Sunday, January 27, 2008

Paying for LDS Missions

Responsibility for LDS mission varies according to the financial state of the prospective missionaries. I assumed it was the missionary since I was taught we should support ourselves at the end of our shelves. Being a convert I saved as much as I could then had help from my ward. I knew missionaries who sacrificed and completely supported themselves. I have known others whose families pick up the the whole tab. I knew a few missionaries in foreign countries that were paid for completely by the missionary fund. The best scenario is for missionaries to pay as much as they possibly can from their own money.

I have two daughters currently serving missions. Both of them worked very hard prior to serving to generate savings to pay for their missions. The oldest daughter worked fifty hours a week for a couple of years and saved enough for a mission. Unfortunately she did a foolish thing and bought an automobile that broke down constantly and she became pre-engaged to a young man who joined the church. They both shared a checking account despite my telling her it was a dangerous thing to do. He promised to pay her monthly payment for her mission. After she was on a mission for a few months he met another girl and got married on the spur of the moment. She never received any money and he still has her household goods including her bed and furniture. My wife and I had to provide her monthly support. My second daughter who was a junior at BYU worked three jobs and managed to save about $2000 for her mission. My bishop in Utah called me in and I committed to pay half her expenses. He called me back in and determined that since I only made a little over $50,000 and had six other children in school (two in college) that wealthy donors in the ward would pick up the cost of her monthly payments for her mission since I was already paying for one daughter's mission.

I have taken a very bad course of action in financing my daughters missions. I did not saved in advance for their mission but use our monthly income to meet the demands of their fiscal needs. I have heard for years in the Church that young people and their families need to save for a mission. With eight children I have never been able to put away even a small amount. I have thought on many occasions how helpful it would have been to have planned and saved for their missions. I also have six more children to send on a mission. All of them but one including five daughters and one son are totally committed to going. All of them have saved a small amount ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to one thousand dollars.

My second daughter heard Elder Boyd K. Packer speak in 2007 at the MTC. After the missionary devotion he shook her hand. When he inquired about her she told him she had another sister on a mission. He promised her that the Lord had great blessings for her parents for supporting two missionaries at the same time.

H. Aldridge Gillispie of the Seventy tells of his experience in providing for his mission: "I made up my mind that I was going to serve a mission. I needed some method of showing the Lord that I truly did love Him in spite of my sometimes foolish youthful actions.

So, with the temple as a standard and a desire to serve a mission, I started to plan for a mission. Not long after that, my father had another heart attack and died. I was still in my first years at the university. With the death of my father, I suddenly realized that if I were to go on a mission, there would be no one to take care of my mother, grandmother, and two sisters.

I was torn between my sense of obligation toward my family and my obligation to Heavenly Father. I wasn’t even sure I could save enough money to get started on a mission, but I was determined that, if it were possible, I would go. I made a decision based totally on my faith in the Lord’s promise: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).

Not long after, I received an offer to work at a very good job as an engineering aide in Oregon, in the western United States, which permitted me to save for a mission and send some money home. Still, it wasn’t easy. But as I pondered D&C 31:5 and Matthew 6:33 [Matt. 6:33], the Spirit said to me, “If you will seek first my kingdom (a mission), I will take care of your family.” I didn’t know how that would be possible, but I believed the Lord’s promises with all my heart.

When the time neared for me to leave, I still didn’t have all the money I would need to support myself, so I went to my bishop and explained my predicament. He said, “All the help you need you’ve got right at your fingertips.”

“What do you mean?” I said.

He told me to talk to my relatives, even to nonmembers and less-active members, to see if they would help me. “Go bear your testimony to them,” he said. “Tell them you want to serve the Lord, and ask for their help.”

I didn’t know how I was going to do that, but I did, and all those I asked said they would help a little. The high priests group in my ward helped me with the rest."

Laura Livey in the New Era tells how one young man worked three jobs to pay for his mission.

Gordon B. Hinckley in December 1986 said:

"We urge adherence to the rule of missionary support which has been in effect from the beginnings of the Church--namely, that it is the responsibility of the individual and the family to provide support for the missionary. This must be encouraged, even though there may necessarily be some delay in departure. Better a young man delays his mission for a year and earns money toward his support than he rely entirely on others.

