Hello Family and Friends!
Oh boy do I have stories to tell you all today! :) Are you excited? You should be! Its official, I live in the South, where people say "ya'll" and theres a chapel on every corner. By Chapel I should really say "Church Mall" because I kid you not, some of the churches down here are HUGE they make LDS Stake Centers look like baby cabins. Speaking of church buildings there was one with the following posted on their sign,"Stop, drop, and roll wont save you from the fires in Hell!" Ya.. That's real. Haha! Wow these Churches sure are energetic and excited. :)
The first thing President had us do when we got to Atlanta was ride the "Marta" which is basically their "BART" or "Metro." We were all given pass-along cards, Books of Mormon, and other stuff to hand out. President said "I'll meet you at the last stop, open your mouth, and get rid of the stuff in your hands as much as possible." At first it was nerve wracking to do it but once I got out of my shell it went great, I talked to everyone I could and would move seats to make new friends at each stop. I ended up giving out all but one of the Book(s) of Mormon I had. There was a couple I talked to for awhile who gave me His business card and said "you and your companion can come tour CNN and with me anytime you want. You're a great God-loving person and I'd love to do that for you." So that was fun! :) Share the gospel and make friends!
Before I tell you about my area or companion situation lets do some math.. Last week there were 12 sisters in the mission, there were 6 other sisters that arrived with me. We increased the number of sisters by more than 50%. Next transfer 12 sisters enter this mission. By the end of the year the Georgia Atlanta North Mission will have 96 sisters! How cool/crazy is that! The Lord is really hastening His work and this little mission is sure feeling it. I arrived with the first ever 19yr-old sisters to be in this mission, so president is quite excited!
Lets talk about my area and companions. Ya thats right, I said companions. I am in a tripanionship (there are 3 of us). Sister Blackett came in with me and we were the only two 21yr-olds going to our mission the same day. Kind of funny, the 21yr olds are being trained together, the 20yrolds are together, and the two 19yr-olds are together as well. Then there is one 20 yr old who joined an existing companionship. Hope that made sense. There were 4 available trainers for this transfer.. and 7 sisters to train, how does that work? I'll tell ya! We are all being trained together. CRAZINESS! :)
My trainer is Sister Young from Boise Idaho in the Bachelor/Master Accounting program at BYU. She's awesome, a super hard working and diligent missionary but also knows how and when to have fun. We get along well and are working hard so its great. Sister Blackett studies Sign Language at UVU, she's new like me and is doing well adjusting. She's a little more shy than I am so I have to remember to shut up and let her talk to people on the street :) We are working well together and no complaints so I'd say its great!
I am living in Merietta (sp?). I'm right outside Atlanta and live in the Paper Mill ward boundaries. We live at the edge of the mission.. like I can stand on the side walk and throw rocks into the other Mission.. Thats real. Don't worry Mom, I don't have any spare time to even try it. :) The Ward here so kind, and they sure love their missionaries. Bishop has just now decided that the missionaries need to be fed every night instead of twice a week like they used to, so I'm definitely not going hungry. We are very excited about this, not for the food, but for a chance to get to know the members and hopefully include them more on the work.
There havent been missionaries in the area for awhile so we are starting from scratch. What does this mean? It means we are Harvesting ALL DAY LONG. What is Harvesting you ask? Harvesting is basically contacting/tracting on steriods. Its so scary and SO amazing :) Instead of doing the whole "we're missionaries..." thing, when you are at a door you say something along the lines of "we are representatives of Jesus Christ and if you are willing, we would love to come in and say a prayer with you leaving His peace and blessings on your home." Super bold right? But it actually works sometimes and when it does it is SO powerful. You pray for them and their family after finding out their needs and then afterward try to teach them a little. We are just doing that all day trying to find people who want to learn more about the gospel. Right now we are only teaching 2 people who havent been taught since the last missionaries were in the Area so we are definitely doing a lot of finding, but I love it. :)
A few short experiences:
We met a woman Kylia who was outside spray-painting in her yard and gave her a book a mormon and she wants us to come back this week to teach her. She said 'My brother just joined your church, and never before have I met anyone who lives their religion like him and his mormon friends do." We are glad those whom she has met have been good examples.
Henry Roja was a man who we met on the FIRST door I did my introductions with. He speaks spanish, so I talked to him a bit which was sooo cool :) He was working at the house so we didnt do the Harvesting prayer but we got him a book of mormon and he is meeting with Spanish missionaries. Whether or not he meets them often or declines, it was a great experience.
Keith and Martha live in our complex and LOVE missionaires. We went to meet them on Saturday and they were so sweet, wanted to feed us whenever they could and just have us stop by. Suprisingly the missionaires for the past 7 months actually haven't ever taught them a lesson. So they said they would love to learn more and said they have watched one mormon message before, so we are going to share a lesson with them on Sunday.
Funny story at Keith and MJs, I was smiling and happy even though I was BEYOND exhausted and Keith points to me and says "She's the newby huh?" HAHA Darn! I got totally pegged for being new. At least he thought I was new becuase I was still smiling, happy, and optimistic about the work. And I decided, if that is what makes someone look new, then I'm going to always smile and hope to always look new. :) He has this standing joke with the missionaries that he gives them a screwdriver for protection. And guess who earned the screw driver in our compaionship? Yup. YOURS TRULY! :) Haha that's real. I thought it was so funny.
Anyways, time to go. I love you all so much. I hope to have more experiences to share with you next week but I wanted to just kind of give an overview for this week. I am working hard each day trying to find souls which the Lord desires us to teach the gospel to. The people in Georgia are so nice and all love God and Jesus so much. One last story, I introduced us and this man said "I know Him, He's my best friend, I talked to Him this morning." (He, meaning Jesus Christ). Its so amazing to have everyone say great things about Him and how much they love Him. We never get doors shut in our face becuase we say we are His messengers, its usually only once they figure out we are "mormons." But its still so good and I still love the work we do so much :) Tracting and Finding people to teach is something I need to do my whole mission so I'm happy to do it. I know the Lord will bless us for our efforts and hopefully we can teach more people soon.
Being a missionary is amazing, I love it. I'm doing great. I don't need anything, just keep doing what you're doing :) Letters are always nice, but dont worry if you can't. I love you!
1. My new companions and I.
2. Me doing the famous MTC picture, for mom :)