August 14, 2017


Branford Florida



A Man on a Mission: Confederate Flags

Hey y'all! This week has been blessed.

This is going to be a particularly long email. A lot happened this week, and I have all the time in the world to write this thing up. You can either skip to paragraph 5, where the week gets nice and juicy, or you can skip to Cliffnotes at the bottom.

We went to Top Golf for P-day last week! It's basically a giant, high-tech, three-story driving range by the town center in Jax. Pictures below. Afterward we had a good time at the Hendricks building and got a picture of the Mandarin zone in our new t-shirts! (Except Elder Richins, who went home. RIP.) After that we had dinner with the Fershtuts, one of the senior couples in the office. They are awesome. Then we went to FHE at the church - except no one told us that it was cancelled. We had an investigator show up, Daniel, so we just took him inside and had a lesson with him. It worked out great, actually!

On Tuesday we had the final district meeting for the transfer, which was good. We had a lesson with Ian and just read some of the Book of Mormon with him. He is a weird kid. We went and saw some members of the branch we wanted to say goodbye to, found a new investigator, got ice cream with the Mandarin 1st elders, and packed.

On Wednesday We met Elder Cengiz and Elder Fershtut, two senior missionaries, at the Mandarin building and picked up our car. It's the same Chevy Equinox I drove in Brunswick! It has my name in the mile log and everything. Anyway, Elders Cengiz and Fershtut drove a U-haul with all of our apartment supplies in it and we followed them. A good 2-hour trip.

Y'all, this place is backwoods. It is so stinking rural, it's not even funny. There are literally three stoplights in our entire area - over 1,000 square miles of it. (There's a couple blinking lights, which brings the total up to something like 10 or 12 stoplights, if you count those.) We live in a single-wide trailer that smells like tobacco, and we have a grass driveway. The houses here are a quarter-mile to a half-mile apart from each other, and it's all dirt roads. So. Many. Dirt roads. Our Equinox is filthy. We live 13 miles from our church. There is literally not a single urban area in the entire ward. There are no neighborhoods, nothing. There are twice as many Confederate flags as there are American flags. And this place is BEAUTIFUL. Everything is green! There are fields and trees and quaint little farms. There's quite a lot of agriculture here. It feels like you could point a camera just about anywhere and it would turn out to be a good picture. The nearest Walmart is 25 miles away from us, so we go shopping at dollar general. The only fast food in our area is Subway and McDonald's, and the only place in Fort White (where we live) is Subway. We just about knocked out the entire town of Fort White in a single evening. I love this place.

On Thursday we got a new investigator, Mr. Douglas. He's literally the most Southern old man you'll ever meet. He invited us to sit on his porch and talk for a little bit, so we did! We could barely understand what he was saying to us. "Over yonder I was fixin' to buy some of this property and one day I looked out the winder and I reckon I saw...." The people here are so freaking redneck. It's kind of hilarious sometimes.

Quote of the week: "My wife tells me she has to go into town to buy milk...but she don't have to, we got a perfectly good cow! I just don't understand womenfolk."

On Friday we met our ward mission leader! His name is Wayne Kinard. He runs a dive shop called Amigos Dive Center. Google it! He is the coolest guy ever.
Here locally there's a place called Ichetucknee Springs. It's amazing, clear, pure water flowing right up out of the ground. Cavities in the limestone underground are just full of water, and it gushes out and makes some nice rivers. Well, these limestone cavities are exactly what Brother Kinard capitalizes on! You see, these cavities make huge underwater caves. And what better to do with underwater caves than to go diving in them? So Brother Kinard has a run-it-yourself dive shop in his backyard. Over 6,000 people around the world rent tanks of gas and other dive equipment from him. You just drive through, rent your tank, fill it with gas, and you're off. It runs on an honor-code payment system - you just put a check in the box or slide your credit card, whether or not Brother Kinard is there. You can go through at any hour of the day, as well. He's been doing it for 10 years and he's never been robbed. Look up the Florida underwater caves on YouTube - that's what he does! It is cool.

Also on Friday we had dinner with Bishop Miles and his family. SO MUCH SOUTHERN FOOD. They sent us home with at least 5 pounds of food. They asked us how we were doing on food. We said we were good, we just needed a P-day to stock up on food. Well, Sister Miles went all out. On Saturday She drove to Gainesville and bought us, oh, $300 worth of food or so. We don't have to go shopping for weeks! She wouldn't take no for an answer. There's probably 5 times as much food in our trailer as we had in the YSA. Holy smokes. She even bought me a cake for my birthday. Sweet mercy.

On Sunday we got to meet the ward! We got at least 15 assignments from the ward council, and a member referral! Heck yes. This ward is OLD. Elder Flake and I literally doubled the Elder's Quorum. It consists of the Elders Quorum President and his counselor. Not even kidding. But folks here are the best. There were some good talks in Sacrament meeting. There was no Gospel Principles class, since there haven't been missionaries here in so long. So we're going to have to start that up. Mission life is amazing, y'all.

This p-day we're struggling because everything is shut down. Both barbershops, the thrift store, one of the restaurants - all closed on Monday. Pray for us.

Challenge this week: Share your favorite quote on social Media!

Pretty much it! Have a blessed week, y'all! Feel free to email me!

Had a good couple of last days in the YSA.
This place is in the BOONIES.
Our ward mission leader has the coolest job in the world.
Members feed us a ton.
Met some crazy folks.
Our ward is old. Way old.

Elder Christian Carter


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