Wednesday, July 17, 2013


15 July 2013

Dear Homefront,

Well, this is it.  The end has come and this will be my last email as a missionary.  I can't quite explain my feelings as I stand at the threshold, watching as one phase of life comes to a close and another begins to open upon me.  It is somewhat bittersweet to leave, and yet, I look forward and see nothing but bright flames of hope on the horizon.

This final week has flown by in a blur of missionary work, meetings, packing, and farewells.  Tonight, those of us who are departing will report to the mission home in Richmond and have our final interviews with President Wilson ... A part of me wishes it was still President Perry, and yet, I know that President Wilson has been called of God and I have faith in that even though I have not had much opportunity to get to know him.  Tomorrow we will fly, each to our respective destinations, home, to lay down the mantle and pick back up our lives.

The retrospect of looking over the past two years arouses within me a sense of timeless wonder.  I'm not sure how I did it, excepting the hand of the Lord being upon me the entire time.  The Lord has blessed me exceedingly, and I am eternally grateful for the lessons I have learned and for the experiences I have had.  I am at peace.

I love you all deeply, and thank you for the many prayers on my behalf.  I have felt their sustaining influence.  I look forward to seeing you all again as I return from an honorable mission and step forth into the next great adventure.  As Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration taught: "Shall we not go on in so great a cause?"

With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts


8 July 2013

Dear Homefront,

Just my luck to have all the festivities happening right before I got home to enjoy them.  Oh well, guess there's always next year.  And I'll be home just in time for Pioneer Day, so that'll be fun.

So this week was pretty good out here in the VRM.  We had a lot of meetings so our schedule was pretty full.  On Tuesday, we had a full Mission Conference so we met President and Sister Wilson as well as all of the missionaries we pulled in from D.C. South.  It just made me feel even more like the old guy in the mission.  Over the past few months, I've begun to realize that I don't know the majority of the people in the mission and then there were two brand new zones worth of missionaries that I've never met before.  That's when I also realized that of all of the companions I've had, two go home with me, and only two are younger than me in the mission.  And for the vast majority of the missionaries I've worked with its mostly the same.  Its odd to think that within a few months, I'll probably be nothing more than a fading memory in the minds of missionaries, kept alive solely by the fact that I spent 15 months in one area.

On Wednesday, we made another trek up to Richmond.  This time so Elder Joyner could visit with his doctor to tie up all the loose ends and be ready to go back to Utah.  Not too much excitement, but the drive was enjoyable.

Thursday, the 4th, we unfortunately had to be in by 8 pm so we weren't able to see any fireworks.  Ft. Lee put on a show, but our apartment is on the wrong side of the complex; otherwise we could've watched it from our balcony.  But we made the best of the day by going out and visiting Petersburg National Battlefield, where such events as the Battle of the Crater took place.  It would've been more enjoyable if it hadn't have been quite so hot or if we hadn't have been in shirts and ties.  It was still pretty interesting.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera today so you'll just have to wait for some of the pictures I took.

Friday we had a Zone Meeting.  This one was different from others in the fact that out of our Zone of 20-something missionaries, roughly 7 of us are going home this transfer.  Occasionally in Zone Meetings they'll do "Departing Testimonies" but this time, that took up nearly half the meeting.  I'll be interested to see what will happen next transfer when all of us leave, as we make up about 80% of the missionaries leaving this transfer so the Chesterfield Zone is going to just be decimated.  Guess the Lord had a reason for that.

At any rate, I think that's pretty much all the news from me.  Only 8 days more to serve.  I love you all.  Stay safe, stay happy, and I'll see you soon.

With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

PS:  Do you know when I'll be able to meet with Pres. Welch to be released?  I'm just wondering.  Also, you didn't answer me about those student loan offers.  I guess we can talk about that when I get home and some things are settled.  I will be sending some more packages as I start packing and figure out what I can and can't fit in my suitcases and within weight requirements.  We'll see.  Love ya.

Monday, July 1, 2013


1 July 2013

Dear Homefront,

Well, today is the big day: 1 July  My mission has officially split, forming the new Virginia Richmond Mission and the Virginia Chesapeake Mission.  President Perry left and President Wilson arrived last Thursday, but the first chance we'll really have to meet him will be tomorrow at a mission conference; which will also be the first time we get to meet all of the missionaries who have been serving in the two stakes that we are pulling in from the D.C. South Mission. It is going to be an interesting day.

