One missionary's open letter to Alaska

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  • bballjunkie Cedar Hills, UT
    June 18, 2011 9:41 a.m.

    Chris B,

    Your comments on this article make as much sense as your comments on sports. Not at all!

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    June 18, 2011 9:08 a.m.

    Wow, I don't know everything that Ranchhand wrote but he sure got clobbered for it, and apparently for good reason. Hate the LDS church, or any other charitable organization, if you wish, but it will only be to the hater's detriment.

    I served a mission from 5 November 1984 to 13 November 1986; 2 years and 5 days among the GREAT people of the Bible belt! It was an awesome experience learning that there are millions of other (non-LDS) Christians who love the Savior as much as we do. As Mormons we are not alone. Being raised in Utah during my teenage years I didn't understand or appreciate that wonderful truth.

    The Elder's open-letter in Alaska is an awesome way to think out of the box in the work of the Lord. I particularly like how he said that sometimes the missionaries standing at your front door are more nervous than you are. When I was a greenie, been there, done that. My oldest son is in the process of putting in his papers right now and I am proud of him for the life he's lived and his desire to share the joy of Jesus Christ.


  • JT4 Riverton, UT
    June 18, 2011 12:34 a.m.

    I can't see "RanchHand"'s comments (have they been removed?), but I get the gist of them from others' responses. I, too, went on a mission mainly because I felt I was expected to, and I didn't have the best experience either. How I wish I understood as a 19-year-old the real reasons to go, as I do now, many years and many trials later. I hope my son chooses to serve a mission when he becomes of age, but I hope even more so that I have been successful by that time in helping him to understand the necessity to have the Gospel in one's life, so that he will naturally recognize the joy to be had from introducing it in the lives of others.

  • Serenity Manti, UT
    June 17, 2011 9:11 p.m.

    What a well-written letter. Elder Witt wrote clearly and with power. He was truly directed by the Spirit of the Lord when writing this letter. What perfect timing!

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    June 17, 2011 7:24 p.m.

    That would be neat if Sarah Palin read it.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    June 17, 2011 7:23 p.m.

    I dont care whether kids go on their mormon missions or not, but anything that upsets the liberals is good to me.

    Great job Mormons.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    June 17, 2011 6:35 p.m.

    RE: RanchHand

    Perhaps you need help with your math,

    NO taxpayer is funding any a portion of someone's mission,

    NO one is paying for a mission on the backs of the taxpayers.

    Their taxed money does NOT go to any missionary.

    And no amount of your deductions effects what another pays in taxes.

    And Most Importantly, deductions for money given to the church or charities are PERFECTLY legal,

    and I suspect, do much more good than if taken by the government.

  • bricha lehi, ut
    June 17, 2011 5:05 p.m.

    I loved the article, it helped me remember my time as a missionary in Argentina, those were some of the greatest experiences I have ever had.

  • yarrlydarb Ogden, UT
    June 17, 2011 4:53 p.m.

    And you, Ranchhand, have no tax breaks at all, right?

    Well thanks, for funding my government entitlements.

    (That's a joke, by the way.)

  • CWJ Layton, UT
    June 17, 2011 4:35 p.m.

    RanchHand, give it a rest please. Take your sour grapes to the Trib or City Weekly and let those of us who enjoy reading inspiring stories read the comment boards in peace.

  • Clinker Murray, UT
    June 17, 2011 4:00 p.m.

    RanchHand, I'm sorry that you had a bad experience on your mission. There are many great experiences had while serving a mission and many bad experiences, mine were great, my son's, not so much. I imagine that you served because you were expected to serve by your family, your ward, and others. I also imagine that your parents paid for your mission and probably took the allowed tax deduction for their contributions. I know that our family contributions that allowed my son to serve caused us some sacrifice and the very small tax deduction was appreciated but did not nearly make up for the money we paid. In hind sight, my son probably would have been better off not serving a mission. Still, I do not regret the amounts we contributed. I only hope for my son to be happy in life. Unfortunately, he is bitter about the Church and it affects much of his everyday life. I pray that he will find peace and happiness in his life and I hope the same for you.

  • Kyle loves BYU/Jazz Provo, UT
    June 17, 2011 3:42 p.m.

    Good job Elder Witt! Way to think outside the box. There are far better things to do than knock doors all day!

  • Forrest Natchitoches, LA
    June 17, 2011 3:00 p.m.

    RanchHand, I paid for my mission. My family could not begin to help me. Are you listening?

  • FocusedandLiving Spanish Fork, UT
    June 17, 2011 2:36 p.m.

