I love my mission! We are having so much success as we teach with the Book of Mormon. I may have already mentioned this, but when we got to the mission, each of the new missionaries received an assignment from [the Mission President]. We are to go study the entire Book of Mormon marking each reference to Christ, His words, His attributes, and each doctrine or principle discussed in the Book and then keep a tally of each reference at the bottom of each page. I'm about half-way through Mosiah. My testimony of the Book of Mormon is growing like a young piglet that recently found a whole lot of yummy food and is eating it all. (that's a lot of growth--just in case you didn't get that :)) The Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ and has real power that every person we teach can feel. It is pretty cool watching the power of the Book of Mormon change lives.
The only hard thing about this area is that EVERYONE works Sundays. Since this is a tourist town, everyone who lives here either works construction (and is currently out of work) or cleans hotels and cabins (and works ALL DAY EVERY Sunday because that's when all the tourists leave to go home). If it weren't for that, we would have 300 more people in sacrament meeting in the English ward and 100 more in the Spanish branch. It's actually really frustrating. We work with so many people that have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Gospel but cannot be baptized because they cannot attend church.
Anyways, I love you all and appreciate your letters and the package! The St. Patrick's Day package had a bunch of cookies in it that have to be at least 10000000000000000087 calories each. The package says that each individual cookie is four servings. :) As you might expect from a 10000000000000000087 calorie cookie, they are pretty tasty.
Here is a funny story:
First of all, one of the English elders flew off his bike and hurt his elbow (that's a different story, it sufficeth me to say that he probably shouldn't have been trying to 'buzz' his companion's back tire with his front...) and the doctor said he can't ride a bike for several weeks. Thus, my companion and I have been on bikes in one of the biggest areas in the mission (not to mention we're out in the boonies in the Smoky Mountains) for a couple weeks.
Okay now for the story. We got a referral from [the mission president's wife] on Friday to go see a lady who lives out in the middle of nowhere, but in our area, that the missionaries in Chattanooga had contacted at a gas station. So we rode our bikes out to see her on Saturday. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were riding along the Little Pigeon Forge River over the mountains and through the woods to this lady's house we were going. After about an hour we no longer recognized the street names that we had seen on our map back at the apartment when we were planning our route. We stopped at a gas station and figured out that we had actually passed her street several miles back...grrr.... So we turned around to go find her unmarked, private, straight-up-the-mountain street. We saw a street that appeared to be in about the right place and had the same shape as hers on the map. So we walked our bikes up it (riding up these streets is physically impossible...) and eventually found ourselves at a cabin with a sign out front with the name 'Bearly Naked' on it. We hoped this wasn't the right place and were on the phone trying to call the lady for directions when we heard a really weird sound coming from the woods behind the cabin. It sounded a lot like a cow, only 2 octaves higher. Some of the sounds remotely resembled English words. Fearing a gruesome death by a probably-naked sasquatch, we turned tail and rode straight down the mountain REALLY fast. We went a little bit further up the main road trying to find this lady's street. We eventually found it, but of course, she wasn't home. We left her a note and moved on with the rest of our plans for the day.
Anyway, I want you all to know that I am doing great! I am having the time of my life sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people her in Sevier County, Tennessee--even the parts when we have to flee before the gaping maw of a probably-naked sasquatch.
I love you all!
P.S. Tell everyone "hi" for me! Tell Jake congrats [on starting his mission papers]! That's awesome! It's starting to get a little bit warmer. We've actually had sunshine the last 2 days. It's been glorious!