Saturday, October 18, 2014

Oct. 13, 2014 Back in Eugene!

Clap! Clap! Clap!

So this week was pretty great. I was right about the hills being fun, but we haven't ridden our bikes yet, we just got them in shape and ready to go today.

I do love being a missionary. I'm loving this crazy awesome city of Eugene. My companion is very cool, very humble and hardworking and fun. I've already met such great people here. To me now, that's what missions are mostly about, the relationships of love we forge with the people we meet. That's how we help God to bless the lives of His children and spread His message far and wide, it happens naturally as we seek to love everyone we meet. Looking back on the areas I've served in, I can't hardly believe that I spent the time there that I did. I don't remember putting in those hours. But when I remember the relationships I built, I know that didn't happen overnight.

We meet a sweet black man named Ronzel who joined the church not too long ago, he just got Sunday's off work so he came to church with us after an ecclesiastical recess of sorts. We also met a super awesome investigator named Maria, a young Hispanic mom who has been reading and enjoying the Book of Mormon, and has been thinking about coming to church. We met a bunch of other people that I'll probably tell yall about later ya hear?

Today was cray cray so sorry this email is short!

Elderly People

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Oct. 7, 2014 Into the Jungle

Hey Guys!

I have been transferred away from lovely little Lakeview, back to the thickness and greenness of the one and only Emerald City. This time I'm in the Eugene Stake and Eugene Zone itself! Right in the heart of weirdness. Eugene 1st Ward to be precise, the ward the mission home is in. President Russell is in my ward! I probably won't see him too much
though, but more than in Lakeview. I didn't know until I got here yesterday just how gorgeous the city of Eugene is. Our area is all twisting verdant forested hills with the perfect mix of pines and deciduous trees, interspersed with large beautiful homes. Now when I say all hills I mean ALL HILLS. And not rolling ups and downs, but ridiculously steep mountainous monuments of hills that no one in their right minds would actually build a road on. Biking is going to be fun.
But yeah it's gorgeous. And still warm! The Klamath Falls area was getting cold and autumnal but Willamette Valley temperatures are still moderate and awesome. It's not even rainy!

My companion is named Elder Shaw and I just have to say, he's really awesome. I'll go into more details later. The weirdest part though is that when I came from Santa Clara to do the whole training thing and get Elder Porter, I stayed the night with Elder Shaw and one other
elder in this same apartment, we even went tracting in his apartment complex so I already know some potential investigators. It's strange, but super awesome. I know the Savior has directed me in each spot I go to in my mission, I often think I'm way more blessed than I deserve. Whatever circumstances I'm in I tend to think are the best, not that they're better than someone else's circumstances, but that they're the best for me at this point in my life. I know I'm meant to be here.

Love you tons!
Elder Georgia

Sept. 29, 2014 Fishers of Men (Bobbing for Apples)

Hello beloved personas!

This was a very eventful week, and most of it had to with apples.

It's definitely fall.  We helped the Christleys make apple butter, we cored and peeled and cut the apples and then put em in to bake! It smells so good while it's cooking! Then on Saturday we helped them make apple cider which was LOADS of fun, the perfect Autumnal activity, I highly recommend we buy a cider press. :) Or make one! Theirs was actually homemade! I will send a comprehensive picture report on the process.

This week was Elder Porter's week to take over every planning and teaching situation!  He did great. He has more to learn! But so does everyone else. President Russell challenged Elder Porter to hand out 2 Book of Mormons this week. We hadn't had much success with that here (a very small community with quite a few churches, most people have been trained by their pastors what to say), so we went tracting a lot, but we hadn't passed any out until Saturday we met a Hispanic family who were Catholic and couldn't read English, we told them we would be back with a Spanish one (we have a whole box) and they said they would take it. We didn't get over there on Sunday for reasons I will name later. Elder Porter's a little disappointed we didn't meet our goal, but I told him that the point of goals isn't to reach your goal, it's to make you stretch. And we did! We worked harder at finding than we would have otherwise.

