'Angels' in their 80s are effective missionaries

When Thelda Papenfuss, then 85, and Thelma Fetzer, then 81, were called to serve as stake missionaries in the Salt Lake Mount Olympus North Stake in 1991, each expressed doubts about how effective they would be.

But after they completed their service at ages 87 and 83, respectively, it was evident that their service had touched the lives of many.Although they did not have any convert baptisms to their credit, they worked hard every week. Because of their devotion to their work, the pair of white-haired missionaries became known as "the angels" by their fellow stake missionaries.

They said they were disappointed when one of their golden contacts needed more time and was not baptized.

Yet their contributions were significant, according to other missionaries.

"They are small in stature, but together they stand nearly 10 and a half feet tall," said one stake missionary. "That's the kind of effect they have had on all with whom they were in contact. They didn't let their ages or size interfere with their good works or their faithfulness in what they set out to do."

One thing they did that was effective was to accompany full-time sister missionaries of the Utah Salt Lake City Mission in teaching appointments, and for other special needs. A close bond developed between Sister Papenfuss and Sister Fetzer and the full-time missionaries that has remained after the full-time sisters returned home.

"I think the most humbling and touching experience was to see the full-time sisters work with the Spirit and get a young man, who said he didn't believe in God, to pray," said Sister Fetzer. "It was such a sweet, sincere prayer."

The stake missionary "angels" are modest about their accomplishments, but both came to their missionary callings with a wealth of experience. Sister Papenfuss' experiences ranged from serving as Relief Society president to teaching vacation Bible school in a Protestant Church when she was a young bride in Pinedale, Wyo.

"The minister was new and young, and he asked me to help even though he knew I wasn't a member of his faith," she said. "It was an interesting experience."

Sister Fetzer's late husband, Percy, was called as president of the Berlin Mission after World War II, and later served as president of the Swiss Temple.

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