MESA, Ariz. — Although Rose Evelyn Griffin of the Mesa Arizona Kimball East Stake is "pushing 80," she doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
She is always learning new things and many activities keep her busy, including organizing and publishing the journals of her many experiences, and amazingly from the nine missions she served for the Church — including two stake missions with her husband before he passed away, and seven as a full-time single-sister missionary.
"The Lord has directed me to serve every one of my missions," she said. "I've always thought that if you feel like you should do something, then do it."
It is because of that tenacity that Sister Griffin's life is filled with marvelous experiences and just as her life is full, the bookcases and cupboards in her home are also full with bulging scrapbooks and journals of her memories.
Eight of those journals have been typed, printed and bound for her posterity, which includes six children, 28 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. She said raising her children has been her most important mission and she hopes they will benefit by her meticulously documenting her life.
While suffering many health problems throughout the years, including rheumatic fever as a child and open-heart surgery and cancer as an adult, Sister Griffin feels that each minute is a gift. "I've lived through things that you wouldn't ordinarily live through," she said. "The Lord has given me more time."
Sister Griffin, and her husband, Russ, joined the Church in 1964 in Arkansas after coming in contact with a member in California while there for specialized medical care for their children. She remembers the excitement of her husband when he found out about a living prophet. "He knew the Bible from cover to cover," she said. "He had always hoped to find the true church."
From then on the Griffins made missionary work a big part of their lives. They served two stake missions that were essentially full-time proselytizing missions while living in Arkansas.
After her husband died, Sister Griffin took a bus trip around the country collecting family history information and ended up in Mesa to be near some of her family. One Sunday her bishop approached her before sacrament meeting and showed her a list of people in the ward who were qualified to go on a mission; her name was at the top. He asked her to think about it. Before sacrament meeting was over, she knew it was what the Lord wanted her to do. She served in the Montana Billings Mission from 1977 to 1978.
While serving she felt compelled to keep up with the younger missionaries. "They told me that I didn't have to memorize the discussions," she said. "I said if they can do it, then I can do it, and I did it." She recalls not only "passing off" all of the discussions but also all of the scriptures and the Joseph Smith story.
"Just because I have a few wrinkles doesn't mean I can't do it," she said.
After returning home she had the impression that she was to serve another mission, but in Spanish. She soon took up learning the language by listening to tapes and taking a class at Mesa Community College.
However, when she put in her papers again, she was called to serve in the Georgia Atlanta Mission. Following that mission she was called to Boise, Idaho.
Following those missions she continued to learn Spanish and then was called to the Peru Lima Mission, where she finally spoke her newly acquired language. After that she was called on another Spanish-speaking mission, this time to Mexico.
She then served two more missions — one to Arcadia, Calif., and another which she started in Corpus Christi, Texas, and finished in Albuquerque, N.M. Also speaking Spanish when needed.
After her last mission in Texas, she felt strongly that she was to go to South Africa. She made arrangements with the temple president there and served five weeks working in the temple.
After returning home, she has served as an ordinance worker for the last 10 years in the Mesa Arizona Temple. She also helps serve lunch at a homeless shelter twice a week and works part time for a local doctor.
And she said she's not through yet.
She learned computer skills to help her compile nearly 40 years of journal writing. "I've written journals ever since we came into the Church in '64," she said. She also has collected about 10,000 family names in her Personal Ancestral File.
"I still have some things I need to do," she said. "I've got to publish a few more journals and work more on my genealogy. I suppose that's why I'm still here."