“Our New Mission Life,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 73–74
After retirement my wife and I were living a comfortable life. We enjoyed working in the temple, fulfilling ward and stake assignments, and visiting our children, grandchildren, and widowed mothers. It seemed that things couldn’t have been better.
But something began stirring within us. The time had come to seriously consider serving a mission, and we knew it. We soon decided to serve but felt we should make a list of things that needed doing before we turned in our missionary application forms. We dutifully made the list and began whittling it down.
Two months passed, and we discovered our to-do list had only become longer. “No problem,” we thought. “We’ll just put more effort into making it shrink.” But it didn’t. We came to realize that although the stirrings to serve a mission were still in us, our fear of the unknown was causing us to add to our list faster than we could complete the tasks on it.
One morning shortly after our most recent review of our to-do list, I was studying Jesus the Christ by Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933). One passage touched me profoundly: “Excuses are easy to find; they spring up as readily and plentifully as weeds by the wayside. When the Samaritan came along and saw the wretched state of the wounded man, he had no excuse for he wanted none” (3rd ed. , 431–32).
With considerable emotion I hurried into the kitchen and shared these words with my wife. They had a significant impact on her as well. There was no question about our next move.
We immediately shredded our to-do list, or what we now laughingly call our excuse list, and initiated the process necessary to be called as missionaries.
Once we did this, things fell together quickly for us, and soon we found ourselves enjoying our lives even more as we served in the Singapore Mission. Our assignment was to train new leaders in Church branches, first in Sri Lanka and then in Malaysia. We discovered that our family back home could get along just fine without us, and we soon realized how badly we were needed as senior missionaries.
Two nights before we returned from our mission, the members of the two branches we had been working with in Malaysia invited us to what turned out to be a surprise farewell party. We will never forget stepping outside the Church meetinghouse to be encircled by the local members, each holding a homemade Chinese lantern as they sang to us in Chinese “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” (Hymns, no. 152). To this day I cannot share that experience without crying. How grateful we are that we didn’t let our excuse list—our fears—keep us from a priceless experience.