What's New?

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, September 1, 2012

Where Did the Days of August Go?

Where did August go? We can't believe it's September. It's been a long hot summer across the U.S.  We enjoyed some thunderstorms and cooler weather the past two weeks with temperatures in the 80's. School started in Gwinnett County, Georgia on August 6, so in social sense it does feel like fall is beginning. However, for those of us accustomed to the weather in the Mountain West, we'll not experience cool nights and days for many weeks yet. We are anxious to see the fall colors in Georgia and plan to take one of our Saturday prep days to travel into the mountain foothills in northern Georgia.

The replacement of six vehicles in the mission has found us traveling back and forth to car dealerships and detail shops to get the new vehicles picked up and set up with Tiwi (parental control) boxes along with having the old cars detailed for sale. The Church insists on making sure mission cars are in good shape, even when selling. We love working with our new friend, Brad White, at White's Detailing. His shop is a 20-minute drive from the mission office, and we go there often. Elder Connors gets a chance to see some expensive, nice cars from time to time and he loves it. Fender bender reports continue. Several missionaries are getting their first lessons in waxing out scratches as we try to help them avoid accident reports that end up in lost driving privileges because of minor damage.

Another six weeks have passed, and all of the office tasks associated with new arrivals and Transfer Day have filled our days as well. We are excited as we anticipate our total number of missionaries bumping up a bit since we've been down missionaries for the past two months. We also enjoyed another quarterly Family Home Evening with the six senior couples in the mission. Elder and Sister Stowell (from Idaho and Oregon) joined the mission in early August and are a great addition as they work in the Jonesboro area. They had our same office roles when they served in the Baltimore Maryland mission and are really enjoying the new assignment. Elder Lundgren is our "senior" senior at age 82. A former CES employee and mission president in Norway, he and Sister Lundgren accounted for three recent baptisms recently.

August has been a Month of Consecration in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission, with a charge for full, faithful obedience to mission rules. Missionaries have been busy; we've seen and heard less from them because they are studying, teaching, and opening their mouths to ten meaningful contacts a day. Baptisms nearly doubled this month and missionaries throughout the mission have recognized the blessings of obedience. A sweet spirit has filled each day.

We have been blessed in other ways as well. Elder Connors has started to experience neck pain and hand problems. An x-ray and then MRI showed irregularities with the discs above and below the fusion he had last October. The potential of additional fusions loomed; many prayers and a priesthood blessing were offered in his behalf. After consultation with several doctors here and at home we are hopeful that wearing a neck brace and some stretching will get him by for the next year until we are released. Perhaps an epidural injection may be in the future, but the acute flareup has already eased a bit the past week. We feel very blessed and recognize the Lord's hand. We just can no longer put off the exercise - despite long days, rain, and mosquitoes. In fact, today we spent six hours helping the Clarks finish up some landscaping projects. It was the kind of grubby sweat that invigorates!  A great way to spend our prep day.

We haven't had as many opportunities to team up with the sisters and elders for teaching the past few weeks. New assignments have kept them busy, which is great! We've enjoyed meeting with Mercy and 9-year old Malyssa. Mercy has been a member about a year. Originally from Ghana, she's been in the US for about 11 years and in our area for four months. Malyssa loves to sing the Primary songs she is learning, so we asked our sweet grandkids to send a CD with Primary music. Sure enough, it arrived. We found a small CD player and Malyssa is thrilled. Mercy can't find work and life is a challenge, but good ward family and missionaries are pulling together to help them out. Recent convert, Dana, moved out of state on short notice. Addiction problems continue to make marriage to her fiancee impossible, so she's taken the children to safe harbor. We may never see her again, but our prayers are with her. We pray Church members and good people will reach out and support her she goes. We are grateful she has her testimony of the Savior to sustain her; her faith and recognition of the spirit have been a tremendous example to us.

Presidential elections are in full swing. We exercised our liberties as senior missionaries to watch some of the Republican Convention coverage. Georgians, for the most part, are conservative and many have mentioned to us how impressed they have been in learning more about the character and religious service of Mitt Romney. Ann Romney wowed them. We again, are grateful for opportunities to discuss, not politics, but Mormon beliefs with the mailman, store clerks, and others. We are prayerful that this great nation will be worthy of the Lord's hand in the decision making and in our united future.

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