George Albert and Lucy Smith, Chattanooga Southern States Mission 1893Become involved in missionary service. We need increasing numbers of senior missionaries in missionary service. Where health and means make it possible, we call upon hundreds more of our couples to set their live and affairs in order and to go on missions. How we need you in the mission field! You are able to perform missionary service in ways that our younger missionaries cannot.
I'm grateful that two of my own widowed sisters were able to serve as missionary companions together in England. They were sixty-eight and seventy-three years of age when they were called, and they both had a marvelous experience.
What an example and a blessing it is to a family's posterity when grandparents serve missions. Most senior couples who go are strengthened and revitalized by missionary service. Through this holy avenue of service, many are sanctified and feel the joy of bringing others to the knowledge of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR O'89, Ensign, [November 1989]: 5).
No finer example can be borne by parents to children or grandchildren, than through missionary service in their mature years. (David B. Haight, Ensign, [May 1987]: 60-61).
Some years ago I was in the Philippines, down in Cebu. We had convened a conference. I saw in the congregation an American and his wife. I had known them previously when he was a stake president, a leading officer of Union Carbide. He was a well-paid chemist and, as I understand, largely responsible for the discovery of Prestone. At the close of the meeting in Cebu, I said, “What are you doing here?”
He said, “We are having the time of our lives.” They told me their story.
When he was about to retire, they said to themselves, “What are we going to do?” We still have our health. We still have some ability. Let’s make ourselves available to the Church to use us wherever they wish.” They received a call, and then, as they related, “We sold our home.” We gave our children what furniture they wanted and gave away the rest. We found ourselves left with a few clothes, some private records, and our retirement income. We even gave away our car.
“The Church called us to come here, and here we are.” They were living in a small apartment, altogether about the size of their New York living room. They had previously known nothing of the Filipinos. Now they were working among them, lifting their sights, giving them understanding, building their faith in a great cause and faith in themselves. They were doing a wonderful work and having a wonderful time.
They have since served in other areas in various parts of the world. They are now growing old and somewhat handicapped, but they have rich and wonderful and nurturing memories—not just of the days when he was a great chemist, but of more recent years when they have been out serving among those who needed their help so urgently.
These volunteers include retired medical doctors, educators, farmers, business executives, and the garden variety of ordinary good people. We now have altogether some 5,300 retired men and women serving in a meaningful missionary capacity for this Church throughout the world. The number is growing. They go where they are called. They serve where they are needed. Friendships are established; skills are shared; opportunities are opened for those who will never forget the men and women who have come among them in a spirit of entire unselfishness to teach and do good. They receive no money. They go at their own expense. The measure of their devotion is unlimited. The fruits of their efforts are beyond calculation. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Los Angeles World Affairs Council, 12 June 2002 quoted in Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley Volume 2: 2000-2004 Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 517-518).
The fruit of keeping covenants is the companionship of the Holy Ghost and an increase in the power to love. That happens because of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change our very natures. We are eyewitnesses of that miracle of greater spiritual power coming to those who accept covenants and keep commandments. For instance, there are families across the Church who read and reread letters from their missionary children with wonder, and a few tears, at the miracle that in so short a time they have become new, better people.
Yet I have also seen that same miracle in a mature man and woman, called to serve as proselyting missionary companions in the most difficult of circumstances which would have taxed the bravest youth. As the husband made his report, I thought back to the man I had known. I realized that the promised miracle of spiritual growth is not a product of youth but of the faith simply to try to keep covenants. That couple went out to love the people and to bear witness, and they returned transformed as much as any 21-year-old.
Each of us who have made covenants with God face challenges unique to us. But each of us shares some common assurances. Our Heavenly Father knows us and our circumstances and even what faces us in the future. His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, has suffered and paid for our sins and those of all the people we will ever meet. He has perfect understanding of the feelings, the suffering, the trials, and the needs of every individual. Because of that, a way will be prepared for us to keep our covenants, however difficult that may now appear, if we go forward in faith. Henry B. Eyring, “Witnesses for God,” Ensign, [November1996]: 30).
There are pioneers in the Church today just as strong and courageous. Recently, I interviewed a married couple three days after their release as full-time missionaries in a large metropolis. “We are converts,” they said. “We joined the Church ten years ago. Even though we have just completed a mission, we want to go again! But this time, we would like to volunteer for a more difficult assignment. We want to teach and serve children of God who live in remote areas of the world!”
As I countered with the grim realities of their request, they continued their expression of commitment. “Our three children and their spouses will assist with our expenses. Two of those couple have joined the Church already, and the third is equally supportive. Please send us among humble people who love the Lord and desire to know that His church has again been restored to the earth.” Needless to say, their petition was gratefully heard, and now they have received their second call to missionary service. (Russell M. Nelson, Perfection Pending and Other Favorite Discourses, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998, p. 110-111).
Just as significant, though less visible, are the millions of members now laboring with similar faith and devotion in the remote corners of the Lord’s vineyard. Our faithful senior missionaries provide the best examples I know.
I recently reviewed the missionary papers of over 50 senior couples. All had already served at least three missions when they submitted their papers for another call. Their homes were everywhere from Australia to Arizona, California to Missouri. Their ages ranged from the 60s and early 70s to the—well, never mind. One couple, who were offering themselves for a seventh mission, had already served on Temple Square, in Alaska, in New Zealand, in Kenya, and in Ghana. They were sent to the Philippines. Scores of similar examples could be cited.
The priesthood leaders’ comments on the papers of these couples are testimonies of service and sacrifice. I quote several:
“Willing to go anyplace, do anything for whatever length of time required.”
“[These] are great examples of Church members who dedicate their lives to the Lord.”
“Will go where the Lord wants [us] to go,” another couple noted. “We pray we will be sent where we are needed.”
Priesthood leader comments on the qualifications of these couples provide a good summary of the work our senior missionaries do so effectively.
“He is great in getting programs running and [in] leadership.”
“Their joy is fullest when they are asked to ‘build’ and develop; therefore an assignment in a developing area of the Church may be appropriate. Willing to serve in whatever capacity called.”
“They will likely be of more value working with [less-actives] and converts rather than in offices.”
“They love the youth and have a gift with them.”
“They feel most effective in and have a fondness for leadership support and fellowshipping work.”
