After some time at the Missionary Training Center in Utah, the 19-year-old Griffin High School graduate will be traveling to Porto Alegre, Brazil, as part of a two-year mission trip through his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Honestly, Brazil was the last place I thought I was ever going to go,” Dutton said, explaining that those who commit to a mission trip can pick the time frame of their trip but not the location. “You don’t get to choose where you go. You go where you are needed.”
Asked who he intends to reach out to during his time in South America, Dutton said everyone who wants to listen.
“We are offering (people) to hear us out. It’s more of a teaching mission,” he said. “I’ll be spreading the word of Christ around and hopefully baptize people.”
While Dutton may send home emails and letters during his two-year stay in Porto Alegre, he is limited to two phone calls per year — on Mother’s Day and on Christmas. Visiting his family and friends in the United States during his trip is not an option.
“They want you to stay really focused,” said Dutton, who is putting his studies at Gordon State College in Barnesville on hold for the experience in Brazil.
And even though he feels somewhat anxious about being away from home for two years, Dutton said he’s looking forward to his mission trip.
“This thing is going to be a huge learning experience for me,” he said. “I think I’m prepared for this. I’m an Eagle Scout through my church.”
“I’m really excited for him, but there are going to be some tough days ahead,” said his mother, Debbie Dutton, whose two other children had already been on mission trips in Belgium and the Netherlands and Nebraska. “I’m excited that he loves the Lord (so much) that he wants to do that.”
Prior to his departure for Utah, there will be a farewell dinner Saturday at the University of Georgia Research and Education Garden on Ellis Road, where family and friends will stop by to say goodbye.
Four days later, he’ll be gone.
And although Debbie Dutton said she isn’t going to go crazy over her son’s two-year absence, she’ll pray for him every day. And she’ll check the digital device on her refrigerator that’s counting down the days until he’s back — on March 13, 2015.