Sunday, March 6, 2016

The News is Finally Here - and it's Australia!

We finally submitted our mission application to the LDS church towards the end of January, 2016, after several months of medical tests, dental work, immunizations, and other related matters.

Earlier this week, we received a letter from the church with our mission assignment, or as it is referred to in the church, our "mission call"!

When the letter arrived at our daughter's place in Delta, BC, we were on a birding trip in Florida. Protocol requires that all family members are present when the mission call is opened and read. So...we had to get all of our kids on line, which we managed to do within about 1/2 hour by a combination of Skype and phone. Our oldest daughter was polling everyone to see where we might go, which resulted in all sorts of crazy suggestions - I think our kids wanted us to be suitably nervous prior to opening and reading the letter.

Our oldest daughter then read through the letter and we found out that we were called to the Australia - Melbourne mission, to serve in the Perpetual Education Fund / Self-reliance centre. We are very excited to be called to Australia - a land and people that we love from several visits there already. As soon as they heard, our kids immediately started speculating about holidaying in Australia some time soon (they never miss a good opportunity).

We will be reporting to the Mission Training Centre (MTC) in Provo, Utah in early August, 2016, for several weeks of training (I wonder if any of that will be in how to speak Australian?) and then will be sent on to Melbourne.

One of my brothers asked the following questions, so I thought it would be helpful to include some answers here, for general consumption:

1.  How long is the mission?  It runs for 18 months from the time we report to the MTC.  We had a choice of 12 months, 18 months or 24 months and opted for the middle amount.

2.  Do you get holidays every year?  Ha!  A mission is a time to dedicate your efforts to helping others.  The PEF/Self-Reliance Centre will have regular hours plus there will be other assignments as given by the local church leader (in our case, the Australia-Melbourne Mission President, who directs all missionary activities in the area, whether they be proselyting, service or humanitarian).  That being said, senior missionaries normally get some time for personal items, such as contacting family members.

3.  How much do you get paid for the work you do?  Our mission is entirely self-funded, except for when missionaries serve for more than 18 months, the church pays their way to and from their assigned location.  Part of the application process for seniors is to help the church assess the health and financial capacity of the prospective missionaries, so that they are sent to areas suited to their conditions.

3.  A great opportunity to not only see Australia but also SE Asia. That seems to be an Aussie hotspot for vacation.  Well, we're not really there for a vacation, but we do hope to see some of the sites around Melbourne during the course of our stay there.  One interest we have is birding; we're sure there are many new birds to see and study.  It will also be a chance to meet and work with Australians living in the mission area, to which we really look forward.

4.  Food wise I suppose it is fairly similar to ours but there will also be local favourites.  A must try item would be??  I think the food there is relatively similar, although there are a few Australian variations that are worth mentioning, such as their obsession with meat pastries and a type of hamburger that contains, in addition to the normal North American fare, a fried egg, beets and pineapple.  Janette already loves that hamburger.

For those who are unfamiliar with the terms of this mission call, read on...

The "Perpetual Education Fund" is a fund that was set up by the LDS church in 2001, to which many church members contribute (voluntarily).  It helps young people in developing countries to get an education and improve their employment possibilities, and is similar in nature to the early "Perpetual Emigration Fund", which helped 30,000 new church members to immigrate to the US, and more specifically to the area around Salt Lake City, Utah, in the mid to late 1800s.  More information on how the PEF was set up and who it benefits can be found at:

Self Reliance Centres are similar to the Employment Centres with which church members in Canada and the U.S. would be more familiar.  They provide Internet access, mentoring, and other helpful resources to job seekers, the self-employed, and prospective students, and offer services on topics such as:

  • How to start or grow your business
  • How to find employment
  • How to gain a good education
  • Personal mentoring
  • Networking opportunities

Further information on Self Reliance Centres can be found at: