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.


  1. This has been an absolute delight to read. I intend to send a letter to the mission soon. The Virginia Richmond mission and our service there is indelibly imprinted on our souls and we love all that we did there. May the Lord bless you all, especially you, President Perry, Sister Perry, and "our" special missionaries -- Elder Swanson and Neumeyer. Love, Elder & Sister Elkins, Middleton, Idaho.

  2. "I’m convinced there is no limit to ones capacity to love others if we will first serve them. " <3 I love this!

    Yesterday, I was thinking of a coworker who is swamped outside of work. I noticed a menial task that falls on her shoulders that needed to be done. I knew no one would no if I ignored it, but no one was around and I couldn't not help out. I took fifteen minutes and finished up the task for her before anyone noticed I was gone. I don't share this story to boast at all-it is nothing! Especially compared to the extensive service offered by our missionaries.

    But I recognized the true love of Christ in my heart in the tiniest act. God's love is real and the beauty is when it is felt in our everyday lives, not just the big things. I realized how much more the service blessed my life than hers. I realized how my heart ached for her and drove me to offer service, but it was only because I've experienced a similar trial. Every hardship in life affords us the opportunity to love others better. Thank you for this post and your incredible examples. You were the best Mr. and Mrs. mission president I could have dreamed of serving with. I love you two dearly!

  3. *know not no! grammatical errors drive me nuts! (:

  4. Missionary Photos Wanted for New LDS BOOK!
    Author Mike Winder is working with Deseret Book-owned Covenant Communications on a missionary photo book that will contain inspiring quotes, scriptures, and thoughts to help inspire young people to serve a mission.
    He is looking for amazing missionary photos from around the world. Do you have any favorite pics that evoke emotion (inspiring, humorous, etc.)? Do you have any photos with your companion in front of temples or iconic images (Big Ben, Golden Gate Bridge, Asian pagodas, etc.)? Do you have any showing missionaries in action (service projects, teaching, tracting, baptizing, etc.)? How about funny missionary pics, ones with the Book of Mormon, with food, with kids, or with animals?
    If so, please email a few of your favorite ones to by July 31. Images must be at least 1MB in size to be published (low resolution images would be too blurry in print).

  5. The Personalized Family Photo Mats with a Priesthood Line of Authority are a great way to show love, warmth, and respect for your family members.