Monday, March 26, 2012

Success in the mission field!

Who you gonna call? These guys!

Hey, y'all!
It's been a pretty good week; the best part being that both our top investigators have baptismal dates for April! Hooray! One of them, Keya, has almost had all the lessons (just tithing and fast offerings), came to church this week, is excited for conference, and is getting prepped for her baptism! She is awesome, and we are so happy! She is trying to get a job closer to the Young Single Adult Branch so she doesn't have to drive over an hour to get here; she is also flying to Hawaii for some vacation and looking at the schools down there, so we'll probably baptize her after that. The other gator, Jerry, is also doing really well; he came to church at the Kennesaw Ward and was taught about the Ten Commandments and obedience, so we still have a couple to go; however, he'll probably get baptized before Keya does; he is soaking it up like a sponge!
I have never had this many potential baptisms, let alone rock solid ones; it's been great! While baptisms don't measure success, we were called here to preach to all nations and baptize every creature. It has been great to have plenty of investigators who actually want to learn more and join the fold!
Anyway, it's been a decent week alot has happened, so I'll share the good stuff; we have seen our top 3 gators at least twice this past week, and had a member at every single appointment! Sweet! Do you know what isn't sweet, though? Not having any money or food lol! I have eaten everything I have, and I don't have any money to buy more (the church still hasn't sent my replacement card yet). My companions have been very nice and have shared both their own snacks and cents, but I hate asking them to do so; I'll be glad when the card arrives.
We have also had pretty good success with the Grueners (the lady who sent y'all the e-mail and picture; Dad has it). She has been to church three weeks in a row, a new record! She is also reading more out of the good book (the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, for those who couldn't guess), and her non-member husband is showing some minor interest in the Book of Mormon, so we'll see where that goes!
We got to talk with some other less-actives, who we hopefully will start seeing at church! There is nothing like seeing the member we're working on show up on Sunday; it's almost as good as a baptism (I hear, lol)!
This letter will be kind of short; we are hopefully headed to play sand volleyball with some other missionaries! I haven't played sand volleyball since the MTC (which feels like ages ago), so I'm excited!
My companions and I are crazy (the past couple of photos should give you some idea)! We are always up to our silly antics (within reason, of course)! The has been the funniest and craziest companionship I've been in, and I'm glad we can have fun and still get work done! I'll be sad when it has to end; this has been tied for my longest companionship (3 months with my trainer, then 6 weeks in Dahlonega, then 6 in Dawsonville, and going on 3 months here!), and I hope I can stay a little longer.
That's all I got to say for now; I hope everyone is doing well! E-mail or write so I can know what y'all are up to! I got to sit down and write some letters, I'm very bad at that. I hope Grandpa and Aunt Nina have gotten their letters by now!
Take luck, y'all!
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We wuz robbed!!!

We wuz robbed!

