I love to write letters to friends at home in New Zealand and to many others whom my wife and I have grown to love in many places across the world. In turn, I find great joy when letters arrive from friends and family separated by distance.
A cousin Pam, not a member of the Church, and I maintain regular contact as we work together tracing our forebears. By letter we have come to know, understand, and love each other. To exchange letters is one of life’s great and most desired benefits. They provide moments of pure joy both to the author and the recipient of the letter.
Many times I have written to someone and found later that my letter arrived when they were down spiritually. The letter “made their day” and brought a change of outlook. I have one surviving and elderly aunt who has told me my letters have often come on days of depression and have then changed her day.
How often do you, my young friends, write letters? Is it something in which you have already discovered a valued and enduring dimension in your life?
Have you yet to experience the pleasure and satisfaction of expressing honest feelings of love and appreciation along with news of the moment to those whom you call your friends? Someone said, “The test of a good letter is a very simple one. If you seem to hear the person talking, it is a good letter.”
Perhaps the most influential letter writer of all times was a man named Paul. His letters were varied in address “unto the church of God which is at Corinth,” or “to the saints which are at Ephesus.” His letters were lengthy, designed to teach, elevate, encourage, and were always preceded with a salutation of love, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:3).
Paul could also write warm personal letters as he did to Timothy, for example. In his letters, Paul told this young man of his respect, love, and prayers in his behalf, commenting on Timothy’s great faith being so much like that of his grandmother Lois and of his mother, Eunice (see 2 Tim. 1:2–5).
How much poorer the world would be if Paul had been one of those who said, “I just don’t get around to writing letters.” Perhaps, my dear young brothers and sisters, you are now thinking one of two thoughts, “Yes, I write letters quite often and enjoy it. The ones I get back make me very happy.” Or perhaps, “I can’t remember when I last wrote a letter, and it is a long time since anyone wrote me.”
There are so many opportunities all around, such as sending a letter with a birthday card, writing to grandparents, to a friend on a mission, to someone facing difficulties of health or loneliness, or to a friend just because they are a friend.
Determine that you will, as one author said, “write such a letter as I would wish to receive.”