Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Week #16

Dearest Family,

Since Peter is a sous chef in training, I have an authentic Southern Biscuits recipe for him.  I got this recipe from a family that we had dinner with, and they are about as southern as it gets.  I hope he enjoys it.
7Up Biscuits
4 cups Bisquick
1 cup sour cream
1 cup 7Up
1/2 cup melted butter
So you put the butter in a pan and set it in a hot oven and let the butter melt.  Mix the other ingredients together and then just slap a few dollops of the mix into the pan and let it cook until they are golden brown.
Yeah, like I said, that family was pretty southern and redneck.  For dinner the other night we ate fried deer meat, and the deer was one that they had hit with their car by accident a couple of days before and just decided to bring it home.  It was soo awesome.  The Lehmans are awesome, and I am pretty sure that a future goal of mine is to come back to Georgia after the mission and live the Georgian backcountry life for a year or so.  Just for the experience, because I really love it here, except for the gnats.
But they are moving me out of Georgia now.  Transfers came in this morning and they are moving me to Marianna, Florida.  I have heard from the other missionaries in my district that it is a pretty awesome area, so I am excited to get there.  But I am sad to leave behind Valdosta.  It has been a lot of fun, mostly because of the people that we have met.  There are so many interesting and goofy people here; like I've said there is a very unique southern culture.  No visa deets yet.
Speaking of people, our investigator Yvonne Garcia was baptized on Saturday!  She is a great person and is going to be a great contribution to the ward here.  I think I told you before, but she used to be a hard drug addict, but was able to overcome it based on a 12-step program of spiritual counseling.  She bore her testimony at here baptismal service, and said that as soon as she began meeting with us and reading from the Book of Mormon that her understanding of a higher power was clarified and she felt a void in her spirit being filled.  It was so fantastic to see the way that she has changed and it really was a witness of how powerful the Atonement is in bringing people back into the fold of God.
Also, did all of you have the chance to go to that missionary leadership conference yesterday?  If you didn't, get on the internet and do so immediately, because it was absolutely amazing.  It talks a lot about how church members can do their own missionary work to help the work move forward.
Well, I don't have too much to say to you goobs, but just know that I love your guts.  Time is going by so fast, and I'll be back in no time.
Elder Vawdrey

Monday, June 17, 2013

Week #15

Dearest Family,

It is getting super hot here, so I went and just got a super short haircut and loving it.  Thankfully a Great Clips just opened up by our apartment and Elder Lynch and I were able to go there, because as you know, I can be very particular about the way that my hair looks.  And the silk-shirted bald guy at the Walmart salon wasn't really cutting it for me.  The first haircut that I got here was from him, and was probably one of the worst that I've ever gotten, probably even worse than Dad could do.  But I've been saved.  The lady that cut mine today asked me who had cut it last, kind of like that lady in Mexico asked about the haircut Mom had given me.

I heard about Jake's skateboard competition in Arizona.  Is the family going to go down to Arizona together with him, or what's going to happen?

So, Poppy, I am sorry that I didn't wish you Father's day last week, but I'm sure that you're not too offended, since you normally tell us not to get you anything anyways.  But Mom is tricky and always finds something that you actually do want, you just don't say it.  During sacrament meeting I was having some tender moments thinking about Poppy and some of the great memories that I have with that guy, such as when I cut that skin tag out of his armpit and things like that.  It was a very spiritual sacrament meeting.  

Our sacrament meeting really was good though, because we had five investigators there this week, one of which was Yvonne who is scheduled to be baptized this Saturday and has been making a ton of progress.  She is a great lady, and has come a long way.  When she was younger she had trouble with some serious hard drug abuse, but was able to get out of it by using a spiritual 12 step program, I think similar to the one that the church puts out.  She is now attending school and hopes to become a religious counselor.  She is super sharp and we are excited for her.

