A man on a mission

Moffat County graduate back after two years in Arizona spreading beliefs

When Evan Pressley returned to Craig last week from a two-year mission in Arizona, he was exhausted.

During his mission trip for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Pressley knocked on about 100 doors a day, 10 hours a day, 6 1/2 days per week. His only time off came on Wednesdays, and that was usually spent doing laundry or cleaning the apartment he shared with other missionaries.

"It is a full day," Pressley said. "It gets pretty tiring."

But despite the long days in 100-degree heat, Pressley said he would do it again if he could.

"I would go back in a heartbeat," he said.

The 21-year-old left for his trip in October 2003 when he was 19, just a few months after graduating from Moffat County High School.

He returned to Craig last week after two years in Tempe, Ariz., time spent knocking on doors and spreading the gospel.

During his trip, Pressley was allowed to call home just two times a year, once on Christmas and once on Mother's Day. The phone calls were only allowed to be 30 minutes.

"It was hard to keep it under 30 minutes," Pressley said. "But we did our best."

Missionaries can't watch television or read magazines. The only news Pressley heard about events such as the tsunami in Asia or Hurricane Katrina came from word of mouth.

The separation from his family and friends in Craig was tough, but Pressley said it helped him stay focused on his work in Tempe.

His work included helping a man with a troubled past turn his life around.

Pressley said the man, Chris Clarke, was involved in gangs and had a drinking problem.

"All the things he tried couldn't get him off alcohol," Pressley said.

But with the help of Pressley and his fellow missionaries, Clarke quit drinking cold turkey.

Clarke was baptized Sept. 17, less than a month before Pressley finished his mission.

Seeing people such as Clarke change their lives was the best part about the mission, Pressley said.

The worst part wasn't the heat, or the long hours, or even the occasional threat from someone who didn't want to talk to the missionaries. The worst part was working with people who no matter what the missionaries did, didn't want to convert, he said.

Pressley's mother, Mary Pressley, said she was counting the days until Evan came home.

Being away from her son for two years was difficult, she said, but she was prepared for it.

"We planned for this ever since the day he was born," she said.

Plus, her two oldest sons also went on mission trips.

Although Evan has only been home for a week, Mary said she can already tell he has changed since leaving two years ago.

"They leave at 19 and they're so selfish and come back knowing that other people are even more important," she said.

She said Evan is more confident, more focused and has a stronger faith.

"They leave a boy and come back a man," she said.

Evan plans to attend Brigham Young University in January. He hopes to study science.

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