While tens of thousands of young men and young women are currently serving the Church as full-time missionaries, the Church has a continually growing need for a more experienced group.
There are more than 2,100 mature missionary couples serving in countries around the world, but the need for more exists and the opportunities are plentiful.
“Along with the need for young elders and sisters, there is a growing need for couples in the mission field,” President Gordon B. Hinckley said. “Older married couples are doing a wonderful work in the missions. Many more are needed. … With an increasing number of people retiring while they are still possessed of health and vitality, there are many who can fill a tremendous need in the work of the Lord” (“There Must Be Messengers,” Ensign, Oct. 1987, 4).
Addressing the subject during the April 2001 general conference, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that there are four Fs that may hinder couples from volunteering to serve: fear, family concerns, finances, and finding the right mission opportunity.
Many people fear they do not have the scriptural knowledge or language skills needed to serve a mission. They are afraid they will not be able to do what is required of them.
Elder Hales said whether they know it or not, couples are already prepared. “Your life is your preparation. You have valuable experience. You have raised a family and served in the Church. Just go and be yourselves” (see “Couple Missionaries: A Time to Serve,” Ensign, July 2001, 28–31).
Missionary couples do not normally proselytize and are not expected to maintain the same rigorous schedule younger elders and sisters do. While they may teach many lessons, those often come from general contact with others, not necessarily from tracting.
By serving a mission, senior couples are able to set examples for their families even while they may be far away.
“We have learned that the impact on families while grandparents are on missions is worth a thousand sermons,” Elder Hales said. “Families are greatly strengthened as they pray for their parents and grandparents and read letters sent home which share their testimonies and the contribution they are making in the mission field.”
The Lord has promised to look after the families of missionaries. After Thomas B. Marsh was called to serve a mission in 1830, he was concerned about leaving his family.
In section 31 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord told him: “I will bless you and your family, yea, your little ones. … Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come. … Wherefore, your family shall live. … Go from them only for a little time, and declare my word, and I will prepare a place for them” (D&C 31:2–3, 5–6).
Couples who decide to serve a mission will not be assigned to serve in a place more expensive than they feel they can afford. Couples are asked to specify how much they can afford to spend per month, and they will not be asked to spend more than that amount.
While serving a mission can be a financial sacrifice, Elder Hales said there is no way to compare the blessings received with the financial sacrifice made. “The blessings of serving with your eternal companion are priceless and can be understood only by those who have experienced them,” he said.
The Church Missionary Department suggests that before a couple applies to serve a mission, they should review finances together and with family to be sure all things are in order.
Finding the Right Opportunity
There are many ways a couple can serve. Opportunities exist in the Church Educational System, public affairs, family history, mission offices, temples, humanitarian services, and a number of other places.
“There is an opportunity to use almost any skill or talent with which the Lord has blessed you,” Elder Hales said.
While couples’ preferences are taken into consideration, the Brethren hope that members would be willing to serve wherever the Lord assigns them under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Couples are encouraged to discuss with their bishops or branch presidents their desires to serve missions.
For more information concerning length of missions, mission opportunities, the process of receiving a mission call, finances, and other matters, members are encouraged to visit www.lds.org/csm and visit with their local Church leaders.