Saturday, August 10, 2013

Elder Dickson's homecoming photos (July 28, 2013)

Shelby, Devin and Collin waiting patiently for Casey's arrival.

The proper greeting for a rock star.

Mom and Shelby with Georgia flags.

Devin, Sheila and Grandpa.

Elder Dickson has arrived!

Finally home!

Elder Dickson and his family.

The "Casey Returns" dinner at Los Hermanos, of course.

Exhausted after a long day of celebration.

Hugs for big brother.

After Casey's homecoming talk, a little food at Bonneville Park.

Family and friends at Bonneville Park.

Plenty of food.

Yum, yum!

Devin partaking.

The star of the show!

Tastes so good!

Cousin Lauren is just worn out.

Elder Dickson at the SLC Airport, returning home on July 25, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

HE'S COMING HOME! (ie, the last letter)

Hey, guys!
So I am very excited, and nervous, and happy, and sad, not to mention
bored, comatose, serendipitous, melancholy, ecstatic, and avuncular...
let's just say I don't know what to feel; of course I am excited to
see everyone and will be very happy to get to know my family again,
but how can I leave this? I have been extremely happy helping others
come to Christ through service and teaching and example and testimony;
I hope it's not presumptuous to say this, but I think I understand, in
the very smallest sense, how Heavenly Father feels about His children;
he loves them and desires their salvation, no matter what kind of
person they are. I'm not saying I have perfect charity (I don't anyone
here on earth does, though some come close), but I can honestly say
that I truly love the people here in Georgia, even the ones who
weren't so nice to me... at the same time, though, while I know God is
perfect and is in control of every emotion and passion He has, I also
understand how frustrating it is to work with and work for people who
don't want the help or don't keep commitments or want to change; I
mean, there are plenty of people who I KNOW they felt the spirit, and
they got a witness of the truth, and they walk away from that... I
have never cared so much for people who weren't family... On the other
hand as well, the most precious moments of my life up till this point
have been the baptisms of those I have gotten to know and care very
deeply about; I love teaching and testifying and working for the Lord,
and I can still do that as a member, but it's not the same...
Anyway, my week:
My last full week as an elder was not super eventful; our phone broke
again, so we went most of this week without one, which was incredibly
Tuesday we had district meeting, then tried to see a bunch of people
on our list from the bishop without success... did see our local
conspiracy theorist, so now we are all caught up on what's going on in
the world lol...
Wednesday we had lunch with Sister Gomez (who is awesome) at a Chinese
restaurant. That's right, I said Chinese. I can tolerate it now
(barely!). Did a bunch of walking that day... my legs will be sore for
the rest of my life with all the walking and biking I have been doing
lol; it's torn all my church clothes to pieces...
Thursday we went to the Trainer meeting (Elder Bowers is training a
new missionary, and as his companion, I have to follow him) in
Lilburn, which was fun; saw some cool guys I haven't seen in a while,
and probably won't see till they finish their missions lol!
I also got the chance to conduct my first baptismal interview as a
District Leader that day... I was pretty nervous, but it was fine. The
sister missionaries in our ward were teaching a really cool lady named
Rebecca, who is uber-prepared! She passed the interview with flying
colors and she got baptized this Sunday; it was a pretty awesome
service, with an awesome musical number by our own Elder Bowers, who
is an amazing singer!
Friday we weekly planned, then we did service for Sister Seghi, one of
my favorite people here; we painted her house some more, then she took
us to our dinner appointment, Sister Sutherlin, my other favorite
member in Paper Mill! We ate Mexican food twice that day lol; both
Sister Seghi and Sister Sutherlin took us to Mexican restaurants for
lunch and dinner... I wasn't complaining lol (I am so excited for Los
Saturday we got to help at the ward's pancake breakfast for the
Pioneer Day activity; I decided I really like this ward, they are all
super nice and do a good job taking care of us; wish I could have
spent more time here... oh well.
After the breakfast we helped Rebecca (the lady who got baptized) into
her new house; it was crazy! We probably had ten of us there helping,
but she had so much stuff it took us like 4 hours to get it all lol!
We were all super exhausted...
Finally that night we got in with our french gators from the Congo,
and taught the first lesson again; it went better this time cause his
wife was there, and she speaks better English than he does, so she helped
translate. They couldn't make it to church, but they want to come next
week; hope they do, though I won't be here to see it...
Sunday was pretty good; my last Sunday as a missionary... Rebecca was
baptized, we had a marvelous dinner with our wonderful bishop, and got
soaked in the rain! A pretty good day (the rain ruined my favorite tie
though lol oh well).
Today we may go bowling, but I don't know for certain; what I do know
is that I don't really believe I am going home; I feel like I will
still be here in a week, I can't make my brain believe that I will be
home with you guys so soon...
Well, to wrap up this last letter, here is a song by The Nashville
Tribute band (a bunch of return missionaries who make church CDs),
from their The Work: A Tribute to Missionaries Album, which I think
sums up how I am feeling perfectly. It's called, "The Hardest Thing I
Have Ever Loved to Do."
"The hardest thing I have ever loved to do, was letting go of
everything I ever knew. Nineteen years left in my room, As I buttoned
up the jacket on my suit.
"The hardest word I have ever loved to say, Was goodbye to my mom and
walk away. Choking on my tie and on my tears. As I walked away down
the halls and into those years.
"The sweetest song I've ever loved to sing, Filled the MTC on angel's
wings. The chorus filled my soul five thousand strong, And I wished it
would just go on and on.
"The firmest hand I've ever loved to shake, Was my trainers with that
big grin on his face. He grabbed my bag and put his arm around me, and
whispered 'I'm gonna work those MR Mac's right off your feet.'
"The hardest words I have ever anguished for, Came just before some
lady slammed the door. My trainer left me hanging dry, As a minute of
painful silence rolled right by.
"But the hardest tears I have ever loved to cry, Fell as I opened up my
mouth and testified. Between the tiny walls of a strangers living
room, The spirit told their hearts my words were true.
"The hardest thing I've ever come to see, Is a man down on his knee's
in agony. A drop of blood falls down on olive leaves, And for a moment
he suffers there for me.
"The hardest thing I've ever loved to do, Was getting on this plane and
coming home to you. In a million ways completely torn apart, As a land
far away still owns my heart.
"In the most sincere prayer I've ever prayed, I thank my God for each
and every day, for the blessing of the man I've come to be, As I walk
up and kiss my mama's cheek."
That last part will be fulfilled in a few days. I know beyond a
shadow of a doubt this church is true, and no one can tell me
otherwise, because I have received a witness from the Holy Spirit that
this is the truth, and we invite all men everywhere to repent and come
unto Christ. I love you all so much. See you soon.
Elder Casey Guy Dickson... one last time, signing off.

