So there's a country song and in it the guy sings "It's like comin' home!" and I love it and it's totally how I felt this week! This week was so awesome, I got to go back to my home (first area in the mission field) ALBANY! Usually exchanges aren't my favorite but this week I LOVED IT! :) Oh it was so much fun. I got to see Mary who was baptized while I was there and I videoed me running up and I just love her laugh so I hope the video sends so y'all can see. I got to be with her for a little bit and found out Sister Isberg who I love to death is going to be her escort through the temple in May! Ah!!! I'm so excited!!! Then I got to see Sister Oldham and she is in a rehabilitation center right now for 100 days and they're trying to help her to walk again. Cute old Sister Oldham, she'll be 82 this summer :) I was happy because SHE was happy--she hasn't laughed in a long time and at that place she is just so happy. Still a trouble-maker, haha. She said it was good we took pictures together, now she has something to throw darts at. Hahahaha. I freaking love that woman!!! Then I got to see the Goodmans again when they fed us at the church which was great, and Elder Weigle who served around me in Waynesboro is serving there. He's the one I put salt in his brownie to get him back so I made brownies again. Haha. Hesitantly he did eat one of them ;) So fun. And then the greatest miracle of all--I got to meet the guy I have been waiting to meet since JULY! His name is Brother Cartmell. He is the brother to Brother Cartmell in Waynesboro. I hope they don't mind me using their names because I'm about to retell the story that is one of the greatest miracles I've seen on my mission. Here's the rundown:
So when I got to Waynesboro, Brother Cartmell was telling me how they didn't completely understand why they moved to Georgia from Utah. He thought it was to help his nonmember family members learn more about the gospel and I guess before he left his brother, who lives in Albany, said maybe before he works on them he should work on his less-active brother. Anyway, a lot was happening and Brother Cartmell in Albany wasn't active and Brother Cartmell in Waynesboro said he really needed a priesthood blessing for health issues and said if he didn't contact the elders then he would himself. And there's me sitting there, who just got transferred from Albany to Waynesboro, who just so happens to know the elders' phone number. Not to brag, but I'm pretty good with memorizing numbers so I had a lot memorized at the time of missionaries and investigators and such so I just gave it to him. So Brother Cartmell in Waynesboro called up the elders and they talked right then while I was there. Brother Cartmell in Albany ended up meeting with the elders and had the sisters over as well and things just took off from there. He has turned so much of his life around and it is absolutely incredible to see. I kept telling Brother Cartmell from Waynesboro that I really wanted to meet his brother and what do you know--I've been in Hazlehurst for 7 months and this week I had the opportunity to go to Albany and meet Brother Cartmell. Our sister training leaders who we do exchanges with used to be in Douglas but changed to Albany-coincidence? Not even close. Heavenly Father is so wonderful. So when I went to Albany Brother Cartmell took some pics with me and sent them to the Cartmells in Waynesboro and it was such a fun time. I had him sign my airplane book and in it he wrote that I am one of the reasons he returned to the gospel. I don't think anything could have made me feel happier than that did. Seriously, that is one of the greatest miracles of my mission and something I will NEVER forget. One reason I came on my mission was to meet the Cartmells-ALL of the Cartmells. As we were leaving the church building we wanted to take one more picture and Brother Cartmell said we should go outside by his favorite wall--and then laughed at me for falling for it. He has switched his phone to record and given it to Sister Ward and she counted "1...2..." and then Brother Cartmell was like "3!" and drilled me with silly string.... hahaha. They are brothers!!!!! :) But then Sister Ward, because she's the coolest ever, remembered she had silly string in the car and snuck it to me and so I got him back. What a great night... :) It was so much fun. Sister Ward knew he was going to get me way before I got to Albany but I'm glad she sided with me at the end. Pictures to follow! :)
To end the night we had Sister Payton pick us up and we went to see the Porters again. I love that family! Natalie was the little girl we baptized last May. The missionaries had stopped seeing them and Sister Ward had never met them. I honestly think me going back was what was needed to get the sisters' feet back in the door. I hope they all progress again. Things really did come full circle and it was such an incredible night. It was hard to say goodbye again, but almost a little easier, knowing if I could come back once, one day I'll get the chance to see them again.
