A CONONLEY man is back home after spending two challenging years as a missionary in Africa.

Harrison Simcock, 21, has been in Kenya with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Missionaries for the church do not choose where they serve, so it was a shock for Harrison when he read the letter that told him he would be serving in the Kenyan Nairobi Mission.

Harrison, a former pupil of South Craven School at Cross Hills, said: “The furthest I’d ever been before was on holiday to Portugal, so to say I was overwhelmed is an understatement!”

And so in June 2012 Harrison said goodbye to his family and flew to Africa where he had to get used to mice the size of giant rats, regular "bucket" showers when there was no hot water, a diet of dried fish heads and a week in hospital recovering from typhoid.

Although the culture shock was hard to get over at first, some of the hardest challenges were living the disciplined life of a missionary. The missionaries stick to a rigid schedule that sees them rise every morning at 6.30am, with just one day off a week.

Harrison said: “Even though it’s the hardest thing I’ve done, it’s also been the best thing I’ve done. Not only have I been able to see people’s lives change for the better, including helping those with addictions such as alcoholism, but I’ve grown up and had my faith strengthened enormously. It feels as though this will be the foundation for the rest of my life.”

After touching down at Leeds Bradford Airport, Harrison’s first task was to enjoy a home-cooked, full English breakfast and a warm shower.

“It feels like we have so much here, in every possible way," he added. "It’s so good to be home and I never want to be anywhere else but in this perfect corner of the world.”