When Ryan Wilkinson moved from Horsefly, British Columbia, Canada, to Bountiful, Utah, during his junior year of high school, he left Horsefly with $255 in his savings account.
That’s $255, Canadian. Or somewhere in the vicinity of 190 U.S. dollars.
Ryan’s goal was to leave for a mission soon after he turned 19 in February 2000. Since Ryan knew he needed approximately $9,000 for the two years he planned to be in the mission field, he could do the math. “What I had in the bank wouldn’t even last me a month as a missionary,” he explains.
So Ryan did what anybody in need of eight or nine grand would do.
“I went looking for a job.”
In Canada, Ryan had worked wrapping potatoes in aluminum foil at a nearby restaurant. “I got $5 for each box,” he says. Lots of potatoes but not much money.
So with less than two years before he turned 19, Ryan put a plan in place once he got to Utah. “I figured if I could earn $2,000 before I graduated from high school, I could earn the rest by getting a full-time job once I was out of school,” he says. The plan was feasible since Ryan decided he wasn’t going to go to college until after his mission.
When Ryan put on the cap and gown for Bountiful High School’s class of ’99 commencement exercises, he had about $1,800 in his account, just short of his goal but in the neighborhood. All that money came from his work as a bagger and then as a cashier at a local grocery store. “I even got a 15-cent raise when I was promoted,” he says with a smile.
Not long after graduation, a neighbor who was building a house down the street from the Wilkinsons approached Ryan and his brother Mark about working construction for the summer. “We didn’t know what we were doing, but we learned as we went,” Ryan says. “That was a pretty good job. We put on the roof, and I put on all the shingles. I helped put in the windows and doors, and I helped pour the cement for the basement floor.”
Ka-ching. Ka-ching. The money began adding up.
But two jobs, apparently, weren’t enough.
“I heard about this other job—a graveyard shift—from midnight to six in the morning where I’d be unloading boxes from a truck,” he says. “And it paid a lot more than being a cashier. But since it would be a harder job, I decided to quit my [grocery store] job.”
But being a conscientious employee, Ryan gave two weeks’ notice at the grocery store. And this is where his schedule became a little tricky.
“I did the three jobs for two weeks. I’d start in the morning and go build the house from eight until about five. Then I’d go to the store from seven o’clock to eleven,” he says. “After I cashed out the money, I’d head to the loading dock. I worked from midnight to six.”
What about sleep?
“I didn’t get a lot,” he admits.
Fortunately, that torturous schedule ended, and he could settle back in to the relaxation of working only two jobs.
“Yeah, everybody says that going on a mission will be the hardest thing I’ll ever do in my life,” Ryan adds. “But it seems that going on a mission will be a break for me.”
Guess he’s finding out.
On March 1, Elder Wilkinson entered the Missionary Training Center. Two months later he left for the Italy Rome Mission. He earned a little extra for the purchase of suits, shirts, shoes, and all the other things he needed to be a missionary. But he had the $9,000 in his account for the 24 months he’d be gone.
“I always knew I was going to earn the money for my mission,” Ryan adds. “I just didn’t know how.”
He does now.