Monday, July 21, 2014


This is an email written to a group of missionaries, including Elder Sawyer Eldredge.  I thought it was very interesting that the week Sawyer received this letter, he sent us home several pictures of him and his zone (a group of about 10 missionaries) having a great time.  He often tells us all the fun things they do together.  Sawyer has never expressed to us the desire to come home early from his mission, but my guess is it's a feeling that about every missionary will have at some point, including my son.  

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (A Tale of Two Cities)." 

Alas, it is life!! We have to learn to enjoy the moments despite the hardships. ~ Wendy

Dear Elders,
Story Time...
When I was growing up, we lived in the Oakland, CA hills, in an average home on a cul-de-sac, with probably 15 homes in our oblong "circle."  Every home had kids, and on warm summer nights, we'd play hide-and-seek, using a telephone poll as home base.  I remember many nights, when it was my turn to cover my eyes, put my head on the poll, then count to 100 - I would then try looking everywhere to find my friends, often to no avail.  At that point I would yell "OLIEOLIEOXENFREE!!!!!" Signaling the un-found few that I was giving up and they could come "home" safe.
Last Thursday night we got a call from two missionaries (not in our area) asking if they could come crash at our home for the evening.  It seems that Elder X had been sick all day, throwing up.  Elder Y was getting cabin fever and needed a change of scenery.   (Why our house would be considered a change of scenery is probably because our "new" kitchen is still in the infant development stages, and there's NOTHING to eat/drink/enjoy here, other than Ice Cream.
Anyway - keeping the story going - Elder Y said "If they had told me how hard a mission was, I would never have come out."  Elder Y added "If they said I could go home right now, no questions asked, with no repercussions, I would be out of here."  My question back to each of them was "If every Elder you know in this Mission was given the
Olieolieoxenfree call and they could go home right now, would there be a stampede for the Utah border?"  "YES!" was the reply from both Elders at the same time.
That made me think of my little band of Elders I write to
 almost every week.  Many of you are fighting deep depression; some of you haven't had many/any baptisms; one of you have kicked against the pricks (better known as your DL's & ZL's); and I have heard from more than one of you that if you were given the chance, you'd gladly run for the border.
Why do I tell you these things?  Because, first of all I want you to know, you are NOT alone in your feelings.  And your feelings are the one thing that can't be countermanded, or challenged by anyone.  They are
 your feelings, and they are real.
In the spirit of the Pioneers, remember the words of that great hymn -
 Come, Come, Ye Saints
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?  'Tis not so; all is right.  Why should we think to earn a great reward, if we now shun the fight?  Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.  Our God will never us forsake; and soon we'll have this tale to tell - All is well! All is well!
I find an interesting word usage in the first line: 
 'Tis not so; all is right.  Isaac Watts (the author) could have used the word Well, Easy, OK, or Fine.  But he chose right.  What does right mean in this context?  I am going to leave this word choice to you to decipher - I  know what it means to me, but each of you might have something else come to mind.
I know when I was growing up, every Missionary that came home always ended his homecoming talk with these words:  "This has been the best two years of my life!!!"  I used to think, that's probably a bunch of crap, and only was true when the hardest/worst/most difficult two years of his life was
 finally over!!!  Then I used it at my homecoming...
My message to you this week:  Know that when your mission is over, it will be OVER.  What you have made of the two years the Lord has given you to do his work, will be over.  What your parents, friends, relatives, and ward members think of how you preformed in the mission field will be judged mostly on what you say from the pulpit, when you give your homecoming talk.  You'll probably used that old, well-worn, missionary line about it being the best two years of your life, and some Teacher of Priest (or younger brother) will hear you and think to himself "I can't wait for my mission, I want to be just like Elder __________ (fill in your name in the blank).  But you, and the Lord, alone will know the truth - how your mission really was, how it progressed, or stalled, and finally how it ended...
Don't be the someone who gives up, or can't find those you're looking for, and finally screams
 “Olieolieoxenfree!!!  I give up, let me go home with no penalty.”
Remember, you are in our prayers every day and night - and there's one of you who I fast for every week.  Don't let the Lord, your family, your Ward, or us down.  Endure to the end, and as the hymn says:  “Shout praises to your God And King; Above the rest these words YOU’LL tell - All is well!  All is well!”
Never forget, you are loved!

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