Monday, April 30, 2012

Splish, splash, its a baptism!

First off, Keya got baptized this weekend! Yay!  She got baptized this past Saturday: it was incredible, but also super stressful! I love Keya to death, but she has been at least a half hour late to every single appointment we had with her! Her baptism was no exception lol. Still, she got there, and got dressed in a very pilgrim looking dress, which is way funny; we constantly teased about making her wear a pilgrim outfit (long story), but we were just kidding. Still, that was the dress she chose, so all is well. Elder Youd baptized her (took him three tries; the dress didn't submerge), Elder Bowers sang a special rendition of "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" (which is my new favorite song!), and I confirmed her that Sunday (she was late to that, too). Talk about nerve-wracking! I always get worked up when I am asked to give blessings and such; I'm always afraid of messing up or sounding fake or foolish. But this time, when I confirmed her, it didn't feel like me talking; I don't remember most of what I said, but I remember that fear leaving just before I started talking. It was an amazing experience, and I'm glad we could be considered worthy enough to help this awesome young woman come unto Christ through baptism. I don't think I have ever been happier for anyone!
That was certainly the highlight of the week. We were so busy setting up this baptism, we didn't do much else this week lol! We did go to Cracker Barrel on Friday with a less-active (it has been months since I've eaten there; still expensive, but still SO good!). There were a lot of people we tried to see, but it seemed to be avoid the missionaries day... again. It really shouldn't be more than once a year. Anyway.
Our other investigator, who we haven't seen in a few weeks, got back Friday. We met with him, and talked about how to help him overcome his addictions. He is getting therapy for his bipolar, so we'll see what happens there; he still really wants to be baptized, just more at the end of May. Sister Brock's nephew came to church though; it's been a while since he's been able to make it. Were going to have push his date till the end of May as well; sometimes, it just takes more time.
It has been weird to be in this companionship still; this beats my old record of 3 months, with both companions and area. I'm glad, though, because I would have missed Keya's baptism! Everyone else is SO close too; I'm wasn't ready to go, but I was still surprised I stayed; I had myself convinced I was leaving. I guess I still have work left here to do.
Elder Hernandez (our superb district leader) just got a new greenie Wed.; Elder Popp. He's cool enough, but still looking like a deer in the headlights, as all greenies usually do.
Thanks for the candy and cookies! I'm glad y'all could meet Sister Brock; she is an all-star member, and the best relief society president I've seen yet! I hope she said only the good stuff about me, and same to y'all to her lol!
We might be playing sand volleyball today; Yay!
That's about it for news in Kennesaw.
In answer to your e-mail: Shelby! Thanks for the cookies, great as always!  I am so mad that there is no Papa Murphy's out here; I miss it! Try sending some in the mail lol. Haven't found any frazils either. I'm also jealous I am missing the Avengers and the new Last Airbender, but they'll still be there when I get home... right? Just so you know, baptisms are way cooler than superhero movies; just saying lol jk. But seriously. I know what you mean about Freestone, though; she drove me nuts! (Get it? Drove? LAUGH WITH ME, DANG IT!) I'll try to send you peaches lol, and I'll keep an eye out for a stuffed animal; I'm sending your package today, so it probably won't get to you till Friday or Saturday (I dislike snail mail strongly lol!) I remember Brother Taeger, Brother Johnson (who isn't there anymore), Brother Anderson (who isn't there anymore), I don't remember the others names, but one of them is the last one on the right; he throws parties every few weeks if we are good! I also volunteered in the special needs seminary class; you should look into it. It was kinda crazy, but it was a lot of fun to work with such sweet spirits! have a very happy birthday, congrats on making it to 16 lol, and don't get too crazy! All I want for my birthday is clothes or CDs or candy; or else anything else more creative than that lol! You're good at those sort of things! Have a ton and a half of fun, and know that I am there in spirit! Love you bunches! 
Hey Dev, I think you're pretty okay too. Keep up the good work! You're the man! Love ya! 
Hey, Mom! Thanks again for the candy and cookies! Sister Brock is awesome, isn't she? I'm glad you were able to meet up briefly. Thanks for being the best Mom anyone could hope to have! Keep showin' those youngin's how the slightly older generation does it lol (Are you still 29, or are you 35? I forget.)!
To everyone else: The church is true, the book is blue, and God is a Mormon!
Take luck!
Love, your grown-up son/older brother/best friend/person you want to be when you grow up,
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted."

