Tom Smart, Deseret News
Missionaries walk to a devotional as the anticipated 2013 "summer surge" settles over the LDS Church's two MTC campuses in Provo.

In a new posting on the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog site, LDS public affairs director Michael Otterson uses the dramatic increase in the number of missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a way to explain what makes Mormons tick.

After explaining the events of the past year, Otterson observes that "to those unfamiliar with the faith — and especially those who embrace no faith at all — all this may seem rather strange."

"Why would 18- and 19-year-olds be willing to put their lives on hold for up to two years, at a time when their peers are working through college or starting careers?" he asks. "The answer is also the answer to what makes Mormons tick."

In the rest of the blog, Otterson explains the lifetime commitment to faith and service that makes such a difference in the lives of so many Latter-day Saints.

"Through witnessing people change, missionaries draw motivation to serve even more faithfully, and in the process their own lives transform," Otterson writes. "Those who experience this marrow-deep transformation return home stronger, more mature, more ready to bring their learned experience to their own families, congregations, communities and even to the broader world."

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