Monday, July 15, 2013

G'Day, Mate!

Hey, everybody!
I am completely FREAKING OUT about coming home in a week lol! I am so
excited! And kinda sad (about leaving the missionary work and
stuff)... I am a roller coaster of emotions; I don't know what to feel
So what's the plan when I fly in? Or is it going to be a surprise lol?
I thought the other day, about only two more letters! And one more
Sunday as a missionary! Insane! Has it really been two years? It
wasn't nearly long enough...
So this week:
Monday we tried to go bowling, but it was WAY too expensive lol, but
we did get to play ball at the stake center, which was awesome...
Tuesday we had a zone training, which are always fun, because you can
see the other missionaries in the zone! Later we had dinner with
Brother Challis, one of our ward missionaries, who had invited a
friend to dinner for us to teach named Michelle; she was super nice
and out-going, and asked a lot of good questions, so we will see how
that goes... it felt good to teach again, it's been a while lol...
Wednesday downpoured ALL DAY lol we got so soaked we had to go back
and change our clothes... We found out that day that Elder
Christensen's visa came in, and he was to fly to Australia on Sunday.
We were to drop him off at the stake center to the assistants Saturday
night; we were both happy and sad... E. Chris was excited to finally
get to his mission, and we are too!
Thursday we helped a part-member paint her house, which was pretty
fun; we took some crazy pictures lol... Later we had dinner at the
Hilton's, the family that took us in when the tornado got us a few
weeks ago; they are very funny, I'll miss them... Brother Hilton came
out on a team-up with us to see Brother Vaughan, a super nice
less-active; we were planning on teaching the 10 commandments, but the
spirit said otherwise... we talked a lot about Brother V's recent loss
of his Mom and his best friend; the spirit was very strong, and
everyone felt better at the end of it. Bro. V then bought us ice
cream; nice! A pretty good day...
Friday Elder Bowers had a doctor's appointment in Norcross (I used to
serve in that city when I was in John's Creek!), so I got to see my
old building again; then we helped a member set up for a wedding
rehearsal, and after dinner with the Paget's, the husband took us to
see Becky and Larry; we talked a lot about the sacrament and church
attendance, but they stayed stand-offish throughout the lesson, so we
don't know what else to do... They got to start progressing, or else
we gotta drop them...
Saturday we went to this barber shop some elders who used to serve
here recommended us, and had a pretty intense religious discussion
with Ali while Elder Christensen was getting his hair cut. Then we
went to go see a referral YSA elders gave us; a family from the Congo
that spoke more french than english, but they were super nice, and
they love Jesus Christ! The husband is a boxer, and they have the
cutest 18 month old! They wanted to come to church this week, but at
the last second they had car problems, so they promised to come next
week. I wish I knew french; it's hard to teach them just because I
don't know how much they understand...
After dinner we dropped Elder aussie at the stake center; after a
quick goodbye and a long hello to some of the other elders I saw there
(like Elder Everett; he is one of my best friends out here in the
mish!), they drove off into the sunset... We'll probably never see him
again until he gets back (he lives in Cedar Hills, so he is super
Sunday I gave a talk about teaching by the spirit; it was only 5
minutes, but the spirit killed it! I shared a story that I have come
to love so much:
"The following event took place in a ward in Salt Lake City in 1974.
It occurred during a sacrament meeting and was told to me by Regional
Representative of the Twelve who was in the meeting. A young man, just
before leaving on his mission stood in sacrament meeting and bore in
essence the following testimony:
Brothers and sisters, as you know, the past two weeks I’ve been
waiting for a mission call. During the time I was waiting I had a
dream. I knew it was not an ordinary dream. I dreamed I was in the
pre-existence and awaiting my call to come to earth. I was filled with
the same anticipation and excitement that I had before I received my
mission call. In my dream I was talking to a friend, and I felt a
special closeness to him, even though I’ve never met him in this life.
As we talked a messenger came and gave me a letter. I knew it was my
call to go to earth. In great excitement my friend and I opened the
letter. I gave it to him and asked him to read it aloud. It said:
“You’ve been called to earth in a special time and to a special land.
You will be born to the true church and you will have the priesthood
of God in your home. You will be born into a land of plenty, in a land
of freedom. You will go to earth in the United States of America.”
My friend and I rejoiced as we read my call, and while we were
rejoicing the messenger returned. This time he had a letter for my
friend. We knew it was his call to earth. My friend gave me the letter
to read out loud. His letter said:
“You’ve been called to go to earth in circumstances of poverty and
strife. You will not be raised in the true church. Many hardships will
attend your life. Your land will be fraught with political and social
difficulties – which will hinder the work of the Lord. You will be
born in Costa Rica.”
We wept, my friend and I, as we read his call. And my friend looked at
me with tears in his eyes, and said, “When we are down on earth, you
in your choice land and me in Costa Rica, my friend, please come and
find me.”
Then this young missionary, with tears in his eyes, said, “Brothers
and Sisters, I have received my mission call. I am going to Costa
There is a sequel to the story. About a year after the sacrament
meeting, the bishop received a letter from the missionary in Costa
Rica. The letter had one sheet of paper in it and on that sheet
written in capital letters were four words: I FOUND MY FRIEND."
Isn't that such an awesome story!? I know that there are people out
there that we have to share the gospel with... we promised...
I'm glad I could help this ward; I never got so many compliments for
such a short talk; all credit goes to God...
That's all for this week; I got one more full week to go...
So I plan on working hard up to the very last day; there is two more
district meetings, and we have found a few new gators, so I am gonna
keep on it! On the 24th there is a fireside were I can invite people;
what's kinda convenient is a lot of the wards I served in, most of the
people going home with me also have served there, so I hope for a good
turn out; most of my converts have moved out of the state, and some
members too, but it'll be good still.
Thanks so much, hope to see y'all soon, take luck!
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, July 8, 2013

