A man with a mission

Moffat County grad to take Mormon message to Mexico City

Alan Horrocks never owned a suit. Now he has two.

Other new items in the 19-year-old's new wardrobe include dress slacks, white shirts and black ties. He has a nice haircut, and his face is clean-shaven. He's obtained a passport.

He's just waiting to start spreading the message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mexico City.

Horrocks will leave for Provo, Utah, on June 16 to begin training for his mission. In Provo, he'll sit through 10 hours of class a day, learning Spanish and studying the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Then he goes to Mexico City for two years. He'll get to talk to his family twice a year, on Mother's Day and Christmas. No family visits are allowed.

"I'm nervous and excited. If I was leaving home for the first time, I'd be very intimidated," Horrocks said.

After graduating from Moffat County High School, Horrocks attended Southern Virginia University, a small Mormon college. There, he took science classes in preparation for optometry school. But he said the desire to go on a mission had been with him all his life, and it had been particularly strong during his senior year of high school.

That was when he made a personal commitment to lead a life befitting a Mormon missionary, he said. No drugs, no alcohol and no premarital sex, activities he didn't indulge in before but that he made sure to keep out of his life after making his commitment to become a missionary.

Mormon missionaries don't get to choose the mission on which they are sent. But when Horrocks applied, he made sure to write that he was very interested in learning a foreign language. He was glad to be sent to a foreign country.

Mary Jane Horrocks had mixed feelings about sending her son to a foreign country for such a long time. The youngest of her four children, Alan was the first -- and only -- who wanted to go on a mission. Mary Jane said that ultimately she was glad one of her children chose to go on a mission, in part because she views missions as a family tradition.

Alan's father, Leon, and his grandfather went on missions in New Zealand when they were young.

"It makes a man out of a young boy and gives them a wonderful chance to serve others," Mary Jane said.

"I've heard some young men say it's kind of like a tithe to the Lord. He's given them 20 good years, so they give him two years," she said.

She said she's prepared her son all his life for this, equipping him with basic life skills such as how to iron a shirt, cook a meal and live on a strict budget. Alan's mentally prepared himself through prayer and by reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

"The first couple months are probably going to be pretty tough," Alan admitted.

But on the East Coast, he was excited to meet new people and see new places, and he looks forward to a similar experience in Mexico City. He'll be paired with a companion, an older, experienced missionary, with whom he will work, live and lean on for support.

Alan plans to enroll in a college in the West when he returns and continue studying to be an optometrist.

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