This past week has been rather slow for us here in Hopewell.  Michael, one of our investigators at Ft. Lee will be leaving us this week so that leaves only Justin. We're going to be doing some focus on finding to get the area ready for when Elder Joyner and I leave in two weeks.

This upcoming week is going to keep us fairly busy.  It's probably the fullest schedule I've ever had at the beginning of the week so that's always a nice thing. We have a couple trips to Richmond for different
reasons, as well as a number of lessons planned.  I'm grateful that I'll be able to stay fairly busy. Being bored as a missionary is miserable. It's always nice to have things planned.

I'm looking forward to meeting my new mission president and we'll see what he's like and how the last couple weeks of my mission will be.

I love you all and look forward to seeing you all again.

With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

PS: I've been offered a pell grant and a couple loans for school.

Monday, June 24, 2013


24 June 2013

Dear Homefront,

Well, the end is really approaching now.  I got the first installment of my "Trunky" paperwork from the mission office which included a small note from President Perry and my flight itinerary.  My official fly date is 16 July, and I should be landing around 7:30 pm local time.  The thing that I find the most interesting, is that I have no fear in my heart about returning home like some of the missionaries I've known.  I feel comfortable with what I have accomplished and ready to face new and exciting challenges in the coming phases of my life.  I know that those feelings are not my own, but rather come from a loving Father in Heaven who has blessed me repeatedly with feelings of peace in times of upheaval and change.

This week was a good one here in the VRM.  There was a World Wide Leadership Training Broadcast last night about hastening the work of salvation - essentially, Missionary Work!  There are many new changes that are going to happen in the way missionary work is done to keep up with this new age and on the digital frontier.  There is also a new emphasis being placed on the roles of the Bishop, Ward Mission Leader, and on regular member missionaries resounding the calls of President Benson, and President Hinkley.  I'd invite everyone to visit and see what it means to them.

Other than that, this week was a little slow, but still very good.  We've been spending quite a bit of time working through the ward roster to try and visit everybody, including less active members, as well as working on finding more new investigators.  So far, we haven't seen very much fruit, but I know that seeds are being planted and cultured so that they might grow and be ready for others.

I just can't explain quite all of the feelings I have as I stand at this point.  With all these exciting new changes coming out right as I prepare to return home, I'm yet reminded of a conversation I had with President Perry where he told me that it was not coincidental that I had entered the service of the Lord prior to the "surge" or that I had been where I was, when I was.  The Lord had needed me.  And now I feel that the Lord still has need of me, just in different ways.  I can use the things I have learned here and now and be in his service every day.  Though I will soon no longer wear the black tag, I am still the Lord's servant and can make myself useful in his hands.  I know that is true for us all, if we allow the Lord to use us.

I love you all and am excited to see you.  Stay safe, stay happy.

With love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

PS:  I'll keep an eye out for the package.

PPS:  I need to talk to Dan sometime about the army.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


17 June 2013

Dear Homefront,

First things first, Happy Fathers Day to all Fathers present and future.  Also, a very happy Flag Day to all my fellow patriots.  Another week is gone for us here in the VRM.  This past week has been kinda slow, but still really good.

On Tuesday, we had the Farewell Mission Conference for President and Sister Perry.  It was a very emotional day for much of the mission.  Elder Burton, our new "Car Czar" (Fleet Coordinator) is probably the most creative out of the three I've had over the course of my mission.  He asked everybody to be at the conference a half hour early with their hoods up and trunks open and he went through and inspected all the vehicles.  He then gave a prize to the best car in the mission (unfortunately not us).  During the conference he also showed some of the training videos that I've never before seen.  Then both of the Assistants gave trainings on the topic of what makes a successful missionary.  Sister Perry, as part of her last remarks, had prepared a list of "The Best of Sister Perry," or things that she most commonly was known to say.  The list was as diverse as Sister Perry can be, including humorous things like "Eat REAL Food" and "Use Hand Sanitizer" to more serious topics such as "No matter how far you fall, you are never out of the reach of the Atonement."  Following Sister Perry's remarks, President opened the floor to a Q&A session.  At the close of the meeting, President and Sister Perry shook all our hands one last time.

I don't know how President Wilson is going to do it.  He has some very large shoes to fill.

Other than the conference, not a whole lot happened this week.  We took advantage of some of the down time to update our maps and records so that we could regroup and work more effectively throughout the rest of the transfer.

It is still crazy to think about how close the end is.  I'll do my best to keep working hard and go right up until the end.

Stay safe, stay happy, and I'll see you all in a couple weeks.