“They have slowed down some physically, but not in spiritual matters or missionary zeal.”
“He is a true missionary. His first name is Nephi, and he follows his namesake. She is a tremendous lady, has always been a great example. Will do great wherever called. This is their fifth mission.” (They had previously served in Guam, Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan, Singapore, and Malaysia. Giving them some respite from those arduous paths, the Lord’s servants called that couple to serve in the Nauvoo temple.)
Another couple spoke for all these heroes and heroines when they wrote: “Will go anywhere and do what is asked. It is not a sacrifice; it is a privilege.”
These senior missionaries offer a special measure of sacrifice and commitment. So do our mission presidents and temple presidents and their loyal companions. All leave their homes and families to serve full-time for a season. The same is true of the army of young missionaries, who put their lives at home on hold and bid good-bye to family and friends and set forth (usually at their own expense) to serve wherever they are assigned by the Lord, speaking through His servants.
I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain or plain or sea;
I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord;
I’ll be what you want me to be.
(Hymns, no. 270)
(Dallin H. Oaks, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” Liahona, [November 2002]: 67–70).
We now have altogether some 5,300 retired men and women serving in a meaningful missionary capacity for this Church throughout the world. The number is growing. They go where they are called. They serve where they are needed. Friendships are established; skills are shared; opportunities are opened for those who will never forget the men and women who have come among them in a spirit of entire unselfishness to teach and do good. They receive no money. They go at their own expense. The measure of their devotion is unlimited. The fruits of their efforts are beyond calculation. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Los Angeles World Affairs Council, 12 June 2002 quoted in Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley Volume 2: 2000-2004 Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 517-518).
If health and other conditions permit, parents can look to the day when they, too, may serve a mission. (Spencer W. Kimball, ”Therefore I Was Taught,” Ensign, [January 1982]: 4).
Some of my Dutch friends, a man and his wife, came into the office the other day, and they said, "Brother Richards, we have filled one mission together, but we would surely like to go on another." Then he said, "If we sell our home and our automobile, we can finance ourselves." Is there any other cause in this world for which men would ask the privilege of selling all they have--even their homes--other than that they might bear witness to the truth of this great Latter-day work? (LeGrand Richard, Conference Report, April 1948, p. 47).
There is an urgent need in the Church today for missionary couples, not to go first-contacting or teaching the discussions, unless you want to do so, but for meaningful missionary service in all of the activities of the Church throughout the world. There is far greater flexibility in the service opportunities of couples than for single elders or sisters. In consultation with your bishop, you can indicate your own preferences for missionary service. We must train a growing number of fathers and mothers and priesthood and auxiliary leaders throughout the world who want very much to serve the Lord but simply do not know how to do it. You can help them as a leadership missionary couple. You can serve in temples, family history, educational and medical activities, welfare service projects, public affairs, and visitors’ centers. There is a need for almost every discipline of life. There is undoubtedly a need somewhere in the world for your unique capacities and talents. Often special health considerations can be accommodated. The feelings you express to the bishop are communicated in a recommendation for a call. The President of the Church has made it possible for those calls to be inspired of the Lord, taking into consideration your special needs and desires as a couple. Stake presidents and bishops are kept aware of current full-time missionary needs. If you cannot find anyone locally to identify potential missionary opportunities, write to the Missionary Department at headquarters. We will send you a list of the current needs. I encourage each couple with available time to prayerfully consider a full-time mission. You will be greatly blessed for the courage to accept a call. Your children and grandchildren will be positively influenced for good as witnessed by many couples who have honorably served, some on their third, fourth, or fifth mission. (Richard G. Scott, “Why Every Member a Missionary?” Ensign, [November 1997]: 35).
We have rather forgotten, we older people, who have been retired and who have found an easy place to go with our camping outfit and with our other opportunities. We have found an easy way to satisfy our own thoughts and our own consciences that the work must go on—we will send our boys, we say. All of us have this responsibility. Not all of us are able, but many, many of us are. (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball: twelfth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 555).
We now have many and can use many more stable and mature couples in this great missionary cause, and we hope that those who are worthy and qualified will set their affairs in order and respond to calls to preach the gospel and will perform their obligations acceptably. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, October 1970).
I recently learned about the experiences of a man in Zimbabwe named Sabbath Sibanda Maturure. Born in Shurugwe in what he describes as “an ordinary African hut,” he was the seventh of eleven children. Like three of his sisters, he was crippled from birth. At an early age he blamed God for his handicap and refused to attend the Christian church to which his parents were devoted.
When he was seven, he and his sisters were sent far away from home to attend a school for the disabled. Lonely for his mother, whom he could visit only once a year, he became even more bitter. “Life was terrible,” he remembers. “There was just no hope.”
His bitterness grew when his only two friends—his mother and another handicapped child at the school—died. “There really wasn’t anything left for me—not one ray of hope anywhere. Life was completely without meaning. God was totally unfair and not worthy of my worship or respect.”
But after he was befriended by some Christians who urged him to read the Bible, his heart began to soften. As the years passed, he found work, was married, and had two daughters.
In July 1985 a man who “looked honest, humble, and loving” came to his home and introduced himself as Elder Boyd Lake. Elder and Sister Lake, a missionary couple from Oakley, Utah, had met Sabbath’s wife, Susan, at work, and she had asked them to visit her husband. “Anything that is about Christ makes our lives more sweet,” says Sabbath, “so I welcomed him and Sister Lake to our home.” Their message sounded so good that the Maturures invited the Lakes to meet all of their friends at the handicapped center where they worked. And Sabbath and Susan began studying the Book of Mormon.
After several visits from the missionaries, Sabbath became ill. But a priesthood blessing helped to restore his health. He was impressed by the power of the priesthood and the teachings about home evening, fast offering, tithing, and chastity. “I also learned about the eternal family, whereby if we believe and are worthy, we can be married in the temple and be sealed forever as husband and wife and family.”
On 2 August 1986, Sabbath was baptized by the branch president, and Elder Lake baptized Susan and one of their daughters. “What joy we received in our home to be in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—a church that the Lord himself restored!” says Sabbath. Three weeks later, a third daughter, Helen Happiness, was born. (The baby was named after Sister Lake, whose first name is Helen.)
For the Maturure family, Elder and Sister Lake were instruments in the hands of the Lord in working a mighty miracle. How could the Lakes have guessed before they left their home in Utah that they would have such a rich experience in faraway Zimbabwe?
