Littlehampton teenager Sam Cairns is heading to Russia in the autumn to serve as a Mormon missionary for two years.
The former Littlehampton Academy student has been assigned to work in Siberia by his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Sam, 18, of Steele Crescent, will be volunteering in Novosibirsk, an area east of the Ural Mountains.
Sam said: “I’m excited to be assigned to Russia. I wasn’t quite sure where Novosibirsk was until I found it on a map of the world but I’m looking forward to serving the people in the vast land of Russia.”
His family attends church in Goring and Sam’s mum and dad, Elizabeth and Jonathan, are equally upbeat about his assignment.
They said: “Putting the political situation portrayed in the media to one side, we are sure that the grassroots people of Russia are lovely, welcoming people and we are excited that our son has been assigned to live among them.”
Sam is receiving language training for the next three months and will be in Russia by the end of October.
Young men and women who serve as missionaries for the church receive no payment for their two years’ service.
It is a seven-day working week, with each day starting at 6.30am and finishing at 10.30pm. Missionaries finance the entire cost of their service themselves.
Mark Searle, from the church, said: “In a land where the dominant religion is Russian Orthodox Christianity, rather surprisingly the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has approximately 22,000 members in Russia, spread across 22 congregations.”
Church operations in Siberia are overseen by 62-year-old mission president Stephen Lamb.
Stephen, a retired obstetrician and gynaecologist who was born in warm and sunny California, has some good advice for Sam and other new volunteers joining him in Russia.
He said: “Buy your winter coat when you get here. Only a Russian-made fur coat will withstand the harsh winter weather that we experience here.”
Winter temperatures in Novosibirsk regularly fall as low as -30 degrees Celsius, with snow covering the ground for half the winter.