We have had Conferences in the mission (Mongolia) this past week. President Perkins (the soon to be new Area President) came to visit and to instruct us. The current President (President Hallstrom) you may recall was called as a new member of the Presidency of the Seventy this last General Conference.
President Perkins shared some good instruction while here. The General Authorities always do, of course. But there was one thing in particular that he shared which we thought would be interesting to share with all of you -- how senior missionaries are called.
It goes something like this.
Mission Presidents communicate with Salt Lake City and request needed missionaries. In the case of seniors, they include in their request the specific skills needed and what specific responsibilities are to be assigned to the couple in that mission. Those requests are then directed to specific Church Departments, based on what the need is. For example, a need for welfare missionaries is directed to the Welfare Department, a need for Humanitarian missionaries is directed to the Humanitarian Department, etc.
When couples complete an application to serve a mission, copies of that application are also directed to each department. When a particular application seems to match a mission need, the department will ask for that couple on behalf of the requesting mission. Usually, several departments request each senior couple.
The request is then assigned a priority level, with the need deemed to be best met by that couple being given priority one, and so on. Once prioritized, the application is then sent for review by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and the chairman of the missionary committee. Each missionary application (all of them, seniors and young missionaries alike) then appear one at a time on a computer screen.
President Perkins was given the opportunity to witness this part of the process. Elder Hales was the one assigned on this particular occasion. President Perkins watched as Elder Hales looked at each application on the screen, one at a time. Sometimes he would look at personal information, other times he would just look at the picture. Elder Hales told him that if he can look into the eyes of the candidate (even if it is only a picture) he can see into their soul.
Elder Hales would then quickly announce where the Lord wanted that person to serve. Usually, the mission thus assigned will be somewhere on the list of priorities, but not always.
As he was sitting there, President Perkins offered a quick silent prayer asking the Lord to help him receive a personal testimony of this process. Soon, a name of a young missionary appeared on the screen. To President Perkins mind immediately came the words, "Lubbock Texas Mission." He said that he didn't even know that we had a Lubbock Texas Mission! A second or less later, Elder Hales announced, "Lubbock Texas Mission."
Soon another name appeared on the screen, and the thought came, "Toyko North Mission" immediately followed by Elder Hales assignment of that missionary to that mission.
President Perkins then shared his testimony that he knew people were called to serve where the Lord wants them to serve.