Missionary Service

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{The first Sunday of each month, I’ve decided to share something spiritual in nature.  My religion is a HUGE part of who I am and how I live my life, and I’d feel un-authentic not sharing. If you are not interested in reading….I’ll never know if you click the “x” now, but if you have something to say at the end, please show kindness and respect in my little spot of the web.}

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to go on a church service mission. I think the Mormons are pretty well known that we have “boys on bikes” throughout the world, but girls can serve, too. Sometimes those girls are on bikes (in dresses), and some often have car access, but with a limited number of miles–just enough to cover the assigned area they are in.

I hope they call me on a mission



Before this year, our church service age minimum was 19 for boys and 21 for girls. I’m not quite sure how the age cut off works, but from what I understand, generally under the age of 25, but all single. The only couples that serve missions are retired couples that are “empty nesters.” Last October there was a big announcement in our Worldwide Semi Annual General Conference that the age for boys was lowered to 18 (also must be graduated from high school) and for girls, down to age 19. There was a lot of excitement for girls, as it provided an opportunity to serve full time at a much younger age. There is a lot of speculation as to why the age criteria are what they are, but ultimately, we believe our leaders are led by revelation that inspires things to change as needed. With this announcement, there has been a huge influx of individuals submitting papers to serve full time (I’ve heard that the numbers have quadrupled!). {Below, my younger brother just before entering the Missionary Training Center to begin his mission to New York City}

called to serve

As a full time missionary, there is a certain standard to uphold, and though many think it is a “requirement” it is more of an encouragement for boys to go and serve, while it is seen more optional for the girls.  As a mother, it is my hope that my children will have a desire to serve a full time mission. A hope that my children will have a strong conviction in what they are taught—enough to want to share it with others. Missionaries devote 100% of their time to the work, there are a good number of rules to be followed such as no dating, no television or secular music, personal phone calls, etc. But with those boundaries produces hard working, devoted, and dedicated young men  and women who come home and take those skills with them the rest of their lives. They wake daily at 6:30 a.m. to study their scriptures for an hour, they knock doors or talk to people on streets to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they get doors slammed in their faces, dogs chasing them, and they have to defend what they believe over and over, and respond with kindness when they may be face with opposition.

Just before I turned 21, I thought I would go on a mission. I wasn’t dating anyone seriously, and it was something I had wanted to do for a long time. As encouraged by leaders, I prayed about it…and strangely enough…it didn’t feel right to go. Something was off, and I trusted that personal revelation I had received for myself and didn’t submit papers to go. I found out later, that there was a different plan for me. But I do look at my female friends that served with a tinge of jealousy.

Missionaries are called by inspiration from our church leaders, and it’s always a big deal to get the mission call envelope, and generally a group gathers to watch the opening. Loved ones often are involved in a guessing game as to where the missionary will serve. I remember when my older brother opened his “call to serve” and it was to Marilia, Brazil. He would learn the Portuguese language.{An insert below from my high school scrapbook page}

called to serve

My younger brother was called to New York City–Spanish speaking, and my youngest brother to Boise, Idaho–English. Those learning a new language have an 8 week intensive training course, while those speaking English go out “into the field” a bit sooner and get to work. Though there often seems to be a touch of disappointment to not be called to an exotic locale, we believe that each missionary is called to the place they are supposed to go…where THEY are needed.  My dad served his mission in California, and my husband to the South of France. There are pro’s and con’s to each spot of the world.

Mormon Missionary

{My hubby on the right with his Missionary Companion from Samoa, serving together in France.}

My parents have mentioned for a while that when my dad retires, they’d like to serve as a couple on a mission. It was always going to be “later” because he is still working. He’s worked in Nigeria for the past 4 years and my mom would commute back and forth from there to her home in Houston, Texas. He travels to other parts of the world with his job as well. When our family got together over Thanksgiving, I don’t think any of my siblings expected the news our parents had to share with us.  They told us that they were asked by one of our church leaders to serve a full time mission, as Mission President over approximately 200 missionaries who are actively sharing the gospel. They did not have a destination yet, but the call to serve was extended and they said yes. They told us that 2 days before Thanksgiving, they skyped with President Dieter Uchtdorf (we believe in a living Prophet of God with 12 apostles, just as in Christs’ time. President Uchtdorf is an apostle) and were extended the call to serve in July 2013 for 3 years.

