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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/

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter Speeds Along

It's mid-January. It's been two weeks since transfers, and we are still busy trying to catch up on the tasks that follow. As we transition into a new transfer cycle for 2013, the next two transfers will last only five weeks rather than six weeks. We think we'll stay busy indefinitely with all this wonderful growth. We have a very large group of missionaries arriving in February (projected at 16 rather than a usual 8-10). About 50/50 sisters and elders.  In March, the fourteen arrivals will be mostly sisters, and they will be the first group to arrive after a shortened training timeframe in the MTC (13 days rather than 3 weeks and 2.5 weeks for those learning a new language rather than 6 weeks). Only seven missionaries are going home through March. All this means our Housing Coordinator will be very busy signing leases for new apartments and furnishing them. We're grateful that Bill and Ann Tewalt from the Snellville Ward have been called as local service missionaries. They will spend 10-15 hours a week assisting in mission office and housing work. The "younger" missionaries responding to the prophet's call for 18-year old elders and 19-year sisters will start arriving with our March and April groups. We are all very curious to see what changes and adaptations the age change will bring.

Elder Connors and Sister Connors oversaw the cleaning and preparation of office space for the Atkins, the new full-time nurse and specialist missionaries. Two poorly used rooms (mostly storage of outdated supplies) in the office are now a tidy office and book room. Sister Atkin has been busy with medical calls from the day they arrived on January 4. Elder Atkins is helping incoming missionaries make arrangements for bicycles which is becoming a full-time job as we add more missionaries and ask sisters to also ride bicycles. We've also helped him learn what is needed to manage and order the missionary supplies (books, pamphlets, and the like). The Atkins will take one leg of the airport runs during Transfer Week, too. When you throw in Sister Connors taking responsibility to implement the new phone system and hardware and networking a new copy/fax machine along with helping all the new folks access and learn the software, systems and tools, things have been very busy. Once we get fully organized in our space and everyone can work independently, we'll be able to offer first class service and have time to breathe and enjoy our assignments in a very rich and enjoyable way.  Next week we have the quarterly Senior Couples Family Home Evening at the Mission Home. There will be sixteen of us!  It's always a delightful, pleasant evening.

January in Georgia is a daily surprise. It rains like crazy; warms up again; gets gloomy. We've experienced heavy frost on the cars in the morning and wind chills in the teens. We've had several shirtsleeve days while hearing reports from home in Utah of 20-inch snowfall and near zero or below temperatures. We think we picked a good winter to be away from the Wasatch Front. It's winter there for sure!  Two Saturdays ago we took the Halls and Atkins in the mission van for a loop tour of the northern parts of the mission. We saw the mist hiding the waters of Lake Lanier, enjoyed a great lunch in Dahlonega, and looped through the foothills to Ellijay and back.

Last Saturday we traveled with the Atkins to a baptism in the John's Creek Spanish Branch. It was Elder Tarver's first baptism (we've taken him under our wing), and we promised we would attend. The entire service was in Spanish, but we totally enjoyed it.  We plan to attend more Saturday and Sunday baptisms on a regular basis.  From time to time we'll attend our Sunday meetings at another Branch or Ward. It's hard to believe we only have 8 months left, and we want to continue to bond with our missionaries at every opportunity and feel more a part of the "whole" mission and its work.

While it feels there is not too much else that is unique to report, our days are busy and happy. We had more sad, but Christ-like love filled, confidential experiences as more missionaries left for home this past month. We also had an awesome group of very prepared and motivated missionaries arrive.

After a few emergency tests to be sure Elder Connors wasn't having acute gall bladder problems, his health is stable. The tests were part of a frustrating, doctor had no news but sent us to the emergency room for extra tests experience. It felt like a classic TV drama. The hospital was over-crowded; his needs were not urgent, but he was old, with white-coat elevated blood pressure. A simple physician follow-up appointment after an ultrasound lasted from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.! Tests have ruled out all the bad things. He also saw a hand doctor who can't find anything definitive about his deteriorating dexterity. Other symptoms have settled down. We miss our Utah health network! At least we left the passing of a kidney stone this month to our son, Michael, back at home. Ouch! Old age or otherwise, we've resolved to postpone further non-fruitful testing until we get home. Through it all, however, we are happy and very grateful for the many blessings that have kept us safe and healthy and able as senior missionaries. We see the Lord's blessings and care every day!

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