But because of economic conditions in some lands, it is not possible for some young men and women to serve without some financial help. Wards and quorums should then help to the extent possible. The balance may come from the general missionary fund comprised of the contributions of Church members. We encourage members to contribute to the general missionary fund, where it is appropriate and possible for you to do so. This fund has made it possible for thousands of our young men and women to serve. Without it, thousands will be unable to do so.

With every such contribution comes a blessing promised by the Lord. Said He concerning those who assist missionaries: "And he who feeds you, or clothes you, or gives you money, shall in nowise lose his reward.

"And he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this you may know my disciples." (D&C 84:90-91). (Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Field is White Already to Harvest," Ensign, [December 1986]: 6).

Jerry Mason in 1989 in I Have An Answer describes how to save for a twelve year old boy's mission in great detail. The information is very sound the only correction is that it now costs $400 a month to serve. Some of the strategies for saving are very helpful. His charts would need you to factor for $400 a month versus $350 when he wrote it.

In 2001 Jeffrey R. Holland told of the sacrifice one family made to keep their daughter on a mission: "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."

Melvin J. Ballard in the 1925 General Conference said: "It has not only cost the services of men, it has cost sacrifice on the part of many thousands of wives and mothers and fathers at home who have borne the extra burden. Many have suffered themselves to be denied the necessities of life, in order that they might maintain their son in the mission field. And not only that, many of these precious sons have given their very lives to the great cause. We have held back nothing from this great call that the Lord has made upon us to carry these glad tidings to all men."

Stephen L. Richards in October Conference in 1945 said: "The enormous cost of the service has been widely distributed, shared by nearly every family in the Church. Many families have sent forth more than one missionary, and not infrequently has as a home kept one or more missionaries in the field continuously for ten or a dozen years, sometimes for a quarter of a century. I know of no way of securing comparable data from other religious bodies, but I venture the assertion that no such church at any period in history for a century of time has ever given to a missionary service such a proportion of its membership and its available resources."

I have always looked to M. Russell Ballard, my former mission president in Canada Toronto for advice on financing a mission. I have gauged my success and failure on his advice. In 2007 in the New Era he said: "Missionaries need to be self-reliant. Young people ought to learn to take care of themselves and not be so dependent on their mother or father. . . .

Prospective missionaries need to learn to work. They ought to have a job and save money for their missions. Every mission president would concur with me that the missionary who has worked and saved and helped pay for part or all of his or her mission is a better-prepared missionary. Working and saving for a mission generates enthusiasm for serving and gives a young man or a young woman a good work ethic. Whatever else missionary work is, it is work!

Working toward a mission and being accountable for their own lives helps young men and young women emotionally as well. They know within themselves that they can succeed no matter where they are sent and no matter the circumstances. They know they are tough enough to handle anything in a world that is becoming less interested in the things of God. We need missionaries with that kind of self-assurance."

Spencer W. Kimball in a 1976 Samoa Area Conference tells parents to set up savings account early for their children: "When your first son goes into the mission field, then it is easy to train all the others so that they will not fail to go. Another way to guarantee this matter is to start when they are little, tiny children to put in a little savings bank some pennies, nickels, and dimes. And every time that child receives a gift of money you say, 'Well, what are you going to do with it now, Te'o? That would be good to go in your mission fund.' As he grows up to maturity, mission fund also grows and is available. Keep it before him all his life."

In 1981 President Kimball again stressed saving: "Remember it costs money to go to the various parts of the world and preach the gospel. Remember, then, it is your privilege now to begin to save your money.

Every time money comes into your hands, through gifts or earnings, set at least part of it away in a savings account to be used for your mission. It is your mission; it is your opportunity and responsibility. Remember that pennies make dollars, and sacrifices for a just cause make character."

At the Buenos Aires Area Conference in 1975 President Kimball said: "We expect every boy to do all he can toward saving his mission funds. There are millions of dollars that are in savings throughout the country, throughout the world, or young men who are anticipating their missions at nineteen. When I went to another stake in England, a little boy came up to me after conference and he said, 'I was to the London meeting last Sunday night, and you gave me ten shillings, and I've already got three times that much. When I told my daddy and my uncles that I was going on a mission, they began to give me jobs to do to earn money.'