Hey, y'all!
Guess what? Transfer calls were today, and I'm staying! Yay! This will be my longest area and companionship; my longest previously has been 3 months! I was surprised; I was pretty sure either I would go or else Elder Bowers, but it looks like we are all staying! Perfect! There is a lot of work we got to finish up here.
It was a bit of a slower week; we were able to teach Keya a few more lessons this week; she is getting baptized the 28th, and I'm sooooooooooooooooooooo excited, especially since I can be here to see it! She is so solid; I'll send pics when it finally happens!
We also got to teach a super spiritual first lesson to a lady we found and did yard work for last week; her aunt also sat in as we talked. They both said they felt the Spirit of Peace as we shared the First Vision, and definitely want us to come back! They have been sick the past few days, but we'll get 'em! She told us she doesn't even have to read the Book of Mormon; the Spirit already told her it was true! Wow! We'll see where that goes!
We've also been able to teach Sister Brock's nephew a few more times; did she get a hold of you, Mom? She was in Utah in April and tried to get a hold of y'all, but she couldn't catch ya before she had to leave. She was there again this past weekend; I gave her Dad's number, so he could get a hold of you; did ya? Sister Brock is way cool, she is the RSP (Relief Society President) and is a killer member missionary!
Anyway, that family we baptized in February (when I first got to Kennesaw), the Smalls, are now going to church regularly in their new ward; yay! It's hard to switch wards, especially for recent converts. I'm glad they finally feel comfortable there!
Thursday we played Ultimate Frisbee with the Branch; it was a ton of fun, and even better, Keya was there! We all had a blast and I even scored a few; thank you, thank you. I'm so glad Keya is comfortable around the members; that was a big step! I'M SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITED FOR HER BAPTISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We also ate at Sister Gruener's before Frisbee; she is the one who sent the picture of us doing yard work at her house. She feed us BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, homemade mashed potatoes, and peach cobbler; oh gosh, it was so good! She came to church again, yay! I just hope she keeps going even after her favorite missionaries leave.
Saturday we helped out at the food pantry again; it's always a blast to work with Shiloh United Methodist; they are very Christ-like, and fun to be around; I hope our presence as a church and influence as missionaries can help them accept the gospel when they are prepared to hear it.
Anyway, there was also a festival downtown; it was pretty cool, not as many cool rides as Summerfest, but three times the amount of booths; there were some pretty cool glass or wood or steel carvings and creations, and also a lot of cool civil war stuff. The last picture is of the balloon and flag I got there; only in the South!
Sunday was just okay; most of our investigators could not be there, but some less-actives came, which is almost as good. They are all great people; they just need some help or comfort. The guys we are working with at the Branch are pretty cool; one is former military who is trying to turn his life around, and another is recovering from substance abuse. It has been fun teaching them and watching good things happen to them; God certainly loves us all, and blesses us in our need and our righteousness. There were a lot of wedding announcements at the Branch; I guess that us what the Branch is for, but it's a little sad to see the numbers dwindle; it just means we gotta go baptize some more people!
That's about all I got; our other investigator, the one that was supposed to get baptized a little while ago is struggling; we're trying to help him through his troubles, but he seems to be letting them get to him. We are still planning to baptize him in May; we just got to be supportive, and help him overcome his addictions.

In response to your e-mail:
Hey, Shelby! Legend of Korra came out? Sweet! Is it as good as the original? What is that TinTin movie about? Sorry you got sick from Easter candy, I did too lol. Most of what y'all sent me is already gone! Glad you got to hang out with the Other Dicksons! I miss them all as well; I'm glad I finally got Uncle Darren's e-mail so I can send stuff to him too! I can't really wrap my mind around Brittney being 13, or Lauren being 10! Where did the time go?! And you are turning 16! What the cheese puffs, Shelby?! I told you not to grow up till I got back! Well, if you are going to go ahead and grow up anyway, what do you want for your birthday from Georgia? Let me know so I can send it fairly soon. I hope you do well on your quiz! Thanks for the e-mail; keep helping Mom all you can, and keep destroying at Volleyball! Si se puede! (Yes you can in espanol) Love you bunches!

Hey Mom! First off, I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo happy y'all went to the temple to do baptisms; I almost teared up when I read that. There is nothing more important for us than the temple, and I wish I had taken the opportunity to go a lot more before I came out. Keep up the good work! I'm also glad you got to see those videos; Alex Boye is my new favorite singer! All those videos can be found on ... speaking of which, have y'all made your profiles yet? And it's true; you never know who will be receptive to the gospel or not, that's why we got to talk to everyone! Also, did Sister Brock get a hold of you? I haven't seen her yet to ask if she met y'all. Thanks for all your support; you're right, the Dicksons do rock! I can't wait to talk to y'all Mother's day; once I know when and where, I'll send an e-mail so we can Skype. I'm SOOOOOOOO excited!!!!! I miss y'all tons, but I'm having too much fun to stop! Love you bunches!

