Friday, April 29, 2011

60 Tornadoes and Still Kickin"

April 18, 2011

"We had about 60 tornados in the state of North Carolina this week. Several in our area too. They are figuring about an F3 that just barely missed our apartment. It was so close to us that we had RV parts strewn about in the parking lot in front of our apartment. Our apartment is on the second story and when it came close, we decided it was time to flea to a giant brick building called the "church". We figured, if we die, then we couldn't die in a better spot, right?"

So, Elder AJ continues with humor in the midst of disaster. Holding their own, the missionaries press forward. Half of the missionaires have been called to service projects with those that have lost their homes and properties in the disaster and the other half continues to teach. We keep the people in southern states in our prayers and ask the Lord to give them strength and courage!

The missionaries continue to work and Elder AJ relates that the Baptist seminary students give them "a run for their money." They have to decipher between bogus referrals and real ones, as the seminary students send referrals to get them tied up with them instead of teaching those who are ready to hear. They think things have slowed down and hope their time can be better spent in the coming days.

"The members feed us great out here, just call me the pillsbury doughboy. Just call my stomach the danish roll, LOL. So Monday we went and played soccer with a family, that was a blast. Their 12 year old son went tracking with us and even talked with the people. What a stud! The mission is a roller coaster, but I will tell you what...I am going to cry like a baby that just got spanked when I have to leave the members here. On the 30th we will have a chance to meet with Richard G. Scott. Everyone is super excited, so I will tell you how that goes."

"There is no obstacle to great, no challenge too difficult if we have faith." - Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"A Once in a Mission Experience"

"President Cotterell has a special assignment for us on preparation day, this week. He asked us to take our P-day later this week and invited Elder Butler and I to participate in a question answer panel session with baptist seminary students. So, basically we met with about 30 baptist preachers and they asked us about what we believed. There was President Cotterell and Sister Cotterell, my compagnion and me and a sister missionary companionship. It went pretty well. Needless to say, I was very nervous. We were very respectful on both sides and I think there was a great deal of mutal understanding achieved within the community because of it. It was definetly, as once in a mission experience."

Elder Austin is now serving in the Wake Forest North Carolina area. The heart of Baptist seminary schools and universities. He loves his new companion, Elder Butler and looks forward to serving and teaching in the new area.

"There is no other labor in all the world that brings to a human heart, more joy, peace and serenity than proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ." - President Monson.

"Some of the Great People of Fayettville"

"Excerpts From Letters Home"

February 21, 2011 letter home

"Well the cat is out of the box, yes I am getting transferred. It was a big suprise to me... I am anxious to start in a new area and with a new compagnion. I guess it helps to restore the greeny fire once again when you go to an area where everyone and everything is new to you right? I am sad to leave Fayetteville however, I have truely grown to love the people in this area. They are so great! I am leaving behind 4 baptisms and alot of friends. It is amazing how attached you can become to people in just three months." (Elder Austin Johnson is transferring to Wake Forest, North Carolina)

February 14, 2011 letter home

"Well it has warmed up here quite a bit and I am so thankful... no more cold weather...I hope. It has been a slow week, but I will say this, the Lord is working miracles in this area, not ones that can be expressed in letters. I will simply say that there are alot of neat things happening here and I know without a doubt that Jesus Christ lives and knows me and you."

January 31, 2011 letter home

"The Bishop went on splits with us this was a really good opportunity to build our relationship with him. He gave me a last minute assignment to speak on Sunday too. He said he was trying to find a way to send the message that the people needed to start living the gospel by doing the little things... ." (Evidently the talk went so well that the Young Women's Leaders tried to sign Elder Austin Johnson up to give a fireside talk!)

"I never really realized how important it is to missionaries to be close to the ward members until I got thrown into a state across the country where I don't know anyone. It has been fun! I still look back at my call to serve... and I feel that I'm being prepared for something by serving here. "

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Ice Storm shuts down the South"

Excerpts from Associated Press Raliegh North Carolina:

"The snow and ice storm that has shut down much of the South slowly rolled toward the Northeast on Tuesday.

Southerners seemed resigned to waiting out the winter headaches such as slick roads and paralyzed airports. Across the South, communities remained encrusted in ice and snow for a second straight day. Road crews fared a little better than in the storm's opening hours, owing mostly to their lack of winter equipment. Frustrated motorists sat idle on slippery pavement or moved at a creep. Millions of people had to just stay home.

Mail delivery was restricted to just a few places because postal employees could not get to work. Schools and business stayed closed Wednesday out of caution. The storm has been blamed for 11 deaths and many more injuries."

Apparently, the freezing temperatures with ice rain made this a miserable environment this past week. Elder Johnson and Elder Tabil were unable to get out by foot or bike for two days. Our missionaries kept an upper lip and made the best of their long hours studying and preparing. They were unable to send or receive mail since Saturday, January 8th. Hopefully things will become bearable soon with warmer temperatures.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Humble Means... excerpts from Dec. 13th Letter"

"...We live in a trailer, and it is a piece! The weather is miserable. Elder Tabil and got really sick and he had to take 2 days to recover. I took that cherry bark as soon as I felt sick and the worst I got was a runny nose. It is frigid here and we are just hanging in there. The area is mostly ghetto. There are a few rich neighborhoods, but mostly impoverished areas. It is really humbling. the area is tough. Almost no investigators which means we get the privilege of tracting!!"

"...We ate dinner last night with a family from Nigeria. They are an amazing family. Their 25 yr old son, Gift, cooked us dinner and told us tons of stories about life in Africa. Ahh! It brings a smile to my face just thinking about them. They have hardly anything, but the father treated us like kings. The love felt by the members, no matter how poor brings tears to my eyes. One family in particular are pretty well off and love to feed us and challenge us at pool. They also are making us a christmas package! When we began to protest and we were told not to get in the way of their opportunity to serve =D. Ahhh I love that family. On Thursday I went on an exchange to Dunn with Elder Scott. We visited a family with a very shy 3 yr old and so I made it a point to connect with her. By the end of the night she was dragging me all throughout the house showing me her toys and playing with me. She told me after dinner that I was her favorite. I dont like being so close to the spirit sometimes because it turns me into a teddybear. When she said that, it brought tears to my eyes. Later that evening her dad pulled me aside and said he was looking forward to when we are transfered here. He went on to explain that his daughter only opens up to those with a good spirit, and it radiates from me. He said he looks forward to seeing me again."

"...The ward takes care of us. We caught wind that the Relief Society is putting together care packages for us for Christmas. On a side note, I love the blanket! It gets down to 50 degrees in our place at night and that blanket is the only thing that keeps me warm. Thank you for the effort you put into it."

"Well I'm sending home a Christmas card soon. I love everyone so very much. It is hard to express to you how much I miss each of you. I try not to think about it, but you enter my thoughts every day. I am so impressed by your willingness to be missionaries too. Keep up the good work! You are such good examples to me and I love getting letters from you (hint hint). Well, that is all I've got today. You are in my prayers every day. I love you so very much and can't wait to see you again!"

Elder Johnson

"There is no other labor in all the world that brings to a human heart, more joy, peace and serenity than proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ."

"High Tech Mission President sends YouTube Clip"

See the latest...

President Cotterell vedio tapes the West Fayetteville Mission District singing at a Christmas Zone Conference. See the Youtube clip that was posted by the Mission Home for family and friends to view.

Austin will be on the far left - watch as the camera pans a shot of all the missionaries.

Merry Christmas!