Some time ago we had a pair of elders assigned to our ward who were young, somewhat shy, and inexperienced. They had every reason to fail, yet they were two of the most spectacular missionaries I’ve ever observed. They simply decided to work hard and let the Lord help them. I watched them reach outside their comfort zone to approach strangers and offer truth. I saw them field tough questions from investigators. I noticed people trying to get them off topic and off track, yet they persevered and took their assignment seriously. Most of all, they radiated the Spirit. They sincerely loved those around them and wanted to share Christ’s message. They pushed through their limitations and found success. These young men would make any parent proud.

So I asked them for their parents’ names and home addresses, and I wrote a letter telling their folks what fantastic boys they were. I’ve written to missionaries before, but never to their parents.

And yet, I’ve been a missionary parent (and I am one right now), and can’t think of anything I’d love more than to hear from someone in my daughter’s mission, telling me what an impressive young lady she is, and how blessed they are to have her there. Think of it-can you imagine a more wonderful Valentine?

So here’s my idea. What if every Meridian reader wrote a loving letter to the parents of the missionaries in their ward? Obviously the first step is to get to know them, have them over for dinner, or go on teaching appointments with them. Then you can share anecdotes, experiences, and moments when you felt the Spirit. It doesn’t have to be an actual Valentine; it’s a love letter of sorts that can arrive on any date-even on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. But Valentine’s Day might be the perfect moment to set a goal, and to begin thinking about it.

The minute we start planning a happy surprise for someone else, we feel joy and excitement. Maybe your letter will arrive on a discouraging day for someone, and be the very piece of delightful news they need. Maybe it will be saved for generations, and treasured as a record of valiant service. I imagine families calling their relatives to read your letter to loved ones. Either way, you’ll be unable to do it without feeling that familiar flutter of warmth in your chest that always comes when we serve others. And that’s a sort of Valentine, in itself.

You can find Hilton’s new book, “Wishes for an LDS Child“.

Joni Hilton is also “Your YouTube Mom” and shares short videos that teach easy household tips and life skills.

Be sure to read her blog at