Monday, April 20, 2015

1 Nephi 3:7

Me with my new companion, Sister Elliot

Georgia is gorgeous! Beautiful tall pine trees, smaller roads, and
lots of rainstorms. We have to watch out for frogs when we go running
in the mornings. St. Mary's is a Navy town with a special Submarine
base. A lot of the Ward members work there. St. Marys is the second
oldest city in the country.

Here is the cake we made for the YW auction. Sister Elliott did most of
it, but I got to be the "sprinkle master." We bought these fancy red
velvet cake sprinkles... I kind of ruined it by pointing out that they
looked like bacon bits, but hey it still tasted good!

First "Red is for Courage" package then "Yellow for Service"
Is blue next? 
It is probably a good thing my focus Christlike attribute for the month is obedience, because it was really, really hard for me to leave Hendricks and come to a new area with a new companion.

"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." 1 Nephi 3:7

This has always been my favorite scripture. I think my mom thought I would grow up and choose another favorite, but this one is always near to my heart. In RS on Sunday I was asked to share my favorite verse and as I read this one it really hit me. God doesn't give us any commandments we cannot fulfill, and then we receive blessings. I know Heavenly Father needs me here in Kingsland at this time for a purpose perhaps only He knows for now, but I am grateful he trusts me to do His work. I was also grateful Dad shared this verse with me explaining that one reason I was transferred might be so I can learn the truthfulness of this verse one more time before I return home. That is absolutely true! 

This week...

Tuesday I was able to finish packing fairly quickly and Sister Gillman and I had a relaxing day including ice cream! I was still in shock that I was leaving Hendricks, but it was a good day. Right after P  Day we had dinner with the Murray's... Maybe we're related! They told us how they met online and Sister Murray had about five men with the last name of Murray from all over the country trying to virtually date her so when this Brother Murray came along she thought it was a scam. Gratefully he convinced her otherwise. We enjoyed being with them and here is my first Georgia Miracle. I was telling the Murray's that I would be going to Georgia the next day. They asked what part. I told them I would be in the St. Mary's area (which I only knew because Mom called the mission office to ask for my address. Otherwise I would have only known I was going to the Kingsland area.) Well Brother Murray said he has a less active uncle who lives in St. Mary's! And his wife is not a member. He thinks they would be willing to come to church! There was a miracle!  We spent the rest of the evening saying goodbye to people.

Wednesday we stopped by the Zielinski's. I brought my flute and Sister Zielinski and I played a little bit together. I think they were disappointed when I told them I wasn't studying music... Oh well. It was fun. Then we headed to Mandarin for the transfer meeting. It was so strange to think that in six weeks I would be one of the missionaries giving a departing testimony. President Craig told us each to pray and study to find our purpose in our new areas so I decided I would do that. 

I was able to find Sister Elliott and we loaded all of my stuff into Bishop Tucker's truck. He and his wife came to pick us up! I just love the Tuckers so much already! They are converts to the church and are so full of love.  Sister Elliott is from Kennewick, Washington. She is going to BYU studying Middle Eastern Studies. She knows Arabic and even did a study abroad in Jordan and went to Jerusalem. She is so smart! During her personal studies she reads from both English and an Arabic Book of Mormon. She is the fourth out of 7 children and says she has too many nieces and nephews to keep track of. She has been on her mission for 14 1/2 months and she also served in Hendricks at one point. Her area was closed when she left and the Elders replaced them. She plays piano and likes to sing and she is 23.

That evening the Tuckers took us out to dinner, and after we picked up some groceries we went to the church for Ward coordination. Apparently our Ward mission leader is gone on a trip traveling across the country... so I may or may not meet him! He has a temporary substitute though named Brother Adams. The Elders in our Ward are the Zone Leaders- Elder Bell and Elder Wall. They are both super nice and I am looking forward to working with them. Elder Wall is from California and Elder Bell is from Rigby Idaho. 

Thursday morning we biked over to a sweet elderly lady's home to help her organize some of her family history work. It was nice to be on my bike (and gratefully the apartment has a bike pump.) and we had fun serving her. We also did service for the sweetest elderly couple named the Ingersons. By this point the members in Kingsland had completely won over my heart! They are so kind and loving and think of others, they just want to take care of you and adopt you into their family. Southern Hospitality is a real thing.  That night we also met the most incredible recent converts- Dan and Priscilla Kirkland.  The sisters baptized them just before I got here. You would think they had been members their whole lives. They have a seven year old girl who can't wait to turn eight in August and a 2 year old girl who is so cute! We hadn't planned to see them that night, but Priscilla texted us asking if there was some kind of "flow-chart" to show the order of the leadership in the church. Yah, she is incredible and she just wants to know everything about the church. We went over and drew a flow chart for her as well as giving her the talk "What is the Blueprint of Christ's Church?" by Elder Callister. 