Word of caution: if you ever have the chance to talk with people about some of the ordinances in the temple, it would probably be better to say proxy baptisms instead of baptisms for the dead.  There have been a lot of misunderstandings concerning that practice, and a lot of people around here think that we are physically baptizing dead people, as in corpses.  One of our investigators, Larry Johnson, freaked out on us, even though we explained it pretty clearly.  We are going back today to try to clear up some of that stuff.

We had another person tell us this week that he wasn't going to listen to our message because he has already met Jesus and that's enough for him.

No news on my visa as of yet, but one of my friends in my district who also came to the Florida Tallahassee Mission just got his.  We will see what happens; I am hoping that it comes within the next month or so.  

Well, goobers, I love to hear from you.  Addie has told me about their new home, and I am excited to see it.  I am sure that Addie will have a lot of fun decorating it, especially with painting.  Mom, your letters are always presh, and I appreciate your insight in things that most people pass by and don't bother paying attention to.  Wolfgang, if you would like me to send this to your email, let me know, and I hope that I'll get the chance to meet you at one point.  It sounds like all of you are having some great times, and I am so glad to be able to hear about them.

Elder Jon Hendrik Vawdrey

Week #14

Dear Family,

Everything in Valdosta has been so fantastic.  Everything has just been broiling to perfection, and really almost every moment feels like a success.  I love being a missionary and am so glad that I have had the chance to come to Valdosta for a little while.  Get a little taste of some Georgia, see what it tastes like.  But really, I had my first Georgia peach the other day, and it tasted so delicious.  

I don't know if I've ever told you too much about our apartment complex, but it is pretty legit.  We are getting to know our neighbors a little bit more, and are beginning to realize how much people are actually watching us.  Ms. Gatlin, our neighbor, came out and talked with us one day when we were doing some service outside the apartment and confirmed this fact to us.  No one really knows our names, but they refer to us as the boys or the guys, and will always say, "Oh, the boys are leaving", or whatever.  We have a lady that lives above us who smokes like a chimney, and likes her high-quality Newport cigarettes so much that she had her car wrapped to look like a cigarette box and everything.  It even has a surgeon general's warning on it.  

When we were in last night eating dinner, we had a knock on our door when we weren't expecting anybody.  When we went out to open it we found three or four little boys standing there, apparently really excited about one of their finds when they were fishing earlier that day: Sharks!  They had these little foot-long sharks that they had caught at the beach earlier that day that their mothers wouldn't let them keep in the house.  So the next best thing to playing with them by yourself outside your house: go show the three teenage boys in the next apartment.  It was super funny and cute, and we went out and took some pictures with these sharks that these kids had been playing with all day.

We have had some awesome success with our investigators.  We had four at church on Sunday, which is the highest that we have had so far, but next week we plan to beat it.  We had the Tinney family, Larry Johnson, and Yvonne Garcia there and it seemed like they all had a genuinely good experience there.  Yvonne is moving towards baptism and is doing really well.  We have great hopes for her.

Recipe for you to try:
Korean Spicy Chicken Bulgogi
3 tbsp. Red chili pepper paste
1 tbsp. red chili powder
2 tbsp. light soy sauce
2 tbsp. mirin (korean cooking wine, but not required)
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp.  grated ginger
pinch of black pepper
All of this is for the chicken marinade.  You cut the chicken into thin strips and then let it marinade in the sauce for at least an hour, and then you cook it.  You stir fry vegetables with it and eat it on rice.  We had it at a member's house and I wanted the recipe, so you'll have to give it a try.

Thanks for all of your awesome letters.  I love your guts and hope to keep hearing from you!  Have a great week and enjoy the summer.

