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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, April 14, 2013

Learn, Step, Crunch....and Pray

We will miss watching General Conference with the group of missionaries serving in the Lilburn and Centerville Wards in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Last weekend was our last opportunity to enjoy the setting, and it was a spiritual feast as we listened, took notes, and felt the spirit.  The dynamics were the same - principally missionaries in attendance on Saturday and a few additional members on Sunday. We served Publix subs to the missionaries during the Saturday break. Florence Okuku and Obiri Boateng attended on Sunday; that was happy news.  The investigators that we had hoped would attend did or could not. The Conference messages were powerful and testified of truth. Sister Weiler bore her testimony in Sacrament Meeting today. She and her husband, who is the president of the Lilburn Stake, attended Conference in Salt Lake at the Conference Center. She indicated that the spirit was no stronger there than when their family sits on the front row of our darkened chapel for other General Conference sessions. That's because the Spirit is the teacher. We, too, testify that the spirit was strong and spoke of truth with our small congregation. Can't wait for the Ensign to come out so we can study and learn more!

The mission office couples prepared lunch for all of the missionaries between sessions on Saturday. After our short meal, the young elders and sisters eagerly traveled to nearby Mountain Park Park and came back with several viable contacts! They have only Sunday to complete and report their weekly goal of 70 meaningful contacts per week (10 a day). Zaza had a few tough days after her shoulder surgery. Her daughter-in-law, Laura, came from Austin for several days to help out, and it was a big boost. Don was able to go to Priesthood Session with Ray. Held from 8-10 p.m., it feels very late. Linda finished filing income taxes to end her day. Zaza is doing much better and is able to get out a bit, but must be very careful. She won't begin physical therapy for 8 weeks.

In the past two weeks we've kept busy at the mission office. Two days of leadership training for nearly 40 missionaries brought them to the mission office before and after meetings. New vehicles arrived to complement the increased number of missionaries, but a few weeks earlier than we would like to have received them. It's kept Elder Connors pretty busy. We need to fit them with hitch mount bicycle racks and Tiwi monitoring devices, so they will be ready for the next group of missionaries coming on April 30. Two missionaries had to leave for home for medical treatments. Elder Kampton Youd (Orem, UT, and son of my Aunt Merle's home teacher) re-injured his knee and moved his release up three weeks. He's a great elder who will be missed. Elder Poole hurt his elbow and will return in about 8 weeks after surgery. Another emergency departure got Elder Connors and Elder Atkin up at 4:30 a.m. to get that missionary to the airport. The Halls and Tewalts are busy trying to get six new apartments leased and furnished before next transfers. The paperwork and database work continues to expand with the increasing number of missionaries. We've had lots of phone calls to the mission nurse (especially with extreme pollen counts in Georgia this year - 3rd highest in history). And now it's bicycle mania for Elder Atkin (and his trainer Elder Connors) as they pick up new bicycles in Duluth (usually a 2-hour round trip) and find places to store them. Sweetly there is no rest for the mission office couples.

Well - almost no rest.  Yesterday we finally realized a goal we made to have all the senior couples go on a P-day outing. We picked Tullalah Falls State Park, northeast of Cornelia, as the destination. The ten of us took photos and hiked the rim trails. A few of us walked the 320 stairs down to the suspension bridge and then back up. We couldn't go across the bridge because the south rim was closed for kayakers only so they could transport their kayaks down to the river. A water release is scheduled periodically into the canyon to accommodate kayak sporting, and we fortunately had hit the lucky day. It made for wonderful sounds and photos. The extreme river scenes in Deliverance and several other movies have been shot at Tallulah Gorge.

The Stowells, Lees, Connors, Atkins, and Halls
After our Gorge adventure, we enjoyed a picnic along the gentle upper stream and then drove about an hour to an artist and tourist studio near Clarkesville called Mark of the Potter. There we snooped around the old mill nestled on the banks of the Soque River, watched potters, and shopped. A restaurant dinner was followed by a peaceful two hour ride home on a beautiful evening after a beautiful spring day. The exercise, conversation, and camaraderie were good for our spirits and souls. However, the stair stepping made it a bit more difficult for some of us to get up and down at Church meetings today!  We love and admire our senior missionaries so much!

The crunch from two reports of car damage today followed another expensive repair last week. And why is the damage always to the new cars!?  Two accidents involved rear end bumps, and were fortunately not our missionaries' fault. More fortunately, there were no injuries. Today an unsecured lawn mower rolled off a utility trailer onto one of our missionary cars. It's always something. We're heard that Georgia has some of the highest accident rates in the country. Sounds right to us!

Our prayers this week will include our increased supplications for Brother Tyler Chase. We love the Chases, one of our recent convert families.They have so many challenges, and now Brother Chase had a stroke this past week. He was in our hearts during our fast today. Victoria (the 11-year old) bore a sweet testimony of prayer in our Fast and Testimony meeting today. She got a big hug from Sister Connors after the meeting. The Chase's home teachers and the RS President have really shepherded this family. We are grateful and will add our prayers now and help once visitors are allowed.

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