Hey Dev! It's cool that you are doing home teaching; what families are ya seeing? You are doing more good than you probably think for them; it's nice to have people come visit, especially when things get rough; you get to be there for them if and when it happens. Keep ballin'! Good job on baptisms for the dead! Keep up the good work, bud! Since people are always saying we look alike, I think I can agree on you P.S. lol! Stay cool! You are the priesthood holder of the home; the family is your responsibility till y'all move in again with Dad! Love you!

To everyone else reading this, thanks for all the support and prayers, they can certainly be felt all the way over here in Georgia! Remember to always be prepared for when the Lord needs you to bless someone else; read your scriptures, pray, and go to church; that may not seem like much, and I know you have heard it all your lives, but these three things will strengthen your spiritual muscles, and will cure any ill that happens to us. Like it says in the familiar song, "Hark! the sound of battle sounding loudly and clear; Come join the ranks! Come join the ranks! We are waiting now for soldiers; who'll volunteer? Rally round the standard of the cross. Hark! 'tis our Captain calls you today; Lose not a moment, make no delay! Fight for the Savior; come, come away! We're joyfully, joyfully marching to our home." 
Like Elder Holland constantly reminds us, we are at war with the father of lies, and we must be ready to stand in holy places, and to dare to stand for the cause of truth. This church is true; how could it not be? The Book of Mormon is the Word of God, and we need it if we are to prevail! Thomas S. Monson is the prophet; and he relays orders from the Lord to us, so we can know the duties and responsibilities given to us. Jesus is our Captain and King, and he will win. In Christ's name, Amen. 

Thanks again to y'all for everything! I can't wait to talk to y'all Mother's day! Take luck!
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, April 16, 2012

Howdy, y'all! (Just kidding, that's a Texas thing)

Have you heard about the Mormons? Would you like to know more?
Howdy, y'all? (Just kidding; no one says howdy here, that's more Texas)
Things are going great, as always! The bad news the baptism we were going to have this week was postponed; good news is, now he has more time to work of some concerns. Though he passed his interview, we had a lesson with him the morning of the baptism; he told us he was still struggling, and we all felt prompted to move the baptism to another day. We are all a little sad, but it is all for the best, and he'll be far better off with some time to work things out. He's still solid; he came to church, we taught him about the Atonement, and we set up some meetings with the bishop to clear some things up. We'll see how that goes; we still may be able to get him wet next week.
On the other hand, Keya just got back from Hawaii! Yay! She came to church, and we taught her the Word of Wisdom, which is always a tricky one, since everyone down here LOVES their sweet tea! She is solid as a rock; I know she can overcome it. Her baptism is this weekend; yay! It'll be incredible to actually see a baptism all the way through; I'm soooooooooo excited for our investigators!
Our other investigator is doing well, save he keeps missing church because his non-member father is still making him go to the lacrosse games (even though he can't even play; he broke his wrist!) instead. It's hard when we can't do much for people who want to join, but whose families make it difficult. I guess I wouldn't really know what that is like, but it has to be hard to go against family, or to have non-supporting relatives. It's a good thing he has his Aunt Judy (Sister Brock) as an example and for support. He has a date for the end of the month (the same day his cousins will be in town); we just keep praying he will be able to.
While everyone wants approval or support from their family, the one we should worry about impressing is our Father in Heaven. He will give us the support we need, and unfailingly has our best interests in mind.
It's been kind of a short but busy week; we had two to three lessons with our top three investigators this week. The members have been awesome with the team-ups; it makes our job soooooooooo much easier! We also spent a lot of time going over all the paperwork in the Area Book; there are a lot of potential baptisms in the Big Book, we just got to find them!
There is also a lot of search and rescue going on with the ward and branch; they have asked us to assist in locating people who have disappeared off the face of the earth. We call this "bounty hunting!" Whatever we can do to help!
We had lunch with the mission assistants, which isn't a bad thing; it just gets everyone all worked up, because they think they are in trouble or something lol. Guilty conscience, I guess. One of the assistants, Elder Briggs, is Elder Bowers' trainer, so it was a good reunion.
We also met a lady tracting this week; she has some member friends, and has always been interested in the Mormon culture (as she called it); we gave her a Book of Mormon and taught the her about the Restoration. We didn't get much chance to talk; she is quite to chatterbox! We left our testimonies, and committed her to read and pray for her answer. Problem is, she wants to read the whole book before she wants us to come back! While it is good to read the whole thing at some point, all you need to succeed is a personal witness from God; I definitely want my Father in Heaven's feedback! She said to come back in a month, so we'll see how this goes.
Thanks for all the letters and candy and money; all these are very much appreciated! But is even more special is the love and prayers; I can feel them even from here in Georgia. I'm glad I was able to be placed in this family, and that this family will not end in death. I know this church is true, and because it is, families ARE forever, Jesus is the Christ, the Book of Mormon is the Word of God, and this is the Lord's work. It's hard sometimes to think he could pick someone like me to preach the gospel; how can such an imperfect person like me be given the responsibility of others' salvation? It's because whom the Lord calls, he qualifies; I still feel very humbled to be a part of this great and marvelous work, but now I have the courage and continuously ask for the strength to be able to go forth, and bring forth fruit. This gospel is so true; how could it not be? I know that by personal study, prayer, and church attendance, we can keep our spiritual muscles strong, so we can be ready when the Lord calls on us, wherever and whenever that may be. I know that if we keep focused on the Savior, and make Him the center of our lives and hearts, we cannot fail. Charity never faileth; perfect love casteth out all fear; it endureth forever, and whosoever is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Let us all have this perfect love for one another, as Christ has loved us. Amen.
Thanks again for all you do! I couldn't ask for a better family! Keep up the good work!
Love, Your grown up son or brother or friend or the coolest person you know,
Elder Casey Guy Dickson
P.S. I tried to load up some pictures, but this library computer won't let me! Argh! Oh well.

