I'm in Ohio! Finally! It's awesome! I have lots to write about, but first here's my new address:
Elder David R. Dransfield
1779 Tremainsville Apt. 109
Toledo, Ohio 43613
On Tuesday we got to the airport at around 5:30-6ish and our flight to Detroit was supposed to leave at 7-something. When we were walking towards the Delta check-in, an elder and sister missionary also going to the Cleveland mission told us that Elder Dransfield needed to come with them - the three of us didn't have plane tickets. For some reason our information never processed and us three (plus two other sisters, and two other elders) didn't have a way of getting to Ohio. So Delta sent us to American Airlines who sent us back to Delta who sent us to Continental (meanwhile we're on the phone with Salt Lake the whole time trying to figure everything out). Slowly but surely we all get flights (on different airlines) and me, an elder, and a sister are left to catch a flight that leaves in 20 minutes. So we asked everyone in security if we could cut and litterally ran across the airport just barely making our flight to Denver. From Denver we flew to Cleveland where President and Sister Sorensen were waiting to pick us up. Of us 12 elders and 3 sisters, we were on 4 different flights to Cleveland, so we were all coming in at different times - it was a nightmare. But we made it.
We were taken to the mission home and were given the rundown of what to expect, the rules, who to talk to for different things.. We were interviewed, talked about our medical info, did some roleplaying, testimony meeting, went to bed. Oh, and an awesome dinner. After 3 weeks in the MTC, the dinner and beds and shower and such were heavenly. The next morning we got our info about our trainer and area and then headed to Kirtland. Kirtland was very cool (I was going to bombbard you with pictures......but....I forgot the cord for my camera :/ sorry. Next week!). We were taken through the N.K. Whitney store/School of prophets and watched a film about Kirtland - very cool. After that we were paired up with our new companions! My companion is Elder Perkins, he's been out for 7 1/2 months, from Kanab, Utah. We are serving in Point Place - it's a big area, in the very top, very left part of the mission. Downtown Toledo is pretty ghetto/sketchy/scary/be-careful-or-you'll-get-jumped. It's awesome!
This next paragraph is going to be all about Elder Perkins because he's butt-hurt that all I wrote is where he's from. Elder Perkins... where do I start? He's been an awesome trainer/companion. The mission is pretty hard (tracting...it sucks) and so he makes it fun. He's teaching me pretty much everything I need to know and we get along great. So I'm lucky to have a normal/cool companion. Ha. He's also the best looking elder out here - or so he says.... <-- we have a good time/laugh all the time. BUT we work hard too! It's pretty easy to get discouraged out here so Perkins has been really good to me as I transition into this new setting.
We haven't taught anyone yet. We go to a lot of non-active members because more than half the ward is inactive. We tract a lot (knocking on doors) but always get the same response. It's nice when people will be nice to us and not slam the door in our face or yell at us (those of you who are not LDS and reading this, be nice to the missionaries. Please and thank you). We talked to a man yesterday who was interested in hearing about Jesus, so we're going back tonight to teach him. Hopefully it will go well! The ward here is awesome! Everyone is so nice and fun and church is very different - the same structure, but a lot less....professional I guess you could say? It's awesome. And small! Their chapel HARDLY gets filled. We do get fed almost every day, so they're good about that. Everyone laughs when I say I'm from California because I'm going to die this winter.
Ohio is nothing like I expected. The weather has been good though is quickly cooling off. The trees have pretty much all already undergone that change, but as we drove away from Kirtland there were a few areas off the highway that looked like an ocean of trees and colors - it was way cool. Now all the trees are dumping their leaves so there are piles of leaves on literally every street. This part of the US is like a different world than California. I've only really lived/been in Ca and Utah so it's definitely very different from what I'm used to. The people here don't seem as happy as back west... Everyone just looks depressed (by the time I'm through here, they'll all be filled with joy!). The sky here always has awesome clouds in it, that's cool. I don't really know what else to talk about. Like I wrote about above, there are some parts of Toledo that we don't go through (especially at night) because it's dangerous. There are gangs here and some areas just aren't safe. But we've been good so far, I'm not scared that anything is going to happen.
Life is good though. Hard, but good. I'll probably be in Point Place for a while, so I'll get to know the members/the area pretty well. My companion and I are both dreading the winter here; pray for us. I wrote down and put on my wall this scripture: Alma 26:27 "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst they brethren, the [Ohians], and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." Obviously I added "Ohians," and I wouldn't say I'm depressed, but it definitely isn't as easy out here as the MTC made it out to be. It's tough. And after so many doors slammed in your face, all you want to do is go back to your apartment and sit there. But I know I'm out here for a reason, and I wont let the hardships bring me down.
In our mission, only 0.2 or 2 (can't remember) precent of people are LDS. It amazes me to see the difference between those with and without the gospel. The brightness about the countenance. The happiness and true joy they express and have in their lives. We went and talked to a less-active woman yesterday (the less-actives love when we visit by the way) and she admitted that she's been trying to forget about the church, about us missionaries, because it's not easy to be Mormon, but she can't get the church or the Book of Mormon or us out of her head. She can't deny or put away the truths she has learned. I thought it was interesting. I know that the gospel has brought much joy and enlightment into my life. I am so happy to be here in Ohio, to be teaching of Jesus Christ's restored gospel. I know that the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith and was written for our dispensation. Reading it really does bring one closer to Jesus Christ (The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ). I love this mission, I love my companion, and I am slowly coming to love the people here. We have done a lot of service, and I am slowly learning that service is the most effective way to learn to love others. I love and miss you all. In 4 days I will have been out for a month! Which means in just 23 months you'll all get to see my beautiful face again ;)
I hope all is well for everyone. OH! I might come back with an Ohio "accent" - that being that I don't speak proper english. Ha! I hope I come back sounding like a hick... It's my new goal. Good luck with "cold" weather in California/Utah/Wherever you are.