Southern Vocabulary Fun-fact:
"Barbeque" is only used to refer to pulled pork, while "Cookout" is the propper term for things like burgers and hot dogs.
My area right now, and for atleast the next 12 weeks, is actually in South Carolina on the bottom edge of our mission boundary. We currently live in a little town called Rock Hill, and while we may live here, we are actually on assignment to help the ward here start a branch in the nearby town of Chester which hasnt seen missionaries in over 15 years!
The people here are super great and way nice! Chester is a bit of ghetto or "economically depressed" area so the members in Rock Hill are a little reluctant to work with us, which sucks, but the people in Chester are actually some of the nicest people I've met, and always tell us "no" in the kindest way. Since this is a new area for the mission (we being the first missionaries to enter Chester in this century) we dont have the usual list of refferals or people that the ward members recommend seeing, because the closest ward is way up here in Rock Hill (18 miles away from Chester) but we are doing our best!
On friday night we saw a lady by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere at what looked like a memorial, so we decided to pull over and see. She said her friend had died there in a car accident and so their family had adopted that stretch of the highway, and when you do you have to clean the highway quarterly, and they were going to do that on Saturday morning. We showed up Saturday morning to help pick up trash along the road and everyone there was super happy we came, they even invited us back to their house for a "Shrimp Boil". I didnt know what to expect, but apparently its when you boil some water with tons of very HOT seasonings in it and they toss in things like potato, corn on the cob, and sausage (real big sausage not breakfast sausage), and then they put in the shrimp. Everything soaks in the spicy water and it was truly delicious! It was some real Texas cooking! (the family was from Texas)
They call our mission the "mission of miracles" and I may haven only been here for about a week now, but I have already seen so many! For example, on my first day here we went into Chester to get a feel for the town and the people, so we parked at Walmart and decided to walk around the neighborhood behind it since we didnt know where else to start. The fifth door we knock on we meet a lady and her 11 year old son. We taught them and challenged them to read the Book of Mormon and they accepted! We will hopefully see them again this week!
We also met a wonderful man named Jeffery because his wife Angel had ordered a free bible from us, and we kind folk hand deliver (tell your friends). We taught them both and Jeffery got very excited about the Book of Mormon and promised us he would read and take notes for us. We went back on Friday and he had really studied the intoduction multiple times and the first five chapters. When we got there he immediately started asking questions about some super deep doctrine which we were not expecting at all! He started asking how soon he could be baptised and if he could come to church this Sunday which is all super exciting! We asked him what happened while he was reading that got him so excited and he told us that he has been struggling with having a constantly high heart rate (like over 100 BPM all the time) and he said that he checked is rate before he began reading and it was at 105 and after reading and pondering the writings of the Book of Mormon for about half an hour his watch beeped telling him to check is heart rate again, and it was at a cool 85 BPM. I'm no expert, but I'd call that a miracle. At church he had a great time and really enjoyed the whole service and after I watched him fight back tears as he checked his heart rate again and it was at 87. Again, quite miraculous.
I love the people here and the work is going pretty smooth for starting from scratch. I cant wait to see if we can get that branch up and running by the end of my 12 weeks here! I will keep y'all posted!