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 frustrating... 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 Hermanos!)
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.
Love, Elder Casey Guy Dickson... one last time, signing off.