Serving as employment missionaries in the Michigan Detroit Mission from July 2013 to July 2014 was one of the most blessed experiences that we have shared in our marriage.
We worked in the employment center alongside the paid staff, who were kind, welcoming, and appreciative and helped to make us feel at home. Some of our daily responsibilities included answering phones, keeping the database up to date, consulting with job seekers, and learning how to help the many who were looking for work.
We were privileged to teach the Career Workshop, which helped job seekers learn how to interview, present their strengths, answer difficult questions, prepare a résumé, and network. We worked with, guided, supported, and strengthened people of all ages, nationalities, and religions; the Career Workshop and all counseling were available to everyone free of charge. Those we worked with included everyone from highly educated people who had lost well-paying jobs to high school students who were trying to earn money for missions. We assisted mothers who were looking for jobs without prior work experience, people who lived in their cars, and people who were newly released from prison. The principles of finding work as taught in the workshops were the same for everyone no matter where they were in their job search.
We felt honored to work with one young woman who had been looking for years to find a job to help support her mother and herself. This sweet sister was painfully shy and had a hard time communicating, always looking down when she spoke to anyone. You can imagine our joy when one day she walked into our office with a smile from ear to ear and looked us in the eye as she proudly announced that she had a job!
Our mission covered all of Michigan as well as parts of five other states and two provinces in Canada. Because of this, we not only taught the Career Workshop at the employment center, but we also took the workshop to job seekers in their local cities, spoke in sacrament meetings about provident living, and gave seminars to train ward employment specialists on how to support job seekers. It was a privilege to work with these wonderful ward and stake employment specialists who cared for the struggling job seekers in their areas.
In our service we helped many people who were not members of the Church, including investigators referred to us by the young full-time missionaries. Although we couldn’t proselyte, we know the influence of the employment resource center was a great tool for the full-time missionaries as well as a blessing in the lives of those we served. One individual we worked with was a good Catholic man who was married and had five children. He previously had a professional job but was now out of work. His friend was a stake employment specialist who brought him to the two-day Career Workshop. We established a long-lasting friendship with him and his family and were thrilled when he gained employment.
Our mission was such a blessing to us. We feel fortunate to have worked with frightened, discouraged, and frustrated people and to see the change that came into their lives. This change occurred as they used the principles we taught, gained confidence, improved their self-esteem, and found jobs. Our hearts and souls were lifted as we associated with other senior missionaries and with the young elders and sisters, and our mission president and his wife could not have been more kind or considerate of our welfare.
The Lord told Peter, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:16). We came to understand that helping people to take care of themselves is feeding His sheep. We enjoyed waking every day knowing that we would be about our Father's business, being involved in such a rewarding effort. The work was sometimes tiring, but it was so sweet to end our day knowing that we had brought help to His sheep.