Skip to main content

Serving God Abroad: Wesley Morris

Missionary work is the bedrock of Rodric's Faith. Read about these stories of faith and hope while in the service of God.

Writing about someone that I know and care about is hard because it is difficult to decide what to include and how much of it to include. What can I write about Wesley Morris? He is what you can expect of an average young American adult. He wrestled for his high school. He played football. He is attractive and athletically built. He even has blonde hair and blue eyes.

Sure, there are hundreds of men and women like him, attractive and young, who serve as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even if he was typical as a member of the Church, his choice to serve as a representative of Jesus Christ is a personal and unique experience.

D. Wesley Morris

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

Guatemala Coban Mission

Wesley served the citizens of Coban Mission of Guatemala, which is a proselytizing mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Spanish is the language that he learned in the Missionary Training Center (MTC), but Q’eqchi (Kekchi) is the language many of the people in Guatemala speak. In that nation, there is no official language. Spanish is the language of commerce.

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

Guatemala is considered a third-world nation and the people live very humbly.

As the map above shows, the mission is in Central America, a place where many Latter-day Saints believe historical events from The Book of Mormon took place.

Above also is a picture of the Missionary Training Center (MTC) where Wesley received instruction before going among the people he loves and appreciates as he served the Lord.

He is not a native Spanish speaker. In a letter home he wrote:

My mission is literally in the most remote place of all of the missions in Guatemala. My zone is called Senahu and my... (area) is called Yaliux--it is pronounced teeal-yuush.

That isn't Spanish! I worked so hard for 6 weeks in the MTC and now they have asked me to learn Q'eqchi.

In Guatemala, there are 239,734 members of the Church, five missions of which the Coban mission is one, and 2 temples.

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

"Who are those yellow headed boys?"

Wes and James

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

Chat With Wes

Wesley's mission led him to those only he can teach and reach with his testimony, which did not begin until he was at the age of 15 years.

I had the privilege of speaking to Wes prior to him leaving. I was a bit apprehensive about approaching him since he was new to our group of elders. He was a member of the Laveen Ward(Congregation) Elders' Quorum (an ecclesiastical order of ordained men who officiate under the direction of a president and in conjunction with a Bishop or pastor).

I did not want to scare him off because I thought he was a shy person, about which I was mistaken. I was impressed by how quickly and how well he adjusted to being with the adults instead of the youth,

In fact, I was impressed with Wes and his brother James from the first time that I saw them. I want to paint a picture for you of why it is that I am writing about this special young man who has blessed the lives of so many.

Scroll to Continue

First Impressions

The first time they came to the ward, my first comment to my wife Afryka was, "Who are those yellow-headed boys?"

That yellow hair stood out like black ink on white cloth. As a member of the Young Men's Presidency at the time (a youth organization for boys ages 12 to 18), I was immediately intrigued to find out about them and to which family they belonged because there were so few youths who actively participated in church around their ages. Plus, they made me think of Naruto Uzumaki.

Naruto Uzumaki.

Wesley is a wrestler.

He is ready to go to the mat with anyone no matter who it is, the place in which he is, or the age of the challenger! If he receives a challenge he will take it! He is engaged in that sport as depicted in this article.

In fact, he told me that he thinks he can take me in arm wrestling! I wanted to try it too, but I thought it best that we just talk and he forgot about the contest.

He is also a fighter! He said

If I am in a fight, I won't do like these people here. Where I'm from we fight until one of us can't fight any more. Here, if they get knocked down it's over! Not me. I fight until I can't!

I mention this because besides it being like the awesome hero Naruto, it serves as a notice that he is not the type of person to give up. Having such a quality served him well in Guatemala and serves him well in life.

Wrestler

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

Wes's Family

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

Wes comes from a large family, but the family is very diverse. Wes and his brother James lived with their Aunt and Uncle who have five other children. The situation is like a hers, ours, and theirs--automatic teen boys for Terry and Alyeska. Logan. Riley, Carley, Keirgan, and Benjamin are the other five children.

In total, there are nine members of the Lester/Morris/Wagner family! In short, they love Wes. I could tell Wes is a loving sibling and a normal everyday guy that God used to spread His word to the people of Guatemala.

I asked Wes if he would miss his family before he left. He told me that he can adjust to any environment, but he never really answered the question. I quote him:

"Make the best of your situation," he said.

