“I’m nervous about leaving friends and family. It’s my first step into the world that is on my own. And although I feel ready to meet the challenges; sometimes I wish to go back to when I was a kid. But time ever marches forward. I’ll make new friends, and carve for myself a life built upon God, family, and work,” says Neal Barnhill, who is leaving to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Riverside, California.
Neal and his family live in Whetstone and have been in the area for about 11 years. He was homeschooled and at the same time earned an AAS degree in Welding from Cochise College. Neal’s mother, Sarah, is a convert to the Church. “It is very special to me that he has this opportunity to serve. It means that he can be a messenger and servant of the Lord like my missionaries were for me,” she says.
Neal has decided to serve a mission because he knows it is what God wants him to do. He says, “I know [God] has put a lot of trust in me to do His work—bringing the Word to every ear. My father served a mission in the mid-90s. He went to the Bordeaux, France mission.”
David Barnhill, Neal’s father, shares, “I am so very excited for and proud that my son Neal has made this choice to serve the Lord as I did many years ago. Missions are truly individual experiences that help missionaries grow in faith and mature into responsible adults through serving as witnesses of Jesus Christ, and by serving the people in their missions.”
Neal has worked hard and saved money for his mission. He feels that this has helped him better understand what adult life will be like. It has given him a good appreciation for working, making his own money and being able to slowly gain responsibility. “It is such an amazing feeling,” he says.
Neal participates in Martial Arts, and he hopes after his mission to become a pilot in the Marine Corps. He enjoys hiking and the wide-open spaces of Arizona. “It’s been wonderful to call this calm area of Arizona home for over a decade of my life,” Neal exclaims.
With his final thoughts on serving a mission Neal concludes, “I think the most spiritual thing that has happened to me in the last couple of years… is coming to realize just how much our Father in Heaven loves each and every one of us—His children. It makes me sad to see the chaos, cruelty, [and] deceit that seem to be an ever-prevailing atmosphere in today’s world. I wish people knew the happiness they could have, and ought to have.”
Submitted by Bonnie Holyoak