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Missionaries bring the gospel to Lufkin

LUFKIN, Texas — In his first week in Lufkin, Texas, LDS missionary Josh Nielsen, 19, of Moses Lake, Washington, has had doors slammed in his face, people tell him he doesn't believe in the Bible and has rescued his companion missionary, Elder Sawyer Prestwich, 21, of Orem, Utah, from getting punched.Sawyer and Prestwich were two of four new missionaries that Mormon members welcomed to Lufkin this past wek. Justin Esplan, 19, of Nephi, Utah, and Matthew Bird, 21, of Wenatchee, Washington, will serve as the church's Spanish speaking missionaries while Prestwich and Nielsen will serve as the English speaking missionaries.Young men in the LDS church do not have to serve as missionaries but the church does strongly encourage them to do so once they graduate high school.\"No one can force you to do anything but it is a commandment to go out and preach the gospel,\" Prestwich said. \"Any young man able to serve should go serve on a mission.\"The men proselyte in pairs, following the Bible's teaching that the gospel be preached by two or three witnesses and not just one. Plus, according to Bird, it helps that they each have different strengths and weaknesses.\"Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the world,\" Esplan said. \"The least we can do is serve for two years. Personally, I wanted to get away from the world and change my life. I wanted to seek to do good and I've seen that there is good in this world.\"The four hold very tight schedules, beginning each morning with an 8 a.m. study and preparing the lessons they teach. They spend their mornings seeking people to witness to, including people in public places like the Wal-Mart parking lot and knocking on doors in the area. In the afternoon and evening they schedule appointments to meet with people and teach lessons.