I have even more great news--one of the members here in Hazlehurst, Jerry, he's had a major battle with cancer and it's been a roller coaster since I got here. He went to Atlanta in December for a bone marrow transplant and a lot of things they were doing were going to be experimental. He was supposed to return home in April and things were not looking good last week. But by the grace of God and many miracles, Jerry and his wife returned to their sweet six children last week. Their oldest is 12 and they have twin 3 year old boys. Jerry is only 40 and it has been.. I don't even know. Emotional. He is such a major part of this branch and community we couldn't afford to lose him. I can't even tell y'all how extremely happy I am that he is home!! He came home and we had 59 people at sacrament meeting yesterday-FIFTY-NINE!!! That is outstanding I think the most we've had since I've been in this area was around 53 one or two weeks. We've been down around 40 lately. Everything about it was just a miracle, and nothing short of it.
Oh and I decided I think Charlene is bipolar. Not to be rude at all, I really think that. I wanted Sister Wood and Sister Countryman to see her while on exchanges because I know she's attached to me and I wanted to see how she would react to missionaries if I wasn't there. Well I guess she freaked out a little on them but we went to see her when I got back and then everything was fine. She even said she'd be walking to church! And she did!!! Someone stopped and offered her a ride and she declined--what?! So I decided I'm not even going to worry anymore about her. Some days she freaks out but it always passes and then she's fine. So I will just leave her be on that one :) It was a major relief though.
And lastly, Paula! They had a super cool miracle with her daughter on exchanges, gave her a Book of Mormon and her daughter said she felt something good she's never felt before and all this wonderful stuff--Paula said she saw her daughter do a complete turn around and isn't as worried about her anymore. She slept better and her daughter may be moving to Florida with her fiancee but we assured Paula there Church is there too and I think things will work out great. Paula said she was nervous to ask us something because she didn't want to make us mad but we told her we could never be mad at her. She wants to get baptized but she asked if she could move the date. Well of course! It's your date, hahaha. A little farther off than we wanted, but she asked about getting baptized on August 10th because that is her mother's birthday and her mother passed away. We told her of course and were just so happy for her! Lives are changing here and it is so so so so wonderful to see and be a part of. I love it!!
I hope y'all had a spectacular week as well, and I hope you are getting stoked for General Conference! The Women's Broadcast is this Saturday, don't miss it!!! Oh I'm so excited!! Two General Conferences in the area of Hazlehurst, how cool. I'm excited. As you can probably tell :) Enjoy it though, I'll talk to y'all next week! :)
All my love,
We did Peaches to Beaches! It is one giant yard sale all the way down Golden Isles Expressway. All the way to the coast. We didn't have as much success as the missionaries last year because we didn't pay to set up where the main event was, but it was still fun!
Paula and I :) She came to church this week and it was great!!!
I love considerate people who leave us notes to cancel instead of just blowing us off! :) See, even when you don't have a phone you can still let us know nicely :)
This is Elder Allen in our zone, he went to Riverton!!!! He's a year younger than I am, but he took Wilson's class! He knows who dad is, but never took any of dad's classes
I love it when people have pictures and statues of Black Jesus's... :)
This is the wall space by my desk. When I put all the quotes up Sister Wood asked if I did that to rebuke her since she's the only one that can see it behind my head. Yep! You bet I did. :)
Another note from our investigators :)
This note is STILL on the fridge in Albany! I wrote that for Sister Turner, my trainer! Hahaha. Good thing I didn't write her name on it or they probably would've taken it down :)
Quote I liked in Sister Countryman's room
This is common in Georgia-signs that say "Quiet or Slow, death in family"
Another quote I liked
It was April's birthday this week--she had had a bad day but I think our brownie with candles made her a little bit happier :) She was like "the only thing is I'm 28.." We were like "Oh we know! But we only had a 2 and a 0 for candles. So happy 20th!" Go younger not older, right? :)
Mary!!! Love her! :)
Brother Cartmell in Albany!!!!! Finally!! He didn't know where to put his hand, hahaha
Silly string attack. Well played Brother Cartmell, well played.... Both of them. 'Cause I know the other Brother Cartmell was in on it..