What do you think of when you think of retired couples and RVs?
You probably don’t think of Mormon missionaries!
Yesterday we posted an infographic about young adult missionaries. And while we’ve posted on this topic before, a recent blog post by the wife of a mission president left me wanting to write again about the amazing (and sometimes unexpected or surprising) kinds of service senior missionary couples extend in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
People often think of Mormon missionaries as walking or biking and only teaching people not of our faith about the gospel. While some senior missionary couples do proselyte, there are many more who serve in quiet ways that make a significant difference for people. That blog post above (hat tip to Emily Jensen at the Deseret News) is an example.
Another example of senior couple missionary service is something I was recently educated about, something that impressed and moved me. We’ve already written about Church history sites where missionaries serve, but did you know that some missionaries serve all of their time to facilitate camping experiences for youth and families? I was blown away to hear how many couples serve and what kinds of things they do.
For example, nearly 70 couples donate six months of their time (working full-time) to help serve tens of thousands people every year who use a church-owned camp. This camp was commissioned by a prophet of God (President Hinckley) specifically and primarily with the purpose to serve LDS young women and give them a dedicated place to hold their annual young women camp. In this particular camp, over 20,000 young women are benefited each year from the selfless service of these missionaries. During off-seasons (winter months), others are also able to enjoy the camp.
What do these missionaries do? They live full-time on-site in their own recreational vehicle or trailer, or some live in the limited space in on-site cabins. They work six days a week greeting campers and their leaders, orienting them to the amazing and varied facilities, answering endless questions that arise while people are there, hauling garbage on ATVs, doing some occasional cleaning and light fix-it jobs, receiving training for first-aid emergencies, and more. Some also train local youth leaders about the camp.
The time they put in is likely equivalent to millions of dollars of payroll that would be spent on a camp of comparable size with comparable facilities. But rather than get paid, these missionaries pay money to serve, and they do so willingly.
Why do they do this? Because they love the Lord. And they are dedicated to helping make the time young women spend at their camp a safe and spiritual experience.
For more examples of the many quiet, unheralded jobs senior couple missionaries do, you can peruse this Senior Missionary Opportunities document.
I’m so grateful to the missionaries like these all around the world who serve, who often give up the comforts of home (and definitely give up the “comforts” that retirement might bring to use their time, energy, means, and talents (or willingness to learn new things!) dedicated to the Lord and serving others.
There is no sabbatical or retirement program from [covenant] responsibilities—regardless of age or physical capacity. While the phrase “been there, done that” may work as an excuse to avoid skateboarding, decline the invitation for a motorbike ride, or bypass the spicy curry at the buffet, it is not an acceptable excuse for avoiding covenant responsibilities to consecrate our time, talents, and resources in the work of the kingdom of God.
There may be those who, after many years of Church service, believe they are entitled to a period of rest while others pull the weight. To put it bluntly…this sort of thinking is unworthy of a disciple of Christ. A great part of our work on this earth is to endure joyfully to the end—every day of our life.
-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf