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, March 17, 2013

Spring is Here

Everywhere we look blossoms are popping out. A hint of the green pollen that will mask our car each morning is beginning to appear. It's spring in Georgia. After a few weeks of chilly, windy days accentuated with frequent rainy days, it's been a beautiful, warm weekend. The changeover to daylight savings time has lifted our spirits despite the fact that we lose track of time and don't get out of the office until 6:30 or so. Nice walks in the park the past two days have led to sounder sleep.

Sister Connors started her Saturday with a wonderful Lilburn Stake Women's Conference. Ray mowed the lawn. Then in the evening our one-hour car ride to Jackson, GA ended after three hours with a beautiful sunset as we drove back to Lilburn. We intended to spend our evening supporting Sister Waterworth and Sister Markowitz and Elder Grimm and Elder Auaea in a fireside they presented in Jackson. We were running late, so checked the Church's website on our cell for the Jackson Branch address as we started our drive. Add to that a 30-mile construction backup on the freeway and we arrived after the fireside's start time.We arrived in Jackson but couldn't find the building! Add to that a 30-mile construction backup on the freeway that caused us to arrive after the fireside's start time. Feeling lost and old-age foolish, we decided to enjoy the sunset and just drive home on back roads. Part way home the thought occurred to us to text the missionaries, but the feeling of calm after a hectic week kept us heading home. We stopped at McDonald's for a shake since we had skipped dinner. Because the shake was overfilled, Sister Connors was blessed with sticky fingers, a large puddle of melted ice cream in her lap, and the need to suck madly to lower the overflowing vanilla foam. We had a good laugh and returned home with smiled on our faced. Life is sometimes just a bit out of sync, but oh, so wonderful!

Postscript: After this post, we learned that the branch was a half block from where both our GPS and cell phone were directing us in Jackson. We simply could not see the sign in the window of the strip mall due to all of the cars parked around the adjacent burger shack. Fortunately the sisters gave us a CD of the fireside so we were able to enjoy it later. It was a branch and missionary pre-Easter outreach with a wonderful outpouring of both member and missionary testimony given in word and music.

Zone Conferences and a disciplinary court in which Elder acted as recorder filled the last week of February. Preparations for incoming missionaries filled the first two weeks of March. We also had another emergency medical release. It's amazing to see the humility and obedience and love that surrounds unplanned departures. The Spirit of the Lord is truly with these young people and sustains them. In two days we will welcome another group of 18 new missionaries; next transfer it will be 24 missionaries and a similar group in June; about two-thirds are sisters. Sister Hall, our Housing Coordinator, and Elder and Sister Tewalt, the local service missionaries from nearby Snellville are very busy locating, leasing, and furnishing apartments. As the missionaries call it, we have lots of "twins" right now - trainers training two new missionaries and several threesomes in companionships/ areas. We are excited to meet and feel the enthusiasm of our next group of new missionaries.

New Missionaries Departing MARTA at the Doraville Station
Our Lilburn missionaries, Elder Miller and Elder Edmunds, are working with several great investigators. We especially love Lila, a bacteriologist with the Center for Disease Control here in Atlanta. She is from Madagascar and exudes love and warmth. She was schooled in Switzerland and her family has lived in France for three years. Lila and the three daughters meet with the missionaries; she is so ready to be baptized but her husband and children are comfortable with their current Church. We've enjoyed our opportunities to help teach and bear testimony to Lila. She feels very conflicted. We are praying the family will soften and that Lila will stick with her baptismal commitment for next Sunday and be an example to her family. We know they all will be blessed.

Last Tuesday we fed three sets of elders; two of those companionships had baptisms this weekend. After a new year lull, the work seems to be picking up. Elder Scothern and Elder Hansen from the Mountain Park YSA branch baptized Robert Meyers yesterday. The Stake Women's Conference and drive to Jackson prevented us from attending the baptism, so we promised to attend Robert's confirmation today. We attended the YSA Sacrament meeting after the Lilburn Block. Robert lives just over the fence from the Lilburn building and spent many hours on the grounds as he grew up when he needed a quiet place. He said he always had a special feeling here but never investigated inside the building until the elders talked to him several months ago. Now he is a very happy member and his once resistant mother is now reading the Book of Mormon. Never give up!  Never assume someone understands or is not interested.

A week ago we took the afternoon of our Saturday to drive to Loganville to take the sisters there to lunch. Sister Bulouniwasa will be flying home to Fiji this week. Sister Sanders who had gone home for medical reasons has returned. Sister Crane is the new sister in the threesome. We decided it was time for a celebration. They had always wanted to eat at the popular Blue Willow Inn in the small town of Social Circle where they occasionally work. So off we went to the historic home reputed to have the best authentic Southern buffet in the area. It was a busy place. The mac and cheese, fried chicken, collard greens, desserts, and other assorted delectables were, indeed, yummy. Favorites for us were the fried green tomatoes! The beautiful mansion was built by one of two brothers; the other brother built a twin home across the street. It is said that Margaret Mitchell had a fling with one of the two brothers and the town inspired her to write Gone with the Wind. Truth or town tale, we don't know, but it was an interesting story. So is the tale of the origins of the town name. Long before the Civil War, travelers found a group of locals standing around a fire and sharing conversation. They greeted them with the phrase "My, this is a social circle." Thus the community of Social Circle was formed.  

As if we hadn't had enough food, we drove to Monroe after returning the sisters to their apartment.. Roy and Millie Coe, our prior counterparts in the mission office live outside Monroe. We had promised to visit them for months, and it felt time to follow through. Surrounded by beautiful farmland and ranch homes, their home sits on a portion of what was once 300 acres belonging to Millie's grandparents. Roy restores and paints cars, and Ray was anxious to see the 64-1/2 Mustang in his garage.

I was impressed with the long-bed truck that was once a rusted relic with no engine that Millie purchased as a flower planter, Roy decided to restore it. But Millie's decorative hand was apparent everywhere. We love this couple! They've fulfilled two service missions, helping both the Atlanta and then Atlanta North Missions. They are now coordinating the Athens Stake Addiction Recovery Program. 

Our Social Circle and Monroe visits made for a great Saturday. We are celebrating one year in the Mission Field; spring has arrived, and we feel a new energy in our hearts!

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