Knocking on doors in the rain

No guns, just poses.
Hey y'all!
So it has rained ALL week. ALL WEEK. We have never seen this much rain 
in July. 
It made for a dreary Independence day, as well as rained on
our missionary work party lol...
Tuesday I went on exchange with the ZL's, which was fun; I was with
Elder Hoyt, who is from Canada (eh?). It was SO nice to be in a car
all day; we meet a lot of interesting people while contacting; one guy
said, "Holy *beep*, it's the Mormons! How the *beep* are ya?" He was
the nicest person we met all day; he is an atheist, but he was super
nice and animated. Also met a Russian lady and some crazy people;
doesn't get better than that!
Wednesday it started DOWN POURING; we got absolutely drenched! Good
thing I was wearing a polyester tie...
Friday and Sunday we saw Becky and Larry, and had good visits with
them. They are getting closer, just slowly... We talked a lot about
obedience and church attendance, but they haven't come yet; we brought
the bishop with us, hope that helps...
Not much happened this week; just a lot of rain and a lot of knocking
doors with not a lot happening yet. Had one nice family let us in and
give us water; they prayed with us, but don't seem interested in
converting; the world is full of nice people of all faiths...
Elder Christensen, our visa waiter, is heading for Australia in a
week; we'll miss him, but we are also excited he is finally going
where he is supposed to be; my only son has grown up so fast
All my friends in the Conyers Zone got the ax; now they are in the
Georgia Atlanta Mission... oh well, at least I can e-mail them now...
I will be coming back home without any money or civilian clothes or
car or driver's licence lol so I'll go wherever you will take me...
I am sending some boxes home (to the Hall's address; idk where y'all
are now...) full of ties and books and stuff I can't really take with
me lol...
This ID thing has been the biggest headache for the past 6 months lol!
I have been trying so hard, and when I finally thought I had all that
I needed, they didn't accept my letter signed by President that says I
don't have bills or school records or work records to prove my
residency, so I'm gonna try a different DMV and see if they would be
more accepting; I'm gonna try still to get an ID, but Sister
Conners and I have a few ideas if that doesn't work... I had a UVU ID
at one point back home, I have no idea where that is at home... I'll
keep trying on my end; if you find anything with my picture on it,
that would be cool lol...
I haven't really noticed a difference being DL; I just take numbers
and conduct district meeting... I am responsible when things happen,
but nothing has happened yet (knock on wood)... Being organized is one
of my achilles heels, but it's been working out.
On the fourth we just tracted all day; we had hot dogs at a member's
house, but no fireworks; it has been raining all week, so everyone in
town missed out, not just us lol!
Sorry this is super short, not much has happened aside from trying not
to think about home...
Love y'all so much!
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, July 1, 2013

Georgia (and Utah) on my mind ...

