When Brent and Lorri Carr were called to serve as mission leaders over the Canada Winnipeg Mission in the summer of 2021, they were thrilled. There was one big problem, however. Canada’s borders were closed to all non-residents and the Carrs are from the United States.
Called to serve in Canada, but Covid created obstacles
No missionaries had been allowed to enter the country for over two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was a miracle that we were able to enter Canada to begin serving,” remembers Lorri. “An immigration law firm helped negotiate our entry and quarantine, and through a series of tender mercies, we arrived in Winnipeg.”
Advice From Children
Determined to do the best job possible in their new calling, the couple asked their children who served full-time missions for advice. “We told them to give us the good, better and best,” recalls Lorri, “meaning what did their mission leaders do that was effective and what might they have done differently?”
Their children advised them to reach out to new missionaries to see how they are doing. They were reminded not to overlook any of the missionaries. “They told us to accept the missionaries at whatever place they are spiritually and mentally, and help them along their way,” continued Lorri. “And to make sure that no matter how many missionaries we have, no one feels like just a number.”
Twenty-two Hours from Tip to Tail
With 120 missionaries in their care, it is no easy task to follow that advice. The challenges are compounded by the vast geographic area of the Winnipeg Mission. It covers two and a half provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Western Ontario) and part of northern Minnesota. The drive from tip to tail takes 22 hours.
“This creates logistical challenges every time we have a transfer,” said Brent. He considers it a great blessing that his last job before serving as mission president prepared him for these difficulties.
“I taught at Boise State University for a year during Covid where I learned to use Zoom and did all my teaching, student meetings, grading and communication virtually,” he said. “With our mission being so big geographically, we use Zoom for all our council training, devotionals and most zone conferences. We’d prefer to be in-person, but we’re so spread apart.”
The Joy of Being Together
Taking the advice of their children to not overlook their missionaries may not be easy, but it’s the most rewarding part of the calling, both agree.
“What I enjoy most is getting to know the missionaries,” said Lorri. “I love meeting the new missionaries and having them in our home their first night. We enjoy the orientation meetings, zone conferences and attending baptisms and other special events. My hope is to help them change for the better by teaching, training and inspiring them.”
After nearly a year in this calling, Brent says his favourite experience has become each missionary’s final day.
“We now have a temple here, dedicated in 2021,” he said. “Our Winnipeg Manitoba Temple opens especially for our departing missionaries the day before they leave. Then we have a departing dinner and testimony meeting. It’s such a highlight to hear them reflect on their missions and express gratitude for the things they’ve learned that will bless the rest of their lives. They spend their final night at the mission home and we take them to the airport in the morning. It's a wonderful way for them to end on a spiritual high note.”
Both agree the most challenging part of the calling is helping missionaries who are struggling with mental health issues.
Working in Tandem
The Carrs share many of the same duties and responsibilities, such as training and conducting meetings, so the missionaries see them as an equal companions and partners. “We raised our family together, make all key decisions together, and continue to work in tandem,” Lorri said.
Prior to moving to Canada, the Carrs lived in Idaho, Utah, California and Kansas. They have four children and seven grandchildren. Brent served full time in the Australia Perth Mission as a young man. Lorri has a degree in secondary education and Brent in business management. Brent worked for Colgate-Palmolive Company, Fresh Express, and Litehouse Foods. His last position at Litehouse as senior vice president of sales and marketing brought the couple to picturesque Sandpoint, Idaho, just an hour south of the Canadian border.