By Rosemary Pollock
Local Paper Learns of Mission President's Service
PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- In answer to a call from the living prophet,
Gordon B. Hinckley, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, Nigel and Avalon Wappett left the subarctic of
Interior Alaska to serve a three year mission as President of the
Phoenix Arizona Mission, one of 330 missions scattered throughout 171
countries worldwide. Here they are supervising 200 missionaries
serving in the Central Arizona and the Phoenix metropolitan area.
"The president of the church is sustained as a prophet. When we're
called, whatever sacrifice is worth it," said Nigel 53, who has put a
busy obstetrics/gynecology practice on a three-year hold to serve.
"It's been heart-wrenching to leave my patients, even for a short
period," he said.
"The plan was for Avalon to get an M.A. in public health and we
planned to serve in a medical or teaching capacity in a Third World
country," Nigel said. This was the original plan that was put on hold
when the call came last November and they began preparing themselves
and their family for the transition. "We will resume that path," he
continued. "When I do retire in 10 years I plan to use my
professional skills as a medical missionary."
The Wappetts will follow the same daily schedule as the missionaries
they serve. They will start their day with prayer and study at 6:30
a.m. and work until 10:30 p.m. Avid runners, the Wappett's plan to
arise even earlier to get in their customary 6-mile run. Leading a
large flock won't be a new experience for the Wappetts. Nigel served
for almost 10 years as Fairbanks Stake President and the couple have
"He is a kind, intelligent, concerned human being and very
thoughtful," said District Court Judge Mark Wood, who replaced Nigel
as Stake President. "I don't know when the man slept. I know I've
been sleeping less."
Service is no stranger to the Wappett family. Daughter, Hailey, 24,
is currently serving in Japan. Kerry, 21, just returned from a
two-year stint divided between Protugal and Cape Verda off the coast
of Africa. The oldest son, Matt, 28, served two years in Taiwan.
Andy, 26, served two years in East Berlin and daughter-in-law
Courtney served in San Diego, California.
Their son Andy and his wife, Courtney and grandson, Chandler will
live in the family home until their return. The youngest daughter
Whitney, 18, recently graduated from Lathrop High School as the
salutatorian of her class. She will be attending nearby Brigham Young
University in the fall.
"We're nothing special. We're ordinary people. Our lives have been
motivated by our faith," Nigel stated simply. "That's been the
central aspect of our lives and I hope our children's."
"A lot of Nigel's colleagues don't understand the extent of their
faith that tells them when a call comes from a prophet of God that
you say yes and work out the details later," said President Wood.
Local doctor, wife answer a higher call
Fairbanks AK News-Miner 2Jul01 P2
By Mary Beth Smetzer: Staff Writer
Local physician Nigel Wappett and his wife, Avalon, are on a mission
in Phoenix, Ariz., for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day