Not everyone serving in the mission field comes through the same process of submitting application papers and then accepting a call from the first presidency. Some choose to come here as volunteers. That was the case for Ian and Arda Shields from Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada. After some significant health challenges led to Dr. Shields, a dentist, retiring earlier than he had planned, they still wanted to be of service. Having been strong members of the church their whole lives they had an interest in serving a mission, but were not quite sure they would be up to the physical demands that would be required. So they signed up as dental volunteers in the Pacific for a period of just four months to determine if they would be able to do a full mission later on. They started out in Tarawa, Kiribati (pronounced "Kir-i-bus"), and went from there to Samoa.
While being so close to the equator is very different from life in Canada, the Shields are no strangers to being in the mission field. When they married and moved to Salmon Arm they were part of a dependent branch that consisted of just 8 members. Some dear soul had given a pump organ for their use in the scout hall where the branch held meetings, so they enjoyed the only organ music in the entire church district at that time.
During their time here they put in long days running the dental clinic, serving members and non members alike. Learning to say "Open your mouth" in Samoan took some getting used to, but they have done a great job. While they serve people of all ages, some who have never seen a dentist before in their lives, their chief priority is to help young sisters and elders getting ready to leave on missions to have all their dental care needs taken care of before they enter the MTC.
The Shileds will complete their assignment on April 14, leaving Samoa at that time to return home to Canada. Sister Shield said: "We feel enriched knowing the good people we have met and feel a greater love and appreciation to God for His plan and goodness."