He told me that he was determined to make the best of any situation that he encountered and would accept the circumstances behind them.

Terry, the father of the family, told me that Wes may say awe-inspiring things like that but he is more sensitive than he lets on.

Said Wes, "I miss you guys so much ..." referring to his family. In the many letters that he sent home, he expressed his love and longing for his family and friends. His acceptance of his circumstance also allowed him to openly and unabashedly express his feelings of love toward his family and friends.

Funny Side of Wes

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

No, a three-year-old did not draw the picture above the other two preceding this text. Wesley did, of himself.

If you talk to him long enough he starts to let his personality show.

He is quick-witted and comical, though I had trouble telling when he was joking around at first because he has a seriousness in his face that betrays his comedic quirkiness.

Mostly with me, his foolishness was verbal; but I hear with others, his games involve some form of practical joking that ends up in wrestling as a photo above shows.

He has a sense of humor most definitely because he laughed at my attempts at humor before I started questioning him.

I wanted Wes to feel comfortable talking to me during our interview. I ended up being the one put at ease by him. He definitely gave me his undivided attention for almost four hours.

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

Spiritual Heritage: Helen Spencer Schlie

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

Helen Spencer Schlie has a legacy of faith that she has passed on to her great-grandson Wesley. She was over ninety years of age and still a very active sharer of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

The amazing possession that Granny Schlie has is an original copy of the first printings of The Book of Mormon. People travel from miles around to see the book and purchase pages from it to touch a part of the history that Wesley shared with his brothers and sisters in Guatemala.

The story about Granny Schlie's journey to the Church starts with her visiting Salt Lake City and listening to the Tabernacle Choir. After quite some time of listening to the choir, she was contacted by missionaries and introduced to the gospel according to her grandson Terry.

  • Book of Mormon | LDS.org
    Read, listen to, and search the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, like the Bible.
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
  • The Tabernacle Choir - Official Website
    This 360-member chorus of men and women, all volunteers, has performed at World’s Fairs and expositions, at inaugurations of U.S. presidents, in acclaimed concert halls from Australia and Europe to Asia and the Middle East.

Wes, Granny Shclie's great-grandson, says that he respects her and is proud of her decision to join the church.Read about her at the link above.

Wesley, however, is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ by any direct connection to his great-grandmother. He was introduced to the Church due to circumstances in his life that led him to leave his birth parents in Michigan to live in Arizona with his Aunt and uncle Alyeska and Terry.

In his final address to our congregation, before he left on his mission, Elder Morris said

It was almost like a setup. It seemed that they [Terry and Alyeska] planned for the missionaries to be there for dinner.

After dinner,they started teaching and it just felt right. We [he and James] wanted to know what else is there after they taught us--because they would do that in other churches ... just keep teaching us the same thing over and over.

They, the missionaries told us that we could get baptized and we said we wanted too.

James and Wes Morris were baptized together on December 12, 2009. Wes was age 15 at the time. He and James prayed about the gospel the missionaries taught them, felt good about it, and accepted the invitation to change their lives at a young age. Just like their other relatives who decided to join the church, they recognized Jesus Christ's true teachings within the organization. It is in the blood!

Geneva, Wes, and James

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

Geneva Morris is Wes and James's older sister.

Spotlight

James and Elder Morris spotlighted or gave information about each other in our last Elders' Quorum meeting with him. James, then a priest, was invited to our quorum because we discussed the ordinance of baptism.

Spotlighting someone is to inform the other members in the quorum about a person so that we can get to know him better. As James described his brother Wes, I could see the love and admiration in his eyes. James said everything about his brother he thought was good, and we all felt his love for his brother.

Farewell

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

In the photos below, we all gathered at the Lester/Morris/Wagner home to celebrate OUR missionary leaving, and to show Wes how much we love him. Family members attended also with people bringing dishes of food to share and just enjoying each other's company with Elder Morris as the featured guest.

A few of the People who Fared Elder Morris Well

Terry Lester

Terry Lester

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

Thinking about how to organize the events I witnessed of Elder Morris's life has given me a new appreciation for him and his family.

As I spoke to his relatives regarding their thoughts of him, I could see the pride in their eyes for his decision. I could see the awe in the young men in our ward/congregation as they look to Elder Morris as an example.

