I AM NOW IN SOUTH CAROLINA AND OUT OF THE MTC. Getting to here wasn't bad at all. I had fun with Elder Huntsman and a couple of other sisters that were on the same flight as us. Once we got the the Columbia Airport, President and Sister Holm and the AP's were already there to meet us all. They greeted us and we then grabbed out luggage, and headed to the mission home. Over the next couple days before transfers we mostly just stayed at the mission home and had some training/orientation at the Irmo church building. It was great to be in the great care of the Holms and the APs.
Tuesday morning was a bit special too. President Holm took all of us to the "Sacred Grove" on the Columbia Temple grounds. The temple has some land right next to it that is dedicated and it was definitely an awesome place to sit and relax in for a little while. President Holm talked about The First Vision, and then encouraged us to pray on the forest grounds so that we could feel The Spirit. I felt it overwhelmingly. I prayed that I would have strength in this next week as I move into almost an entire new world and I know that the comfort, peace, and warmth that I felt was Heavenly Father telling me that he will always be there for me throughout my mission. After that we walked into the front room of the temple and talked with the Temple President. It was great to see a little bit of the inside and I can't wait to go to the Columbia Temple later in my mission. So that day went really well and a little bit later in the afternoon I was able to do some practice tracking with Elder Allen. He's from Evanston Wyoming and he was a really great guy to be with and he and I had a great experience giving a message about Jesus Christ to a lady at her home. So that day went pretty well. But it gets better.
Wednesday was transfers! The meeting was great and it was nice to meet some missionaries and it was a little hard to say goodbye to the amazing friends that I made with all of the Elders and Sisters in my district at the MTC. My area assignment was a bit of a shocker, though. I wasn't sad or mad or anything but I was so surprised that I was placed here... BECAUSE I have been assigned to the Boiling Springs area in the Boiling Springs Ward with Elder Welty. They completely white washed this whole area and added two missionaries to the already 2 Elders and 2 Sisters that they had in the ward (Welty and I). Welty and I are the biking Elders and we are also responsible for opening up an entire area. I definitely was not ready for that assignment at all haha. Especially as a brand new Greenie. But it's been such a blessing even though I've been having to work super hard to get this area organized for Welty and I. We got here on Wednesday and we worked all day every day until we got the entire area organized to be able to start working with the people.
We had to:
1. Get a ward roster, number every member, add their address, phone number, and email into our cell phone.
2. Color code the roster to know which people are inactive, active, and in our boundaries.
3. Get a map of Boiling Springs so that we can blow it up to a giant size, laminate it ourselves, and then put it up on the wall.
4. Add color coded dots that correspond to the members information and put the dots on exactly where they live so that we know who lives where. (I had to look up every person separately on a GPS)
5. Make sure that the info we had was all correct
So yeah that took a long while and it was a butt load of work, but we got all of it done by Friday night, which is so awesome. I'm really proud of myself and Welty. We worked really hard to get everything together. I was kind of a little bored of it though, but I know that I was put here for a reason. I think that maybe the Lord knows that I can do the lesson/teaching part of missionary work, and that He wants me to know how to do the other sides of it as well. It was definitely a test of patience with myself and a test to see how hard I can really work. It's been a blessing being here,
So once we got all of that crazy stuff done, we finally were able to get out and work on Saturday. Being on a bike has made me realize of how out of shape I really am (And uncoordinated). It was pretty brutal, but I pushed through it and Welty and I had a lot of fun going around our area and finding people to teach. But seriously, I can't ride a bike at all hahaha. I tried to hop a curb to get up on a sidewalk and I couldn't even do it and I fell right over on my butt in front of about 50 cars (smooth I know). But anyway, yeah it was great and we found a guy named Carl Sessions that day. We actually went to knock on a member's door to meet him, and he actually had moved away. We started walking away from the house and a man next door was already outside staring at us. He immediately asked us if we were missionaries and so we went over to talk with him. He has been inactive for over 30 years and he grew up in the church. He explained to us that his life is in complete turmoil and that he moved here 6 months ago and that he can barely stand it. He was almost hysterical and I felt so terribly bad for him. He was jobless, friendless, and bored out of his mind. I told him that we are here to help him and that it wasn't a coincidence that we just happened to pass by when he was outside, and I know that it wasn't either. He knew that it wasn't and he asked us for a blessing. We gave him one and he had almost immediately went from hysterical, to calm and cool. The change was just like day and night. He thanked us and then asked if he could get a Book of Mormon because he didn't have one anymore. (Oh and it just so happened that I had only 1 in my bag when I at first thought of bringing none at all before leaving) I gave him one and gave him a chapter to read that helped me in my life when I was alone and sad, and then we headed on our way. We're seeing him tonight so hopefully it will go well and hopefully I can help him feel the love that Christ has for him.
THEN SUNDAY: Sunday was amazing. The members are so focused on missionary work, it's ridiculous. Bishop Fore met with us, gave us a bunch of people that we can visit over the week, and then helped us out with the roster. He's an awesome guy. At ward council nobody talked about anything except missionary work. We now have like 3 members already scheduled to come out with us this week. The support here is amazing and I love the members already. We had dinner at the Gordon's and they helped us out with our work too. I'm so thankful for the support that I have here from the members. Everyone i've met so far has been super chill and super helpful. Bishop Fore has set a goal to have everyone of the 3 companionships in the ward get a baptism in March, and I think we can do it.
So all in all this week has been great. I've worked my tail off to open up my area, to visit members that are 10 miles away on my bike, and other things I can't think of right now. (Oh and I've read about 160 pages of Jesus The Christ, great book). I've never worked so hard in my life but I don't even care because I get to save people's lives and help them feel love and compassion from the Savior. I wouldn't have been able to do any of this on my own without Elder Welty and the Atonement and the power that it has to change people.
Elder Welty is really amazing. He's from Layton Utah and it looks like i'll be the one who kills him at the end of my 3 month companionship with him. He's really awesome and the perfect example of a great missionary. He's almost as funny as me even! I never thought anyone could get close to that hahah just kidding. ("Killing" his companion is missionary lingo for his companion going home after they are together. Elder Welty is Sean's "father" and Sean is his "son," so Sean will "kill his father." I know, pretty funny and a little weird!)
Thank you so much for you emails Ryan, Mom, Dad, and others. I love reading them. Mom thank you for the package it was just what I needed to get started here. I spilled on my white shirts like 3 times already, so that bleach pen was a huge help.
My mailing address will always be the same. It's the mission office. They receive all the mail and forward it to wherever I am and I get it the same day sometimes. So when sending me a package or letter, put this:
Elder Sean Bills
110 Oak Park Dr. Suite B
Irmo, South Carolina
I love you all and I hope you are all doing amazing. You're in my prayers every night. Miss you