Monday, September 26, 2011

Hello, my name is Elder Dickson and I'm an alcoholic ... bet that got your attention!!!!

Our Casey strikes a pose under a waterfall.
!Hola, Familia!

So my companion and I were invited to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous Picnic/BBQ with a member. It was fun, and the scenery was beautiful; I'll send some pictures! We met alot of people, gave out some pass-along cards, got a few names, and got to eat some delicious food as we listened to a motivational speaker who has been sober for more than 20 years. We talked to the speaker afterwards; he said he was given a Book of Mormon once, but hasn't really read it. We invited him to do so, that the book has changed and influenced our lives more than we could describe. It was pretty cool. 

How are ya'll doing? How's school, Devin and Shelby? How's sports? How's work, Mom and Dad? Let me know how your lives are!

I had an awesome week this week; the best part being that a family we found last week wants to get baptized! Hooray! They are so legit; they are fun and funny and love church and everything about it! We got the kids going to all the activities, and the mom went to the relief society conference, and loved it! We are on the 3rd lesson now; we taught them the Restoration using the Joseph Smith video (the shorter one), and also watched Finding Faith in Christ to talk about faith. They love all of it! They only qualm is that the mom is still praying about being baptized; her kids have all said yes, so we are just waiting on her. I'm so excited for them! They are "golden", as they say.

Regardless of finding "goldens" or not, I know that faith, hope, and charity, with and eye single to the glory of God, will qualify me for the work.
Happy Birthday, Devin! 17, Holy Cow! I hope you have an awesome birthday, best bud! Sorry I don't know where my phone is. Say hi to Darren and our cousins and Grandpa and Sheila for me! Have a blast and a half!
Transfers have come and gone; it looks like I get to stay in Conyers for another 6 weeks at least; yay! Elder King is going home; he is a great missionary and friend, a fun guy to have around, and a fantastic person. We will all miss him. Also, Elder Kartcher, one of the funniest kids I've met, is getting transfered to a different spanish branch. While we will miss our friends, new ones will come, and the old ones have left a lasting impact on my mission. I wish them all the best of luck.
We also had a great lesson with the couple previously mentioned (see last week's letter); we are still trying to get in with them again. They had the cutest black puppy, I wanted to take him home. But that is stealing, and I'm pretty sure stealing is mentioned in the Scriptures a few times as a bad thing to do.
We met a Buddist this week; it's the first time we have met someone without a faith in Christ that was not agnostic. It was an interesting experience to teach someone with no Christian background; I hope we get to see her again.
I've met some wonderful people here; they all have diverse backgrounds and unique stories that brought them to Georgia, and how Jesus has influenced their lives. Down here, most people don't have a problem with Jesus Christ; they all already have faith in him. However, most people have a problem with the Book of Mormon; they love and revere and memorize the Bible, and won't accept anything else. We try to show them how we love and revere the Bible as well, and we believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God as well; it is another Testament of Jesus Christ. It does not add nor take away from the Bible, anymore than the New Testament adds to the Old. God is a God of miracles and revelation; if He is unchanging (the same yesterday, today, and forever), why would he cease being a God of those things? Why would he stop caring?
I bear my testimony that God is our Loving Heavenly Father, and that because He loves us, He sent His Son to atone for the sins and sorrows of the world, so that we too may have eternal life. I know the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God, and that the answers to life's all important questions of where we come from, why we are here, where are we going, and how do we get there are found in His scriptures. I know that Joseph Smith was the Prophet of the Restoration, and that he was a tool in the Lord's hands to bring back the fullness of the gospel and the authority to act in God's name required to make and keep sacred ordinances and covenants essential for salvation. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet, seer, and revelator of this day and age, and that He is the Lord's mouthpiece. I know all this is true because I did what we invite all men everywhere to do: to read the Book of Mormon, pondered in my heart the message in contains, and asked God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, if it was true. I know that the Lord answers prayers, and my answer was yes, it is true. Feast upon the words of Christ, for they will tell you all things which ye should do. This is the one and only true church, and I have been called of God to bring all those I meet unto the path that leads to everlasting salvation and eternal life. Not my glory, but Thine; I only hope that I can be a tool in the Lord's hands to bring to pass this great and marvelous work. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Tell me what's up with ya'll, I love ya and miss ya tons!
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Some friends at the local General Store.