Sister Worthington, Sister Mayes and Elder Dickson.
Hey, Howdy, Hey!
Bit of a slow week work-wise... and yet at the same time the weeks are flying by as July 25th gets closer and closer...
So this week:
Tuesday we had a mission-wide fast in preparation for the Month of Consecration in July (I'll explain in a sec.) We fasted from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning, which I have never really done before. It's hard to fast as a missionary lol; we got permission to drink water because we were biking, thank goodness! We spent the whole day on Tuesday tracting, hoping we could find a new investigator... we talked to A LOT of people, and few of them said we could come back, so cross your fingers! Wednesday was district meeting as well as interviews. We met at the stake center (after breaking our fast at Chick-fil-A lol!) and had a pretty good meeting. President Wolfert interviewed all of us; when it was my turn, we talked about logistics more than spiritual stuff (out of necessity, of course); he also gave me a temple recommend interview; turns out the temple will be closed for maintenance the week I leave, so we won't get the usual trip to the temple like other departing missionaries do... oh well. (Speaking of which, is there a way we could have a couple of temple sessions at Salt lake or Provo or Timpanogos or somewhere when I get back? I really miss the temple...). He gave me the info about the departure devotional, so I gotta start inviting people to that for a last hurrah!
Later that night we had a delicious steak meal (which we don't get a lot of; we always get chicken lol), then we taught Becky and Larry, are only true investigators, with Brother Challis; she reads and asks good questions, but neither of them are "ready" yet to take the steps necessary like quit smoking and coffee and come to church; we tried to explain that we are not pressuring them, but the sooner the better. We'll see how that goes...
Thursday we walked A LOT! Then we saw Dan, a less-active who is super nice; we can't figure out for the moment why he is less-active...
Friday we weekly planned, then painted and did yard work for a very funny sister named Sister Seghi; she is a hoot, and her husband is a very nice non-member who hands out programs at our church... we have yet to determine why he is not a member yet... Later that night we bought a homeless guy some McDonald's, and he was so grateful he took a Book of Mormon as well; Nice!
Saturday we helped like 3 members move (it's that time of the year again lol!); there was a lot of support from the Elder's Quorum, and those who were moving had there stuff boxed up BEFORE we got there, so things went by very smoothly lol... After that we walked A LOT and talked to a lot of people, then went to Chipotle with some rich members, which is always fun lol! I'm so grateful for all the support the members have given me over the past two years! So many good meals and team-ups! God bless you all!
Sunday we taught a missionary lesson for 3rd hour about how to talk to your friends about the gospel; I think it went over well... everyone loved Elder Bowers skit, he's a funny kid! After trying to see some referrals after church, we got a ride to the Nelsens, a new family who moved in about the same time I did! Had some Spaghetti Squash, which I've never had before, with meatballs and tomato sauce; it was scrumptious!
That's about it for the week.
So the Month of Consecration is something we did as a mission last August, where we promise to be EXTRA obedient and diligent, and to watch the blessings flow; last time we did this, the mission doubled in baptisms! Wow! The problem is, we couldn't seem to keep it up in succession afterwards, so we are trying to start again. To consecrate something is to make something holy, to set it apart as something special; so as we set aside the things we want to do, so we can do the things we need to do, the Lord will bless us with his miraculous power. It's a good way to go out with a bang as a missionary; obedient and diligent to the end!
In response to your letter:
Shelby: I'm glad I'm safe from the tornadoes as well I don't know what I'd do without me lol ;) Glad girls camp was fun; was that your last one? I forgot you were in the marching band; I thought about doing that, but I wanted to play football more lol. I can't wait to be back to come watch your parades and volleyball games and such! I miss going to Summerfest; they have a lot of festivals out here in Georgia (more booths and less rides then ours...), but they aren't as fun as a missionary lol... How goes the packing? How does it feel to be moving back to the old house? Have y'all started working at the Owlz yet? How do you like it? I thought it was fun because of the people, but it was hard at first when the nights are super busy; you have no time to catch your breath! Still, the occasional free food was nice lol! How is your summer? Any movies or swimming, or is it all packing and marching and working? How is mission prep going for ya? Do not deny me your gifts (from the Testaments movie, it's a missionary joke...)!
 Thanks for being the best sister ever! Can't wait to see ya in a month! Stay sweet!
Hi Mom! Don't worry about the writing, I haven't really written y'all either for the same reason: stress lol. Where is it that you are working at again? Is it the old folks place like before? Thanks for asking about the gators! I haven't heard yet from my old comp down in Conyers how Henry and all them are all doing, but my guess is they haven't changed much... unfortunately... We don't have very many gators here; they ones we do have want to take things VERY slow, which is fine as long as they are coming to church (which they are not...) and such; you just have to be careful. You don't want to jump into something without knowing what you are doing, but when do you know enough? When you know the Book of Mormon is true; if it's true, then Joseph Smith is a true prophet; if he's a prophet, then so are his successors, which means the authority to lead God's church on earth and bless His children lies in this church and the words that His servants speak is what He would say, etc. That's why it's so important to pray about the Book of Mormon, and to act on that knowledge once you do; we are judged by what we know, and we don't know how long we'll have on earth...
I'd love to help y'all move back into the old place lol, thanks for asking! Where will y'all live until then? I don't know about UVU yet; I want to work for a semester or so, then keep working while I go to school (hopefully Weber State or somewhere)...
I am soooooooooooooooooooooooo excited to see you too! Love you so much! 
Ollo, Deverino! What classes are you taking at UVU? Are you taking one of Brother Hugh's classes? He is an awesome guy! How is working at the Owlz treating ya? How is SWTOR? How far are you, what does your guy look like, etc? TELL ME!! How is mission prep going? How does it feel to be done with high school? Are there any friends of yours that are going to Georgia? Thanks for being studly, remember, "There is a connection between heaven and earth. Finding that connection gives meaning to everything, including death. Losing that connection makes everything lose meaning, including life." (Elder John Groberg, The Other Side of Heaven. Good movie.) take luck!
Love, Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, June 24, 2013

