Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 23, 2017 - Alma, GA

Hey Y'all!

This last week has been quite memorable! Many memories were made with the weather, finding our new investigator Austin who I'll tell you about in my email, but its been a week I'll always remember! I'll write about it in my letter but on Saturday night Elder Irons and I woke up a few times during the night hearing the lightning crack and the trailer shake from the thunder. I got up around 3:00 a.m just to see what was happening outside and it sure was stormin'. It was wierd because the storm would go really hard for about 15-20 minutes and then all of a sudden stop so I stayed up til I thought it was over but we woke up to gusts of wind and hard rain. They ended up canceling church, but I'll tell you the rest of what happened in my letter. But yes I'm alright, our trailer survived we just had 6 inches of water around our entire trailer, but there wasn't any damage. However we heard that 11 people died in the southeast part of Georgia and so I'm grateful we didn't experience anything too bad. There are really good chances I'll see gators down here we just have to go to the sticks to find them but I'm sure I'll see some in my time here. Being in a trailer is pretty fun! Its a double wide and double long trailer and we cleaned it all out this past week so there isnt any random missionary stuff laying around but its just everything we need. I'm sorry y'all are sick and I hope you get better. I'll be prayin' for ya! There's alot more I want to talk about with the storm but I'll save that for my letter haha, but yes I'm safe and happy! Its too bad USU lost but theres always next game!

On Monday, we hada pretty fun P-day where we went to Brother Flowers home and played basketball with him! He's a U.S history teacher and used to play basketball as much as I did when he was younger and we bonded really fast! It was fun to play against people again and I just love the game! That night we got picked up by Brother Jewells who was taking one of his friends home and it was a single-cab truck so he asked if we could sit in the back and we didn't really see any other choice than to sit in the bed of his truck. I felt so southern when we were riding there and it was a lot of fun! We had dinner with them and had a great lesson on the Restoration they said they the missionaries had asked them about baptism in the past but over the course of transfers we had lost contact with them and didn't know they were progressing that much. But we found out Sister Jewell wants to be baptized so we are working with her on that!

On Wednesday, we did lots of walking and talked to as many people as we could. We found some people that were really interested but we never would've known that if we would've not talked to them. Sometimes we see missionary work as being awkward or you feel you have to preach to them, but a more effective way is definitely by showing them that you're their friend and you want the best for them. Making a friendly connection with them at first will always allow them to feel the spirit because they realize that you aren't doing it for yourself but you're doing it for them. The more interest you put into peoples lives the more friends you will have and by serving them, getting to know them, or relating to them will help them be interested in what you have to say. After a good day of talking with people we were walking back to our trailer for dinner and saw that the new presidency were having a meeting and a we sat down with President Peterson and we were able to understand more of what he wants from us and how he thinks the work will progress here so that this branch will grow. Its definitely a daunting task but everyone is on board with making Alma a progressing area!

On Thursday, we started the day off by helping Sister Rewis with raking here pine straw and leaves in her yard. It was a very big project and she hadn't raked them in a year and a half so there was quite the pile when we were all done with it. Even though it seemed like we would never get it done, in a total of three hours of labor we were able to make a big difference for her. You could just see on her face how happy the service made her and she was very grateful that Brother Taylor, Sister Taylor and us were able to help her out with that! Later that afternoon we went to the library to look at referrals and when we walked outside there was a guy in his truck waiting for his mom to come out of the library. His name is Austin and he is something special. After we talked to him a little bit he expressed to us how much he wants to know about the truth and the Restoration. Elder Irons had met with him briefly on Thanksgiving but then lost contact with him. Austin recognized us and invited us to come over on Friday to tell him more about the church and what we believe. I'll tell you what happened on my entry for Friday and Saturday, but just know that by small things great things shall come to pass and Austin was someone that Elder Irons and I were supposed to meet here. We spent the day finding and teaching people. The people here are really friendly and they always mention how we are always walking/ biking around and they express how much they appreciate young men who dedicate two years of their lives to teach what they know. That night we went to a place called Nichols, GA. A very small town and I learned there from different people that its the #1 cocaine capitol of Coffee county so I could tell its not the best of neighborhoods.We met with this man named Arley who had a stroke and lost feeling in the right side of his body and throughout our meeting with him I just was grateful for my body and the abilities I can do with it and that's something we all take for granted sometimes. We met with a few other people who lived out there that night including Sister Adams. She is a very faithful member but because of health conditions she isn't able to come to church as much as she'd like. We dropped in when they were having dinner and they invited us to eat some pork, collard greens, beans and potatoes. Classic southern meal! The lesson was based on Christs Atonement and what he did for each and every one of us. Without Christ we wouldn't even be able to make it back to Heaven which would make life here on earth unpurposeful because we would account for what we have done here but because of Christ we can be made whole again spiritually and physically.

