April Fausnaught used to say that her third child just couldn’t wait to be with his older brother — he was born only 11 months after him. It seems to be an accurate assessment: the two boys in the middle of Fausnaught's family have done everything together over the years.
Now, thanks to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' policy change regarding the minimum age young men can serve as missionaries, Brady Fausnaught is again following closely in his older brother Kirby Fausnaught’s footsteps. Kirby entered the Missionary Training Center on Jan. 2, and Brady will go in March 27.
Kirby turned 19 on Sept. 26, 2012, and he received his mission call Aug. 31 — he’ll be serving in the Russia St. Petersburg Mission. Immediately afterward, he went back for a third semester at BYU-Idaho.
Brady turned 18 just days after Kirby received his call, on Sept. 4. Then, a month afterward, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson made his news-making announcement in general conference: “I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent ... will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19.”
Kirby text-messaged his younger brother as soon as he heard the news; Brady didn’t hear it right away because he was providing service at a local church where the family lives in Weaver, Ala. But the text from Kirby followed on the heels of a text from Brady’s bishop, Sid Kooyman. Brady was in the bishop’s office “about an hour” after the announcement, he said. Within the week, his papers were on their way to Salt Lake City.
A month later, the Fausnaught family gathered to open a second mission call. This letter called Brady to the Adriatic North Mission, which covers the countries Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As with many prospective Mormon missionaries, friends and family tried to guess where the two brothers would go. Kirby said he expected to serve in South America, but Bishop Kooyman actually guessed he would go to Russia.
No one guessed correctly where Brady would go; even after reading his call, he still didn’t know exactly where he was going to spend two years of his life. “At first I looked at it and I had no idea where it was. I was kinda like, ‘Yay?’ I Googled real fast. I looked at pictures and said, ‘Wow, this place looks awesome.’ I got excited really quickly about it.”
The two brothers say that Brady always was trying to “keep up with” Kirby. In a testimony meeting in the Anniston Alabama Ward right after Kirby received his mission call, Kirby bore his testimony, and Brady followed. As Kirby related, Brady said, “I’ve been trying to keep up with Kirby all my life, so when he learned to tie his shoes, I learned the same day.” Brady remembered saying, “(Kirby’s) leaving, but there’s no way I can catch up this time.”
He was happily surprised to be proven wrong. Brady said, “The next month, it was announced that I could (catch up).” As their mother said, “ The timing of everything is really, really cool.”
The change not only allows the brothers to serve almost simultaneously, but it means they won’t be apart for nearly as long. Had Brady waited until he was 19, the two likely wouldn’t have seen each other for 3½ to four years. Now, their time apart will be just a little more than two years.
The past couple of months have been a whirlwind of preparation for the whole family. Kirby enrolled in Russian when he returned to BYU-Idaho, allowing him to get a taste for his new language.
“That was a pretty big blessing, I think,” Kirby said. “It’s a little frightening. But I know it’s prepared me a little bit, and I might be a little bit ahead of the game; I don’t know.”
For his part, Brady will learn a very foreign language as well, Croatian, though several languages are spoken in the countries of his mission. All use different alphabets from English, so not only will he learn a different language, he’ll learn a new alphabet.
At the end of the BYU-Idaho semester in December, Kirby went home to Alabama and went to the temple for the first time with his younger brother. The two received their endowments Dec. 27 in the Birmingham Alabama Temple, another milestone they were able to share (also, incidentally, the anniversary of their parents’ temple sealing).
The family drove from Alabama to Utah to take Kirby to the MTC. Two days before, they went to the temple together again, this time going through the Salt Lake Temple. April Fausnaught said, “One of the sisters who was helping us in the temple asked, ‘Are they twins?’” She said she responded, “'No, they’re not twins; they’re just close in age, 11½ months.’'”
April said the woman in the temple “didn’t understand if Kirby’s going in the MTC on Wednesday, how’s his little brother here with him? It was funny. We got a lot of attention. That’s for sure.”
April said she thinks “what interests most people when they hear about our sons’ mission calls is the part of the world they were called to. They hear one is going to St. Petersburg, Russia, and when they hear the second one, the expression on their face is this awe and shock. It’s quite interesting.”
Mostly, everyone loves to hear about brothers who love each other and are that close. As Brady said of Kirby, “He’s been my best friend since I was little. But we’ve always had that competition. I remember when we were little, we’d fight over my mom. But we’ve always been close.”
Kirby echoes that message: “Me and Brady, we’re 11 months apart, so we’re best friends and worst enemies. All that, but most of all, we care. I consider him my best friend.
“I’m extremely happy that Brady and I are going at the same time. Before it would have been a really long time and now it’s only going to be two more months (we won’t see each other). We’ll definitely be emailing each other throughout our missions.”