Elder Jon Hendrik Vawdrey

Monday, June 3, 2013

Week #13

Dear family,

First of all:
When I saw that in Mom's letter, I laughed out loud and the other missionaries gave me some weird looks.
Anyways, back to business.  How are things going?  Everything has still been going well here in Valdosta.  I only have a couple more weeks left here in Valdosta before they pull me back to Florida, which is extremely weird to think.  I have had such an amazing time here, especially with some of our new investigators. 
We had a couple of investigators come to church this Sunday, Yvonne and Johnny.  Both of them had really good experiences and we have great hopes for them.  Yvonne is probably in her 40's and was actually a referral from Larry Johnson, who we've been working with for a while.  She has a baptismal date and is progressing really quickly.  Hopefully I won't get my visa before her baptism, because I really want to be here for it if everything goes through.  Johnny's experience was also awesome.  We had our first lesson with him last week and he was really receptive, but we didn't really think he understood the weight of our message.  He made it to church and we had a solid fast and testimony meeting.  His eyes were glued on those that were speaking, and after the meeting he told us that he had a lot of different feelings going on in his mind and heart.  We think the spirit of the meeting kind of hit him, and he's beginning to understand what he's getting into.
We finally got in contact with Betty again, and are going to see her tonight, which will be great!
I am sorry that I don't really have anything eventful to tell you about concerning things going on around here.  Everyday goes pretty routinely, but that is the way it should be because I am having the best experience of my life.  I write a lot in my letters and in my journals about our investigators because, honestly, that is what we do.  We just talk with people all day long and help them come closer to Jesus Christ and feel the Spirit in their lives, and it is really a fantastic experiences.  Thank you, family, for giving me so much support and for all of the letters that I got this week.  You all are awesome, and I love your guts!
Elder Jon Hendrik Vawdrey

Week #12

Hey, Family!

How is everything?  It is just barely starting to get really hot down here.  The gnats are coming out, and they are brutal.  There are some beautiful areas down here that I think I would consider living in, if it weren't for the gnats.  They are everywhere.

Other than that, everything is going SUPER awesome.  We had four investigators come to church on Sunday!  I couldn't stop smiling because we finally had some investigators dedicated enough to attend church.  Betty Gunter wasn't one of them because she has been having some medical issues lately, but we had Larry, Yvonne, Matthew, and Mariah all come.

Our companionship has begun to make some changes in how we approach things.  Ever since I have been here, Elder Lynch and I have mostly been focusing on one specific area, and have slowly  been moving south of town, which is the ghet-freaking-to.  We come across all sorts of different people, such as one guy that told me that he found the gold plates over in Thomasville.  He asked us for a one dollar donation and said that he would pay us back when he brought the plates to church.  Pretty legit.  

But like I said, we decided that we would like to try working in some of the more affluent areas, which are further north of town.  So far we have only spent one day contacting up there, but we have had some success.  Not like baptismal date success, but we are developing some friendships.  Most of the people that we will talk to are extremely friendly, but they just have no interest in changing at all.  But there was this one family that we talked with outside their home that brought us some water and talked with us for a while.  They are the Threlkelds, and Brother Threlkeld is actually the district attorney for this area.  Working with his family will be way different, but we have already started to develop a good relationship.

They invited us to attend their son's Eagle Scout Court of Honor yesterday, and we did.  It was at this huge United Methodist Church.  The pastor their must be making bank, because this church had probably four buildings, namely a chapel, a Sunday School (equipped with game room), preschool, and conference center.   I almost felt like a criminal skulking about this church campus, and was afraid that they had locked us out because of our missionary garb.  The elders and I were late, and there was only one door open that would admit us into the Court of Honor.  After walking around almost four times, we finally found the door and were able to watch.  Elder Lynch got to stand and recite the Scout Oath with them, since he is an  Eagle Scout.

The Threlkelds were really excited that we came, introduced us to some of their friends.  We met the sheriff, which was pretty awesome.  We have not had a lesson with them yet, since we only met them Saturday, but we are really excited and hoping to be able to work with them.  

Other than that, there isn't anything too spectacular going on.  Visas are slowly coming through, but I will go wherever!  I think that's all that I have to say, so I hope to hear from you all some more!

Elder Jon Hendrik Vawdrey