Casey shows off some of Georgia's lovely scenery.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Casey's latest letter from Georgia 9-19

Dear fam,
Things are great here; the weather has cooled significantly, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts lol. It's been an interesting week; the biggest thing that happened was that my zone leader, Elder King (who goes home in a week) got bit by a monster Rottweiler! I wasn't there, but he has pictures of the wound and the hospital ride. He is fine; the dog really just pierced his skin and didn't get much muscle. He is still out and about, but his companion is driving. He is taking antibiotics and pain pills, so he'll be just fine. What a great story and scar to take home, though. Oh, I also tried some Japanese food: Okonomiyaki (which I didn't really like), Miso soup (which was okay), and Japanese-style curry and rice (which was excellent!). I'm pretty proud of myself, if I do say so myself lol. I also like watermelon now; I don't know what changed it, it just tastes better here, I guess.
Also, we had a really awesome lesson with a former investigator the sisters before us were teaching. He is an old man, who is in and out of the hospital. He had a baptismal date at one point, but he has sort of fallen away. He understands most of what he has been taught, but still thinks that other churches are still good churches. My companion, Elder Nielsen, gave a really touching story about him blessing his younger brother to stop his seizure. We laid it down that the authority to act in God's name is only in this church. I bore my testimony on the Book of Mormon, and how important it was to conversion; if the Book of Mormon is true, then so is everything else. He said he'll read the book and ask if it's true. We tried to get him to church, but he still has a hard time getting around.
I also had the opportunity to go on a split with some home teachers; we visited a recent convert (whose name I will not disclose) who had a pretty cool conversion story. He told us he used to go out into a grove of trees by his house to pray to God (sound familiar?). He was thinking about God and how to be a better Christian and better brother to those around him; a week later, the missionaries came a knockin'. They were actually looking for a Hispanic in the area, but he knew that they were sent to his home on purpose. They referred him to the sisters, who taught him, and got him baptized. He is a really humble man with little education and a bad back; regardless, he is at church every Sunday that he can get to, and has immense faith and a powerful yet simple testimony. He is awesome!
The best thing that happened this week though, was when we met and taught this awesome family! They were a referral from the Spanish elders, who found the mom while tracting. We met and talked with her and her kids at her home Friday, and spent most of the time getting to know her and answer her questions. She had the usual questions about the Book of Mormon or whether we were Amish or not (it makes me laugh every time when someone asks us that; I show them our magical communication device to prove it otherwise lol). She grew up Baptist, but has strong feelings against it, only for the reason of she never felt welcomed or loved. We asked her and her kids to come to a service with us, which she accepted. And they loved it! She has two boys around 16 (one of which is autistic), and two primary age girls. They felt welcomed, maybe almost overwhelmed by the people who introduced themselves (this ward is awesome, just so you know). The mom found relief society very interesting; they talked about the post-mortal spirit world, which she said she has never thought about but makes sense! We then took the boys to a youth fireside, where they met a ton of kids their age! They are all excited about this church (they have been to a lot, recently), and want to come back! I'm way excited to start teaching them! What a great week!
The only downside has been the sleep; you guys know that I don't sleep well anyway, but it's been worse out here. Even though I'm exhausted everyday, I just cannot fall asleep! It makes me a little grouchy, but I'm working on it.

It certainly feels like time is flying by; I've been here over a month and it feels like a week! Sometimes it does feel long when I think about other stuff, so I don't let myself. I am keeping myself with an eye single to the glory of God. I have never worked harder, or with more excitement and vigor, than I am now. The church is true, the book is blue, and God is a Mormon (my companion says this all the time)! I miss and love y'all, and am always praying for ya.
 Let me know what happening in your lives, I haven't heard anything!
Love, Elder Casey Dickson

P.S. See if you can get Devin and Shelby to put up a profile; it is 14 and older now. They are launching a huge media blitz down here in October; they average person will see a commercial or billboard 6 times a month! Talk about getting the word out!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A little more Casey from Georgia ...