Now there's no reason why any boy in this Church needs to forfeit his mission because of lack of funds, if he and his family will begin saving for that mission. And when he's nineteen, if he is worthy to go on his mission and has done all that he can, then he can apply to the Church. We have a fund, and the mission presidents and the stake presidents can call upon us to assist. That's extremely important."

Gordon B. Hinckley also affirms that saving must begin early: "We ask that parents begin early to train their children. Where there is family prayer, where there are family home evenings, where there is scripture reading, where the father and mother are active in the Church and speak with enthusiasm concerning the Church and the gospel, the children in such homes become imbued in a natural way with a desire to teach the gospel to others. There is usually a tradition of missionary work in such homes. Savings accounts are set up while children are small. Boys grow up with a natural expectation that they will be called to serve as missionaries for the Church. A mission becomes as much a part of a boy’s program for life as is an education."

President Hinckley in 1986 General Conference also said: "To you younger boys, may I encourage you to save money now for a future mission. Put it in a place where it is safe, not in a speculative account where it may be endangered. Consecrate it for this great purpose, and let it not be used for any other. Prepare yourselves. Attend seminary and institute. Prayerfully read the Book of Mormon.

I hear much these days of costly youth excursions to exotic places during spring breaks and at other times. Why not stay near home and put the money in your future missionary accounts? Someday you will be grateful you did. (Gordon B. Hinckley, CR A'86, Ensign, [May 1986]: 41).

Barbara K. Christensen gives some good advice why children saving is important: "Saving for a mission should begin when each child is very young. This also helps them think in terms of “when I go on a mission” instead of “if I go on a mission.” Missionaries who save their own money usually are better missionaries than those who receive a handout. Help them plan projects to earn money, and help them learn to budget what they earn. President McKay was once asked by a mother of a young son, “What is the most important thing I can teach my son?” He quickly replied, “Teach him to deny himself.” Happy children know what it is like to go without some things. It is not doing a child a favor to fulfill his every desire."

Marvin J. Ashton advises families to pay as a group not just the parents: "Teach each family member to contribute to the total family welfare. As children mature, they should understand the family financial position, budget, and investment goals and their individual responsibility within the family. Encourage inexpensive, fun projects, understandable to the children, that contribute to a family goal or joy. Some families miss a tremendous financial and spiritual experience when they fail to sit together, preferably during family home evening, and each put in his or her share of the monthly amount going to the son or daughter, brother or sister, who is serving in the mission field. When this monthly activity is engaged in, all at once, he or she becomes “our” missionary, with pride becoming a two-way street." I remember fondly that two of my children contributed one month to the Utah ward's support of my second daughter. My eight year old contributed twenty cents and my seventeen year old contributed twenty dollars."

For couples preparing financially for a mission, Robert D. Hales said: "Some couples who would willingly serve are not able to do so because of age, health, finances, or family circumstances. Perhaps those who are not able to serve could assist another couple to go on a mission.

Missionary work has always involved sacrifice. If some sacrifices are necessary, then the blessings will be all the more abundant. Children, encourage your parents to serve and assist them with financial support if necessary. You may lose a baby-sitter for a short time, but the eternal rewards you and your family receive will more than compensate for the brief sacrifice.

To younger couples with children still at home, I urge you now to decide to serve in your later years and to plan and prepare so you are financially, physically, and spiritually able. Make certain that the great example of missionary service is a heritage you will leave your posterity.

There are two unique times in our lives when we can truly live the law of consecration and devote ourselves in full-time service to the Lord. One is as a young man or woman serving a full-time mission. The other is the unique time you are given after having fulfilled the requirements of earning a living. The latter could be called the “patriarchal years,” when you can draw upon the rich experiences of a lifetime, go out as a couple, and consecrate yourselves fully as servants of the Lord.

The blessings of serving with your eternal companion are priceless and can only be understood by those who have experienced it. My wife and I have had that privilege in the mission field. Each day is a special day with daily rewards that cause personal growth and development in the Lord’s time and in the Lord’s way. The fulfillment that comes from this kind of service will bless you, your marriage, and your family for eternity."

