Monday, October 7, 2013

Letter #62 (Wiggins, MS)

Hey Momma,
So naturally, I must start this letter by declaring how amazing this week was. While it was amazing for sure, it was really unlike any week I have had to date on the mission. Monday and Tuesday went just like every normal missionary day, but Wednesday was interesting. It's kinda crazy, but President asked that I be a district leader again. Except the district I am now over is huge. It's the size of the Zone I was in when I was in Ashdown last year at this time. But with this zone there is a lot of missionaries that I don't know all too well, so I took Wednesday and worked with one of the companionship's in there area, that has been struggling. It was a lot of fun to take some time to work and learn from other missionaries. And hopefully Elder Sumsion and I were able to spark something with both the Companionship and Area that will get them started. We will see. But then Thursday is where it got totally crazy. So down here in the South, it's not quite like Utah where you have a ward every three blocks. Here it stretches for miles and miles. My area for example is almost 1200 square miles. Crazy right. Well, we have a town called Poplarville that is about 30 miles away from us that has nearly half of the Branch's members living in it. For obvious reasons, we can't get out and work Poplarville all too often, so with President's permission of coarse, we set up living arrangements with Jason, a less active in Poplarville. We were originally planning on staying with him and family, but about two days before we were too meet with them, we realized something we hadn't earlier. He had a teenage daughter living in his house!! And this, for obvious reasons, wouldn't work for a two night living situation. Well, we called Jason too see if he had any other ideas, or possible living situations. Well he did. I will send pictures because words don't do it justice. But here was the new plan. Jason's job is to be the Athletic Director of a local college in Poplarville. As the Athletic Director, he can also pull some strings. So Jason went too work because he really wanted us to come spend time with him and his family. Well, his solution was to put us up in a room up above the College's basketball court. Ya, crazy right. It's apparently a room where they put players in during the summer. It had two separate bathrooms' and showers, so it wask perfect living accommodations. Plus the showers were designed for tall basketball players, so the shower heads were placed about 7 feet up on the wall, so Elder Sumsion was excited to finally get his head wet for the first time in a while;) But it was overall an amazing trip. I felt like how I would imagine the first missionaries to have felt. Going into a brand new city, with only members to stay with. Well the weekend only got better with General Conference. It was completely amazing, but the thought I wish to share didn't come directly from something the Brothern said. It has to do with myself. I have come to realize that messing up isn't always a bad thing. And more than that, God is a God of "trial and error". Let me explain. For nearly a year upon returning from Savanna, I prayed for months that I would not serve my mission in the South. But how wrong was I? I tried, and made an error. God knows what we truly need to "prepare to meet [him]". He loves us, and when we try something, mess up, He is there waiting to show us the correct way.
    ~Elder Maddox

So a ward member that works for Nike hooked
 the missionaries up with some pretty nice Nike stuff!
They were so excited!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Letter # 61 (Wiggins, MS)

Hey momma,
Wow, what a crazy week it's been. Now let me tell you why. 3 baptisms this weekend! So this last week Elder Sumsion and I had anticipated the baptisms of Eran and Stacie, and were doing a great job of planning them. Stacie's was all set for Friday night, with Eran's the following morning at 10. Well, on about Wednesday, I think, I got a call from an investigator in my last area, Byram, MS. Her name is Jen, and I had spent a lot of time teaching her. Well come to find out, she was getting baptized this weekend, and asked if I would baptize her! Lucky for me, she had to work Saturday, so her baptism was scheduled for Sunday at 12:30. So our week consisted of two amazing baptisms Friday and Saturday, then two confirmations on Sunday morning, Elder Sumsion and I speaking in Sacrament meeting following the confirmations, then loading up and driving two and a half hours north to Byram for me to perform the last baptism of the week, Jen's. What an amazing weekend it was, and it all went off without a hitch!
         ~Elder Maddox

Elder Maddox and his new companion  Elder Sumsion
Elder Maddox is at least 6' tall...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Letter # 54 (Wiggins, MS)

