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by Karen Pecota

Tania Anderson, Finland 2022

A documentary by Finnish filmmaker Tania Anderson, follows the lives of a group of young missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS—or commonly known as Mormons), on a typical two-year mission experience in THE MISSION. It's the first time in the church's history that it has allowed a non-LDS film crew to document on film young missionaries over the course of their entire two-year missional journey.

Anderson's remarkable narrative is a love story to these young people who find it in their hearts to serve God, man, and church by sharing their Mormon faith and their holy text, The Book of Mormon, with anyone who will listen. It's their hope that each encounter is taken seriously—the message of love, hope, and eternal security.

Anderson and her crew formulate their journey with THE MISSION, as one immersed into the project with a child-like curiosity to explore life as a young LDS missionary. Adding, " discover and communicate what it's like to be walking around in a pair of well-shined leather shoes and a holy mission upon one's shoulders, to simply provide a space for these ordinary youngsters to be seen and heard, as they are."

Anderson said, "With this film, my aim was to make contact with the vulnerable teenager behind the religious suit, the human being behind the missionary."

In 2016, Anderson explains that a happenchance encounter was the catalyst for THE MISSION. "I was taking an afternoon walk in Finland's cold and pitch-black November, pushing my infant son in his buggy." She continues, "I happened to pass two young men speaking English. I immediately recognized their suits and aimed to press on before they saw me slow down so to make any sudden move towards me." Adding, "But they were deep in conversation with one another as they cautioned about 'temptation being everywhere.' Having happened upon this private conversation, I became privy to a more vulnerable side of LDS missionaries that I had never seen before. For the first time, I could see beyond their distinct attire. I caught a glance with two unique 18-year-olds expressing high hopes, and deep fears."

Anderson couldn't stop wondering about the teenagers behind the mission and asked herself: Where do missionaries hang out when they're not on the street? Do they ever take breaks? What do they talk about when they're not talking to passers-by about The Book of Mormon? How do they now experience ordinary Finnish life?

Anderson digs deep to discover why missionary work within the LDS church is of value. She gives historical significance to the LDS mission program that currently involves over 60,000 older teenagers annually. It's almost a rite of passage in some ways as they are sent across the world to preach their gospel with optimism to embark on the unknown. They are ready to take on the world, or are they? Anderson will present how the teens sent to Finland are pushed beyond their limits, and over time "fall deeper into their faith."