Monday, July 27, 2015

Week 60 in the Field: Farewell to Eldorado and Becoming a District Leader

Exploring Rim Rock.  
"Experience has taught me that if we, like President Monson, exercise our faith and look to God for help, we will not be overwhelmed with the burdens of life. We will not feel incapable of doing what we are called to do or need to do. We will be strengthened, and our lives will be filled with peace and joy. We will come to realize that most of what we worry about is not of eternal significance—and if it is, the Lord will help us. But we must have the faith to look up and the courage to follow His direction." (Elder Carl B. Cook, 2011 General Conference)

Yup. Got a lot.

Wow. It's been quite an emotional week. So I guess it was good that I predicted myself getting transferred last weekend, because I was able to see everyone I could this past week. It was also filled with many adventures.

Monday I decided this would be my last P-day so we decided to head on down to this place called Rim Rock. There's loads of history in these rocks. There was one particular area called Ox-Lot Cave which is actually more like an overhang. The story about that area is that oxen were penned underneath this overhang during the bad weather. It was loads of fun walking around the high walls and the narrow caves. We also walked on a spider web-ridden trail towards this area called Pounds Hollow which is this giant swimming hole. We ended up walking back afterwards.

High Knob view of Shawnee National Forest

Corn! All of the stuff you see here is corn!

At Ox-Lot Cave in Rim Rock

Elder Steed Walking on the wooden walkway of the Pounds Hollow Trail

Pounds Hollow Lake

Rim Rock #1

We then drove to this city, or rather village, called Old Shawneetown. This place has loads of history. It was the first town in Illinois, and the bank there received an application for a loan for the then small city, Chicago, back in the day. Lewis and Clark also stopped by here on their way to Fort Massac, where we went a few weeks ago. The bank still stands, but the rest of the city is all but a ghost town. Less than 300 people live here now due to floods. In the evening we went over to one of the counselor's in the branch presidency for dinner. It was a good time and we appreciated them. After that we went back to the branch building to email home.

Old Shawneetown Bank (I think this is the bank that received an application for a loan for the small city of Chicago back in the day)

Putting one foot in the Louisville Kentucky Mission. (Theoretically, Kentucky owns the Ohio
River so by putting one foot in the water on this particular area, you step into another mission).

Old Shawneetown plaque

Tuesday we went over to our former member's home where we discussed plans for the FHE (Family Home Evening which is essentially gathering as a family and possibly win other friends for games and sharing spiritual thoughts) we were going to have with them and the (Branch Mission Leader's) BML family. After visiting shortly with the shut-in, we went over to the investigator with the baby who had a busted AC window unit. So yours truly with some help from my companion and her, took out and replaced the window AC unit with another. Fun stuff. The FHE with the BML family was fun. We played Scattagories and I shared a story from Church History about how the closer someone gets to the truth, the harder the adversary pushes them away from it. (This is still true today.  Please think about that.)

Wednesday we went down to Paducah for the final district meeting of the transfer. Sister Curtis gave a wonderful testimony and gave advice to all of us since she would be going home this transfer after finishing her 18 month mission. It was great. 

 The District

Two pictures of the district. (From left to right: Elder Steed, Elder Orr, Elder Parkinson, Elder Smith, Elder Senatore, Sister Curtis, Elder Peery, Sister Sumbot)

On the way up we stopped by this place called Millstone Bluff which is an archaeological site in Southern Illinois. Apparently Native Americans lived here more than 1700 years ago and some of the remains are still around here, including some rock carvings. The most famous of the rock carvings is a "Thunderbird". I took a picture of it though it is difficult to see due to all the moss. There were many other things there including the remains of a cemetery, homes, and buildings, most of which are simply just spaces where you can see the earth is depressed a little. Still super cool.

 Layout of Millstone Bluff

A millstone

We then went over to our investigator in Galatia and had a super spiritual lesson there and showed him The Restoration movie which talks about the origin of the church. It was super cool to see his reactions. 

