Featured Story

New Zealand Family 'Catch the Wave' of Missionary Work

At the April 2013 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of “an unprecedented wave of enthusiasm for missionary work…sweeping the entire earth” in his talk entitled “Catch the Wave.”

The talk referred to the reaction of young men and women of the Church all over the world who had responded to the lowered age of eligibility for missionary service ― which had been announced at the previous general conference in October 2012 ― and who had volunteered in unprecedented numbers.

His talk resounded for a Mahia family of nine living on the east coast of New Zealand near a world famous surfing beach. The imagery of Elder Nelson’s words about “the Restoration and its power to propel a magnificent wave of truth and righteousness across the earth” struck a chord with the whole family.

The words from his talk, “May we catch this wave and fulfill the Lord’s command to take the gospel ‘to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,’” reinforced the parents’ long time goal of seeing their children serving as missionaries.

Andrew and Ellene Ormond have three children serving concurrently as missionaries. Their eldest child, Kirby-Lee, serves in the Philippines Angeles Mission. Their second eldest, Andrew, serves in the Japan Tokyo Mission. Their third eldest, David, serves in the Vanuatu Port Vila Mission.

Andrew and Ellene were present at general conference in Salt Lake City Oct 2012 when President Thomas S. Monson made the historic age-lowering announcement.

At that time their eldest son Andrew Jr. was already in the mission field. Kirby-Lee, then at 22, was already in process of filling out her missionary application and David who was 18 at the time scurried to get his paperwork completed. Kirby-Lee began her mission in May 2013 and David his in July 2013.

Andrew Jr. is due back from his mission in April 2014 which will reduce the number of serving missionaries in the family to two, but the next child in line is Elizabeth, 19, who is preparing her application. So it may be just a short time before the family has three children serving concurrently once again.

That will leave the three youngest, Kendel, Caleb and Arianna, who are also anxious to follow in the footsteps of their older siblings. The children’s paternal grandmother served a full time mission under  Robert L. Simpson in the New Zealand Auckland Mission, and, along with their grandfather, set about  encouraging their children and grand children to serve missions.  Today they serve and have served across the world.

Andrew and Ellene both served full-time missions themselves — Andrew in the England Manchester Mission, and Ellene in the New Zealand Auckland Mission. They say that “they raised their children, watching other family members serve, and with the expectation that serving missions was just part of our lives.”

“It’s what we do to serve the Saviour and help Him to accomplish His work – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of as many of His children as possible”.

Mondays are the highlight of the family’s week, the one day of the week when their missionaries can email home. There are even times when all three are emailing home at the same time. On those occasions Andrew and Ellene Ormond and their four younger children gather around their electronic devices and use the precious time to email back and forth to their missionary children copying each into the messages and using bluetooth for quick photo uploads from home.

“My husband has become quite tech savvy since our children have been out in the field” Ellene smiles.

It is also a chance to share counsel and experiences. Andrew said the diversity of their children’s missions made for “a richness of experience” and said that miracles are often witnessed.

Andrew Jr. told of meeting a man on Sado Island who was kneeling down in his garden and pondering on what was left of his life after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. He was thinking to himself “I want some happiness.” Due to his condition his hearing had become very acute and when Elder Ormond said to him, “Would you like to learn about the plan of happiness?” it sounded to the man like yelling. It certainly gained his attention. Elder Ormond gave him a priesthood blessing. The man was baptized and eventually his tumour completely disappeared.

The family discusses the individuals their missionaries are teaching, and include them in their prayers.

“Growing up for the children at home involved a number of non-negotiables,” Ellene says. “We always have family home evening, family prayer, without fail, and daily scripture study in the evenings before bedtime, seminary also is a must.”

“Learning to work hard was another ethic and the children worked on the farm and learned to save their money for their missions,” she says. “All our children can shear sheep. I believe the hard work has helped them to endure tough times on their mission such as isolation and tough extreme weather conditions sometimes encountered, such as blizzards.”

Another non-negotiable for Andrew and Ellene was “no events that involved alcohol.” For young teenagers this often meant walking a fine line of unpopularity and a certain loneliness living in an area where partying with alcohol and drugs is commonplace.

As the chidren have grown older, Ellene says, they were able to make their own choices and chose to focus on serving missions.

As Elder Nelson concluded in his talk, “More of you young men and women will catch this wave as you strive to be worthy of mission calls... You see your opportunity to be on the crest of that wave.”

Mahia is famous for its diamond shaped peninsula with four facing coasts. “This means there is always a wave at Mahia,” Ellene says.

And similarly for the Ormond family, as they strive to catch the analogous wave of missionary service, it would appear there will be a family member in the mission field for a few more years yet.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.