We have speculated that they would likely go to Africa, and on Valentine’s Day (2/14) they opened their call to serve with all of us skpe-ing in, watching, and that was confirmed: Accra Ghana, West mission in Africa.  I think I’ll be making a trip to Ghana sometime in the next 3 years. My mom is happy that it is Ghana because it is much more modern with better medical than they experienced in Nigeria.   There are 405 missions throughout the world and over 60,000 full time missionaries serving in the US to Russia to South America to Africa to Korea. Some areas are not “open” for missionary service per that countries choosing.

Mormon Mission President

{My parents, ready to serve.}

Mission Presidents will either take a leave from their jobs, or retire. In my dad’s case, he was planning to retire soon anyway, so he upped the date just a little. With them on the other side of the world, they don’t have the leisure to come and go as easily, so we will have to go to them. I think they will do an amazing job in Ghana, and will bless the lives of many individuals. I’m happy for them, and that we will be a missionary family, blessed by their service and sacrifice.

I just found a cool video that details a bit about what a Mission President does, check it out!

To learn more about what Mormon Missionaries DO, here is a link about Missionary Work, and here is more detail about Missionaries.  This explains a bit more about Mission Presidents from those serving.  THIS VIDEO makes me tear up and cry at all of the Sister Missionaries now serving.

If you want to read my past spiritual posts, I shared What I Believe and What I Believe part 2.

{I could go off on a hundred different tangents explaining some of what I wrote above, but I am trying to be concise. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback or questions. Remember, if you don’t have something kind to say, please don’t say anything at all.}

Some of my blogging friends are also participating in a first Sunday spiritual post, read those as well:

Your Homebased Mom, Sugar Bee Crafts, Or So She Says, There’s a Mouse in My Kitchen

Join The Discussion



  1. Amy Nelson says:

    That is SO amazing Kristen!! Congratulations to them!!

  2. My oldest daughter (9) wants to serve a mission in India. I don’t know if India is open to missionary service but she is determined. I guess if it’s not maybe it will be in the next 10 years.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      10 years—I think that’s a good amount of time to open India!! How very sweet of your little one;)

  3. So exciting for your parents and your family! I hope you do get to go visit them 🙂

  4. That’s so neat about your parents and the day you get to visit them will be AWESOME. Great post, my friend.

  5. We are so excited for them! Yay! (When we saw their picture in the Church News, we showed it to the kids. It was funny. We asked them if they recognized anyone on the page, and they said they did, but couldn’t remember where they had seen them. Then we asked if it was at your house and their faces lit up! Yes! They said! So cute.)

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Ha! That’s funny, Kriste. Impressed that they recognized them! I need to get a copy of that Church News….

  6. Hi Kristen! Congratulations on what seems something very important in your family. I wonder how your family life with your parents is affected in the short time (I can appreciate how in the long run this experience will only be fulfilling for all of you). Does the no personal calls rule apply to them too? Do they have an income?
    I must admit that…I never enjoyed when Jehova witnesses knocked on our door to try to convince us for 2-4 hours to change religion…I was always scared when my mother let them in and we would feel bad when we didn’t. They were always polite but always insisted for so so long…and made us defend what we believed whether we wanted or not…
    Maybe it is because that is exactly what they had to do all day long that they tried so hard and so long.
    I am active in helping, active in offering physical or psychological help to those in need through Christ, but I am not so active in the type of mission you described for young Mormons.
    It’s nice to be reminded this is necessary too.
    Thank you for providing us an insight into your faith.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Leire, Great questions and thoughts! I love hearing from you;) The “no personal calls” does NOT apply to the “senior missionaries.” We plan to skype once a week with my parents–they love talking to their grandchildren so much, and I am so excited for my kids to “learn at their feet” first hand about a mission. The calling for the 20 somethings is to help them focus on the work, but there are times set aside (Christmas, Mother’s Day) where they call family and letters/emails are the main form of communication outside of that.
      Income–they are not paid to serve missions. For the young/single missionaries, they pay their way. Our kids are saving now for their missions, I believe it is about $400 a month for room and board. My parents as Mission Presidents will live in a home that is owned by our church, that the previous Mission President lived in. My parents are self sufficient enough, they will use the income as they would if they were retired at home.
      I TOTALLY understand what you mean about not wanting to talk to strangers at the door–I am the same way!! The missionaries do a bit of “cold call knocking” or “tracting” as they call it, but they aim to rely on the local church membership to share contacts with them from conversations they have with friends. Their job is mostly to TEACH, not to FIND. They are asked to share their beliefs with the utmost respect to those they are teaching.
      I think it is wonderful that you are active in your community in helping to serve others. I, too, am with you on that. I am not out preaching my beliefs, but I do my part to be active in my community and share the love of life I have with others the best I can.

