As the need for missionary couples grows, more and more husband-and-wife teams are returning to service for a second or third mission.
According to Missionary Department estimates, some 16 percent of those couples who fill a mission leave for the mission field at least a second time. With about 1,200 couples now serving, that translates to nearly 200 couples who have re-entered missionary service.Consider, for example, multiple-missionaries, Lothair and Marguerite Payne of Mesa, Ariz. Elder Payne has had a heart valve replaced, is unable to see in one eye, and had recent ankle surgery. But when his health was certified by his physician, he accepted another mission call. He and his wife are serving in the Bolivia La Paz Mission - and this one is mission No. 5.
Each served a full-time mission as young singles - he served in Argentina from 1936-38, and she served from 1937-39 in Mexico.
Then, after he retired from highway construction, the Paynes served together in the Chile Concepcion Mission. After that mission, they served in the Chile Vina del Mar Mission. There, they completed their term in the newly dedicated Santiago Chile Temple. Upon returning home, they were called as temple missionaries to the Arizona Temple for two years.
Now in Bolivia, the Paynes work in the mission office during daytime hours, and proselyte in the evenings. They also work with the members and leaders of a local branch. During August, the Paynes led the mission with 14 convert baptisms, working from 5 to 9:30 p.m.
Mission Pres. Steven R. Wright commented, "I wish I had a dozen couples like the Paynes. They serve with such commitment and love. The small branch where they have been laboring has doubled in attendance, and is now prepared to become a ward."
Couples such as the Paynes who choose to serve missions are described by mission leaders as "extremely effective, especially in working with part-member and less-active members, and in helping to strengthen leadership in areas where leaders are new and lack experience."
While couples, except those serving in temples, are called on proselyting missions, their proselyting is done in addition to "additional assignments."
These additional assignments may be in the categories of:
- Members and leadership.
- Welfare Services.
- Visitors centers.
- Public relations.
- Mission office staff.
- Family History.
Couples usually don't follow the regimen expected of younger missionaries. Rather than tracting, couples may find more effective ways to meet people. Instead of spending hours memorizing, they teach in their own words from an outline. Rather than working a minimum number of proselyting hours, couples set appropriate goals for themselves.
According to the Missionary Department, couples are not normally called to learn another language if each doesn't request that opportunity. However, couples who speak Spanish, French and Portuguese are urgently needed.
Couples with special health needs are sent into areas where health care is available.
According to Church policy, the length of a mission for couples has been increased to 12 months or 18 months. In order to be considered for a mission out of the continental United States or Canada, the couple has to commit to an 18-month term of service.
Six-month missions, accepted in the past, are not an option except for those in vocations such as agriculture, where the opportunity to serve is limited by seasonal requirements.
In addition, couples should not generally be recommended to serve full-time missions if either husband or wife is 70 or older. However, in exceptional circumstances, couples older than 70 may be considered if their health is good and if their stake president can certify they have the physical and emotional ability to withstand the rigors of full-time missionary service.
Willing couples who meet these requirements could choose to relax at home in a familiar setting. Instead they serve one mission, and then another.
"They have a tremendous feeling of accomplishment," said a former mission president. "A mission enhances their lives and their marriage. The couple makes a contribution, not just to the growth of the Church, but to their fellow man.
"When they return home, no other activity seems as important as their mission."