    @RanchHand - I am aware that you have struggled in your life and have demons to exorcise - So please do that and stop blaming the LDS church for everything. It seems that everything you post has a bitter tone to it. It is unfortunate that bad things happen to people in their lives, but we are required to move on and choose to not allow those things dictate what we do in the future.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 17, 2011 2:34 p.m.

    Re: "By taking a tax break, you are in fact funding a portion of your mission on the backs of the taxpayers - including non-mormon taxpayers."

    Thanks for your [unwilling and minuscule] contributions to my kids' missions!

    Now, I'm sure you'll want to thank me for my paltry, coerced contribution to your favorite tax-exempt organization -- you know, the ones you forced me to contribute to when you took the deduction on your tax return.

    And, for the record, I'm just as opposed to most of the the political positions of NPR, NOW, SUWA, NARAL, Earth Justice, and Aztlán as you are to those of the Church.

  • AZRods Maricopa, AZ
    June 17, 2011 2:31 p.m.

    And ranchhand, clearly "your way" has made you much more Christlike and at peace with yourself.
    And you call that being valient?

  • bigsoccer Syracuse, UT
    June 17, 2011 2:29 p.m.

    RanchHand | 10:07 a.m. June 17, 2011
    Huntsville, UT

    I served a mission, never used as a tax break, never claimed my two years of service, most missionaries don't, so yes it is self funded, it cost myself and my family 10k for two years.

  • mecr Bountiful, UT
    June 17, 2011 2:07 p.m.

    I had seen so many times how the missionaries give service not only in the states but around the world in so many ways, not only young missionaries but senior couples too.

    If that is not charity, then I don't know what it is.....

  • bballjunkie Cedar Hills, UT
    June 17, 2011 1:52 p.m.


    Serious? I all I can see and read is a bitter person. Try to look at the good. The only reason you don't see more mormons living the golden rule, is you can't see past that mote that is in your own eye. You reap what you sow. try to be a better person and relax can't be good for your health.

    P.S. Your worried about a tax credit of around $400? How should we all feel for the bail outs and tax breaks banks,car dealers, RANCHERS etc are getting?
    Let it go!

  • Furry1993 Somewhere in Utah, UT
    June 17, 2011 1:34 p.m.

    My sons served because they wanted to serve. We told them up-front that missions were not "expected" and we would support whatever choice they made. Our older son left 3 months before his 21st birthday; our younger son left 2 weeks after his 18th birthday. THAT is when each was ready and when each wanted to go. If they had decided not to serve, we would have supported that too.

    Both of them earned every penny they paid for their missions, and they paid taxes on the money as they earned it. Nothing was deducted from their taxes because they had nothing earned during the time of their service. Since they did not live with us while they were serving, we could not claim them as dependents on our taxes. Nobody got tax benefits due to their service.

    Both of them learned and grew as men during their years of service. Both are very pleased that they chose to serve. Somehow I think the messionary featured in the story will feel the same.

  • MidwestMormon Akron, OH
    June 17, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    I'm grateful for such a sincere expression of the purpose of a missionary's service. It really is a labor of love and I know their efforts are truly motivated by the desire to bring happiness to others. They just want to share the good news of the restored Gospel, and I think Elder Witt has caught the vision.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    June 17, 2011 1:15 p.m.

    Great story! Enjoy hearing about some of the creative, and at the same time, positive ways LDS missionaries are spreading the gospel.

    @Ranch Hand

    I'm sorry your mission was such a traumatic experience for you. I will agree there are a whole lot of missionaries that go only because they feel obligated to do so.

    I remember a few times during my mission feeling as though I wanted to be somewhere else. But then I would have the experience of talking to someone about the Book of Mormon or about Joseph Smith, and the Holy Ghost would again confirm to me the reason I was on a mission, and honestly I sometimes had to fight the sensation to raise my arms in the air and shout for joy.

    You clearly have a beef with whatever tax deductions that result in LDS missionary service. I would agree to the extent I don't like some of where my tax money goes, which is why I let my state reps and congressmen know of my displeasure.

    By the way, I served in Winnipeg, Cananda and I cheered when I heard they were getting a temple.

  • Alterego Ogden, UT
    June 17, 2011 1:14 p.m.

    Kudos to this missionary! Ranchhand, though your missionary experience and experience as a member of the church has left you somewhat cynical and bitter, my mission experience in South Korea left me an immensely better man, husband and father.

    Life lessons learned there in the service of the Korean people could not have been duplicated anywhere else.

  • Rae M. Taylorsville, UT
    June 17, 2011 12:55 p.m.

