When Christie Jameson read the announcement in her sacrament meeting program about serving a Church-service mission, she felt impressed that the message was for her. But considering her circumstances, she brushed the thought aside as impossible.
What circumstances? Christie is the mother of 37 children ranging in age from 18 to 50, most of whom are challenged with special needs, and she currently cares for 11 of them in her home.
When Christie and her husband joined the Church with five children in 1971, they looked forward to the day when they could serve a senior mission. But then their family grew in an unexpected way through adoption, and the thought of serving a mission seemed out of reach. After Christie’s husband passed away seven years ago, she thought the time had passed.
So when she read the call for Church-service missionaries, Christie balked at the idea, rationalizing, “I’m busy and I’m old and a whole family can’t go on a mission.” But the thought immediately followed: “You’re not that busy and you’re not that old.” And knowing that a couple of her sons really wanted to serve, she decided to learn more.
Now, the family members living at home—Christie and 11 of her children (Tiffany, Shelly, Jene, Alicia, Zachary, Samuel, Shenee, Courtney, Mitchell, Sean, and Eli)—are serving a Church-service mission together. Once a week they spend several hours at Deseret Industries sorting and hanging clothes, polishing racks, dusting, and serving the Savior by serving others.
And they couldn’t be happier about the experience. Mitchell, 24, cried when he was set apart because being a missionary with a name badge makes him so happy. And Tiffany, who at 32 has already served one two-year mission in food services at the Church Office Building in Riverton, Utah, feels the Holy Ghost on her mission. She shares, “When we help other people on our mission, we share the gospel. And Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father want us to help other people and teach the gospel.”
For Sean, 22, wearing a missionary name badge reminds him to always remember Jesus Christ as he serves his mission, and Alicia, 26, says her mission feels “like giving Christmas year round” to the people she is serving.
Church-service mission opportunities are available to nearly everyone over 18. Our circumstances matter so much less than our willingness to serve, and the Lord needs all our willing hearts and hands to serve His children and accomplish His work.
As Christie acknowledges, “It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, or male or female—everyone has a place to serve.” And she should know. She and her 11 special-needs children are serving the Savior, feeling the Spirit, and making a difference in the lives of others—one dusted, polished, and organized clothing rack at a time.