OGDEN, Utah — Ethan Carter had hesitantly hoped that he would serve his two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Guatemala.

His mother Lisa Carter Reeder always felt that Guatemala would be where her son was assigned — though she, too, had her hesitations.

So when Carter read his mission assignment aloud on July 16, surrounded by family and friends, there were mixed emotions when he said he was called to the Guatemala City Central Mission.

“When he opened it, he kind of glanced up at me,” Reeder said. “I knew in that second that (Guatemala) was where he was going, and still when he said it, it kind of took the breath right out of me. But at the exact same time, I knew without a doubt, that that was exactly where he was supposed to go.”

Carter’s father, John Carter, was on a humanitarian trip in Guatemala nearly nine years ago when the small plane he was on experienced engine failure and crashed. Of the 14 people on the plane, John Carter was among the 11 who died.

Because of this experience, Reeder said every time a relative opened a mission call, she dreaded the thought of hearing them read the word Guatemala.

“In my heart, that country holds a lot of pain,” Reeder said.

However, Reeder said she and Carter always felt like he would serve his mission in Guatemala.

“He’s kind of always known that he was going to go there,” Reeder said. “He wanted to finish his dad’s work.”

Carter said he isn’t sure why, but he has always been drawn to the people of South and Central America. He loves the language, the culture and the people.

“I feel like I already have a connection to these people,” Carter said. “Not only through my dad, but through my heart.”

Although the process the LDS church uses to assign mission calls is not random, members who apply for missionary service do not request to go to a specific location.

Prospective missionaries meet with their local church leaders and fill out an application that is sent to church headquarters in Salt Lake City. Applications are reviewed by members of church leadership who assign the individuals to the mission they believe will be the best fit.

Young men are eligible to serve a mission at age 18 and serve for a period of two years. Young woman are eligible to serve at age 19 and serve for 18 months. During this period, missionaries devote all their time to serving the people of their mission and teaching about Jesus Christ.

Carter said he had always wanted to serve a mission and looked to the example of many family members who had served missions. However, Carter said he isn’t going just because members of his family served.

“I know it’s something I need to do,” Carter said.

Carter said he’s looking forward to the opportunity his mission will give him to serve other people and share the teachings of his church with them. Additionally, he is excited for how he will grow as a person.

“You find out who you are on your mission,” Carter said. “Not only are you converting and helping other people, but you’re converting yourself.”

Reeder said Carter’s mission call has made John Carter’s death come full circle in a way.

“As much as I’m going to miss (Ethan), I’m so grateful for the opportunity he has to do this and the blessings that we’ve already seen from it,” she said.

Additionally, Reeder looks forward to the experiences her family will have after Carter leaves to Guatemala.

“For nine years now, that country has had a lot of heartache in our thoughts,” Reeder said “I think that this is going to provide a lot of healing for our entire family.”


Information from: Standard-Examiner, http://www.standard.net

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MATILYN MORTENSEN
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