Most people think of retirement as a time to recover from the idiocy of the workplace (one can only live a Dilbert cartoon for so long!), do some traveling, spoil grandchildren, and indulge in long-postponed hobbies. They aren’t wrong, and those are all noble pursuits, well earned by a lifetime in the workplace. But, for us, retirement provides increased time to serve others — to use our talents and abilities to bless lives.
We desired, while our health and vigor are strong, to serve as full-time missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as Mormons). The Church offers a wide variety of opportunities for seniors to serve with many choices. Service can be anywhere in the world. We have had friends serve in New Zealand, Mongolia, Samoa, England, Florida, Utah, Peru, Okinawa, California, and Hawaii. They have served as proselyting missionaries, English teachers, temple workers, family history specialists, records specialists, and military relations specialists. Senior missionaries can select their term of service, ranging from six months to 23 months. Senior missionaries pay all their own expenses while performing their service.
In October, we received a call to serve as military relations specialists in the Virginia Chesapeake Mission for 23 months. We report to the Missionary Training Center (or MTC; one of 20 around the world) in Provo, UT on 19 January. We will spend two weeks there. The first week will be spent learning to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The second week will be spent learning about programs available through the Church Education System (CES) and learning our role in working with servicemen and women, military chaplains, and local ecclesiastical authorities. Once we finish our training, we will hit the road and drive to Newport News, VA.
We had the opportunity to visit our mission in early December and meet with the missionary couple (the very gracious Elder and Sister Grimmius from Albany, OR) that we will replace. It gave us the opportunity to discuss with them some of our duties, meet the chaplain staff at Fort Eustis, engage with other missionaries, and acquaint ourselves with the area. We learned that we will be conducting church services on Sunday for young men and women who are in training at Fort Eustis and are not allowed to leave the post during their training. One day of our visit was largely taken up with a zone conference where we met out President and Sister Baker, our mission president. We also got to see the apartment where we will be living and see first-hand the life of a senior missionary couple.
For now, our concentration is on finishing the myriad tasks that need to be completed in disassembling the household. We are putting our personal property in storage while we rent our house to a young couple from our ward. After much searching, we settled on a pod-like storage solution called Zippy Shell. They will back a 15-foot trailer up to the house for us to load. When it is filled, they will bring another. They then seal the trailer in a plastic wrap and store it in a climate-controlled warehouse. It was scalable and economical. But now, there is much labor to be prepared for the first trailer’s arrival on 2 January.