More Gaffney

So this week’s email is going to be short. I hardly have any time to type this out. We went down to Greenville today to go to a free trampoline park and we are just now getting back.

It’s been a hard couple of weeks. The work here is difficult but we are staying positive.

Anyway, here it is.

Monday

Today for P-Day we didn’t have much to do so we went around and hit all of the pawn shops in the area to see if we could find some weights for a bench press we have (which we never found). In the process we almost drove out of the mission on accident. Luckily we realized we were on the border right before hand so we stopped. We did, however, take this opportunity and get pictures in front of the North Carolina border line. And if you were wondering, no, I did not walk into North Carolina and leave the mission boundaries. That’s bad juju.

Tuesday

Today we had DDM and I trained on the subject of diligence and happiness. This is one of the hardest districts in the mission and it is really easy here to get unmotivated and lazy because the work is a little slow and literally nobody else is around to make sure we are behaving. The missionaries here lately have really been struggling and the overall morale is pretty low. Basically I am trying to get things moving forward here, so at DDM I tried to help the overall positivity of the district. I think it turned out ok.

Nothing else super noteworthy happened today. It was pretty slow in terms of proselyting.

Wednesday

Today we started the day by doing service for Habitat for Humanity. We helped mow some lawns and do some yard work. After that we went to ward coordination/lunch with Brother M., our ward mission leader. It was really good. He will be a great ward mission leader. We talked a lot about what had been happening in the ward lately and we found out a bit more about what went down before we left.

Afterward we did a little bit of proselyting and then went to Book of Mormon class. That was basically the entire day.

Thursday we did service for Meals on Wheels in the morning which was fun. We cut up like 30 different honey baked hams they had donated to them. It was good stuff. After that we went and did a ton of proselyting. We talked to a lot of people, which was good, but we really didn’t see a ton of success. Nothing too crazy happened besides us almost getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Friday we had weekly planning in the morning and took our car in to get it fixed. That took up a good chunk of the day and then we spent the rest of the day tracking. We talked to some cool people and made a little bit of progress.

Saturday we went to Spartanburg for a Zone DL meeting. It was pretty good and we learned some new things. The rest of the day we spent a lot of time in the country. Lots of crazy people and stuff. We set up some appointments which was good.

Sunday I gave a talk in church. I talked about how the Atonement of Jesus Christ can and should motivate us to do missionary work. I think it went pretty well and people seemed to like what I had to say.

After church we went and worked our rears off for the rest of the day. It paid off because we found some new people and got some great appointments set up for next week.

Anyway, sorry I was kinda vague and short with this email. I’ve had hardly any time to type this out.

Gotta go

Luvs

Elder Jeremiah Brown

From his personal email to us:

Honestly things are kinda rough right now. The last few weeks have been some of the hardest weeks of my mission. We are doing our best to stay positive though.

Don’t worry about me too much though! I will be ok. Just keep me in your prayers because I will need them.

Another week in the magical land of Gaffney

Well this week went by fast. It was kind of a boring week honestly. I look back and it is hard for me to pinpoint what happened. Time moves really weirdly out here.

On Monday we slept and I “skinnied” ties for P-Day. I have a whole bunch of fat ties I am trying to work through. It was a pretty low key day overall. In the evening we went to a family home evening with a less active family in the Ward. It was pretty cool and we got to know some more of the members here. Plus we got free food so that’s always good.

Tuesday was really fun. We had Zone conference in Greenville and got to meet President and Sister Innes for the first time. They are super awesome and I am excited to have them here for the next few months. They showed us a talk given at the mission presidents seminar by Elder Holland it was incredible! Easily one of the best talks I have heard him give and it really made an impression on me. You can’t get the full thing on LDS.org but you can read part of it there. It is awesome.

At Zone Conference I got to see a lot of old missionary friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time, which was really cool. After Zone Conference because it was Independence day we had to go home for the rest of the evening. Basically it was a day of no missionary work.

