An Epic Journey

July 3

We are here at the MTC now and we have had a busy day with orientation. There are 89 couples in the MTC with us, going all over the world. We’re really excited to go. All the couples introduced themselves and said where they were going, and we had a class on health and exercise. Some good info. The food is good, too.  

Tonight we had about 30 pages to read in Preach my Gospel for tomorrow. I have a feeling we’re going to be very busy. Let the adventure begin!

Barry and Jackie Flitton, Layton, Utah 

Served in the Canada Vancouver Mission 2004–2005. 

On the bulletin board of our church building you’ll find a picture of a senior couple opening their mission call while surrounded by their grandchildren with the caption, “If you love them, leave them.” Why would leaving our grandchildren show our love for them? Well, we were looking at it through temporal eyes, not spiritual eyes. 

So we followed the spirit and submitted our missionary application. We received our call and it was exciting to have our family around us as we opened it. The call was to the Canada Vancouver Mission and we were to leave July 2004.  As we were driving out of our neighborhood to go to the MTC, along the street were our children and grandchildren, each one holding a letter spelling out, “We love you Grandma & Grandpa.” We knew that we had the support of our family. Leaving wasn’t easy but the Lord blesses you when you are in His service.  

Once we were in the mission field and settled in our new temporary home, we found that the rules of the mission differed from the young elders and sisters. We were able to talk to our children and grandchildren on occasion. They were even able to visit us when they could. We were able to do things with the other senior missionaries on preparation day that helped us develop new friends.  

We constantly felt the spirit of the Lord and know that our children and grandchildren enjoyed this experience also. We received so many blessings as a result of the mission we served and our family was blessed also. We would advise any senior couple who may have a multitude of reasons not to go on a mission, to look past those reasons and look through spiritual eyes to benefit from service to the Lord. 

If you love them, leave them? Yes, our family has been blessed very much as we serve the Lord on full time missions. Our testimony today is stronger than it was before we went because of the many times we have testified of the truthfulness of the gospel.

Elder Max T. and Sister Glenda R. Excell, Shoshone, Idaho

Currently serving in the Ohio Columbus Mission for eighteen months. 

What’s a typical day like for you as missionaries in your mission?

We leave our apartment about 7:00 a.m. and don’t usually return until 7:00 p.m.; often it is 8:00 or 9:00. We work with mission vehicles which involves some travel; we work in the mission office with referrals; we teach a class at the Institute at Ohio State University; we work with a YSA ward; we help with zone conferences, district meetings, transfers, arrivals, and any other assignments we are given. Days are long and varied, and never boring!  

What about being a missionary has most surprised you?

The long days and long hours. The great learning that comes from our work with the Young Single Adults both in our ward and in our classes at the Institute. They are so strong and good. Also, the great love and support of our friends at home, even those not members of our church. We expected support from our family and it has been great, but it has been a pleasant surprise to have such love and prayers from our friends, especially the nonmembers. 

What lesson learned (or reinforced) in your mission has been the most impressionable?That there is a place and a work to do for everyone in God’s kingdom. Whatever your talents, abilities, limitations, needs, preferences, there is a way you can serve. We feel blessed by the opportunities to learn and grow through devotionals and the sharing of spiritual insights with fellow missionaries and our president and his wife. 

Willis and Beverly Waite, West Valley, Utah

Served in the France Paris Mission; as temple workers in the Swiss Temple; as president of the France Paris Mission; in the Ivory Coast, West Africa; and as proselytizing missionaries in Belgium.  

What have you learned from serving as a couple?

Couples can get into areas where single elders or sisters cannot. There are different areas in which one can serve. The Lord uses your talents in a variety of ways.  

What were some of the challenges?

On one mission, it was a year leave and it was hard to leave Grandma because we couldn’t take care of her.

On the mission after that, Grandma passed away. The challenge is that you have the put the Lord first, no matter what you do, and He will help provide. Financially, it’s an expensive experience. I could have bought a couple Cadillacs for what I paid to go on missions, but the blessings are more important.  

What advice do you have for couples?

If they’re in good health, go. They should not consider the monetary factor. You can’t purchase the wonderful experience it brings—it’s overwhelming. You can also serve locally. Incidentally, one of the marvelous things that’s taking place is the inner-city mission in Salt Lake City. There are about 300 missionary couples serving there. 

Danny and Linda Camilleri, Brantford, Ontario, Canada

Served in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission from 2005–2006.    

What happened when you first arrived in the mission field that surprised you?   

I think it surprised us that we needed to get to know each other all over again because we had separate jobs and were not used to being together all the time. We prayed a lot and worked at our relationship. 

How did your relationship with your children and grandchildren change?

I believe that we were closer in some ways because they felt part of something wonderful, and they also needed to rely on one another more than when we were home. 

What was different and difficult about the location you served in? 

We thought it was quite strange to have gates and bars on all the places and buildings. Seeing the sad situations of poverty was very hard to deal with. They are not happy with their lot in life and many are working hard to learn to uplift each other and individual needs. 

What was the biggest challenge of returning from your mission? The adjustment of coming home again is so hard. We miss the ones we loved and cared for so much on our mission. It is definitely a trial to leave the spirit of love behind and know that we will not likely return.

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