You have likely seen young adult missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in your area…the ones with black nametags who work two-by-two, and can often be seen on bicycles or walking the streets with backpacks on their backs.
But did you know that there are also married couples (usually in the “empty nest” stage of life) who also serve as Mormon missionaries? Some do proselyting work, but there are also many who do service missions, such as talked about on this Mormon Channel Faith in Action episode. From the podcast description: “Alan and Linda Turner speak about their experience as humanitarian missionaries in Harare, Zimbabwe. They discuss their feelings upon being called, what it was like when they arrived in the country, and the various humanitarian projects they were involved in.”
There are many other ways Mormon missionary couples serve. For example, LeAnn (pictured above with her husband) has written about how she and her husband have been serving as inner city missionaries, working to help those in need right in their area.
Not long ago, our family went to some Church historic sites, where senior couple missionaries were serving. The Spirit was strong as they shared their testimonies with us, and helped us understand more about the Mormon history of the area and the particular site we were visiting. It’s just another example of the kinds of thing Mormon missionary couples do.
We have senior missionaries (both couples and those who are single) who serve locally. For example, we have a sister in our ward who serves in the Church’s addiction recovery program. Others are serving in family history capacities, ready and willing to help anyone in our area who wants to do more family history work.
At any given time, there are always a variety of opportunities for service. Many of the opportunities allow those who have retired to continue using skills they have developed through professional and church work to help with various needs, both within the Church structure and also in serving those in need and sharing the gospel. Missionaries often are able to develop and build skills and talents as they serve. But the primary reason missionaries serve si because they love the Lord, Jesus Christ, and His gospel and church.
Missionary opportunities include a variety of full-time and part-time opportunities. Besides humanitarian service or other service listed above, Mormon missionaries also serve in any number of our temples in various places all over the world; helping with local lds.org customized websites in various countries; help with curriculum needs, education/teaching, education or leadership or basic music training; serve in various capacities in LDS Family Services and employment resource centers. The list goes on.
Here’s another list of many things Mormon missionary couples do. From Elder Robert D. Hales, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
Consider these examples: A couple called to India helped a school for blind children build sanitary facilities and acquire braille typewriters. A couple in Hawaii nurtured a little branch of 20 members to 200 and prepared 70 members to attend the temple together. A couple in Peru arranged for medicine and Christmas toys to be provided to 550 children in an orphanage. A couple in Cambodia taught institute classes and gave leadership to a branch which, after only 10 months, grew to 180 members. A couple in Russia helped local farmers increase their yield of potatoes to 11 times that of the state farms, while a couple in the Philippines helped nearly 700 poorly nourished families learn to raise rabbits and cultivate vegetable gardens. A couple in Pennsylvania assisted 60 individuals, half of them members of other faiths, in preparing their family genealogical records. A couple in Ghana helped drill and refurbish wells, bringing water to 190,000 people in villages and refugee camps.
As is the case with younger missionaries, Mormon missionary couples serve because they love the Lord and want to help in His work. Service sometimes comes at great sacrifice…not only of the missionary couples, but of their families. My parents served a mission for three years in South America. They missed births and baptisms, holidays and family reunions, and many comforts of home and their familiar life. We missed having them here to help and support us in our lives. But my children watched their grandparents, who through their example, testified that God’s work matters.
I’m grateful for the missionaries worldwide who sacrifice time, means, and talents to help where help is needed. I look forward to someday serving with my husband in this great work as a missionary couple.