Hey Momma!!                                                                                         Aug. 19, 2013
Alright so first of all... What an amazingly awesome week this has been! There was just so much that happened since Wednesday, that I hope I can get it all in! I guess I will just go day by day? That should hopefully work! So Wednesday, after I emailed you, we got out and got after it. We went around trying to contact as many people on our Branch roster as we could, and while we weren't successful in finding any less actives, we were able to teach a few people who had never heard the message of the Restoration. See, Elder Bench and I have an awesome advantage that most missionaries don't have, and that is the fact that here in Wiggins, people haven't seen missionaries like us out and about in over 20 years. So many people have stopped us and checked out our name tag's or just given us some strange looks, and if they look for too long, we take their curiosity as a sign that they want to talk to us! This has actually been quite a productive use of our time, simply walking around, and generating some pretty strange looks! But going back to our awesome Wednesday, we walked around till about 6, and then headed over to the church to try to meet some of the members. There we were able to meet with the entire Branch Presidency, as well as our newly called Branch Mission Leader, Brother Mitchell! Wow, this Branch is so ready to just explode! The Branch President, President Robertson, is a young Branch President, both in age, and in his time as BP, and let me tell you, it doesn't matter, because he is ready to get things done! He has put into place all the tools that we need as an area to be successful! So we met with them, the Branch Council, and discussed all the things that Elder Bench and I hoped too see happen in the few months that we will be here. Well, apparently we said the right things because President Robertson then asked us to not only speak for 10 minutes each, but to also have a combined 3rd hour at church on Sunday, so that we could talk with the members and share with them about what we had in mind for the Wiggins Branch! We accepted, of coarse. Then came Thursday, and we decided that we would spend the whole day on foot, and try to find some Non-members to teach! Great success! We were able to teach 4 lessons, and find 4 new people to teach. It was a very productive day! The next few days, Friday and Saturday were spent meeting with just as many Active member's as we could, and once again, we found a lot of success. We were able to meet with almost 10 families, and share with them what our goals were, and how they as member's could help us out! And let me tell you, after meeting with all of them, I am even more excited about being here! It's a tiny town, with a tiny church, and a small amount of Members, but this is where I am supposed to be! This is exactly what God has in store for me. I feel like my whole mission has come down to my time here in Wiggins. It's hard to stop at night, to lay down my head because my mind is still out on the streets talking to people, or in the members house's sharing with them what we hope to accomplish! I love my mission!
         ~Elder Maddox the First.

Letter #53 (Wiggins, MS)

Hey Mom,                                                                                                        Aug. 14, 2013
WOW is the only adjective to accurately describe this week too you. Talk about a 360 degree turn! I went from being over a few large cities, to having an area that has a few towns...And towns might be too big of a word to describe these places! But it's great! The area is named Wiggins, and it sandwiched in between two big cities, Hattiesburg, and Gulfport, with the Coast of the mission being about 30 minutes away. So lot's of rain and lots of seafood. Both are great! But Wiggins is a pretty crazy area. Like I said it's a few different town's all smashed together to make a branch of about 75 members. Quite a big branch, and excited would be a good word for their new missionaries. I feel like a celebrity. In all of my other area's, people will come up to us and shake our hand's and what not, but never have I had the welcoming like I have had here. In all of the other apartments that I have opened, we have had next to nothing in our apartments, because no one has lived their before. But this was the total opposite. We got in and had pictures on the wall, blankets on the bed, and food in the pantry. What an amazing show of support. Not only that, but we have been getting calls from many of the members asking what they can do to help us, asking if we need anything, and setting up dinner appointments. Its been amazing to say the least. I was truly humbled by the outpouring of love I received just by the way my apartment was set up. They are so eager to help, that it makes us try to be better missionaries. I will give more details following this week of work, and can't wait to give you guys all of the details next week!
             ~Elder Maddox

Letter #52 (Byram, MS)

Hey mom,                                                                                                              Aug. 6, 2013
So another great week in the books here in Byram Mississippi, and time continues to fly. It is really weird that my time is shortly coming to an end here. Another chapter in the book is closing, while another opens up. As far as this week is concerned we spent a lot of time teaching, with a lot of focus on our progressing investigators. Jen, who was scheduled to be baptized this last Saturday had to reschedule because she had to work last Sunday, and couldn't make it to church. But this Sunday she has already got work off, and that means she will be there! Which also means that next Saturday, the 17th, will be her baptisim day! And to make it even better, she asked for me to get permission to come back to baptize her! So that was definetly a cherry on top of the ice cream that has been my time here in Byram. Our other investigator that has been progressing well, Andrew has had some things come up that we have been working with and trying to help him work through, but he will get through them! All part of the fun of missionary work. Other than just working with Andrew and Jen, we have been knocking quite a few doors, trying to make sure that there is plenty for Elder Parker too do once I am gone! I can't believe that Elder Maddox the Second is already in the MTC, pretty crazy to think that there are now 7 members of the Maddox family out serving, because two missionaries got Grandma and Grandpa!
                ~Elder Maddox the First

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Roll Over!

