Poem: He’s Been There Before

mormon missionaries riding bikesHe’s Been There Before is a great poem by Elder Troy Whittle who served in the Texas Houston Mission. It is reprinted here with the author’s permission. May  it be an inspiration to missionaries present and future to work diligently and make sacrifices of obedience and know that they are not alone and will have great success and blessings as they follow the Savior, act has his representative, and endure to the end.


The alarm bell rings at 6:30, I stumble to my feet
I grab my companions bedding and pull off his sheets

A groan fills the room, is it already time to arise?
It seems like just a second ago, I was able to shut my eyes

The morning activities follow with study, prayer and such
When it’s time to leave the apartment, you feel you haven’t accomplished much

“We have a super day planned,”
My comp. says with a grin
I lowly utter a faithless breath,
“Yeah, if anyone lets us in.”

With the word of God and my faithful Schwinn, we ride off in the street
Prepared to face another day of humidity and heat

It’s 9:30 in the evening, the day is almost through
My companion and I are riding home not accomplishing what we thought to do

We ride up to the mailbox, hoping to receive a lot
Only to look inside and hear my echo reverberate “air box”

We go up to our apartment, the day is now complete
The only thing to show for our work is a case of blistery feet

It’s past 10:30 p.m. My companion is fast asleep
Silence engulfs me all about and I begin to weep

In the midst of sadness, I kneel down to pray
I need to talk to father, but I’m not sure what to say

“Oh, Father” I begin, “What happened to us today?
I thought we’d teach somebody, but everyone was away

My hands, my aching hands- worn, hurt and beat;
If our area was any smaller, we’d have knocked the doors on every street”

“Why on missions are the days so much alike?
The only difference about today was the flat tire on my bike

Will you send some cooler weather? The heat is killing me
I sweat so bad, it gets in my eyes, it’s very hard to see”

“Why do I have to wear a helmet, isn’t your protection enough?
People always laugh at me, and call me stupid stuff

Please send us investigators so I may give them what they lack
I want to give them Book of Mormons, the weight of them hurts my back”

“And what about my family, They don’t have much to say
I’m sick of not hearing from home day after day after day

Oh Father, Why am I here am I just wasting time?
Sometimes I just want to go home, I’m sorry but that’s on my mind”

“My companion, Heavenly Father, what are you giving me?”
The way he rides his bicycle, I don’t think he can see

Now you have it, I can’t go on, I don’t know what to do
That, my Father in Heaven, is the prayer I have for you”

My prayer now finished, I stand up, then jump right into bed
I need my rest for tomorrow, we have another long day ahead

Sleep starts to overtake me, I seem to drift away
Then it seems a vision takes me to another time in another day

I’m standing alone on the hill, The view is very nice
A man walks towards me and says, “My name is Jesus Christ”

Tears of joy well up inside, I fall down to His feet
“Arise,” He states, “Follow me to the shade. You and I need to speak”

My attention’s towards my Savior, total and complete
He says, “Your mission is similar of what happened to me

I understand how you feel, I know what you’re going through
In fact, it would be fair to say I’ve felt the same as you”

“I even know how you felt when no one listened to you
At times I felt not quite sure what else that I could do

I know you don’t like to ride a bicycle, for you a car would be sweet
Just remember the donkey I rode wasn’t equipped with 21 speeds”

“I understand you don’t like sweating, in fact it’s something you hate
I remember when I sweat blood from every pore, oh the agony was great!

I see you don’t like your companion, you’d rather have someone else
I once had a companion named Judas who sold my life for wealth”

“It’s hard to wear a helmet and have people make fun of you
Much like when they put thorns on my head and called me King of the Jews

So you feel burdened down by the weight of your pack
I recall how heavy the cross was when they slammed it on my back”

“Your hands hurt from tracting and knocking on doors all day
I guess when they pounded nails into mine, I ached in a similar way

It’s hard not to hear from home when your family’s not there to see
I lost communication on the cross and cried, “Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

“We have a lot in common, but there’s a difference between us you see
I endured to the end and finished my mission, so follow and do like me”

He embraced me with His arms and His light filled me with His love
With tears in my eyes I watched as He ascended back to the Father above

I stood with awe and wonder when a beep rang in my head
Listening I heard the alarm, then realized I was in my bed

My companion let out a groan, “it’s 6:30 already, no way!”
I sat up and said, “Come on, I’ll even carry your scriptures today!”