Hey Dickson clan,
Things couldn't be greater in the land of giant bugs and super allergies! Not kidding... the bugs are huge! Since we had a warm winter, they didn't all die like they were supposed to; it's going to be a rough summer. Also, the pollen has arrived much sooner than usual; it'll probably last till April. We woke up the other day, and our car was YELLOW! There is seriously that much pollen; it gets everywhere! 
Oh, and mom might have told you; I got robbed Thursday! It stunk! We were tracting, and saw some kids playing ball they challenged us, so, of course, we had to go represent! We took off our ties and the things in our pockets (which was dumb, I realize now; it's always the one time you assume it will be alright that something happens), set them by what we thought was a secure place, and schooled them! There were lots of kids who came outside to watch us; we played for maybe 20 minutes, then got our stuff to head home, only to find my JP card, my Wells Fargo card, and my Driver's Licence was missing, along with Elder Youd's JP card. Needless to say, we weren't too happy; we got the cards cancelled, talked to their parents, and exchanged information. The culprit was not found, but they know who they are, and so does God. I was certainly angry at first; still kind of am, but getting angry didn't solve the problem, and it won't; I know that this is a test of our patience and charity, a chance to keep us humble, and I take it graciously. I hope that whoever did steal our stuff so can find repentance and forgiveness someday; I have forgiven him/her and know the Lord will make things work out for us if we keep striving for the things that our righteous. Anyway, ranting again.
Anyway, I sent you a card, Grandpa, I hope you have it by now. I hope y'all are both doing well. 75? I thought you were only like 70; where did the time go? Happy Birthday/St. Patrick's Day!
Go Cougars! I miss watching basketball; the other day we were invited in to a home and they had a big screen showing a b-ball game; it took all I could not to watch it lol! I usually do pretty well around t.v.'s by not looking, but for sports it is difficult.
I have almost been out 8 months.. that's nuts! It's been great, but there are times where it is far more than simple; we are still having trouble with our recent converts we sent to the other ward; they don't feel welcome, so they aren't going. We go over there as often as we can (we are the only ones; the people in the other ward haven't even swung by) and try to talk to them, but they feel betrayed. We try to explain this is a test of their commitment the Lord has given them, but they are still struggling. To make things a little more frustrating, there was a kid the missionaries in other ward was teaching (who is a young single adult, and he lives in Kennesaw boundaries, so we should have been teaching him from the start) who got baptized into that ward, where he was fellowshipped; I wouldn't have a problem with that, we are all on the same team, and what matters is that he is baptized, but they got permission for him to stay in the ward, while they refused to give permission to have our converts stay in our ward, where they were heavily fellowshipped. Again, it shouldn't matter since we are all on the same team, but it seems a little inconsistent. Of course, we sustain our leaders, and are doing our best to be humble and to try to keep the peace; it has just been a little stressful.
Anyway, I'm done ranting; God will have things work out.
I'm glad you got those pictures; that was a lot of hard work, but it was a blast! Sister Gruener is super funny, and, as she said, she's coming back to church; she has been coming the past 2 weeks, and we are way happy for her! We'll see where it goes with her husband.  
Oh, the other night, some awesome members took us out to Texas Roadhouse! AHH! IT WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD! They have dang good rolls, and everything else was pretty tasty too; it's too expensive, and we tried to dissuade her from spending so much on us by taking us there; she asked "So... you're going to deny me blessings?" What can you say to that? We had to say yes! I'm not going to lie, I'm glad we agreed; it was sooooooooooooo good! I'll say that one more time: SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODD!!
I believe those were my thoughts; I hope I crystallized them for you (Brian Regan... anyone...Bueller?).
Last noteworthy thing; we had our top investigator come to church! He seems pretty sincere; he will probably be our next baptism; he soaks everything in like a sponge, and I'm excited for him!
In response to the email:
Shelby! I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITED!!!!!!! that you had a good time at Disneyland! Sounds like it was way awesome! I'm just a tiny bit jealous; we need to go again together sometime, I need someone to go on rides with me lol! I'm glad y'all preformed well, it always makes the trip worthwhile... and so does the food and rides and junk lol.
Nine guys in your Disneyland group?!?!?!?!?!? I'm not sure if I'm OK with that lol. I already told you, you can't date till you are 30... or at least till I can get back and keep an eye on those little punks.
I'm sad I'll miss the Hunger Games, but I'm having too much fun out here to stop lol! I am kinda mad y'all are seeing Avengers without me lol! I love you too, Missy! Don't give Mom too much trouble (but just enough to keep life interesting... lol jk), and give her a hug for me!
Hey, Mom! Keep up the good work, it is much appreciated! Thanks for all you've done and continue to do. Stay awesome! Love you!
Hey Stinker, glad that BYU is the lol! That is a good thing, right? ... right? Why doesn't anyone answer me?!?! lol Help Mom out the best you can, and give her a hug as well; if fact, you can both do it at the same time, like we used to lol.
I knew from an early age I was going to go on a mission, and nothing was going to stop me. I'm having the time of my life, but still can't wait to see y'all! Thanks for being awesome! Take luck!
Hi, everyone else! Hi Aunt Nina! Did you get my letter yet? Love y'all!
Love, your [insert proper term of affection here] 
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, March 19, 2012

A service project bears fruit

Dear Brothers & Sisters:
I'm Linda Gruener, and I'm a member of the Kennesaw Ward, where your wonderful sons are our missionaries. I've only recently started going back to Church (my husband is a non-member), and your sons are part of the reason why. What wonderful young men. You can not only be proud of them, but you can also be proud of yourselves for raising them. My husband has never allowed missionaries to come in and visit before, but Elders Youd, Dickson and Bowers came to dinner last night and we spent a couple of hours on the back deck in some rather involved religious discussions. They were so quick with finding scriptures (Bible and Book of Mormon) and sharing them with us. My husband has promised that he will start reading the Book of Mormon, because they have made him so curious.
The Elders came back today and worked for about 5 hours in the backyard, raking pinestraw. You can't even begin to know how much we raked because we didn't bag it all. They never stopped and we had a great day and completed the job. I'm attaching a few pictures that I took. Some in fun with the bags, some of them sitting on part of their hard work. The "extra" young man in one of the pictures is my 11 year old grandson Austin.
Warm regards,
Sister Linda Gruener
Hard at work raking the yard.

