Sydni Hales returned home after serving an 18-month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Sydni Hales returned home after serving an 18-month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her dad, Kent Hales, noted, “Sydni’s service during the pandemic has influenced our family to know when the things in the world change, our Heavenly Father does not. Our circumstances change, but his love is always there for us.”

Like all other missionaries during 2020, Hales was affected by COVID-19. She said, “It completely changed the way missionaries do what they do. Before the pandemic, missionaries would leave their apartment in the morning and often not return until 9 p.m. But the pandemic forced us all to find new ways to do our work, from our apartment. We were able to use technology to reach out to people. Some of my favorite people that I taught were found through Facebook. The pandemic forced missionaries to find new tools, and now we have even more, and often better, ways of accomplishing God’s work.”

Originally, Hales had been called to go to Panama and speak Spanish. Instead, due to the virus, she was sent to Cincinnati where she continued to study her Spanish, hoping she would eventually get to go to Panama. Although Hales never did go to Panama, she did learn Spanish. She observed that because of the amount of time and frequency of studying, she really learned how to focus and learn.

Besides being blessed in her studies, Hales feels like her love and knowledge of the Savior has grown. “I have been able to see how people, including myself can really change and become better because of Jesus Christ by following His example and using His Atonement. Being able to represent Jesus Christ this past year and a half has been a privilege. He is my Savior. He is the reason I have hope, peace, and joy, even in quarantine during a pandemic.”

Her brother, Jaycob, noted how well Sydni handled all the changes in her mission. He noted, “We didn’t know that she was going to Ohio until the very last minute since she was transferred as soon as she got in the mission field. It was super surprising to us, but it was probably even more surprising to her. It was really cool to see her grow and change throughout her mission, because seeing her grow helped me grow too.” Noelle, her sister, is so happy that Sydni persevered through her mission with a positive attitude despite the twists and turns she faced through the pandemic among other trials. “I’m so happy I can see her again, and I’m so proud of her for going on her mission,” Noelle shared.

Jana Hales, Sydni’s mother, said, “I think Sydni’s missionary service inspired our family to try to be better. We would pray for Sydni every day to be blessed as a missionary, and it reminded us about the sacrifice that Sydni was making to follow Jesus. I am so grateful that Sydni got this opportunity to share Jesus’ love and to serve others.”

In the fall, Sydni is going to Brigham Young University to attend school.

Submitted by Bonnie Holyoak