(that means hello you all)
I say hola because the Elders I replaced were spanish speaking and me and my companion are not! So not only are we white washing an area, but we had to drop ALL of their investigators because we couldn't message them or anything. Starting from scratch. Our area is Simpsonville, which is just outside of Greenville. We're in Simpsonville 2nd ward, and it's awesome. My companion's name is Elder Robison and he's my trainer and District Leader. He's been out 16 months and he's a big Star Wars fan so HA HA I saw the new movie and he didn't. Yeah it sucks but that's the price you a pay as a missionary.
My first week or so has been awesome! There's another set of Elders in our ward, they're on bikes and their area is all around the church building, that's where most of the active members are. We have a car, which is cool but it's not enough. Our ward boundary is 40-50 miles from end to end, and the church building is at the top, so we don't even live in our area. Since we live in Simpsonville, we have to drive 5 miles just to enter our area. A lot of work is going to be focused on less actives across the boundary. They live in Fountain Inn, Laurens, all the way down to Joanna, which is 10 miles, 20 miles, and 35+ miles one way to each of those areas. We don't have enough miles (only 1200 a month) to justify going down there more than once a week. So we don't really know what to do. There's obviously a reason our mission president felt impressed to move the Spanish elders out and move more English elders in, but we haven't really found it yet. We spent a lot of our first week going to members and inactive members in the Simpsonville area just to introduce ourselves. Most of them didn't answer.
But we got to meet a lot of them at church! There's a couple active families in each of the far away towns aka our area so we will be needing their help a lot. Like they have no idea. They're probably going to be giving us rides and feeding us all the time if they want any missionary work done. A couple days ago we went down to Gray Court which is about 15 minutes from our apartment. Not too far, we decided to meet as many less active as we could. But South Carolina does not like the grid system, and roads go wherever they want. And we don't have a GPS so we have to look up the maps at the church building before heading out and guessing a lot. We got lost and had to turn around probably once per house. We met with probably 3 people over the course of 6 hours, but it was fun! A lot of these less actives haven't been to church in 40+ years, at least in Gray Court. I don't know how their records stay up to date. I love Gray Court because it's about as back woods as it gets. Seriously, look up Barnyard Road on google maps, and send me a dollar for every confederate flag or Beware Dog sign you see. I want to eat at Bojangles every day this week.
Gray Court is the kind of place where "I went to school with a lot of blacks when I was younger" is a reason people will give for why they went to jail last week. Oh yeah, a guy actually said that to me. I just nodded, and asked him if he had heard of Joseph Smith a second time. So basically we haven't had a lot of success this last week, but we laid a lot of ground work. Yesterday was wonderful because we were tracting on Super Bowl Sunday, because we literally don't know what to do with our time. We were talking about how the Lord blesses us for doing our best, not for converting as many people as possible. Which is good because most poeple won't open their door if they see our name tags. We were feeling like failures anyway, because everyone we talked to had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and were "okay with where I am in my life right now". Which is fine. So when we finished we stopped by the Smiths, an active couple who we didn't see at church. They live in this awesome house. Brother Smith goes by Joseph by the way, so we get to have a real life Joseph Smith in our ward. We were just planning on stopping by and sharing a quick message. But we ended up staying there a couple hours because we told them our dinner was probably going to be like apples and peanut butter or something. They weren't having it. So they whipped up this meal just for us and we ended up being there for like 2 or 3 hours! They're awesome, she's been a member all her life, and he went to church every week since they got married (so 1961). But he didn't get baptized until like 4 years ago. He was very active, but he wasn't a member. That was a kind of funny story.
Sorry about the long email, but basically we were shown how we can be blessed by doing something we don't necessarily like. IF YOU SHOW THE LORD YOU'RE TRYING, THAT'S ALL HE CARES ABOUT. I'm looking forward to next week, and sorry I don't have any pictures, I left my camera at the apartment and we're at the library.
Love Elder Berry
Also if someone wants this email or I forgot to send it to them, please forward it to them. I tried to send it to everyone who's emailed me recently.