I think the leaves go inside the bag, not the missionaries.

Exhausted from a hard day's work.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Well, I guess we'll have to eat the dog ...

We are so calm, cool and collected.
Elder, look out!
I told y'all last week about us all talking in our sleep; Last night Elder Youd and I were lying awake, and we both heard Elder Bowers say "Comprende?"Then he said, "Well... I guess we'll have to eat the dog..." I can only imagine what he was dreaming about lol! He woke up to our snickering laughter, and said "Did I just say we'll have to eat the dog?" It was the funniest thing that has happened to me in this area! It made my night.
Oh, before I forget, transfer calls came today; I'm staying! So are Elder Bowers and Elder Youd. I'm glad; they are in my top 3 for favorite companions. My father (trainer) Elder Nielsen is staying, and his new companions are my step-trainer, Elder Harper, and an elder I served with in Conyers, Elder Kartchner. 3 missionaries is the style now, I guess. Elder Hernandez, our other zone leader, is moving to Spanish Cherokee, and is becoming our new District Leader. Elder Richardson, our old DL, is going zone leader in Conyers. Transfers are always so interesting; you never know what is going to happen.
How are y'all?
This past week has been a little slow; everyone was gone for spring break, and Elder Youd and Bowers both got pretty sick. Surprisingly, yours truly is fine and dandy! I fully expect to get sick in the coming week, though. Elder Bowers was the worst; we think he has the flu. He's doing better today, but yesterday he almost passed out, so we went back to the apartment early so he could sleep.
Even with these obstacles, we pressed forward with a steadfastness in Christ, and did the best we could!
Last P-day, half of the Marietta Zone (that's us) went to Stevie B's, an all-you-can-eat pizza place (which is far superior to CeeCee's), and did work! The 12 of us ate over 200 slices of pizza (a new Stevie B record!). We then took the crust and constructed a palace, using toothpicks to hold it all together. It was awesome! We're getting a picture on the wall; way to represent! We were all super full, though; we probably ate two whole pizza pies each (not including the bread sticks and dessert we also had). I may not eat for a week. That's probably not true; we are going to eat in a second.
We taught our top investigator on Monday and Thursday this week; she is way funny, but we can't seem to get her to come to church; the gloves are coming off now lol. She may be moving to Hawaii for school, so we gotta get her dunked in the water before she leaves us; they need to come to church twice before they can be baptized.
I love the members here; they feed us so well, and love to do missionary work! There are actually a couple people who lived in Orem; that lady who sent that picture of me to Sister Brown then to you, for instance (Sister Penrod). Oh, that reminds me, did a lady named Sister Brock get in contact with any of y'all? She was visiting Utah, and she offered to say hi to our families while she was there. She met Elder Youd's family (they told him in his e-mail today), so I was just wondering.
Welcome back to getting off topic with me, Elder Dickson!
Anyway, we had an interesting situation come up; the ex-boyfriend of the funniest person at the branch, who is a recent convert of about 2 months, asked if he can take the discussions. She wants nothing more to do with him (it was a bad relationship) but consented to giving his information to us; she told us if he starts coming to the branch, she'll move to another ward. We resolved it by having him go to the family ward here (since he lives in the boundaries); that way, we can see if he really is interested, or if he is just trying to get back with her. We are missionaries; we give everyone the opportunity to hear the gospel. We are doing our best to judge righteously; he seems interested enough, and he came to sacrament meeting with his new girlfriend, so we'll see. I'm trying not to let my love for the convert get in the way of giving him a chance.
We also got to teach this pretty cool kid who is going to Kennesaw State U; he approached us last week, told us he had attended some LDS services before, has a Mormon best friend, and wants us to know more. How awesome! We taught him a first on Thursday; he has some interesting ideas, but he agreed to get baptized if he learned these things were true. He has studied a lot of religions; he is half black and half Pakistan, so he grew up Muslim, then converted to Christianity, and has been to a ton of churches. He didn't come to ours this week, but we'll get 'im!
Friday we had a movie night; some of the zone (including ourselves) invited members, less-actives, and investigators alike to watch the Joseph Smith movie. It was good; we only had 2 come, but they really enjoyed the film; everyone was kind of in a somber and reverent mood afterwards. I had just finished reading Our Heritage (a book in our missionary library that is a brief history of the Church); our pioneer ancestors suffered sooooooooooo much so we could have religious freedom and prosperity and the church of course. I wish I knew more about my own pioneer ancestors; I need to do more genealogy.
Saturday we split wood at the Bishop's house, which was actually a lot of fun! There is something primal about breaking wood with an axe that gives us great pleasure. ARGH! I AM MAN! HEAR ME ROAR! lol sorry. I don't know what came over me.
Sunday was pretty good; a couple of less-actives and 'gators came to church, including a friend of the bishop; we taught him a first in Gospel Principles, and he took the challenge to read and ponder and pray about the Book of Mormon. We'll see.
That's about all that happened this week; most of it was spent taking care of the sickies.
It's all good, though; little miracles happen everyday; the ones I tell you about in these letters aren't even a hundredth of them. I have had such a great experience out here; I know who I am now; I am a son of God with a divine potential and a rich inheritance; I am a missionary, like my father before me; I am here to prepare to meet God at the last day. The church is so true. Jesus is the Christ. This is the Lord's Kingdom. In the name of our Master, Jesus Christ, Amen.
IN answer to your e-mail:
Hey, stinkymcgooferpants (I just made that one up). Sorry school is boring, but it's gone before you know it. Go beast mode in Churchball! Represent! Help Mom out all you can. Love ya!
Go Cougars! Hope they destroy! Well, not destroy, just seriously mame or injure lol!
Hey Shelby! I'm glad the tornado didn't kill me too lol! Show those other kids why they don't mess with the team Shelby Mae Dickson is on lol! Represent! Hope Disneyland fulfills all your deepest dreams! I love you too, sis!  I miss watching Star Wars and want to see Puss in Boots now, but what I'm doing now is so much better! No offense.
Hey, Mom! I am having a lot of fun out here; there is a quote that I think is from President Hinckley that said "If you aren't having fun, you aren't doing it right!" I take that to heart.
Represent in Volleyball! I love you so much! Your the best Mom ever!!
Hey, Dad! Hope all is well in Nebraskaaaaa! Love you too!
Happy Birthday, Grandpa Dick! Hope your birthday is exquisite! Hi, Grannie Sheila! 
I pray that you all are always protected and never neglected. Make Christ the center of your life, and you will not fall of the beaten path. Take luck!
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

