top of page
  • Writer's pictureSean Foley

What do Senior Missionaries do anyway? Could I be one?

100 seniors in the MTC! (We're just left of the center)

Other than some variation of "Haven't you left yet?!", some of the most common questions we get are about senior missionary work: what it is and what missionaries do. We have been blessed throughout our lives to work closely with many great senior missionaries, and met a LOT of new ones during our two weeks of training. The questions have only increased since Elder Rasband's recent talk and invitation on senior missionary service.

The church's excellent website notes thirteen "types" of senior missions, with many subcategories. We find that people often have a perception of senior missions being just one or two of these, and do not realize the incredible variety that exists. There are literally so many possible senior missions that we could never highlight them all. We have written in previous posts about what we'll be the pictures and list below we mention at a high level only a very few that we know personally.

List from the church website:

  1. Teach and fellowship. We know dozens of couples and senior sisters that have served in Member/Leader Support, Military Relations, etc. We couldn't possibly name them all but they include: Foley to Washington, Tubbs to Missouri, Woodard to Michigan, Bowman to New Mexico, Lusk to San Diego.

  2. Interact with the public. This includes Visitors Centers and Public Affairs (now called Communications) work with both the public and the young missionaries. Foley to Mexico City, Jenkins and Christensen to London, Russell to Winter Quarters.

  3. Preserve and share church history. This area hosts so many great church historic sites. Mayne to Nauvoo, Cannon and so many others here to Independence and Liberty.

  4. Help people find their ancestors. Serving from home, both Brower and Nordgren supported FamilySearch users. Winkie and Hunt went from Missouri to Salt Lake to do so.

  5. Preserve family history records. Sarver and Lehnardts are just two of many that have digitized priceless records for the benefit of many.

  6. Provide humanitarian aid.

  7. Feed the hungry.

  8. Help people become self-reliant. Just down the road from us is a storehouse which helps provide to those in need, prepare families for difficult times, and provide to the community. For more than 20 years we have known couples and seniors (and now young service missionaries) serve there including Richmond Branch members Scoma and Vermeesch

  9. Support church operations. In a vast worldwide church, there are so many operations that benefit from the experience and consecration of seniors, including the mission offices: Foley to Nova Scotia, Welbern and King to our own Missouri Independence, Dycks to EnglishConnect across North America Central, Hopkins to Montana, Andrus and Christensen to Russia, Howden to Ghana MTC, Bailey to Indiana, Burch to North Carolina.

  10. Serve in a temple. In addition to the hundreds serving locally, there is a real need for senior missionaries to go elsewhere and support the hundreds of temples. May to Argentina and Guatemala, Lehnardt to Germany

  11. Support young adults. We are excited to possibly be serving in the Singapore YSA ward! In doing so we will have great role models in Jones to Germany and Butler to Liberty YSA.

  12. Manage and maintain church properties and facilities. This missions are for those so much better with their hands! Hansen to Florida, Untch to Wyoming, Stewart to Washington, many to Adam-Ondi-Ahman.

  13. Use your professional skills. This overlaps with every one of the others, but certainly includes us. Haney to Arizona counseling and the many we met in our training going throughout the world.

So if you have a question about any type of mission, we know someone you can talk to. Our heartfelt thanks for all these (and the many others we didn't list) for their example. Every senior missionary we know that has served has expressed that they gained much from their service. Most also express that the sacrifice to go is real: sacrifices of family time, finances, other interests, and even some sleep. Missions can be exhausting and as in all aspects of life, service is not a magic shield against difficulty and trials. But these missionaries also speak tenderly of those they served and what they have learned. And the Lord is sensitive to the needs of His senior missionaries and does not require of them more than they can give.

Two final observations: First, a great sister missionary recently commented that decisions around serving missions are like those a couple makes around bearing children. Even though everyone else is very interested in the number and timing, such decisions are very personal ones between people and the Lord. It's important for prospective seniors to have all the information...and then to make their own decisions!

Second, great sacrifices are not limited to the missionary. Children, grandchildren, parents, friends, church leaders and fellow church members all pay a price. This price could include companionship, babysitting, financial interests, long standing traditions, and/or losing a great leader in a local ward or business. It is really hard for anyone to make such a sacrifices. We have personally seen however that, as with with all such sacrifices, the Lord pours out blessings on the giver, whether they are even a member of the same church or have the same beliefs. As the great Christmas film Klaus says, "A true selfless act always sparks another!"


Bring on Singapore!

158 views5 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Nov 29, 2023

It’s fun to read about the many ways seniors serve. I look forward to a time that Scott and I can! I don’t know when or where that would be, but I think it would be exciting to be able to use some of my nursing skills or do some kind of humanitarian service.

Sean Foley
Sean Foley
Nov 29, 2023
Replying to

You would be awesome! Every time I saw mission medical people I thought of you 😀


Scott Morris
Scott Morris
Nov 29, 2023

It was a wonderful surprise to see you both at Church this past weekend. Looking forward to following your journey here, it will be wonderful!


Nov 29, 2023

Wonderful information!


Rebecca Morgan
Rebecca Morgan
Nov 28, 2023

It's nice that you got a missionary picture in the snow! No snow in Singapore!

bottom of page