Elder Morris's Grandmother told me that he holds in a lot of emotion and shares it when he feels appropriate, in agreement with Terry about him. When he stood at the pulpit and shared his testimony about the gospel he allowed himself to be vulnerable to the Spirit of God, which is what matters.

This article is not meant to show that Elder Morris is better than other missionaries in some unique way or that he has some surprising gift that sets him apart from the others in a spectacular manner to behold.

This article exists because I write, and Elder Morris was in my ward/congregation. I write to show God uses everyday, normal people to teach His word.

Elder Morris's favorite scripture is 1 Nephi 17:50. The Lord commanded Nephi to go and build a ship. Nephi was teased by his brethren that the Lord could not command him to do such a great thing.

After some "shocking" moments to his brethren, pun intended, the verse is recorded

And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.

Such was the faith of OUR missionary. God commanded him to go and teach the people of the Guatemala Coban Mission. Elder Morris knew that God endowed him to go and fulfill this command. Nephi records that God does not give commandments which He does not also prepare ways to keep them in 1 Nephi 3:7.

I appreciate Wes, and the example he set with his brother James who also served as a missionary later. I am comforted that he prepared souls to feel the Spirit of God the same way he did preparing and blessing the body of Christ for us as a young priest before his mission.

God trusts such simple and ordinary young men and women to share His Gospel rather than a doctorate-level person. Former Bishop Jeff Hale of our ward/congregation, the person who recommended that Wes Morris should serve a mission, suggested at the closing of our last meeting with Elder Morris before he headed to the MTC in Guatemala that the reason God calls the young to serve is that they will not try to convince people of the truths of the Restored Gospel like some of us older people might with our much learning and experience. The young will invite people to pray and find out from God themselves.

Wes Morris used his uncomplicated testimony to pray about the Church's claim to be the Lord's only authorized and true Church, felt the spirit, and invited others to do the same.

At the MTC in Guatemala

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

Good Bye Mountains, Hello City!

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

One of Elder Morris's Mission Letters July 2015

This week was great, and it was sad though because I'm leaving my area.

On Thursday (July 16. 2015), we got signal to call our district leader. He told us, my companion and I both have changes; because the area is too dangerous and it is very hard to progress [the church in the area].

[The Mission President] shut my area; so, we packed up all [of] our stuff and planned on leaving Sunday after church.

After church, we took photos with the members ... On the way home, a member called us in[to] his house to eat beans and tortillas with some dough water, agua de masa in Spanish.

After eating, we said our final goodbye. The member hugged me and my companion and cried without end. We told him how amazing he is and left, [which] made me not want to leave.

My mission has been so crazy! Once a missionary gets put in the mountains, he usually stays there speaking Qeqchi [for the duration of his mission]; not me.

Sunday (July 19), after getting down to the district leaders house and packing my suitcases, I called my zone leaders.... and they mentioned to me that President Curtiss [informed them that he wanted] to talk to me.

I was sure that he was going to tell me that i was going to be training [a new missionary]. I wanted to train so badly. I called President Curtiss and as always, he says, "Elder Morris, are you ready for your new assignment?"

I was so ready to train my last to changes then go home with a bang! That's not what happened. I'm being taken out of the mountains and going to the city as zone leader of the biggest zone in the mission for my last two changes! Not what i expected.

I'm going back to [a] nice house, [speaking] Spanish, shoes, no parasites, electricity, suits, and subway!! ha ha.

It will be an adventure.

Wes Morris returned home from his mission.

wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story
wesley-guatemala-bound-morris-another-mormon-another-mission-amazing-story

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Rodric Anthony

Share how missionaries have blessed your life.

Lynn on January 08, 2015:

Thanks for writing such an eau-tto-sndersyand article on this topic.

Rodric Anthony (author) from Surprise, Arizona on July 18, 2014:

Thanks Perspycaious for your comment and the correctables as you call it. I found most of them and set it right. I time t0 time read my articles and find those little embarrassments.

I wanted to write more, but I also wanted not to write a book! He sent me a few emails from his mission.

Back in my day, missionaries were not allowed to use the email. Now they have tablets! a lot has changed in 14 years.

Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on December 25, 2013:

A long, well illustrated article on a dedicated missionary and how he came to serve. Thanks for this "interview Hub." Well done, and the minor correctables were not serius distractions.

Related Articles