Things are a little hectic around the Fowers house this week.
One brother, Corbin, 21, just returned from a two-year missionary trip to Brazil. The other brother, Chase, 19, is leaving next week for a two-year missionary trip to Argentina.
Grandparents, friends and family members are coming in to spend as much time as they can with the brothers during the three weeks they’ll both be home.
The brothers have not seen each other in two years and will not be together again for two more.
Chad Fowers, the young men’s father, said the congregation at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on North Belair Road nearly doubled Sunday as friends and family came to hear the boys speak – Corbin about his trip to Brazil, and Chase about his decision to serve in Argentina.
In addition to catching up, the brothers have spent a lot of time talking about their assignments, one preparing the other.
Corbin and Chase have wanted to be missionaries since they were young.
“Obviously, I grew up in the shadow of my brother and his decision to serve in missions,” Chase said. “Also our father and our grandfather and his father served missions. We’ve know(n) that expectation would be there. As we grew and matured, we had to make that decision for ourselves.”
Both said they did not make that decision lightly.
Corbin said he spent a lot of time in prayer and felt assured he was called to become a missionary.
“From that point on I decided I needed to serve a mission,” he said. “I was excited to serve the Lord.”
He said the first six weeks were difficult. Though he’d taken a course in Portuguese at the missionary training center in Sao Paulo, he quickly realized that he didn’t know enough of the language. He was assigned a missionary companion to live and work with, but his companion was a Brazilian who spoke little English.
“So living with someone and we couldn’t even understand each other,” Corbin said. “It was just like very many prayers to the Lord, because only (the Lord) could understand me, and I could understand (the Lord). I couldn’t understand any of the Brazilians.” Corbin is now fluent in Portuguese.
He also had to adjust to a simpler lifestyle. He had left his studies at Brigham Young University, where he was majoring in business, to go on the mission. He was used to having a car, money and freedom to come and go as he pleased.
“The way you’re funded on a mission, you make a deposit of about $8,000 to $10,000, and throughout the (mission) that deposit you made is redistributed to you. So you may get about $100 a monthly to live on. You can’t be getting pizza every night.”
The church paid for his lodging and utilities. The stipend covered food and any extra expenses such as bus fare, he explained.
He and his companion walked everywhere they went. He was allowed to call home twice a year – on Mother’s Day and Christmas – and could e-mail on Mondays.
“We looked forward to those e-mails every Monday,” said the brothers’ mom, Stacey. “I sent letters to him. Took about three weeks for him to get a letter. I just spent a week writing things that we’d do during the week and then send it.”
Sister Alexa, 15, said she didn’t realize how much she had missed her brother until he rounded the corner at the airport.
“I just started crying before my mom started crying,” she said.
Now that the family knows what to expect when Chase leaves for Argentina, they said it will be harder.
“For some reason, I thought it might get easier to send the second one, but I know what I have to go through and how little contact I’m going to have, so it’s more difficult,” Stacey said.
Chase has been studying biology at Brigham Young University for the past year.
He made the decision to follow his brother into the mission field when he was a junior in high school.
“I knew not just because my parents wanted me to or because it was expected of me, but I knew in my heart I wanted to go,” he said. “I wanted to go for me, so I could experience these same things and be changed and grow as a person and as a Christian.”
He said he knows he will struggle, and he is anxious and excited about living in an unfamiliar country. But he is also sad about the things he’ll miss back home.
Alexa is a sophomore now. When Chase returns in two years, she will be a senior preparing for college. His friends here who are not going into missions will be pursuing careers; some of them will likely move away.
“I’ll miss all of that, but I know that it’s worth it,” he said. “I’ve weighed out the cost and sacrifices and I know that I’m going for the right reason.”