Dear Brother Albright,
I have been so impressed with my younger brother and his missionary service in El Salvador. As you may know, El Salvador is ranked by many experts as one of the most dangerous countries in the world. The missionaries and investigators there face many challenges and yet the gospel is rapidly spreading in this densely populated country. I was especially touched by comparing two letters that my brother Coulter sent to our family earlier this year, written just three months apart, showing the highs and lows of missionary work. These letters illustrate the importance of persistence and working through the difficult times and trials faced in the mission field. Such struggles often precede the miracles.
Here are some excerpts from just two of my brothers letters written earlier this year:
First Letter: JANUARY 21, 2013:
Nothing worse then a week where almost every single lesson fell through, and then I got shingles. But it’s all good! More trials, more opportunities to grow. This week was also rough with my companion. I’m really giving it my all. The sores from the shingles are all over my back. I can’t sleep at night which is really hard. Having shingles is the pits!
Really, I dont know what to write, this week was such a killer.
I don’t want to be “Debbie Downer” and I don’t want you guys to think that the mission isn’t amazing. It’s just that sometimes it’s very difficult, and this week was the most difficult week of my entire life.
OK, I just read all that and I probably should erase it all. The mission is the best thing I’ve ever done. I love it and wouldn’t trade this week for anything in the world. I’ve learned so much from these struggles.
I love you guys. You are all in my prayers and thoughts each and everyday. The church is so true. If I wasn’t sure of this, then I wouldn’t be here. But I can say with out any doubt that it is true! We are so blessed. In my worst moments this week I was so blessed to know that I always have someone who I can turn to. I just need to drop to my knees.
Elder Coulter Reynolds
Second Letter: APRIL 21, 2013 (EXACTLY 3 MONTHS LATER)
I have never enjoyed a happier day in my whole mission! Without a doubt. Yesterday was so marvelous! I was blessed with 35 baptisms yesterday. Usually 1 or 2 baptisms per companionship every month is normal. But our entire zone worked hard together and we actually reached our high goal of 100 baptisms for one month in one zone. I believe this may make us the highest baptizing zone in the world! I worked harder the last 7 weeks then I think I have my whole life put together. I’ve never been more stressed either… but the blessings were so worth it! I love my mission. It is absolutely amazing. We just baptized more people in one day then I have in my whole mission combined.
But it doesn’t end there. After our zone’s large baptismal service, I got permission from the mission president to return back to my first area which I loved so much so that I could baptize my first investigator. I cannot express the joy that I had when I entered the waters of baptism with someone who I challenged to be baptized in my first week in the mission field. My very FIRST investigator. When I saw her and her family again I just fell apart. It was such a grand blessing from the Lord. I cannot express it adequately.. No words can express the joy I felt this day.
I also got to see the whole ward of La Union again. The missionaries told them I was coming and so they all lined up in the entrance to greet me. It was unbelievably marvelous.
All my converts from my first area were there. I was so so happy to see them. I loved every second of it. Life is amazing. The Gospel and the Lord are amazing.
Brother Albright, I realize that not all missions have these kinds of incredible numbers, but almost all missionaries will face significant trials and tribulations at some point during their time in the mission field. I felt that my brother’s experiences, just 90 days apart, can give hope to the many missionaries now serving that faith precedes the miracle, and that joy cometh in the morning!