Todd and Victoria are a great young couple with a few kids, but they're not married yet. They're a little rough around the edges, but they're just really good people. You can see kind of a light in their eyes. They're a little hard to pin down, but we just dropped by early in the week and they were there. Todd has quit his job which will make it easier to get in to teach them, but now he needs a job. So when we dropped by they were glad to see us and asked if we wanted to have a lesson then, (Elder Porter was a little uncomfortable because we didn't have anything prepared, but! We need to be ready to teach when we find and find when we teach! So we read 3 Nephi 18 with them, talked about prayer, and challenged them to pray in their families! It's cool because they have very little religious backing or education, but they really want to understand the things in the scriptures and they recognize the Spirit it brings.

We helped an older couple in the ward paint their house, and got pizza in return-always a fair trade.

Wednesday night we went with the single young man who actually attends every meeting to clean up fallen apples at an elderly member's home. We went in pros which was a bad idea, messy rotten apple gunk on your favorite leather shoes is not a good combination... and afterwards we went back to the church and learned how to tie paracord! So now I have a nice rainbow bracelet.

We weren't able to teach the Stockers, but their little baby was sick, she didn't sleep for two days and neither did her parents. They asked us on Saturday to come and give her a blessing even thoughj at that point she was doing a lot better, so we got the Bishop to give us a ride down there (because we're out of miles and it's in Cali), and I had the sniffles so I didn't want to touch the baby (I put my hands on top). It was realy nice. They were very appreciative. We're planning on watching one of the conference sessions with them.

So Saturday I was sniffling and sneezing, but I wasn't the one who was sick the next day. Sunday morning Elder Porter woke up at 3 am with the flu. He was not doing well. I gave him a blessing before church, but during Sacrament we sat in the foyer so he could run to the bathroom every five minutes. I had to talk to a few people after they got out, so people kind of clustered around Elder Porter commenting on how terrible he looked, how he was probably dying, and ho he should just go home and sleep. So that 's what happened. I had great intentions of cleaning the whole apartment and reading a ton in the Book of Mormon (we're reading it as a mission before the end of the year), but I didn't accomplish much before I fell asleep on a chair. It's too boring just sitting around. Luckily we had an ex army medic in the ward who gave us some advice and brought soup and propel for mi compy, and another member brought us dinner, so it was good. I had to drag him out for....

Bro. Christleys Baptism!!!!!! It went so well. He was just so happy. And everything became so complete now that they're fully members of the church and are now looking towards the temple. I was a little bit nervous as usual, but he went under great, he made sure to hold his beard down. The talks were really good, I picked the hymns, but I was very touched by my selection (cough cough not prideful), especially when we sang I Feel My Savior's Love, because it was just what the Christleys have covenanted to do, "He knows I will follow him, Give all my life to him." The only downer was that Elder Porter was still a zombie. Josh didn't really want him in the confirmation circle on behalf of his zombie-ism, but I knew he would rather be in it, so I insisted. I had him stand on my right side so his hand would be on my shoulder and I put my hand on top of everyone elses and had Elder Porter put his hand on mine so we wouldn't infect anyone else. For refreshments the Christleys brought brownies and cider, which was a huge hit. We got to take a full jar home! :D

This morning Sister Collins, who's kind of a matriarch of the ward, gave me a piano lesson! She gives them free to missionaries. It was fun. I'll be a pro by the time I go home! Though it may be the only lesson I get from her (transfers are a week from today, just a heads up).