We had a long weekly planning session on Friday which seems to be normal your first week in the area.  We met with an investigator named Ronnie in the park. He seems to have a lot of questions. It will be good to work with him. He was supposed to be baptized a couple weeks ago, but the sisters found out he is on parole so we have to wait until August when he is off unless he can pay it off sooner. I think it's a good thing though that he will have more time to learn because he really has some interesting ideas. He says God told him he could have Sunday off and not come to church and he has a hard time praying. I think he knows more than he gives himself credit for. 

It seems as though every Ward in the South has a young woman spaghetti dinner fundraiser. Ours happened to be this night. The missionaries get in for free, but we did make a cake to be auctioned. The young woman in the Ward decided to have tacos as an option too... interesting combination, but hey it works! It was good to meet some more members there and I was able to meet some of the Elders gators. We had to leave before our cake was sold (it went for $50) to go to an appointment. Well I misunderstood, this appointment was also a dinner appointment and they made more spaghetti for us! It is a good thing I like spaghetti. The woman we were meeting with has had such a crazy life. She and her husband and his brother live in a motel room with her daughter. It is the saddest thing. It is also the sketchiest area I've seen so far in Georgia. We are definitely going to do our best to plan our visits there for the daytime hours from now on. 

Saturday we planned to do some yard work for a less active sister named Sister Pappas. Well she decided that for service she just wanted us to help her grocery shop. I felt slightly apostate shopping in jeans on a Saturday, but we were able to help her get the things she couldn't from her motor scooter chair. She took us out for lunch after at Sonney's BBQ. I am going to miss the good bbq here in the South!  

We had a hard time getting in our Golden hour (an hour of inspired finding) and I really wanted to get out and find. It's frustrating being new in the area because I don't know where to suggest going or anyone to see, and Sister Elliott has only been here one transfer. So I am learning to balance and apply both patience and diligence. We did get to go to a street we planned to knock on Saturday afternoon! We had a goal to teach one other lesson and find one new gator. Most of the houses were abandoned, no one was home, or they weren't interested, or a huge dog was guarding the door and there was no way to get up to it. On the corner though we met a man named Tyrone. I had seen his cute two year old daughter playing as we drove in and wanted to knock on his door. He was sitting outside watching her and he listened to us. He accepted the Book of Mormon and he became a new gator! God is good! It felt incredible to achieve our goals! 

Right after that we met the Relief Society president, Sister Draper, and a counselor in the Primary, Sister Ingram. They took us to get food and then we delivered dinners to people in the Ward. We learned that the Bishop's wife had cut her hand that morning and had to get stitches. It also meant they hadn't been able to go in the Ward temple trip that day. Sister Draper didn't want Bishop to know she had made the meal herself rather than assigning someone to so we decided to doorbell ditch it. We dropped off Sister Ingram and drove to the end of the caul de sac. As we were driving back to get Sister Ingram, who was hiding behind a bush, we noticed too late that Bishop was standing on the porch waiting to see who would show up. We were caught, but we picked up Sister Ingram and drove away like we didn't see him. We were all laughing so hard. Bishop ended up using the story in his talk the next day so it was perfect timing for him!

It was wonderful to meet more of the Ward on Sunday! Our Ward covers all of Camden County! It's huge, but there are a ton of less active members so the attendance isn't all that high. We have 9:00 church and then Ward Council directly after. We were invited to lunch with Sister Jones, the classiest woman in the Ward. She is so great! She owns two daycares in the area. Here is the second part of my miracle- she lives in a gated community, and guess who else lives in that community! Brother Murray's Uncle Arnold! (If you can remember clear back to the beginning of this novel) We wouldn't have been able to get past the guard if we hadn't had that appointment! So that was great! Sister Jones did feed us some delicious fried chicken, bbq ribs, baked beans, biscuits, the complete Southern works! Yum! We went home and had some time to study before going out for a golden hour... except the street we were trying to find didn't exist! It was an adventure to say the least. Then we were also invited to dinner with the Bartlings (apparently this Ward doesn't feed us much... I'm not convinced). President Bartling is the stake president. He is from Germany and definitely has that strict German air about him. But we had an enjoyable time with the Bartlings and their four sons. The oldest is going on a mission this July. 

We were able to meet with Ronnie again and talked about receiving answers through the spirit. It was a really great lesson in the Murdock's home. Sister Murdock is from Scotland and I love her accent!

Wow, sorry this is such a novel! Guess I just wanted to let y'all experience my mission! Being a missionary is the absolute best! It is hard but it is always worth it. 

Next week I will tell y'all about Mighty Miracle May! Be excited! So many miracles are coming! 

I love all y'all sooo much!
Have a blessed day!
Sister Murray