Service Missions Make It Possible for All to Serve
By Maggie Stevens, Church News contributor
“I wish to be up and doing. I wish to face each day with resolution and purpose. I wish to use every waking hour to give encouragement, to bless those whose burdens are heavy, to build faith and strength of testimony.” —President Gordon B. Hinckley
Elder and Sister Lake never thought they would be able to serve a mission for the Church. You see, two of their adopted daughters have special needs. Joellen, age 26, was born with cytomegalovirus (CMV) and is confined to a wheelchair. Gena, age 34, has cerebral palsy.
But if you happen to be visiting the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, on a Tuesday or Thursday, you might just meet David and Margene Lake, as well as their two daughters.
Following the October 2013 general conference, Elder and Sister Lake felt inspired to serve a mission. They asked themselves, “How could that be possible with two adult special-needs children?” Years ago, when they adopted Joellen and Gena as babies, they knew the dedication it would involve. Yet they still committed to adoption and have been devoted parents to their special-needs daughters, now adults and still living at home and requiring full-time care. “We knew we could not serve without our kids,” Sister Lake said, “but still wanted to serve a mission if possible.”
Elder Lake added, “We had a preconceived idea of what our mission should be. Once we changed our thought process, things fell into place. We decided we needed to do some research and take whatever came our way. Basically, we let the Lord guide us.”
Elder Lake went to LDS.org and instead of clicking the link for full-time senior missionaries, he went to the Church-service missionary program. He found a myriad of opportunities and made a phone call. He talked with Alicia Smith in Human Relations and explained the situation. Alicia found a service opportunity for them. In just a few weeks, all four of the Lakes filled out the papers, interviewed with their bishop and stake president, and had their calls to serve in the Utah Salt Lake City Mission.
Now, twice a week, the Lakes load their girls in the car and make the drive from Oakley, Utah, to downtown Salt Lake City. Elder Lake drops Sister Lake, Gena, and Joellen off at the front door, wheelchair in tow, while he parks the car. All four of them greet and direct at the front desk on the fifth floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.
Joellen delivers mail from her wheelchair to FamilySearch staff and missionaries, and her smile brightens the entire lobby. Gena works on special projects, such as creating festive pumpkin decorations for the lobby and assembling pamphlets for distribution.
The Lakes adopted Joellen when she was two months old. They were told, “She will die soon, so enjoy her for the brief period you have her.” Joellen is now 26. This is Gena’s second mission. She served for 12 years at the Hartvigsen School, a school for children with special needs. Gena was determined that the students at Hartvigsen understood that even though their earthly bodies may not work properly, their spirits do.
The Lakes are enthusiastic about their missions and want to encourage others to serve. “We are so happy to have the privilege to serve. Don’t sit around and wait for your leaders to call you. Do your research, and then turn it over to the Lord. I can’t tell you how happy this service mission has made us. The spirit that has descended upon each of us is so wonderful. After our first day, Gena sang all the way home, and Jo is so excited that she wears her missionary nametag even in bed. We feel so grateful for this privilege to serve Heavenly Father as a family. Once we quit telling Heavenly Father how we wanted to serve and let Him show us the way, our mission just fell into place.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley stated:
“I wish to be up and doing. I wish to face each day with resolution and purpose. I wish to use every waking hour to give encouragement, to bless those whose burdens are heavy, to build faith and strength of testimony” (“Testimony,” Ensign, May 1998, 69).
Many members of the Church desire to serve full-time missions but may not be able to for a myriad of reasons. The timing might not be the best. Maybe the children are not completely out of the house. Health issues might be a concern. If you are not fully retired, it may be difficult to commit to a mission.
However, traveling to a foreign country for 18 months is not the only way to serve. Welcome to the world of service missions, which makes it possible for everyone to serve in one way or another.
Check opportunities online to see which may match your talents or interests. It might surprise you to know that writers, photographers, gardeners, accountants, and even online support or historical researchers are just a few of the listings needed. The work of the Lord is moving forward. Wouldn’t it be rewarding to give a bit of your time and share your talents? If you have always wanted to serve a mission, the Lord will find a place you can serve.
FamilySearch has many service opportunities available to fit most any lifestyle, talent, and ability to serve. If you or someone you know is interested in full-time, part-time, or work-from-home mission service opportunities, please contact the department at:
· Phone: 1-855-346-4774
· Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Online: www.familysearch.org/mission
Elder David and Sister Margene Lake and their two daughters, Joellen and Gena, all work as service missionaries in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Photo by Maggie Stevens.