03724_000_017Thank the Lord thy God in all things (D&C 59:7).
Today was preparation day, a day when we do our laundry and other necessary work. This morning we went to Palmyra to visit the Grandin Building, where the Book of Mormon was first printed. There was a lot of handwork involved in making books back then, from setting every piece of type and rolling on the ink to putting the pages in order and gluing them into their bindings. It took half a year of steady work to make the first five thousand copies of the Book of Mormon. It was fun to imagine Joseph Smith visiting the shop from time to time to check on the work and being excited when he first held a completed book in his hands.
When we got back to our apartment, we found a package of food that Mrs. Morales had made for us. A note on it thanked us for helping Mr. Morales get a new job.
We didn’t really do much, though. Do you remember my writing about Frank Cooper, the man who went to the Hill Cumorah Pageant with us? Well, we happened to tell him about the Morales family, and he took them some food. He was impressed by Mr. Morales and offered him a job. That’s the kind of great guy Mr. Cooper is. Elder Butler and I have had some meaningful discussions and spiritual experiences with him. I’ll cherish his friendship all my life.
Mr. Cooper says that he’s going to be baptized but won’t say when. I hope that it’s before my mission is over two weeks from now. But even though I’d like to be with him then, the important thing is that he get baptized when he’s ready.
Guess who came to see us—the Brooks family! They were on vacation. They went to the temple and were sealed as a family. Bobby told us about when you baptized and confirmed him. He said that when you blessed him, you said that someday he would be sealed to his family in the temple, and now that’s come true.
We all went out to dinner together. Elder Watts came with us. He’s been home from his mission for almost a year. He said that you were a great companion and a hard worker.
The Brooks family went to church with us too. We sat between them and Sam’s family. Bobby went to our Valiant class with Sam and me. After the lesson, we played blackboard baseball, and Sam and Bobby and I won! If Sam or I didn’t know the answer, Bobby did. He’s learned a lot about the gospel.
You’ve been gone almost two years. You missed my baseball games and other things, and I missed you a lot. But I’m glad that you went on a mission. I’m glad for people like Bobby Brooks.
Great news! Frank Cooper was baptized yesterday! And last night he gave a party to celebrate and invited a lot of his friends and the members of the ward. He said that it was also a farewell party for me. At the party, we made an appointment to visit one of his nonmember friends. I wish that I could go to that appointment with Elder Butler, but I’ll be home by then.
It’s hard to believe that this is my last letter to you. These two years have gone by faster than I ever thought that they would. I’ve met some wonderful people. That scripture about how great will be your joy if you bring but one soul to the Lord keeps popping into my head. When I think about the Brooks family and Brother Cooper and Brother Rockwell (who was special to me, even though I didn’t teach him) and the happiness that they’ve discovered in the gospel, I do feel a lot of joy.
And do you remember Sister Palmer? She’s not baptized yet, but the elders still rent her apartment, and she’s still going to church with them and learning about the gospel.
These two years have been filled with great experiences, both challenges and triumphs. I’ve learned a lot about the gospel and about myself. I’ve also learned a lot about working with people and about following inspiration. I’m sad to see my mission come to an end, but it’s time to move on to the rest of my life.
And, of course, I’m excited to see you and everybody else there. So get those baseballs and gloves ready, Buddy!
Right now everybody is getting ready to go to the airport to meet you. I’m waiting in our room. I’m looking at your trophies and awards. Now I have a small baseball trophy next to all yours.
Grandpa says that I’ve been growing like a weed, so I hope that you’ll still recognize me. I’m glad that we wrote to each other. I’ve changed, and you’ve changed. I guess we’ll never stop changing. But we’ll always be brothers.
I think that I’ll do lots of the same things that you’ve done. I want to go on a mission and be a good missionary like you. You said that I should memorize all the Articles of Faith. Last week I finished the last one! And so far I’ve saved more than $220 for my mission.
I’ve tried to learn other things for my mission too. Mom showed me how to mend, and I sewed a button back on my shirt and helped her sew the banner for your welcome-home party. She also showed me how to wash and iron my clothes and how to cook some things. I helped her and Kelly and Natalie make some of the food for your party. We had fun making Missionary’s Heavenly Trifle. * We used white cake and vanilla pudding and pears and bananas and coconut and marshmallows and white chocolate chips. Kelly says that everything in it is white because it’s “ready to harvest.” She says that that’s what missionaries do—they harvest people because “the field is white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4).
Dad is calling everyone to go now. I’ll leave this letter on your bed with our baseballs and gloves.
Welcome home, Elder May!
I love you, Buddy