Trente Jours de la Vérité - Jour 5

Something you hope to do in your life.

Tamara took mine. That's okay, I have others.

I want to serve a mission.

"But wait," you say. "You just shared a missionary-in-Russia experience, ergo you must have already served a mission."

Too true, says I, too true. That doesn't mean I can't serve another one.
A great privilege open to many Latter-day Saints is the opportunity to serve a mission later in life, often near to or after retirement when the kids are grown and such. Typically called senior missionaries, they serve with their spouse when possible or with another person in other cases, doing everything from family history work to service to manning LDS history sites to Church education to performing medical-related services. The possibilities are nigh endless.

Meet the Tuckers. They were a senior missionary couple living in Omsk, Russia when I was blessed to serve there. As a mission, we were fortunate enough to always have at least one senior couple in each city at any given time, and I can't begin to count the ways they helped us in our efforts.

One problem we ran into a lot is that many potential investigators were women of the young and sometimes attractive variety. That mean we had to a) hand them over to sister missionaries, or b) have a third party with us as we taught. Senior couples like the Tuckers opened their apartments to appointments like these, a convenient and comfortable answer to a common roadblock.

I got really close to the Tuckers in my six months in Omsk. I think my love of baking really took root as I tried out and discussed recipes and their results with Sister Tucker. Elder Tucker loved talking about his family (we even got to meet a few of them when they came for a visit) and sharing his insights from his life as a father and banker. Remember the encounter I told you about yesterday with the Russian punks? The one that left me afraid? Elder Tucker was the one who helped me through it by teaching me important lessons about trials and fear. That led to a life-changing personal experience, for which I am forever in his debt.

Now, the McCulloughs (on the left, in case you needed help). Hailing from California, Elder McCullough's voiced dismay at the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor still makes me laugh. For me, the McCulloughs became like a third set of grandparents.

We served together in Barnaul, a city south of Novosibirsk (the mission center) and one of the "small" cities in our mission (though with a population of more than 200,000 it can hardly be considered small). There were only six missionaries and the McCulloughs serving there at the time, making for a close-knit band of Christian soldiers.

It was my privilege to spend both Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2003 in this city, where the McCulloughs opened their home to us as if we were their own children and grandchildren. There was always a feeling of "home" and "family" with the McCulloughs, and even after I left two months later, I was glad to be able to see them each month (I went to Novosibirsk, and the Barnaul missionaries came up for zone conferences).

That's what I want. I want to be for other missionaries what the Tuckers and McCulloughs were for me. I want to have that feeling of love for fellow man again that comes with the dedication of self to nothing but service for anywhere from six to 24 months at a time. Whether it's helping to build wells in a drought-stricken community, or smiling at tourists coming into a visitors' center, or creating a haven for younger missionaries to teach and feel home at, that's where I want to be in forty years, give or take.

The best part? I'll be able to have Tamara with me, telling me what to do.


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