No matter what we go through,
When we feel we can’t take more
Just stop and think about Jesus Christ,
He’s been there before!

By Elder Troy Whittle
Texas Houston Mission

10 replies
  1. Kerri Sites
    Kerri Sites says:

    Troy is my brother. I’m pretty sure this poem has been shared all over the world. I don’t think he will come after you.

    Reply
  2. Kimberly Thompson
    Kimberly Thompson says:

    As I lay here thinking about my missionaries I’m missing. I came across this poem and now lay here crying. What a touching account how beautiful! I’m really at that much of a loss but please I àm sending this to my 3 missionaries

    Reply
  3. Troy Whittle
    Troy Whittle says:

    My sister pointed me to this and that you were looking for me. I am the author of this poem. I don’t mind if this is shared. I have corrected a few things from what you have posted. For some reason people have “edited” it from the original that I wrote in July of 1994. Here is the original. Feel free to make the to use this.

    The alarm bell rings at 6:30, I stumble to my feet
    I grab my companions bedding and pull off his sheets
    A groan fills the room, is it already time to arise?
    It seems like just a second ago, I was able to shut my eyes
    The morning activities follow with study, prayer and such
    When it’s time to leave the apartment, you feel you haven’t accomplished much
    “We have a super day planned,”
    My comp. says with a grin
    I lowly utter a faithless breath,
    “Yeah, if anyone lets us in.”
    With the word of God and my faithful Schwinn, we ride off in the street
    Prepared to face another day of humidity and heat
    It’s 9:30 in the evening, the day is almost through
    My companion and I are riding home not accomplishing what we thought to do
    We ride up to the mailbox, hoping to receive a lot
    Only to look inside and hear my echo reverberate “air box”
    We go up to our apartment, the day is now complete
    The only thing to show for our work is a case of blistery feet
    It’s past 10:30 p.m. My companion is fast asleep
    Silence engulfs me all about and I begin to weep
    In the midst of sadness, I kneel down to pray
    I need to talk to father, but I’m not sure what to say
    “Oh, Father” I begin, “What happened to us today?
    I thought we’d teach somebody, but everyone was away
    My hands, my aching hands- worn, hurt and beat;
    If our area was any smaller, we’d have knocked the doors on every street”
    “Why on missions are the days so much alike?
    The only difference about today was the flat tire on my bike
    Will you send some cooler weather? The heat is killing me
    I sweat so bad, it gets in my eyes, it’s very hard to see”
    “Why do I have to wear a helmet, isn’t your protection enough?
    People always laugh at me, and call me stupid stuff
    Please send us investigators so I may give them what they lack
    I want to give them Book of Mormons, the weight of them hurts my back”
    “And what about my family, They don’t have much to say
    I’m sick of not hearing from home day after day after day
    Oh Father, Why am I here am I just wasting time?
    Sometimes I just want to go home, I’m sorry but that’s on my mind”
    “My companion, Heavenly Father, what are you giving me?”
    The way he rides his bicycle, I don’t think he can see
    Now you have it, I can’t go on, I don’t know what to do
    That, my Father in Heaven, is the prayer I have for you”
    My prayer now finished, I stand up, then jump right into bed
    I need my rest for tomorrow, we have another long day ahead
    Sleep starts to overtake me, I seem to drift away
    Then it seems a vision takes me to another time in another day
    I’m standing alone on the hill, The view is very nice
    A man walks towards me and says, “My name is Jesus Christ”
    Tears of joy well up inside, I fall down to His feet
    “Arise,” He states, “Follow me to the shade. You and I need to speak”
    My attention’s towards my Savior, total and complete
    He says, “Your mission is similar of what happened to me
    I understand how you feel, I know what you’re going through
    In fact, it would be fair to say I’ve felt the same as you”
    “I even know how you felt when no one listened to you
    At times I felt not quite sure what else that I could do
    I know you don’t like to ride a bicycle, for you a car would be sweet
    Just remember the donkey I rode wasn’t equipped with 21 speeds”
    “I understand you don’t like sweating, in fact it’s something you hate
    I remember when I sweat blood from every pore, oh the agony was great!
    I see you don’t like your companion, you’d rather have someone else
    I once had a companion named Judas who sold my life for wealth”
    “It’s hard to wear a helmet and have people make fun of you
    Much like when they put thorns on my head and called me King of the Jews
    So you feel burdened down by the weight of your pack
    I recall how heavy the cross was when they slammed it on my back”
    “Your hands hurt from tracting and knocking on doors all day
    I guess when they pounded nails into mine, I ached in a similar way
    It’s hard not to hear from home when your family’s not there to see
    I lost communication on the cross and cried, “Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
    “We have a lot in common, but there’s a difference between us you see
    I endured to the end and finished my mission, so follow and do like me”
    He embraced me with His arms and His light filled me with His love
    With tears in my eyes I watched as He ascended back to the Father above
    I stood with awe and wonder when a beep rang in my head
    Listening I heard the alarm, then realized I was in my bed
    My companion let out a groan, “it’s 6:30 already, no way!”
    I sat up and said, “Come on, I’ll even carry your scriptures today!”
    No matter what we go through,
    When we feel we can’t take more
    Just stop and think about Jesus Christ,
    He’s been there before!
    By Elder Troy Whittle
    Texas Houston Mission

    Reply
    • Amanda Mourier Palmer
      Amanda Mourier Palmer says:

      Thank you for writing this! I read it throughout my mission (2007-2009) in washington DC after a companion of mine printed it for me. I just found it again to send it to a struggling missionary! Thank you for those inspired and inspiring words. You have probably served the lord, and His servants, even more with those words than in your mission… and more than you can imagine. Thank you!

      Reply
  4. Jenna Miller
    Jenna Miller says:

    Brother Troy Whittle,
    I would like to share with you how this poem has helped me and my son. I would like to email you directly but I don’t have your email. So I will leave a comment here and hope it finds its way back to you.

    Recently my son Whom is 13 and navigating the unchartered waters of adolescence and free agency is forced into some very confusing and turbulent waters. He recently cried and told me through tears of anger and frustration that there wasn’t a single person who understood him and his struggle on this earth.

    A few months ago I was in a similar situation. I felt like giving up and throwing it all away, I am not speaking metaphorically, I am referring to ending my life. I struggle with mental health and suicidal thoughts. I told my son that when I feel like that; like no one understands or cares I am reminded that my SAVIOR DOES. That with and through him, I am a whole person and I can keep trying and he will understand me.

    When my son echoed a similar refrain the past few weeks and he was angry and frustrated this weekend, immediately I remembered your poem. We always hear that Jesus knows our pain and suffering. But it is harder to convey that power to a 13 year old struggling. That’s when your poem came in.

    Art and faith have the power to transcend us and communicate on a deeper plane. A spiritual one. I had been listening in Sacrament meeting earlier this Spring and heard another speaker read your talk aloud. A quick google search turned up your poem and I shared it with my cousin who was serving in Illinois at the time, in a letter. On another dark, hard day he wrote me back thanking me and reminding me that he has seen me face many challenges and hardships and that I could get through this too.

    You have a voice Brother Whittle! I hope you never stop writing or sharing, or questioning the worth of your testimony or the value of your faith. You matter. The Savior is real, and he knows our hearts!

    Reply
  5. Connie Mitchell
    Connie Mitchell says:

    This is so beautiful…our sons & now grandsons went on mission & experiences this very thing. This brought tears to my eyes and gratitude in my heart for all of you dear boys that give so much! We love you & thank you.

    Reply
    • Allen Neciosup
      Allen Neciosup says:

      I had a copy of this poem in 2003 when I served my mission, was very helpful on a couple hard days of my mission. Thanks

      Reply

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