March 8, 1999
|James and Sandra Hart.||Mark and Sandy Barrows.|
Two Woodinville couples were recently chosen to be mission presidents for the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints.
Longtime residents Mark and Sandy Barrow and James and Sandra Hart are among the 136 people selected (out of eleven million members in the church) to receive this honor. They will serve for three years in their capacities as mission presidents, helping supervise young missionaries in their work. The Barrows are being sent to Lima, Peru, and the Harts to Toronto, Canada, for their three-year terms.
"As mission presidents, we are responsible for 160-200 missionaries, ages 19-21 years old," Sandra Hart explained. "It's a great honor to be chosen, but it definitely is a big responsibility."
There are about 50,000 young missionaries serving in the world from the Church of Latter-day Saints. Young men, at the age of nineteen, and young women, at the age of twenty-one, have the opportunity to be missionaries for an eighteen-month to two-year period of time. Presidents are expected to pay their own way, go where they are asked to serve, and stay the full length of service. They teach others about their faith and render service to the community.
As a young man, James Hart served in a mission in Toronto, so returning there years later will not seem foreign to him. "This was a very important time in my husband's life, and it affected him deeply," Sandra said. "Both our sons went on to serve missions in Japan and Korea, and we are excited to have the opportunity to return the service in this way."
James will be leaving his post as president of Northwest Hospital, a position he has held for the past twenty-four years.
For the Barrows, being in Peru will bring back memories of the years they spent in South America. "From 1969 to 1976, we lived in Bogota, Colombia, because Mark was working for a chemical company there," Sandy Barrow explained. "It was a wonderful experience for our whole family and we found the Latin people so warm and hospitable. We are looking forward to returning to this culture."
Sandy sees this service as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will offer many challenges and rewards. She is, however, concerned about speaking the language again after so many years and worries that she will miss her eight grandchildren.
"Being so far away from our family won't be easy, especially because we can't go home during the three-year time commitment. Hopefully, some of them will visit us, if possible," she said.
Individuals chosen to be mission presidents must be financially secure, as they are not paid during their service. "Our living expenses are taken care of by the church, but we earn no income," Barrow said. "The church looks for people who display worthiness and are in keeping with the standards of the church. They also want to make sure you're in good health and can adjust to a different culture with few difficulties. In our case, people from the church have been talking to us for several years about assuming this position, but we weren't ready until now."
Both the Barrows and Harts will train in Provo, Utah, before departing for their respective posts on July 1.