Monday, March 25, 2013

Here I am again, in Conyers

Hey, guys!
Things aren't so bad in Conyers; it has been weird to bike places I've been before, to talk to people I knew a year and a half ago, and to do the same thing I was doing the last time I was here; contacting, tracting, finding potentials and formers, etc. Still, things are okay; my companion is pretty cool, he grew up Muslim in Liberia, then moved to Texas for school with his sister 10 years ago. A few years after that, he found the church and was baptized in 2007! He is like 23, so he's a bit older, but he's cool; he is much easier to understand than Elder I lol!

I'm surprised on how many members in Conyers remember me; when I was here last, I never said a word to anyone (I was a scared little greenie lol). This week felt very long; time passes super slowly here, just like it did last time; but it's all good, we got a lot of people to see and teach! Not a lot of them are that elect, but a few are, and I think something big is supposed to happen here; else why would I be sent back here unless there was something I missed last time?

It has been rainy here, which is weird; all my memories of this place was in the blazing heat lol! We bike A LOT; maybe I'll lose some weight before I get back, that would be nice...
Elder Holland said something like, "When He (Christ) comes, I so want to be caught living the gospel. I want to be surprised right in the act of spreading the faith and doing something good." We never know when someone will need us, so we must always be willing and worthy to serve. 

We just got a bunch of missionaries this transfer; I don't know how many, but they have split a lot of areas and put sisters in them, as well as opening up some area that have been shut for a while; it'll be interesting to keep watching how the mission changes, especially when the Macon mission is in full blast this summer; we'll probably have to give up some of our mission area and some missionaries to the other mission...

Go, Cougars! It doesn't hurt as much as the last time to miss all the BYU stuff, but I am excited to catch football this year! 
So, my week: 
Monday I was still in John's Creek, and we played soccer all day in a member's backyard; Tuesday we had district meeting, then ate lunch at Wild Wings and took pics and said goodbye and such. Spent a lot of time packing and talking with Schmidty; I'm going to miss that kid, he is fun and is very very spiritual; more so than any other person I have met! Keep an eye out for him when he becomes a Seventy lol! 

So Wednesday morning we had a member drive us all the way to the Conyers Stake Center (took about 2 hours) and swapped companions, then went to the apartment; the one we live at now is right next to the one I used to live in! Weird... We biked a lot that day, and I saw some people I taught last time (they haven't changed much lol...)

Thursday we tracted and found this guy who used to work at a car dealership a PM guy owned; I recognized him! It was kinda crazy we just happened to knock into him... good thing I don't believe in "just happens" anymore. Got to meet the zone leaders that day too; Elder Yates and Elder Diehl. Both are pretty cool guys, Diehl came out with me and Yates came out one after me...

Friday we had some team-ups in the morning; we taught a Muslim guy who didn't seem very open to the idea, but was nice. Biked some more and then had dinner with the Casey's, on of my favorite families from the last time! And they remembered me! Yay!

Saturday it rained pretty good; luckily we got a ride to most of our appointments; we also got to help clean the church! Yay, service! Changing lives one example at a time! 
We also saw that guy from the car dealership, Gary, again with a member; he said he couldn't make it to church, but he said he wanted to get involved in Scouting, so we are meeting him at the church next Wed. for a church tour. 

Sunday was pretty good; had fun saying hi to everyone, and an old gator we taught that week came to church! She said she would come to Easter Sunday and General Conference as well! Yay! 
We then packed up to spend the night at the ZL's apartment; ours doesn't have a washer, so we go over to use theirs. It was pretty fun. 

Today we have just been e-mailing and shopping; there are some days were I am happy and have desire to go and work; some days I'm frustrated to be back here and am tired of talking to ghetto people who are nice but won't commit or change.That first day I was just depressed and upset; the people here, for the most part, are not smart enough to understand or accept the gospel. However, it's nice to have people be nice to me for a change; John's Creek people are super rude... Anyway, I know that's an unfair judgement, and I was sent back here because there is someone here I am supposed to find or teach...I want to go out with a bang, not a whimper. I know this church is true, and that I should not be so judgemental, and that God has a plan for every single person here in Conyers, even me! I love ya, thanks for all you do, expect some packages to be sent your guys way; should I send them to Mom or you? I got a lot of stuff I can't fly home with because I don't have enough room in my suitcases...
Anyway, take luck, y'all! 
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, March 18, 2013

Back to the beginning ...