Checking out the new area

Hola Familia!
Que paso? No mas frijoles! Papas fritas en el cabeza, si? (Translation: What happened? No more beans! French fries in the head, right?)
So how y'all doing? How's life in good ole Utah? Is it hot? Is it cold? Is it yes? Is it no? It's been pretty cool here, with plenty of rain and lots of humidity lol so I have been sweating A LOT anyway...
So you saw Star Trek with Collin? That's fun, how'd that go? How is he; is he different, or is he the same criminal mastermind I remember lol?
My new area is okay; the ward is really nice, but the work is even slower here than it was in Conyers lol; oh well. Paper Mill ward is very close to John's Creek and Kennesaw, so I have seen a few familiar faces, which is fun; it's cool to be recognized by members; makes me feel like I made an impression on someone there... in Conyers no one really remembered me from last time lol... The ward is pretty big; maybe like 200 people come to church (a lot bigger than Conyers, but not quite as big as John's Creek...). The apartment is pretty good, it's just too small for three people lol; it's certainly the darkest apartment I have slept in, which is nice because I am a light sleeper (get it? Light? Ha!)...
It will be kinda fun to move back into my old house; there is nothing I would want to do more than to move a house with y'all and go through all my old stuff lol! Sounds like a blast and a half! Would that be before or after they release me lol...?
My week:
Monday I didn't get to e-mail very long because I didn't have a library card yet; you have to have a letter than proves you live in town, and I didn't get one til the other day; now I have 1 hour instead of 30 minutes lol so I gotta be quick!
Tuesday I lead our District to victory in a glorious district meeting, then had lunch at Chick-fil-A; then we went to help a lady who we asked if we could help with service. We ended up going over there pretty much every day this past week (she was the landlady trying to get this home repaired before she has to go back to work in Florida, so we figured she needed our help...) and we painted A TON! I gotta be a professional by now lol! We had pretty good religious conversations with them (the mom and daughter), and gave them both Book of Mormons before they left, and got their info so we could send the missionaries over; I hope it all works out! We invested a lot of time painting their house lol; we didn't paint their house with any motive or agenda other than being charitable, of course, and if that is all that comes of it, we have done our part; I just hope this will soften them up to missionaries in the future...
Wednesday we got in a small bash with this Russian Orthodox guy in Kroger; Elder Christensen's first bash in the mission lol how sweet! It's strange how people don't see the similarities of the scriptures in our day; Jesus and His prophets and apostles never went looking for a fight; they never tried to tear down someone else's faith; they shared and taught and helped, and rebuked on occasion (but only when it was very necessary), but they never tried to bash people; as I recall, it was the Pharisees that tried to bash on Jesus and His Disciples. I was reading Joseph Smith History this morning; he says that he felt like Paul before King Agrippa, trying to defend the vision he knew for a fact that he had, and that God was the author of it. It's so similar to Joesph's own story, and I don't know how people don't see that! This Russian guy wasn't being mean or anything; if fact, it was one of the more kind bashes I have been in. He came in with the intent to help us, so it's nice he was thinking of our eternal welfare; he just wasn't very good at trying to persuade us; more like argue with us...
I don't know why people put such little value in personal revelation; this guy wanted us to get the history books and get the leaders of our church and record an exciting debate to get to the point of the matter (an idea he was very excited about... us? Not so much lol...); we told him it wouldn't change anything, because we are both set in our ways about not believing the other party; they only thing that has the power to convert is the Holy Ghost. We told him he should pray to God and He would tell him; he showed us some obscure scripture in the Bible about how the heart can decieve, and we opened to Galatians 5:22-23 (my favorite verse to describe the spirit) and used the scripture he started with (when Jesus tells Peter that He will build his church upon the rock... a couple verses before that, we learn how to know whether Jesus is the Christ...), as well as Moroni 10:3-5, but I don't know if it helped. We politely ended our "debate" and got back to what we were doing. We'll see if he calls us and wants to debate again lol... he is a nice guy, don't get me wrong, and he has a sweet accent!
Friday night Elder Bowers' family played a trick on him lol; we got a call from a member in Suwanee who knew Elder Bowers parents and sister and brother-in-law and wanted to take us out to eat; we already had a dinner that night with Sister Sutherlin, so we agreed hesitantly to go get some ice cream afterwards. After dinner we go to Bruster's ( the local expensive ice cream place lol), and as we are standing in line, a kid runs by Elder Bowers; Elda B turns and says to me, "That kid looks just like my nephew..." Someone behind us said, "Hey, Johnny!" We wheeled around to see that Elder Bowers' sister, brother-in-law (who was a lineman for the Falcons), and his nephews! Ahh! Elder Bowers jaw dropped to the ground and he turned bright red; I was pretty shocked too; they were just driving through and wanted to see him; he was both happy and upset to see them, but it all worked out... I would flip if y'all came here to see me lol, don't get any funny ideas...
Saturday we had a picnic with the ward, and Sunday we had a cool broadcast by the Twelve and First Presidency on Missionary Work. Running out of time! See ya!
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy Father's Day! (Mind the tornado, though)

