“One Mission Enough to Change Lives, But Not to Satisfy Desire to Serve,” Ensign, Apr. 2008, 76–77
When Rose and Ron Harvey got married in 1950, they didn’t anticipate they would go on to spend 16 years of their marriage in full-time missionary service.
“I never dreamed of that,” Sister Harvey said.
Since 1992, the Canadian couple has served nine missions for the Church, preaching across the United States, Canada, and into the Pacific Islands.
Their experiences have been uplifting. “You come back on a spiritual high,” Sister Harvey said. But the change of heart they have received isn’t reserved only for those who serve 16 years. “You don’t have to serve nine missions. After our first mission, we came home changed people.”
Brother and Sister Harvey have had success, grown in the gospel, weathered trials, and overcome feelings of inadequacy. Today, their relationship is closer than ever, and they are quick to tell of the strength they have received and the blessings the Lord has given them and their family.
Brother and Sister Harvey’s first mission, to the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission in 1992, was a wonderful experience, especially for Sister Harvey, who had wanted to serve a full-time mission since the time her children had prepared to go on their own missions. She and her husband found joy in reactivating members and seeing a branch organized. Later the couple served another proselytizing mission in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission, followed by family history missions at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and at the Utah Correctional Institute. The latter brought unique challenges, and Brother and Sister Harvey felt great sympathy for their incarcerated brothers and sisters.
They served another proselytizing mission in the Canada Vancouver Mission, then two humanitarian service missions in American Samoa and Sacramento, California, USA. They were called soon after that to serve another family history mission, this time in the Canada Calgary Mission.
After a year and a half in Calgary, they are now serving another family history mission within the Calgary mission to Golden, British Columbia, and Cardston, Alberta.
Brother and Sister Harvey’s years of service haven’t come without challenges. They had to overcome some of the same obstacles that face all soon-to-be missionaries such as financial considerations, fear, finding the right opportunities, and family concerns.
Finances: Living simply and frugally made it possible for Brother and Sister Harvey to serve. They simplified their finances by getting rid of unnecessary expenses and bills and had their retirement and government pensions automatically deposited into an account. Though not excessive, their funds were always enough. “We never had a lot of money; we just had a lot of faith,” Sister Harvey said.
Fear: In his journals (they have both kept journals since their first mission to Minneapolis) Brother Harvey wrote that he felt inadequate to preach the word, and Sister Harvey at times shared that sentiment. Their concern was, “Do I know enough?” she said. “We weren’t educated … and yet here we were stepping out in the world, trying to convert people. … It’s a big responsibility to represent the Lord.” Through their experiences, they have found that the Lord takes care of those who serve Him.
Finding the right opportunities: There are service opportunities to match almost any skill or talent a couple has. Couples are counseled to consider their unique talents and abilities as well as their health and financial situations when approaching the bishop or branch president. The capacities in which Brother and Sister Harvey have served are as varied as the places they have lived. They were pleased to serve wherever the Lord called them whether as humanitarian services missionaries, family history missionaries, or proselytizing missionaries.
Family: One of the greatest concerns shared by senior missionaries is being away from their families. For Brother and Sister Harvey that includes 7 children, 39 grandchildren, and 25 great-grandchildren. Leaving them for years at a time has been difficult, but they now feel closer to their posterity than they did before they left. “I can hardly express the love that grew between us. … If you think you can’t go because of your children, you’ve got it all backward,” Sister Harvey said.
Through it all, Brother and Sister Harvey have remembered that they are on the Lord’s errand. “It’s His work and His glory. You have to have faith that that’s true,” she said.
The service Brother and Sister Harvey have contributed extends far beyond their mission boundaries. It has blessed their posterity in ways they never could have imagined. “We are just in awe of what it has done for our children,” Sister Harvey said.
Their descendants all agree that Brother and Sister Harvey’s example has had a great effect on their lives. “When the grandsons and granddaughters go out to serve in the mission field, they think of grandma and grandpa applying their heart, might, mind, and strength at their mature age and are inspired to do their best as well,” said Teri Kearl, one of Brother and Sister Harvey’s daughters.
Seeing the positive influence they had on their family after their first and second missions inspired Brother and Sister Harvey to keep serving.
“In a sense, as you go out and serve as grandparents, you are serving your family in many ways as well,” said Sister Harvey.
Their granddaughter Nicole Kearl, who is serving in the Idaho Pocatello Mission, recently wrote this about her grandparents: “Seeing their devotion to the Lord has given me a greater desire to serve the Lord. I’m sure that my desire to serve a mission was partly influenced by their great example.”
Brother and Sister Harvey feel closer to their children and grandchildren because of their service, but they’ve also grown closer as a couple. Sister Harvey described their daily scripture study regimen as “the greatest blessing ever.”
Brother Harvey added that he feels much closer to his wife through their continued service. “Her feelings are my feelings. When she cries I cry. When she laughs, I laugh,” he said.
Their relationship with the Lord has also grown as they rely on Him for comfort and guidance. “You get out on a mission and you’re all by yourself,” Sister Harvey said. “You rely on the Savior like you’ve never relied on Him before.”
Brother and Sister Harvey found they were cared for as long as they were willing to listen to the promptings of the Spirit.
“It’s like the Lord keeps opening the doors … faster than you can walk through them,” said Sister Harvey. “A desire and a willing heart—it’s all you need.”