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A Shout From The Attic: Church Building Mission - 2

..When I arrived at Ipswich the foundations of the meetinghouse had been poured, the arched roof supports had been placed, and the next job was to raise the walls and pour the floors..

Ronnie Bray continues his autobiography.

I read the card and could not believe my eyes! “We thought you were dead!” it read.

“Who are you sending those to?” I asked.

“These are going to the less active members of the branch,” she said.

I was shocked.

Millie Tripp was a pretty American sister who, with her husband Jim and their four young children, lived at Woodbridge, Suffolk, to be close to the American Air Force Base where Jim was a fighter pilot. They attended the Ipswich Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She served in the relief Society and was on the building Committee, responsible for many aspects of the new chapel and meetinghouse that we were building in 1963, on which I was working as a Building Missionary.

It is troubling to any concerned congregation when members stay away and no longer associate with their church, and the
Ipswich Branch had a small number who no longer attended. Some of these had been absent for a long time, some for a shorter period, but a push was being made to contact them all and let them know that they were loved and missed.

The card itself was beautiful. Flowers and butterflies brought a glimpse of summer and warm thoughts - but the inscription
penned inside!

“Surely,” I insisted to her, “You are not going to send those!”

“Why not?” she asked, a puzzled look on her face as she tried to understand why I objected so strongly.

“Because,” I persisted, “They will be insulted!”

She looked at the card, turning it over in her hands, opening it and closing it, and then repeating her movements to find what I meant.

“What’s wrong with it?” she asked, finding nothing.

“Read the message inside.” She read aloud: “Without you, we’re dead.”

“Oh,” I said, abashed. “I thought it said, ‘We thought you were dead!’”

She laughed and hit me with the card. I got off lightly.

It was an easy mistake to make for someone so confident in their reading ability that they thought they had it right when
they had it badly wrong. Whether we are card reading, map reading, or people reading, life is always better when we take the trouble and care to get it right, but most especially when we are people-reading.

When we are dealing with material things, mistakes are usually not too hard to fix. A gardener who makes a mistake in the planting time and puts in his seeds too early or too late unlikely to do so again. Boys who, as I did, make deadly mixtures of chemicals and then ignite them, seldom need further warning. In all these experiences, resulting from error, the negative consequences are so obvious, and the rectification of the blunders that brought them forth are so immediately rewarding, that misgiving comes readily and
are not repeated.

However, when dealing with people, it is easier to fracture a relationship than it is to mend one. Trust, once broken, too
often leads to the suspicion that the offence may be repeated or even exceeded. How much better, therefore, to be
overcautious in our fellowship and relationships; how wise of us to realise long before any breach of the links that bind us
heart to heart that without them, we’re dead!

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