                                                                                                                           About July 24, 2013
Well I received a phone call from the mission president letting me know that Elder Maddox and his companion were in a car accident.  They had been checked out at the hospital and seemed fine.  Well I let him know that Steven had been in a roll over several years ago and had a severe concussion from it that took 22 months to recover from.  So the next day Pres. McDonough had him checked out with an MRI and all looked good.  I was so relieved.  Elder Maddox says he is feeling better just a little sore and his head hurts pretty bad.  A ward member happened  to send me a few pictures of the accident...Just a little scary.  The Elders were heading home after a meeting, it had been raining and the roads were slick.  Steven's Companion was driving, while Steven was making calls for the next day's appointments.  As the came around a curve they slid down a 15 foot embankment, hit the bottom, then rolled over and landed up right.  Lots of damage to the car...the missionaries were much more lucky.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Letter #51 (Byram, MS)

Wow,                                              July 22, 2013                  
I fell like each time that I get on here my time is shorter and
shorter, and the weeks hold more and more that I just need to tell you
all. So first of all, we had interviews with President McDonough, and
can I just say, that there could not be a better mission president.
The interview didn't reveal any information about where I will be
going to here in a few weeks before I leave, but the interview was a
good energy boost. President has such energy and desire for the work,
that it is totally contagious! So great. Every time we have
interviews, which is every three months, we are supposed to bring two
goals and one Christ-like attribute that we are going to be working on
over the next few months between interviews. Now, I had two real
solid goals, and was excited to discuss them with him. While he
thought my goals were great, he wanted to discuss the fact that I am
about single didgit months left. Wow, hadn't really even thought
about that untill he brought it up! Kinda a bitter sweet thought! But
onto the rest of the week.
So my new companion, Elder Parker, and I are picking up right where
Elder Anderson left us. Finding people to get baptized! We have a
few people right now who are progressing with baptismal dates!
Jennifer is a 23 year old mother who is married to a member who has
become less active. Well last week we finally got to meet with her
and her husband, and let me tell you, AWESOME AND ELECT! She was so
ready to hear the message of the restoration! She was in tears and
just couldn't stop thanking us for the "message of peace and comfort,
and for answering all the questions that she has always wondered!"
Ever since then, she has eaten up everything that we have given her.
On Sunday, when we taught her the Word of Wisdom, she looked up at the
white board that we had just wrote all of the "do not's" on, smiled
and said, ya I don't do any of those things! Haha she was just so
prepaired to hear what we had to say that Elder Parker and I could
only laugh as we discussed the lesson afterwards.
Another indivual that we are working with is Andrew. Andrew is just a
little bit different than anyone that I have taught, because he has
already made the decison to be baptized. His main hold up is that,
because he is 14, he needs his mother's permission to get baptized.
While she isn't against the church or anything like that, she is
reluctant to let him join, because that would mean that he would be
leaving his family church, a baptist church, that his Uncle pastors.
So when I got here in April, Elder Anderson and I set out to somehow
get Alica, Andrews mom, to allow him to be baptized. After many
prayers, fasting, and teaching his mother the majority of the
missionary lessons, she has consented to allow him to become a member
and to be baptized! Words could not describe the joy and excitment as
we left their home on Wednesday. The date that we picked for him is
August 10th. What an amazing testimony builder it was to see Alicia
smile, and have a change of heart as we were at her house. The Lord
truly prepairs ways for his work to come to pass.
He has given us commandmens, some easy, some hard, and has asked us to
follow. But he hasn't left us without a way to live the commandments.
As we struggle, and stumble to live in a way according to his
commands, He is always there, with a hand outstretched. It isn't
always easy to see him, but once we do we are promised that " I will
also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even
you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage,
and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter,
and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my
people in their afflictions."(Mosiah 24:14) What a very real promise
this is. An attitude that I have adopted since my life here in Byram,
is "this too shall pass." Now I used to only apply this thought when
I was struggling, when I was in the middle of trials. But this saying
also applies to success. Every day is new. We have new battles to
face, and new demons to crush. If we are stuck living off of
yesterday's victory, we will get swallowed up by todays new challange.
I try to live life one day at a time, wether I am going through a
trial, or having success. Each day is new, and with a new day, comes
new challanges, and new blessings. Become a little better each and
every day, and that is what I have come to define success as. Being a
little better, a little closer to God.
           ~Elder Maddox