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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Should a Missionary Hear About Troubles at Home?

Dear Bro Jo,

Okay so I know that you don't agree with the idea of girls waiting for missionaries, and I respect that, but that is (sort of) what I'm doing here... so if you don't want to give me advice on said missionary that's okay, I plan to ask my parents when they come home from work later anyway... I just thought I could use some outside advice.

This isn't about waiting for a missionary . . . or dating.

It's a long story... but, The missionary I have been writing to for 21 months comes home soon, and a lot has happened while he's been gone. I've had limited contact with his family because they live so far away from here; it’s mostly been texting his brothers every couple of weeks and some talking on Facebook.

Anyway, since Elder F left on his mission both of his brothers have left the Church. I found out that one of his brothers had a baby with his girlfriend . . . I just assumed Elder F knew but hadn't said anything about it in his letters because he was so busy teaching people at that time.

Apparently I was wrong... today I got a letter from Elder F.

"I only found out about S at Christmas during my phone call home. I really do not know anything. It’s like I'm non-existent or something. I'm going to go back and not know who is my family at this rate. A lot changes in two years . . ."

Now I don't know what to do... I know his other brother is also having a baby; I have been sent pictures of his nephew . . . Should I send him a picture? I feel awful that I knew months before he did and that I also have pictures.

- Best Friend of a Missionary.

Dear Friend,

It's not your place to interject yourself into family business, so sending him pictures is a no-no. However, encouraging his brothers to do so is a good idea. (Clearly one reason they haven't is because they're embarrassed to admit to their doing-right brother that they've screwed up so horribly. They may also be thinking that if they clouded his life with their issues it would distract him from the Lord's work - another reason why you shouldn't butt in.)

For now continue to write him encouraging and supportive letters. In a month or two it will also be appropriate to write to him and let him know that you're looking forward to seeing him again, and that you hope the two of you can spend some time together.

He is right, you know, a lot changes in two years when someone is gone.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I know a lot can change in two years, I'll be the first to admit a lot has changed while Elder F has been gone but in all honesty, him being gone has just made me like and respect him more and I'm looking forward to spending time with my best friend again when he comes home.

I know it isn't my place to 'butt in' which is why I have always been careful when he asks me about his family -- his family don't write that often, he only hears from his parents every couple of months and he's never had a letter from his brothers (who are both older than him) so I’m not entirely sure encouraging them to send him pictures of his nephew would work but I'll give it a try.

- Friend

Dear Friend,

You don't “have to” encourage his brothers, but you can.  There's a difference, you know.

- Bro Jo

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