Monday, July 20, 2009

First letter from Harker's Island

Hey everybody! Wow, it has been a long time since I've been able to send any mail. I missed my last P-Day because that was when we were traveling, so now I finally get to write!

Well, it has been quite a week. Last Monday we got up at 4 and flew across the country to Atlanta, then Raleigh. When we got there President C and his wife were there. We were their first set of new missionaries. They are great people. So we stayed at the mission home with them and the assistants, and were all interviewed by the President.

The next day everyone was told first thing in the morning who their trainer would be and what area they were serving in, except for Elder S and I. So after we had an orientation meeting at the mission office, we went back to the mission home to meet our trainers. I had no idea who my trainer was supposed to be, however, so when I went down the stairs I had to ask the assistant. He really surprised me when he told me I would be with Elder S. Elder S has been out 21 months and had been serving as an assistant, and I had talked to him a bunch the previous day, having no idea that he would possibly be my trainer. He is from North Ogden and loves playing baseball. He is very experienced, a hard worker, and all around just a great guy. I am glad to have him as my trainer for the next 3 months before he heads home.

We have been assigned to the Harker's Island area, which really blew me away. Harker's Island is as far east in North Carolina as you can go and has a lot of history to it. It was one of the first areas in North Carolina for the gospel to catch on, and the early members and missionaries had some struggles with the intolerance of the day. The missionaries were run off the island more than once, and it was not uncommon for a brick to come through the window in the middle of church. More recently it has been closed to missionaries serving in it. The last set of full-time missionaries left about a year and a half ago, but some missionaries in Moorhead covered it part-time and felt their was potential there, so President C decided to open it back up. All the other missionaries were jealous, it was pretty funny.

Harker's Island reminds me a lot of Basin City. It is fairly small, larger than Basin City but still small enough that everyone is related. About 80% of the population has the last name of Gillikin, Guthrie, Lawrence, Willis, or Hancock. I have got plenty of southern accent from "off" (the settlements not on the island that make up about half the area), but on the island they speak in an almost English accent! I really have no idea how that came to be, but if you're off the island you call it the "Ahlin", if you're on you call it the "Oilan".

There is some good seafood here, I've already had a clam bake and a shrimp burger. Yum. There definitely is a lot of potential here, more so off the island than on. The island has been pretty well tracted out and the people who live there are generally the same ones who lived there years ago. They go to one of the 8 (I think) churches found on the island and are pretty set in their ways, although there are some part-member families where people are really close to being baptized. There are more new people that live off the island, so that is where we will spend our time trying to find new investigators. We shall see.

As for me, I am doing pretty good. The scenery out here is nothing short of amazing. It has been warm and humid, which is nice. When it gets hot and humid I will change my tune, but until then I love the weather. I've missed some people and felt inadequate at times, so I'm just trying to work as hard as I can. That is when I have felt the best. When I heard that serving a mission wouldn't be easy I don't know if I really believed it. It definitely isn't an easy thing, but I also know that it's worth it. I am glad to be out here, and there is no other place I would rather be. As Elder Holland said, "Salvation wasn't meant to be easy".

We are staying with the stake president, President H. His family has been so good to us. We will be staying with them for a few more days before we move to our trailer in Gloucester, off the island...I love you all and hope to hear from you soon.

Elder Casper

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