LDS couples of all ages talk about serving a mission together when they retire. For some, their senior mission will be the first full-time mission they serve, and they are excited to finally fulfill a lifetime dream.
But couples often figure their senior mission is something to work on when they are older. They may not realize that there are things they can do right now that will make their future mission possible. Here are three things to consider:
First of all, missions cost money. For junior missionaries, the Church has a set amount each missionary contributes for his or her mission, no matter where they serve. Currently, that amount is set at $400 a month. Couples, however, pay the actual cost of their mission, which can vary from around $1,500 to nearly $4,000 a month.
And while some senior missionaries consider using their Social Security payments to help fund their missions, these payments may not be enough to cover large expenses such as insurance and computers. (To get an estimate of your future Social Security monthly allotment, visitSSA.gov.)
Long before you are ready to serve a senior mission, you also need to check out the Senior Missionary Opportunities Bulletin to learn the cost of each mission.
For example, if you have always dreamed of serving in London, England, you need to be aware that it is a very expensive city for missionary service. If you learned Japanese on your junior mission and want to return to Japan, you need to realize that all Japanese missions currently cost about $3,000 a month. Temple missions, on the other hand, tend to cost less because many temples provide housing for senior missionaries.
So early on, couples need to look at mission choices and the various expenses associated with those options. Then they can modify their dream mission if necessary and start a mission savings account, just like young future missionaries do.
Couples often think they need to be out of debt to serve a mission, but actually, the Church advises senior couples to be out of consumer debt. A senior mission is easier if your home is paid off, but you can lease your home while you’re on your mission if you need to.
On your mission application, the Church simply asks how much you plan to pay for your mission, how you will pay that amount, and who is going to help with your monthly payments. They don’t even ask about your debts. But the last thing you want to worry about when you’re serving a senior mission is whether your car is going to get repossessed while you’re gone!
A second thing to consider is your relationship as a couple. In today’s world, couples of all ages are extremely busy, independently making decisions about the use of their time and resources. But on a senior mission, not only are you are together all day every day, you also have to decide together how to use your time and how to manage your mission. Your new relationship and interaction patterns in the mission may surprise you and require some adjustment.
Wise couples will start early learning to work together. They will consciously plan projects that require cooperation and coordination. Then they will talk about the experiences and discuss what they can learn and how they can coordinate better. Working together doesn’t come any easier when you’re 60 than it does when you’re 30, so start practicing now.
You may think that you’ll have more time to study the gospel when you’re old and retired, but the truth is that gospel knowledge is acquired line upon line and precept upon precept. There is no crash course for learning the gospel in depth.
On your senior mission, you’re going to be asked lots of questions about the gospel, about families, and about how life works. But if you’ve procrastinated the day of your gospel study, you may discover that you don’t know as much as you’d like when you begin your senior mission. As President Spencer W. Kimball said years ago, “In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living. . . . preaching the gospel, studying the scriptures—each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store” (President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985), Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972), 256.). Starting right now, you can begin to fill the lamp of your gospel understanding.
Now is also the time to begin studying the gospel together as a companionship. Study Preach My Gospel together, discuss conference talks, and then talk about what you’ve learned. Not only will you find hidden treasures of knowledge as you study, you will also find great treasures of joy as you delve into the rich gospel resources together.
So there you have it. Right this very minute, you can start preparing for your senior couple mission. And the amazing thing is that the things you do now to prepare will actually bless your lives every minute between now and when you finally apply for your senior mission.
Lead image from Shutterstock
For further information on senior missions, see Senior Missions: What to Expect and How to Prepare, by Marnae B Wilson, available at Deseret Book stores and on deseretbook.com.