Salt Lake City, Utah -- Fans of pop star Mormon missionary a few days ago, but he surprised everyone on Saturday.did not expect to see him perform for another two years because he became a
Elder Archuleta, as he is now known, showed up on the front row of a special Mormon Missionary Choir which performed at the 182nd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday. It was the second of five sessions that continue through Sunday. Over 100,000 attend in person in the Conference Center at Temple Square, while most of the more than 14 million Mormons watch the conference through satellite broadcast to thousands of local congregations throughout the world, and on the Internet at LDS.org.
Archuleta’s career took off when he became a runner-up on American Idol, and has continued to grow. He has not only performed many concerts, but his recordings continue to be in high demand by his many fans. Recently he also performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and released an album of music with them.
Elder Archuleta arrived at the Missionary Training Center only a few days ago, and will be there until he completes his studies. After learning the language of the country where he will serve, and after learning to teach religious lessons in that language, Elder Archuleta will depart for an undisclosed location in South America, according to media reports. His missionary name tag is in Spanish, indicating that he will be learning the Spanish language before leaving the MTC.
When the choir performed the rousing missionary anthem sung by all Mormon Missionaries, “Called to Serve,” the audience gathered in the Conference Center on Temple Square rose to their feet and sang along.
Young Mormon men between 19 and 26 often put aside school, marriage, careers, and sports to give two years of service as missionaries. Not only do they volunteer to serve without pay, they also pay all their own living expenses. Some Mormon women between 21 and 26 also serve as missionaries for 18 months.
Perhaps an even more impressive sacrifice is that missionaries put aside phone calls, texting, video games, IM, movies, and other forms of entertainment typical of their age group. They maintain contact with family members through weekly letters, and only a few phone calls a year on a few holidays. Mormon missionaries say they avoid these things so they can maintain a high level of spirituality, and be focused on the service they are giving to others.
There are now 55,410 full-time missionaries who are serving in 340 missions in over 150 countries. In addition to these proselyting missionaries, 22,299 service missionaries are also giving voluntary service to assist with various projects and services.
Contacts with family and friends during this time of service are limited to letters and occasional phone calls to family at special times. Missionaries avoid entertainment, parties or other activities common to this age-group as long as they are on their missions, so they can focus entirely on the work of serving and of teaching others the gospel of Jesus Christ.