Monday, July 18, 2016

Everything has value

June 18, 2016

There is a noticeable difference between Elders returning to North America and those returning to Central and South America.  Of course I am talking in generalities but almost without exception, I see the following.

Elders returning to North America take very few of their clothes and shoes home.  It can be compared to a woman who has just given birth.  A pregnant woman is so tired of her clothes that once the baby is born, she is happy to wear something different.  North Americans take home their favorite ties and socks, but most of the rest stays behind including their underwear.

Those returning to Central and South America show much greater respect for their worn out clothes.  They find value in all things and find it very hard to get their bags down to the “acceptable” weight for the airlines.  I see broken toys, crepe paper from birthday parties, books, and worn out shoes returning home.

We recently sent an Elder home to the Dominican Republic.  First we replaced his luggage because it had not survived the 2 years of service here.  We told him of the weight restrictions and stressed that his bags could not be even a pound more.  When we picked him up to go to the airport, his shave kit was attached to his belt.  We arrived at the airport and of course his bags were overweight – but he was prepared.  He pulled bags out of his pocket and moved items over into them.  He started to attach each bag to his backpack or belt.  We took him to security and laughed as he walked away with bags tied in many places.  He was leaving nothing behind!

North Americans live in a “throw away” country.  That is not that way in other places!


  1. When leaving El Salvador in the 70's we would leave our shirts, ties, shoes, old suits for the youth preparing to go on missions from down there. Those people could really sew , alter and repurpose everything. Perhaps your returning missionaries are doing the same. As you have said, the Going home to poverty is a very different RM experience. Thanks for all of these enlightening posts, Norm Rainock

  2. Ouch! Having supported many missionaries I see the same thing but they don't throw their stuff away. There is more need for the things they can leave behind where they are coming from than where they are going.