One of the coolest things I have seen while I have been in Port Pirie is the Gee family (pronounced "jee"). Brother Gee was an atheist and a professional wine taster at the beginning of this year. Today he is the second counselor in the branch presidency and his wife is the relief society president. They are one of the strongest families in our branch and they take care of us missionaries as if we were their kids. That is one of the best things about the the members in our branch: they take care of each other. Brother Gee fixes our bikes all the time, one sister sews up our pants, another sister crocheted us blankets, and the members (force) feed us all the time.
Another realisation I have come to in the past few weeks is how grateful I am for my family. I have witnessed dozens of broken families in the past 3 months where the father has left the family, where the parents are young and unmarried, where the parents left the kids when they were young; where the husband never comes to church but the wife comes anyway, where the kids have gone inactive and the parents can't get them back, where the grown up kids don't even know where their siblings live or who they are anymore. I realised that I come from an ideal family that I have taken for granted all this time and the struggles I have faced are nowhere near as daunting as those I have witnessed out here.
In the past few months I've become used to the Aussie culture and all the little differences that you don't know about. So I've decided to include little tidbits of cultural differences from now on in my emails.
Aussie Culture: Driving
1. The most popular brand of car I have seen here is Holden, which I've been told is similar to Chevy in America, but they have a different design.
2. The speed limits are slow and are enforced to a Nazi extreme: cops rarely pull people over because they just have speed trap cameras everywhere. If you go so much as 8 kph (5 miles per hour) over the speed limit, you get a ticket for $500. So everybody drives the same speed and almost nobody passes each other.
3. They aren't called "gas stations", they're called "petrol stations". The word "gas" is never used here. Petrol is bright red.
4. There are signs all over the highways that say, "DROWSY DRIVERS DIE" and "DRIVE TO SURVIVE"
We go to Op-shops (opportunity shops--basically the same thing as DI) all the time for ties, which are a dollar or two at most. Occasionally you'll score and find a mean tie, so it's a mad rush to the tie section to get there before other missionaries take the best ones.
Spiritual thought for yous before I go: This goes hand in hand with my farewell talk--the other day in my personal study I came across the sentence, "Christ performed the Atonement so we could become Gods." That statement really woke me up--that is the purpose of our existence here. There is a bigger picture of such magnitude that all things we see as being so important and so stressful in our lives are nothing. I thought that sentence was the coolest thing, because that is what we're headed for if we choose to obey God. That is what he has in store for us.
1. Our house. As you can see, it's up for grabs.
2. Our street
3. One of the main streets in Pirie
4. This is Lance, one of our members. He's the sweetest guy ever. He's too ill to come to church every week, so we go by the hospice twice a week to read the Book of Mormon with him. He has a hard time speaking, so you really have to listen when he talks. He always says in his prayers (while struggling to speak) "Thank you for the missionary boys. I love them and I love you, Heavenly Father. Thank you for the Book of Mormons. The Book of Mormons is true, and I will always read it." He always gives us chocolate every time we visit.
5. Who knew they played baseball down here?