When we think about missionaries, we generally envision young men in suits and white shirts and young women in simple, modest clothing serving the Lord before they marry. To the world, our missionary force seems to be viewed as one of young people. However, many senior couple missionaries also serve.
My mother-in-law served a mission with her husband in Boston, Massachusetts. They worked in the office and both of them enjoyed their time in the mission field immensely. A couple in my ward served a mission in Texas. They both speak fondly of the time they spent there, teaching people about the Book of Mormon. In fact, they shared a story about their mission just last week in Sunday School. Couples who choose to serve missions can provide valuable service to the Lord.
Of course, it’s hard to think about Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa leaving to serve a mission because they might miss out on births, weddings, graduations, ordinations, or other important family events. We have been promised that though they may miss some of these special family times, not only will they be blessed for their service, but so will the entire family.
When older couples consider serving a mission, they need to take some things into consideration.
Both the husband and the wife should be in good health and be able to maintain a rigorous schedule. Not all senior couples will be tracting, but the daily schedule is similar to what is expected for the young missionaries. Couples need to carefully consider their health and what it takes to maintain good health, especially if their mission call should be in a country where healthcare may not be what they’ve experienced in their home country.
The cost for couple missionaries varies from mission to mission, but couples should have enough money to easily live a year or more in another country. Couples may begin saving for a mission many years ahead of time, or the family may consider financially helping the couple to serve. In any case, there needs to be enough funds so that money issues do not arise while serving and the couple can concentrate on their mission not their finances.
All the members of the family should be encouraged to support the missionary couple. Yes, family members will miss the couple, but they will learn valuable lessons of service as they watch older family members sacrifice to serve the Lord. When couples feel that their family supports their decision, they can leave the family without hesitation and trust that the Lord will care for their family while they are gone.
Senior couples who desire to serve missions should meet with their bishop to determine if they are ready to serve. The call for senior couples has been issued many times and those of us who are in that season of our lives should strive to serve a mission if at all possible. Couple missionaries can offer something to a mission that young people can’t, and there may be those in that area who can only be touched by a senior couple.
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