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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire.

I’m not sure if Aristotle left out love on purpose or if he included it in “passion”. I have learned it’s difficult to love someone you haven’t served, or in other words, you learn to love those whom you serve. Love causes or motivates one to action. John said of Jesus, “we love Him because He first loved us”. (1 John 4:19)

Missionaries love those whom they serve and this “cause” motivates them to action and builds within them a desire to serve others without first knowing them.

Missionary service is hard work! Some out there have a misperception that Mormon missionaries have a message to deliver and do not listen or are oblivious to another point of view or philosophy, this is fallacy. Every day they rise early, pray, study scripture, some study a foreign language and then they head out for the day in search of someone who will listen to their message of restoration and hope or find an individual who simply needs service. They meet people from all walks of life who share their diverse philosophies and religious beliefs with these earnest missionaries. The resulting effect is dramatic as the missionaries knowledge of the world grows and expands in this daily laboratory of human nature and behavior.

Though their goal is to find new converts, they understand this will be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, yet they press forward. What motivates them to do so day after day, week after week and month after month? Most will tell you it’s their love for the people they serve. Many will quickly add they are enjoying the journey of who they are “becoming” in the process of serving others. Their faith in Christ increases during a mission. Prayers become more poignant and focused, scripture study becomes more meaningful and self-less service matures even the most self centered individuals. They study Christ-like attributes and try to follow His example of love and service.

Missionaries learn to lift the heavy hands that hang down and they encourage the hopeless and overwhelmed in society. They learn for themselves something a Book of Mormon prophet tried to teach his people. He said, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow human beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

We have worked with hundreds of missionaries over the past two and half years and continue to marvel as they leave family, friends and the comforts of home, to serve others. We are impressed how they learn to love people from a diversity of social, economic and religious backgrounds.

Our missionaries come to us from many different countries around the globe, many from very humble circumstances. Some even come from the land known as Utah.

Several of our children have served missions. They learned the language, customs and culture of the respective countries in which they were called to labor. This increased their love for the people and increased their motivation to act. It created within them a desire to help wherever and whenever they could find opportunity. Richard loves all things Brazilian from his service in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Joseph loves the people, language and beauty of Norway and Courtney is now a lifelong Hoosier fan from her time in Indiana.

This type of service is replicated all over the world and changes individuals, which changes society; for the better, in my opinion.

I often think what our world would look like 20 years from now if all our young adults served missions for their churches or signed up for the Peace Corp or Americorps for a year or two. We would raise a generation more tolerant, more compassionate and more understanding of others.

We too have been changed by our service in Virginia these past two and a half years. We have learned our capacity to love has increased dramatically. We have met people here from all over the world with diverse cultures, circumstance and backgrounds. I’m convinced there is no limit to ones capacity to love others if we will first serve them.

Mission news: We are well served. I have a new first counselor since our last update, Ron Bennion. He served as a mission president in Guatemala and brings wonderful insights and experience to the team. Frank Ramsey is still serving as my second counselor. He turned seventy this past year but still practices medicine in the emergency room of a local hospital. He is kind, gracious and has spent a lifetime serving the physical and spiritual needs of others. I never take for granted having a doctor on board.

I have had several more assistants helping me as well; Elders Rogers, Farr and Dransfield have served well are returned home. Now serving are two more capable assistants in a long line of remarkable assistants, Elders Nuemeyer and Swanson.

Sara’s sister Diana and her husband Ralph joined us as a senior mission couple. They are serving in an inner city branch in Richmond. Our new office secretary is Sister Reeves whom we recruited from Seattle, she is amazing and replaced Sister Riendeau. Sister Romney has replaced Sister Langford as the supply and referral secretary. She is fun and plays the piano for us in the office to lighten the load. The Lebarron’s were replaced by Elder and Sister Tolman on finance and vehicles. They have the responsibility to pay the bills and keep 91 vehicles road worthy. Elder Medsker is serving a church service mission as our office manager. His assignment includes housing which is a constant challenge. He too, is a transplant from Seattle’s Capitol Hill area.

We have visited almost every branch, ward and stake (some several times) since our arrival here back in July 2010. I think it’s safe to say I know Virginia and the Outer banks of North Carolina almost as well as the locals.

The people are friendly, the weather is good and the beauty of this place will be indelibly impressed in our hearts and mind.