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What is a missionary?

Somewhere between the whirl of teenage activity and the confinement to home and the rocking chair, we find a strange creature called a Missionary.  Missionaries come in two varieties, elders and sisters.  They come in assorted sizes, weights, and colors — green being the most common among the new ones.  Missionaries are found everywhere — hurrying to, climbing up, knocking on, walking toward, and getting thrown out of.  Converts love them, young girls worship them, the law tolerates them, dogs hate them, most people ignore them, and heaven protects them.  A missionary is a composite.  It has the appetite of a horse, the enthusiasm of a fire cracker, the patience of Job, the persistence of a Fuller Brush man, and the courage of a lion tamer.  It likes letters from home, invitations to Sunday dinners, conferences, checks, and visits from the Mission President.  It isn’t much for blizzards, ladies who slam doors, hats, suits, dull ties, apartment houses, transfers to hot areas, shaking hands at arm’s length with the opposite sex, alarm clocks , or “Dear Johns”.  A missionary is an odd character.  It can get homesick, discouraged, and temporarily lose faith in the whole human race.  Nobody else can knock so boldly with such a shaky hand.  Nobody else can get such a thrill at the end of a discouraging day from the words, “Come right in.  I have been waiting for you to call.”  Nobody is so early to rise or so tired at 10:00 p.m.  A missionary is truth with a pocket full of tracts, wisdom with a scant knowledge of the Godhead lesson, plus a good serious companion, and faith with 69 cents in one pocket.  Yes, they are all this, but a strange lump will rise in its throat the day it receives its letter of release, and on arrival home, its homecoming speech will probably contain the phrase it once considered trite, “The time I spent in the mission field was the happiest time of my life.”

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