Monday, April 9, 2012

You know I'll be eating candy since Easters ...

Peeka ---- choooo!
Hey, y'all!
Things are great here in the land of southern pride and green beans with bacon! It was kind of a slow week; last Monday we went to Costco and bought plenty of food in bulk! We should be good for the rest of the month now lol! Missionary work always progresses faster when the missionaries are fed lol!
We played some volleyball with the Spanish branch, which is always fun; this time we brought some of our investigators! It was hysterical; we don't really know what is going on, since they are all speaking Spanish, but we all have a good time!
Wednesday we tracted into a lady who just moved from Chicago who needed some yard work done; we changed, came back, and DID WORK!! She was super grateful, and we hope to see her and teach her family soon. She has had it rough; she's been shot, and has other health problems, and is trying to turn her life around. I hope she'll let us help her.
We've taught one of our top investigators a couple of times this week, prepping him for baptism; I still have mixed feelings about his intentions, but we teach people who want to be taught, and we baptize people who want to be baptized. We'll plan on his baptism on the 14th; I still do have good feelings about him, so we'll see.
Friday we were invited to attend Kennesaw United Methodist (one of the churches who volunteers at the food pantry for Shiloh) for their Good Friday service in the evening. It was all right, just kind of depressing; most churches feel the need to entertain, so it's more like a show than a service; this one was slower and calmer, like ours, but the spirit wasn't really there. They are all really nice people, and they follow Christ in their charitable acts and love for Christ and fellowmen, they just don't have ALL of it. That's the whole point of missionary work, particularly in the south; everyone down here is confused that we still try to talk to them and teach them after they have already announced they are Baptist or Catholic or whatever; it's because, like it says in the Bible, there is "one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism"; there is only one true church and true doctrine, and we invite all people to let the spirit testify to them the truth of our words; it is only in this church that will take you to the Celestial Kingdom, and have eternal life with God, Christ, and your family. I wish people would give us a chance; if they truly understood what we have to offer, they would climb over each other to get it. I know that by our faith, diligence, and heed, we WILL be blessed with success.
Anyway, we didn't do much for Easter; we had church, then Spanish Cherokee baptized someone in a river, which was pretty cool; tried to see some people who weren't home, then had dinner at the Mourdock's house (he is the branch president), and lastly, we went to ELDER Valverde's farewell party; and that's all I got to say about that. I did get the Easter candy, thanks! Candy always helps lol!
Do you have Uncle Darren's e-mail? I have been wanting to include him in the e-mails, but I don't know where to send it.
We hiked Kennesaw Mountain, which wasn't very long or hard at all; it took us maybe 15 minutes to get to the top; the mountains out here don't really compare with ours lol. It was cool, though; we could see Atlanta, and just about everything else, from the top because it's pretty flat save for the trees (which are in full bloom, so now we can't see anything); there was also a civil war museum, which was interesting; we got to see the southern side of it.
Not much happened this week; everyone was out of town for the holidays; we do have a baptism this coming Saturday, though! Yay! Then we should have one next week as well; cross your fingers!
Hey, Shelby! I don't really remember the Christensens, but I usually forget what day it is, so whatever lol ;). So what is The Lorax about? I don't really remember it. Say hi to the twins and the girls for me! Uncle Darren and Aunt Amy too, I guess, if you have time lol jk. I didn't know about the easter eggs; that's pretty cool! Zombies? That's way cool, lol, I'm jealous! Brenna, BJ, and Garrett, all engaged? Really? Wow, who'da thunk it? I hope school and sports and friends continue to make you happy! :) Love you!
Hey Mom! How's life? Thanks for the candy!! It was needed lol! I hope the house can progress towards being sold so you can go be with Dad; it makes me glad that y'all are doing scriptue reading and family prayer; it's the remedy to all that ails us in life. Thanks for all you do! Love you!
Hey, Dev! Sorry school isn't fun, but I can promise you'll miss it and appreciate it after it's all done. Stay cool, baby brah! Love you!  
Thanks for being the best family anyone could ask for; keep up the good work!
Love, Your grown-up son/brother/relative or acquaintance in some way,
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, April 2, 2012

