LDS missionaries are stars of new reality TV series

Published: Friday, Oct. 12 2012 9:00 a.m. MDT

Even before the decision was made to produce “The District,” the Missionary Department was already intermittently checking in with the returned missionaries, and shooting video and photos of major milestones like marriages and births. The visual media will comprise “Eight Stories,” an exhibit at the LDS Church’s Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center that opens later this month.

Tyler Christensen returned home to Florida 18 months ago, and in February he got married. He still practices guitar and goes to concerts, but for now he isn’t playing in a band like he did before his mission.

Christensen attends BYU and has a part-time job at the church’s Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, where he often sees his “District” co-stars Alex Murray and Laura Voyles (they work in the same department). Christensen still hangs out with his former mission companion Mike Moreno, and hopes to attend medical school when he graduates in 2015.

Even though he has known for more than a year that he would be featured in a reality show — and even after previewing rough cuts of the first two episodes of “The District” several months ago — Christensen still describes the experience of seeing himself on television as “surreal.”

“Like most young men, a mission was a life-changing experience for me,” Christensen said. “Seeing some of the people I taught, and some of the interviews and other conversations and other experiences, brings back a lot of tender memories of pivotal moments in my life.

“I’m very lucky to have a good chunk of my mission on HDTV, where I can actually show my children someday my experiences in vibrant color and almost in the present moment — not just through a journal or writing, but almost as if I’m back there again.”

“The District” airs Sundays at 6:30 pm MST on BYUtv.

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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