Fall River’s Savanna MacLennan wraps herself in the flag of Lithuania, where the young woman is heading in December as part of an 18-month Missionary trip with the Church of Latter-day Saints. (Photo courtesy of Sydney MacLennan)

FALL RIVER: Savanna MacLennan has a lot of happiness to spread—so the Fall River woman is going to do just that in Lithuania.

MacLennan is leaving Dec. 3 for the 18-month missionary trip through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She will arrive for a two-month training session at the missionary training centre on Dec. 7.

“The purpose is all about service, you go to help people, there’s lots of volunteer work involved,” MacLennan, 19, told The Laker inside her families Fall River home. “Along with that you go to share our beliefs, our message of Jesus Christ with people. It’s a way of helping people.”

It’s customary for men from the church to go—their missionary time is usually 24 months (two years) but for women their missionary trips are just 18 months.

(Photo by Sydney MacLennan)
(Photo by Sydney MacLennan)

“I knew from a very young age that it was something I wanted to do,” the Lockview High School alum said with the excitement of the trip evident in her voice. “At one point I made a decision that it was what I wanted to do and found out what it was all about.”

MacLennan will not be back home in Nova Scotia until June 2018, she said.

According to the missionary website, most missionaries are young people under the age of 25, serving in more than 400 missions throughout the world. Currently, single men between the ages of 18 and 25 number 48,521 (66 per cent). Single women over the age of 19 total 19,543 (26 per cent) and retired couples number 6,015 (8 per cent) of those serving.

The missionaries work with a companion of the same gender during their mission, with the exception of couples, who work with their spouse.

She said to be doing something like she will be during a festive time of the year is great.

“Christmas is one of those times where people come together so to be doing something like this is pretty important and cool,” said MacLennan.

MacLennan said the trip will be educational.

“Everyone was pretty excited I’m getting to go, especially since not many know where Lithuania is,” she said with a chuckle. “It’ll definitely be a learning trip. I’m going to be immersed in their culture.

“It will be a huge learning experience.”

The trip is not funded by the church; she had to save up the money herself to be able to take part. After high school she took a year off from schooling to decide what she wanted to do and she worked a job. For MacLennan the trip is costing $7,200; she has saved more than $8,000.

“It worked well when I finally decided to go because I had been saving all of this money,” she said. “It was a lot of work and self-control to not go shopping and to just put the money away.”

Savanna MacLennan is excited to bring happiness to those she meets in Lithuania. (Healey photo)
Savanna MacLennan is excited to bring happiness to those she meets in Lithuania. (Healey photo)

MacLennan said getting a chance to go on the missionary trip is all about spreading the happiness she feels.

“The Gospel of Jesus Christ is something that has brought a lot of joy to me in my life; knowing the knowledge that there is a God, that we’re being watched over, and that there is a plan for us,” she said. “It’s brought a lot of peace and happiness into my life and given me a lot of purpose and motivation.

“The way I think about it is if it can bring me so much happiness there are lots of other people in the world who could benefit from it as well. I just want to be able to spread that happiness around. I think the more happiness people have the better off we can all be.”

The longest MacLennan has been away from home without her family has been a month-and-a-half. So 18 months will make for a much longer time, but she feels up for the challenge.

“I feel pretty prepared. Mom has had us doing our own stuff, our own laundry, we’re involved in the cleaning and cooking,” she said. “In terms of that, I’m not really worried.

“I’m sure there are a lot of things I don’t really think about that once I get out I will.”