Russell M. Nelson in 2004 also says that wealthy couples who cannot go can support those with limited means to serve senior missions: "As I extol the work of senior missionaries, I realize that there are many more who would like to serve but are not able to do so. Limitations imposed by age or by poor health deserve realistic appraisal, as do the important needs of family members. When desire burns within yet such limitations exist, you can extend your service through others. They can be your arms and legs, and you can provide needed funds."

Back in 1975 one of my favorite Seventies, S. Dilworth Young said: "It is extremely important that the Saints throughout the Church know about the financial needs of the missionary program. In financial terms we have two divisions of missionaries: first, there are missionaries who have saved enough for their mission or who, with the help of their parents or quorums, can handle their mission call; second, there are missionaries in other countries where neither the missionary nor his parents nor even his quorums are able to supply all of the necessary finances. In these cases, after the missionary, his parents, and his quorum have done all that they can for his support, the ... quorums and others of the Church try to fill in the remaining needed amount. Thus, there is a great need for financial assistance to the Church missionary program. We hope that every family will want to be contributing to someone’s mission. If a family lives in the mission field, such support could mean inviting the missionaries to dinner on occasion, thus cutting down the missionaries’ food costs. Many families might consider adding a regular amount to the missionary fund when they pay their tithes and offerings. Other persons, some who are retired, could not only consider fulfilling a mission themselves, but should consider financially supporting someone else. After their basic financial needs have been met, they might ask themselves: Is not all that I have from the Lord? How can I help him? Does he need some of it now?"

L. Tom Perry in 1991 encourages missionaries to begin saving earlier: " Financing missions places additional burdens on family resources. This would not be necessary if young priesthood bearers would decide early in life that they would carry this responsibility measurably themselves. The new Missionary Equalization Program has removed much of the guesswork about the financial resources which will be required for missionary service.

One of the great blessings of this program is that missionaries and their parents can now project fairly accurately the cost of a mission. Savings accounts can then be planned based on this projection. Early proper planning can help missionaries become self-sufficient in financing their own missions. It also has the benefit of teaching early in life the rewards that come from honest labor."

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: "The time to start saving is when boys are very young. Let those savings be kept in safe bank accounts and not be placed in speculative ventures. The young man to whom I referred earlier had saved money to finance his mission. Many of our young men have done so. Many more could do much more."

In 1975 Spencer W. Kimball in a Tokyo Japan Area Conference said: "Now if your little boys pray in their turn in the home and pray for the missionaries, they are almost certain to plan their lives in that direction. If all of your little boys are trained to earn money and to save money for their missions, the finances are in their favor because in nineteen years they can save a good deal of money. But the more powerful instrument is the fact that they are converting themselves all through those years."

David O. McKay in Conference 1966 said: "Young men, young women, older men, and older women, stand ready to respond to a call of the Church and to make any sacrifice necessary in order to give the call of the Church preference in preaching the gospel, not only a missionary call that requires a sacrifice to duty, but the rendering of finances, sometimes reaching millions of dollars, in order to make the call more successful as a service to the Church."

Finally Boyd K. Packer said: "you need to prepare financially. Every one of you should have a savings account specifically reserved for your mission. I speak to that young man who doesn’t have any idea how he can finance a mission. I do not know either. But I do know this: if you have faith and determine that you will go, there will be a way. Opportunities will come to you as manna from heaven. Do not let that deter you from your duty.

Young brethren, a mission is a duty—it is your duty. It will cost you something—certainly money, and certainly years of your life, possibly much, much more.

I once held the hand of a tall, handsome college basketball star as he drew his last breath, dead from a disease he had contracted while serving the Lord in a foreign land. A casualty? Perhaps. A winner? Wait and you will see. He answered the call. He will not, in the eternal scheme of things, be granted less than he might have earned had he lived a very long life. For he answered the call to duty, priesthood duty."

I agree that we should start sooner to finance missions for our children and parents. But no matter how we do it whether monthly or ahead of time we will be blessed. I wonder what practical techniques families have used to support their missionaries.

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