Meet a Mormon: Wesley Morris

Elder D. Wesley Morris

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Wesley Morris is what you can expect of a young LDS adult. He wrestled for his high school. He played football. He is attractive and athletically built. He even has blonde hair and blue eyes!

Sure, there are hundreds of men and women like him, attractive and young, who serve missions. Even if he was typical LDS, his choice to serve as a representative of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who represent Jesus Christ, is a personal and unique experience!

Writing about someone that I know and care about is hard because it is difficult to decide what to include and how much of it to include!

What can I write about Wesley Morris?

Guatemala Coban Mission

Wesley serves the citizens of of Coban Mission of Guatemala, which is a new mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Spanish is the language that he learned in the MTC, but Q’eqchi (Kekchi) is the language many of the people in Guatemala speak! In that nation there is no official language. Spanish is just the language of commerce.

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"Who are those yellow headed boys?"

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Church Nugget

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports 15 official MTC locations

Wes and James

Wrestler

Guatemala is considered a third world nation and the people live very humbly.

As the map above shows, the mission is in Central America, a place where many Latter-day Saints believe historical events from The Book of Mormon took place.

Above and to the right is a picture of the Missionary Training Center (MTC) where Wesley received instruction before going among the people he loves and appreciates as he serves the Lord.

He is not a native Spanish speaker. In a letter home he wrote:

My mission is literally in the most remote place of all of the missions in Guatemala. My zone is called Senahu and my... (area) is called Yaliux--it is pronounced teeal-yuush.

That isn't Spanish! I worked so hard for 6 weeks in the MTC and now they have asked me to learn Q'eqchi.

In Guatemala there are 239,734 member of the church, five missions of which the Coban mission is one and 2 temples.

Chat With Wes

Wesley's mission leads him to those only he can teach and reach with his testimony, which did not begin until he was at the age of 15 years!

I had the privilege of speaking to Wes prior to him leaving. I was a bit apprehensive about approaching him since he was new to our group of elders. He is a member of the Laveen Ward Elders' Quorum.

I did not want to scare him off because I thought he was a shy person, about which I was mistaken. I was impressed how quickly and how well he adjusted to being with the adults instead of the youth!

In fact, I was impressed with Wes and his brother James from the first time that I saw them. I want to paint a picture for you why it is that I am writing about this special young man who will bless the lives of so many.

First Impressions

The first time they came to the ward, my first comment to my wife Afryka was, "Who are those yellow headed boys?"

That yellow hair stood out like black ink on white cloth! As a member of the Young Men's Presidency at the time, I was immediately intrigued to find out about them and to which family they belonged because there were so few youth who actively participated in church around their ages.

Wesley is a wrestler. He is ready to go to the mat with anyone no matter who it is, the place in which he is or the age of the challenger! If he is challenged he will take it! He is engaged in that sport in the image above the two image of him to the right.

In fact, he told me that he thinks he can take me in arm wrestling! I wanted to try it too, but I thought it best that we just talk and he forgot about the contest.

He is also a fighter! He said

If I am in a fight, I won't do like these people here. Where I'm from we fight until one of us can't fight any more. Here, if they get knocked down it's over! Not me. I fight until I can't!

I mention this because it serves as a notice that he is not the type of person to give up. Having such a quality will serve him well in Guatemala and throughout life.

Wes's Family

Wes comes from a large family, but the family is very diverse. Wes and his brother James live with their aunt and Uncle who have five other children. The situation is like a hers, ours and thiers--automatic teen boys for Terry and Alyeska. Logan. Riley, Carley, Keirgan and Benjamin are the other five children.

In total, there are nine members of the Lester/Morris/Wagner family! In short, they love Wes. He spends time with the younger ones and he "hangs out with" his brother in James, using James' words.

I could tell Wes is a loving sibling and a normal everyday guy that God is using to spread His word to the people of Guatemala.

I asked Wes if he would miss his family when he leaves. He told me that he can adjust to any environment, but he never really answered the question. I quote him:

Make the best of your situation.

He told me that he is determined to make the best of any situation that he encounters and accept the circumstances behind them.