Elder Dickson, Elder Schmidt and the priest quorum in the John's Creek Ward.
Hey, how y'all doin'? Happy Saint Pattie's Day yesterday! Happy Birthday, Grandpa!
So, transfer news, I'm going back to Conyers Inner, where I started my mission ... I'm not sure how I think about it. I mean, there are people there I miss and am excited about seeing, but I never saw much success there, and that's selfish of me, but I kinda put that area behind me. I'm going to be with Elder Kallon, who is pretty new and is from Africa, so he is still learning English (here we go again...) and Elder Schmidt is staying here and getting Elder Kilmer. This will be very interesting...
So this week:
Tuesday we had our Zone Training at our stake center, which was alright; I don't know why, but this zone training was just kinda blah; the best part was seeing Elder Ball and Elder Spear and all those guys! We had lunch at Olive Garden (I haven't eaten there for the longest time; I can't even remember the last time I ate there...). That night we had a split with the High Priests, which is always fun... we saw a member who is still potentially crazy, but less so than usual, so it wasn't so bad. Then we saw the guy with the robot again, and asked him to pray to see if God loves him. We hope to see him come soon.
Wednesday we had our apartment inspection (which we passed, don't worry, Mom lol), then we biked all day with minimal success, then had dinner with the Gunnels, a very fun young couple with hilarious kids! We had Spanish with us there, because the Gunnels knew ElderTarver from their old ward, before he left on his mission; crazy! Brother Gunnel also cut our for us; free haircuts!
Thursday we saw a less-active family, who are HUGE BYU fans; finally, my large reservoir of BYU football and basketball knowledge is getting me somewhere lol! Who says I know tons of useless information? I just used the talents God gave me to fellowship with a less-active, how cool is that? I was actually super nervous, since I don't really know the new stuff, but we had an hour long conversation about just BYU and Jimmer lol. Go Cougars!
Friday we spent a lot of time on the phone for weekly planning session; got a hold of some referrals and other 'gators who had recently been off the grid, so Elder Schmidt and his new comp. should be busy this next week. Then we played indoor soccer with the Spanish elders and their branch members; indoor soccer is so much more fun then regular soccer lol! I even scored a few times! Go me! 
Saturday we taught Sam, the old man who knows everything, and yet nothing. We asked him if he knew God loved him; he was silent for a while, then shared with us a story of a son of a friend of his, who had polio, and how he overcome polio by prayer. He said he has had times in his life when he knew God loved him, but has never been certain. We ate lunch at this Italian restaurant, then went back to leave the Savior's Peace and Blessing in his home. As we finished, my companion shared a story about his many surgeries he has had, and how he used the Atonement to get relief from the pain, and he commissioned Sam to pray to see if God is there and if He loves him. He said that he would; it was the only time I have seen Sam quiet was during Elder Schmidt's testimony. He is making baby steps...
Sunday was really good, very eventful; Elder Schmidt and I got the chance to bless the sacrament (not because of the lack of priests, the ward has so many; it was because we asked if we could); I miss getting the chance to help stand in the Savior's place and offer a prayer to be able to provide the congregation with the remission of sins. It is a much bigger deal than I realized as a youth, and I really enjoyed doing it this past Sunday.
We had a good lesson in Gospel Principles; Brother Gunnel brought a friend to church, and she loved every minute of it! We taught her the first lesson, and she asked for a Book of Mormon (she promised to read it in two days; nice!). She made awesome comments in class, and had a ton of fun in relief society, so we are trying to get over to her house, Brother Gunnel is going to set that up for us.
Priest's quorum was good as always; the picture is of those guys. I hope they all go on missions, they can do some spectacular things with the Lord's help. They are a good group of boys...
After church we went over to our Ward Mission Leader's house for a correlation meeting, then went with an 18-year-old elder waiting to go into the MTC with us to go teach Desire, a man from the Ivory Coast of Africa. It was difficult to understand him, but we had a good lesson, and left him with a BoM, which we said he would read, and wanted us to come back next Sunday. Nice!
Then we went over to the McGuires for a traditional Irish meal, corn beef and cabbage, which was really good! You guys are going to be surprised what I eat now lol; even salad is starting to taste good! Brother McGuire then took us to Brother Lakips again to have a lesson with a Part-member family from Russia, and their Inactive daughter. At first, there was a bit of arguing about prayer and God having a body, which Igor (the husband) and the daughter was against. We both bore very solemn testimony, and we saw the spirit carry it to their hearts; by the end, they were speechless. It was cool to see the change that took place when we started to testify instead of debate. 
I hope they will take up the challenge we have been leaving with everyone recently, about praying to God to see if He is there and if He loves them; I ask all who read this to try this for themselves; we may know that God loves us, but I don't think I have ever asked. I have recently, and a warm feeling washed over me and I felt like I could baptize the world; with God's help and strength, I feel like I can not only finish my mission strong, but to go out with a bigger bang than I came in (which I get the chance to do, since I'm going back to my first area lol). I again ask you all to ask God if He is there and if He loves you, and I promise He will answer, and that answer will give you more comfort and peace and strength than you can possibly imagine. I know that God lives and loves us, and so does His Son, our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ; they love us with a love that is perfect and want to give us the peace that this world can't provide us, even if it wanted to. I know this church is true; how can it not be? I know that prayer is God's way of staying in touch with His kids who are far from home, so that we can stay as close to Him as we can. I know that the scriptures our a way that God speaks to us, and they have the Words of Life. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 Thanks so much for being the best family in the world! You guys rock! I love y'all so much, write me please!
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, March 11, 2013