  7. Thanks for sharing. The Mormon religion fascinates me. I know pretty much nothing about it, except tiny bits and pieces I get from friends that are Mormon when the subject comes up. Congrats to your parents!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Thanks, Monica! I have run into lots of friends that either don’t know anything about our faith, or have lots of misconceptions shared by those not of our faith. One of my goals is to clear misconceptions, because there seems to be quite a few! Let me know if you have specific questions that fascinate;)

  8. This is a great post. Very informative. Kudos to your parents for being so willing to change their entire lifestyle to serve the Lord for three years. That’s amazing!

  9. Wow! Congratulations to them on their call! What an adventure! My parents have also had mission on the mind lately. I wonder when/where they’ll go!

  10. I am so grateful for those that sacrifice to serve missions. Thank you to your parents and to you!! I’m sure you will miss them, but I know they will bless many lives!

  11. I don’t know you personally and certainly not your parents, but I got a big ol grin on my face and goosebumps on my arms just reading about your parents call. Sooooo exciting!! Congrats to them!!

  12. i’m posting basically the same thing on the FB group. i am really impressed with all the posts today. i get so nervous about posting churchy things, but i always want to. i’m hoping to get my act together for next month’s postings.

  13. oh how exciting that your dad got called as a mission president!! awesome news! congrats!

  14. that’s exciting news about your parents! some good friends of mine are opening a new mission in argentina!

    • Hey Kristen — congrats to your parents! I’m very close to two other couples who have also just been called as mission presidents (one that Ellen refers to here). Super exciting. 🙂 Perhaps they will all meet at the MTC this summer — small world!

  15. so cool!!!!!!!!!

  16. Alesa Larsen says:

    Wow, that is so exciting for you and your parents. You should read King Peggy, it is a great book that explains a lot about the people of Ghana.

  17. I served a mission right after I turned 21. It was a wonderful experience. I am excited for even more young men and women to serve with a new age eligibility. What a neat opportunity for your parents and your family to be involved in service in Africa. “.. the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear…”

  18. Adventureknitter says:

    I figured that your parents were going on a mission when you told me that they were going to Ghana…but mission presidents! Wow!! All I know about Ghana is that it is hot and the people are really nice. Good luck to your parents! And you should definitely should go visit! I mean, when else would you just go to Ghana.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Exactly–when else would I go to Ghana? Never a spot I thought I’d go. My dad already loves the people, he is excited to go back.

  19. Yeah!! So exciting!! Tell them congratulations and I am jealous that you get to take an amazing trip in the coming years!!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      You took a pretty amazing trip to visit your parents–twice! I would have liked to go to Sweden myself;)

  20. Kristen, great detail on missionary service, so many personal notes and recollections. You are such an amazing person! Such a treasure to all who know you.

  21. Christi Brewer says:

    Wow, congrats to your family, that is so exciting!!

  22. Beautiful message, Kristen! I hope your parents enjoy their mission.. how awesome. xoxo~ Ruthie

  23. disneychamp says:

    That is wonderful news! I’m sure everyone in your family will be blessed by your parents service. And wow, I think a visit to them in Ghana is definitely in your future. How exciting!

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  7. […] husband lived in France for 2 years before we met. He was a missionary for our church, and being immersed in the culture, he speaks fluent french to this […]

  8. […] never even heard of gnocchi until I was 19, and my brother returned home from a mission to Brazil. He came home all excited to share it with our family this amazing meal he’d enjoyed there. […]

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