A Mission for Joshua

    A Mission for Joshua

    Since his early days in Primary, Joshua Sloan has wanted to go on a mission. His desire increased even more as he watched 13 friends and two family members receive their calls and leave to serve their missions. He had assumed that his turn would come and he could hardly wait.

    The challenge to Joshua’s ability to serve a mission was the fact that he has Down Syndrome. “For the past several years, my husband and I struggled to know how we were going to provide this opportunity for him,” explained his mother Lynn Sloan. “We looked at several options. We knew Joshua didn't want to serve at the employment office or the bishop’s storehouse. He wanted to be a ‘regular missionary’ - a proselyting missionary. We spent many nights praying about how to give him the experience that he so very much desired.”

    Soon after M. Travis Wolsey was called to be Surrey stake president in January 2013, he interviewed Lynn Sloan regarding her new stake calling. At the end of the interview, he asked, “So what are we going to do about Josh?” Sister Sloan explained, “It was right then that I thought that our prayers might be answered after all.”

    President Wolsey explained that he worked with Vancouver Canada Mission President Karl Tilleman as his physiotherapist and he offered to talk with President Tilleman during their next visit about possible missionary opportunities for the young man.

    As they waited, the Sloans continued to consider options. “Deadlines were upon us and we had to know if Joshua should enroll in college or if a mission option was still possible. But Joshua kept talking about his mission call and how he could hardly wait to find out where he would serve.”

    In June, the Sloans attended the temple on a weekday morning. “We rarely do that because we are both usually working, but we strongly felt that we should go to the temple. We took the day off of work and went that morning.” When they arrived, Sister Sloan was disappointed to realize that her recommend had expired two days earlier. She decided to spend time in the waiting room to meditate and her husband would continue to attend the session. “We really needed direction on a couple of things that were weighing heavily on our minds,” said Sister Sloan.

    As the ordinance session began, Brother Sloan found himself seated directly beside President Tilleman. The president leaned over and whispered that he had been thinking about him. He explained how excited he was to have Joshua serve in the mission and asked him to send a brief summary of how he thought Joshua’s schedule might look on a weekly basis as a missionary. “I don’t believe in coincidences,” explained Sister  Sloan.  “The Lord brought us together that very morning. It was a direct answer to our prayers.”

    Soon paperwork was completed and Joshua was interviewed by Bishop Resti De Vera. The application was then brought to President Wolsey and Josh had another interview. Finally, the paperwork was sent to the Church Service Coordinator to request approval for the call.

    At length, the long-anticipated day finally arrived when Elder Sloan received his call in the mail. As he held the envelope in his hands, he felt speechless. Then surrounded by friends and family members, Josh opened the letter. “Elder Joshua Sloan, you are called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Canada Vancouver Mission.” He was thrilled to be called to serve in his own province the following week!

    On his first day of missionary service, Elder Sloan was up at 6:00 am, showered, had his tie on straight, his scriptures in tow and was ready to serve! But as they dropped him off at the skytrain station, alone for the first time in his life, his parents admitted feeling anxious. “Joshua wasn't afraid. He flung his backpack over his shoulder, gave a wave, a big smile and then he was off.  He walked with such confidence and purpose.  All that I could do,” said Sister Sloan, ”was look up and give thanks that our prayers had been answered.”

    On the morning that Elder Sloan had his interview with President and Sister Tilleman, the mission president recalls, “I felt strongly that we are going to witness miracles with Elder Sloan here.” President Tilleman removed his name badge and placed it on Elder Sloan’s pocket until his own name tag arrived. Elder Sloan sat taller and exclaimed, “This is the best day of my life!”

    In Elder Joshua Sloan’s missionary journal, we catch a glimpse of his excitement as he serves his mission:

    'Today was a great day. Elder Bluemel and Elder Swenson took me to the church. I shook peoples' hands and then Brother Taylor asked me to say the closing prayer in sacrament meeting. It was my first time doing it. After lunch, we went out tracting. I gave a Book of Mormon away to a guy named Darcy. He was working outside and we talked to him. Then after that we went teaching to President Wolsey’s home. We taught them about missionary work from general conference. So, my mission is so good and amazing!”

    One local ward member shared a letter of appreciation for Joshua’s service. “Your Josh ('our' Elder Sloan) got up and bore a beautiful testimony. He quoted Doctrine and Covenants 101, ‘be still and know that I am God,’ and then he also spoke of the plan of salvation.  We were all so moved and I just felt so happy for Josh and for our ward.”

    “It is never about incapability,” says Sister Sloan, “it’s always about capability. With Elder Sloan, it is all about desire. Whatever things that could have held him back in serving a full time mission, haven’t stopped him. He has been called to this opportunity and he is so happy to be on the Lord’s errand.”