Terry, the father of the family, told me that Wes may say awe-inspiring things like that but he is more sensitive than he lets on.

Says Wes, "I miss you guys so much ..." referring to his family. In the many letters that he sends home, he expresses his love and longing for his family and friends.

Funny Side of Wes

Spiritual Heritage

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No, a three-year-old did not draw the picture above. Wesley did, of himself!

If you talk to him long enough he starts to let his personality show.

He is quick witted and comical, though I had trouble telling when he was joking around at first because he has a seriousness in his face that betrays his comedic quirkiness!

Mostly with me, his foolishness was verbal; but I hear with others, his games involve some form of practical joking that ends up in wrestling.

There is a photo to the right and below with him doing what he does best with one of his associates.

He has a sense of humor most definitely because he laughed at my attempts at humor before I started questioning him.

I wanted Wes to feel comfortable talking to me during our interview. My son suggested that the entire situation was weird, just because we know him!

I ended up being the one put at ease by him! He definitely gave me his undivided attention for almost four hours!

Helen Spencer Schlie has a legacy of faith that she has passed on to her great grandson Wesley. She is over ninety years of age and still a very active sharer of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

The amazing possession that Granny Schlie has is an original copy of the first printings of The Book of Mormon. People come from miles around to see the book and purchase pages from it to touch a part of the history that Wesley shares with his brethren in Guatemala.

The story about Granny Schlie's journey to the church starts with her visiting Salt Lake City and listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. After quite some time of listening to the choir, she was contacted by missionaries and introduced to the gospel according to her grandson Terry.

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Wes, Granny Shclie's great-grandson, says that he respects her and is proud of her decision to join the church. Read about her at the link to the right.

Wesley, however, is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ by any direct connection to his great-grandmother. He was introduced to the church due to circumstances in his life that led him to leave his birth parents in Michigan to live in Arizona with his Aunt and uncle Terry and Alyeska Lester.

In his final address to our congregation before he left on his mission, Elder Morris said

It was almost like a setup. It seemed that they [Terry and Alyeska] planned for the missionaries to be there for dinner.

After dinner,they started teaching and it just felt right. We [he and James] wanted to know what else is there after they taught us--because they would do that in other churches... just keep teach us the same thing over and over.

They, the missionaries told us that we could get baptized and we said we wanted too.

James and Elder Morris were baptized together on December 12, 2009. Elder Morris was age 15 at the time. He and James prayed about the gospel the missionaries taught them, felt good about it, and accepted the invitation to change their lives at a young age. Just like their other relatives who decided to join the church, they recognized Jesus Christ's true teachings within the organization. It is in the blood!

Geneva, Wes, and James

Geneva Morris is Wes and James's older sister.

Spotlight

James and Elder Morris spotlighted or gave information about each other in our last Elders' Quorum meeting with him. James, then a priest, was invited to our quorum because we discussed the ordinance of baptism.

Spotlighting someone is to inform the other members in the quorum about a person so that we can get to know him better. As James described his brother Elder Morris, I could see the love and admiration in his eyes. James said everything about his brother that he thought was good, and I am sure we all felt his love for brother.

Elder Morris told me that he is not a hugger. I could see that he showed love in hidden ways that did not require hugs to express before he left. I am sure embracing is a common practice for him now as he teaches among the people he was ordained to teach based on his letters home.

Farewell

In photos below, we all gathered at the Lester/Morris/Wagner home to celebrate OUR missionary leaving and to show Elder Morris how much we love him. Family members attended also with people bringing dishes of food to share and just enjoy each other's company with Elder Morris as the featured guest.

A few of the People who Fared Elder Morris Well

Terry Lester
Terry Lester

Thinking about how to organize the events I witnessed of Elder Morris's life have given me a new appreciation for him and his family.

As I spoke to his relatives regarding their thoughts of him, I could see the pride in their eyes for his decision. I could see the awe in the young men in our ward/congregation as they look to Elder Morris as an example.