If you haven’t seen it--or if you haven't seen it in awhile--please watch it.  
Here is the link:

We had to end the night after having a great dinner with one of the primary counselors.

Thursday we went out for lunch with the High Priest's group leader and had an awesome meal at KFC. After that our phone started getting ambushed by telemarketers for some weird reason. We literally got 7-9 phone calls in the space of an hour.

After that we struck out all over the place, but were able to make it up to Norris City where we had
a lot of fun having dinner with the Relief Society President and her husband. It was a great evening and it was fun seeing Norris City again.

Friday we were notified that our apartment wasn't in too good shape, so we spent the day cleaning it like crazy. We then went over to the church for planning. On the way home, we stopped by McDonalds which turned out to be a mistake ‘cause we almost got food poisoning. It wasn't a fun night, let me tell you.

Saturday was a very big day. Around 11:30am, President Andersen, the mission president, called us and asked me to be a district leader in a new area. (Elder Steed will be staying here in Eldorado.) It was very overwhelming and humbling, but I agreed. I don't know where I'm going or who my new companion is, but I do know that I will be a district leader -- meaning I will be over a group of 6-8 missionaries--very nerve-wracking and very humbling.

We proceeded then the rest of the day to pack, and began saying goodbye to people. The investigator in Galatia was super sad that I was leaving, as were the recent convert family in Eldorado. It was a really bittersweet day.

Sunday was very also very bittersweet. After a meeting in the morning, I proceeded to say goodbye to a lot of people. I gave a talk in Primary and told the kids that I will miss them a lot. I then taught a lesson on gospel principles on light and truth and how they work with each other. I based the entire thing around a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 93:36 which says, "The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth." I essentially taught the idea that we are constantly gaining and losing light and truth by our decisions.

When we make good choices, we gain more light. This increase of light helps us understand more truth. Consequently by making wrong choices takes us further away from the Lord, which makes truth harder to understand. By making sure we are gaining light, we draw closer to the Lord, align our will with His will, and can understand more of what our Heavenly Father expects of us.  Pretty cool, huh!

Anyways, I ended up saying goodbye to pretty much everyone. Some commented saying they will miss the way I expound scripture. Others said they'd miss my optimism. I also got some marriage advice (ha!). But the whole time was very sad. I am really going to miss these good folks.  My heart is full.

Later on I said goodbye to the shut in, who took a picture of me and wanted to stay in touch. In the evening we went over to see the BML (Branch Mission Leader’s) family, where I said goodbye to the whole crew. That was very, very hard. We ended the night seeing the former member who I had seen every week. It was a very sad meeting and she was grateful for all the knowledge, advice, and help we had given. I cried a bit as we left her house.

Saying goodbye to the BML family (minus one, and a couple other pets). And yes, one of their dogs named Daisy, has to wear the "cone of shame."

Today we will be heading over to Ponderosa for the last meal I will have in the Eldorado Branch area. We will then head down to Garden of the Gods for the last time and then cross the river into Kentucky where we will spend the night with some other missionaries.

"I stopped to look back at what we had accomplished and said to my mother, “Look at all we have done!” Mother did not respond. Thinking that she had not heard me, I repeated what I had said a little louder. She still did not reply. Raising my voice a little higher, I repeated again. Finally, she turned to me and said, “Edward, never look back. Look ahead at what we still have to do.”  My dear brothers and sisters, the covenant we made with the Lord when we were baptized, “to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in” (Mosiah 18:9), is a lifelong commitment."  (Elder Edward Dube, Of the Seventy, General Conference 2013)
I will miss the branch dearly. It has been a very tough area, but I have gained a huge respect for the people of Southern Illinois. I love them all and WILL see them again someday.

I don't know where I will be serving next, but I know that I will carry all the experiences I've learned here with me. I can't wait.

Elder Peery

Please write me at:

Lewis and Clark meet Steed and Peery

Okay you can stop hating me now for all the pictures. I'm done. 

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