The ward here in Jacksonville is AMAZING! Now I've been in some pretty awesome wards before, but this ward works the very way a ward should. The members are ridiculously warm and generous. They are eager to help wherever help is needed, they love the missionaries and strive to assist them in their work, and they love life.
Let me lay out our experience thus far.
Spencer and I had been looking for apartments here for months while we were in Provo, but it's a little town with few options. We finally called the bishop, who got us in contact with Lauren (our angel) who immediately started looking for openings and checking out listings that we had found. She gave us feedback and made what ended up being our ultimate choice happen. (I know that I said the place was sketchy, but she did warn us and suggested that it would work for the short three months that we would be here, and she was right) Anyways, after many emails and phone calls we got the apartment.
Then she asked us via email (while we were in Turkey) if we needed anything when we got here (furniture, dishes, appliances) because she would be willing to ask the ward if anyone had extras they could spare for the summer. We had actually decided to not rent a truck but to just fill our car with everything we could, we were planning on buying some cheap replacements instead of trying to cart them across the country, so we said that would be great. A few days later we hear back. When we arrive in Jacksonville there would be a bed (frame, mattress, and box spring), a couch, a kitchen table and chairs, and a set of dishes for us to use. Later, members would also contribute two bicycles, a toaster oven, a dvd player, and hair cutting supplies for Spencer.
So an HOUR after we pulled into Jacksonville, several cars and a truck showed up full of people and furniture to help us move in. We were filled with gratitude, and it was so nice to meet some people and not just wallow in the scariness that was our apartment.
The first Sunday: About 120 people were there. I'm guessing about 100 of them came up to us and introduced themselves that day. And asked us if we needed anything else. And we were invited to several homes for dinner over the following several days.
I am so grateful for the amazing love and generosity that we have been shown by the ward members here. I love being able to see Christ's love in action, and I know that He knew that we would need this ward this summer. The longer we're here, the more I know that I am going to hate leaving this ward in two months.