On Friday, we had weekly planning which was good but the afternoon was a day I'll always remember. We had a lesson with Austin scheduled for 3:00 but while we were walking we saw a man who we thought we should talk to and we were able to give him a Book of Mormon but because of our lengthy conversation we were going to be late for our appointment with Austin. We decided on the walk there we would call him. What we didn't know is Austin prayed that we would come to his home after we became 20 minutes late, and as soon as he ended his prayer we called him saying that we were on the way and he knew it was an answer to his prayer! The lesson was remarkable, he had read the Restoration 20 times and even before coming over knew it was true. He was intrigued when we talked about a falling away from the truth and how those truths were restored. In the beginning of lesson the thought of temples came across my head a number of times and normally we don't talk about that til the Plan of Salvation but after I had talked about how temples are the closest place on earth it was like an answer he'd been waiting for all his life. He knew we came from somewhere before this life but no one could tell him for a surety that we came from Heaven. He told us pointing to the Logan Temple..."I'll be there one day...!" We all felt the spirit and he wanted to read the Book of Mormon all in one night. The lesson was so spiritual and he accepted to be baptized on February 18th!! The lesson we had with him was for 21/2 hours but each moment was filled with the spirit. He is so prepared and it testified to both of us that because Elder Irons and I have lived in such a way we were able to teach him and bring him this happiness. We are so excited for him!! We had dinner with the Jones family who then fed us dinner and had a great chat with them as well!

On Saturday, we went to the nursing home and helped the people there play Bingo and it was alot of fun! In the afternoon we heard from different people that a bad storm was on its way and we were on bikes with lots of appointments in the afternoon and we hoped we'd get all the appointments done before it got so bad we'd have to return home earlier. We met with Henry Sumner who just talked to us about religion and the inauguration so we could tell his mind was on other things. We headed to Austins home in a light rain and the skies were becoming gray/blue when we stepped into his home. The lesson with Austin was just as spiritual as the first, his grandma cussed him out with things that she thought we believed but he stood up for the Book of Mormon and said I haven't read it yet but I believe its true! That's the power of the Book of Mormon. We read 1 Nephi 1-4 and the Spirit kept poking at him to ask us about missions and after we talked about the things you need to do to prepare for a mission he said that he wants to go on a mission in February 2018!! So crazy... god definitely led him to us and we cant wait to work with him more and more!! When we got out of his home we biked back in the rain and our Branch President wanted us to stay out of the rain so he picked us up for dinner at his home and it was definitely a blessing!

On Sunday, it definitely was Sunday like I haven't had before. I woke up around 3:00a.m to lightning cracks and thunder rumbling our trailer and I looked outside and it was like the gates of Hell were being opened but after 20 minutes it slowed down and I went to bed but when we woke up it was about the same intensity as when I saw it at 3:00a.m. We assumed we still had church. Brother Robertson pulled in our driveway with his truck and told us church was canceled because of the storm. We didn't know what to think cause we had got a ride for Austin and called him that morning to wake him up but we had to call him back and tell him church was canceled. With church canceled we stayed at the church to make sure everyone knew it was canceled and then at 10:00 it had calmed down so we said lets to work and it was practically sunny skies with mist for about 2 hours but it was just hard to walk around and talk to people when church just got canceled. But at 12:00 we got a text from the zone leaders saying we needed to head home before the 2nd wave came. So we walked back in the rain and returned home in very wet clothes. We ended up going on lock down for the day while the storm through all it could at us but nothing bad happened just TONS on water!! Read the scriptures and read some quotes and I'll share my favorite one... Short and sweet but it says "Don't rush the process, trust the process." Trials come but the only way we grow is through trials. Overcoming them is when you become a stronger, better person.

I LOVE Y'ALL!! The church is true and through adversity is how we grow!
-Elder Hill
#Tornaders  #Countryliving
Austin is Awesome!!

Surviving the tornado storms!

Surviving the tornado storms!

There's gotta be a gator in the swamp somewhere!?

Cleaning up Alma, GA - January 2017

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