One of the goals of a latter-day-saint young man is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ on a full-time mission.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, young people commit early in life to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, in places they have never been and to people they have never met before.
The key is that they are well prepared spiritually, physically, financially, mentally and emotionally to leave their families and be willing to share their lives serving people.
For young men in the church, they commit to two years of voluntary missionary service and they can start preparing early enough to leave by the time they turn 18 years of age.
Young women are able to serve a mission as well. They serve for 18 months and can leave when they turn 19 years of age.
Right here in Hawke's Bay, in the heart of the Flaxmere community, several fine young people have been preparing to embark on their lifetime goal. A number of them are of Kahungunu descent.
John Keenan, Pearce Paewai, Karybe Te Kira and Kilmer Lauvao, received their mission calls earlier this year. They don't get to choose where they are sent, so it's quite an exciting time opening their letter from church leaders, to reveal where they will serve.
Usually missionaries are called to serve abroad in other parts of the world but with Covid-19 and our closed boarders, New Zealand missionaries are being sent locally into one of the following three mission areas: Wellington, Hamilton or Auckland.
These young men are ordinary people. They don't have to have a specific degree and they're not the son of a preacher or anything like that. In fact, John hails from Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, Paki Paki.
Pearce is from Kahungunu ki Tāmaki nui-a-Rua and Rangitane, Karybe is from Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Kilmer is of Samoan/Tongan descent.
The four of them have been raised in Flaxmere and attended Irongate, Peterhead, Flaxmere and Frimley Primary Schools. They've attended the same ward or church congregation since they were little kids.
Through the years they have learned the principles of the gospel at church and in their homes. They developed good friendships and have encouraged each other to maintain good wholesome values, and just like all young adults, they like to have a good time and enjoy wholesome activities.
Both John and Kilmer attended St John's College in Hastings where they thrived in sports, culture and academic success.
The all-boys Catholic school portrays good Christian values that paralleled their home learning and helped the boys to strive to achieve their goals in all aspects of their lives.
John was called to serve in the NZ Auckland mission and Kilmer was called to serve in the NZ Hamilton mission. These two young men started a Missionary Training course soon after receiving their calls and left for their missions two weeks ago.
Karybe attended Napier Boys' High School, where he thrived as an outstanding basketballer and has played in local, regional and national tournaments since he was 8 years old.
In fact, Karybe has played in the Kahungunu AGM Pa Sports three-on-three basketball tournament for his Hurunui o Rangi Marae, and has taken out the wins for the past six years.
Karybe has a great future ahead of him in basketball and, knowing these next two years are crucial to his basketball career, Karybe had no problem taking a break to serve a full-time mission.
Karybe believes that by putting the Lord first, he will be richly blessed, not just spiritually, but in his basketball career as well. Karybe has been called to serve in the Philippines. Until the boarders re-open, he will serve in New Zealand.
Pearce has his own conversion story. Pearce didn't have the same upbringing in the gospel that the others had. Pearce moved to Australia as a young man where he was nurtured into the gospel, first by the great example of his uncle and then by the kind caring of a wonderful Bishop and good friends.
Pearce moved home to New Zealand in 2019 and embraced the church wholeheartedly and yearned to serve and save others the way he felt he was saved.
He recently sold his car and is looking to sell his Harley to ensure he is financially prepared. The beautiful blessing about Pearce is that he has experienced this beautiful change for himself and he is extra excited to share the good word of God with others. Pearce will serve in the Auckland mission.
We congratulate these young men on their great example and commitment as they embark on their lifetime goal, and wish them all the best. Ka mau te wehi.