Elder Iron Man!
Hey, Howdy, Hey! Happy Father's day!
So we had an explosive first week here in Marietta (the ward and area is Paper Mill, but the town is Marietta...). A decent-sized tornado came through and tore up a lot of the area we were in. We have spent the past few days cutting down trees and chopping up logs and sweeping up debris; it has been a very unique opportunity to serve those around us. It wasn't a major disaster, but it did ruin a lot of people's trees and knocked down a lot of power lines; it was kinda exciting...
I guess I'll explain the whole week before I get to Thursday...
Monday we were at Waffle House when we got the call about transfers... so spent the day in Covington at a member's house for P-day to have a last hurrah! Then I packed Monday night and Tuesday night (I have way too much stuff; I gotta get rid of more than half of it before I fly home...). Tuesday we had Zone Meeting, which is always fun; I made sure I got a pic with all my homies here in the mish! Word! After lunch I went to go say goodbye to a few families: the Pynes, the Noldens, Sister Wallace, etc.
Wednesday we got up early and borrowed the zone leader's car so we could get to Lilburn; after dropping me off with Elder Bowers, and picking up Elder Meyers for Elder Moore, we drove to Lilburn to pick up a "visa waiter" named Elder Christensen. His call is to Australia, but he has to wait for his visa, so he is here with us; so technically Elder Bowers and I are co-training him... I finally have a son! The Dicksonian legacy will live on... in Australia lol! He's kinda quiet, but they all are until they get their bearings; he is a bit disappointed about not being in his mission, but he'll do good here, for however long that is. Means we are in a trio... again! Last time I was in a trio I was with Elder Bowers and Elder Youd (have any y'all seen him in Utah? He's been back since April...); I've never done a trio on a bike, so this should be interesting lol...
We have sisters in our distict, the first time in my mission: Sister Blaylock (the trainer), Sister Carrigan, and Sister Parker (both trainees) and we share the ward with them. They are pretty funny and really nice; some of them are the younger sisters (20 or just turned 21), so they are more bright and sunny than some of the older sisters... especially those who have been out of their missions a while lol...
When we got back to Paper Mill, we went shopping, then walked quite a ways to dinner with the Evans; after dinner we went to go teach our top investigators, Becky and Larry: their sons are members, and they have been investigating for a while... They have been reading, but they haven't come to church yet; apparently they don't hold up well if they feel like they are being pressured into doing something...
Thursday we biked A TON and tried to see some former gators who weren't home; what was cool was that we met some other people in those neighborhoods who invited us back! President Wolfert, when I first got here, told eveyone that after a failed appointment, talk to the next person you see; they are usually the reason you where sent there. That happened with Kent and a few other people who were taught and baptized in my past areas, so I'm excited! 
After visiting a few less-actives, we went to dinner with the Hiltons, a fairly young family with three kids (two boys and a girl, like us!); they were very funny, and we had a good time! Brother Hilton was taking us home in his truck when the storm hit; it started to downpour, the wind got really intense, and it even started to hail! All are signs of a tornado (especially if the sky turns green, which it did); the traffic lights went out, trees were blown over, the power lines were dangling into the road, etc. It was really crazy, like an action movie; Brother Hilton said to us, "Sorry guys; I gotta get back to my family." He flipped the car around and drove like a pro around fallen trees and swerving around cars whose drivers were in panic; there was a huge tree that blocked the entrance to his neighborhood, so we drove up on the guy's lawn to get around it; it was nuts! I'll send photos when I get them. It was weird how calm we all were; we were worried about Brother Hilton's family, not to mention everyone around us, but we didn't think much about ourselves at that point. We got to his house and hunkered down in his basement with his family to ride the storm out. After about 40 minutes it let up. 
We went out to inspect the damage; Bother Hilton's house was fine, but his neighbors all had trees down in their yards. We spent an hour cutting trees and hauling the debris with the other men in the neighborhood who had risen to the call, then we went up to the top of the neighborhood to direct traffic around the downed power lines. It was interesting to see different people's reaction to a crisis; some praised God that nothing worse had happened, and it was a miracle; others cursed God and asked why he let this disaster happened. I'm on the praising God side; it was truly amazing how little damage the tornado truly caused; I think only two died in the county, and most of the homes with downed trees were spared horrific damage; thanks be to God for this opportunity to come closer to Him and to help others.
Because the power was out, and there was a lot of debris in the road still, we got permission to spend the night at the Hiltons; they took really good care of us, may God bless them for it.
Friday morning Brother Hilton took us back to our apartment. After showering (we had to sleep in our sweaty dirty white shirts lol...) and Elder Bower's doctor appointment, we got to work biking around to help those affected by the tornado; we must have done a total of 8 or so service projects Friday and Saturday, for members and non-members! What a wonderful and unique opportunity!
Saturday we get service for some recent move-ins in the ward, then we helped their neighbor; there may be a chance of getting in and talking to them, but for now we just wanted to help. Then we helped a sweet part-member lady of the ward, Sister Segey; she fed us a wonderful meal after we worked, and we had a tender discussion about not being weary in well-doing...
Sunday was nice; met a lot of nice people and had some good meetings (we were pretty exhausted from the work we did all week lol...). We weekly planned after church, then had dinner with and had a team-up with Brother Bergaust; a wise kinda cranky old man who knows everything about everything! We talked to a lady and volunteered to paint her house, so looks like we got more service to do!
That's my week; a lot of crazy running around and a lot of manual labor; not that I mind, but I'm a little tense still lol, and pretty tired. It was so cool to get to see who people's hearts softened when we offered to help instead of preaching to them. It's not like we are doing service just so they'll listen to us (even though that would be nice...); even if we never saw them again or got the chance to teach them, I think we did good just by caring. I love this church, and the one who leads this church, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I love the warm feeling we get when we help others, and I am trying to love all those around me. God Bless America! Let freedom ring! Take luck! 
Elder Casey Guy Dickson
Elder Kallon and Elder Dickson.

Elder Moore and Elder Dickson.

Elder Dickson says good-bye to the Noldens.

Elder Dickson and Sister Wallace.

Elder Dickson says good-bye to the Pynes.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Last Transfer

"It's a trap!"