With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

PS:  I thought we'd decided that Dad didn't want to cut my mission short by picking me up, so I'll most likely just fly home.  But I would really love to go up to Washington for the Perry's homecoming address.

PPS:  I'm not sure exactly how the grant will work if I leave after the first semester, however still would rather get some and have to give some back than get nothing.  Thank you for filling that out.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


10 June 2013

Dear Homefront,

Boy, was this week busy for us ... or at least yesterday was.  Oh well.  This morning I'm feeling better and have much more energy than I have had in quite a while.  Not quite sure why yet, but it feels good.

So the rest of the week palls in comparison to the work load we had yesterday at church.  We sure were kept hopping.  At Hopewell, Elder Stagg was speaking in Sacrament, we taught Sunday School, and very nearly had to teach Elder's Quorum.  At Ft. Lee it was even more hectic.  I had a speaking assignment in Sacrament meeting, then my companions taught Elder's Quorum while I was in the other room with one of our members and a couple people who wanted to learn more, answering their questions.

All in all, it made for a very spiritual, but very exhausting day.

The rest of the week was pretty normal, but still somewhat busy.  Monday was really our only relaxing day. Just as a preparation day should be! ;)  The transfers came and went without much effect on us as none of us were getting moved and surprisingly it was the first time that I didn't feel the slump of transfer week in our work.  There honestly seems to be an unwritten law that the week of transfers, regardless of if you're staying or leaving, the work slows way down and not much gets done.  But for whatever reason, it didn't seem to happen this time.

Whatever the reason, I'm glad because as a missionary, it is far better to have much to do and to be busy.  It is a good feeling when you feel filled with purpose.

About Dad's desire for a road-trip, I'm fine with it if that's what he wants to do.  Just let me know.

Unfortunately, I find that I have squandered most of my time with ramblings.  I love you all, and I'll try to write a little more later in a letter when I'm feeling a little more focused.

Stay safe and happy.
With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

Thursday, June 6, 2013


3 June 2013

Dear Homefront,

Well, the transfer results are in.  I'll be staying in Hopewell (and in the Virginia Richmond Misson), with my current companions (Elders Joyner and Stagg) until the end of my days as a missionary.  This also means that I will be setting a new record for the mission.  I will have spent roughly 15 months here, nearly 3/4 of my entire mission!

This week was fairly hectic.  All culminating in the wonderful baptismal service we had on Saturday for ---.  I am so happy for her as she is now one of the newest members of the Lord's restored church.  The spirit was really strong during the service, and --- was just absolutly beaming.

This week also brought about a huge surprise for us.  On Sunday, I noticed the entire Stake Presidency seated on the stand when I entered the chapel just before Hopewell's sacrament meeting.  My mind swiftly flashed through all the possibilities and just before the meeting started I felt I knew what was going to happen.  Well, the Hopewell ward recieved a new Bishopric.  Bishop Vance was replaced by Bishop Bishop (no, that is not a typo, that is his actual name) with Bro. Murray and Bro. Erickson (the old ward mission leader) as his counselors.

And that wasn't the only major change that has happened either.  Elder and Sister Stock have finished their missions and Elder and Sister Hall have just arrived to fill their place as Military Relations Missionaries at Ft. Lee.

There is a lot happening all around us, even as we prepare for more change with the coming of two new mission presidents and the splitting of the mission.  Major changes as the Lord hastens His work.

I love you all.  Be safe, be happy.  And I'll see you all in 6 weeks.

With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


28 May 2013

Dear Homefront,

Well, here we are.  The dreaded countdown has begun... well, dreaded for the missionary, not the the family and friends that are eagerly awaiting.  Only one week left until the call that will decide which mission I'll be reporting home from.  Then just that six week transfer and I'll be sitting on a plane ... Goodness.  Where has the last two years gone?

Things are going pretty well here in the VRM, if a little hectic.  The Stocks move out this week and their replacements, the Halls, are coming in.  Then we've got everyone getting ready for transfers and the mission split.  I really feel sorry for the office staff who are dealing with all the administrative side of it.

On the bright side of news, we have a baptism coming up this week.  --- is ready and we're all very excited for her as she makes this step along her eternal journey.  One of the greatest blessings of serving this mission has been being able to watch the pure joy of the Gospel flood into a person's life as they come to know of the truth of our message.

We were also on the radio again this past week.  The hosts of The Great Bible Debate liked us so much the first time around that they invited us back to share more of our beliefs on the air and they even said that we could come back on the show anytime we want.  I feel that it went rather well.  We were able to get much farther this time and focused a little more on the core doctrines.  It was fun.

