A few days ago, 5 letters left Buena Vista. Two were headed to Brazil (to the Porto Alegre and Vitoria missions), one to the Missionary Training Center in Utah, one to Birmingham, Alabama, and the final one to Oregon. I felt like a letter writing champ, and as I was thinking about it, I realized I’m a bit selfish when it comes to writing missionaries.
I love writing them because I learn so much from their replies. I love hearing about their experiences in the field, their thoughts on different aspects of the gospel, and seeing how much they change and grow in the 18 to 24 months that they’re away from home. I’ve been closer to some than others, but am always excited to see a letter in my post box. I know it’s going to be a good letter when the envelope is thick – that either means photos or a super long letter. Both are equally awesome.
I think sometimes we emphasize that missionaries need letters (which they do!), but not the fact that we are blessed when they have the chance to write back. Letters are amazing, I’ve found, because they tend to be very similar to journal entries. They tell you about little things that they’ll forget to tell you when they get home. My friend came home from his mission, and as I was sitting there listening to his homecoming talk, I had to laugh – I knew the endings to the stories he was in the middle of telling, and remembered the names of the people he spoke of, all because of the letters we exchanged over the 24 months he was away from home.
I think the thing that I love most about missionary letters (or blogs!) are the little experiences they share – the “little miracles.” They allow you to feel connected not only to ‘your’ missionary, but also to the members and the Church worldwide. You start praying for the investigators and members they’re praying for, and you start to realize how much home and your home ward means. You see an application of what you’ve been taught in Sunday School classes, in Sacrament meetings, and in General Conference.
For me personally, it was awesome to be able to view things from the perspective of the missionary. There were times when I wondered, reading letters from friends, what did Elder/Sister so and so write home about my family? I love seeing the love these missionaries have for the people they’re serving. It’s an amazing experience, and you’re able to see in a very profound way a small part of the love that Christ has for each of His sheep (you’re reading a letter from one of His shepherds!). From what they write, you feel like you come to know the people they’re serving individually. It’s an awesome experience and opportunity to watch the Church move forward through the eyes of the full-time missionaries.
Living with 9 other girls (and some girls who just appear to live in our house), missionary letters are highlights for everyone. It’s fairly common to be in your room studying or relaxing and have one of your housemates come in holding a letter to read you excerpts. Between the lot of us, we have friends serving stateside, as well as throughout Europe and South America, and it’s great to be able to share in the experiences that others have. I love it so much!
I am so blessed to be able to both write missionaries and receive letters from them, and can’t wait to be the sister missionary who writes loads of letters home!
(some, by the way, will be posted on this blog!)