Missionary couples around the world are bringing similar blessings into the lives of many people. And a happy side effect is that the blessings work both ways. (M. Russell Ballard, “Missionary Couples—Trading Something Good for Something Better,” Ensign, [June 1988]: 8).
Now let me increase the tempo of this message just a little. Many more of us can prepare for senior missionary service when that time in our life comes. As the senior couples at the MTC in Provo have said on a poster, “Let’s lengthen our shuffle!” I just returned from a long trip which took me to half a dozen missions. Everywhere I went during those weeks, I found senior couples giving the most remarkable and rewarding leadership imaginable, providing stability, maturity, and experience that no 19-year-old or 21-year-old could possibly be expected to provide. I found all kinds of couples, including a few former mission and temple presidents and their wives, who had come to parts of the world totally unknown to them to quietly, selflessly serve a second or a third or a fourth mission. I was deeply moved by every one of those people.
I had lunch recently with Elder and Sister John Hess of Ashton, Idaho. “We’re just old potato farmers,” John told me, but that is precisely what the nation of Belarus in the Russia Moscow Mission needed. For years the very best potato yields on government plots of ground there had been 50 sacks of potatoes a hectare. Considering it takes 22 sacks of seed to plant a hectare, the return was poor indeed. They needed help.
Brother Hess asked for ground just three feet away from the government plots, rolled up his sleeves, and went to work with the same seed, tools, and fertilizer available in Belarus. Come harvest time they began to dig, then called on others to dig, then called on everyone to dig. With the same rainfall and soil, but with an extra measure of Idaho industry, experience, and prayer, the plots planted by the Hesses produced a whopping 550 sacks per hectare—11 times better than any prior yield on that land. At first no one would believe the difference. They wondered if secret teams had come in the night or if some wonder drug had been used. But it was none of that. Brother Hess said, “We needed a miracle, so we asked for one.” Now just little more than a year later, in that community young proselyting missionaries are finding much more success just because an “old potato farmer” from Idaho answered the call of his church.
Most missionary couples serve much more routinely than that, employing their leadership experience in wards and branches, but the point is that there are all kinds of needs in this work, and there is a resolute missionary tradition of responding to the call to serve at every age and in every circumstance. I learned from a mission president recently that one of his young sister missionaries, nearing the end of her very faithful and successful mission, said through her tears that she must return home immediately. When he inquired as to the problem, she told him money had become so difficult for her family that to continue her support, the family had rented their home and were using the rental proceeds to pay her mission expenses. For living accommodations, they had moved into a storage locker. For water, they used a neighbor’s outdoor tap and hose; and for a bathroom they went to a nearby gasoline station. This family, in which the father had recently passed away, was so proud of their missionary and so independent in spirit that they had managed to keep this recent turn of events from most of their friends and virtually all of their Church leaders.
When this situation was discovered, the family was restored to their home immediately. Long-term solutions to their economic circumstances were put in place, and the complete amount of remaining missionary support for their missionary daughter was secured overnight. With her tears dried and fears allayed, this faithful, hardworking young sister finished her mission triumphantly and was recently married in the temple to a wonderful young man.
In our blessed day we do not ask the kind of severe sacrifice this missionary family offered, but our generation has been the beneficiary of earlier generations who did sacrifice so very much in serving the missionary cause we declare. We can all do just a little more to pass that tradition on to those who follow us. (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Witnesses unto Me,” Ensign, [May 2001]: 14).
When I was president of the Canada Toronto Mission, I was amazed at the changes that took place in couples who served in the mission. Very often, they came to the mission field having sacrificed comfortable retirement expectations. But then a beautiful transformation began. As I observed their faith and trust in the Lord, their involvement in the work, and their selfless giving, I felt as though I were watching budding flowers blossom into full bloom. These wonderful couples traded something good at home for something better in the mission field.
Consider, for example, the experiences of Elder and Sister Verl Asay, who served with us in that mission and who are now serving in the England London South Mission—their third mission. When I asked them what they would say to other couples about their work, Elder Asay responded with this encouragement:
“The Lord has a way of opening the windows of heaven if we will earnestly try. I suffered poor health prior to our first call and had to lay off work for days at a time. Nevertheless, I was healthy enough to accept a mission call and we spent two years in the northwestern United States supervising chapel construction. Fortunately, I was blessed with good health throughout the mission.
“After we returned home, we received and accepted another call for an eighteen-month proselyting mission to the Canada Toronto Mission. What a rewarding spiritual experience we had meeting and working with some of the most wonderful, kind, loving people in all the world. Again, I enjoyed good health, even though those were two of the coldest winters we had ever known. The Lord truly blessed us. Our family at home drew closer together from sharing our letters, and our love for family increased many fold.
“Upon returning home, we counted numerous blessings that had come about as a result of those eighteen months: good health, stronger family ties, many new brothers and sisters in the gospel, and countless spiritual experiences as we helped the work to move forward in one little corner of the Lord’s vineyard.
“Now, once again, we are grateful for another call—this time to England. We see a great need for more couples to help prepare the world for the second coming of the Savior.”
I’m sure this couple will do a marvelous work in England. On the first day of the Asays’ mission to Canada, during my orientation interviews with them, Sister Asay told me that she was nervous and frightened to be a proselyting missionary. I told her it really wasn’t that bad; all she needed to do was talk to people about the Church. And we walked through a practice session asking the golden questions.
On their first day out as missionaries, while her husband was paying for some groceries, Sister Asay asked the woman at the cash register if she knew anything about the Church and if she would like to know more. As a result of that question, the woman, Betti W. Guild, was baptized along with her husband and two relatives; at least seventeen others followed.
As I think of this couple who have left family and the comforts of home for the third time to serve the Lord, I think of the words of the Lord:
“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:29.) (M. Russell Ballard, “Missionary Couples—Trading Something Good for Something Better,” Ensign, [June 1988]: 8).
I am thinking of the missionary work, and there are numerous people in the retired group who do and could give much of their energies and time in a selfless proselyting effort to bring souls unto Christ, the greatest service. There may be some limitation on the foreign, "away from home" missionary work, but almost no limit to the missionary service that could be performed in one's own community with one's own neighbors in one's own time. (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. by Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 255).