General Conference and such ...

Hey, y'all!
Things are great in the land of awkward situations and violent water gun fights!
How are y'all? I've been terrible at returning letters; I want letters but I don't write any; it is a paradox I am trying to solve. The days blur together; everyday feels like Sunday lol! It's a good thing, but I usually forget what day of the week it is; it becomes one blob of emotions and experiences. I have been terrible at keeping my journal; I feel bad about it. I'm glad at least I have my missionary planner and these e-mails to preserve the memories of my mission.
Anyway, I hope all is well and that the move to Nebraska is commencing; what's left on the house to do? Has Devin warmed up to the idea yet?
We watched conference at the church; hardly anyone was there; people all watch it at home now or else online. The bad news is that Keya, one of our top investigators, is in Hawaii this weekend, and our other investigator who is the nephew of Sister Brock was in Florida. The good news is that our other top investigator, with a date for the 14th, came to priesthood session and both Sunday sessions, as well as the Spanish Cherokee elders baptism. Wow! He said he is pretty convinced OUR church was true. Our, not your. Sounds like he's ready. The flicker of doubt, though, is the fact that potentially his motives for joining are to get back with, or at, the recent convert at the branch; I feel otherwise, but it's still a possibility. We continuously pray about it, but I think we just need to teach Wow and Chasity; if his purposes our pure, then he is really feeling this and knows it's true. I don't mean to be doubtful or pessimistic; I want to judge righteously, but we all care very much for the recent convert; she is so funny and happy. I'm not sure what to do except let the spirit guide.
Anyway, let's talk about happy stuff again; where is David Archuletta going on his mish? I didn't see him there, but I guess he was.
I think Uchtdorf is my favorite; I really enjoyed both his talks, even though there weren't any airplanes lol. Pres. Monson seemed rather solemn compared to last conference; I wonder what's up? Elder Packer and Elder Hales didn't look too well either..
Holland has become my new favorite since I have been serving; I have gotten a lot of his talks on CD from other missionaries; he is pretty intense! Like camping! (crowd: Boo!) His talk in conference seemed like a warning; it's getting late? Makes me wonder...
Anyway, other things that happened this week: we played sand volleyball on Monday, and indoor volleyball with the Spanish branch Friday; it was a blast! It's funny because all the Spanish speakers use their feet in volleyball as well, with perfect accuracy!
We taught Keya a few more times before she left for Hawaii; she is so prepared! She was able to witness a baptism, and that, she said, is what sealed the deal. I'm sooooo happy!
Oh, one of our investigators, who was arrested for drunk driving, is "back in town" now; he still wants to meet with us. We'll see what happens; if he is on parole, he can't get baptized for quite a while.
We also got to do some service for a less-active this week; we mowed her lawn and trimmed the hedges and all that fun stuff! It was good to get out of the monkey suit for a while lol...
My companion's and I have been having a blast! Elder Youd's mom sent him squirt guns, so we had a ball with those. Plus an epic sword fight with wrapping paper sticks lol! We all get along like brothers; violently and teasingly. Good ole times, right, Dev?
I'm excited to skype y'all this Mother's day! I'll let y'all know the details as we approach the day.
Tough luck about Tragen; I'll pray for him. How is everyone else from 9th ward? What happened to Garrett; I know he got back a few days after I left. Is B.J. or Travis or Jake back yet?
Thanks for everything, guys; you're all the best! I pray for y'all all the time; it isn't easy being away from everyone, but we'll see each other again, and this time apart makes us appreciate the reunion even more. Take luck!
Love, your grown-up son,
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Casey Guy Dickson

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