|Jacksonville District Missionaries, October 2014|
It seems impossible, but we have been on our mission a little over a year. Once we hit the half way point, time has just flown. We have very mixed feelings about returning home. We, of course, look forward to being with family and friends, but we will so miss being in North Carolina. We have loved the area and the people. It has been such an honor and a joy to work with such outstanding sisters and elders. They are truly incredible and I have seen miracles happen here.
We have learned so much and now that we finally have a handle on what to do and how to do it (at least to some degree), it is almost time to leave. One of the advantages to being senior missionaries (we think) is that you get to serve your whole mission with your best friend and you don't change areas. The downside is that we get very attached to and care so much for the people we teach and work with and then they get deployed, transferred, or go home. They go. We stay. But we carry each of them in our hearts.
We have seen many amazing things happen during our time here. In fact, we sometimes refer to Jacksonville as " Miracleville." My next post will be about some of the inspiring individuals we have come to know and love and some of the blessings and "tender mercies" we have experienced. So this post will be more general in content.
The Mullet Festival (the fish, not the hairstyle)
The day started with a parade. I love small town parades, especially Southern ones. Of course, there was an Elvis in a pink cadillac to lead off. Swansboro has a vintage 50's diner on main street that is totally devoted to Elvis and Marilyn Monroe posters and memorabilia, There is even a life-sized cardboard cutout of Elvis in the corner of the women's restroom that greets you as you enter with, "Hi. I'm Elvis. Glad to meet you." A little freaky the first time you encounter it.
Being on the coast, there were several floats of ships and pirates. The pirate Blackbeard often used the inlets near here to land his ships. One of his ships laden with treasure sunk in the waters off Morehead City, not far from Swansboro. It was recently discovered and they are in the process of salvaging the cargo. People here are very proud of their pirate heritage.
What is a parade without a good marching band. Being loyal members of the Marching Razorbacks while at the University of Arkansas, Bob and I were pleased to see that marching bands are still a big deal in the South with lots of marching competitions and half time shows at local football games.
And, of course, there were lots of beauty queens riding in convertibles. Tiny Miss Swansboro, Little Miss, Young Miss, Teen Miss and then the official Miss Swansboro. Remember "Toddlers and Tiaras"? Pageants are big below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Interesting Facts About North Carolina
I read that there are 39 different kinds of spiders in North Carolina. Most are not dangerous, but they can be huge and sure look like they could cause harm. This is a garden spider, very helpful in controlling insects. It weaves a beautiful circle web with a zigzag design woven in.
Lots of snakes here but mostly away from populated areas. This corn snake might look like bad news, but is very helpful to farmers in keeping down the population of rats and mice. There are more poisonous snakes in the South than in the rest of the country. In addition to rattlers, there are cottonmouths, water moccasins, and coral snakes (very deadly).
Serving, learning and growing in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission.