Did you miss us? Well as you can see we now have WiFi (hooray) and I have lots to share...
On Monday, March 18th we left Nashville Tennessee where it was a pleasant 65 degrees at 8:00 am. We figured that we might be getting closer to our final destination because of the warm weather, but we were not prepared for the torrential rain, thunder and lightening storm. We had heard that there was a big storm brewing and fortunately it appears that we may have missed the worst of it.
Although we lost another hour in Georgia this sign really put a smile on our face!
Just a random picture to help you visualize what the Interstates looked like. Trees as far as the eye can see all the way from Missouri to Georgia. I though Nashville was a big city, but it doesn't hold a candle to Georgia. The strange thing about Georgia is that on one hand Georgia is all about the sky scrapers and big business then you come across signs reminding you of their southern folklore like "Home of Steven Foster" and "Suwannee River". You know the song, "Way down upon the Suwannee River, far, far, away...well if you ever wondered where it is located it is right here in Georgia.
As I mentioned earlier the Interstate in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia looked very much the same Zzz. The funny thing is they also had much more in common. 18 wheelers were everywhere, Firework manufacturers every few miles, McDonald's, 7-11 Stores and Dunkin Donuts. Seriously they have as many Dunkin Donuts as California has Starbucks.
One of our instructor's at the MTC raved about the food at Zaxby's so we stopped to give it a try. One word for it, delicious!
We made it!!! 95 degrees at 6:00 pm, YES!
Look familiar? Welcome to Orlando, Florida....
I realize that it may appear that we are obsessed with food, but when you are on the road for days with few stops except to sleep, eat and well, you get the point, food becomes something to look forward to, a break and a comfort. As you can see Hardee's = Carl's Jr. They taste the same to me.
Below are pictures of our new home away from home for the next two weeks. A double bed, a sink, a microwave, a stove top and a bulletin board, what more could we want?
Actually there was a brief time that we weren't so sure we had a place to call home.
For those of you who don't have access to a magnifying class on our bulletin board we have posted the Living Christ and a special card that says, "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant". Thanks Janie!
Okay so long story somewhat short...Because we arrived a day early our reserved room wasn't ready so they had to put us on a smoking floor. Well we were exhausted after 12 hours on the road so we agreed and held our breath as we literally ran from the elevator to the room, hoping the smell got better. It did but just a little. We both woke up with sore throats and were glad that we would be moving to a non smoking floor soon. We packed up our stuff, loaded it in the car, picked up a dozen Dunkin Donuts (just to make a good impression) and left for the Mission Office to meet with the Mission President, President Hall and his wife. The hotel agreed to call us when our room was ready, sometime after 12:00 noon. Noon came and went and no word. Finally around 1:00 we called to see when we could move in. Well somehow lines got crossed and they no longer had a non smoking room for us. We were devastated! We couldn't stay another night in a smoking room and were desperate to find another alternative. So we hit the streets. After the second hotel we stopped at we soon realized that we were in big trouble. Not only were we totally lost, but every hotel in the area was booked due to Spring Break. In fact at one hotel, an off duty police officer instructed us to please follow him. Apparently we were in a very bad section of town and he would show us to a safer place to find accommodations. We did follow him as advised, but the results were the same, there was no room at the Inn. What could we do? Then it suddenly occurred to us. We needed help and we needed it now. The only person who could provide the help we needed in the time frame necessary was the Lord. So I said a silent prayer as we arrived at our original hotel, to request a refund with a positive attitude. (We were missionaries after all). If I ever had the slightest doubt about the Lord hearing and answering our prayers I didn't any longer. The clerk cheerfully greeted us as we walked in and in the course of the conversation she mentioned how sorry she was that they didn't have a room on the first floor for us because someone had decided to extend their stay. We asked her why we needed to be on the first floor and she looked at us strangely and said she thought that was the problem. We assured her that we would be happy with any non smoking room and she suddenly remembered a room on the second floor that had just now become available. When I say just now I mean the kitchen floors and carpet were still wet from being cleaned. We ran up the stairs to take a quick peek, and actually ran in to the cleaning crew just locking up. It was perfect! Although we had to pile everything on the kitchen floor for the night because the carpets were still wet, we had a bed and we were happy.
Our backyard. Seriously. It is actually a swamp where people mysteriously appear with fishing poles in hand. I haven't seen an alligator yet, but have been told, by more than one person here, that the little ones won't hurt you. How big a "little one" is I don't even want to know.
Wednesday morning reporting for duty at the Mission Office!!! There are currently two other Senior Couples who serve in the Mission Office, Elder and Sister Geb's from Wyoming and Elder and Sister Parker, from Utah. The Parker's are scheduled to go home on April 4th and so we will be taking over their duties. We received such a warm welcome here we already feel like family.
We decided to "advance" some of the important places that we will be frequenting in the future. You know Wall-Mart, Target, etc. just kidding. This is a picture of the Pleasant Hills Ward of which we have been assigned. We heard that it was Ward Conference this Sunday so we really wanted to take the opportunity to meet the Bishop and introduce ourselves before all the Stake visitors descended upon him. Unfortunately we couldn't locate our new Bishop, but we did run in to two of our very own missionaries assigned to the Young Single Adult Ward and assisted a family trying to find the Stake President to have their recently returned missionary daughter released.
Did you noticed the reference, "our missionaries"? Well the word is out in the mission that we are here and everyone is anxious to get to know us. Do I believe it, absolutely. Just as much as we are anxious to get to know each one of them. We are already learning a lot and once Elder Busath gets his bearings we will try do a little more sight seeing in between our office assignment and ward responsibilities.
I am so happy to be here and am anxious to get to get to know and love the people in Florida!!!
Just a post script-Our new Stake recently (less than 6 months ago) dissolved all the foreign speaking branches and everyone is now part of the neighborhood wards. Everyone appears to be excited about the change, but realizes that it will take some time to make the necessary adjustments. What a wonderful time to be here and assist in making this transition a model for the rest of these United States.
Did I tell you how much I love being here?