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Husband and wife head to Africa — again

Couple retired early to serve on mission trips through their church
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Brad and Karen Wilkes’ early retirement has not meant rest and relaxation. Their calendar hasn’t been filled with golf outings, luxurious vacations or play dates with grandchildren. Instead, the Granite Bay couple stopped working to free up time to serve on mission trips through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “We have three of the cutest granddaughters ever,” Brad Wilkes said in a news release. “(We) love Maui, spent a month there this spring. But funny thing — nothing beats the satisfaction of serving a mission. We’ll have plenty of time to hang out with the grandkids when we are 65 and Hawaii will always be there.” And good news, the husband and wife found information on the Internet about a golf course — a favorite hobby — located in their next destination: Rwanda. Having recently spent 18 months with the people of Uganda and Ethiopia, assisting and leading relief efforts, when the Wilkeses returned home they realized their work wasn’t yet done. So on Monday they left for Africa again, this time to help ease the suffering of a growing refugee population. The Wilkes will live there 18 months, focusing on clean water, wheelchair delivery, measles program, vision aid and neonatal resuscitation training. “We have been taught so many life lessons that have made us better people by associating with the African people that we can’t wait to go back,” Brad Wilkes said. “In a way, we are selfish. We value so much about what we have learned and experienced, we think there is a direct correlation between our experiences in Africa, and the improvements we have made in our own lives.” The couple will work under Latter-day Saints Charities, which is the humanitarian arm of their church, said Jan Pinney, LDS church community representative for Granite Bay. “The program has provided over $1 billion of aid to 167 countries throughout the world, regardless of nationality or religion, since 2003,” he said. Husband and wife missionaries serve at their own expense. ~ Sena Christian