The coronavirus pandemic has forced The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make dramatic changes to the way full-time missionaries go about their days.
Missionaries typically knock on doors, ride bikes, talk to people on the street and do all they can to find people to tell about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. But now, missionaries are mainly confined to their assigned apartments, attempting to find people through social media.
The isolated lifestyle for young adults, eager to go out and serve others, can be a hard transition for some.
“I felt miserable (and) incredibly lonely,” Julia Orellana-Funes said, regarding a time when she covered missionary work in an entire area alone.
Orellana-Funes served in the California San Jose Mission from Early 2019 to July 2020. The last four months of her 18-month mission, she spent inside her apartment, proselyting on social media to people all over the world.
“Our mission went from about 180 missionaries to (around) 100 in a month,” Orellana-Funes said. “All these apartments had been shut down…all these empty cars…it was crazy.”
Orellana-Funes was the only missionary covering her area for a time while she and her temporary companions were at home.
She said that initially, when the outbreak occurred, she felt the need to sanitize everything and was afraid of getting COVID-19. But, over time, that fear slowly faded away.
Throughout her time in isolation from the outside world, she said that she and her companions struggled emotionally, but eventually began to rely on one another and better themselves.
“With isolation, you have nowhere to run…you’re back up against the wall… and that wall is a mirror,” Orellana-Funes said. “It really pushed me to come closer to The Savior (Jesus Christ).”
Orellana-Funes is now home in Idaho and is preparing to start going back to school again.
She and many others share thoughts of love and hope for missionaries still in the field, dealing with the brutal circumstances of a global pandemic.
“You can ask Heavenly Father to (help you) be exactly what (He needs),” Orellana-Funes said. “If you are giving an honest, sincere, consecrated effort…the Lord will never…leave you feeling ripped off.”