Banished to Gaffrica

So the craziest thing happened this morning. We got a call from the AP’s and Elder N. and I are getting emergency transferred to Gaffney. Apparently there are some problems so we are replacing the missionaries there. I am kinda excited but also pretty disappointed because we finally have a ton of good stuff happening here and now we have to leave it all behind. Gaffney is basically banishment cause it is out in the middle of nowhere. They call it Gaffrica for a reason. It should be fun though, it should make for some stories. We leave on Wednesday so the next couple days will be pretty crazy.                                   (From a separate email to mom): Luckily the upstate (Gaffney is just out of Greenville) is a lot cooler than down here so we will get a bit of a break.

Anyway, I finished writing this email before we found this out, so the rest of this email won’t really match up with what is going to happen.

Monday was a normal P Day. Basketball, shopping, etc. Nothing too crazy happened in terms of missionary work. We mostly just prepped for the area change.

Tuesday was mother nature’s way of reminding us that we didn’t have a car yet, because it poured rain and was super muggy all day. It was a pretty rough day in terms of missionary work. I guess we had to have one more hard day of biking before we could get a car.

Wednesday was glorious. We went to transfers in the morning and got the car and everything figured out. After that we drove back and started exploring our new area. It is pretty weird having Sandhills as a part of our area. We lived in Sandhills when I was in Blythewood and I guess I have just spent a ton of time in this area. I have served in every single area now in Northeast Columbia. Basically I am the master of Columbia. Anyway, that was most of the day. I forgot how nice having a car is. It is pure bliss, especially in nasty hot weather.

Thursday our electronic area book got screwed up and we somehow got all of the Spanish Elder’s 600+ former investigators. We spent 90% of the day trying to figure out who was who and sorting everything out. It was kinda frustrating and exhausting and I ended up with a headache in the process. That was most of the day.

Friday we had a sweet lesson with S. and J. J., who were investigators we referred over to the Sandhills elders and now we are getting back with the area change. S. is really interested in the church and he has a crazy back story as to how he got to where he is. His friend in Alabama had been sharing the gospel with him for a long time now, and I guess now it is just the right time. Elder N. and I testified to S. about the truthfulness of the gospel and he readily agreed with what we had to say. He definitely felt the spirit and he knows that the church is right for him! He agreed to be baptized on July 8th, which is awesome! I actually had to convince him to push the baptism out until then because he wanted to be baptized this Saturday, which wasn’t very realistic. Good things are to come there.

After the lesson we got some dinner and then stopped by C. and D., some other investigators we inherited from Sandhills as well. They are really cool people and were on date for baptism previously but had to push it out because they work a lot on Sunday. They are really sincere about investigating the church though so we hopefully will find a way to get them to church. They have a ton of potential! That was most of the day.

Saturday we did a lot of planning and busy work. It was SUPER hot and humid, and man I was way glad we had a car because otherwise it would have been brutal. We knocked a bunch of doors, got bit by a bunch of mosquitos, and literally soaked ourselves just standing outside, but didn’t get to talk to very many people. You gotta love the summer in the south.

Sunday was pretty ok. S. J. had something come up and wasn’t able to make it to church, which was a disappointment. I wasn’t feeling very well all day so we had to take it slow. We visited the W.’s, which we hadn’t done in a while. They are doing ok. N. (W.’s wife) is in the last months of a difficult pregnancy and has been off and on with church. W. isn’t doing very well spiritually and was offended by a member of our ward so he hasn’t been coming lately. It is a little bit of a bummer but hopefully he will be able to work it out with himself.

Anyway, that was the week. We made some really good progress and it was super nice having a car of course.

Well I will talk more next week! I will definitely have a lot to talk about. It should be a crazy next couple of days.

Later,

Elder Jeremiah Brown

Lauren (Elder Brown’s sister) wondered about the significance of this picture.  We’re pretty sure the tie he is wearing is one that both his dad and grandpa wore on their missions.

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In response to a question he was asked about how they bought groceries before having a car he responded:

To answer your question, we would just walk to the store. It was a pretty big pain but it was the only way we could do it. Biking with groceries was too unrealistic so we just walked.

 

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Yay for car accidents

This week was crazy! It was awesome too. The big news is that I will be getting my 5th area in this zone. I’m not getting transferred technically, but Elder N. and I will be staying together and opening up the entire Summit ward as a new area. The other Elder’s area will be closing down, but it is probably for the better.

I have been here forever. The end of this transfer will mark a year and 2 months of time in northeast Columbia. I should buy some property.

WE ARE ALSO GETTING A CAR!!!! *tears of joy*

Monday was a normal Pday. We played basketball with all of the missionaries in Columbia. It gets kinda old but that is literally the only thing to do around here. After that we did missionary work and didn’t have any success.

Tuesday we did a ton of biking. We went up to the top of our area and worked down from there and we biked on a lot of dirt roads, since the top of our area is pretty country. The map told me that there was a road that cut around the highway so I decided we would take it, but it ended up being an abandoned road that looked like it hadn’t been used since people used wagons for travel.

