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Tragedy will not deter missionaries

As difficult as the loss of a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been in Shelby Twine-Bown’s former home in South Hampton Roads, it’s even tougher for the residents of her current location.

“It’s really just a sad thing when something like this happens,” said the former Suffolk resident, now living in Centerville, Utah, right next to Bountiful, the hometown of Morgan Young.

Young, who was scheduled to complete his mission trip in March, was shot Monday afternoon in Chesapeake and died that night at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Another missionary, Joshua Heidbrink of Greeley, Col., was shot in the incident, but is expected to survive.

James Rickey Boughton Jr., of Chesapeake, was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree murder, malicious wounding, attempted malicious wounding and using a gun during the commission of a felony.

According to police reports, the two were shot after witnessing another crime.

“We are deeply saddened at the death of Elder Morgan Winslow Young,” the church said in a statement on its Web site. “Our hearts reach out in sympathy, love and appreciation to his parents, family members and friends at this difficult time. We pray that they will find peace and comfort in the promises of the Lord concerning those who give their lives in His service.

“We likewise express our sympathy and love for Elder Joshua Dirk Heidbrink, who sustained serious injuries in the same incident. We are grateful that his life was spared and pray for his complete recovery. We assure those currently serving missions or who are contemplating missionary service that the Church will continue to make every effort to safeguard the health and safety of missionaries throughout the world.”

A member of the church herself, Twine-Bown hasn’t been on such a mission, but her husband James and five of the couple’s nine children have performed them.

“It’s very common for the 19-year-olds to go on missions, and we have a soft spot in our heart for the young people that go,” she said. “They give two years of their lives to preach, and try to bring people to Christ. They spend two years knocking on doors, trying to interest people in the gospel as we know it and trying to help people and serve. They do a lot of service with anyone that needs it.”

Her son, K.C. Jones, finished up a trek in Kansas City in November 2004.

“It’s different for everybody,” Jones said of his reasons for missionary work. “As you grow up, you’re taught religious principles, you read literature, you pray about it. You find out if it’s true for yourself. Though the experience, I found out what those things were, and I wanted to share that message.”

It wasn’t always an easy task, he said.

“There were times in my mission where people became hostile,” he said. “I had beer bottles thrown at me, and some people tried to hit me with cars.

But people were generally pretty respectful. They knew I was trying to share a message from God.”

His brother, Matthew Bown, who lives in Woodscroft, only blocks from Bountiful, said that his neighbors were putting up ribbons in Young’s honor.

“There were times when knives were pulled on us and other scary situations,” said Bown, who spent two years in Mexico. “But never anything of this nature.”

Fortunately, it’s an extremely rare occurrence; according to the Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City, just 17 church members have died on missionary trips, and 14 were accidents.

That’s why Twine-Bown says her 17-year-old son is still going to take a missionary trip in a few years.

“He’s already put his papers in,” she said. “I don’t think it changed his mind at all. Usually it’s something the kids plan on their whole lives.”

It’s why Jones would like to go again.

“If I’m financially able to retire at a good age, I’d like to go six or seven more times. It’s built my character beyond anything else I’ve ever done in my life.”

And it’s why Matthew Bown vows that the tragedy won’t dissuade any of the estimated 56,000 missionaries doing the church’s work around the globe.

“This is not going to deter people one bit,” he said. “Not one bit. When someone is ready to go serve, they’re ready to go, and I don’t see this changing anyone’s mind.”