This was a cool week, how often do you get to meet and shake hands with one of the Twelve Apostles?! Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came to the mission so we got to meet with him from 9am-11 on Saturday in Macon. We had to be there at 8, so we had leave our house at about 5:50 am. Since the sisters in Douglas are farther out they came up Friday night and slept over with us and then we all made the trip that morning. Cool little miracle, the elders from Baxley and Alma were carpooling and they ended up being right behind us shortly into the trip. Good thing, because when they were by us their GPS died and they didn't have a charger. Heavenly Father is so aware and really watches out for us, because the elders were able to follow us to and from Macon.
When we got to Macon we (all 200+ missionaries) got situated for one giant picture with Elder Andersen, Elder Giddens of the Seventy, and Elder Ulysses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy. Quite the miracle to fit all of us, haha. I can't wait to see the picture though! It should be on the mission's Facebook page though, so someone can feel free to take a picture of it and send it my way ;)
We had a great meeting with these wonderful Brethren and Sister Andersen who also spoke. It is quite the experience to be in the presence of an Apostle of the Lord and I was so grateful to be able to shake his hand. An experience I won't soon forget! Elder Andersen talked a lot about honesty,integrity and obedience, relating everything to our missions now and showing us how strong of a foundation it is for our futures. It was a very good meeting I'm sad it wasn't longer.
After the meeting the APs were telling us we could all go to the Macon Mall for lunch at the food court, so we did. In our white handbooks it says something about not gathering in large groups of missionaries in public places... don't worry though, there were only 200 of us in one place... ;) haha. Ooops! :) It was so much fun though, I can tell the mission reunions are going to be a blast. Before we all left some sisters went up to the second floor to take a picture of all of us and we all started singing Called to Serve and there were kids and people in the food court smiling and laughing and recording us. Haha. One day I'm going to see us all on Youtube :) Very good, very long weekend of driving. Sister Thomas heads to the mission home on Sunday and home next Monday but I should be getting dropped off in Douglas before they make that trip to Macon because I don't want to go again. Haha. Transfers are next Tuesday so that's already another trip up there and I don't want to make more than I have to ;)
This week will probably be an emotional one, but it will be good. There is also an elder in our district that is going home so tomorrow at district meeting we will be having a funeral. Haha. Sounds like eulogies are in the process of being written and everything :) Sister Thomas will also be playing 'God Be With You Till We Meet Again' as our closing song. Haha. Mission life is so entertaining; or at least to us missionaries it is. :)
Cindy, a recent convert, has an aunt that lives next door to her named Jean. She just lost her son a couple months ago, so she has lost both sons and her husband. She is 81 years old. She's a really strong Baptist and when her second son died Cindy told us she could use some help so suggested that we go and do service for her. We did service a couple times and then on exchanges with Sister Taylor this week we were able to start teaching her about the gospel! Booyah! We started off talking about the Bible and that led into the apostasy and the need for a restoration and the Book of Mormon and so on. Exactly how we had hoped it would go. :) We had some good lessons with her this past week and I am so grateful for them! She wanted to come to church so we went over yesterday morning to help her get ready but she wasn't feeling well. One day she'll be able to come, she is very frail. We actually found out that she's been to a "Mormon Church" once before and she said she liked it, so that's good to hear! Something finally clicked for me in the South too--see, everyone here says they're "saved" and they don't want to hear what we have to say. Jean is one of those who will tell us over and over that she is saved. One guy was telling me last week as well that when he "got saved" he realized his sincere desire to follow Christ; to give up the bad things and really commit to follow Him, not wanting to backslide. In that moment I realized that what these people see as being saved, I see as conversion. A process, but sometimes a defining moment where you make the decision to change yourself for the better and follow the Savior. Most Baptists think it's a "one and done" deal and that it's ok if they backslide because they're saved and can do whatever they want, but I think Jean will be one who will come to understand it more as conversion as I have.
I don't have an update on much that I talked about last week, but the members of the branch that are going through some tough medical things are all doing well as of now. The one that is getting a bone marrow transplant, it's so cool to hear how the procedure works! I'm amazed at medical technology these days, miracles are happening!
We weren't able to meet with Felicia and Cameo or Frankie this week, but we did meet with Carrie! We taught her the Plan of Salvation yesterday and she really liked it. We invited her to be baptized on February 28th. I hope she prays about it and decides to go for it! I love Carrie because she listens to the Spirit. A couple weeks ago when we went by she said she wasn't going to open the door because she was home by herself and she didn't know who it was but she said something told her to open the door. It was us, and we had a good lesson. Then yesterday she said she was really busy and had been doing a lot that morning and was tired, and then she stopped mid-sentence and was like "Oh, why not, y'all come in." Haha. She is the cutest old lady ever :) I feel like we're only teaching people in their 80s and 90s.... haha. What better time to be baptized??! :) Great things are going to happen in this area because there are some pretty fantastic people. I'm glad I am expecting to stay this next transfer! :)
Oh!! Dee Dee, one of the elders' investigators, got baptized this week!!! She got baptized on Tuesday because it was her birthday and she wanted it to be her "spiritually reborn" birthday :) It was so fun! We made a cake and sang happy birthday after she got baptized :) Pictures to follow!
This next week will be crazy as Sister Thomas prepares to head home, and next week I will have a new companion. I'll be excited to tell y'all about her! Have a wonderful week and I will talk to ya next week!
beginning of my letter to Sister Taylor. Can you tell our personalites? :) I love that girl!!!!
Dee Dee's baptism! I love her personality, haha. She asked our branch mission leader to baptize her. Cool experience!
Dee Dee and her husband, Brian. He hates being in pictures...
After our mission conference in Macon, caught up with Sister Gray, Sister Brizzee, Sister Richardson and Elder Tipping from the MTC! The rest of our zone was around there somewhere.