An older couple retired from the world of work and also, in effect, from the Church. They purchased a pickup truck and a camper and, separating themselves from all obligations, set out to see the world and simply enjoy what little they had accumulated the rest of their days. They had no time for the temple, were too busy for genealogical research and for missionary service. He lost contact with his high priests quorum and was not home enough to work on his personal history. Their experience and leadership were sorely needed in their branch, but, unable to "endure to the end," they were not available. (Spencer W. Kimball, "The False Gods We Worship," Ensign, [June 1976]: 5).
Following are some commonly asked questions. Perhaps the answers will help you understand more about the work of missionary couples.
Who Are Missionary Couples? They are worthy, older married couples who no longer have dependent children at home, are able to support themselves financially in the mission field, and are in good health.
How Long Do Couples Serve? Couples are usually called for eighteen months, but their calls can be for twelve or six months as circumstances warrant. Six-month assignments are limited to couples in vocations that are seasonal, such as agriculture; these short-term assignments are to missions close to where the couple lives. Couples serving for eighteen months may be assigned outside their own country.
After serving one mission, couples frequently feel the desire to serve again. One couple, Ralph and Aileen Tate, are serving their fourth mission; they have served in Toronto, in Nigeria and Ireland, and in the islands of the Caribbean; they now serve in New Zealand. They have seen people baptized in every mission, and the leadership training they have done is tremendous.
Another couple, Ross and Ruby Andersen of Thornton, Idaho, have served one eighteen-month mission and have also filled ten six-month missions. They’re away on missions every winter, and then return home for the planting and harvesting. What a great sacrifice they’re making—to be gone on missions every Thanksgiving and Christmas since 1978! But think of the great blessings they’re making possible in people’s lives.
Is It Presumptuous to Seek a Mission Call? Not at all. Couples don’t call themselves; the Lord does. But they should feel free to go to the bishop and let him know of their interest in serving.
Will We Have to Memorize the Discussions? Missionaries using the current discussions are not required to memorize; they teach from an outline, using their own words. Couples can learn enough of the outline of the discussions—and can even refer to the outline as they teach—so that they can share the gospel very effectively without having to memorize. In this way, they are able to be more sensitive to the Spirit and to the investigator’s feelings. But may I further alleviate any fears on this matter. You already know the gospel! Your years of learning it and living it will provide many unique and wonderful personal experiences through which you can effectively teach it. Do not be afraid. The Lord will bless you as you teach the gospel on your mission.
Will We Have to Learn a New Language? No. The Church needs all the English-speaking couples who will serve. Service to a foreign-speaking country is cleared with the couple before the call is issued.
However, we do hope more couples will start their preparation early by learning language skills so they can serve in places where the Church is in its early stages of development.
Are There Age Restrictions for Missionary Couples? The general age limit is seventy years. However, couples older than seventy may be called if their health is good and if their stake president feels they have the physical and emotional strength to serve.
How About Our General Health? Missionary couples should be healthy enough to contribute to the work. Most couples are actively involved at home, so they should be able to serve a mission. Remember, you will have each other for support. In addition, the mission president will be sensitive to special circumstances and will assign you based on your experience and the need in the mission.
Will I Be Able to Take the Physical Rigors of Proselyting Like the Young Missionaries? Don’t worry about this. You will work at your own pace and will not be expected to follow the same routines as the other missionaries. There are many other ways to make friends and work with them. You have a lifetime of experience to draw upon; the approaches for service are unlimited.
What Are Some of Those Other Approaches to Service? You could teach in the auxiliaries, build chicken coops, train local leaders, bottle tomatoes, fellowship potential or new members, repair fences, reactivate less-active members, teach people how to plant and care for gardens, preach the gospel, love and listen, sing in choirs, paint, baptize, pull weeds—anything and everything that finds access to people’s hearts in faithful, loving ways. The list is endless. Missionary couples are guided by the Spirit to perform many things that can help direct our Heavenly Father’s children toward the Lord and his kingdom.
What Are the Greatest Assets Couples Have As Missionaries? Missionary couples are often assigned to areas where local Church leaders and members can benefit from their experience, maturity, and guidance. Missionary couples add strength to branches and wards just by their presence. One of my colleagues has said: “Missionary couples are living examples of what the Church does for people. People in the mission field look at them and see great faith in action. And they get a perspective of lifetime service in the Church.”
How Many Couples Are Needed? When someone asked President Spencer W. Kimball that question, he replied, “All of them!”
President Ezra Taft Benson has said:
“Today the Church needs missionaries as never before! We are required to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation of the world....
“This task will require thousands of missionaries, many more than are presently engaged in worldwide missionary service....
“You are needed in the service of the Lord today as never before. ‘The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few.’ (Luke 10:2.)” (Ensign, May 1984, pp. 43–44.)
Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve has said:
“Some stakes are crowded with mature couples fully prepared to accept a mission call, who could not only enthusiastically help in spreading the gospel but strengthen new members in areas of the world where we are growing so rapidly. The thousands of newly baptized members now in the Church, with its somewhat strange, unfamiliar ways, could be encouraged and trained by someone who today is sitting comfortably at home. … If we could only transplant hundreds of our faithful, well-prepared couples out into one of the greatest chapters of their lives!” (Ensign, May 1979, pp. 62–63.)
Missions everywhere need more couples. Their maturity and experience make them some of the best missionaries we have. Their special skills, honed over a lifetime of faithful service and living, enable them to train local leaders effectively, strengthen and reactivate members, and bring nonmembers to Christ by teaching and baptizing them. The importance of their work is almost beyond expression in words.
Consider the testimony of Elder and Sister Gail S. Halvorson, who served in the England London South Mission:
“After our retirement, we felt comfortable and relaxed in planning visits to the grandchildren, attending BYU football and basketball games, boating, and tending our small farm.
“Then our mission calls came. The message did not do anything to overcome our feelings of inadequacy, but the signature did: ‘Ezra Taft Benson, President.’ The Lord had called us through his prophet. Additional assurance came after reflecting on 1 Nephi 3:7 [1 Ne. 3:7]: ‘I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.’
“Things moved quickly. It was the children’s turn to be apprehensive. Who would haul the hay? Who would feed the cows and take care of any other problems? But that phase was of short duration as we felt the warmth and wonder of five children, their spouses, and the grandchildren pour out love, support, and advice. What a beautiful switch! Here was our first great blessing that we might otherwise not have experienced: we became the object of concern!
