Welcome to Georgia!
What a week! So many things have happened since I last wrote. First of all, I love to serve in Georgia!! I'm in the Barnseville area, and we go to the Thomaston ward. I already love me some Georgia life. So on the plane ride here, I talked with this really cool guy from Kennesaw (more north, sadly out of our mission) but he's a Christian minister and we just got talking and he asked a ton of questions! I don't think I taught him as well as I should have, but I at least gave him the basics of our church. It was cool to just have a conversation and tell each other what we believe. I didn't have a phone, address, or ANYTHING, so I just told him to go to mormon.org and check it out. We told each other we'd go to one another's churches, so he gave me his number, and I passed it along to other missionaries (: 1st contact and I wasn't even in Georgia yet! Whoo!
Sister Malone (the old companion), Sister Watts, and me (the new companion)
So my new companion, as y'all are probably wondering, is Sister Watts. She's so awesome! She's been out for about 13 months, and has been in this area for almost 9, so she's a pro! She's such a good example to me because she just talks to everyone so easily, and ever so slightly slips in gospel subjects. It's awesome! Now if I could just learn how to do that in zhongwen... Speaking of, I'm still studying an hour every day, but it's hard when the only zhongwen I hear is my own. But I really am trying to be diligent because I know I'll need it when I get to Taiwan.
As for people... I've met so many new people this week! I'll just share a few of my favorites. There's Ashley, who is the coolest girl ever! She's the ward missionary and art professor’s TA, and really wants to know the truth. I really like meeting with her. Then Reggie.. Oh boy. So we were planning to meet with him one day, but he didn't show up. As we were walking back to the car, Sis Watts saw this guy with a bright neon sweatshirt that said, "the bible is a cool story bro, tell it again" and she commented on it. Turns out that it was Reggie! So we made another appointment. Talk about perfect timing! Haha so Sis Watts really did like the sweater and insisted that he tell her where he got it. He said Rose's, so we just had to go there and check it out. Meanwhile, while we're trying to find the sweater, we talk to the sales associate about her family and stuff, and set up an another appt. We've already taught her the restoration and she's super interested in learning more! We also talked to the cashier, but we haven't yet met with her. It was just really cool how one miracle led to another because we were in the right place at the right time.
Then my black friends! They all have the same name, so I'll just go by their last name - Brown, Blackman, and West. Brown is the coolest grandpa ever. He came up to the missionaries and told them he needs to be baptized, and when we came to visit him, 4 of his little granddaughters came up to us one by one and said they all want to be baptized! They are the cutest. So we're working on them (: then Blackman also is on date for baptism, and when he started meeting with sis Watts a few weeks ago, he would drink coffee like all day. Now he's down to one cup a day! and he studies the BOM all the time on his own! What a stud. West is also on date for baptism, and when I met him, I just knew that it's people like him that make me so happy to be a missionary. He's trying to figure out how to use the atonement in his life (for more than just sins) and he's just got the strongest spirit, and he’s so humble.
Haha so I think if I say a person is black, then they're black. If not, they're white. Easy enough! So then there's Sis. Henry, a less active tiny old black lady. We were driving by her house one day (again, right place at the right time, just how Heavenly Father works) when we saw an ambulance chillin outside of her house. The lights weren't flashing though, so we thought we'd go in and check on her. Turns out that she tripped over her old, blind, arthritic dog and sprained her ankle. She asked us to watch the dog (like it's going to run away...) while she went to the hospital. First she had to put in her dentures and her doo rag hahah. what a funny lady. So we checked on the dog every now and then, and we had to change the padding that it was lying on. Let me tell y'all, that was the most disgusting, rank, smelly, not to mention Christ-like service I have ever done in my life! Me and Sis Watts barely touched the dog, then looked up at each other and just laughed. Good times on the mish. We had a long talk with Sis Henry though when she got back from the hospital and she does want to come back to church, but she was offended a while back so that's why she quit coming. That seems to happen quite a lot...
We met another family which with all of their relatives, they mostly make up the whole ward, apart from another family, who literally have like 8 family members in the ward. They're so awesome though, and your classic Southern family. Sadly they're moving this week, though :( So they had us over for dinner, along with another one of Sis Watt's companions in Barnesville. So that was fun!
I also met Adam, a guy who's just had a rough life. He's another one that I met and just knew that it's people like him that make me know that I'm supposed to be a missionary. I related to him so well, and knew what to say to him. That is, if he chooses to take my help.
On sunday, I met a man who is apparently an awesome investigator (also black). He comes to church on his own, and even wears a nice suit. Haha he's pretty good looking, and we want to hook him with Sheera, a single black momma that's a recent convert. It could work!
Someone told us that daylight savings was this past sunday, so we accidentally slept in (or woke up early?) and missed ward council, but luckily made it on time for church. Haha that's all I have to say. We’ll figure it out…
As I expected, I was asked to give a talk (luckily I had a few day’s notice) on a PMG topic, so I chose “recognizing and understanding the spirit,” not worrying too much about it. I actually got a lot of compliments, but the one that struck me the most was from Tony, a member of about 6 years. If you just looked at him from the outside, you'd think he was a rough guy with a cross tattooed on his forehead with fire above his eyebrows haha. But he's really the coolest and nicest guy. He came up to me after and just thanked me so much for my talk. He said he works at some trash collecting place, and this lady gave him a tip because he saw him clean up trash that had blown around. He had a feeling he should hug her, and fought it for a while until he finally did. That whole week, he was wondering if it was the spirit, and after my talk (I talked about how in special needs seminary, even just 'good' feelings are the spirit) he knew that it was the spirit. I'm really glad that if no one else got anything from my talk, it touched one person, although we should probably be careful about hugging strangers...
Tonight we're going to some mariachi dinner with members and investigators, and that should be interesting haha. Friday I found out that we'll be able to go to the temple!! Whoo!
I also saw my first cockroach crawl out from under my bed.. and the second one on our study desk.. Luckily Sister Watts isn't afraid of killing bugs.
Well, Georgia is really something special. haha but I do have to say that it's just so different from Utah. At church, everyone wears what they can, whether it's sweats, or a decent shirt tucked out with jeans. But no one judges, and I love that. The lessons are sometimes sketch, but the whole ward was probably a convert at some time in their life, so everyone is always learning. We have to remind people how to pray and start with "dear Heavenly Father" etc. But I love it. Everyone loves Jesus so much, and it's great! We're already on the same page (: We tell them we're representatives of Jesus Christ, and everyone is totally willing to talk. It's so great!
Well, I'm still not totally sure why I'm in Georgia, but I can honestly say that I just love it, and this is a great start to my mission. This has already strengthened my confidence and my teaching skills, and I can't wait for the days to come. Hope y'all have a good week! Love you!
Me and Sister Maddie Giles on the early morning bus to the airport. On our way to Atlanta!