Healing and Hope

Reed (President Tolman) is doing better. He was diagnosed with mold disease. Living in Samoa, where mold is ever present, proved too much for his system. He struggled the last time we were there, but seemed to recover well when we returned home. We went to Samoa this time believing that through some changes we had made to our lifestyle he would be fine. Well, that was not to be the case. Thankfully, through the help of good doctors and a detox protocol he is on the mend.

Leaving missionaries in the field was piercingly painful. We grew to love each of them with a love not known to this earth. It was a tender blessing from God; every missionary immediately became important and vital to us. We have missed them terribly since being home.

We certainly have a new perspective on early-returning missionaries. We as a people need to do a better job of celebrating what they have achieved rather than focusing on what was left undone. When a missionary returns home early, it is cause for celebrating because it signals the beginning of healing either physically, emotionally or spiritually. As we navigate this mortal experience and certainly this mission experience, we need to remember it is not always a straight upward course. Changes sometimes need to be made, and those changes can bring greater health and happiness if we handle them correctly. Wrap your arms around those missionaries; congratulate them on their service and their sacrifice. Help them to know there is healing and hope awaiting them.

Personally, trying to make sense of all of this has been a challenge neither one of us saw coming or had the ability to understand easily. How does one understand why things don't work out like we planned? How do we come to terms with facing the painful fact that we could not complete what God had sent us to do? How do we reconcile our faith with the outcome we didn't want or expect? It has been almost impossible not to look at where we fell short. What more should we have done?

These past six months have been some of the hardest we have faced. Some have asked what we have learned. I am not sure we are even to a place yet where we can formulate that into meaningful words. The Savior promised: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Quite frankly, it has been hard to find that promised peace.

So we try to live in a place of gratitude. Gratitude for the time we had with our remarkable missionaries. Gratitude for the sweetness of being in His service. Gratitude for the strength of each other.  Gratitude for a family, a ward, friends and priesthood leaders who have loved and supported us; they have celebrated our service and recognized our sacrifice. Gratitude for the moments we do grasp His peace.

We have felt the prayers of all those of you who have reached to the heavens on our behalf. Your kind thoughts and concerns have sustained us these past six months. You have helped the healing begin. You truly have helped carry our burden, for which we will ever be grateful. Alofa tele atu.


  1. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. Such good things to remember. We appreciate all that you and President Tolman did while in Samoa. You touched our son's heart and taught him important things. He respects you both so much. And my husband's parents who served in the temple in Samoa also love and respect you. I'm sure it was so hard for you both to leave, having the desire to serve longer. There is no shame in serving as much as you are able. Even some of the prophets have been unable to complete all their duties because of health challenges and have had to have others fill in for them. We are so grateful for all you did for the missionaries in Samoa! We will remember you both in our prayers.

  2. We are ever grateful for the leadership you gave the missionaries while you were there...our son was changed and influenced by you in more ways than you will ever know. I am so grateful that you were there to help and support him during his time there and especially during his difficult time. You made it all a positive experience for him. You were exactly what he needed. I know you were in Samoa for many reasons, but for us you were there for our son...inspiring him and blessing his life for good. Your service will not be forgotten. Shannon Westover

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