Well, I think that's just about all I have to report on this week.  I love and miss you all.  As always, be safe, be happy.  I'll see you all soon.

With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

PS:  Yes, I got the new debit card and it works.  Thank you.  Loves.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


20 May 2013

Dear Homefront,

Well, we've had a pretty interesting week here in the VRM.  Its been somewhat the same for us here weather wise.  The first part of the week was very warm and then we've had about three days in a row now that have been overcast with more of those crazy Virginia rainstorms that make you really wonder whether the Lord is about to send another flood. ;)

--- is still doing amazing, and is really excited about her upcoming baptism on the 1st.  We are really excited for her as well.  One of my favorite things about my mission has been to be able to watch the lives of so many people begin to be filled with pure joy as they gain a greater understanding of the purpose of life and God's role as their Heavenly Father.  And being able to join in that joy has been such a blessing in my life as it helps to build my faith even more as well.

This week we had Stake Conference.  I really enjoyed it.  The Stake Presidency has really been putting a focus on member missionary work and on the importance of the temple.  During the Saturday adult session, they had asked Elder and Sister Stock to speak.  Due to a lesson that ran over, we were a little late and so we missed Sister Stock and only caught about half of Elder Stock's address.  He spoke about some of his experiences as a missionary and with family history work, and reemphasized the call from President Monson for us to be engaged in family history and then, when the time comes, to fill full-time missions with our spouses.  President Scott, the Stake President, spoke about the importance of temples in both sessions.
In the Sunday session, they had invited both President and Sister Perry to speak about missionary work, as well as President and Sister Swinton - the President and Matron of the D.C. Temple - to speak about the importance of regular temple attendance.  Honestly their remarks made me truly miss the temple and I felt somewhat chagrined at the fact that I did not make as much use of the temple as I easily could have.  They also had two youth speakers that both focused their talks on preparing to serve the Lord through seminary and Duty to God or Personal Progress.

On Sunday afternoon, we held regular church services at the Ft. Lee Branch due to the fact that it would not have been possible to receive the broadcast of stake conference.  For our first try at overseeing the Elders Quorum, I feel it went rather well.

Another item that made this week so interesting, and another first in my life:  we appeared on a radio show on Saturday in the early afternoon.  It was entitled "The Great Bible Debate" and the host had invited us in to debunk some of the "Mormon Myths," so with the approval of the local Public Relations rep., we did so.  I feel that we did alright, even though some of the questions were (I felt) obviously weighted or poorly worded.  However, I'm hopeful that at least some of the audience will visit or attend church and we might get a couple referrals out of it all.

I don't remember if I told you that I was able to complete my orientation for school?  I also spoke to my academic advisor and it looks like everything is just about settled.  I'm going to have to work hard though to keep everything on track.  I also need to do a little more research and choose another minor besides the military science in order to fulfil requirements for the secondary educators program.  I think that if it would work for that requirement, it might be fun to minor in the "classics" and study mythology and Latin and stuff like that, and I feel it would further the history degree.  But I still have some research and some pondering and praying to do before I make my final decisions.

As always, I love you all.  Take care and I'll see you all in about 9 weeks.

With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

PS:  Don't be sad that I'll have to leave soon again after coming home.  Think of the positives, I'm not completely cut off and I'm only about 100ish miles away instead of 2500!  Love ya.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


13 May 2013

Dear Homefront,

First off, Happy Mother's Day to all mothers present, future, and alternative.

Well, this has been a very eventful week here in the VRM.  And yet, not a whole lot has really happened.

One of the biggest pieces of news is that we now have two people set with baptismal dates.  Both --- and now also --- have accepted 1 June as their goal to be ready for baptism into the Church.  It has been absolutely wonderful to be able to get to know and work with both of them.

The other really big piece of news came just on Saturday.  During the activity, President Brandeberry pulled us aside and asked us to serve as an unofficial Elders Quorum presidency for the Branch.  That really entails overseeing the instruction during the Priesthood class and that the sacrament is taken care of.  I personally feel that it is an amazing opportunity for us to be much more involved and get to know the soldiers one on one.  We still can't go to the barracks because that's deemed as "proselyting" which is illegal on federal installations, but it allows us much more freedom in our interactions with them during church.  It is a lot of additional responsibility, however, I feel the benefits outweigh that.

Other than all of that, it's just been work as usual out here.  It's still weird to think that I only have two months left.  I look forward to seeing you all then.

With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts