U Student Writes Friend Letter Every Day for More Than a Year

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(Photo Courtesy of Gina Allyn)

By Julianne Skrivan

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(Photo Courtesy of Gina Allyn)
(Photo Courtesy of Gina Allyn)

When Emma Jackson received her mission call from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to South Carolina, her best friend Gina Allyn came up with a way to talk to Jackson while the two were apart.

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Allyn, a junior in exercise and sports science, was inspired by the popular movie “The Notebook” and wrote to her friend daily.

“I figured if Ryan Gosling’s character could write to Rachel McAdams every day for a year … I could too,” Allyn said.

She came up with the idea a few weeks before Jackson flew to the East Coast. Writing to her best friend was easy and allowed her to feel like Jackson was beside her throughout the 18-month mission.

“I thought I’d forget about it, but I never did — I kept doing it,” Allyn said. “It was really a way to stay close and connected.”

While in South Carolina, Jackson said she knew her best friend would keep writing.

“When Gina told me she was going to be writing me a letter every day, I believed in her wholeheartedly,” Jackson said. “She is such a dedicated friend.”

Jackson read each of the letters and felt a new empowerment to continue on with her mission.

“Whenever I had a hard day, I had a letter that was so full of support and it made me feel like people cared about me and wanted me to succeed,” Jackson said.

The pair have been best friends since they were assigned to be orchestra-stand partners in the seventh grade. Throughout the entire year-and-a-half mission, Allyn only missed one letter.

“After 552 letters and on the 553rd day, I leaped off my pillow and … the first thing I thought was, ‘I forgot to write Emma yesterday,’ ” Allyn said.

Despite being states apart, the pair said they think the separation gave them a new way to know each other. Jackson said Allyn’s letters were like a journal, a way to get a glimpse of Allyn’s life back home in a different way.

Allyn said the letter exchange gave Jackson newfound fame.

“It made her famous,” Allyn said. “All the missionaries knew her. When she would get a new companion the elders would say, ‘Get ready to feel terrible because she gets all the mail.’ ”

All of the letters have made it back to Jackson’s home in Utah.

“I still have the letters,” Jackson said. “I still read over them and see how we have grown as friends and grown as best friends.”

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