Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dear John Letters

When I was a missionary in the Canada Toronto Mission our mission president M. Russell Ballard pushed hard the Lock Your Heart talk by Spencer W. Kimball. One elder I served with had apparently locked his girl friend in. He was the worst missionary I ever served with. Every Monday on P-day he had special permission to call his girlfriend back in Las Vegas. He was a basket case all week long waiting for the next call. I actually knew him before my mission since he lived in my home stake in North Las Vegas. He wandered around all week and didn't really accomplish much. He liked to work me over saying things like my dad would fire you if you worked for our construction company or you are the laziest elder I ever saw. The funny thing was he was a very ineffective elder. I had better rapport with the few investigators I met while serving there. In the two or three months I served with him we never even came close to baptizing. I think it had something to do with his obsession with his girlfriend back home. I remember her quite well she and her sisters and cousins sang in our stake in a group called Rainbow's End. When he went on his mission they sang O That I Were an Angel. When I requested the same song they refused to sing it and substituted He That Hath Clean Hands. He would get so angry, when he would start on me, that the veins in his red neck would pop out. I thought at the time that he was going to have a heart attack in his twenties. Every Monday morning all he could think about or talk about was his girl friend back home and how he was going to marry her. I learned from him how not to be since I could see the effect of not having your mind single to the glory of God. I was hoping that he would get a Dear John letter so we could do the Lord's work but unfortunately that never happened. He eventually went home and married her. I think his hypertension got him and in his 30s he almost died. He actually mellowed out and was quite pleasant at mission reunions. I learned from watching him that fanaticism can be a negative thing. I realize now he was emotionally coping without his girlfriend.

He wasn't actually as bad as another elder I encountered from Cache Valley. This elder was the most trunky I ever saw in my life. Every day he was useless from about 10am until 2pm. All he could think about was whether his girlfriend who was the Cache County Diary Princess would write him. He affected Elders around him going on about how much he loved her, what a great girl she was, how beautiful she was. He companion was assigned to him because no one else could deal with him. The guy was really patient and pleasant. I would have to say he was a true Saint. Except one time he thought it would be funny if I wrote his companion's girlfriend. We got her address off one of his envelopes and I wrote her a letter. I told her I was in the same district and how I heard so many good things about her. Soon we started corresponding on a weekly basis. After about a month the other elder got fewer and fewer letters. I wasn't romantic with her but would tell her about how I and the other elders in my district were doing. She even sent me a photograph of herself. We became good friends. She was really a beautiful girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. I was never interested in her other than as someone to write. After a few weeks she met some returned missionary who she got serious with and my mission buddy got his dear john letter in the mail. It was an amazing transformation he wasn't even depressed for five minutes. He became a productive elder and served a good honorable mission. It is a shame that he spent the first several months as a total mess.

I also observed romance blossom right in the mission home. Our President really was fixated on one of his assistants. The guy looked like a football Adonis. He was 6'3" and had played linebacker at college before coming out. He had brown wavy hair and was a pleasant fellow. In every public gathering President Ballard bragged about him going on about how he was like one of the stripling warriors. He set him up to the rest of us as our example. It was infuriating because no matter what we did genetically very few of us looked like him. He wasn't any different than a dozen guys in our field including a couple of balding ones that were even nicer and just as dynamic and actually baptized more. Any one of us including myself could have produced the number of lessons and converts that he did. I never saw him do anything spectacular and I went on a couple of splits with him. But our president publicly and privately promoted him so that his own daughter became infatuated with him. I saw it coming whenever she looked at him. After he went home he married her within a few months. I always thought my mission president's own kids needed to read "Lock Your Heart." The assistant became a really go-getter in the business world after his mission and was too busy to even come to mission reunions. The only reason I could think of that he didn't come was he was angry at his father-in-law for setting him high on a pedestal or he was busy making a buck. I was disappointed that I didn't see him because I wanted to see how he really turned out. His wife was a beautiful and sweet woman. I would have liked to see their kids and if he went bald etc.

I am not sure "Locked Your Heart" helped anyone but those who would have already followed it, so it was like preaching to the choir. I never once had a problem with girls on my mission. Then of course I was a homely missionary with not much of a personality. I haven't really heard much from others on Dear John or Lock Your Heart but I bet there are better stories than I have shared. Success stories and failures. Please comment.

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