Odds n' Ends: Mormon missionaries, service and an LDS graphic novelist making headlines

Published: Saturday, Oct. 15 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Melanie Forbush, right, speaks with LDS sister missionaries, Sydney Bently, center, and Kimmy Shutt.

Deborah Coffey, lakesaintlouis.patch.com

Enlarge photo»

In the middle of the most recent Mormonism media storm, a handful of interesting and even touching stories about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have earned small-scale recognition for missionary work, service and graphic novels.

The Standard Journal in Rexburg, Idaho, in an article last week highlighted people who came to the LDS Church's general conference in Salt Lake City from all over the world. The writer interviewed members who had traveled from Germany and Brazil.

“Oh, I feel so special because everybody there feel(s) the spirit, and (it) is something really important to us,” said Luciane Kraft, a member from Brazil, who had saved money all year for the trip.

A pastor-turned-columnist interviewed sister missionaries and a future sister missionary for the Lake Saint Louis Patch in Lake St. Louis, Mo.

“I have been surprised to learn two things: how much I can love people and how much the mission is a ‘crash course on life,'” Sister Sydney Bentley told writer Kemery Baldwin. “It’s awesome.”

Baldwin emphasized that sisters serve too and each of the women seemed incredibly happy.

“Godspeed to the soon-to-be Sister Forbush and carry on to Sister Bentley,” Baldwin wrote. “We can use more happiness anywhere.”

Another set of elders were featured in a Brooklyn Ink article about LDS missionaries teaching English in New York City.

“I ask Bing Ley if he became a Mormon because the missionaries were teaching English,” reporter Omar Akhtar wrote about a Chinese immigrant. “He doesn’t understand me, so (Elders) Egbert and Hanson translate. He looks at me and shakes his head. Through the missionaries he tells me the church taught him how to improve himself and how to become a better person, not just the English language.”

It’s thanks to the effort of other church members that many missionaries even make it to the field to do such service.

Doug Pulsipher is a dentist from Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. He has traveled four times at his own expense to Peru, the Dominican Republic and Belize with Smiles for Central America, an organization of LDS medical workers who help LDS young men and women complete necessary dental work and medical physicals to serve full-time missions.

"This program is the best humanitarian program I've ever participated in," Dr. Pulsipher told the Latter Day Sentinal in Spokane, Wash. "We know we are changing lives, not just fixing teeth.”

In another different form of “missionary” work, one artist hopes that his graphic novel version of The Book of Mormon will be both simple and appealing to members.

Artist Michael Allred sat down with Slate.com writer David Weigel for an interview about Allred’s thoughts on the various issues related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the forefront today and his graphic novel series, which Allred self-published in 2004 and 2005 — and didn’t complete. Allred hopes to get funding to eventually complete the series. Weigel probed for how the series reflected and affected Allred’s beliefs.

Allred explained that even if he didn’t believe The Book of Mormon were true, it is a “phenomenal story” and “The Book of Mormon is fascinating on any level.”

Email: hbowler@desnews.com

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