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We witness tender mercies and mini-miracles every day as we find joy in pressing forward. We are immensely grateful for our time of service as missionaries in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Life and opportunities continue. See our missionary and life story in pictures by clicking here: http://rayc.shutterfly.com/

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Lovely Spring Day

We ended this day having the Spanish speaking elders to dinner. Elder Tarver comes from Cleveland (6'8" semi-pro basketball player who has dramatically changed his life since joining the Church and is learning as he teaches); we love him and his enthusiasm. Elder Dowdle comes from the Portland, OR area; he is quiet, sincere, and finishes his mission at the next transfers on April 26. They wanted a simple home-cooked hamburger dinner and that's what we fixed - pan fried burgers, macaroni salad, chips, and they loved it. We discussed a few scriptural questions and learned a bit more about their work. The mission here has many Spanish branches; also Portuguese speaking elders. Next Friday, we'll have the missionaries assigned to the Lilburn Ward to dinner (the two APs and two sisters) since Sister Thomas is also leaving on the 26th.  

After a week of cooler weather (we had to use a space heater in our bedroom for a couple of nights), warm spring has returned. Sunny and nearly 80 degrees; it's been a beautiful day. Bit by bit we're doing the deeper apartment cleaning after our initial settling in. We noticed an unusual flower on the grass this afternoon after washing off the winter-dirtied patio. It had fallen from a tall, stately tree with beautiful white and yellow flowers in the top branches. It's a Yellow Poplar, also called Tulip Poplar. Beautiful! The trees here grow so tall and so straight with no mountains to create growing shadows. We're going help the Clarks with the lawn mowing (both have bad backs) while we're residents.

After getting more settled, we decided we'd better start exercising and found a great walking trail at the nearby Gwinnett County Mountain Park. Gwinnett County seems to have many parks-clean, busy and fitted with nice walking trails. They meander through groves of trees, curve around ponds, border rail lines or near- dozen baseball diamonds. We're living in a class A community. An average building lot here is probably 2 acres! The new subdivisions are more like the west with 1/2 acres lots; but any house 20 years or older is dwarfed by its large acreage with trees and rolling lawns. There is little flat ground in Gwinnett County (unless flattened for structures). We see winding roads, gullies, and rolling hills everywhere we go, but few high spots (except Stone Mountain). Everything has a very woodsy feel. We walked a couple of times this week and plan to make it a regular habit. The ongoing youth baseball, bonnet ball, and whatever ball games give us chances to stop and watch the eager sportsmen and supportive parents. We enjoyed a short walk this evening.

We took Elder and Sister Coe to lunch yesterday; it was their last full day of service in the Mission Office.  They will return to help on our first "transfer" day experience and want to attend all of the departing missionary firesides for the next year or so to say goodbye to the missionaries they have come to love so much. We love and appreciate them. It was a tearful day for Sister Coe who has no children of her own (some stepchildren) and knows each of the missionaries well. Elder Coe and Elder Connors have much in common, and they've brought out the "character" in one another. We'll miss them but plan to connect from time to time. We'll take a prep day in the future to drive the hour to their home and see Elder Coe's car collection.

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