James and Sara Perry are serving in the Virginia Richmond Mission as President and Mission Mom.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I Was Looking at My Hands the Other Day

I was looking at my hands the other day. They looked vaguely unfamiliar. I couldn’t put my finger (a little pun for you) on it for a while. Then suddenly it occurred to me. They’re clean. No purple under my fingernails from canning a hundred quarts of grape juice. No cuticles stained brown from working in the garden or canning peaches. No paint residue. No wounds from saws and sanders. The nails have grown out, my calluses are gone – my hands look normal. How weird.

Life is a little weird here too. We have been dealing with problems that are hard to nail down. Some of our missionaries suffer from mental health issues. It is interesting that a mission can bring those things to the surface. In a strange way I think it may be one of the blessings of serving a mission.

Away from home and separated from a lot of the habits that relieve stress – sometimes in healthy ways (i.e. playing the piano or guitar, going to a movie with friends, baking cookies, watching reruns of the Waltons on youtube, going to the gym, playing games with your family or friends, etc.) and sometimes in not so healthy ways (i.e. hours of tv, headphones, computer games, mind-numbing music, surfing the web, etc) missionaries have to dig down deep and find answers and coping mechanisms within themselves. Some missionaries find that stress and anxiety build up and become a problem to manage.

Missions are hard – and wonderful. They are the refiner’s fire and, if we have the right attitude, a party all at once. Most of our missionaries figure out how to climb up on the positive attitude wagon and their whole mission is like two years at a very intensive session of EFY; lots of camaraderie, lots of high-fives, and lots of interaction with the Spirit - with some down-days and opposition thrown in just to make it interesting. But not everyone is the same and some struggle finding their happy place on their mission. I can see that this will be one of our challenges – to help those that struggle and to keep from struggling ourselves.

Love to all of you,
Sara Perry


  1. I just found your blog tonight as I was looking for something to read while up with a non-sleepy baby. Thank you so much for sharing the joy and spirit of your mission experiences. It has been 13 years now since I left for my own mission. I remember very clearly President Perry setting me apart as a missionary just after the First Presidency's Christmas broadcast. In the blessing I was promised that I would know within a short time why the Lord had called me to the Arizona Phoenix mission. It was almost every day as I wrote in my journal that I reviewed to find the meaning of why the Lord had called me to that mission, and most days I found a reason. As I've reviewed your blog posts it has reminded me of that special time of my life and the abundance of the spirit which I was able to partake of. I have felt that type communion with the spirit greatly lacking in the past several years and have only myself to blame. I appreciate the reminder here of the core of my mission experience - the service to others and the abundance of the spirit. I need to remember each day to search for the reason that the Lord has called me here and continually rededicate myself to serving Him in whatever way I can. Thank you for your service there in Richmond and your continual example of love and dedication to those you serve with and to the Lord. My prayers are with you.

    Ruth (Roberts) Hathaway

  2. So wonderful! We just had a templed session and a lunch with that cute Joseph! He is raring to go! Tomorrows the big day! We gave him a good send off. Read about it on my blog. karensdanglingconversation (blogspot) Love you all! Happy New Year!