“This one time on my mission” is a commonly used phrase on the BYU-Idaho campus. Why? The two years or 18 months of missionary service is one of the most beloved times of a returned missionary’s life.
Last spring, there were 7,370 returned missionaries on BYU-I’s campus, according to BYU-I’s website. They come to school from all over the world, including Africa, Brazil and the United States. The culture that these returned missionaries bring here is part of what makes this school unique.
Students all across campus are trying to stay connected with their mission cultures to help make this campus rich with diversity.
BYU-I students speak a variety of 111 different languages, according to BYU-I admissions.
Stuart Myers, a freshman studying mechanical engineering, said one way he has kept in touch with his mission is by continuing to speak his mission language.
“When I hear people speaking Japanese, I jump up and go talk to them,” Myers said.
He served his mission in Tokyo, Japan, and keeps up with his Japanese by doing Japanese stadium singing on Sunday nights.
“Two of my roommates are from my mission,” said Jordan Kelley, a junior studying mechanical engineering.“We talk a lot together in our language.”
Kelley and his roommates served in the Ukraine L’viv mission and speak Ukrainian and Russian.
Mark Wahlen, a senior studying exercise physiology, who served in the Atlanta Georgia mission said his and his wire’s lingo has changed since serving in the South.
“We brought back the ‘yes, Sir’ and ‘yes, Ma’am’ from the South,” said Mark Wahlen.
Mark and his wife, Katherine, a junior majoring in general studies met on their missions in the Atlanta Georgia mission and said they still use phrases they learned on their missions.
“We also picked up on other words and phrases such as ‘y’all,’ ‘Georgia minute’ and ‘bless their hearts,’” said Katherine Wahlen.
Mark Wahlen said he and his wife continue to keep in touch with their mission culture through food.
“I miss the barbeque stands,” Mark Wahlen said. “We consistently eat cornbread, biscuits and chili.”
Myers said he still loves to eat food from Japan.
“My eating habits have completely changed, and I eat a lot healthier now,” Myers said.
He said he enjoys a cup of Mugicha in the mornings, which is a barley tea that is a common drink in Japan.
Kelley said he is working to preserve the Ukrainian culture on campus at BYU-I.
He said he wants to make a place for him, and others who served in a Ukrainian mission, to gather and reminisce about their missions.
“There are 13 Ukrainians here on campus, and I want them to have a place that feels like home,” Kelley said. “As the group grows, we would love people who don’t know to come and learn about the Ukraine.”
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said returned missionaries should continue their habits of prayer, scripture study and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in his talk, “The Returned Missionary.”
“We follow up with each other and hold each other accountable to the small and simple things in the life of a disciple such as daily prayer, scripture study, family home evening and temple attendance,” Mark Wahlen said.