Man on a mission: Ligonier’s Kyle Lundquist continues family’s Mormon legacy
Considering his family history, it’s not all that surprising that Kyle Lundquist would become a Mormon missionary.
You might even say it’s in his DNA.
Lundquist, 20, of Ligonier, recently completed a two-year stint serving in the California Carlsbad Mission, located just north of San Diego.
While there, the Ligonier Valley High School graduate debated his faith with college students, gave comfort to young Marines and helped clean up after destructive wildfires.
“Overall, I loved my mission – being able to see myself grow, becoming more mature, developing a love for people I never even met before,” he said. “I owe that all to God because I prayed for love every day.”
Interrupting his college career for a two-year mission was no small decision, he said. It required prayer, reading the Scriptures and seeking wisdom from his elders, including his father and two older brothers.
“I definitely needed to ponder on it and ask myself if I really want to sacrifice two years of my life. I have friends who are just continuing on with their life. They’ll be seniors this year in college, and I’ll be a sophomore. It is tough to see them two years ahead (of me),” he said.
Lundquist grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a son of Jon Lundquist, who himself served as a missionary in Columbus, Ohio, from 1981-83. Two of his three brothers were missionaries – Patrick in Riverside, Calif., from 2009-11, and Jordan in Campinas, Brazil, from 2013-15.
“I needed to find out for myself if what they were sharing was true, if I really wanted to serve a mission. I needed to find out if what I believe in is true,” he said.
But Lundquist’s Mormon roots go further back than that – to 19th century West Virginia on his mother Sheila’s side and to Brigham Young’s settling of the Salt Lake Valley on his father’s side.
As a youngster, Lundquist remembers his father talking about his missionary exploits, but it wasn’t until he turned 17 that he started thinking about it seriously for himself. He sought further guidance from the Young Men’s Program at the Greensburg ward and the youth seminary program, which gave him four years of instruction in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, church doctrine and church history.
Upon graduation in 2016, he started studying business and finance at Brigham Young University-Idaho, where he plans to return and pursue a career in health care administration. He interrupted his initial course of study to apply to the church’s famed missionary program, which enlists 70,000 volunteer missionaries annually, most of them under age 25, to serve throughout the world.
“I wanted to go somewhere foreign,” he said.
Where he ended up in April 2017 was Carlsbad, following time at the missionary training center in Provo, Utah.
During his time in California, he was paired with several companions, including a young man from Japan and one from New Mexico. Together, they set up shop in a free speech zone at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, Calif., as well as Palomar College in San Marcos, Calif., and California State University San Marcos.
Equipped only with copies of the Book of Mormon and church pamphlets, he prayed for courage and discussed his belief with his peers.
“You encounter a few hostile people. It’s what you have to accept as a missionary. You are putting yourself out there,” he said. “More often than not, we did have good conversations with people who are willing to listen. They’re not always interested in converting, but they do want to hear why we came out here.”
Lundquist said he worked with a man in his 70s whom he was able to connect with the Oceanside congregation. Although missionaries do set weekly and monthly goals and file reports with the mission, numbers are only one way to measure success, he said.
“I do feel like I made a difference and the Lord used me as an instrument to help bring his children closer to his son Jesus Christ,” he said.
Lundquist also worked with Marines stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and assisted with the cleanup of a trailer park damaged in the Lilac Fire of December 2017. Working in the Fallbrook and Bonsall areas, the missionaries recovered a woman’s wedding ring lost in the fire.
“I’m sure there were some prayers said for her to find that ring, and, somehow, in that group of missionaries we were able to find that wedding ring for her,” he said. “It was just a small, little miracle that came from that. It just let me know that God is aware of individuals’ needs.”
A Pittsburgh sports fan, Lundquist said he missed being able to follow sports on TV. Missionaries generally avoid entertainment, parties or other activities unrelated to their mission work.
Although missionaries pay their own way, their financial affairs are handled through the Church. They get a monthly stipend to cover routine expenses such as groceries and haircuts.
A typical day begins with personal study at 6:30 a.m. and is taken up with proselytizing activities until 10:30 p.m.
Monday before 6 p.m. is set aside for personal activities and email correspondence with family. Phone calls to family members are permitted only on Christmas and Mother’s Day.
“There’s things that you sacrifice and give up, which can be hard,” he said. “Without Christ, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, shub[email protected] or via Twitter .