Leaving Lucas on a Mission
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lucas resident, Dallas Meldrum, knew he wanted to share his faith with others. The next step was to decide when his journey would begin. While some of his closest friends from Lovejoy High School began serving immediately after graduation, Dallas made the decision to briefly attend Brigham Young University to study physics. He joined the Air Force ROTC and also received his pilot’s license.
The process began with his “application to serve the mission.” After submitting information regarding medical history and other pertinent information, a “mission call” was received in the form of a letter. Dallas’ letter arrived the day before he was scheduled to fly from BYU to meet his family for a Disney cruise to the Caribbean. It was on the cruise, surrounded by family members, that he opened his letter. To everyone’s surprise, San Juan, Puerto Rico was listed as the location for his mission.
Dallas was only six weeks into his two-year journey when Hurricane Irma hit the island of Puerto Rico. He was told to gather three days’ worth of food and water before hunkering down in his cinder block apartment. Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Maria slowly began moving through the island. The mission president quickly informed the 155 missionaries to take shelter inside two houses. After the hurricane’s catastrophic destruction, missionaries spent a week removing debris in an attempt to make the streets accessible to residents.
It soon became clear the missionaries needed to temporarily leave the island for health and safety reasons. After several attempts, the church was finally able to charter a humanitarian plane into Puerto Rico to deliver supplies before bringing all missionaries back to Miami, Florida. All 155 missionaries were assigned new missions, with Dallas being sent to Bakersfield, California. He soon began serving nearby in Earlimart. This location is temporary, as missionaries are slowly returning to Puerto Rico in groups of 14.
Each person has their own story when expressing reasons for becoming a missionary. Dallas’ mom, Jennifer Meldrum, explained, “It’s somewhat cultural in our religion. We teach it from the time they are little kids. We talk about serving a mission and how that’s our way of giving back to Jesus Christ for his sacrifice. My husband and I served and we have always talked about how great the experience was.”
Serving on a mission for the LDS Church does not come without struggles. Jennifer said, “It’s hard to leave home and be away from your friends and family. It’s also hard to stop going to college or take a break before college. While being difficult, it’s also such a great opportunity to put your own personal life on hold to completely serve 24-7.”
These struggles haven’t hindered Dallas as he continues to share news of the Mormon faith daily. Each missionary is assigned a companion who joins in helping the community with any services they may need, along with preaching the gospel.