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A Shout From The Attic: Being A Missionary - 1

"Being a missionary was hard,'' writes Ronnie Bray. "Military discipline had prepared me for most of the self-discipline necessary to be a successful missionary, although I still lacked some aspects of character that did not tuck away some of the many sharp angles of my personality. These were a long term project!''

I wanted to be a missionary and be like the fine young men who had taught the gospel to me and led the local branches during my first few years of membership in the Church. They seemed a breed apart from any I had ever known, and became my ideals of Christian manhood.

I longed to be a partaker of the spiritual magic that must come upon all who were called to serve a mission in the restored Church. Missionaries seemed a little lower than the angels, at ease within themselves, aware, confident, and bearing a message destined to save mankind.

I arrived in Peterborough some time in March of 1956 and was met at the station by Elder Doug Brammer. My companion, Elder Cleveland, was engaged in other pursuits, mending a puncture on his bicycle.

We lived in an old Victorian house on London Road, just outside of town. The downstairs was used as a chapel and function room, and a baptismal font was under construction in the basement. Elder Cleveland and I helped to break the floor tiles out and dig the hole for the font to be constructed below ground.

Elder William Cleveland was in his middle forties, older than the average missionary, and had spent over twenty years in the US Navy where he had been a petty officer. He found the restrictions of missionary life hard to take, having been used to giving orders to others but now, like so many career military men, finding what seemed like petty constraints in mission rules to be irksome. Therefore, he acted outside those restraints.

William was not a bad man, but he had a mind of his own and it was well set. He could not take corrections by his supervisors in the mission field. When we met at the Mission Office at 149 Nightingale Lane, Balham, President Kerr had indicated some of the difficulties Elder Cleveland was subject to, but felt that I was a strong elder and so could help him. We got on famously but it was difficult to motivate him to apply himself to the work, and he always found alternative activities to proselyting.

It was a sad day when President Kerr decided it would be better for him and the mission if he went home. He was given an early release on medical grounds, which was the proper way to release him.

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