My first tornado warning in Georgia

Better than reasonably priced, we're free!
The faces of missionary work can be ... interesting.
What a week we've had! It's gone by so fast, compared to the week before.
Most exciting thing that happened? I had my first Tornado Warning; quite exciting! We saw the weather get progressively worse, then we got a call from our zone leaders, telling us to get back to our apartment and bunker down. As we were heading back, we heard to tornado sirens go off; needless to say, we set a new record for getting home lol! The zone leaders, who were nearby, also came to our apartment, since it was closer. We watched the stinging sheets of rain and thundering and lightnings and fierce winds from the window; it was pretty intense! Fortunately, the tornado missed Kennesaw by like 30 miles, so we were all fine. Their was a bit of damage north of Kennesaw, but nothing to serious, as far as I know. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to sleep; we were all pent up with nervous energy. Eventually the fear faded, and we slept like babies.
I have been sleeping pretty well, which is surprising. For those of you who know me, I'm a very light sleeper, and a night owl. I used to go to bed at 12, and not fall asleep till 3, then get up at 11:30 lol. Now I'm out like a light at 10:30. I still have to fight to get up and at 'em in the morning, but I've gotten better. All missionaries, no matter how they were before, develop some kind of sleep disorder; we all snore like bears, and most of us talk in our sleep lol! I've never done that before! Some missionaries even teach lessons in their sleep, and all get incredibly weird dreams. I've had some pretty crazy ones about plane crashes and battles to the death and marshmallows and a Russian sniper love interest (she was pretty cute...) and things like that. I used to be never able to remember any of my dreams, and I still can't very well, but the bizarre ones really stick out lol!
Welcome back to rambling for paragraphs about nothing, with me, your host, Elder Dickson!
Anyway(s; still pretty sure it's a real word, Mom; everyone around me does it), other things that happened this week:
We had a pretty intense district meeting, where we were taught by the assistants; Elder Magleby (my mission grandpa), Elder Montez (Elder Asher's companion before me), and Elder Briggs (Elder Bower's trainer) taught a superb training about extending baptismal date upon FIRST CONTACT!!!! Preposterous, some proclaimed. But we have received a witness of this by going out and doing it this past week and the one before; we have 5 baptismal dates! Yay! We would have had 6, but one of our investigators who had a date, who we haven't seen in weeks, got arrested for a DUI and is in jail. (Waah waah waah). It sucks; he was so cool, and so ready to change his life. I hope that the seed we planted will be able to get nourished whenever he gets out.
We met a woman who, evidently, is a relative of Michelle Smalls (the mom we baptized a month ago); also, coincidentally, she was being taught by Elder Briggs and Elder Bowers before Elder Youd and I got here. She was sitting in the Smalls lessons, and had a date, but then she disappeared until now. She says she loves what joining our church has done for the Smalls, and wants that herself; unfortunately, she has problems being available. Still trying to catch her home or by phone.
That same Tuesday night, we went to go visit a less-active member of the Branch; incidentally, they had moved, and the person who answered had lived there a week. He let us in, offered us a beer (which of course we refused), and asked if he could learn more about Mormons. He had met some members at the base he was at (he was in the army), and a bunch of soldiers there joined the church. He wanted to know why. We shared an awesome first lesson (super spiritual) and invited him to be baptized, which he accepted. We are still trying to catch him home again, but I got a good feeling about him.
