Dear Elder Green

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And if it so be that you … bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! (D&C 18:15.)

Dear Elder Green

February 5 Dear Elder Green,

My Primary teacher said that we should write to a missionary twice a month—that you need letters, and we’ll get blessings. She also said that she’d have an ice-cream party for anyone who wrote.

My name’s Jeffrey. I’m eleven. I don’t have any brothers or sisters. Mom thinks that writing to you is good, but my dad thinks that it’s dumb. He doesn’t belong to the Church, and he can’t understand why anybody would give up two years to knock on doors and bother people. Two years is a long time. I know that you’re coming home in a few months. What do you think?

Write back soon.

Sincerely, Jeffrey

February 19 Dear Elder Green,

Wow! I never thought you’d write back so fast! Thanks for the cool stamp too. I’m starting a stamp collection with it.

I showed Dad your letter. At first he laughed as he read it, but he stopped laughing after a while. I especially liked what you said about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

Now Dad wants to know why we need more scriptures when we already have the Bible. I tried explaining, but got mixed up.

School is OK. I made an ashtray for Dad in art.

Sincerely, Jeffrey

March 5 Dear Elder Green,

Thanks for the letter and stamps.

Your answer to Dad’s question was interesting. You’re right—how else were the ancient people in America going to get the gospel? And of course they’d write down what their prophets said!

Dad frowned when I showed him your letter, but when I asked him if it made sense, he nodded. Then he said it would make more sense if you could be sure the Book of Mormon was true. Otherwise, it is just a good story. I offered to lend him my Book of Mormon, but he said no.

School is still OK. I got an A in math, but social studies is awful! Who cares about the exports of some strange country, anyway?

Love, Jeffrey

March 19 Dear Elder Green,

I couldn’t believe your package arrived with cool stamps and wasn’t for me! I thought it wasn’t fair for you to send something to Dad, but he gave me the stamps and was happy you sent him the Book of Mormon.

I was really surprised. Mom’s tried to give him one lots of times. He always said, “Don’t pressure me,” before—but this time he smiled! He read what you wrote on the inside cover. I wish I had a testimony like that. Dad didn’t know what you meant by saying Moroni 10:4 was the answer to how he could know that it was true, so I showed him where it was. When he read it, he got a funny look on his face and said something about “giving it a try.”

Social studies is still a pain. I work hard and don’t get anywhere. What’s the point?

Love, Jeffrey

April 2 Dear Elder Green,

Don’t you get discouraged? You’ve been doing missionary work for almost two years and still haven’t had a single baptism? That’s hard! Why aren’t you sad?

I guess I’ll keep on trying, too, to work on social studies.

Dad says that’s what Nephi did—he kept trying even when it was hard. He read that last week and really liked it. I gave him your list of other scriptures to read in the Book of Mormon. He said that you were “pushy,” but he folded it up and is using it as a bookmark.

Love, Jeffrey

April 16 Dear Elder Green,

Was it hard being transferred?

I don’t like changes much. I told Dad that. He said that change is hard sometimes, but that the four sons of Mosiah had to go different places in their mission, too, and the Lord stuck by them.

He also said some changes are really good, even if they’re hard. He didn’t say why he said that, though.

Love, Jeffrey

May 7 Dear Elder Green,

Mom’s started planting the garden. I wanted to plant stuff too. When I showed my dad what I wanted to grow, he poured the seeds out into his hand, then said Alma had talked about planting seeds, and if they grew, they were good seeds.

I asked Dad if he was going to plant something too. He got a funny look on his face again and said he just might—but he didn’t even help us with the garden!

Love, Jeffrey

May 21 Dear Elder Green,

I laughed at your letter. Dad smiled at the part where you said that good seeds are important but so is preparing the ground. Mom’s been rototilling and fertilizing to beat the band. You don’t just stick seeds into any old dirt and expect them to grow, she said.

I don’t understand what you meant about church meetings being a good soil-preparer. We don’t do gardening at church. We just listen to talks and sing songs and stuff. Dad nodded when he read it, though. He said he’s going to meetings with us next week!

Love, Jeffrey

June 4 Dear Elder Green,

Two missionaries stopped by our house! Dad asked if Mom had sent them. They told him you did!

Dad let them in! They were really nice. They didn’t feel like strangers at all. They’ve been here three times already; once was for dinner. I can’t believe how much they ate!

They laugh sometimes, but other times they’re really serious. I told Dad that I want to be a missionary when I grow up. He said I’m doing a pretty good job already, and he went to church with us last week. It was great!

On his birthday, I gave Dad the ashtray I’d made him at school. He said he’d give it a place of honor on his desk—and store paperclips in it!

I know you’re coming home soon. I can’t wait to meet you!

Love, Jeffrey

June 18 Dear Elder Green,

You’re coming home on the 27th, so this is the last letter I’ll write to you.

You sent Dad a letter, too, but I don’t know what it said. Dad took it upstairs to his bedroom and didn’t come down for a long time.

I know that you didn’t get to baptize anyone on your mission, but you taught lots of people, and that’s important too. See you soon.

Love, Jeffrey

June 20 Dear Elder Green,

I’m glad that you’re returning from your mission on the 27th. Would you be available on the evening of June 29th? I’ve spoken to the bishop here, and I’d like you to be the one to perform my baptism.

Love, Jeffrey’s dad

P.S. Thank you.

[photos] Photos by John Luke

[photo] Posed by model