    They go because they're EXPECTED to go (a rite of passage, if you will). I know this because I was one of them myself..."
    Ranchhand, I am sorry that others' expectations of you seems to have limited your freedom to choose for yourself. 'Cause freedom to choose for oneself is one of the most imprtant parts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ..
    Because LDS missionaries (even including returned missionaries) who choose fo sserve are such a minority, I think they are truly valliant.

  • common sense in Idaho Pocatello, id
    June 17, 2011 12:18 p.m.

    Ranch Hand,

    My, My, My do we have an axe to grind here? The LDS sales Force? Laugh out Loud.

    The missionaries just came over to my home to help me cut down and haul away a tree. Much appreciated. Not a mention of the church by them. No verbal teaching by them. But their actions speak volumes.

    Great article. Appreciate this Elder's attitude and desire to serve his fellowman. Christ taught when you serve your fellowman you are only serving your God.

    Ranch Hand, try real hard to get over your bitterness. You'll be a happier person for it.

  • Chris Bryant SLC, UT
    June 17, 2011 11:56 a.m.

    "--- Did your family deduct the $400+ monthly support they sent to the Church's "Missionary Fund" on their taxes? (I'm betting they did)."

    ummm nope. My parents didn't deduct it for me and the majority that I know of didn't either. This just reeks of sour grapes.

    "they go because they're EXPECTED to go (a rite of passage, if you will). I know this because I was one of them myself - and I can tell you that the vast majority of returnees that I know felt the same way. Those few with the Courage to buck the system are the true valiants."

    I would disagree with the fact that the "majority" feel the same as you. Sure, there are plenty of them that do, but not the majority.

  • Over the Top Rigby, ID
    June 17, 2011 11:50 a.m.

    @ RanchHand:

    Your response to county mom speaks volumes about you. Get over the bitterness and move on. This was a very uplifting story about a very "outside-the-box" missionary. I was uplifted just reading about it - sorry that you couldn't be.

  • Blackmarch LOGAN, UT
    June 17, 2011 11:23 a.m.

    What tax discount do missionaries get? This is news to me.

  • county mom Monroe, UT
    June 17, 2011 11:15 a.m.

    Ranchhand, self funded is just that. Our sons have worked paid taxes on that money and saved for their missions. Yes we do help them and yes we do pay taxes on the money we earn. Our son who is now in the missionfeild has paid for most of his own mission. The money we give to our ward to pay for his mission is allready taxed and not tax deductable because it is specifically for him. If we donate just to the general mission fund then it is a donation and tax deductable.
    These young men are valiant and strong in their faith. They go not to collect badges or browny points. They go to share the love of Jesus Christ and to learn more.

  • CaliforniaCougar Lake Elsinore, CA
    June 17, 2011 11:06 a.m.

    Outstanding! That website is getting a lot of posts already and I am sure many more to come. Homer, AK is not going to know what hit them once this letter spreads through the Mormon e-mails.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    June 17, 2011 11:00 a.m.

    The Gospel (good news that Christ overcame death and was resurrected) is the greatest message in the world. Think about what that means for all of us.

    Text. Email. Facebook. Twitter. Old typewriters! Get the message out!

    Let's make the world a better place! Enough of the hate already!

  • Dadof5sons Montesano, WA
    June 17, 2011 10:53 a.m.

    Great open letter, I am sure much good will come from it.

  • Johnny Triumph American Fork, UT
    June 17, 2011 10:39 a.m.

    Good to see a missionary thinking outside the box and putting himself out there. He's probably gotten a lot of peace with his efforts.

  • John Paul Orem, UT
    June 17, 2011 10:39 a.m.

    @ranchhand, I actually just got back and I was wondering what kind of tax breaks I could get. I'm not to tax savy so if you could ust let me know I haven't seen any of those yet.

  • Forrest Natchitoches, LA
    June 17, 2011 10:39 a.m.

    RanchHand, "self funded" applies to many of our missions. When I sold my car to go on a mission, no tax break applied. No deduction was taken. No pat on the back was requested. It was just a huge privilege to go to those Indian reservations in North and South Dakota for two years, with a call from a living prophet of God in my pocket.

  • mecr Bountiful, UT
    June 17, 2011 10:30 a.m.


    Not all the missionaries are from the United States. I don't know the exact percentage but many if not the majority, come from other countries and they are self-funded and there are no tax breaker for them for the majority either.

    Most of these self funded american missionaries worked hard to save money for their missions. Others's parents took a second job or simply adjust the belt.

    More importantly, all charities are funding their programs on the back of the taxpayers. And I am sure that money is very much larger than the amount the missionaries pay for their missions.

    Just saying...

  • Mom of Six Northern Utah, UT
    June 17, 2011 9:37 a.m.

    Thanks for printing such an uplifting story.