Dave Moncion, DDM
SALT LAKE CITY — It was unusual when KyLee Washburn and Kelsey Anderson left EnergySolutions Arena by themselves following the last Utah Jazz home game before Christmas.
Normally they’d exit with all 20 members of the internationally renowned Nu Skin Jazz Dancers, but that night these two friends were in thoughtful moods, particularly when they entered the brightly lit plaza in front of the arena.
Not far in the distance were the illuminated spires of the Salt Lake Temple, framed by the millions of lights at Temple Square.
They began talking about the age change for missionaries announced at the October 2012 general conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Anderson told her friend that she'd decided to serve and had already started the process.
Washburn was astonished to hear this because she had been thinking about the same thing for weeks, and in the moment that Anderson said she was going, Washburn said she realized, “I have to go, too.”
Washburn said they were thrilled when the realization struck that they had been on the same spiritual journey, even though it meant resigning from the Jazz Dancers at the pinnacle of their dancing careers.
“We were so excited to find out that the other wanted to go that we literally started jumping up and down for joy, hugging each other with tears running down our cheeks,” she said.
Since then, Anderson has received her mission call to serve in Ventura, Calif., and Washburn to Resistencia, Argentina. They will finish the season with the Jazz and, as far as they know, they are the first Jazz dancers called to serve missions.
Both Anderson and Washburn remember what they were doing when they learned women could serve LDS missions at 19.
“I was at work when my brother texted me during general conference with the short message, ‘Boys can go at 18 and girls at 19,’” Anderson said. “I distinctly remember thinking, ‘That is so cool that they can go right out of high school.’ For a few days I didn’t think about it again, but then the thought came that maybe I should go, and before long I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had that 'burning in the bosom' feeling that just wouldn’t go away. I remember that when I finally said, ‘I’m going on a mission,’ I had an immediate and incredible feeling of peace.”
Washburn said she learned about the change “while getting my hair done.” It didn’t spark an immediate interest, but the seed was planted that “I could go right now if I want to. That started the thought process, and soon I was fasting and praying. I have always had this unshakable testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, and I felt that after 19 wonderful years of being blessed I should share the knowledge of the gospel when and where I can. If I didn’t do it, I would almost feel guilty because I have been so blessed, and I need to share it with others. Eventually I accepted the idea that I should put my life on hold, knowing that things will work out when I get home.”
Anderson grew up in Holladay and is a sophomore majoring in political science at the University of Utah. She said she hopes to be a political commentator and writer "because I love our country so much, and I want to be involved in the political process that keeps us great.” She said she is putting her schooling and dancing on hold to serve a mission so she can help others.
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