The story behind the missionary reality TV show, 'The District'

Published: Friday, April 18 2014 10:00 a.m. MDT

The eight missionaries from District 2 are also known outside of missionary circles. Life-size photos and videos are on display at an exhibit in the LDS Church’s Washington D.C. Temple Visitors' Center called “Eight Stories.” Elder Harden Eyring, a senior missionary and director of the visitors' center, said the exhibit is especially popular among young people who tour the visitors' center while waiting for a turn to participate in baptisms for the dead. Elder Eyring recalled one young woman who told the sister missionaries she came from a broken family situation but that after visiting that day, she had gained a new positive outlook on life.

“You get a lot of comments like that. Afterwards many say, ‘I’m sure going on a mission now,' ” said Elder Eyring, brother to President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency. “It really does have an enormous impact on anyone who watches their stories. It’s life-changing.”

The DVDs have also influenced countless missionaries in the field. Danny Payne, the young brother of Shelisa, said the visual media has blessed him as a missionary and later as an MTC instructor. It also helped him to see his older sister in a more Christlike way.

“It gives missionaries a standard to shoot for. If you know what something looks like, it enhances your vision of how to get there,” said Danny Payne, who later met some of the people his sister taught in Texas. “I was able to see some of the fruits of her labors. Seeing her example in the DVDs also motivated me to hold myself to a higher standard.”

Summer Draney, another former missionary and current MTC instructor, was inspired by the example of missionaries in both districts. As missionaries in Iowa, she and her companion would watch the DVDs with an investigator in mind and hit pause frequently.

“We would seek revelation for how we could best help them,” Draney said. “We also realized that you don’t have to be perfect to be a great missionary. You just have to be your best.”

Myers, now married and a mother of three, summarized the feelings of all involved when she expressed gratitude for taking part in this "special experience that created so many strong spiritual bonds of friendship."

“It was humbling to be part of something of such importance and so guided by the Spirit," she said. "There were so many spiritual experiences that strengthened my testimony in ways I didn’t think possible. When missionaries come around and see ‘Sister Myers,’ I love to share with them. Anything that takes me back reminds me of what a sacred experience it was and that I have a lot to cherish and live for. I hope it helps other missionaries realize we were ordinary and they can reach the same potential or be even greater missionaries if they will learn and apply these important principles.”

Email: ttoone@deseretnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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