Howdy, y'all! Hope your day is GLORIOUS!
So transfer news are in; I'm getting transferred to Paper Mill (bike...), and my companion will be...(drum roll please)... ELDER BOWERS! He was my comp in Kennesaw with Elder Youd, and he is one of my favorite missionaries EVER! It'll be so great to have him as a companion again! Also, I'll be district leader up there, so it'll be an interesting last 6 weeks...
My companion here Elder Moore is staying and he is getting Elder Meyers, and he is district leader as well, so we'll see each other at leadership meeting; Elder Schmidt is district leader as well, so it'll be good to see the old crowd again. Paper Mill is in the same zone as John's Creek, so maybe I'll see some people from there...
This certainly wasn't what I was expecting lol; I was pretty convinced I was going to end my mission here... I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'm excited, of course; Elder Bowers is a boss! He'll help me stay focused and have fun at the same time! 
It's scary to think this is my last transfer... and it'll be in a new ward for 6 weeks lol... there is a reason for everything, and their is someone in Paper Mill I'm supposed to teach before I leave; Charles was the reason I was sent here, and now I'm moving on...
So this week: 
Last Monday we drove around with Sister Wallace (who is awesome!) and tried to see some less-actives... Sister Wallace is such a funny lady! We called her and asked, "Hey, is this Sister Wallace?" She sarcastically replied, "No, this is Brother Wallace's girlfriend! Who do you think it is?" We felt silly after that lol...
Tuesday we had district meeting, then I had an exchange with Elder Kallon, my old comp.; we saw a lot of people that he and I taught when he was here that are his friends but aren't really progressing, like Tony and Tasha and Sam and Shajuanda; we had good visits, but that's all those guys want out of us coming by...
Had an awesome dinner with the Pynes and their hysterical children; they usually feed us 5 or 6 times a month! Sister Pyne wants her kids fed on their missions, so she has made it her mission that we never starve; what a sweet lady! Her cooking is always amazing as well! 
Wednesday we saw Elder Kallon's friend Chris and played No Dice with him, then we taught a recent move-in's son about the 10 commandments with Sister Nolden; I always have a hard time trying to explain gospel stuff to children, and to make it exciting...
We saw Henry and Ashley, who are the same (not truly progressing...), then swapped companions back and had Dinner with the Noldens; the Noldens are the super stars in the ward; they do everything for everyone, especially us! We couldn't function without them lol! Sister Nolden is so sweet, and she has a bunch of rowdy children who give her a hard time; she needs more praise and appreciation then she gets...
That night we saw Sister Nti-ababio (don't even try to pronounce that lol), with Liz Joyner, and it was a great visit; she is a sweet lady whose husband decided to leave the church; now that they are divorced, she wants to make a come back! She is trying to get Sundays off, but she has great faith and reads and prays every day, and she has always known that this church is true, despite everything; I was looking forward to working with her, but she is in good hands with Elder Moore...
Thursday was very rainy, so we didn't get much done... we saw a new gator we picked up last week; she and her kids are pretty dang funny! We taught the first lesson, and it went fine; her only hang up was the three hours of church, no dancing or shouting during the service, and the fact that most people don't wear shorts or sandals to church there (not that we would turn her away if she did lol); still, she promised us that she would come not this week, but next to see for herself...
Friday we had weekly planning, and also an opportunity to participate in something called Quest; it's where the youth in the stake act out scenes from the Book of Mormon. They camped out on a member of Covington Ward's property and spent a few days there; the leaders were hoping they would have a spiritual experience that would help them understand better the worth of the Book of Mormon...
 So no one told the youth that all the missionaries in the zone were coming; we showed up during the Army of Helaman part, and we came down the hill singing 
"We have been born as Nephi of old, to goodly parents who love the Lord. We have been taught, and we understand, That we must do as the Lord commands. We are as the army of Helaman. We have been taught in our youth. And we will be the Lord’s missionaries to bring the world his truth." 
It was very cool; all the moms with missionaries serving and kids with siblings on missions were in tears; I almost cried as well, the spirit was so strong. The youth loved it! I even heard that there was a kid who wasn't sure if he was going on a mission who, after that event, is now determined to serve the Lord; how cool is that? It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad we got to be there...
Saturday we biked plenty lol... We saw Kenny, a gator who is hard to get a hold of, and we promised to help him clean his yard up this next week; hopefully he'll scratch our back by coming to church...
We also talked to Charles on the phone; he is still looking for a job in North Dakota, and we asked if he would talk to the bishop and missionaries about getting the priesthood and the new member lessons. He did as we asked, and we also talked to the missionaries on the phone to make sure they take good care of him; we have friends in high places that will be watching lol ;) 
We had dinner with the younger Mitchell's (the son and daughter-in-law of our ward mission leader); they are super cool! Their kids get star wars figures when they are good, and the kids were awesome enough to let us have one; NICE! We didn't want to take the ones they had more than one of, so I got a boss-looking wookiee, and Elder Moore got Admiral Ackbar (for the past two weeks, for some reason, Ackbar's famous quote, "It's a trap!" has become our anthem lol); a picture is enclosed of the great fish and my name tag lol...
Sunday was pretty cool; we didn't have any gators come, but we had a good meeting; it's what happened that night that was cool...
So we had a good authentic Japanese meal at the Townsend's (which wasn't that bad, actually...), then we got picked up by Brother Buck to go see the grandma (who is a non-member) of a missionary serving from here, Revante Moore, at his request; it was very sweet and spiritual. See wasn't looking to convert, but we comforted her (she is in bad shape...) and gave her a blessing; she was very grateful. Brother Buck is a spiritual powerhouse; he was very tender and charitable with that little old woman. Before he dropped us off, he bore a powerful but soft-spoken testimony on the effect elders have on the people they teach, as well as the sacredness of the the Apostle's call to be special witnesses... it was just what I needed to hear. I haven't had too many baptisms, and it's not about the numbers, but I was struggling here with if I was making a difference, and if my mission was a success; he told us that he was the only convert the elders who taught him baptized; yet from Brother Buck gave a wonderful marriage in the temple and several children who have and will serve missions, who have kids of their own, and all the people Brother Buck has been able to help as bishop and Ward Mission Leader and as a friend and neighbor to a lot of people. That's potentially several thousand who have been affected by those elders teaching and baptizing Brother Buck; we see a similar story in the Book of Mormon, with Abinadi and Alma: Abinadi only convinced Alma, but Alma was then able to baptize 204 souls (Mosiah 18:16), not to mention potentially thousands more, through him and his son Alma. Was Alma a better missionary than Abinadi? Of course not; they both served faithfully; just cause Alma was there to reap doesn't mean Abinadi's planting was any less serviceable. I have had opportunity to be both a planter and a harvester (though I have planted A LOT more than I have reaped lol), and while one is more exciting, both are missionary work, and the Lord is pleased with those efforts. I love this church, and my Savior, Jesus Christ; I love my mission so much, and I want to go out like a champion! I'll see y'all in 6 glorious weeks! 
Elder Casey Guy Dickson
The group at Quest 2013, where the youth act out stories from the Book of Mormon.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Elder Dickson at a monastery and the danger of dinner appointments

