Just before hunting season, Derek Sonenstahl, of Pine River, is setting aside one of his favorite sports to serve a full-time, two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Jose, Calif. He reported for his mission Wednesday, Oct. 16.
“I’m a big hunter and fisherman,” said Sonenstahl, 19. “It is going to be hard to leave that behind, but it’s important for me to do this.”
Speaking not only of hunting and fishing but also his friends and family, Sonenstahl said he will miss the life he has here, but, he said, “I know they are going to be here when I come back.”
Sonenstahl will join more than 80,000 missionaries worldwide who represent the church in their assigned areas, teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and serve in the community.
His family supports his choice, but it was hard to tell his grandparents and extended family about his mission.
“They were confused at first about why I wanted to go until I expressed my feelings about why it was important to me. After that they were happy for me,” Sonenstahl said.
“Family is very important to me. And I feel that family is one of the most important things you can have. If you stay close to your family, it will make you a better person,” he said.
As a member of the Brainerd Ward, a local congregation of the church, he has prepared for missionary service for many years by attending early morning religious education classes and giving talks in church meetings. Now that it is here, he is excited but a little nervous to serve in California.
“ I want to learn to be a stronger saint,” he said.
Sonenstahl is the son of Darren and Donna Sonenstahl. He graduated from Pine River-Backus High School in 2012 where he was active in football, wrestling and baseball. He attended Central Lakes College after high school and worked as a plumber’s assistant.