Life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

Summerside man is back after Mor­mon mis­sion­ary work abroad

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DE­SIREE AN­STEY

Two years ago Daniel Meis­ter took a gi­ant leap of faith that would for­ever change his outlook on life.

He waved good­bye to his fam­ily and friends in Summerside and trav­elled to the Nether­lands to tran­si­tion as a full-time Mor­mon mis­sion­ary for the Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints.

“In the Mor­mon Church when you turn 18 years old, you have the chance to go on a mis­sion for two years. And what hap­pens is that it’s not some­thing you must do, but it’s rather some­thing that you can choose and the church will then de­cide on the place and coun­try,” ex­plained Meis­ter.

When Meis­ter reached the Dutch-speak­ing coun­try, he re­al­ized the crit­i­cal need to over­come lan­guage bar­ri­ers while step­ping out of his com­fort zone.

“On the mis­sion you are al­ways paired to some­one, and one of them is more ex­pe­ri­enced,” he said.

“We have a six-week lan­guage school be­fore we go, and at the end of this time I was con­vinced I spoke Dutch be­cause I could un­der­stand the ques­tions and re­turn with an in­tel­li­gent an­swer.”

Meis­ter con­tin­ued: “But when I got the Nether­lands, the peo­ple talked so fast and with an ac­cent and prob­a­bly for the first three months I did not un­der­stand any­thing at all. I would say to the Dutch peo­ple while on the train or bus, may I prac­tise my Dutch with you and then they would talk and ex­plain things to me.”

Be­ing a mis­sion­ary is about reach­ing peo­ple, from all walks of life, who might not show up in the av­er­age Sun­day gath­er­ing.

“I learned so much when I was there,” said Meis­ter.

“First thing I no­ticed was how much diver­sity there is on earth, and see­ing the press­ing refugee cri­sis. I met peo­ple from all over the place, so many cul­tures, and I got over the stereo­types by in­ter­act­ing with these peo­ple.”

Meis­ter added, “As mis­sion­ar­ies we talk to peo­ple about the gospel and so I met peo­ple on the street and learned about them, and dis­cov­ered how open they are to help you.

“I would have peo­ple just in­vite me into their homes from off the street and serve me food and drink. It was re­ally eye­open­ing.”

The mis­sion branched from Afnorth In­ter­na­tional School, in Brun­ssum, Nether­lands.

Ev­ery six weeks Meis­ter would be trans­ferred to a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion.

“We had our own apart­ments, and re­ceived funds from the church for our food and ne­ces­si­ties. And I would live with other peo­ple do­ing mis­sion­ary work. At first it was re­ally tough to be away from home, but then I got so busy and into a rou­tine.”

After two years of go­ing from door-to-door, work­ing at food banks, and shar­ing his love for the gospel to peo­ple on the streets, Meis­ter re­cently re­turned home to Summerside. Al­though he won’t be let­ting the dust set­tle.

“I’m go­ing to univer­sity in six weeks to study ki­ne­si­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of New Brunswick,” he said, with the hope to even­tu­ally be a doc­tor.

He is mo­ti­vated to not give up on the joy and peace he found on the mis­sion trip, and shows no signs of slow­ing down on ap­pre­ci­at­ing God’s love.

“It’s so im­por­tant to be strong in your faith and com­mit­ted to God,” he said. And that’s why it’s im­por­tant to act on our faith so it’s not a dor­mant thing. We need ac­tion to help peo­ple. And it of­ten takes some­one to stepup and stand-up for what they believe in and be a light to the world,” he con­cluded.

DE­SIREE AN­STEY/ JOUR­NAL PIONEER

Daniel Meis­ter holds up his new iden­tity as a Mor­mon mis­sion­ary of the Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints. He served two years in Europe work­ing in the field.

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