And lastly but not leastly, Elder Kleinman called this morning to tell me the Red Yellow Green report had come in, and I'm a red driver, which means I can't drive again for the rest of my mission. I was so happy. Aren't you proud of me? To give you some context, when you get enough Tiwi violations your score goes from green to yellow. The first time this happens you are given a warning. That happened in White City on my birthday. A huffy Elder Rout called to tell me happy birthday and stop driving so bumpy. Miles driven without violations improve your score and get you out of the yellow zone. A second yellow violation comes with a driving probation of about 45 days. This happened in Brookings on the long stretches of windy coastal road and probably had something to do with me being transferred to Santa Clara 6th, an all bike area. So when I got a car again in Lakeview I was determined to drive my best! I did great the first two or so months, but then they decided to switch our cars and I got stuck with what I believe is a demonic hypersensitive tiwi. On the way back from a Zone Conference in Medford the GPS took us down a windy back country road with very sharp corners. These corners had suggestions for lower speed limits but I had never payed much attention to those, so pretty much ever time I turned a corner I heard, "Aggressive Driving". It was bad. So Elder Kleinman warned me I needed to shape up my act, and I tried, but stupid little things kept happening (stupid little things usually equaled deer), and finally I came to my third yellow violation which puts you down to red which means you struck out. Now! To make it even better, almost a year ago we had a month where the whole mission was green drivers, no one was in the yellow. This had never happened before! In any mission! Salt Lake was shocked! For Zone Training the Kleinmans provided green frosted sugar cookies for every missionary in the mission! Furthermore, I cannot imagine the vehicle departments shock as month after month, the whole mission stayed green. We had to be the poster child for missionary driving worldwide. And every month we got green cinnamon rolls, brownies, muffins, whatever they could come up with. All that kept up until.... This morning. I single handedly broke the roll we were on. Now I will go down in infamy (at least in Elder Kleinman's books) till the end of time. But I'm honestly so relieved to not drive any more! :D

Anyways that was a long rant, but I like our mission culture. It's the best.

So it was a great week! I hope yours was too!

Elder Georgia-Pacific

Sept. 22, 2014 Happy Days

Dear Familia y Amigos,

We recently got the news that Bro. Christley, who had his name removed in the past does need to be rebaptized so that's happening on Sunday! He is sooooo excited.

Our investigator, Jessica, won't be baptized this Saturday. She's going through some hard stuff and hasn't been able to keep her commitments.  We also haven't really been able to teach regularly. Nevertheless we will continue to work with her!

The Stocker family though is doing so well. They've come to church twice, even though he said he wouldn't come if he didn't feel well, and he didn't, but he came. They also came to the ward barbecue and had fun. Sis. Stocker accepted Visiting Teachers even though she's not a member! She even shared a Mormon Message on Facebook from the church's page. She seems to really want to be associated with the church, so we're way excited for her.

This is week 11 of the training and Elder Porter is going to to take the lead in every teaching and planning session! It'll be good. We'll see if he's ready to train muahahaha!

Wellllll I llllllllove you!

Ellllllllllder Georgia

Sept. 15, 2014 Ah Ha!

You Family types are so awesome. Keep up the good work!

Lakeview is fantastic. There's so much joy among the members here.  Going to church is the best. Especially this week because the Stocker family came!

We met the Stockers about a week after we got here, he's been a membersince he was a young man, but his wife is Catholic. She's from the Philippines so I always think of Elder Antig. They have an eight year old daughter and a little tiny baby that was born prematurely but she's doing great now. She's going to be a genius baby, you can tell just from looking into her eyes, she holds eye contact really well. So the Stockers are really awesome, they live on the state line so it's really hard for them to make the almost half hour drive to church.
Bro. Stocker has a strong testimony of the gospel though. They also keep really busy so after that first visit we hadn't been able to meet with them till Saturday! But we had a super great lesson about modern prophets and how their teachings and the gospel bless families. We're going to give them a Family Proclamation next time we see them. Sis. Stocker really likes what she's learned from the missionaries so far and really wants to know more. They're golden, but busy.

Did you know that Lakeview is the earthquake capital either of Oregon or of the US? I can't remember which. I bring it up because there's a very suspicious and pretty strong tremor going on right now. Big earthquakes are very rare, but there's almost constantly little tiny earthquakes that you usually can't feel. Sometimes at night I think I feel them. There's like an average of twenty earthquakes a day or something crazy like that.

We helped Jessica with her garage sale this past week because she got called in to work and couldn't get anyone else so we ran it for a few hours in the morning. That was weird, but kind of fun.

The Zone Conference on Tuesday was really awesome. They introduced a new online proselyting tool: Facebook tracting! We go to the Facebook pages of local attractions or businesses and stalk the people who like them and send them introductory messages and try to teach them online! It's awesome. We haven't had too much opportunity to do it yet but I'll let y'all (sorry, my Lakeview is coming out) know how it goes!
Lovey Doves!
Elder Georgia

Sept. 2, 2014 Fair Fair

Dear Deer,

So this week was fair week! That means the whole town shuts down and everyone gets busy with fair preparations. The fair ran Thursday to today and everyone was there. Missionary work was very sparse. So how did we use all the extra time? Well, we went to the fair of course!

