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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/

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June in Georgia

Our days continue to speed up and fill up. Summer has settled in. Days and evenings are warm with an occasional afternoon or evening thunderstorm. We've experienced only one day of significant rain in the past three weeks. The drought continues here, much as it does back home in the West. We were fortunate to experience a real Georgia cloudburst two weeks ago as we headed to the Northridge Hospital in Sandy Springs to pick up Elder Jeffs when he was released. While traveling on the I-285 bypass, we went from dry pavement to deep standing water which slowed traffic to a crawl as many drivers pulled over and stopped. It was a great soft water car wash! Elder Jeffs was excited about getting released. As we entered his room and inquired about the get-well decorations we were delighted to learn they were from the Benson Family. Todd Benson, who grew up in our home ward, is the Ward Mission Leader one of the Peachtree Wards. We committed to connect with Todd and Heather and family soon. We transported Elder Jeffs to his apartment to pick up personal items and clean clothes and then drove him to a member's house for a couple of additional days of recuperation. It was nearly 11 p.m. before we returned home, but it had been a satisfying day. We pray the rash of medical emergencies and emergency transfers and releases will slow down. It's been quite a month, with broken arms and other incidents. One elder had happy news; he is leaving this Monday for Argentina after waiting for his visa for four months!

We decided to explore Georgia a bit on Father's Day weekend and got permission to spend Saturday night in Augusta (outside our mission boundaries), then attend Church in the Elberton branch (in our mission) about 90 minutes north. We tried to take a peek at the Augusta National Golf Course while there, only to find trees and screened fences and learn that the course closes for six months every summer for maintenance. We found no "elite" areas in Augusta and were surprised this exclusive course is located where it is. The references to "tradition" must be real. We enjoyed a stroll along the Savannah River Walkway Saturday afternoon in downtown Augusta.

We awoke early and drove through the woodsy countryside to Elberton. We felt a sweet spirit in the Elberton branch. There were about 70 attendees in Sacrament Meeting and 20 sisters in Relief Society (although they had only 9 the week before). Senior missionaries, Elder and Sister Lee, serve there. She leads the YW and rarely has anyone show up. Elder Lee is in the branch presidency.

We could feel how connected and close members there are. We returned home through Athens, completing a circle of travel and dropping by the Institute Building at UGA to deliver some books to the sister missionaries and zone leaders. We enjoyed wonderful Father's Day phone calls from Dave and Michael and his family. We ended the weekend refreshed and motivated.

Linda enjoyed weekly evening team ups with Sisters Scott and Harnish, and this week, also with Sister Lapin, who was here on an exchange. I'm feeling more confident participating. Last week we had a visit with Dana's fiancee,Will, who is anxious for baptism. He is meeting his Word of Wisdom problems head on, and we anticipate he and Dana (our recent convert) will marry next week, followed by his baptism the Sunday following!  His humble prayers are giving him witness and our prayers stay with him and that sweet family. We look forward to more spiritual highlights with that family in the days ahead. 

We continue to stay busy in the office, taking on new projects. Last week was a calm week, and we were able to catch up on many things and explore some new ways to contribute. Linda is now devoting Monday mornings to preparing the spreadsheets and reports that follow the call in of key indicators. The task has kept the Assistants in the office until nearly midnight on Sundays. So with several hours for those reports, mission staff meetings, and heavy mail, Mondays are busy!  The connections between pieces of information, communication channels, and knowledge are starting to come together, and it's a good feeling. Ray spent some weekday time helping Don (our landlord) finish the final preparations for laying down sod where the former sink hole resided. The sod arrived yesterday morning (Saturday), and we spent four hours helping Don and his granddaughters and friends lay the new turf. Linda loved getting down on her hands and knees in the dirt and setting sod! It was a 95 degree day, but rain last evening helped wet the grass down. We'll continue to help the Clarks spruce up their property. They have pruned enough trees and branches to fill nearly 4 dozen green trash bags, opening up the backyard.

Well, it's off to Sunday services, and anxious for them.

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