“But the best was yet to come. We faced lorries on the wrong side of the carriageway, stared at buildings that were old when Columbus discovered America, discovered little thatched-roof villages that were frozen in time. We met people who wanted to know more about the Church, and we taught individuals and families in a way that we did not even know we could.
“Tears filled our eyes and flowed down our cheeks as we watched a father baptize his faithful wife. We had found and baptized him and his two sons not many months before. It was not our doing, however, because the Lord had led us to these and other wonderful people. Then we began to understand that no matter how inadequate we believe ourselves to be in finding or teaching, the Lord will keep his promise by providing a way—even for us!”
To all married couples that can serve: now is the time. Thrust in your sickle and serve the Lord with all your might, mind, and strength. You will know more love and fulfillment than you ever believed possible.
A mission is a sacrifice, yet your sacrifice will bring forth “the blessings of heaven.” (See Hymns, 1985, no. 27.) In reality, the sacrifice of leaving home, family, and comforts truly turns out to be a sacrifice of something good for something better. (M. Russell Ballard, “Missionary Couples—Trading Something Good for Something Better,” Ensign, [June 1988]: 8).
Now, to all you great couples who are hearing my voice today. I want you to listen especially to these words. Life has been hard. I know that. You have worked diligently for the security you now enjoy. You have struggled, reared a family, and saved something to have and to enjoy during this golden period of your life. But just sitting around will not give you what you really desire. Climax those golden years with the soul-satisfying experience of full-time gospel service. (L. Tom Perry, "Go Ye Therefore, and Teach All Nations," Ensign, [May 1984]: 78-80).
Bishops, will you please give more encouragement to the healthy, retired, or soon-to-be retired couples who are considering missions? Many are awaiting your call, reluctant to come forward and ask. How we need their maturity, their wisdom, and their experience in our rapidly growing Church! (L. Tom Perry, "Go Ye Therefore, and Teach All Nations," Ensign, [May 1984]: 78-80).
Bishops, instill in these couples a desire and the confidence that they will need for this exciting service. They will not be expected to learn the same program as our young missionaries. Let them know that we want to utilize the talents they already possess after a lifetime of growth and development. (L. Tom Perry, "Go Ye Therefore, and Teach All Nations," Ensign, [May 1984]: 78-80).
Imagine, if only one additional mature couple were to be called on a full-time mission from each ward--our missionary force would go from 27,500 to over 40,000. (Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1979).
Why don't older couples serve missions in the numbers that President Kimball is asking for? Maybe it's because they don't sing that song! During recent stake conferences I have asked older couples to stand and sing with me: "We hope they call us on a mission/Perhaps within a month or two/We hope by then we will be ready/To teach and preach and work as missionaries do"
Just as we have a tradition of young men serving, we need to establish a tradition of older couples serving missions.
President Spencer W. Kimball has repeatedly asked for more missionary couples. In 1974 he said: "We should keep alert to find men and their wives who are young enough and yet who are free enough and capable enough to possibly precede young missionaries into new fields. Sometimes people with greater maturity may do an unbelievable work in opening up the program. There are many people in the Church who are ready for sacrifice." (Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 3 Oct 1974).
To be a success: One way couples can do this is to save and prepare to serve a mission together. Again I state, "We have need for select missionary couples" (Ensign, May 1984, p. 45).
We urge you to seriously consider serving a full-time mission. Some of you younger couples have your sons already on missions. Perhaps now is the time for you to prepare financially and otherwise for missionary service. Many couples have provided distinguished service and stability to various missions in the Church. You can study the scriptures together, particularly the Book of Mormon. The Lord has said that we are condemned if we do not remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon (see D&C 84:56-57). (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'85, Ensign, 15 [May 1985]: 8).
We should keep alert to find men and their wives who are young enough and yet who are free enough and capable enough to possibly precede young missionaries into new fields. Sometimes people with greater maturity may do an unbelievable work in opening up the program. There are many people in the Church who are ready for sacrifice. (Spencer W. Kimball, "Lengthening Your Stride," Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 3 October 1974, p. 12).
Our older couple missionaries, now numbering over 2,600 throughout the world, provide an unequaled example of Christian service. Who could calculate the contribution these couples are making in furthering the mission of the Church? They preach the gospel, strengthen leaders and members in struggling branches, serve in temples and visitor's centers, and in countless other ways accomplish the essential work of the kingdom, both the important and the routine.
In a missionary meeting in a remote corner of the world. Sister Oaks and I listened as a devoted brother said, "I never thought I could teach the gospel. I only thought I could fish. But now that I am here, I get so wrapped up in telling people about the gospel."
A few minutes later, another devoted missionary, his wife, said, "I feel so sorry for those who have nothing to worry about and occupy them except how many steps to the swimming pool or the golf course!"
Time after time, the pioneers President [J. Reuben] Clark praised left their homes, loaded their wagons, and moved to new hardships at the direction of their prophet. In our day, many couples go on mission after mission. One dear veteran described her family's reaction: "Our children say, 'We hope you'll come by and at least have dinner with us before you go on another mission." (Dallin H. Oaks, CR O'89, Ensign, (November 1989): 64-65).
I have especially been impressed with the older couples who, after fulfilling a life of service in their wards and stakes, have the desire to spend a period of time as missionaries in full service to the Lord. I have found them in all corners of the world, and they are, I guess, the happiest people I have ever met because of what they are accomplishing.
Let me just share parts of some letters written by those who have had this great privilege. These quotations are from a composite of letters. They were written to their mission president and his wife after the couples had been serving in the mission field for some time.
"We never asked to be sent on a mission. We didn't feel qualified. My husband had only four years of formal education, and was very sensitive about that. He read a lot and was very successful in business. He had a special personality which drew people to him. Several couples we knew had gone on missions, and we were happy for them. When the bishop called us into his office and said that he had been praying for two weeks and that the Lord wanted us to go on a mission, we were overwhelmed. We accepted, as we knew it was from the Lord.
"My husband's back was in poor condition. He had asked for a little time to see if he could find a doctor who could help him in some way. The doctor's response was, 'Just go home and learn to live with the pain.' When we were set apart for our mission, my husband was promised that he would be blessed with better health. The promise was literally fulfilled.
