Elder Boardman on Being a Full-Time Online Missionary for The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints

A few weeks back we had an awesome guest post on Just An Average Mormon from Liza, who converted to the Church after seeing The Book of Mormon Musical. Her conversations and lessons with online missionaries, which began with her visit to mormon.org and a click on "chat", were an instrumental part of her conversion.
Not knowing much about the ins-and-outs of online full-time missionary service, I contacted Elder Boardman—the online missionary who baptized Liza—and asked him if he would be willing to share what it is like to serve as an online missionary. He was kind enough to write up the following for us to share on Just An Average Mormon.
(And I have to add that it makes me smile that Liza described her intentions of clicking on the mormon.org chat button "as [her] perfect time to destroy everything those missionaries were 'told' to believe", while Elder Boardman describes the same experience as Liza simply "asking what [he] considered normal questions".)
        —Andrew

I was asked by "Just an Average Mormon" to write up a story on what it’s like as a full time online missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I was born with Muscular Dystrophy—which is a physical condition that limits my mobility. Walking up and down stairs would be strenuous as if a person without Muscular Dystrophy had just gone rock climbing.

Thankfully I have wonderful parents who taught me that I have strengths in other areas and that I should expect myself to live life to the fullest. Serving a mission was no exception. There was a time where I hit a point where I questioned if there was a God and really sought answers from Him. Through many answers from God I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true (in the purest from) church on the Earth. It is led by God.


The older I became the more I thought that I wouldn't be able to qualify for serving a mission. Even a 'car mission' seemed quite intense. Although I had doubts, I also had faith that God’s direct promise to me that I would be able to serve a mission would be fulfilled.

Elder Tyson Boardman (left) and Elder Trevor Boardman (right).

It was about this time that my brother Tyson steps onto the scene. He likewise has Muscular Dystrophy and was currently submitting his mission paper work in. Originally and to everyone’s surprise, he was called to Washington Seattle.

The story becomes more complicated when later he was told that he would be honorably released from serving a mission due to the daunting hills and stairs that he would have to voyage. Before he was 'officially' honorably released things were talked through with Elder Hinckley in the mission department. It was no mistake that Tyson's mission papers just slipped through. For a matter of time the Call Center was being converted over what is known today as the Referral Center. Things fell right in place for Tyson to be an ideal pioneer for the Referral Center.

The duties for working at the Referral Center included answering incoming phone calls, sending out requested church material such as copies of the Book of Mormon, and answering questions on a new 'chat' feature on the Mormon.org webpage.

This was good news to me because it meant that there was an open way for me to serve a mission.
The Referral Center has been the trial ground for what I would call the future of missionary work. Since 2008 back in Tyson's day, the Referral Center has been the testing ground for use of Facebook in the mission field, effectively taking chats through the Mormon.org 'chat' feature, and other social mediums such as Skype.

Working over the computer leads to technical questions. For example: how are online missionaries to teach the gospel as a companionship? How is the investigator supposed to be baptized when they have been taught from Utah missionaries online?

To answer these questions I need to get into the particulars. As a Referral Center missionary, I live the infield missionary schedule and rules with my teaching companion to the fullest. For every lesson and finding shift on Mormon.org chat, we teach as a companionship. The chat feature on Mormon.org is our main finding tool. When we come across a person who is sincere to learn more about the gospel, we offer to set up a return appointment over Facebook, the phone, or Skype.

Often we are asked if we pray in our lessons. The answer is yes! We do pray in every single lesson. When teaching over 'chat' we just type the prayer out.

You might be wondering if investigators can feel the spirit through typed out prayers and non-personal conversation. My experience for over the past year and a half has been that they can! Let me put it this way. The scriptures are just written down (you might even say typed out) words, contains personal experiences, and even prayers. Do you feel the spirit when you read from them?

The full-time online missionaries and staff.
Like any infield missionary, we begin teaching the missionary discussions. Switching an investigator over to local missionaries is decided according to the progress and needs of the investigator. When an investigator has made the switch, we continue to be a support to them and further teach lessons.
In spare time we work in personal blogs (here is mine - http://servicethegreatestgift.blogspot.com/) and develop teaching materials to help us in lessons. One of my favorite resources to give investigators would be prezis that past Referral Center missionaries have made. Here is an example of one - http://prezi.com/6o4_9xihco5p/gods-truth-has-been-restored/

I would like to leave with an experience that I had with someone by the name of Liza. Liza was someone who came onto Mormon.org asking what I considered normal questions. In answering her questions on Mormon.org I asked her if she would be interested in meeting up with me and my teaching companion again over Facebook. She said yes and the teaching began. Over a period of several months the lessons switched from Facebook, to Skype phone, and then to Skype video. Wonderful sister missionaries met her as she went to a church service and they became active in teaching her. Around December Liza wanted to be baptized… by me!? She came to Utah with her family on a skiing trip. On December 31st 2011, I was able to personally baptize my best friend.
As a full time infield missionary teaching over the internet, I can testify that serving a mission is the best experience in the word. I can also testify that God works through small and simple things—things as small as a Facebook post, blog thought, or conversation with a friend on how the gospel has been a blessing in my life. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the very one and only true church lead by God. I know it. These things I say in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

3 comments:

  1. I can't get enough of this post. Thank you for sharing Elder Boardman. What an incredible way to serve!

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  2. I love this! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Wow. I just found this site and already love it.
    One neat thing is while working at the bookstore for a period of time, I met thousands of missionaries. And daily, I would never remember who anyone of them were, but it was impossible to forget who Elder Boardman was. I think he just makes anyone immediately smile.

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