Not too far off from normal roads here I guess.

Anyway, the road ended up being so overgrown we couldn’t get through on bikes, so we turned around and toughed it out on the highway. We went to a few housing developments and a trailer park but not much happened in the way of missionary success. We did hunt down a less active guy out in the middle of nowhere who’s place we couldn’t find. We thought we went to the right street but it ended up not even being close. We were in luck though because this little old southern lady stopped us and started asking us if we were missionaries for the same church as a few of our members she knew. She knew all about the church and wasn’t very interested but loved our members and was able to tell us exactly where the guy we were looking for lived. Pretty sweet.

We did a lot more biking around but nothing else too crazy happened. Not too many people seemed to be home for some reason.

Wednesday was crazy. So many things happened I don’t know where to start. To start the morning off I found out that the Summit Car/Sandhill Elders area would be getting shut down this transfer and we would be taking over both areas and getting a car. Pretty crazy! Not to my surprise, I found out that I will not be a District Leader anymore and will be joining Blythewood District. It was pretty relieving because being a DL over one set of missionaries was a joke. It’s crazy how many areas have been shut down in this district since I have been here. It started out with 8 missionaries and little by little we stopped existing. There just aren’t a lot of missionaries in the mission right now.

So we are pretty pumped about the new area and having a car. Honestly it’s about time this area gets a car.

Anyway, we had our final zone conference with President and Sister Turner, which was awesome but also very sad. I will miss having them here, considering how long they have been over me. They gave us some parting words of advice and then asked to all shake our hands one last time. It was sad but it was probably my favorite Zone Conference of all time.

After Zone Conference we went to this Mexican place. It was pretty good but the aftermath made me want to cry so I’m probably never going there again.

On the way home from there we had the craziest experience. We were in the ZL’s car driving home from the Mexican place and as we were turning left to get on the street our apartment was on, the car in front of us randomly stopped as it was turning left. None of us noticed until it was too late and we slammed into the back end of the car in front, which somehow launched us into the air. Luckily, we landed on all four wheels but we were just a few degrees away from flipping over.

We thought our car was going to be totaled because it wouldn’t go into drive and was making super weird noises, but luckily we found out later that the damages weren’t as bad as they seemed.

It ended up being our fault just out of virtue of the law, but it was one of those situations where it really wasn’t our stupidity that caused it. Unfortunately, we have to suffer from someone else’s terrible driving choices.

And don’t worry mom. All is well. Nobody got hurt and plus I wasn’t driving.

It took almost 3 hours for the police to actually show up and then longer to sort out the problem and get he car towed. We got home super late and just went to bed.

Thursday was crazy hot. We had PAALS and then we went out and visited some people. Not much happened and it was actually pretty boring compared to yesterday.

Friday I don’t remember too much from. We had weekly planning.  It was a pretty slow day overall.

Saturday was fun. We did a ton of biking and visited a lot of investigators and less actives that were in the nicer part of our area. It was quite refreshing not being in the ghetto for once. I sometimes forget what normal middle class looks like. We got to talk to a couple former investigators who show some potential. That was about it though.

Sunday was awesome! We finally got a ward mission leader and he is sick! He is really zealous to get missionary work going in the ward and things are really starting to pick up here.

On the way home from proselyting on Sunday I randomly felt like we needed to stop by this less active who was never home. I was tired and hot but we went anyway and I am really glad we did. The member was moving away and we caught them 2 days before they were leaving. We had no contact information for them besides an address so we totally would have lost complete contact with them. We got contact info from them and then went on our way. I am really glad I followed that prompting because if I hadn’t she would have been lost on the church records for a long time.

It was a great week! I literally have sweat more in the last couple weeks than I have in my entire life. It’s ridiculous. This transfer is going to be crazy awesome and I am super excited to take over this new area! Getting a car in the heat of the summer is pretty great too!

Anyway, that is all. Until next week,

Bark bark for pigs,

Elder Jeremiah Brown

Pictures

1. Me being sweaty and grumpy

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2. The wilderness we travelled through on Tuesday

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Death to all mosquitos

I HATE MOSQUITOES. Just saying.

Anyway, this week was good. It was a little slow but not a bad week.

Monday was pretty fun. We played basketball as usual and I actually enjoyed myself for once. I have been practicing a lot lately and I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be.

Tuesday we had DDM with just the Summit east Elders, which is pretty much a joke. Our District is probably going to be reorganized soon because of how small and inconvenient we are. After that I went on exchanges with Elder B. and had a good time. Nothing too cool or interesting happened, but we got a cool referral.

Wednesday we exchanged back and then helped Brother W., a member of our ward, move out. He’s a super cool guy who I actually met when I was in Blythewood ward so it was too bad to see him leave. That took up a good chunk of our day, and then we went out and proselyted. We knocked into some nice people, including one less active member who was really nice and invited us in. He told us that he basically wasn’t interested in coming back to church because he disagreed with the church’s standards. It was too bad because he was a really good guy and had a very nice young family who weren’t members. He told his kids that when they were older they could look into our church and see if it was something they believed in, so at least he was open and not against the church. He fed us shrimp too, so I automatically liked him.