Hey, guys, what's up?!
Things are great here in the land of Georgia; the sky is blue, the church is true, and I'm loving it! My only qualm is that we keep almost dying lol; there are no bike trails, and very few sidewalks, plus people don't stop at the line or look both ways, so we always gotta be careful around cars. My district leader put it this way: "Georgia has the appearance of sidewalks, but denies the power thereof"! Funny guy! But it's all good, and I am having so much fun and learning so much!
Devin- How's school going? How's football? How's Psych? How's TOR? How's BYU doing? How's life? Let me know what's going down lol. Also, could you please get me some addresses from my friends so I can mail them? Kristen Wheelhouse, Bri Mason, Mckall Conners, Skyler Bauer, Christian Peterson, Cory & Andrea Jensen, and anyone else who wants my address. You can get onto my profile to get their addresses; ask if it's ok with them first, obviously, then give them mine. You and Shelby know my password and username anyway. Thanks! Is your profile up?
Shelby- How's volleyball? How's school? What's going down? What's going up? I wanna know; can you show me? I wanna know about the strangers like me! Miss teasing you sometimes, so I just annoy my companion, but it's not the same lol. Stay sweet!
Mom- Hey, Howdy, Hey! How's life? The kids behaving themselves? How's coaching? How's work? How's moving coming along? How is the ward doing? Is it ok if you get Tragen's and Richie's and Jeff's Mission addresses so I can mail them? Thanks! Is your profile up? Thanks for the bike; works great!
Dad- Already sent ya an e-mail. Can I please get a photo of me just before my mission for Thanks! Keep up the good work!
E-mail me anytime! Miss and love ya'll!
Love, Elder Dickson
P.S. Please send money and goodies! lol jk. But seriously.

