I wanted to write a happy letter to you, but today was a terrible day. Sam and Rollin and I had a skateboard contest. Sam said that I cheated. But I didn’t cheat! We had a big fight about it.
Then I took Rusty to the park. I wanted to think about what to do about Sam. And I wanted to play fetch with Rusty. But Rusty wouldn’t even run and bark.
Then I saw Melissa at the ice-cream store. She was laughing with some tall guy who had a fancy car. I waved, but she didn’t see me. Does she still like you? Do you still like her?
We’re leaving for our camping trip and family reunion tomorrow. It won’t be the same without you.
What should I do about Sam? What should I do about Melissa?
Sorry to hear about your tough day. I’ve had a few of those lately too. Sometimes we just have to pick ourselves up and keep going.
Just the other day I got transferred to this new area. I was sad to leave Elder Watts, but I’ll always treasure the experiences that we shared and our friendship. My new companion is Elder Butler. He seems like a nice guy, but it’s been hard to get used to each other. We don’t have a car in this area, so we spend a lot of time on bicycles.
There aren’t many members here, and there haven’t been any missionaries assigned here for years. The other missionaries say that it’s going to be a real challenge, but I feel very strongly that someone here is searching for the answers that we have—maybe even praying to be shown the truth. And Elder Butler and I are going to keep searching until we find that someone.
And speaking of finding someone, Melissa did write to me about a new boyfriend. I was sad, but Elder Watts told me that my mission wouldn’t be complete unless I got at least one Dear John letter.
About your fight with Sam—don’t let it go too long before you patch things up. Grandpa May always says that the strength of the peacemaker shines brighter than the stubborn pride of the mule. So decide to be a peacemaker, not a mule.
Today we got back from the mountains. Lots of our cousins and other relatives were there. We rode horses every day. We fished and hiked and played softball and horseshoes. The grownups sat around and talked a lot. We roasted hot dogs over the campfire—marshmallows too. We sang songs around the fire and told scary stories. Everyone missed you! But we’re proud that you’re on your mission.
The reunion was fun except for one very sad thing. Rusty didn’t play with us. He went with me on one short hike, but it was hard for him. On the last night we were there, he died. I’m not sure that we were supposed to, but we buried him on the mountain by a large rock and covered his grave with wildflowers. I went into the woods by myself and cried. I still start to cry when I think about Rusty. I know that you’ll miss him too. I wish that you were here so that we could talk about it.
I cried, too, when I read your letter about Rusty. I was only three years old when Dad brought him home as a puppy. He had a long, long life for a dog, but it’s still sad when someone or something you love dies.
After I read your letter a second time, I thought about how this experience applies to my mission. A big part of our message to people is that there is much more to life than what we experience between birth and death. We existed before we were born. And death is not the end of us or those we love.
Buddy, have you and Sam made up yet? Just after I wrote my last letter, Elder Butler and I had an argument. We went for two days without companion study and companion prayer, and I’m sure that we weren’t very good missionaries on those days, even though we knocked on a lot of doors. Then I thought, “this is silly—even if I think that Elder Butler is the one who is wrong, how can I tell Buddy to be a peacemaker if I’m acting like a stubborn mule!” So I swallowed my pride and took the first steps to make peace. Now everything is fine. We both learned that people can disagree and still be good friends.
I went to Sam’s house. I told him that I wanted to be friends again. He said that he did too. We decided to never fight again.
I think that being friends is the greatest thing on earth. I think that you’re more than my brother—you’re my best friend too!
(To be continued)