During the last two years, more senior missionaries have volunteered to serve full-time couples missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mormon Newsroom reports that of the 83,471 missionaries currently serving, 6,609 of them are senior couples. Since the age change was announced for young missionaries, the Church has seen an influx of younger people choosing to serve missions. While the age change encouraged many young people to serve missions, in his April 2013 conference talk, Russell M. Nelson urged senior couples to plan for the day when they can serve a mission together. Now, there is a 14 percent increase of senior couples currently serving full-time missions.
In 2011, senior missions were changed, allowing the couples to serve from six to 23 months, and the price of housing for senior missionaries was capped at $1,400.
The Church calls willing senior couples to a variety of different missions, including proselyting, humanitarian and leadership missions. In many of the missions they are called to, senior missionaries help out with secretarial duties, financial records, carpools, and tracking weekly referrals.
While the young adult missionaries are only able to speak with their family via email once a week, or via phone or skype on Christmas and Mother’s Day, senior missionaries can skype with their family whenever they would like. Elder Stanley Nance and his wife, Rosalie, are currently serving their third couples mission, this time in Madagascar. Nance explained some of the flexibility of their mission to Mormon Newsroom, saying,
If we get tired, we can rest. If we need to catch up with our children at home, we can Skype them.
Mission Presidents will also oftentimes grant permission to senior missionaries and allow them to travel home for family emergencies and special occasions, as long as they pay for the trip themselves.
Nance explained that eventhough the mission is more flexible for senior couples, there are still many trials. “We don’t want to give the impression that everything goes perfectly smoothly,” said Nance. “We have our times of struggle and disappointment and sometimes our mission can be discouraging, but we know that everything that happens will strengthen us and help us to grow.”
Estimated costs for a couples’ mission can be found on the Senior Missionaries Opportunity bulletin, which is updated each week.