Serving the Web

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Alex and Rebecca Balinski felt called to serve via technology — they provide a website and thousands of indexed videos to help LDS missionaries prepare. (Photo courtesy of Alex Balinski)

Alex and Rebecca Balinski felt called to serve via technology — they provide a website and thousands of indexed videos to help LDS missionaries prepare. (Photo courtesy of Alex Balinski)

By Kaitlyn Ward

Even before the missionary age requirement was lowered, Provo’s Alex Balinski had already been inspired. 

The BYU broadcast major wanted to create video resources for prospective missionaries about each state or country they could be called to. After countless hours, Alex’s idea became less of a documentary and transitioned to YouTube videos about each mission. In September 2012, just weeks before President Thomas S. Monson made the historic announcement, Alex felt impressed to further pursue this idea and create Prepare to Serve, a website for prospective missionaries to learn about their missions.

“I talked it through with my wife and prayed,” Alex says. “I quit my job to work on the website. We figured we’d give it a shot and worse comes to worst, I could just go back to a normal job.”

With little experience in web design, Alex set off to create preparetoserve.com. After trial and error with different programs, the website was finally beginning to take shape. While Alex primarily did the grunt of all the work, he enlisted friends to help with technical difficulties and his wife to help with content.

In order to get content about each mission, Alex did what any other Internet-savvy person would do, he YouTubed it.

“About 9,000 of the 10,000-plus videos on the website were created by other YouTube channels or publishers,” Alex says.

Alex and his wife indexed the videos individually, screened them and created YouTube playlists. Alex created other original content with clips of returned missionaries and converts for missionaries to check out.

The purpose of preparetoserve.com is to create a place where prospective missionaries can go to learn about the countries and states where they will serve. Missionaries can visit the site to feel more prepared and get thousands of clean and educational resources.

“I hope it will inspire and excite pre-missionaries for their missions, no matter where they are called,” Alex says.

With the website almost a year old, Alex is optimistic about the future. He sees preparetoserve.com becoming a positive influence for future missionaries for years to come. He wants to create a place where family members can learn about their missionary’s call and create lively forums about countries and also include missionary photos. Alex is looking for returned missionaries to volunteer to create content for the website and to be a source of inspiration for future missionaries.

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