Teenage Mormons Michael Smith and Drew Hathaway speak of their missionary work which has seen them travel from Utah to Thetford

Drew Hathaway and Michael Smith are Mormon missionaries who are helping to spread the word of the Ch

Drew Hathaway and Michael Smith are Mormon missionaries who are helping to spread the word of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in East Anglia. Picture: Rebecca Murphy - Credit: Archant

The life of a Mormon missionary can be tough.

Away from your family and friends for a two-year-period, often in a different country, and spending hours every day meeting and talking to people you don't know, it may seem a daunting experience to some. But for two teenagers, making the nearly 5,000 mile trip from Utah to East Anglia was something they had always wanted to do.

Michael Smith, 19, and Drew Hathaway, 18, have already spent a few months in the Thetford and Brandon area and for the next year-and -a-half will travel around East Anglia spreading the message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (LDS).

Although their main mission is to introduce people to the church, Elders Smith and Hathaway will also be helping out at the LDS Churches, will be helping people they meet and talk to, and will hope to learn more about themselves and their faith.

Elder Hathaway said: 'This is something I've always wanted to do. It prepares us for the future, for our families and life. We are young so it gives us the opportunity to see different things and meet different people.

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'I just love it all. It is a great experience and there are a lot of different things that we wouldn't see in the States.'

The pair, who did not know each other before they started, must stay together and when they go out and about they must wear a shirt, tie and name badge.

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Going on a mission is not compulsory in the faith but it is recommended and is available to both men and women as young adults and then as married couples.

Both of the teenagers' fathers were involved with missions in the US.

'We are not just doing things, it is not a check list, we are becoming something,' said Elder Smith. 'All my close friends are in different countries doing this right now.'

While away they are only able to email their family once a week and Skype or call on special occasions.

Elder Hathaway said: 'It is mentally tough and tiring at times.

'I am a bit soft hearted and Christmas was a little hard for me. But families here take you in and spend days with you and cook you dinner. It is a sacrifice but it is not something I dwell on. It makes you appreciate things.'

The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The first missionaries to go overseas were sent to Britain in 1837 - only seven years after the LDS Church was founded.

In the late 1950s, a temple - the house of God which is reserved for special worship and is different to a church -was dedicated in London.

In June 1998, another temple was opened in Preston - where the first missionaries preached.

Preston is the home of the oldest continuous branch (a small congregation) of the Church anywhere in the world, dating back to 1837.

Across Britain the LDS Church as a total membership of 186,423; there are 122 family centres and 332 congregations.

There are eight churches in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The church's missionary program is one of its most recognized characteristics.

There are 74,079 missionaries in countries around the world.

Total church membership is 15,634,199.

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