by Elder Richard Stucki
Gayle B. Sessions. .. after forty years I still remember the name, and face, better than that of any other companion. I arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, just before a missionary conference there, with our Mission President, S. Dilworth Young, one of the seven Pres. of the First Quorum of Seventies. As we set in meetings, a dozen more or less missionaries working in Nova Scotia, Canada, a part of the New England Mission, I looked at the other older elders. some had polish, the gift of oratory, and other impressive qualities. One was a plain, sturdy looking country boy from Idaho, Elder Sessions. I pictured myself working with the impressive Elders, but hopefully not the farm boy. Guess who I got? ... the farm boy. The Mission Pres. knew better than I, who I needed for my first senior companion. And I was his first junior companion. At the conference I learned that in our mission, during the summer, we were going back to an old missionary practice, abandoned long ago, of traveling without purse or script. we viewed this with real apprehension. As conference ended, Pres. and Sister Young gave Elder Sessions and I a lift, in their car, to the town from which we were to begin our travels. He let us out, and we started down the highway into the farmland, late in the afternoon, with the pressing thought constantly growing. .. would someone give us a bed, and a meal that night! Before the summer was gone, we became thinner, but learned real faith, had many befriend us, made several meals from a hat full of blue berries picked from wild berry patches that grew along the railroad tracks and sides of the roadway, and held a number of fairly well attended meetings in the little school houses in the farm communities. We found some other wild berries, but not in great abundance. Once we struck it lucky and enjoyed handfuls of black berries from a large berry bush by the roadside. Lunch one day was a big turnip pulled from a garden. Along the sea coast one evening, supper was a platter full of small lobsters boiled in a bucket of sea water, at the home of a lobster fisherman. You'll never taste better lobster. People often declined to give us lodging, I am sure, because of the humble, cluttered and inadequate facilities in their homes, feeling ministers, especially, needed something better. We spent a few nights laying on the ground in abandoned sheds, or empty barns, one night on the benches of an opened church, to escape the cold night air, but most nights in a bed. He traveled very light with only a small suit case half full of tracts and copies of the Book of Mormon, an umbrella, maybe a light rain coat, a change of socks and underwear, but only the suit on our backs, plus a felt hat. when a light laundry needed doing, we would wash things in a creek running through a wooded area, dry them laid out on the ferns growing everywhere, and study while they dried. To get our mail we had to plan our travels realistically, keep the mission office informed of where we would be on a given day, and then ask in each community that had a post office if they had any mail come for us in General Delivery. On my birthday we walked several miles to a post office to check for mail. A box of cookies had come, but they were all crumbs, which we nevertheless greatly enjoyed walking back to the area we were tracting. Many communities had no power. The only bathroom was an outhouse, in most cases. Cooking was done on a wood stove in the kitchen. In these stoves tall, large loaves of white bread were baked with very thick crust. Slices of bread were usually eaten with butter and molasses. Delicious! We bathed, shaved, and washed up as needed, in the creeks running through the countryside. But one special bath I remember, in a house, before a meeting in the schoolhouse, we stood in a tub in the man's front room, which tub was filled with kettles and pans of water heated on the kitchen wood stove. Kitchens were usually the one warm room in the house and were large enough to accommodate a couch where a nap could be taken in the winter time in a room that was warm. I remember particularly well one morning, we had not received an invitation to stay with anyone the night before, so early in the morning while waiting for a proper hour to start tracting, we sat down to study by the rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean. A panel truck from the nearby town drove up, and a man began throwing a variety of stale loaves of bread from some bakery into the ocean. I almost stripped and jumped in after them. The only reason I didn't was the strict instructions given us in the mission training classes to not go swimming in lakes and rivers, etc. during our missions. watching the loaves of bread float away was so hard to do when we were as hungry as we were. We noticed snail shells fastened to the rocks near the water. We remembered what we had heard about eating snails. So we found an old empty tobacco can, about a gallon size, rinsed it out, filled it with snail shells, gathered up some wood and soon had the snails cooking over the fire. When cooked, the snails bulged out of their shells so you could get hold of them and work them out of their shells. Rather than stale bread for breakfast we had boiled snails, and we didn't suffer any more that morning from hunger pains.