It's February and the grass is starting to turn green, a farmer just north of town is plowing and planting his fields, the trees are starting to bud out, insects are getting more numerous and the days are getting warmer. It was 83 degrees one day last week. The next night if froze and the high was in the 60's. But there is no snow, no smog, no ice and all in all the weather is good.
We have worked our way through most of the Branch members directory. We have found many people, determined that a number of them have moved and we have a pretty good handle on who's here and who is not. We are starting to wonder what we are going to do next. We are teaching a couple of great families and have had some success in getting others to come to church, sometimes at least. We are so excited when people say they will be there on Sunday and we feel so bad when they don't show up, but that is missionary work. Lots of highs and lows. There are so many blessings available by subscribing to, and living according to the precepts of the gospel. We have seen it over and over again in our own lives and in the lives of people we know and we would love to see more of the people here realize those blessings for themselves and their families.
We had a great discussion last Sunday afternoon with a part member family. The woman was active until her mid teens and her significant other grew up a Lutheran but they have both been going to the 1st Baptist church here for sometime. He has been a Deacon in the Baptist church previously but is a great guy and is very polite and interested as we discuss our religion even though we have to assume that he has heard his share of Anti Mormon propaganda. They had read a bit in the Book of Mormon in anticipation of our visit and had some questions relating to the plan of Salvation. A 28 year old member of one of their families died recently in a motorcycle accident. His Father had him cremated and many of the family members were very upset. They wondered what our church teaches about cremation. Our meeting lasted for about 1.5 hours, (a bit too long). We set an appointment for a return visit and we were able to pray with them at the end, so it all went well and we are excited to go and talk with them again.
There is another family that we had heard were not friendly ever since we got here. It was said that the woman's parents lived with them and they are very Anti- Mormon so no one in the branch had contacted them for quite a while. We too have been a bit hesitant to go but we went there last Saturday afternoon and had a great conversation with the wife for about an hour. She is a great lady. She warmed up to us within a few minutes and things went very well. Her mother died a couple of years ago and her father moved to an extended care facility a few weeks ago so maybe it was the right time for them to have some contact with the church again and we were very happy to be able to be the ones to do it. We are looking forward to visiting there again as well.
We went to a meeting with our Mission President last week. He told us of a great event coming up in the middle of March. Gladys Knight will be coming to our Stake center in Orange Park (west side of Jacksonville) to do 4 firesides. They will include a lot of gospel music, a full blown sound/lights/video performance that will rock the house. Very unusual in an LDS meeting house, but it is being done with full approval of Salt Lake and in fact has been done many times in many places over the last ten years. We had no idea, but we are really excited about it. Gladys and her husband are both called as missionaries for the church. We didn't know that either. She will be bringing/conducting the "Saints United Voices Choir." It is always a very spiritual event that does a lot to bolster the missionary work wherever they do it.
So, bottom line is that things are going well and we are very happy to be here. It stretches us and causes us to do things, hear things, see things and have experiences that we could have never anticipated prior to being here but it is great.
We send our best wishes to all of our family and friends!!
P.S. Some of our P day activities the last few weeks. We went to Saint Augustine, a great town on the coast, Fort Clinch by Fernandina Beach and today we road the Jacksonville/Baldwin biking trail.
|Street Musician in St. Augustine|
|Cannon at the fort protecting St. Augustine|
|Cost a lot more to die now than it used to!!!|
Notice at Fort Clinch (note Professional Mourner 30 cents)
|Frog in drinking fountain seen while riding the Jacksonville/ Baldwin biking trail|