Bolton sisters preparing for separate 18-month missions
Sarah Bolton describes it as an inspired work.
Sarah and her younger sister, Karen Bolton, both Craig residents, are set to report Jan. 30 to begin separate 18-month missions as part of their Mormon faith.
Sarah, 21, sent her paperwork in nearly two weeks before Karen, 19. Yet they received their assignments in the mail only a day apart: Sarah will go to Florida and Karen to Canada.
Karen said with headquarters in Utah receiving about 1,400 applications a week, the timing from the sisters’ perspective was nothing short of the Lord’s work.
“It’s been really special,” Karen said.
“We’ve been able to be like companions while we’re preparing to go,” Sarah said. “Others have gotten their calls and they’re not going until April or March, and we’re reporting on the same day.
“It’s just a really neat thing. I don’t think its coincidence.”
Even beyond the processing of the paperwork, the timing of the sister’s decision to go on missions at the same time seems to have been inspired.
After trying to decide between going on mission, going to school or working to pay off student loans, Sarah determined the mission was the right choice after watching her sweetheart prepare to go on his own mission to Argentina.
“Seeing that made me really excited about possibly serving my own mission,” Sarah said.
Sarah said she was sitting in her truck reading one of her sweetheart’s letters — those participating in missions are only allowed to communicate with family via email and friends via snail mail — when she got a feeling that going on a mission was what she was supposed to do.
“I felt it in my heart and in my mind that I need to go, that that’s what God wanted me to do,” Sarah said.
Karen said she had a similar experience last fall while sitting in her dorm room on the Hawaii campus of Brigham Young University while watching the Prophet, the head of the Mormon Church, address church members worldwide on television.
During the address the prophet lowered minimum age requirements for participation in mission from 19 to 18 for men and 21 to 19 for women.
“It was October 6, my birthday was two days away and I was turning 19,” Karen said. “So I’m sitting there in my living room, totally pumped by this news because it’s always been ‘oh you might get married before you’re 21 then you might not have an opportunity to go.’
“My whole body got super warm all over. I was super happy and giddy and just felt like it was the right thing to do.”
After initially struggling to decide whether to go right away or wait until after her choir’s summer trip to New Zealand and Australia, Karen said she decided to give herself completely to the mission and leave now.
However before they leave the girls have had to prepare, both physically and spiritually.
“Are you willing to sacrifice every single day and talk about Jesus Christ to people? To let go of all your past relationships and worries? You have to be prepared because it’s hard work,” Sarah said.
Women missionaries get up at 6:30 am every morning and pray, exercise and study for 2-3 hours before going out to teach lessons and knock on doors with their sister missionary — a companion assigned to work with a missionary for at least 6 weeks at a time.
The Bolton sisters will face other difficulties as well, such as only being able to call home twice a year and having only one preparation day — or P day — every week for laundry, emails and fun activities. But Karen and Sarah say they’re ready and understand the reason for such little communication is to help keep missionaries focused.
There also were financial challenges to prepare for as participants pay $400 per month while on their missions. The girls said friends and family have been another Godsend in that area.
“We’ve just been so blessed,” Sarah said. “We worked and saved as much as we can. The Lord is truly making up the difference through our loved ones.”
Most importantly, the sisters say their testimony is why they’re going and what they hope to share.
“I’m so looking forward to helping others come unto Christ and helping be an instrument to bless the lives of others,” Sarah said.
“I think it’s important that people understand we’re not trying to change everything they believe just add on to it,” Karen said.
Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org