Missionaries Brighten Up Community Event in Houston, Texas
Contributed By Ryan Morgenegg, Church News staff writer
- Missionaries from the Texas Houston East Mission help out with the local Get Up! Get Moving! community event in Houston, Texas.
- The missionaries’ service and demeanor impressed many attendees at the gathering and helped the event “shine.”
“Some people just can’t find the right words to describe their presence. It’s just something about them that makes any event shine!” —Sister Dona Stelzig
It was the morning of Saturday, November 8, 2014. Sister Dona Stelzig looked out across the local park in Houston, Texas, as volunteers and workers set up different booths that would be used for the Get Up! Get Moving! event, organized to help members of the local Hispanic community.
She imagined how people would flow into the event and how she would assign the LDS missionary volunteers she had invited to participate. It was a lot of work and there was a lot to worry about.
Sister Stelzig said, “When I arrived at the park, I noticed all the staff and people setting up, but there was a solemn silence. The coordinator saw me and told me what was going on. She had actually arrived just 30 minutes before me because she was stuck for almost two hours at the rail tracks.”
A train had stopped for over five hours on the tracks in town and was blocking traffic. The word was that it wasn’t going to move anytime soon. It might be a few hours. “The problem was that in the long lines of cars waiting at the tracks was the big truck that was hauling the stage for the community event,” said Sister Stelzig. “My answer to this problem was to pray for the stage to arrive soon.”
As Sister Stelzig went toward the parking lot to find her husband, he called her to let her know that the missionaries were arriving and gathering in the parking lot. “Once everyone was out of their cars, we gathered before heading back to the event area,” said Sister Stelzig. “I asked that we pray to bless the food and especially for the stage to arrive soon.”
During the five-minute walk from the parking lot to the event area, Sister Stelzig spoke with several missionaries. She said, “During our walk, missionaries were talking to me about a variety of things. Some wanted to know if it would be all right to proselyte at the end of the event, and others were expressing how excited they were to help out. I forgot all about the stage.”
As Sister Stelzig and the missionaries got closer to the event area, a big truck pulled into the park with all of the stage equipment. “I remember saying, ‘Our prayer was answered immediately!’” said Sister Stelzig. “The missionaries just smiled and continued with their conversations, humbly reminding me that they were used to these types of miracles on a daily basis.”
Missionaries coming to the Get Up! Get Moving! event originated from Sister Stelzig’s request to the Texas Houston East Mission for missionaries to serve as volunteers. “I asked if a large group of Spanish-speaking missionaries could help with greeting attendees, registering people, distributing food, and talking with the attendees.”
“We sent 16 missionaries to help at the event,” said President Dennis Drake of the Texas Houston East Mission. “We do community service all the time. Our missionaries are really service minded. I encourage them to go through their local communities and look for opportunities to serve.”
In addition to helping say a prayer, the presence of the missionaries at the event helped make it alive, fun, and enjoyable. “When the army of young men and women were moving across the park, there wasn’t a single person that didn’t stop and look at them,” said Sister Stelzig. “In all the instances where I have been at community events with missionary volunteers, I have overheard many wonderful comments such as, “I can’t believe there are still pretty young ladies wearing modest clothing,” or “They look very clean,” or “I was very impressed with their kind smiles,” or “They are very professional!” or “So, they give all this service for free?”
Sister Stelzig added, “Some people just can’t find the right words to describe their presence. It’s just something about them that makes any event shine! The event staff I work with often request a couple of those ‘nice, clean volunteers’ to be at their booths or screening locations. It seems that if a pair of missionaries are present, they will be a solution and no problems will approach. They feel as if they will bring light to their booths!”
President Drake said, “As the missionaries have the opportunity to serve members of the community, doors open for the gospel. People get to know them and trust them so when they come into their neighborhoods, they are more receptive to a gospel message.”
“In the years that I have been responsible for coordinating these massive community events, I wanted to make sure our young audience could have excellent role models,” said Sister Stelzig. “I also wanted to offer something new and attractive to make this a high quality event to close the gap in health equity. The event grew, and we were in need of well-groomed, responsible, and friendly volunteers to assist with the event. The only group ready to be ‘deployed’ at any time that could deliver excellent service was the missionaries. I’ve made it a point to introduce the members of my community to these incredible young men and women.”