Wednesday, November 28, 2012

You've Got Mail

One of the daily tasks of a mission secretary is to forward the mail. I have to determine where that particular missionary is, find the stamp in a drawer with 50 stamps in it, and stamp a label, which I stick on over the mission address.  The next day that letter goes out to the missionary and usually arrives a day or two later. 

Now you would think that doing this job daily would get old and boring.  But knowing how missionaries, even missionaries who get nice long emails from their family every week, live for, love, and even cherish getting letters, this job is a joy for me.  I love doing it. I find it interesting. I wouldn’t want to turn this job over to anyone else.

Nearly all mail to missionaries in the mission comes directly to the mission home.  The reason for this is the frequent transfers.  There have been a few times when I have had a letter handed to me by some missionary with the explanation that he found it in his apartment.  It is addressed to another missionary and has apparently been sitting on some desk in the apartment for six months or so. I don’t know who is being transferred where until the day before the transfers happen.  So I sometimes send letters out on Monday that arrive after that missionary has moved.  I try to be very careful, but it happens.

There is occasional detective work involved. For instance, we sometimes get mail for missionaries who are actually in other missions in Japan.  I email all the other mission secretaries to find out who will claim the letter.  There is some faithful letter writer who has been writing a couple times a week to an elder in the Tokyo mission for about 8 months now. They send it faithfully to the Nagoya Mission.  Perhaps I should send them a letter and let them know that they’ve got the wrong address, but it’s not that hard to put the Tokyo mission stamp on it and send it along.  One day I received a letter to an elder I had never heard of.  But I recognized the return address as one of our missionary’s parents.  I looked to see who his companion was, and his last name started with the same letter as this last name.  I called this elder, and his companion had a birthday coming up, so we decided that his parents were sending a gift to their son’s companion and just got the last name a little wrong.  How thoughtful of them, and the elders will have a fun laugh over the name change.  And we have two sets of elders with the same last name.  Its fine until I get letters addressed to “Elder Baker,” or “Elder Gish.”  Then I get to call one of the elders and see if he knows the person who sent the letter.

Another thing that makes me smile is the packages we receive.  For instance, today we got a package for an elder that listed two items inside, for a total value of $3.98.  The small box cost $11.65 to send.  That is not uncommon.  It almost makes me cry to see the love and sacrifice of  parents who take the time and spend the money to send packages. 

And I can't resist sharing how one young lady, somewhere in the world, addresses her letters to one of our elders.  She puts several words between "Elder" and his last name.  I won't use his name, and I honestly don't remember what any of the phrases were, but here is an example of what I mean:  Elder Work Harder Every Day McGillicutty.  Or,  Elder How Is The Weather McGillicutty.  Or, Elder I Wrote You Twice in One Month McGillicutty.  It's so creative and cute.

Sadly, there is one part of being involved with letters to missionaries that breaks my heart.  There are some missionaries who get very little mail.  I know who they are, and they don’t complain. They act as if it doesn’t matter and they valiantly continue on. But when mail is being passed out, I see the hope in their eyes.  I see the disappointment when there is nothing for them…again and again and again.  If you are a parent and reading this, make sure you send letters to your missionary, even if you email him each week. You might even consider asking your missionary if he/she has a companion who doesn’t get much mail.  Maybe you could share some love with them.

But I suspect that any parent reading this blog is a regular letter writer, both email and snail mail.  Thank you for your love and sacrifice while your child serves the Lord.  Thank you for raising such an amazingly valiant child, so that I can work here in the mission home and have the privilege of knowing him or her.  Being a mission secretary is such a great joy!

1 comment:

  1. My son's cousin just got called to Nagoya too. Now there will be two Elder Shimbashi's there. I'll have to remind everyone to put a first name on the letters.