What can I do to help a discouraged missionary?
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“What can I do to help a discouraged missionary?” Ensign, Sept. 1973, 20

My missionary son seems to be discouraged about his mission. What can I do to help him?

A. [Note: In response to this question, President J. Murray Rawson of the Missionary Home in Salt Lake City has assumed the position of the father of a missionary and shows by example the attitude parents might take in counseling their sons who have difficulties in the mission field.]

My dear son:

As I read your letter today I felt your discouragements.

I want you to know that I understand how you feel. I am grateful that you are determined to succeed. I want you to know that I love you and pray for your success every day. I know also that you are blessed with many talents. As you develop these talents under the direction of the Holy Ghost, your problems will diminish.

For instance, you say people are not responding to your message. Success in the mission field is measured by your efforts, not by the number of your baptisms. Are you living the mission rules? Are you using the mission proselyting program?

You are sent to “cry repentance” and teach the message of the restoration. Let me give you a suggestion to help you do this. Each morning as you offer your personal prayers, commit yourself by telling the Lord you are going to do your very best this day; then do it. Go the extra mile all day long so you will be able to say, as you report your activities at night to the Lord, “I have done my best today.” I promise you, my son, that if you will follow this formula, you will begin to feel successful. You will begin to be blessed with the constant presence of the Spirit of the Lord.

I have a suggestion regarding your study of the scriptures. The ready references in the center of your Bible have been specifically prepared for the use of missionaries. Each subject of the gospel is discussed, using the pertinent scriptures listed for easy reference. The scriptures pertaining to each Article of Faith are listed. Use these to help you study by subject each principle of the gospel listed in your missionary study guide.

I am sure your companion presents some challenges to you. He probably thinks you present a few yourself. You say that you and your companion have nothing in common. The Lord must have intended it that way. Not every person you meet will respond to someone with your personality, but between you and your companion you will have something in common with nearly everyone. The Lord loves you. That’s why you have him.

Mother and I are so grateful for you. You are a wonderful son. We marvel as we see the hand of the Lord in your calling. We have your high school graduation picture and the picture you just sent sitting side by side. In the first you are still a boy and in the other you are a man. Your mother’s heart is very tender. I notice a tear in her eye as she looks at your high school picture, remembering many wonderful days belonging to just her and you. Then as she looks at her handsome, mature-looking missionary, there comes a faraway look in her eye as she tries to picture the growth that has come to her boy.

We know you are happy now. We heard little Mary ask the Lord to bless you last night, and you know how she talks to the Lord.

My love as always, Dad.