Wednesday we taught a girl who goes to KSU; we met her last week and scheduled a return appointment. We taught her at the LDSSA booth with a member of the Branch; it was pretty good, and she had some good questions. Unfortunately, this is the week of spring break, and most of our members and investigators will be out of town. I HATE HOLIDAYS!! Holidays used to mean something special; a time for family, friends, and relaxation. On a mission, all it means is that we can't get a hold of or get in with anyone! ARGH!!!
Thursday we had an exchange with the Spanish Cherokee elders; I went there with Elder Hokey Pokey (his name is really Hokafonu, but I call him Hokey Pokey) and Elder Holland (of no relation), who is a Visa-waiter (which means he is stuck here till he can get all his stuff so he can go to Argentina). Elder Richardson, our fearless District Leader, came to Kennesaw. It was certainly interesting; I was the senior companion in Spanish (which is new for me), but since I don't speak any espanol they did all the contacting and teaching. I never understood having exchanges with Spanish missionaries; oh well.
We swapped back later that night and saw a lady we met last week (who lives by the guy who got arrested for the DUI); she is very funny and kind; she'll make a good member lol!
Friday we ate at Stevie B's again; for 6 bucks it's all you can eat pizza, dessert pizza, and drinks. And guess what? It actually tastes good (unlike CeeCee's; BLAAH!)! We taught a less-active member there (hitting a stone with two birds, or something like that), and it was pretty cool; he is a nice guy who made some mistakes in his youth, and is striving to return. I hope he continues to do well.
We also saw Sister Fletcher again; the funniest and sassiest old woman on the planet! We always leave in stitches!
Saturday we volunteered at Shiloh Methodist Food Pantry again, which is always fun. What is really funny is that more people from our church go there to volunteer than any other congregation! Represent!!
Guess what? We had an investigator at church! Yay! She was the one who is getting divorced; she has had it rough, but she is a pocketful of sunshine! She thanked everyone at church for bearing their testimonies... in the middle of Relief Society! She'll make a great primary president, lol! I hope she lets the gospel help her.
There was also a lovely musical number at the Branch as well, preformed by some acapella choir at Southern Virgina University; apparently, they are about 94% Mormon up there. How cool is that?
We also met some pretty cool inactive members; we talked for an hour and a half! The first step for any and all less-actives and such is to be their friend; one of the reasons people stop coming to church is because either they don't feel welcome, or they got offended by someone. They all just need a hand of friendship and kindness; talking about the church will come. I like seeing less-actives we visit come to church; it's one of the happiest things that happen out here for me. They are all precious in God's eyes.
That's all for now; today we might go to a civil war museum that Sister Fletcher used to work at.
Hey, how is everyone? I heard that Mom destroyed in Volleyball (of course) and that Shelby is at Disneyland. Lucky!
I sent that letter Aunt Nina; you should be getting it soon.
It certainly has been eye-opening, being here in Georgia. Growing up in Happy Valley, I never really knew what it meant to be a member. The kids here have to defend their faith daily; they are so strong out here. It's also interesting to talk to so many
converts; I have always been in the church, and have had the Holy Ghost since I was 8; I don't know what it is like to be in the dark and cold; to have the emptiness of doubt and the loneliness plenty of others experience. I don't know what it's like to NOT be a member; that knowledge helps these converts remember what life is like without the light of the gospel. I think I know why I was sent to Georgia now (aside from the people I'm supposed to help). I needed to learn how to defend my faith if need be, and to be thankful for the way, the truth, and the life which is our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Gospel.
Thank you all for your wonderful examples, all to which lead me to decide to serve. I wish you all luck with all your endeavors. May the grace of God be with you all.
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Casey Guy Dickson

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