"We entered the Missionary Training Center. Those few weeks we spent were very special to us. It was difficult for us to learn the discussions, but we found a close relationship with the Lord. As we did the very best we could, He blessed us. We knew we would have to rely on the Lord to help us after we had done all we could.
"There is a feeling of love and closeness at the MTC that cannot be found in any other place. We went to the temple each week. We found that, next to the temple, the MTC was the closest to being near our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, that you could possibly find here on earth.
"The privilege of serving a full-time mission together was an outstanding time in our lives. It was a time during which we drew close together as we studied and prayed so much together. We learned more fully to depend upon one another. We found great joy in becoming more aware of one another's strengths. We anticipated the opportunity of helping each other overcome our weaknesses. In the autumn of our lives, it was a time of ripening and cementing together. This is an experience every couple should have if they are physically able and can financially afford it.
"If they can't afford it, their families would be greatly blessed if they would assist them. It would be much better than giving them a trip to Hawaii or Europe."
One couple then reported, as they concluded their mission, that in the final testimony meeting these words were spoken of them: "Dear elder and sister, you just can't imagine what our life was like before you came."
Of course, returning home after such an experience is a challenge. I met a good brother coming our of the Mormon Handicraft store just before Christmas. he had been in buying his wife a Christmas present. As I was coming down the street, he ran up to me and said, "Don't you remember me?" I had to be prompted a little. When we last met, it was in the mission field. Living conditions were certainly not like home. But there was a radiance about him and his wife as we had opportunity to be with them for a day and witness their work.
I said to him, "It must be great to be back home." He hesitated a minute, and then said, "You know, I've had a difficult time adjusting. I feel that we should be back among the Saints in the Philippines. They needed us so much. I don't find that same need here. Can't you send us back on another mission?"
Mission Presidents always respond the same when I asked them the following question: "What can I do for you?" The response invariably is, "Send us more missionary couples."
Now, to all you great couples who are hearing my voice today, I want you to listen especially to these words. Life has been hard. I know that. You have worked diligently for the security you now enjoy. You have struggled, reared a family, and saved something to have and to enjoy during this golden period of your life. But just sitting around will not give you what you really desire. Climax these golden years with the soul-satisfying experience of full-time gospel service. (L. Tom Perry, CR A'84, Ensign, [May 1984]: 79-80).
Now I want to say a few words to some of you older brethren. We have need for select missionary couples. Some of you who are grandparents can have more influence on your grandchildren by letters from the mission field than by any other means.
We can participate in missionary service by preparing for and serving a mission. One way couples can do this is to save and prepare to serve a mission together. Again I state, "We have need for select missionary couples." (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, [May 1984]: 45).
We have a great need for missionary couples--and by that we mean retired couples. Today's society permits a man to retire sooner than our parents, some retiring from civil service and the military in their forties and fifties, and many firms retiring men in their early sixties. We find that couples add a dimension of experience and maturity that is invaluable. Our greatest need is often in areas where the Church is emerging, where languages other than English are used. (Incidentally, we have many married couples called as full-time missionaries who are learning a language or brushing up on a language at our language training facility in Provo). These areas need and yearn for someone who has been in the Church, has served in positions, and can help new Saints see how everything really functions.
The work these couples perform may be different from that of the younger missionaries. Many couples serve as what we call agricultural missionaries, teaching people how to farm, or as welfare services missionaries, teaching sanitary skills, child care, health practices, and so forth. This is a work that is not widely known among all the members--but we would like it to be. We need more help. The requirements for couples are that their children be reared so that we do not split families, that they be in reasonably good health, and that they be in a position to finance their mission.
There is no way I can adequately relay how effective and significant their work is. I remember seeing in Tasmania a number of years ago Brother and Sister Otis Record of Salt Lake City. He used to be chief of police in Salt Lake. He came up to me and asked, "After the meeting, would you have time to greet our contacts?" Silently I wondered how this elderly, soft-spoken couple was doing. After the meeting, I went into a room where they introduced me to fourteen wonderful contacts. That dedicated couple had more contacts to that meeting than the entire district of younger missionaries! This experience is representative of dozens more I have seen or heard about. I want our retired or nearly retirement-age couples who may have questioned their own missionary-related skills, modestly minimizing their strengths of character and experience, to know that our Heavenly Father takes the willing soul and shapes his back to bear the Lord's burden. "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30) the Lord has said--and he qualifies all of us to do his bidding and fulfill his assignment. We need more missionary couples. We pray many will read this and be moved to discuss it with their bishop. ("Status Report on Missionary Work: A Conversation with Thomas S. Monson," Ensign, [October 1977]: 11-12).
Couples don't call themselves; the Lord does. But they should feel free to go to the bishop and let him know of their interest in serving.
Missionaries using the current discussions are not required to memorize; they teach from an outline using their own words. Couples can learn enough of the outline of the discussions--and can even refer to the outlines they teach--so that they can share the gospel very effectively without having to memorize. In this way, they are able to be more sensitive to the Spirit and to the investigator's feelings. But may I further alleviate any fears on this matter. You already know the gospel! Your years of learning it and living it will provide many unique and wonderful personal experiences through which you can effectively teach it. Do not be afraid. The Lord will bless you as you teach the gospel on your mission.
The Church needs all the English-speaking couples who will serve. Service to a foreign-speaking country is cleared with the couple before the call is issued.
However, we do hope more couples will start their preparation early by learning language skills so they can serve in places where the Church is in its early stages of development.
The general age limit is seventy years. However, couples older than seventy may be called if their health is good and if their stake president feels they have the physical and emotional strength to serve.
Missionary couples should be healthy enough to contribute to the work. Most couples are actively involved at home, so they should be able to serve a mission. Remember, you will have each other for support. In addition, the mission president will be sensitive to special circumstances and will assign you based on your experience and the need in the mission.
You will work at your own pace and will not be expected to follow the same routines as the other missionaries. There are many other ways to make friends and work with them. You have a lifetime of experience to draw upon; the approaches for service are unlimited.