Casey's letter from Georgia, 9-12-11

What is this, a Cheetos mustache?
Things are going good here; the only new thing is that we are preparing to change our standard of excellence. The standard is sort of a guideline to help us plan and set goals for how many people we teach and meet and are progressing and such; of course, they are not just numbers, they are people, but with this standard we have a goal to shoot for. Our mission president has been praying and counseling with others, and has decided we need to alter the standards, so we can focus on the really important things, especially the ones that lead to baptisms. The goal in every mission is to double the baptisms; that means increasing from one baptism a month per companionship to two. We can do it!
Sounds like a busy week you've had; I heard about the BYU game, and I was a little distraught, but not as much as was most of Georgia (they had lost too). They love their football here too; we can't even get into people's homes on Saturday evenings lol.
Dad, I'm so happy you put up a profile; I had sent an e-mail to everyone, and have been trying to help the people here see the importance of
Is your profile up? The church realizes people know us as Mormons, and they know people surf the web for information. The church put two and two together, and was born!
Seriously, check out this site! There are these videos of people bearing their testimony of how Christ has been in their lives; including the Highland Rugby coach: Larry Gelwix and Rob Morris (who played on the Colts, for anyone who is not Devin, and knows everything about sports) have videos on there!
Members put up their profiles, to prove to non-members we are not Amish or weird horned people; we are regular people, like non-members, and how our religion has made our lives better! We are asked to have profiles on this site, so people can browse through and find people with similar interests. It is not a social networking site (MOM!); you don't talk to anyone or give them any information. You just share your testimony. I promise it can change lives!
This site changes lives; I've heard so many stories about people joining the church because of it. Just the other day, we got a referral of someone requesting a free Bible from, so we went to her house and gave it to her. We talked to her, taught a lesson, and gave her a Book of Mormon as well! All because she got on the site and was curious about us. Most stuff about Mormons online is not good, so it's good that this website comes up now in the search. The only pass-along cards we have our for; the church wants to see how this will work. I testify that it will and is working!
Their is a huge campaign for happening in New York, and it's coming to Atlanta! Most of you have heard about the Mormon play they are doing; it is not sponsored by us, but it's putting our name out there; people are curious about us. The church is taking advantage of that by putting a ton of money into advertising; taxis and billboards will advertise on them. In Times Square, there will be a t.v. that continuously displays the videos from the site! Amazing!
I bear my testimony that this site is the next step to getting our name and word around the world, and it will increase investigators and baptisms ten-fold! I ask that everyone put up a profile, and let it change someone's life! Amen.
Please post this on my blog; everyone needs to see the importance of this mission tool.
All of our dinners save a few have been with members; usually part members, or members we can get excited about missionary work. Working with the members is EXTREMELY important, especially when it comes to getting referrals and getting recent converts to stay active. I agree that the best proselyting time is in the afternoon and evening, so we try to make sure that is when are appointments and team-ups are. 
Speaking of the Omaha Nebraska Mission, that is where half my district went. If you ever meet the following missionaries: Elder Brown, Elder Boddy, Elder Widmer, Elder Chelsey, or Sister Coats, let them know Elder Dickson says hello, and feed them, gosh darn it! lol I don't know if they are ever in Lincoln for their mission but look out for them. I'm not sure if I have their mission address, so if you can get that as well, that would be superb.
 I have gotten plenty of letters from Collin, and have sent him plenty; he is doing great! He is doing mostly "Bounty Hunter Work" (see previous letter) and has a companion taller and bigger than him (not that that is hard lol jk). He is also training after only three months! What a pro! I haven't heard from Richie, but I need his address as well as Tragen's and Jeff's, so I can send them letters. Ask someone from home to send it to you, because they never check their e-mails lol.
While I have had some fun and interesting adventures (including an argument with a drunk man; needless to say, we confounded him, but he hearth them not, nor will he probably remember our conversation. It was hysterical!), I have also had some incredible spiritual experiences, one of which I will share:
We met someone while he was washing his car (who will remain unnamed); he claimed he had a dream that God would send someone to help him. He had a rough life, and got tangled up in every illegal thing you can think of. He has just recently started working an honest living to provide for his family, and has an immense desire to change; he just does not know how.
We have met with him a couple times, but he has missed most of his appointments. He claims he knows he needs to sit down and have a real lesson/discussion with us, but things keep getting in his way. We explained to him that is the Adversary, trying so hard to keep him from coming to the truth, since he is getting so close. My companion gave a fantastic analogy using Georgia and Georgia Tech football; which team do you want to be on/are cheering for? He said the Bulldogs; we asked if you were a true fan, you would support your team by put up your flags and defending your team. The point of this was to make him see that when he drinks, or smokes, etc. he is inviting the devil into his body; he is showing support for the other team while he claimed to be on the Lord's team. If he truly wanted to be on the Lord's team (which is the winning team), then he had to commit himself to that team. If he really wanted to come closer unto Christ, he needs to stop giving excuses for missing appointments and let us in. He sheepishly agreed, and said he really understood that. I felt inspired to give him a picture of Jesus Christ; he took it so lovingly and tenderly, as if not wanting to break it. I told him that whenever those temptations or desire come, look at that picture, and feel the spirit overcome him, and feel the devil flee from his home.
He also loved it when we talked about families being together forever; his daughters, who were playing around his home, came over to listen. Elder Nielsen (who is a master at following the spirit in how to say things) drew in their minds the most beautiful picture of Heaven, with their families forever; the girls loved that, and agreed to be baptized along with their father. It was so amazing; I was almost in tears, the spirit was so strong. Can I just tell you that the Gospel is true? Never, ever forget that. I feel as Ammon did in Alma ch. 26; the joy I got while showing them how to achieve that same joy in indescribable. I boast not in myself, but of my God, and His Plan for Happiness. I'm so excited to help others come unto Christ and be baptized, not for my glory, but for His.
P.S. Is it possible you can send a picture of me pre-mission? I need a picture of me not in my pros for; that is the only thing stopping me from having mine up.
P.S. I'll send letters home, but let them know that they can e-mail me anytime, since it is quicker. Love and miss ya'll!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Casey's latest letter from Georgia!

