Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 16, 2017 - Alma, GA

Hey Y'all!!

What an eventful/adjusting week it has been! I'm definitely not in Evans anymore and the work here is a lot different than how it was in Evans. Sorry I wasn't able to email y'all yesterday, but it was Martin Luther King Jr. day yesterday and its a pretty big holiday here in the south so all the libraries were closed. But on Tuesday I got transferred to Alma,GA! I'm now serving in a branch in the most southeast part of the mission you can serve and it is very southern here. If I stay here the rest of my mission I'll have lots and lots of southern stories for y'all when I step off the plane haha. My new companion is Elder Irons from Roy, UT and he has been out for about 5 months. I'm not a zone leader anymore but I'm the district leader here in Alma.

But this week has definitely been one to remember. It has been challenging mentally and physically but I can tell that this will be one of my favorite areas in terms of growth in my personal testimony and also in my faith.

On Monday, it was my last day in Evans,Ga and it was a very bittersweet moment. I have absolutely loved serving here and it was so hard saying bye to something you have grown so close to. It has felt like home here and saying by to the loving members was like saying bye to family members. We had a very busy night of visiting various members that I've grown close to and even though I would've liked to have visited all the people I had wanted to there just wasn't enough time. This area flew so fast and packing my bags that night was so surreal and it didn't hit me that I was leaving until Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, It was transfer day and we had a very early and brisk morning and got everything into the members car. We got to transfer meeting and found out that I'd be heading to Alma, GA with Elder Irons! I'm so excited to serve here and all the memories that we will have here. I found out that I'd be serving in a small branch and before we left for Alma, President Fussell told us a brief history of Alma and he has high hopes for the work Elder Irons and I are about to undertake here. After a 3 hour drive we arrived in the very very small town of Alma,GA. We live in a really big trailer right down the road from the branch building. We unpacked got to know each other and made goals as a companionship of what we wanted to have happen here. We are in a car share with the Baxley Elders and this week we were on bikes. Elder Showers is serving in /Baxley and it is pretty crazy that we are serving so close to each other again at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of time left on our missions. That night we walked to the small town grocery store here in Alma and walked our groceries back to our trailer 3 miles away both ways, and it was then when I realized that I was not in Evans anymore haha. After getting back to our apartment we rode along the highway that we ride along everyday for the first time and don't worry I wont get hit again haha. Instead of endless buildings and businesses on either side of the road in Alma we have never ending farm land, cotton fields, and country homes built in the 1850's. We saw an investigator that night and got a feel for the small town here. The town here reminds me a lot of Back to the Future.

On Wednesday, I was trying to cope with the change and it has been the hardest change for me because a lot of things are a lot different here than what they were in Evans. Its not a bad thing for the area to be different from another  but there is an adjustment period and I'm working on getting through with that. This day we taught so many people on their country porch rocking chairs and meeting people in the town. Alma is known for blueberries and radio and communications. Right next to the blueberry plant there is dog food plant which makes for an interesting mixture of smells. WE saw a family that we teach go mudding in the creek right next to their house in their ATV. It looked like a lot of fun! We did lots of walking and I was shocked at how much hotter it is down here near Florida than it was in /Evans. I'm not sure if I'll even need my winter clothes anymore on my mission but we will see haha. Throughout the day Elder Irons and I talked and we get along really well. We both want to work really hard in this area and I'm trying to still grasp what we can do with the resources we have. He was telling me how they have to call members from surrounding wards to come serve in different callings here in Alma because they don't have enough active members to support the branch so we are definitely going to make that better after I leave this area.

On Thursday, we drove to Douglas ,GA for Zone Training Meeting and it was a lot different being the one to receive ZTM trainings instead of the ones giving them and organizing them. The trainings were really good and I loved seeing Douglas and meeting all the missionaries that serve here in this zone. There was a quote that I really enjoyed while we were there and it was "You cant invite someone to Christ unless you're already there." I love that because we have to understand and know within ourselves if the gospel is true before you can invite people to live the gospel that we are supposed to live. That night I met the Joiner family and they are a really nice family that know how to live southern. We taught them about the Word of Wisdom and the spirit was really strong as we talked about the ways that we should treat our bodies. They are gifts from God and we should treat them as such.

On Friday, we had weekly planning and after we finished weekly planning we were walking along the road and heard a guitar and a man singing from a gas station and I said to myself "This is the south!" People were waving/ honking their horns at us. Everyone here sees us and respects us, it is a really small town after all haha. We met a lot of different people and all the people we talk to really seem to enjoy our visits and know where the church is at which is really cool.

On Saturday, it was a really memorable day we first went to the nursing home and we called out numbers for Bingo! It was a lot of fun and they were all really appreciative of the service we render and they loved the Spirit that we brought. I met a member and his name was Brother Jones. He loves when we come over and we talked to him a lot about the temple and how we overcome trials and temptation. We walked and walked and walked some more. That night we had a pretty cool moment. We weren't really sure what to do, it was late at night all our plans fell through and we had run out of people to go see. We talked for a bit and decided to try and knock a few doors. After doors slammed in our face we felt discouraged but kept on going. We kept walking and this nice couple asked if we wanted any water. We of course accepted and after they gave us water we talked about our purpose as missionaries, the Restoration, how we gain faith, and our purpose in this life. I cant really explain the experience I had in a way you'd understand fully but what I can tell is that I remember being there before even though I had never stepped foot on the place we were at. The field behind us and the people we talked to felt so familiar but I couldn't figure out why. I knew God put us there to talk to those people and it was a really fulfilling moment. We were walking back home late at night and this random man saw us and picked us home to take us back. God looks out for us and answers prayers.

On Sunday, we were all shocked to see the stake presidency in Alma and come to find out that the branch presidency was released and we were getting a new presidency. No one knew about it and it was quite the change. God definitely answered our prayers because we were struggling to figure out what we should do here in this area to make the branch bigger and with the new presidency things are coming in line.We went to our investigators home later that day and while we were teaching them their 2 year old kid quietly comes into the room holding something brown above his head in his hands. We all didn't know what it was but was he got closer to was a cockroach and the expression on the kids face made for a funny occasion haha. That night we had a parting fireside at President McDowells home and it was weird to get to know someone for a brief moment and then he was released a few days after you met him. We are really excited about the miracles that will come to pass here and big things are fixin' to happen here down yonder in Alma,GA!

I LOVE Y'ALL and I'm excited to be here in Alma, GA

-Elder Hill
#Alma  #Southernstateofmind

Sunset Alma, GA

Alma, GA

Got Some Goats!?

Town Center Alma GA.

Run over opossum.

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