Personal Ministry to a Discouraged Missionary

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Eric Shumway

In conclusion, I would like to share a tender story a close friend recounted to me recently.

It is about his son who was discouraged and miserable just after arriving in a foreign mission. No matter how the parents and others pleaded with the young missionary, he said he couldn't take it and wanted to come home. In a reception during a training session with some general authorities, the distraught father just mentioned in passing to President Hinckley about his son's struggle. The parents continued to plead with the son to stay, but his early return home seemed imminent.

The following week an envelope from the First Presidency's office arrived at the parents' home. Inside was a copy of a letter that had been sent to their son. The letter had been hand-typed from a typewriter and very tenderly addressed to the discouraged Elder. It was a several-page letter, full of encouragement and the writer's own missionary experiences about faith and sticking to it. The letter was warm, loving, thoughtful, personal, and signed, "Sincerely, your brother, President Gordon B. Hinckley."

It is little wonder that shortly thereafter, the Elder wrote to his parents and said he was staying. This Elder not only stayed, but flourished and became a mighty power for good among the people of his mission.

Think of it! President Hinckley, in spite of his age, is such a public figure, revered for his extensive speeches, books, and his general leadership in the Church. Yet, he conducts a private, silent ministry as well to bless others individually. Can you imagine how that single unselfish act of a Prophet will be treasured not only in this young man's life but in his posterity?

Story told by Eric Shumway, President of BYU-Hawaii, at a Dev. at BYU-Idaho on April 1, 2003