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Mormon missionaries back from New Zealand

Tim and Ruth Ann Baxter of Nicholasville have returned from an 18-month service mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The couple served in Turangi, New Zealand, a small town in the center of the North Island, where the citizens are primarily Maori.

“Serving an 18-month mission as a senior couple was a desire Tim and I had before we ever married,” Ruth Ann said. “The realization of it was more difficult — and more beautiful — than my expectations ever took me.”

Their daily volunteer activities included teaching English and grammar to sixth and seventh-grade students in the Maori Immersion School, helping out at the local Hospice Opportunity Shop, serving at a local art guild and helping with the daily needs of those around them, including the occasional bicycle repair.

“Simply put, ‘As I have loved you, love one another,’ is what senior missionaries do,” Ruth Ann said. “Feeling the love the Savior has for all people of the earth … is humbling. Being an instrument to help others feel that love and the hope he has for them has been a gift I will cherish forever. We received far more from the people of New Zealand than we ever gave them in service. We will be forever grateful and cherish the opportunity to live and love in the ‘land of the long white cloud,’ one of the most beautiful isles of the sea.”

The Baxters are members of the Nicholasville Ward, the local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their service mission was self-funded.