On Wednesday we spent a good chunk of the day doing service for the L. family in our ward. We helped them clean up a bunch of scrap metal on their property and it was HEAVY. We had to move two old Ford engines that were probably about 50 years old and put them on a trailer. I am still a little bit sore from picking those up. We found out later that one of the engines weighed about 700 pounds and the other about 500. Crazy stuff.

After we did service we had to take our car in to get fixed. It was really dumb because we had to drive all the way down to Spartanburg and then they told us that we were going to have to come back another day, so we wasted a whole bunch of time. That took up most of the day and then we did a little bit of proselyting in the evening, but nothing too awesome happened.

Thursday we did service in the morning for Meals on Wheels, a non-for-profit organization here that delivers food to disabled people. We spent most of the time doing food prep and then they had us organize their walk in freezer, which was a lot of fun because we were freezing in the 105 degree heat. It’s pretty hot here, but luckily the upstate isn’t nearly as hot as Columbia so I am getting a break.

We did some proselyting for the rest of the afternoon and then we taught a mission prep class at the Bishop’s house for the rest of the evening. It was pretty good and I think we made a good impression on the Bishop and his family.

Friday we worked in a soup kitchen in the morning. We do a lot of service here in the mornings because there isn’t a whole lot to do in the early hours of the day. The soup kitchen was very interesting. Lots of interesting people and it definitely reminded me how poverty stricken some people are. It also reminded me that some people just choose to be that way for some reason.

The rest of the day was kinda slow. We have been going around trying to contact all of the formers and potential investigators in our areabook, which has proven to be either very eventful and crazy, or very, very slow.

Saturday morning Sister S. called and asked us to give one of her member friends a blessing, so we went over and did that. Afterward we worked the area around there, and I discovered new areas to never go to. There are some really really bad places in East Gaffney. We basically spent the entire day in East Gaffney visiting people and trying our best to get a feel of the area. The area is really odd geographically so I am still trying to figure out what this place is like. Lot’s of crazy mean people, lot’s of crazy nice people, but not a whole lot in between.

In the evening we got hit with a really bad thunderstorm and it made missionary work really hard. We ended up sitting in the car for over an hour waiting for it to be safe and smart to go outside to talk to people. We found a couple cool people and met some less active members which was good.

Sunday was alright. There were a lot of people at church, or at least it seemed like a lot because last week there was hardly anyone here. We spent a large chunk of the day inside because Elder N. was not feeling well, so I spent a lot of time putting together plans for the week.

 

Not the most interesting week for sure. On the bright side though, I saw fireflies for the first time and freaked out because I have always wanted to see them. I turned into a little kid for an evening.

Something really stood out to me this week in my studies. I was reading through Jacob chapter 5 and I had the thought that this chapter must have been a lot of work to write. Then I thought about how the chapter represented the labor the Lord has put into saving his children. The Lord really must love us if he is so willing to put so much work and love into “pruning his vineyard.” We are so blessed that the Lord is so long suffering and doesn’t just burn his vineyard to the ground, because honestly that is what I would be inclined to do. We should always strive to be the fruit that does not cause the Lord to mourn.

Anyways, that is all. Thanks for all the emails and I will talk more next week!

Bark bark,

Elder Jeremiah Brown

1. Me, Elder Volmar, Guzman, and Neff before we left Columbia. Guzman and Volmar were our Zone Leaders in Columbia.

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2. Greenville and Greenville East Zones with President and Sister Innes

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Into the wild

Well let me just say that it has been one heck of a week, and it’s probably going to be one heck of a next 5 months.

So Gaffney is wild. I understand now why they call it Gaffrica. It is easily the most backwoods area I have served in and quite possibly one of the most backwoods areas here period. I thought that I had fully adjusted to the southern accent and then I came out here and I am honestly having trouble understanding people. It’s like another language.

There are pretty much no neighborhoods here. Everyone lives in a trailer or a small home on a private plot of land or a trailer park. This place is wacky but I like it.

This week I drove all the way across the entire state of SC. Lots of driving and trees.

