LDS Missionaries Aid Food Bank of West Central Texas
By LORETTA FULTON
Someday, Nathan Wright wants to put his math and science skills to work as either an aerospace or chemical engineer.
For now, he’s perfectly happy using his muscles more than his brainpower to help others. Wright is one of 12 missionaries in Abilene serving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On Wednesday, July 22, they were at the Food Bank of West Central Texas packing boxes of food for local distribution. Even in the heat of a warehouse on a hot July day, the missionaries were dressed in their traditional white shirts, ties, and black pants.
“We stand out quite a bit,” Wright joked.
No matter how they were dressed, the missionaries were a welcomed sight at the food bank, where half of a semi-trailer of food was unloaded by forklift and then packed into boxes. The other half went to San Angelo, where more LDS or Mormon missionaries helped with the packing. The trailer of food, totaling 19 tons, was sent by the church from its headquarters in Salt Lake City.
The Food Bank of West Central Texas and other nonprofits are regular stops for Mormon missionaries serving in Abilene. They also put in hours at places like the Grace Museum, Meals on Wheels, and the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum, along with helping individuals with yard work and repairs.
“It’s always good to know our church is happy to help anywhere in the world,” Wright said.
Kristy McDonough is the local communications director for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She said in a news release that the church is especially pleased to help with food distribution during the coronavirus pandemic because so many people are in need.
“We are so excited to partner with these wonderful nonprofit organizations in the Abilene and San Angelo communities who work so diligently to distribute food to those who need the most during these difficult times,” McDonough said in the news release.
Since 2019, Calvin R. Hill has served as pastor of the church in Abilene and San Angelo. McDonough noted in the news release that Hill is “very pleased that these food banks and the church have an opportunity to work together to better the community and lives of those” who live in them.
Nathan Wright, 19, is halfway through his two-year commitment as a Mormon missionary. He is from Utah and plans to enroll in college, possibly BYU, after his service ends. Wright didn’t have any expectations about where he would be sent for his missionary service.
“I was prepared to go wherever I got sent,” he said.
That turned out to be Perryton, a small Panhandle community that’s closer to the capital of Kansas than the capital of Texas. That didn’t bother Wright one bit. One of his goals as a missionary is to learn a second language, and he is getting a chance to do that. The region of the church that includes Abilene is home to many Spanish-speaking people, giving the missionaries ample opportunities to learn a new language.
“We learn from reading Scripture and talking to people,” Wright said.
The work at the two food banks was hot and not especially exciting, but Wright and his missionary friends didn’t complain.
“We love doing service,” Wright said. “We love helping people.”