You could teach in the auxiliaries, build chicken coops, train local leaders, bottle tomatoes, fellowship potential or new members, repair fences, reactivate less-active members, teach people how to plant and care for gardens, preach the gospel, love and listen, sing in choirs, paint, baptize, pull weeds--anything and everything that finds access to people's hearts in faithful, loving ways. The list is endless. Missionary couples are guided by the Spirit to perform many things that can help direct our Heavenly Father's children toward the Lord and his kingdom.
Missionary couples are often assigned to areas where local Church leaders and members can benefit from their experience, maturity, and guidance. Missionary couples add strength to branches and wards just by their presence. One of my colleagues has said: "Missionary couples are living examples of what the Church does for people. People in the mission field look at them and see great faith in action. And they get a perspective of lifetime service of the Church." (M. Russell Ballard, "Missionary Couples," Ensign, [June 1988]:10-11).
Missions everywhere need more couples. Their maturity and experience make them some of the best missionaries we have. Their special skills, honed over a lifetime of faithful service and living, enable them to train local leaders effectively, strengthen and reactivate members, and bring nonmembers to Christ by teaching and baptizing them. The importance of their work is almost beyond expression in word. (M. Russell Ballard, "Missionary Couples," Ensign, [June 1988]: 11).
Though you may have had many years of married life together, you will never work more closely and more intensely with one another in a more rewarding effort. Your love will deepen, and you will discover wonderful new dimensions of your companion's inner soul. You will have a greater feeling of unity, and a heavenly relationship will be strengthened.
If you as a couple meet the personal qualifications, don't wait to be asked. Go to your bishop. He is probably waiting for you. Humbly and prayerfully talk about your plans and desires, even though you may not be quite ready. He will counsel and guide you.
Study the scriptures daily, take care of your health, and start your own mission savings account, just as you have encouraged your children and grandchildren to do. You might even begin learning a second language. (David B. Haight, CR O'88, Ensign, [November 1988]: 85).
Many couples have concerns about leaving their homes and families, or they picture themselves being sent to a developing area of the world or struggling to learn a new language or trying to keep up with the younger missionaries' tracting and work pace.
These concerns are generally unwarranted. Missionary couples are not expected to work at the same pace or follow the schedule of the younger missionaries. Mission Presidents are sensitive to each couple's special need and establish activity and assignments that make the best use of abilities, experience, and talents.
With very few exceptions, couples are not assigned to developing areas or to missions requiring a new language without some experience or a willingness to accept such an assignment. (David B. Haight, CR O'88, Ensign, [November 1988]: 85).
Missionary service requires great faith. I know how difficult it is for older couples to decide to serve missions. I have two widowed sisters who went on a mission to England together. A brother has just left for his third mission with his wife. Many couples can attest that their missionary service was among their happiest times together because they were completely dedicated to one purpose--missionary work. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'85, Ensign, 15 [May 1985]: 8).
Along with the need for young elders and sisters, there is a growing need for couples in the mission field. Older married couples are doing a wonderful work in the missions. Many more are needed. Particularly we need those with foreign language abilities. They can serve in many responsibilities under the direction of sensitive and considerate mission Presidents.
With an increasing number of people retiring while they are still possessed of health and vitality, there are many who can fill a tremendous need in the work of the Lord. However, we know that every couple is not in a position to go. Three qualifications should be observed.
(1) Candidates should have the means to sustain themselves. If their resources are limited, perhaps their children can assist. This happens in many cases, and both the parents and the children are blessed by the sacrifice made.
(2) They should not leave behind dependent children. Some of these children are at the most critical time of their lives when they need parents nearby.
(3) They should be in reasonably good health. Missionary work at best is rigorous and demanding. It requires strength and vitality. Of course, older couples are not expected to do everything young missionaries do. Some couple missionaries will proselyte, but many will not. Wise and inspired mission Presidents will have their best interests at heart.
All of us who have met couple missionaries in various parts of the world have listened to their enthusiastic reports and their expressions of gratitude for the privilege of serving. I talked recently with a couple who were leaving for their third mission. They said they felt younger than when they left for their first. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "There Must be Messengers," Ensign, [October 1987]: 4).
The Lord's work is blessed to have more than eleven hundred couples now serving throughout the world. In Latin America--including Mexico, all of Central America, and South America--there are now fifty-one missionary couples. From the Rio Grande, in Texas to the southern tip of South America there are fifty-eight missions, and only fifty-one couples--less than one couple permission, or, stated another way, one missionary couple to work with more people than live in the entire state of Utah.
For one couple to be assigned to every stake in this vast Latin America area, 278 couples would be needed. Even better would be to have a couple assigned to help two or three wards. To do this we would need another 1,900 couples--just in Latin America. Imagine, 51 now serving where we could effectively use nearly 2,000!
Leaders from our overseas areas indicate similar needs in most parts of the world. One of our pressing challenges is to keep the local leadership trained and ahead of the new members.
It has been estimated that within the United States and Canada there are at least one hundred thousand Church couples between the ages of fifty-five and seventy. Some researchers estimate that six thousand couples could serve missions now. The addition of many of these qualified, experienced couples would bring untold blessings not only to precious people waiting to hear the heavenly invitation to "come unto the Christ" and feel of his goodness, but those who answer the call will be blessed also. (David B. Haight, CR O'88, Ensign, [November 1988]: 84-85).
Many older couples could serve missions. In so doing, they will find that a mission blesses their children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren in a way that could not otherwise be done. It will set a great example for their posterity. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'86, Ensign, 16 [May 1986]: 78).
The Lord instructed in the Doctrine and Covenants, "If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work." (D&C 4:3). Many of you undoubtedly have the desire but may need some gentle encouragement to complete your decision.
I challenged eight couples in my former home stake in California to set aside their comfortable lives of planned retirement and to bless the Scottish Saints with their gospel knowledge and service.
Arthur Thulin had been bishop, his wife Myra a skilled teacher. Arthur anxiously wrote that he was nearing seventy and might die in Scotland. I replied, "Arthur, you are going to die somewhere; Scotland is a great place to die--but when you die, die with your boots on, not in a comfortable rocking chair." The Thulins came, blessed the lives of many, and Arthur lived several years after their two-year mission. (David B. Haight, CR O'88, Ensign, [November 1988]: 85).
Thousands of devoted mature couples and single sisters have touched the lives of many for good. We are grateful for their dedication and courage and often times great personal sacrifice. One couple indicated on their missionary form that they would be ready to go just as soon as they were able to find a home for their eighty hives of bees. (David B. Haight, CR O'88, Ensign, [November 1988]: 84).
