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Film explores LDS missionary work

Idaho Press Tribune, USA
Mar. 13, 2004
Adam Rush • Saturday March 13, 2004

NAMPA — Jed Ivie knows about the hardships of signing up for a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Loneliness. Discouragement. Culture shock. Illnesses.

Now, those themes are in the spotlight during a new movie being shown in the Treasure Valley on Saturday morning.

The Best Two Years,” being distributed by the company Ivie works for, is about a missionary eventually run down by obstacles while serving in Holland.

It’s the same situation faced by countless young people locally as they move into adulthood. The LDS Church is the largest religious group in Canyon County, making up about 13 percent of the population, followed by Catholics at 10 percent and members of the Church of the Nazarene at nearly 6 percent.

In the movie, the weary Elder Rogers, played by K.C. Clyde, doesn’t get any breaks when he is given the assignment of showing a new, zealous missionary, Elder Calhoun, the ropes.

Calhoun, played by Kirby Heyborne, is intent on making an impact on Holland while Rogers is content to serve the remaining few months of his mission and then go home.

“Basically, he’s at the point where he doesn’t know why he’s serving in missions anymore,” said Ivie, the director of media relations for HaleStorm Entertainment, based in Orem.

HaleStorm has distributed other films made by LDS Church members. Among them are the “Singles Ward,” “The R.M.” and “Home Teachers.”

The Mormon Church

Given that the theology and practice of the Mormon Church violates essential Christian doctrines, Mormonism does not represent historical, Biblical Christianity, is not a Christian denomination, and is not in any way part of the Christian church.

Ivie said the makers of “The Best Two Years” are seeking to broaden the appeal of the film by including themes movie-goers will relate to. One of those is perseverance.

“It says a lot to anybody who has faith,” Ivie said. “At times, things are going to get hard. Eventually, as people work through different problems, they will come through on top.”

It is a lesson Justin Tolman, 24, learned during his mission to Thailand. The Boise State University freshman served in the country from March 1999 to May 2001.

“There were tough things,” Tolman said. “It was hard because the mail wasn’t getting through.”

But Tolman faced one of the biggest challenges when returning.

“I didn’t really know how to interact with people in American culture,” Tolman said. “I didn’t speak English very well when I got home, and had a lot of trouble getting used to people here in the United States.”

The United States, and his family, were the things Mark Wilkins missed the most during his mission to Paraguay.

“I come from a family of seven,” the 26-year-old said. “It was difficult to miss all the things going on in my siblings’ lives.”

Wilkins hasn’t seen “The Best Two Years.” Nonetheless, he said he relates to the movie’s portrayal of the difficulties of getting along with other missionaries.

“One of the big challenges I had was having to live with somebody else 24/7,” Wilkins said. “It was an adjustment.”

LDS missionaries

Members of the LDS Church interested in serving on a mission, typically two years, go through an application process that involves interviews with the bishop of their ward and the stake president.

The steps include:

- Filling out the application. Members of the church must be 19 before starting their mission.

- An interview with the ward’s bishop and the stake’s president.

- The stake president sends the results of the interview and the application to a missionary committee in Salt Lake City.

- The committee reviews the application and makes recommendations about where the missionary should serve, based on where staff is needed, and the most suitable place for the applicant.

- The candidate attends mission training in Provo, Utah. The length of training can last from three weeks to two months.

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