Elders DeGomez and Gammell stand out from the other patrons of the Brunswick Public Library. Dressed in nearly identical black pants, collared shirts, and plain ties, the two young men sit politely on a bench while the more casually-dressed duck into the library to hide from the rain. Their nametags confirm that they are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon church. Both are from "away," Arizona and Utah respectively, and are making a stop in Brunswick on their two-year mission.

The mission is an important part of religious life for many Mormons, especially men. When a young man turns 19, he is encouraged to spread the faith by spending two years away from home in a location selected by the church. During this time he is unable to visit home, and contact with family and friends is limited to writing letters or e-mails once a week. DeGomez and Gammell, who use the title "Elder," explain that they can call home only twice a year: on Christmas and Mother's Day.

Their daily schedule mirrors the rigidity of these rules of conduct. From 6:30 a.m., when they wake up, until a bedtime around 10 p.m., their days are entirely structured. Following exercise, breakfast, and a bit of personal time in the early morning, the missionaries spend the hours between 8 and 10 a.m. preparing their lessons. From 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. they are required to be out in the community teaching and talking to residents in the greater Brunswick area about their faith.

Mainers tend not to be very responsive to the Mormons' message. "A lot of people up here are really set in their ways," says DeGomez. The most common phrase the missionaries hear when approaching people about their faith is, "We're all set." Maine is the state with the church's lowest conversion rate, and all of New England is a notoriously tough region. DeGomez's experience is reflective of this: In his nine months in Northern New England he has converted no one. "It's definitely not as successful [in Maine] as it is in a lot of other places," says DeGomez.

"There are days when all you do is knock on doors for seven or eight hours and no one wants to talk to you. And after the end of those days you're just like, 'This sucks,'" he says.

Despite the often cold reception, the Elders try to remain optimistic. Having a good companion makes work "a lot more fun."

"Some of the best times are when you're really enjoying who you're with and you're teaching some really cool people, and you can really see them changing and grasping what you're teaching. That's when you feel like you've done something," DeGomez says.

DeGomez and Gammell instruct members of the Church in addition to the uninitiated. They attend services at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Topsham, a place DeGomez describes as his favorite of the mission so far due to the "quality of people." The Topsham church is much smaller than what they are used to, especially for Gammell, who is from Utah. He estimates that nearly 90 percent of his hometown is Mormon, while the Topsham church has only 170 members.

He calls his home in Utah "a bubble," but says that being surrounded by Mormon peers made it easier to obey certain tenets of the doctrine, such as the law of chastity and the Word of Wisdom, a scripture-based health code. Those who follow the behavioral codes do not consume alcohol or caffeine, nor do they engage in pre-marital sex.

"It's good to have some people around just to know you're not the only one doing all this stuff," DeGomez says.

DeGomez says that the small size of the community in Maine can be frustrating. "It's harder to be Mormon here," he says. "The churches are really spread apart" and the distance makes some people quit attending services.

The small size of the Latter-day Saint community in Maine is similar to that of Bowdoin, where the Orient was able to identify only one Mormon student, Francesca Perkins '10. Perkins, who was raised Mormon but attended public and Catholic school growing up in New Jersey, said that she is used to being in the minority. "I was the only Mormon at my high school," she says, "so it's not a new feeling."

Perkins chose to apply to Bowdoin, a school she identifies as "a pretty secular place," instead of attending college in Utah because she knew she was comfortable with her minority status and having non-Mormon friends. Still, her previous experience in secular schools and communities did not prepare her for the Bowdoin social scene.

"Coming into Bowdoin was a huge culture shock," she says. Before college, Perkins had "never seen a drunk person and never smelled beer or pot." She opted to live in a chem-free dorm, but was surprised to find that almost everyone partied. "I felt like I didn't belong," she says. "I thought it wasn't possible to have a good time unless I was drinking."

Perkins grew tired of having to explain why being Mormon meant she did not drink. Few people were familiar with the health code, and explaining it included the recurring frustration of "hav[ing] to start at ground zero."

Overall, however, Perkins says she enjoys responding to other students' curiosity about her religion. "If anything, it has opened up doors. People ask a lot of questions," she says. "No one has ever made me feel uncomfortable."

Like the missionaries, Perkins says that adjusting to the small Topsham church was a "huge transition." More than the size of the church, Perkins had to get used to being an unfamiliar face. At home she went to church with her family and knew many people in the congregation. Here she goes alone and sits by herself. Another difference she identified is the lack of people her age at services, save for the missionaries.

"They all go to school in Utah," she says. "Many of my friends are older."

Still, Perkins attends services every Sunday, as well as scripture study on Wednesdays.

"At times I feel a bit isolated because religion is such a huge part of my life," she says. "But I don't have to be with other Mormons to feel like I'm living my life the way that I want to."