Throughout Church history there have been many heroes—people who have sacrificed for the gospel. Monuments are dedicated to some of these heroes at Church-history sites, and Church members often travel hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to visit these monuments.
But the Church members in Vineyard, Utah, only have to travel as far as the ward house to visit a monument dedicated to their heroes.
On the wall of their ward house hang many pictures of their heroes. These heroes did not join the Mormon Battalion, and most of them never walked across the plains. Rather, these members sacrificed in order to serve full-time missions for the Church.
The missionary board displays pictures of every missionary who has left Vineyard since 1893—more than 200 pictures. It is not uncommon for the young men to find a picture of their Scoutmaster, Young Men president, or bishop. They say it is funny to look at these pictures taken when styles of clothes and hair were so different. But seeing pictures of their leaders helps the youth gain testimonies of missionary work. The pictures are a great way to realize the faith and dedication of the leaders they look up to.
The young men in Vineyard want to follow in the footsteps of those who lead them. “I want to be like a leader and have my picture up there,” says 18-year-old Scott Brown. Scott is looking forward to his upcoming mission and the time his picture can join those of his leaders.
A family tradition
Todd Robins, 15, is particularly excited to get his picture up on the board because when he does he will be carrying on a family tradition. Todd’s family has lived in Vineyard for five generations, and so he has many relatives already on the missionary board. One of those relatives is Todd’s great-great-great grandfather, Neils Larsen. Neils, who served a mission in Denmark from 1902 to 1904, is Todd’s oldest relative on the missionary board.
Looking at his relatives’ missionary pictures every week at church has helped Todd decide early that he will serve a mission. “I know I am going to go because it is just stuck in my mind. I am going no matter what.”
A brother’s example
Even though they have at least four years before they will be old enough to serve, Brett Roper, 14, and Ben Holdaway, 15, are determined to serve missions when they turn 19. Both of these young men look at the missionary board often. They especially like seeing pictures of their older brothers on the board.
Brett’s older brothers, Lane and Greg, are great examples to him. Lane has returned from his mission in Birmingham, Alabama, and Greg is currently serving in the Dominican Republic. His brothers’ examples have helped Brett understand how important it is for him to start preparing for his mission now.
Ben Holdaway likes to think about where he might be called to serve a mission. His brother Ryan served his mission in Jacksonville, Florida, and his brother Jacob * will soon serve in Montevideo, Uruguay. Both Ryan and Jacob feel the board helped them make their decision to serve a mission. As Jacob describes, “The missionary board helps you answer the question about serving a mission so much earlier than when you are a priest. It helps you answer it when you are a deacon.”
Now that Brett’s brother Lane and Ben’s brother Ryan have returned from their missions, Lane and Ryan feel the missionary board means more to them than it did before they left. As Lane explains, “When I came home the missionary board meant a lot more to me because I knew what the past missionaries had gone through, and I knew the importance of their service.” Ryan also said the missionary board was the first thing he looked for his first Sunday home from his mission.
Vineyard missionary heroes
At first sight the missionary board might look like just a lot of old pictures, but a closer look reveals that this is a board of heroes. Although some of these heroes lived many years ago, and others have long since moved away, their examples live on and their pictures remain among the rows of the Vineyard missionaries.
Editor’s note: Elder Jacob Holdaway is currently serving in the Uruguay Montevideo Mission.