In the past few months remarkable indications of interest in the Church have emerged in nations that have had restrictions. We sense providential opportunities beginning to appear where mature couples who have the experience, sensitivity, and insight into old-world customs and respect the tradition may be able to begin planting seeds of the restored gospel in good soil to flower and bloom.
For some time we have been encouraging, qualified mature couples to serve full-time missions. President Kimball and President Benson have stated that the goal of physically able couples and some women who may now be single is to serve a mission. The need remains. Indeed, the requests from mission Presidents for more--many more--couples are becoming more pressing.
While firefighters were battling roaring forest fires in the West recently, two grandmothers─-Altha Clark, from Texas, and Hazel Stills, from Florida--kindled countless spiritual flames by creating new "interest of people who [had] investigated the Church for years, but who need a firm, loving nudge to accept baptism," and with caring fellowshipping, reached out to the less-active members.
"They don't take no for an answer," the second counselor in the Altamont Utah Stake Presidency said, "and they [teach] without offending anyone." They combine the Spirit with hard work.
A rancher said the two sisters "have kept us so busy I don't have time to get my hay in. We...keep them [booked with people] to teach. In this stake, the full-time missionaries teach very few discussions without a stake missionary or fellowshipper going along."
The two grandmothers travel about one hundred miles a day on unpaved country roads, and the dust and ruts don't slow them down.
While visiting a member's home, these remarkable missionaries asked if she knew someone they could teach.
The sister replied, "my husband."
Directed by the Spirit how to approach this husband, they taught him the gospel and rejoiced with his wife at his baptism.
Fourteen families have now become active and will go to the temple this year because of the efforts of these full-time grandmother missionaries coordinating with the stake missionaries and properly following a plan in fellowshipping new members. A change has come about in the whole stake that has influenced the less active as well as nonmembers. (See Church News, 10 September 1988, pp. 8, 9, 12). (David B. Haight, CR O'88, Ensign, [November 1988]: 3-84).
We were in the city of Bacolod on the island of Negros Occidente, in the Republic of the Philippines. There, to my great surprise, I met a man I had not seen in years.
The weather was steamy hot, as it always is in Bacolod, the center of the once thriving Filipino sugar industry. My friend was in a short sleeved white shirt with dark trousers, his shoes shined. His beautiful wife, Marva, was beside him. I said,
"Victor Jex, what are you doing here?"
He smiled and replied, "We're doing the Lord's work. We're helping the people. We're missionaries."
"Where do you live?"
"In a little house in Iloilo on the island of Panay. We came over on the ferry for the conference."
I thought of when I had last seen them. It was a few years ago. They then lived in a beautiful home in Scarsdale, New York. He was a widely recognized and honored chemist, with a doctorate in chemical engineering. He worked for one of the big multinational companies headquartered in New York. He was credited with putting together the chemical ingredients of a product now sold around the world, the name of which is known to millions of people and the profit from which has run into many millions of dollars for his company.
He was well paid and highly respected. He was also the president of the Yorktown stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had under his direction corps of church workers who served faithfully in their local wards, many of whom commuted each day to and from New York City, where they held high and responsible positions in some of the great corporations of America. He was their church leader.
Now he was retired. He and his wife had sold their beautiful home, had given their children what furniture they wanted, and donated the rest to others. They had disposed of their cars and everything except their clothing, their family photographs, and their family history records. They had made themselves available to the Lord and his Church to go wherever they might be sent at their own expense. They were now in the Philippines Bacolod Mission, working among the wonderful, friendly, brown-skinned people of the area. Unemployment is high in this region, and there is much of misery. But wherever Elder and Sister Jex go, they touch for good the lives of those among whom they serve.
They are there to heal the suffering people, to teach the gospel of Christ, to give encouragement and strength and hope and faith. They are there to heal wounds of misunderstanding and contention. They are there to bless the sick and to help those with diseased bodies and frustrated minds. Their smile is infectious, their laugh a joy to hear. They are living humbly among the poor, down at the level of the people, but standing straight and tall to lift with strong hands.
This former New York executive and his charming companion are in the service of the Savior, giving their full time, their resources, and their love to bless with healing the lives of many who are discouraged and need help. Here is a retire New Yorker, a man of great learning and recognized capacity, living in a home with few conveniences, a simple little place that would fit in the living room of his former house.
He and his wife are there, with others of their kind. They are two a band of remarkable and dedicated older missionary couples who minister to the wants of people with numerous problems. They receive no financial compensation. They pay their own way. This world's goods mean little to them. As I said, they sold all they had when they left to come to the Philippines. They will stay for as long as they are assigned by the Church to do so. Then they want to go on another mission. They are healers among the people, serving the cause of the Master Healer. (Gordon B. Hinckley, CR O'88, “The Healing Power of Christ,” Ensign, [November 1988]: 52).
Emma Lou and Joseph Slagowski could not speak Spanish but were called to the Peru Lima South Mission. They participated in a trial pre-mission language project for mature couples that assists them in learning language skills in their own homes prior to entering the Missionary Training Center for their training. Sister Slagowski writes:
"When our stake president asked us [if] we would be willing to take part in [a new] pre-mission...language learning project, we were concerned, but accepted," she said. "I am now 66 years old, and school was [never easy] for me.
"Without the pre-Missionary Training Center Spanish program, it would have been impossible... [But] before [we arrived at] the Missionary Training Center I could read Spanish quite well...could pray, and bear testimony of God the Father and Jesus Christ. To me it's a miracle.
"We plan on another Spanish-speaking mission after this one if health permits."
There are few things that invite the blessings of the Lord into our own lives and into the lives of our family members more powerfully than does missionary service--the broadening of knowledge of gospel principles, a deeper spirituality, a strengthening of one's faith in the Lord, a greater understanding of the workings of the Spirit, and the expanding of one's talents, as promised by the Savior in the parable of the talents. (David B. Haight, CR O'88, Ensign, [November 1988]: 85).
I commend the many couples who now go forth to serve. Leaving the comforts of home, the companionship of family, they walk hand in hand as eternal companions, but also hand in hand with God as His Representatives to a faith-starved world. (Thomas S. Monson, CR O'87, Ensign, [November 1987]: 43).