We knocked around the really rich part of our area and surprisingly didn’t get screamed or cursed at. Most of the people were really nice, but none of them were interested.

Thursday we did service at PAALS as usual. I wonder how many times I’ve said that. Man I’ve been here too long.

After that we went and did missionary work. Nothing crazy happened. Just a lot of people that moved or didn’t want to talk to us. There was lot’s of crazy traffic because South Carolina decided to actually do something about having the 3rd deadliest roads in the US, and started redoing the main road for probably the first time since the creation of the automobile.

Friday was fun. We visited a referral we got named H. He had met with missionaries before and already had a Book of Mormon. His father in law was with him and started asking a lot of questions. He started disagreeing with some of our beliefs, and I was worried it was going to turn into a bash, but then H. stepped in and basically started defending us and our beliefs. He basically bore his testimony to his father in law of the truthfulness of what we were teaching. It was really cool and kinda funny to have an investigator do that. He could be a really solid investigator but I am worried he will have trouble committing to things. Cool experience overall.

After that appointment we were going to head home for the night but we were right next to my old area and apartment so we stopped by there and I got to see my old area for a little bit. It was kinda weird but I realize now that I enjoyed Blythewood a lot more than I thought I did in the moment. It just goes to show that you can be happy wherever you are in life, even if things are hard.

On our way back home there was this crazy drunk guy on a moped and while he rode past us he was just screaming and giggling. He was all over the place but it was hilarious.

Saturday was very hot and tiring, and we had an appointment with a Book of Mormon referral fall through which was kind of a bummer. It was a pretty hard day overall and there were a lot of mean people out for some reason. It drives me crazy when people actually take the time to come out of their house and cross the street to tell you not to knock or even walk through the neighborhood. If I wasn’t wearing a name badge or white shirt and tie nobody would care.

Sunday was good. We didn’t have any investigators come to church but the other Elders did which was cool. Someone who we referred to them is really progressing and is a super solid investigator. I am really excited to see where they go.

 

Over all it was a pretty average week. This week is the end of the transfer so I should know whether or not I am leaving by Monday. I have been here for 6 months now so I wouldn’t be surprised if I left. If I do leave I hope I leave Columbia because I have spent a year now living in basically the same place and I need some change. But I am fine with whatever. The Lord knows best.

Yesterday I was reading out of “Our Heritage” (which is a great book by the way) and I was really touched by how visible the hand of God was in the foundation of the church. The history of this church is truly amazing, and learning about it really helps strengthen my testimony of the Restored Gospel. No ordinary group of people could have done the things they did unless they were aided divinely.
I have been pondering a lot on real intent and would like to share some of my thoughts. The Book of Mormon is such a true book! Nobody who honestly reads it and sincerely prays about it with intent to change themselves can denounce it. I challenge all those who have not read and prayed about the Book of Mormon with real intent to do so now, but especially with real intent. Before my mission I did not understand what real intent was. I would pray about the Book of Mormon but didn’t feel like I was getting an answer. I realized out here that unless you resolve in your heart to change yourself based on the answers you receive from reading, you will not get an answer. For those of you who feel like you haven’t been getting answers to your questions, consider studying on what real intent is.

Anyway, that is all I have to say. Thank you for all your emails and support!

Until next week,

luvs

Elder Jeremiah Brown

1. Me and Elder N. in front of the pond behind my old apartmentIMG_0402
2. Me on a broken bridge. Yay for the south.

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3. Diddo

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And another email

Well, it’s been a week. I am writing this email on my iPad so it is
going to be a little shorter than normal.

It wasn’t a very exciting week, so for those of you who don’t usually
read my emails but decided to read this one, don’t bother.

Basically I can sum this week up by saying that it was hot, sweaty and
filled with lots of biking, but I guess I will go into a little more
detail than that.

Monday was probably the worst P Day I have had. We sat in the doctors
office for hours because of a mess up in Elder N’s prescription. It
ended up ok but it wasted the entire day.

Tuesday we had exchanges with the Summit East elders which was good.
Elder B. and I found a lot of new people in his area.

Wednesday we exchanged back and then visited a bunch of people. We
ended up finding a couple new people to teach. Hopefully they will
keep their return appointments.

Thursday we did service for PAALS as usual. Nothing too crazy happened.

Friday we had service for SBP. We installed insulation in the crawl
space of a flooded house. It was pretty crazy but fun. We had to get
in full body protective suits and respirators and then crawl
underneath the house through the pipes and electronics. It was sick.

Saturday we did a lot of biking and finding. We found some new people
which was good.

Sunday was pretty good. We had a couple appointments cancel which was
annoying but the day was still really good.

Honestly it wasn’t a very exciting week. It wasn’t bad but nothing too
crazy happened. Hopefully next week will be better.

Anyway, I gotta go.

Yarg,

Elder Jeremiah Brown