|CA Fresno Senior Missionaries celebrating Christmas|
We have noticed that exceptionally cold and snowy weather has been a predominant pattern across the country recently, with rain in place of snow in the southern states. Weather is definitely a BIG topic here right now. In our ward, the person who said the opening prayer thanked Heavenly Father for rain we have received and asked that we continue to receive moisture. I’m pretty sure that in mission areas nearer the Sierra Nevadas, including Yosemite and Sequoia Parks, people are praying for the rain and snow to stop. Up to 11” of rain in one day was forecast in some areas. The parks are closed, there have been some evacuations, and at least three deaths have been attributed to the rain so far.
A few weeks ago we were asked to write more about senior missionaries in the CA Fresno Mission. Today is the day. There are roughly a dozen couples serving in this mission.
Several of the couples are MLS (Membership and Leader Support) missionaries. Some of them are assigned to work in small towns where they are the only missionaries. Typically they work within one ward’s boundaries, and help the Bishop, mission leaders, and any local ward missionaries. They are often assigned to visit people from the ward who do not attend. They try to help overcome the various problems that keep people away, from physical problems where service can help, to lack of understanding where teaching is needed. Sometimes there are insurmountable health problems where they offer compassionate, companionship, help, and friendship. Every situation is different and some of the stories are heartbreaking. One I cannot forget is too grim to relate in this blog, but it illustrates how MLS work can be both very discouraging and very rewarding.
Running an employment office that serves all comers by helping with resumes, offering training in job hunting skills, advising people on options for getting more training, and, of course, trying to place them directly in jobs, was one senior couple’s mission job description. They recently went home and have been replaced by a senior couple who are from Fresno and serving a mission while they live in their own home.
One kind of mission that was new to us is a military mission. A man whose career was in the military, and his wife, serve people and families who are connected to the military. Some have had multiple deployments. There are many with problems from the service they gave and many of their family members who struggle with life while someone is away. The missionary couple works with chaplains and uses materials provided by the government (some very good) as well as by the church. There are various classes they give to assist people to cope with assorted problems.
The sister with a walker in the picture had a career as a nurse in Fresno and served as a mission nurse until her own health problems sidelined her. The seated sister is also from Fresno and continues long service as the referral secretary. She passes along contact information from people who have asked for Books of Mormon or Bibles, or to be taught – to the missionaries in their neighborhoods who will fulfill the requests. She is well into her eighties and her husband, who uses a walker now, accompanies her to all the major events of the mission where they delight in cheering on the young people.
You are already aware of the office missionaries – the mission president’s private secretary, the finance secretary, the housing coordinator, and the transportation person (aka Car Czar) who is in charge of everything to do with automobiles, bicycles, a couple of pickups and a trailer.