He looks tall in this picture, doesn't he?

Hey, guys!
I heard about Grandpa and Grannie Sheila's mission call, they e-mailed me; that's so cool! And ya, I could use a job, I'd love to work in Utah so I can save up money for school! I am still considering athletic training, as well as physical therapy possibly; I'm still praying about where I should go and what I should do; all I know is that I want to go to school in Utah, but I got to get a job. I'll get back in July, school will start in August, but you're supposed to apply way early and I missed it, so either I will live and work in Utah or live with y'all in Nebraska and work. Do you know if I am flying back to Utah, or Nebraskaaaa? If I fly into Salt Lake, we would have to find someplace to stay and to hold all my luggage and whatnot, but that's where I wanna be; if I fly back to Lincoln, I can drop off my stuff at home and then we could drive over for a couple weeks or days or so. I'm not sure; whichever works for you guys!
Also, has there been any news on the driver's licence? Because I haven't gotten a packet to fill out, and I need at least an I.D. in order to even get on the airplane lol! I gotta get a Georgia driver's licence if I can; I would need my birth certificate, and to have that fine paid off in Utah, and then I could try to get stuff done here. Let me know! Sorry to pester about it!
Anyway, my week: Tuesday we had district meeting, then we had a team up with a high priest and tried to see a bunch of people, with minimal success; at least we know where they live now! 
Wednesday we went with our ward mission leader, Brother Lakip, to see a new family from someplace in Africa, I forget. They were both pretty cool; the husband is an RM who is looking for work here in the states; he is an accountant, but he'll take whatever they can get! Afterwards, Bro. Lakip took us out to Outback. Nice! 
Thursday we ate lunch with one of our gators, Sam, this old guy who knows every single stinkin' thing about every single Christian religion, which is frustrating; not that knowledge itself is bad, but knowledge without a witness of the truth, reason and logic without faith, is like a one-winged airplane; they don't fly that far. He seems to be warming up to us; Schmidty and I are gonna cook him a Spaghetti dinner! That ought to do it! That night we ate dinner with one of my favorite ladies, Sister Koch, and her crazy little girl, who is a hoot! We gave a blessing to her son, who was sick (Sister Koch is divorced, so us and her home teachers are the only priesthood she gets...) Then we went out with Bro. Oyervides and got a hold of some less-actives and set up appointments for next week. 
Friday we saw the Kelly family; they are still doing great! Little Isabelle is reading her scriptures still and praying every night; so is her mom. They came to church two weeks in a row, which I think is the record lol! 
Saturday we ate dinner at a part-member, and gave another blessing; Sister Morgan is a sweet lady from China, and her husband is a very nice Catholic man; we're trying to get in there more so we can teach! We spent the rest of day working on our missionary presentation to the Priests, which went really well; We showed them two Mormon messages: Sanctify Yourselves and Stay Within the Lines (both by Holland, of course) and shared some stories about an elder who was fairly uneducated who bore powerful testimony to a knowledgeable basher, who got baptized because of his sweet, simple testimony. You don't need to be a fancy speaker or a Scriptorian to be a missionary; you need to be a clean and worthy vessel of the Lord, who knows that only by the Holy Spirit can you hope to teach. Then Elder Schmidt shared a powerful story about an old woman who the missionaries found, who, after she got baptized, saw that in her patriarchal blessing that if a certain missionary had accepted his call to serve a mission, she would have been baptized 25 years earlier... that shook the priests pretty good. The spirit was so strong, and hope every one of those boys got something out of what God was trying to tell them, and that they all will serve faithful missions. Only time will tell. 
That's about it for the week. 
Yeah, it has been a long time; it's closer than it ever has been, though! Not that I am getting trunky (at least I hope not), but when it's time to go home, it'll be time to go home. I promise to finish strong, and I can already see how my mission has changed me; still doesn't mean I can't wait to see y'all! 
I know that God is in the details of our lives; he does not take away trials, but gives us the strength to handle them and overcome them; he makes them more bearable. I know God lives and loves all of us, and that as His servant, I have been able to enjoy seeing His hand in all things; I left my home and family because I knew God would take care of you guys. Take Luck! 
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Monday, March 4, 2013

Is spring here yet?

