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/

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Warm Hearts

Utah has experienced its coldest January in 65 years. The Northeast US was hit by Hurricane Sandy and now a strong nor'east-er dubbed Nemo buried them this weekend. After a sunny Saturday, it's a "rainy night in Georgia," and Atlanta expects 4-5 inches of rain in the next two days. Our lives and hearts, however, are warm with the love we receive and give each day.

As our day-to-day office assignments continue to keep us busy, we relish those moments of spiritual uplift.  Now that we have several senior missionaries in the office when the work day begins, we have been blessed as we offer a group prayer to start off our day. It brings calm and direction. Just three days ago, our prayers were very specific and answered quickly. Here is the setting: On Wednesday we helped again with preparing , serving, and cleaning up the meal served as part of the Trainer Followup meeting. New missionaries are assigned a trainer, and both the new arrival and trainer follow a Church published "learning" curriculum for 12 weeks. Four to five weeks into the program, they come together for a day of debriefing and additional training with the Mission President. A nice luncheon is prepared (Sister Weiler, our stake president's wife, helps us with the luncheon). Sister Wolfert uses the luncheon as an opportunity to teach the missionaries a bit about etiquette and manners, giving tips that are helpful to many missionaries. So we set up a complete table service, serve and clear the courses, and help Sister Weiler clean up. Sister Hall woke this Thursday morning to realize she had left her wedding rings and bracelets in the ward kitchen after the luncheon. When she checked there upon arriving at the office, the rings were gone. Prayers and phone calls helped us quickly learn they had been found the evening before by the adjacent ward and were in a bishop's office; safe. Tears of gratitude were shed. 

Last Monday evening, Len and Darlene Holladay (originally from Pocatello, ID but Georgians for nearly 20 years) invited the three office couples and several other friends to their home for dinner. The feeling around them is like that with lifelong friends from home. Holladay, UT, is named after Len's family. They just celebrated 80th birthdays. and their family gave them a cruise to the Yucatan as a gift for their 60th anniversary, on February 13 - their "lucky" day. Their home is filled with their own original art, and they can tell stories that will keep a group laughing for hours. They have the most generous and warm hearts. The elders in the Centerville Ward are bike only, and the Holladays are their primary chauffeurs, dinner providers, and helpers. They are marvelous examples of living life to the fullest, in simplicity and generosity. The same characteristics we admire in the Holladays can be found in so many of the friends we have made here.

A week ago we traveled to Jonesboro to have lunch with Elder and Sister Stowell and Elder Chambers (Woods Cross, UT) and Elder Miller. After lunch, we went to the local D&G Mens Store. It's a cross between Mr. Mac and Ross. Elder Connors found an affordable suit to fill in the gap between the one that's too small, the one that fits, and the one that's too large. Elder Chambers started looking (his buttons are so stretched to the limit on his shirt and jacket). It was sweet to see Sister Stowell coach him like a mother. The group dynamics helped Elder Chambers commit to something he had been putting off for weeks. His request for a 42R turned into a good-looking and affordable 46L. Physical growth doesn't stop on a mission! Again, our hearts were warmed by the love the six of us shared in those brief two hours.

Yesterday we were blessed to spend our Preparation Day by attending a training session led by Elder Ulisses Soares, newly called as one of the presidents of the Seventies and the area authority over the Southeast Area. The meeting was in Atlanta, and only about 30 of the elders from the GA Atlanta North mission were able to attend with the many Atlanta Mission missionaries. We are grateful that President Wolfert included the office couples in his list of invitations. We have four Brazilian elders in our mission. Elders Gomes, Moraes, Santos, and Freitas were so elated to be instructed by a fellow Brazilian.

Elder Soares spoke with positive love and energy, counseling about many things. Four of his insights stood out:
  1. Our callings are from God; we are where he wants us to be.
  2. We are representatives of Jesus Christ, as if we carry his power of attorney. Is what we do each day truly represent Him? 
  3. Using God's perfect example as he "created all things" in spirit before He created them on earth, we, too, should plan and work every hour of every day, and also prepare back up and contingency plans.
  4. Be obedient; the Lord always keeps His promises. The work will be hard; but obedience brings blessings. The missionary handbook holds 150 years of experience! 
Another heart-warming outcome of the day was to know that Elder Soares is the long-time friend of Don Clark. In fact, he is Don's protege. Don and Zaza are close friends with Elder and Sister Soares, and when Don heard where we were going, he told us their story. Don convinced Elder Soares to leave the private sector (after joining the Church) and trained him up in Temporal Affairs work. As we helped the Brazilian elders take a photo with Elder Soares, he asked us to tell the Clarks that he would call them at 9 p.m. Although he would have liked to meet them in person, he didn't have enough time for a face to face visit during this, his first, visit to Atlanta in his new assignment.

Now, we saved the best for last in this entry. We participated in another sweet baptism today. Sister Florence Okoku was baptized. She admired the work of the Church when she lived in Ghana and had several online chats on Mormon.org when she arrived in the U.S. She works at night at Walmart with Obiri Boateng, who was baptized about two months ago. He invited her to meet with Elders Hanny and Edmunds, and she quickly recognized intellectually the truth of the Gospel. As she bore her testimony after her baptism, Florence described how the Spirit bore witness to her as she came out of the waters of baptism. She now knows truth in mind and spirit. Sister Connors was sitting next to another investigator, Lila Andriamaromanana (from Madagascar). Tears were flowing down her cheeks as she listened to the talk on baptism given by Brother Matthews. He is another convert from Ghana and a new member of the Lilburn Ward. He has such a strong and articulate testimony. Baptized as a youth in Ghana 21 years ago, he was just received his US Citizenship a week ago. Lila has family we'd love to convert along with her. They will be in our prayers.

Warm hearts today, indeed!  The Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses us in so many ways.

1 comment:

  1. I am so happy I stumbled across this!! I will be joining you in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission, I enter the MTC April 17. I loved reading your blog and the stories that came with it!! Can not wait to meet and serve with you!! :)