This is us at a monastery a few weeks ago: Elder Yates, Sister Mayes, Elder Kallon, Elder Diehl, Elder Free kneeling, yours truly, Elder Oblad, Elder Mayo, and Sister Worthington.

Hey, y'all!
Things are good in the glorious land of sun worship and poorly cooked soul food!
Let me explain lol...
So last Tuesday we had dinner with a wonderful sister who makes very terrible food... it takes all the charity I have to go over there and eat with her. I feel terrible for saying that, but not as terrible as the food made me feel; one elder who came on exchange got violently ill after eating there... not only that, but the house is like 100 degrees (she doesn't like the cold...), and this sweet daughter of God eats with her hands (most of the food is not finger foods...), which makes it difficult to look at her when we talk to her... not only that, but we ate with her twice this week! I repent for saying this, but it is certainly a test of patience and charity to go over there and eat with her...
Enough about talking about someone behind their back...
That night we caught a lady whom the bishop asked us to see a while ago at home; she invited us to come back the next day...
Also saw Margret again since it's been a while since we have been over to see her, and introduced her to Elder Moore...
Wednesday we helped our ward mission leader build a deck and stairs for a less-active lady; it was pretty fun! I've never been that handy, but I can certainly hand someone screws like a champion! Then we had lunch and got cleaned up so we could go she Ruby Kay; she had to cancel on us, so we saw Henry and Ashley instead. They are the same... we hope they start making some progress soon...
We had dinner dropped off at the church, then we saw the lady who told us to come back; she and her husband joined the church the time that blacks couldn't have the priesthood. Her husband was upset about that, and made the decision that he and his family wouldn't go to church; even though this woman believed, she followed her husband's decision. Since then they have divorced, and she has been trying to change her work schedule so she could come back to church! It was pretty cool to see that her testimony withstood the years; we will see her again this coming Wednesday...
Thursday we helped Tinoah, a lady we helped move last week, finish moving in and lay down new carpet at her old place (again, I'm pretty good at handing people carpet lol); she agreed to have us over when she got settled so we could teach her! Nice!
We also had a good phone call with Charles, who is in North Dakota looking for work; people always seem to move from the ward, including most of the converts lol...
We had dinner with Sister Hanes at her new place, then we tried to see some referrals we have been given... Those usually take most of the day, since we bike there, and most of those streets are very narrow with no shoulder or sidewalk lol... Like a wise elder once said, "Georgia has the appearance of sidewalks, but they deny the power thereof."
Friday we weekly planned, then went to Zaxby's with Spanish Yellow River for lunch as usual lol; Ruby had to cancel on us again, so we saw Sister Huffman, a less-active older lady who doesn't get visited much by anyone (there is one in every ward...).
In the evening we played volleyball with the ward and with the Spanish branch; I'm still terrible at volleyball, but it's a lot of fun! A good stress reliever lol...
Saturday was very interesting... we were invited to a Seventh-day Adventist church; there was a lot of singing songs that only had one verse we repeated for hours, and some interesting doctrines were taught about the seven plagues in Revelations... We were taught that the plague about the sun scorching the earth symbolizes that those who worship the Sun (or Sunday, as she explained) will be burned, while those who worship on Saturday will escape the Sun's wrath. Not sure if I buy that lol...
We had an early dinner with a very nice Part-member family, then tried to follow up with those referrals we were given... when that was a no go, we went and played soccer with the branch
 (which I am still terrible at, by the way)...
Sunday we had a good meeting; it was my second to last Fast Sunday in the mission... I've had a lot of lasts recently, and despite my best efforts to not think about it, my mission is almost over... It makes me want to go out and testify without fear, since I won't be able to testify as a representative much longer...
It has been so great to be here in Georgia and serve these wonderful Christians; I complain about them sometimes, but these really are great people, and the Lord knows the time is soon when this place will be full of members and temples, as the Vision of the South declares...
I never thought I could know the scriptures like I do now; I still don't know nearly enough, but last night we played a card game involving scriptures; back home that would have bored me to death, but I was really getting into it! The gospel is awesome! I understand now why these things are important, and I wish I knew how to teach the youth about how exciting this all is! I know that when I was young it was hard to see the why and how, but I know that t.v. and video games and sports and such don't really matter, and that family, friends, the gospel, and eternal life do matter! I can't take my Game Boy with me, but I can take the knowledge and testimony I gain! This church is so true; how can it not be? I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and He has the only way to be saved. I know the scriptures are the Word of God that in them we think we have eternal life (John 5:39). I know this church is true, and any honest seeker of truth will find it if they ask in faith, with sincerity and real intent (Moroni 10:4-5). In Christ's name, amen.
Have a glorious week! Love y'all! Take luck!
Love, Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Casey Guy Dickson

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