Archive for September, 2012


September 14, 2012

I returned from India on August 10th, 2012.

I’m posting the last weekly letter of one of my very best friends, Elder Forsyth, who was a missionary in Germany almost the entire time I was a missionary in India. We are now both back at BYU-Provo, continuing our education, our friendship, and, inshallah, our service to our fellow man.


Well, here we are again, for the very first time.

First, a few words to my friends who are still serving:

How to avoid being trunky (trunky: a mission slang that dates back to the time my father served and probably earlier, which refers to the old steamer trunks that were used way back in the 20th century — the precurser to the modern suitcase. If a missionary is “trunky” it generally means that he, either mentally or literally, has already “packed his bags” to go home, e.g. he would rather be home than serving a mission):
Don’t hate missionary work
Love missionary work
rejoice in feeling the Spirit, in being a servant of the Lord, etc.
realize that being where you are is exactly what the Lord asks of you, and that therefore the most joy you could possibly have at this point in time is in serving a mission. und zwar with all your heart, might, mind and strength.
Second, I’ve heard a lot of things about going home from a mission. [ although, I heard a lot of things about going on a mission, too, and many of them didn’t at all apply. Talking to other missionaries, I have realized that there are a lot of different ways, mindsets, and attitudes with which one can serve a mission…and presumably return]. Anyway, what most people say is “It’s hard”. I’ve heard, for example, that “no matter what you do, you can’t maintain the same spiritual niveau that you enjoyed on your mission.” or “the first few weeks, you’ll still be floating, but then reality sets in and you’re dragged back into the world.” I’ve talked to several recently returned missionaries that have massive problems adjusting back to “real life”, or that “wish more than anything else to be back on a mission”.

I talked to another missionary last night who still has a few months left, and he was apprehensive, and asked me if I was happy or sad. When I replied that I was happy, he mentioned that he wouldn’t be. Then he amended “well, I imagine that when the time comes I’ll be glad, but for now I still want to work hard.”

And I realized the problem: equating returning home from your mission with the end of working hard.

You run into that a lot with missionaries who get “trunky”, or who even early on in their mission decide they don’t want to be there. Often it has to do with an aversion to doing hard or uncomfortable things. I must add that there are many factors, including and most notably problems at home, that can distract a missionary from his work and cause him to second-guess his decision to come out and serve. As always we must be very cautious in passing judgement.

Here are my thoughts on how to gracefully return to the land of the layman:
don’t equate going home with the end of service or of hard work (there are far too many young men that return from a mission and, in the absence of the structure, rules, and schedule of a mission, begin to neglect spiritual things, sometimes even doubting their testimony and falling away from activity in the church.)
rejoice in missionary work
recognize what missionary work the Lord has prepared for you in your new field of labor.
In the past, speaking to missionaries who were apprehensive about leaving the field, I have said “You should be excited! Excited to be part of an Elders’ Quorem, to do home teaching, to bring the gospel to those of your friends who have not yet received or understood the glad message. Be excited to fulfill a calling in your new ward or branch.”

My goals upon coming home include:
strengthen family bonds
maintain the relationships formed here in germany
“remember, and always retain in remembrance the goodness of God” — read through my journals, write a more thorough account of many spiritual experiences, ponder what I have learned during my time here and decide how to apply it throughout the rest of my life.
missionary work
And I imagine that even once I have left the mission field, there will still be little reason to be selfish, to do things that don’t actively invite the Spirit, or to neglect my priesthood duty to help others come unto Christ.

To the many of you who have written me letters… many thanks. I have been strengthened by your strength and prayers. If I failed to respond (and I fear that it was often the case), it was because there is very little time, even on the one day a week we have for preparation. I hope to soon be able to express my thanks personally.

I post this because it expresses many of the feelings I had at the beginning of August, but I never put them into words so well.

Hard work is good. Helping others is good. Being kind is good. Being a friend to strangers is good. Jesus Christ is very good, and I was blessed to serve him and do all these things for the last two years, and plan to continue to do so for as long as I live.

It is not as easy, perhaps, to work hard in that way now that I am home. There are many distractions, none of them bad in themselves. There is less motivation to get up early. But it is worth it.

My address now, for those who may want to write me, is

595 E 3230 N
Provo, UT