"I learned why during a religion class I taught once at Ricks College. I was teaching from Doctrine and Covenants 25:8 [D&C 25:8]. That tells Emma Smith she should give her time to “writing, and to learning much.” About three rows back in the class sat a blond girl whose brow wrinkled as I urged diligence in developing writing skills. She raised her hand and said, “That doesn’t seem reasonable to me. All I’ll ever write are letters to my children.” That brought laughter. I felt a little chagrined to have applied that scripture to her. Just looking at her I could imagine a quiver full of children around her and even see the letters she’d write, in purple ink, with handwriting slanting backwards, with neat, round loops. Maybe writing powerfully wouldn’t matter to her.
"And then a young man stood up near the back. He’d said little during the term. He was older than the other students and shy. He told in a quiet voice of being a soldier in Viet Nam. In what he thought would be a lull, he’d left his rifle and walked across his fortified compound to mail call. Just as he got a letter in his hand he heard a bugle blow, and shouts and mortar and rifle fire came in ahead of the swarming enemy. He fought his way back to his rifle, using his hands as weapons. With the men who survived, he drove the enemy out. The wounded were evacuated. And then he sat down among the living, and some of the dead, and he opened the letter.
"It was from his mother. She wrote that she’d had a spiritual experience that assured her he would live to come home, if he were righteous. “That letter was scripture to me,” the boy said quietly. “I kept it.” And he sat down. You may have a child someday, perhaps a son. Can you see his face? Can you see him somewhere, sometime in mortal danger? Can you feel the fear in his heart, and does it touch you? Would you like to freely give? What sacrifice will it take to write the letter your heart will want to send? You won’t do it in the hour before the postman comes. Nor will it be possible in a day or even a week. It may take years. Start the practice this afternoon. Go back to your room and write, and read, and rewrite that paper again, and again. It won’t seem like sacrifice if you picture that boy, feel his heart, and think of the letters he’ll need someday."