Sunday, April 6, 2014
Senior Couple Spotlight: Meet the Eliasons!
Elder and Sister Eliason of Provo, Utah are nearing the end of their Member and Leadership Support (MLS) Mission in the New Albany, (Mississippi) Branch of the Tupelo Stake. Serving in one of the most far-flung areas of the Alabama Birmingham Mission, the Eliasons were also serving in one of the geographically largest branches as well, located midway between Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo and his springboard city of Memphis, Tennessee. (It’s important to understand such vital data when serving in The Great American South).
The relatively recent change in Senior Couple missionary opportunities that permitted six-month missions – in addition to the 12, 18 and 24 month missions – seemed ideal for the Eliasons. Elder Eliason had previously served in Mississippi as a young man and so he had a pretty fair mastery of the language even before coming out.
Following a 40 year career in the Church Education System in Utah and California, Elder and Sister Eliason devote several months of each year to providing Church History tours to young people during vacation cycles. Had it not been for the six month opportunity, the Eliasons’ small business obligations would have prevented them from serving a longer mission.
Contrary to popular (mis)conceptions about Senior Couples and their extended families, absence from home was not a major concern for the Eliasons. Even though through their 10 children they have 47 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, they gained uniformly great encouragement from their family – encouragement that was often expressed as gratitude for their example to their children and grandchildren. As many families in these technology-rich days, they were able to keep in regular touch with their family in Boston, Texas, Idaho and Utah – just as they did from home, using Skype and FaceTime. Such mechanisms made it seem that they were missing hardly anything in the lives of their family.
In exchange, they believe that this may have been the very best six months of their entire lives on several levels: First, they felt an actual slackening of responsibility because they knew that they had the blessing of having the entire Church praying for their success; Second, while they had been close throughout their marriage on many dimensions, being 24/7 companions gave them a unity of purpose that they had rarely felt before; and Third, getting to know and love the people in the New Albany Branch was more like a “perfect vacation” than the hard work and sacrifice that so typifies missionary work.
Their advice to any Senior Couples contemplating serving a mission? “Do it, Just Do It – It will be the very best time of your life!”