- "I can't leave my children and grandchildren." Sometimes children and grandchildren have special needs that prevent couples from leaving on a mission, but more often than not, couples just want to stay involved in the lives of their families. I can't blame them. But I feel that our going on a mission sets a strong example and gives a clear message to our children and grandchildren of the importance of the gospel. Some couples report that they get closer to their family by answering the call to serve a mission.
- "I can't afford to serve." This is generally not a legitimate reason for refusing to serve. Most wards and stakes have members who are willing to sponsor couple missionaries. In fact, in the mission application papers, you can even specify how much you can afford to spend on a mission, and (from what I read on the church website) couples don't get called to missions that they can't afford.
- "I don't want to knock on doors and live mission rules." Well, I personally do want to knock on doors, but most couple missionaries don't have to knock on doors or don't even have the time. There are lots of different kinds of missions, but even a proselyting mission (like ours) is not like being a 20-year-old missionary. The rules are much more flexible.
- "I don't have good enough health." This is a legitimate reason for not serving a full-time, foreign mission. But first, most of us who are retired aren't in the best of health anyway, and that shouldn't keep us from serving. In my case, I have atrial fibrillation (which was mostly controlled by an ablation procedure), asthma (controlled by medications), high blood pressure (controlled by medicine and exercise), and sleep apnea (treated with a CPAP machine). Second, there are certain types of missions--even live-at-home missions--that don't require good health.
- "I have to take care of an aged parent." This too is a legitimate reason for not serving. My dear mother is not thrilled about my leaving, but she has plenty of family around her to help while I'm gone. (Besides, I don't feel that I can do that much, compared with some others in the family, to help her.)
- "I can't handle the food." Frankly, I don't know how my wife will respond to Peruvian cuisine, but she's willing go to Peru and see what happens. She's brave. We'll just have to be careful in what we eat. (I pray that we won't have to offend anyone by not eating food that's offered, but I'm not willing to jeopardize our health by eating questionable food.)
- "There are too many places in the world where I don't want to go." I totally understand this sentiment. I really wanted to go on a Spanish-speaking mission, and not to Russia, Ukraine, Mongolia, or Africa. I solved that problem by requesting a Spanish-speaking mission and by noting on my recommendation form that I would prefer not to learn a new language (beyond Spanish).
- "A mission just doesn't sound fun." Can't argue there. Missions are hard. Many things about missions are far from being fun. But the joy of service far exceeds any lack of fun. (I'm realistic enough to know that some missions aren't fun and aren't fulfilling, but to a large degree, the feeling of fulfillment is a matter of attitude.)
- "I can't leave my house for that long." My wife and I just built and moved into our dream home in Orem, and we own a home in St. George. I'm sure we'll have to do some extra cleaning, painting, and repairing when we get back from our mission, but so what? Homes are just fleeting material goods, not nearly as important as fulfilling our covenants to consecrate everything to the Lord.
The approach that my wife and I took was, "We want to serve. We need to serve. Now let's resolve any problems that might keep us from serving." So away we go!