Thursday morning we helped the 4H judging of the artsy stuff, the photographs, the baking, the quilting, the random crafts, and so forth. We checked in all the kids and youth and made sure their entries were ready to present to the judges. It was fun.

Friday and Saturday evening we directed parking at the main entrance. The fair was free, but parking was 5 dollars so we collected money and gave people passes and stuff. It was neat to see a lot of the people we knew from town, to chat with them a bit, and to get to know some more people. I think in such a small town to see us being of service was fantastic, it really opens the people's hearts to us. But by the end of the week it was like, aaugh we need to do real missionary work! So I'm glad it's over.

Yesterday we taught the youth a mission prep class to the youth during third hour. We had done it in Brookings and it was a smashing success so I had the thought to do it here. We had dinner with the Ward Mission Leader and he thought it was a great idea so we went to the young men's leader and he thought it was a fabulous idea so we went to the young women's leader and she liked the idea so we went to the Bishop's and he thought it was a good idea so we did it (it says a lot about the area that we could walk to head of each auxiliaries house and meet with them in under an hour). We only had two youth from the ward, but because of fair there were three visiting youth so it was good. Then we went with Bro. Voelkel, the previous stake president, to the county prison. I don't think I told you about this before, but we've gone the past three weeks. It's a low security prison, the inmates just run around in the big outdoor courtyard and play basketball and stuff, but it's been an interesting experience. The first week we had four men in our little church group, the next week one had been released, and yesterday another had been released so we were down to two. It's two hours and we have two lessons. We say a prayer, sing a hymn, then an inmate teaches one lesson and usually one of the brethren who visit them teaches the other, but yesterday we taught them a missionary lesson, the Plan of Salvation. It was really neat to read and discuss from the scriptures the principles of Gods plan for us that these men understand so well. They know a lot about the atonement and agency and justice and mercy and spirit prison. But that was probably the last week we can go without going through an extensive training program, which we just don't have time for.

This morning being P-day we went to the parade! We got to go on the Christley's summer reading program float and blow bubbles and throw candy. It was great. Did I tell you Sis. Christley does the summer reading program? But it's way more fun than our library, it's more of a summer reading activity group with one for teens and one for kids. That's why she did the stick bomb and stuff.

Oh and I got the cookies! They were quite alien again, but very oddly delicious. I love them!

Love love love,

Elder Georgia

Aug. 25, 2014 Stick Bomb

Dear Family and People,

We got to take part in a Guinness world record!

Sis. Christley put it on at the library with her teen reading group and she asked us to help kind of as ushers (our official title was Stewards). A stick bomb is a kinetic chain reaction made of tongue depressors woven together which creates a lot of tension. When one is pulled the tension releases and the whole thing blows up. It was created by the Kinetic King who showed it off on America's Got Talent. Sis. Christley got him to come down and help the kids dominate. The record was for the most sticks used, and we destroyed the last record AND the next upcoming attempt. It started in one room that was filled with 12,000 sticks woven in a grid-like pattern that blew up in a sweet wavey motion, then it went out of the room in three different paths known as cobra weave because as it detonates the chains rear up then explode. Only 15 sticks did not detonate. We beat the record just with the 12000 in the one room. It was awesome.  See the article here.

Aside from Guinnessness, it was a good week. Sis. Christley's son is here so we're including him in the new member lessons, hopefully he'll read the Book of Mormon like his mom and find out how true it is! We taught Jessica twice this week and it was good but her kids are crazy. It's actually a new transfer and Elder Porter and I are setting some great goals. We plan on filling the chapel by the end of this six weeks, we were probably spurred by the sadly empty chapel yesterday.

This week we're volunteering for Fair, because everyone will be there anyways. It'll be fun.

I saw a garden on Facebook. You have a garden?? How does it survive?

Say hi to Virginia for me!

Elder Georgia