, Family photo
Rhett and Richelle Oler outside the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, in the fall of 2007. Rhett served a mission in Peru before receiving a medical release due to an injury and Richelle recently returned from the New York New York South Mission on April 7. The pair are one of several sets of siblings from their ward in Colorado who were serving full-time missions for the LDS Church.

The life and faith of an LDS sister missionary is explored in great detail this week on the Research on Religion podcast.

The podcast, which is sponsored by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion and hosted by Anthony Gill, a senior fellow at the institute, features Deseret News editorial writer Allison Pond, who served as an LDS missionary in Russia from 1997-98.

"Mormons are well-known for their missionizing activity around the world," Gill says in introducing Pond, "so we will explore the preparation, training, experience and results of such missionizing work."

Pond clearly and articulately explains her decision to serve a mission, life in the church's Missionary Training Center, the fears she encountered during her first day of street contacting in Russia and the positive overall experience her mission was for her — including some fun missionary moments. She also speaks about the unique religious world she encountered in Russia, as well as the benefits of her mission experience in her own life.

"Missionaries are asked to do nothing less than defend a theology, which is really staggering when you think about it," Pond says during the 63-minute podcast. "None of these missionaries have been to divinity school. None of them have devoted their entire lives to this. It's just something they really believe in and they want to share ... and they rise to the occasion to become someone different and more converted."

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