Dear Family and Friends:
Life is good in the hills of Tennessee. It is harvest time here, as the grain is finished, big truckloads of beans now are on the road. The truck farms are beginning to harvest. The corn is 4 to 5 feet high. We love to take our nightly walk just before dark, as the lightning bugs (fireflies) are out in full glory. They are beautiful and fun as they light up the evening.
We love the opportunity we have right now to teach to gospel again to our less active. We are teaching two families and find it rewarding and humbling. Many sacrifice for the gospel. We hear many stories of sacrifice from our members. We also find that many of our missionaries have given up a great deal for the gospel and to serve the Lord. Sister Ulivaka is a sister missionary serving in our District, she is from the small Island of Papua New Guinea. Her mother first heard the gospel and knew it was true, as she worked with the missionaries she could not keep her commitments and was not baptized. The family moved and she was very sad. It would be two years before they would find her again. One day the missionaries tracked into her home again to her mother it was a miracle. They again were taught the gospel and she wanted baptism for her and her family. She told the missionaries she had kept her study of the gospel a secret from her husband. They said she could not be baptized without telling him. The missionaries were there when she told her husband. He said he was born a Catholic and would die a Catholic. Then he went and got his machete and chased them from the house. Her mother begged him to just listen one time to the Missionaries and read from the Book of Mormon. He did and the whole family was baptized including dad. She says joining the church was not the hard part. Her father worked for an Uncle. The grandparents owned the business. They fired her father and disowned them all. She says they got to the point they had no food or water. To this day the family will not speak to them. But she has come to Tennessee to spread the gospel of Christ to others. She is a beautiful young lady and radiates the Gospel of Light.
A couple of weeks ago I received a call from a distant cousin in Tennessee. Cousins we met about 11 years ago on the internet looking for family history. They seen on Facebook that we were serving a mission here in Tennessee and they were having a reunion. We got permission and on Friday headed to Pickwick Dam, near Shiloh, Tennessee where my Downing family is from. The Downing’s are my mother’s maternal line. We visited Shiloh on Friday afternoon. It is the site of the Battle of Shiloh, where 23,000 men lost their lives in the two day battle. Shiloh has special meaning to our Downing family as two Downing’s gave their life there in the battle and another was taken captive. They fought for the south. There would be 10 Downing grandsons fighting in the civil war, 7 for the south and 3 for the north. One family would have brothers who would fight for different sides. A part of our Downing family lived on the Tennessee river when the battle took place,135 years ago, they seen the gunboats and federal troops gathering ready to land at Pittsburg landing. The firsthand account was shared at our reunion. They had no idea first cousins from Arkansas would be giving their lives the next day. There were about 40,000 Confederate troops under General Johnston (who would be killed in the battle.) and 40,000 federal troops under the leadership of Generals Grant and Sherman. We had a wonderful time together at the reunion. We as Downing’s may be separated in our religious beliefs but we are bound together with the love of family, God, and heritage.
We Love you all. May God Bless you and keep you.
Elder and Sister Lim Gale and Becky, Dad and Mom. Grandpa and Grandma, Friend