Smile big, you're a missionary!

Hey Family!
Thanks for the email! How are things?
It's staring to get cold finally, but not nearly like it should be. Ah, snow! It is not even cold enough for a long sleeve shirt here, but people are freaking out! There is no one outside for us to talk to, so we've been knocking a lot of doors; everyone is inside or heading to Florida! There was some small baby snowflakes the other day, and everyone was bundled up; It is funny to see, but I know that when I go back to Utah or Nebraska I'm gonna die because I'm not used to it. When spring gets here, the pollen will break out like crazy lol! I'm glad I don't get that bad of allergies, but still. 
Anyway, my week: 
Been spending a lot of time knocking and walking to no avail, so we decided to get a GPS to find our way around, and to try to focus on Part-Members or Less-Actives, as well as finding gators. Tuesday night we gave a recent move-in a blessing, then went out with Bro. LeCheminant to see a referral and some less-actives; ran into some people who never want to be contacted again; oh well. 
Wednesday was Zone Conference, which is always good. We had our Mission President talk about the Abrahamic Covenant and how it pertains to missionary work; it was quite interesting. The Old Testament part of Seminary I may or may not have been awake for lol! We had his wife and our assistants (my good friend Chugg, who you guys said hi to on Skype, and his comp) spoke as well, and a testimony meeting of the departing missionaries; Elder Youd goes home in May! And I go home in July! Ahhhhh!! 
We then had dinner with the bishop and his kind wife, which is always good; if you are on good terms with the bishop, the work is sooo much easier lol...
Thursday we had an awesome, very spiritual lesson with Ian, our top gator; he is in his late 20's or early 30's, has a fiance, and is very interested in finding a faith in Jesus Christ. It's weird to meet someone who has lived in the South all their lives and they haven't been brought up religious... anyway, he is uber-prepared; he answers questions, and asks all the right ones! We felt impressed to use the Finding Faith in Christ DVD for our lesson; it was one of the most spiritual lessons I've had in a while! His only hang up is that he doesn't feel ready to get baptized yet, which is fine, because that will come. We just have to make sure that he understands that when he knows this is true, he is judged by that standard, and must be baptized soon after that realization. It's a tricky thing to know when people are ready; it's all case by case, and by the spirit. the criteria in our mission is they have to come to church twice, and receive all the lessons. Rarely have I seen someone get baptized in two weeks; most of the time it is a month or more; some take years. It's all about not giving up on them, and also helping them know what having a knowledge of the truth means...
Friday we had a referral we set up an appointment with that fell through; gotta keep trying! We also tried to see a Less-active family with one of our ward missionaries, Bro. Nichols, but they had something come up, so we ended up going over to dinner with our team-up and had some Korean food (it was interesting... I'm glad they also had burritos lol!). The food, coupled with Elder Schmidt's health issues, just about did him in that night, and it lasted till today... We had to stay in mostly Saturday and Sunday so he could rest. It's all good, though; now I can finish Jesus the Christ and be able to start the Book of Mormon again with all the extra reading time! 
Sunday was still good, though, because Ian came... half an hour early lol! Most of the members don't show up until 5 minutes in lol...
Elder Schmidt was dying, but still had enough strength to go up and bear his testimony, which was powerful, as always; this kid is a trooper! 
that's about all that has happened recently; today we are giving Schmidty some more time to relax so we can tackle this week with all our heart, might, mind, and strength! 
Sorry this isn't super long, we have a limited amount of time of the computers at the library...
I want a change just because this area has been very slow; things have picked up slightly, though, so maybe staying wouldn't be so bad. It's just hard to be on a bike in a large area, everything we do depends on whether we can find a ride or not; shouldn't complain, this ward is pretty good about rides and dinners. My companion is great, so we'll see how long the keep me here. 
Despite my best efforts, I am about thinking about home lol... the term in the mission is Bump, Hump, Slump, Dump, referring to 6, 12, 18, and 24 months; I'm in the slump lol. I'm trying my best to stay strong and stay focused, and I know I am here and the Lord's time and I need to use it well. I'm grateful for this chance to serve my God, and I feel like I have changed a lot; however, one of the most important parts of the gospel is to endure to the end, and I am trying to live by that principle. Thanks for being an awesome family, know that I love ya'll and am grateful for your examples. Take Luck! '
Elder Casey Guy Dickson

Casey Guy Dickson

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