Neal with his granddaughter Elise

May 1, 2024

Message to Our Young People

Dear Young Person, 

We've put off writing this letter for many years. We want to apologize for not sending it sooner, but we always had the usual excuses: Too busy, and generally distracted by other things. 

We apologize for not taking just a few minutes to tell you how much we love you and how proud we are of you. We have watched you for many years while you have been growing up and we have always thought that you are such a quality person.  

We saw you many Sabbaths with new clothes.  You girls looked so pretty and boys you looked so handsome, but we never said anything to you.  Whenever you had special music or read the scripture and prayed, we were always impressed with your ability to do such an outstanding job. We often talked about how we thought you added so much to our church family. We talked about it, but we didn't tell you.  For that we are sorry. 

When you graduated from 8th grade, you all looked so radiant and happy. Our church family is so blessed to have each of you in our church.   

And then one Sabbath you weren't here with us.  We missed you and someone said that you had gone away to the Academy. 

We've seen you several times since then and we've heard how successful you are in school.  We're so proud of you! We just wish we had told you long ago.  We should have been telling you how much we love you.  But we were always too busy, and of course, we thought someone else would surely do it.  When someone told your parents we hadn't seen you for a long time, they said that you come home regularly but don't go to church with them anymore. 

We are so sorry that we didn't say anything all those years.  We should have been hugging, e-mailing, texting or contacting you somehow. We didn't and now we regret it.  We're asking your forgiveness for caring but not showing it.  We love you and we're proud of you! 


The church who loves you but didn't tell you! 


P.S. We're so thankful that we can see your little brother and sister in church each week. We promise we will tell them how much we love them and how proud we are of them. 

Neal VanderWaal writes from Battle Creek, Michigan, where he spent many years as a teacher-turned-realtor.