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As the leaves fall and the temperatures drop here in Annapolis, Maryland, we come to the end of our one year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The entire experience has been significantly different than I expected. At the time of this post, we have only five more days working at the Maryland State Archives and that time will pass very quickly. We do have a few things left to do including a farewell dinner with the Washington, D.C. North Mission President and his wife and one more visit to the Annapolis Stake Family History Center. But essentially, our time here is finished. We also have a long drive back to Provo. On the way, we will stop off to visit with some of our children and their families, so it will be a time for transition and reflection.
Here are a few random thoughts about serving a Senior Mission.
Traditionally, Senior Missionaries served after "retirement." Since my retirement did not really have a specific date and I kept working at my usual 12 hour a day level, I never really felt like I was or am "retired" in any sense. I certainly have not focused on "leisure" activities. I am going back to Provo with the expectation of serving extensively in the Brigham Young University Family History Library, as a member of Board of Directors of The Family History Guide Association, and as member of the Board of Directors of Family History Expos. I am already scheduled to present at the Annual Yuma Family History Seminar on January 19, 2019 in Yuma, Arizona. I will also be attending the upcoming RootsTech 2019 Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have a long list of topics for classes and webinars for the BYU Family History Library that will be posted on the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel..
Neither my wife nor I had any idea about how physically demanding digitizing documents all day, five days a week world be. I have never really had a regular 8:00 to 4:00 or 5:00 job five days a week in my life. Every job I have had has been flexible time. Of course, some times in the past, I have worked at two and three and even more jobs at the same time, but they were always somewhat flexible. The constant daily work takes quite an adjustment and we don't have much energy to do anything after work. We also have the usual overhead of daily living; buying food, car maintenance, cleaning the apartment, washing clothes, eating, etc. All of this takes time. I maintian my usual schecule of working 10 to 12 hours a day, but eight or nine of those hours are at the Archives.
Many missionaries have misgivings about leaving their families for a mission. I suppose that had we gone to another country, we would have had less contact with our children and grandchildren but by being in Maryland, we actually saw almost all of our children at one time or another and kept close contact by phone and online conferences. Our children live all over the United States and so they are used to traveling and almost all of them could come for a visit during our mission.
We have certainly enjoyed our association with the other Senior Missionaries serving here in Annapolis. I understand that some missionaries do not have the benefit of being assigned in a group of Senior Missionaries and I think that would be much more difficult. The support and friendship of the other missionaries has been wonderful.
In our particular assignment, we have had very limited contact with the young Full-time Missionaries. We have also had only limited contact with the Midshipmen from the Naval Academy. Other Senior Missionaries have had more contact. Early on, we decided to attend the Spa Creek Branch (Spanish Speaking). This has been one of the highlights of our mission. We have enjoyed the great fellowhip and friendship of the Branch members.
One of main activities we have had on our mission is the opportunity to help members of our Branch and others, including the Senior Missionaries, discover and find their ancestors. We joined the local Anne Arundel County Genealogical Society when we arrived and that has also given us an outlet for participating in genealogical activities. I have spent almost every Tuesday and Wednesday evening in the Annapolis Stake Family History Center and that has also resulted in a number of opportunities to help people find their ancestors.
During our mission, I have participated in several conferences, including one in Pennsylvania for FamilySearch and done several webinars for the BYU Family History Library. These have been significant contributions to our overall experience here in the Washington, D.C. North Mission.
I would strongly encourage all of our senior members of the Church to seriously consider serving either a full-time or part-time mission. You may have a vision of your retirement or older years that looks more like time in Sun City or Leisure World, but I can assure you that you will ultimately find those activities to be hollow and less fullfilling than serving a mission.