Anyway, Monday was when we found out about the Emergency Transfer. We found out right before we were about to check out our groceries from Walmart, which was good otherwise we would have wasted a lot of money.

Pretty much the rest of the day we played basketball, wrote emails and said goodbyes. In the evening we spent our time packing and cleaning up our apartment for the new sisters replacing us.

Tuesday was complete madness. We had to drive down to Charleston (which is a 2 hour drive) to get some prescriptions filled and then come back quickly so we could finish packing and prepping the area for the new missionaries. Charleston was fun though because I got to have lunch with Elder O. who is in Charleston now as a Zone Leader (da’s my boy).

After Charleston we finished up packing and then for dinner we went with the ZL’s to Pawley’s Front Porch, a really good burger place in downtown Columbia that they had been wanting to take us to for a while. The West Columbia ZL’s and the AP’s showed up as well which was fun, except that the AP’s had to leave early and we had to cram both sets of ZL’s in our car and drive them home, which was complete madness and we didn’t end up getting home until late.

Elder C. had to come down to get his car fixed so he stayed the night here and I got to see him, which was fun.

Wednesday we spent the morning finishing the cleaning process and then we said goodbyes to the ZL’s (Elder V. and G.) and started our journey to Gaffney. It was sad saying goodbye to those guys. They were really good friends and I will miss having them around. Elder V. is one of 2 other Elders in this mission going to BYU so I will get to see him there.

We arrived in Gaffney after dark and started unpacking for the rest of the evening. The apartment was pretty nice minus the giant holes in the ground. There was hardly any food in the place but I found some weird frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu that didn’t look too bad so I ate that.

Thursday we shopped and finished unpacking. A. H., a member of Greenville ward who still keeps in contact with me, found out that I got to Gaffney and came to visit. He was almost 600 pounds when I was in Greenville with him but then he got a gastric bypass and has been losing a ton of weight. It was great to see him and I almost didn’t recognize him because in less than a year he has gone from 580 lbs to 185 pounds. He has lost so much size and weight that he is having to remove 35 pounds of extra skin. It is really cool to see what people can do when they put their mind to something. He told me all about how Greenville ward was doing and stuff. Greenville has honestly become probably one of my favorite places in the world. I just love it there.

Anyway, that was fun. The rest of the day was unpacking and then we got to visit a couple new people and explore the area.

Friday we spent a lot of time cleaning up the areabook and figuring out the area. It is very rural.

Saturday we started getting the missionary work ball rolling. We visited a few less actives and every single one I have met is a character. We met one guy who lives in this trailer in the middle of nowhere and has like 15 guns just sitting around the place. He moved a couple off the couch so we could sit down and just handed them to his 6 year old son like it was nothing, and told him to put them away. I love the south.

Basically the day consisted of lots of guns, confederate flags, crazy people, cool people, etc.. There was a nasty thunderstorm that hit and our apartment got struck by lightning and set the fire alarms off. It was probably the loudest sound I have heard in my life.

Sunday was pretty good. Literally everyone in the ward is related. EVERYONE. It is just a big religious family reunion. It kinda worries me actually.

After church we went out with Brother M., a retired member of the ward, and he took us to visit a whole bunch of members and showed us around the area. He is a really awesome guy and does a lot with the missionaries. We spent most of the day with him. He took us to visit his home teaching families, who are literally his family in one way or another.

Anyway, that was the week. Honestly this has been one of the weirdest weeks of my mission. I guess it’s just a lot to take in but I am going to have to do some adjusting for sure.

It is truly Gaffrica. Today for P-Day we are probably just going to take naps and sew ties. That may sound lame but there isn’t much to do around here besides going to see the giant peach water tower that is the image of Gaffney. If you don’t know what I mean look it up or wait for me to get a picture with it.

Well, wish me luck.

Lurvs

Elder Jeremiah Brown

Here is a picture of the state of South Carolina so you can see how far Elder Brown had to travel to go to Charleston and then up to Gaffney:  

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Here are some images I found online of the peach water tower he referred to in his email:

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