From the ghettos of Auckland to the sprawling countryside of the northland, Jason Hann, 21, has spent the past two years sharing his faith as a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints missionary.
Jason said: “To travel around the world and try and share my faith with a people and culture I did not know is the hardest thing I have done in my life.
“For two years my purpose was to find people who need help spiritually and emotionally and help them overcome their challenges.
“Often I was rejected. People who need help often don’t want to accept it.”
Jason set off for New Zealand on April 7 2013 and spent three weeks at a training centre near the mission area.
The next 12 weeks were spent with a more experienced missionary who acts as a mentor, and the rest of the mission saw Jason partnered with a teammate.
Jason said: “You are with them 24/7 they are your best friend. However, we don’t stay as a team too long you get moved around.
“They call this a transfer ó you either get a new teammate or a new area to work in.”
The average day for Jason began at 6.30 am, with the exception of Mondays, which serves as a stress relief day, and Sundays, which include attending church.
Discussing the hardships involved in his two year-long mission, he said: “The hardest part was carrying on working despite being exhausted, physically and emotionally, and feeling like the whole world is against you.”
Sadly, Jason’s auntie passed away during his mission, but he said: “Looking back, God was always there looking after me I just didn’t see it at the time.”
And while away, contact with family was limited to two phone calls a year and emails.
He said: “At first it was hard but once you got into the swing of things it was easy.
“You miss them but you just let missionaries around you become your family; that’s the trick, really.”
Proving that the positives outweighed the negatives, he said: “The most worthwhile part was seeing broken people becoming whole. I had seen them in the darkest place of their lives finding a hope they could hold on to.
“The other worthwhile part was finding myself. It made me realise what I could achieve and I could become a stronger person.”
Jason returned home to Lochmaben last week.
He said: “My plans now that I am back are to seek an education, find someone to settle down with and try to have fun along the way.”