Yep I''ve officially transitioned to the ghetto thug life because I'm here in downtown Chattanooga! My companion is Sister Mackelprang and she is from Farmington, UT. She has been out for 3 months so yep I'm trainer breaking. She's asian!!!! HECK YEAH WE GOT SUM DIVERSITY UP IN HURRR!!!
So I am here working in two branches, the downtown Chattanooga family branch and the YSA branch! Our branches meet in in an old civil war mansion and we live in the slave quarters just behind it.
I love it! Oh also we are a bus and walk area! Yep, so it really is the definition of crazy. I'm loving every moment so far. It's so easy to talk to people here because everyone just wants to laugh. When I smile at people their whole demeanor towards me changes. The bus is an adventure!
So let me tell you why I am meant to be here in Chattanooga. A couple of weeks ago Sister Burr and I were discussing the possibilities of where I could be transferred to. I told her my biggest fear was to go to downtown Chattanooga-- but it also seemed kind of exciting. I knew it would be the one place in the mission that would push me to grow the most. At that moment I knew I would be coming here.
On my first evening here, we went and saw the Porters (the cutest and most in love couple I've ever met) and we ate dinner with the Scotts. After dinner we had to go catch the bus on a random street corner in the dark. As we were walking to the bus stop, I was terrified, maybe because 2 people pulled over and offered us rides and warned us of danger. I was so scared that we had missed the bus. The whole time I was thinking, "it's okay you can just cry yourself to sleep when you get home." Hahahahahahahahah isn't that awful? Well the bus came and we got home safe and everything was fine but I was still feeling extra anxious about riding the bus, being in the ghetto, etc. I did not sleep at all that night. The next day was district meeting and I just wanted to cry the whole time but my eyes were constipated. Well, luckily for me, my old friend Elder Parkinson who was my district leader in Oak Ridge is now one of my zone leaders along with Elder Sterling who was in my district a while ago in Bristol. I had some priesthood holders that I trusted to be in tune with the spirit, so I asked them to give me a blessing. It was hard for me to ask because I have a little bit of a pride problem--but I knew that now would be a good time to let go of that and to rely on God a little bit more. Anyways, I was blessed with the peace I was looking for and Heavenly Father told me He was proud of my faith in the priesthood. Also something said in that blessing was directly quoted from my patriarchal blessing. This miracle of the priesthood confirmed my faith-- and my faith is strong because I love reading the scriptures and seeing evidence of God's authority to act in His name, given to man. Whenever I see a footnote that says "priesthood authority" I feel enlightened and my understanding increases. Heavenly Father has restored His priesthood to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith; I love that I get to teach that and also experience the blessings from it. Because God's power is here we have the blessings of salvation available to us and we can claim the power of the atonement in our lives. In reality I think that Ammon's words can better describe my feelings in this situation"
"11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."
The miracle to me is the peace that I have knowing Heavenly Father is watching over and protecting me as I am doing His work. I love it here in downtown Chattanooga, it's everything I ever dreamed my mission would be and more. I am grateful that Heavenly Father trusts that I can do hard things.
Love you and pray for you all!
Sister Andrea Kate Merrell