Elder Morris's Grandmother told me that he holds in a lot of emotion and shares it when he feels appropriate in agreement with Terry about him. When he stood at the pulpit and shared his testimony about the gospel he allowed himself to be vulnerable to the Spirit of God, which is what matters!

This article is not meant to show that Elder Morris is better than other missionaries in some unique way or that he has some surprising gift that sets him apart from the others in a spectacular manner to behold.

This article exists because I write and Elder Morris is in my ward/congregation for one! Also, to show that God uses the everyday, normal people to teach His word.

Elder Morris's favorite scripture is 1 Nephi 17:50. The Lord commanded Nephi to go and build a ship. Nephi was teased of his brethren that the Lord could not command him to do such a great thing.

After some shocking moments to his brethren, pun intended, the verse is recorded

And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.

Such is the faith of OUR missionary. God has commanded him to go and teach the people of the Guatemala Coban Mission. Elder Morris knows that God has endowed him with power to go and fulfill this command. Nephi records that God does not give commandments which He does not also prepare ways to keep them in 1 Nephi 3:7.

I miss Elder Morris and the example he set with his brother James as they sat side by side blessing the sacrament/Lord's Supper in our ward/congregation. I am comforted that he is out preparing souls to feel the Spirit of God the way he did preparing and blessing the body of Christ for us.

God trusts such a simple and ordinary young man to share His Gospel rather than a doctorate-level person. Bishop Jeff Hale of our ward/congregation, the person who recommended that Elder Morris should serve a mission, suggested at the closing of our last meeting with Elder Morris before he headed to the MTC in Guatemala that the reason God calls the young to serve is because they will not try to convince people of the truths of the restored gospel like some of us older people might with our much learning and experience. The young will invite people to pray and find out from God themselves.

Elder Morris has a simple testimony that is pure. He prayed about the church's claim to be the Lord's only authorized and true church, felt the spirit and invites others to do so too.

At the MTC in Guatemala

Good By Mountains, Hello City!

One of Elder Morris's updates July 2015

This week was great and it was sad though because I'm leaving my area.

On Thursday (July 16. 2015), we got signal to call our district leader. He told us, my companion and I both have changes; because the area is too dangerous and it is very hard to progress [the church in the area].

[The Mission President] shut my area; so, we packed up all over our stuff and planned on leaving Sunday after church.

After church, we took photos with the members.... On the way home, a member called us in[to] his house to eat beans and tortillas with some dough water, agua de masa in Spanish.

...after eating, we said our final goodbye. The member hugged me and my companion and cried without end. We told him how amazing he is and left, [which] made me not want to leave.

My mission has been so crazy! Once a missionary gets put in the mountains, he usually stays there speaking Qeqchi [for the duration of his mission]; not me.

Sunday (July 19), after getting down to the district leaders house and packing my suitcases, i called my zone leaders.... and they mentioned to me that President Curtiss [informed them that he wanted] to talk to me.

i was sure that he was going to tell me that i was going to be training [a new missionary]. I wanted to train so badly.

I called President Curtiss and as always, he says, "Elder Morris, are you ready for your new assignment?"

I was so ready to train my last to changes then go home with a bang! Thats not what happened.

I'm being taken out of the mountains and going to the city as zone leader of the biggest zone in the mission for my last two changes! ...not what i expected.

I'm going back to [a] nice house, [speaking] Spanish, shoes, no parasites, electricity, suits, and subway!! haha.

It will be an adventure.

Two months from the posting of this message Elder Morris is home as plan old Wesley until the Lord calls him to do something more. ... perhaps a big adventure yet!

© 2013 Rodric Johnson

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Share how missionaries have blessed your life. 2 comments

Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona Author

Thanks Perspycaious for your comment and the correctables as you call it. I found most of them and set it right. I time t0 time read my articles and find those little embarrassments.

I wanted to write more, but I also wanted not to write a book! He sent me a few emails from his mission.

Back in my day, missionaries were not allowed to use the email. Now they have tablets! a lot has changed in 14 years.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

A long, well illustrated article on a dedicated missionary and how he came to serve. Thanks for this "interview Hub." Well done, and the minor correctables were not serius distractions.

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