Hey, Dad!
It's good to hear from ya, hope the weather is better in Nebraska than here at the moment lol.
I'm in the Conyers Inner area, which is the central part of Rockdale County; it is mostly suburban (like Orem), with a few more rural parts. It's a nice place; my only qualm is the lack of sidewalks and bike trails; more often then not we are biking on the side of the road.
At the moment, we are doing a lot of what Elder Collin Jensen (in his letter to me just the other day) refers to as "Bounty Hunting," which is the tracking down of former investigators, less-active members, and recent converts. More often than not they have vanished off the face of the earth; something our mission president said to do when an appointment falls through or we can't find the person is to turn around and talk to the next person we see, which as worked amazingly well. We have gone tracting a lot, but less so now that we have a few potentials; everyone else is never home anyway. The one couple we had a baptismal date have sort of disappeared on us, so we're looking high and low for them lol.
The hours of the day are filled by biking from one end of town to the other; we usually have a 20-25 mile day! I feel my legs getting stronger everyday!
My apartment is nice; it is now mandatory that every missionary apartment has a washer and a dryer (Yea!); times have changed lol. I think some pictures of the apartment were sent with the rest; if not, I'll send the SD card once I get another one.
I actually have not put the bike together yet; I haven't had too much down time, even on P-day. I just keep using the other Elder's bike, and he is fine with me using it. My companion and I are getting along swimmingly; we have a similar sense of humor! He is pretty car crazy; he knows them inside and out (it's all Greek to me). Elder Nielsen is from Sandy, Utah, and he has been out six months; that's pretty young for a trainer. But he has a contagious enthusiasm and a lot of energy; I've learned a lot from him. We are both new to the area, so we got a lot of work to do; but I'm way excited and can't wait! Part of the 12-week program I mentioned last time is that I have to do door approaches one week, then lead the lesson the next, etc. I'm not too good at it yet, but I'm learning!
I have meet so many interesting people from so many diverse backgrounds and stories, and I'm excited to meet more!
The Elders in the area next to us had a baptism, and we were there to help with the program and set up and such; it was such a cool thing, and the spirit was so sweet. I'm really happy for them; they are now numbered among the people of God, and are the newest members of the ward. It almost didn't happen; the husband is a trucker, and was delivering loads around the southern-east U.S. We were not sure if he would get home on Saturday; but he did. The Lord hears and answers our prayers.
Oh, another highlight this week was that I got invited by a potential to attend an African Methodist Episcopal Friday Revival; we always ask people to come attend a service with us, so it's only fair we come if they ask. To say it was interesting would be not only a massive understatement but also does not correctly define it; if I could use a word for it, it would be LOUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They had drums and pianos playing and the choir was singing and the Reverend was bouncing up and down and yelling and the congregation was yelling "Amen" and "Praise Jesus!" They sure were having a ton of fun! While amusing, I didn't find much anything edifying about it; the Reverend guy has going crazy! He reminded me of Dave Chappell; he was running around and yelling and saying funny things and always saying "Can I get a witness here?!", to which the congregation would respond with more amens and hallelujahs; they hardly used scripture at all, and not any doctrine. His theme was we needed to grow up and out of childish things; it was just a big show to me. I know now more than ever our church is true; revelation comes through reverence, not volume.
I heard about BYU winning from a member; AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If we couldn't beat Ole Miss we couldn't compete with the rest of the teams on our schedule. Everyone here is sorely disappointed that Georgia lost to Boise State, so the wars was pretty grumpy on Sunday lol. Keep me posted on BYU and Nebraska!
People here use "God bless" all the time, so I'm getting used to it.
Today (Labor Day) we have a good ol' fashioned southern BBQ provided by some awesome members, and I'm way excited!
I've been here almost 3 weeks, and I miss everyone A LOT. But anytime I dwell on that, I remember why I'm here: to assist in to bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. As long as I keep that in mind, I can continue to go forth in faith, for the work I forth to do is great in the sight of God.

Elder Casey Dickson

Casey Guy Dickson

Casey Guy Dickson
Called to serve in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission (July 2011 to July 2013)