solely from baptisms. No, their joy goes from growing closer to their Savior and helping others grow closer to Him as well.
"During our conversations, I find myself wondering whether the missionaries’ seemingly boundless cheer and complete acceptance of the rules they have to follow is real. Do they ever have a bad day, I ask them. Do they ever just wake up and not feel like talking to people on the bus?
"'I’ve found my purpose through doing this. . . . Through talking to people and sharing the gospel, and so I guess I’d say no, I love it,' Franks says."