Finding Opportunities to Serve as a Retired Couple
Jim and Karyn Anderson have every reason not to be going to Iraq this year for their third service mission abroad. Actually, they have 57 reasons—16 children and 41 grandchildren who all live in the United States. Karyn, a retired nurse, and Jim, her second husband, have made it a goal to be actively involved in immersing themselves in service at this stage of their lives—no matter where it may take them.
“We’ve always wanted to serve other people,” says Jim. “When I was able to retire, we decided we wanted to go on a humanitarian mission where we could [be with] the poor and needy. I’ve always enjoyed just helping other people.”
So far, that desire to serve others has taken the Andersons to Lebanon and Jordan, where they lived for two years and opened a Syrian refugee camp. In fact, an experience they had while in Jordan can be seen in this episode of Mormon Channel series, "Give Back."
The Andersons also served in both Oklahoma and Canada to help with disaster and emergency responses last year when floods ravaged the countryside. Now they are heading into the middle of one of the most heated and violent countries in the world to serve those in need. Jim, however, says that the rewards of service far outweigh the sacrifice. “[In America] we are given so much; we are so blessed. … It’s a lot more than most of us need, and we’re dedicated to giving back and helping other people. They can’t pay us enough.”
While serving in the Middle East, the Andersons were able to build relationships with many people of other faiths, whom they grew to love and care for. They began to realize that they had more in common than they originally realized. Jim said, “I’ve come to recognize more that everyone is a child of God, and they all have needs. … It has made me more aware of what the important things are in life.” Karyn adds that “it’s a testament to do what the Savior would do; it’s been a blessing to be His hands and help in this work.”
When thinking about leaving her family behind again for an extended period of time, Karyn says, “We think it would be easier to stay home sometimes, but our family is so incredibly blessed. They have friends and connections all over the world now. We were able to see firsthand how donations … are given directly to the people.”
To other retired couples thinking about service missions, the Andersons would say, “Quit waiting! Quit looking at all the reasons why you can’t serve. … There’s never a time and an opportunity like now. There’s a tremendous need and there’s a tremendous body … that can fulfill that need.”
If you are searching for ways to serve in your own community or abroad, visit www.justserve.org for ideas.