Nicholas Oldham arises at 6:30 a.m. every morning, eats breakfast, reads the Scriptures and then studies Romanian. His routine is dramatically changed from the one he had as a freshman at Brigham Young University last year.
“When I was at college, I wouldn’t eat breakfast so I would have more time to sleep,” he said. “I would sleep in and run to class. It wasn’t the best morning schedule.”
After a year of college Oldham, a 2012 Brainerd High School graduate, track and soccer athlete, and former student body president, chose to pause his college education to serve a two-year mission to the Romania/Moldova Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After receiving his assignment on July 26, he adopted this new morning schedule, as well as other changes, that he hopes will prepare him for the rigors of that experience.
As a full-time missionary, Oldham, 19, will travel 5,190 miles away from home to represent the Church in Romania 24 hours a day and seven days a week, teach about Jesus Christ and perform service in the community.
“I want to teach others what makes me so happy,” he said. “I’m excited, but I’m nervous. It’s a good nervous. I get to go do something I‘ve never done before.”
He will join more than 75,000 men and women who currently serve Mormon missions worldwide. Missionaries like Oldham work in a companionship with another missionary and follow strict rules of conduct such as limits on media to stay focused on their work.
He has already changed his media habits by choosing music with lyrics that are not sad or negative and movies without sexual content.
“They really cut down on the media usage,“ Oldham said. “That’s OK by me. I don’t want that to be a distraction so I’m trying to cut that out of my life right now.“
As for contact with home, he said, “We get to email and write letters once a week to home and to our friends. I’m allowed to have two phone calls a year, Christmas and Mother’s Day.”
Oldham reports for his mission at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Nov. 20. There he will receive language training in Romanian. He imagines learning the language well enough to teach others will be the hardest part of his mission.
“The challenge of having to do what I have to do as a missionary is not going to be easy,” he said. “That’s where faith comes in, knowing that the Lord will protect you and guide you.”
Oldham is the son of Doug and Laura Oldham of Baxter and is a member of the Brainerd Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
TERESA HIRST is director of Public Affairs for the St. Cloud Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.