How to overcome obstacles to serving a mission as a retired couple

The "Faith in Every Footstep" theme of this year's sesquicentennial celebration of the pioneers arrival in the Salt Lake Valley is so applicable to retired couples contemplating full-time missions. A deep and abiding faith is the quality - gift of the Spirit - needed to overcome such obstacles as:

Financial concerns. Share your heartfelt desire with the Lord and let Him know the price you are willing to pay and the sacrifice you are willing to make to serve. A way will be opened up for you to serve a mission.- Concern for the well-being of your family. We took turns with family members caring for elderly parents in between our missions - 12 to 18 months of care-taking, then 18 months away on a mission. As for our 10 children and their spouses, during our absence they came together in a bond of love and support after which was a joy to behold. In addition, many letters were received bearing the message, "Grandpa and Grandma, when we grow up we are going to serve a mission just like you are doing."

Fears regarding your qualifications for sharing the gospel with others. Read and trust in the beautiful promises made in D&C 84:85-88.

Concerns regarding your health and physical well-being. True, as we served, we were very tired as we returned to our little missionary cottage each night, but, come morning, there was a complete renewal of strength of body and spirit.

Six months after our return from our third mission, my dear eternal and missionary companion peacefully passed away. Just two weeks prior to this, he told our bishop, "I am ready and anxious to serve again, and I would like to go right now." I find great comfort and peace at this time, knowing that he has overcome all obstacles and continues to serve faithfully. - Norma B. Pieper, Rexburg, Idaho

What we did:

Change in attitude

The first obstacle we had to overcome in preparing to serve as senior missionaries was a change in attitude. Can we really learn another language, leave our comfortable home and environment, and serve in a foreign land with a different lifestyle? Yes! Yes! Yes!

Once that decision was made everything else became just a matter of organizing affairs one at a time. Get the living trust established; set up financial arrangements. Keep physically, mentally and spiritually active. Reflect on the covenants of consecration made in the temple. Serving a mission as a senior couple is an opportunity to put those covenants into practice. We solicited and received encouragement from family. The Lord opened doors so that family could live in our home. This made it easy for us to pick up and go. We spent five summers doing volunteer work for the Forest Service in primitive living conditions. We knew from experience that we could adapt and live comfortably among people with different lifestyles and customs. From the time we both served as young missionaries, and after our marriage, we began planning to serve again, together this time.

Make the decision to go, then put things in order, and go! - Elder Don R. and Sister Sara-Beth Mathis, Czech Prague Mission

Don't worry

If you really want to go on a mission, it is possible. The Church makes allowances for older people. Your work load is easier than the young missionaries. Your health and age are taken into consideration.

Find someone reliable to take care of your home and yard while you are away. Above all, don't worry about it. The Lord will bless you for all that you do and this includes your health and your possessions.

You can arrange with a doctor and druggist to send your medicine to you. It is surprising how much you can stretch your money when you are on your mission. Somehow your necessities aren't all that expensive.

Think of all the wonderful experiences you will be having, the joy of explaining the gospel to others, the joy of baptizing and blessing others. Think of the example you are setting for your children and grandchildren. Think of all the struggling branches and little wards in faraway places that you can help with your knowledge of the gospel, and priesthood support you can give. Oh, how the world needs you blessed older people with your white hair that makes a halo around your head! - Jean and Richard Taylor, West Bountiful, Utah

Desire realized

After suffering severe hearing loss, I felt my desire to serve a mission would not be realized. At home, I had such good support, family, friends and ward family. But putting our trust in the Lord, my husband and I came on a mission.

Of course, it has required us to crawl out of our comfort zone, but to have missed knowing and loving the people of South Africa would have been such a loss to us.

Serving a mission is a lot like paying tithing - you don't pay tithing with money, but with faith. So is serving a mission as a retired couple. - Elder Keith and Sister Laura Homer, South Africa Johannesburg Mission

Wonderful, loving people

My husband and I are 53 and 57 years old. We have served two full-time missions since my husband's retirement in May 1991. We served at the Denver Temple from 1991-1992, and on Temple Square in Salt Lake City from 1994-1995.

The first obstacle to overcome is a lack of desire to serve. The second is fear. When you make the decision to serve, the Lord will help fill in the gaps. The fear of leaving children and grandchildren behind is filled by wonderful, loving people you serve with on your mission. If you think it's hard to leave home to serve, wait until you leave your mission to go home. That's a void to worry about.

The Lord needs you senior couples with your special maturity. Your families you fear leaving will also be blessed by your service. Our lives have been greatly blessed by serving. May you have this great blessing also. - Richard and Dixie Peterson, Alamogordo, N.M.

Choice land

I began earnestly planning possibilities of serving a mission by "pinching pennies" to a substantial sum and by selling my car. Some of our concerns were money, which I had saved; our home, which a daughter wanted; and my husband's truck, which a neighbor purchased.

We were blessed with an "impossible dream" coming true by being called to serve in the choice land of Tonga, where we are really enjoying the wonderful, faithful, friendly Tongans. We enjoy their strong spirits, their beautiful temple and their singing. - G. Emma Bowker, Church Educational System missionary, Nuku`alofa, Tonga

Exciting, fulfilling

You may consider a part-time Church service mission. In most instances, you may live in your own home, thereby keeping your health-care providers. You'll live on your retirement; a Church service mission won't increase expenses.

Stretching to learn new things is exciting and fulfilling. The steadiness and service you offer is priceless and can only be given by seniors. - Elder Gary and Sister Barbara Smith, Texas Dallas Mission

How to checklist:

1 Have faith in the Lord; He will guide you, give you strength.

2 Realize your mission will bless your family; you are setting positive example.

3 Put temporal affairs in order one at a time; plan ahead.

4 Realize your maturity and gospel experience is needed; expect wonderful blessings.


April 19 "How to break the habit of being late."

April 26 "How to organize your finances and the paying of bills."

May 3 "How to feed a family on a limited budget."

May 10 "How to cope with a compulsive disorder."

May 17 "How to be emotionally self-reliant."

May 24 "How to have an enjoyable family vacation."

May 31 "How to encourage reverence during Primary."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to help young people show respect for authority in school," "How to unleash the personal impact of scripture study in your life."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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