Monday, March 31, 2014

Finally in Atlanta

From the MTC, Elder Simeon Lovell wrote:  This place is awesome, amazing and everywhere you go you can feel the spirit.  I’m in a wonderful district and have two cool companions, who are also going to the Georgia Atlanta Mission with me.  I don’t want to “spill the beans” about the MTC too soon because I want Sel to feel what I feel and experience what I have experienced. The spirit is so strong though sometimes you forget the gospel you are preparing to teach must be led by the spirit.  We are not the ones who teach the investigators but Heavenly Father through us.  I’m doing fine – exercising every day to get the “six pack” abs so I can keep my word (about not gaining weight).

Thirteen days into his mission, Simeon left the MTC to board a plane in Salt Lake City and flew to his field of service in Atlanta, Georgia ... arriving safe and sound.  He was not able to make contact with us, but someone took this picture and posted it on Facebook.  Thank heaven for social media.

His first e-mail - on his first P-day in Atlanta - said, "my first day out here was hard.  Doors were slammed in my face and everyone we tried to talk to told us they were not interested, but never giving up sure helps.  We have now found 5 new investigators which is so awesome.  We begin teaching some of them this week."  

Go get 'em, Elder Lovell.  The Lord has prepared a bunch of Georgians for you to teach. Your job is to just keep knocking on those doors!

(Note his new address:  44 Wayside Drive, Cartersville, GA 30120)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Simeon On His Way

Elder Simeon Lovell entered the MTC in Provo on Wednesday, March 12 in final preparation for missionary service in the Georgia Atlanta Mission.  The 21-year-old joined the church in Georgetown, Guyana, South America at age 14 along with his identical twin brother Selwin. In the United States only since mid-September and in St. George since Halloween “the twins” always knew the next great adventure in their lives was a mission.

His call to the American south was met with enthusiasm.  “I just want to serve the Lord.  I am happy for this opportunity to serve in Georgia although I am sorry Selwin and I won’t be in the MTC together.  Could be the MTC just wasn’t prepared for two Lovells at the same time.”  

Missionaries first arrived in Georgia in 1843 to preach and to campaign for Church President Joseph Smith's United States presidential bid. After Joseph Smith was martyred one year later, the Church's growth slowed. Activity resumed in the late 1870s when the Southern States Mission was headquartered in Rome, Georgia. One early convert to the Church donated land and built a chapel at Mormon Springs in Haralson County.

Missionaries left the state for a decade following the murder of one missionary in July 1879. By 1908, Church membership in Georgia was approximately 6,800 but in 1930 membership was 4,311. The first temple to be built in the Southern states was completed in 1983 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Today there are 80,500+ members, 151 wards and branches, 2 missions and 42 family history centers. The church in Georgia increased its profile in 1992 when Latter-day Saints were very visible  with disaster relief after Hurricane Andrew destroyed homes and families in Albany.  In 1994, some 6000 Church volunteers helped homeowners recover from flooding in the area.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Simeon's Farewell

The church no longer encourages farewells for missionaries but after the amazing talk Simeon gave in Sacrament meeting on Sunday, March 9 (on the topic of obedience) we invited ward members, neighbors and friends over for "cookies and punch."  Selwin stayed in the background because he kept insisting it was "Simeon's day" (though our new bishop's wife brought him into the party with her comment about wanting grandchildren in a couple of years).  Several guests slipped Simeon money and all gave him a big hug.  Good family, good ward, good neighborhood, good missionary.

On Monday, we headed north where we had breakfast with Bob and Katie Beecher, with whom we served in Guyana; toured Temple Square - including the conference center - and stopped at the Missionary Mall in Provo to buy him a coat.  When we walked in, we were almost run over by former-Elder Porter, with whom we also served in Guyana.  He loudly exclaimed - when he saw his three customers come through the door - "NO WAY!!!!"

The MTC - an important part of this amazing Church - had every detail of the drop off process in place and it worked like a "well oiled machine!" The twins debated whether I would cry when it came time to say goodbye to Simeon.  The answer is "yes!" He's not mine - technically - but I love these boys and have been so pleased with how our family and the ward have embraced them.  Tears!!!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Please Leave a Comment

Family, neighbors and friends of Selwin and Simeon are invited to follow their mission story on this blog.  When they finish - in two years - the blog will be made into a book for each of them, as a way to remember their "best two years!"  Please feel free to post comments by clicking on the "Comments" link at the bottom.  They really, really want to hear from you regarding each post.