Happy Monday everyone! I realized that my last letter was pretty boring and that what ya'll REALLY want to hear about are my stories. So I'll quit the sappy spiritual stuff and tell you what's going down.
1. My Ohio accent! I now call beverages with carbonation pop (not soda). We say sweep the carpet, you westerners say vacuum the carpet. You say creek, we pronounce it crick. Ain't, 'spossed, gonna, and other abbreviated words are found in Ohio dictionaries. When we try to say "wash" what comes out of our mouths is "warsh." Why? I'm not sure...must be something in the water that we warsh with. What back west is known as a driveway, sidewalk, patio, etc. is really a walk. We shovel people's walks here. So yes, be jealous, I now have....an accent!
2. The Blizzard of Twenty-Eleven!!! Have any of you heard of the Blizzard of '74? Apparently there was the giant snow storm that trapped everyone in their homes. Someone told us that there was this only family that burned every piece of furniture in their house (including doors) to stay warm and not die. I guess it was a big deal... Well last week they were predicting a storm that, based on the people's reactions, was going to be the end of us all. It was supposed to start Tuesday and go until Wednesday or Thursday.
Monday evening we went over to a members house where we taught one of our investigators. The members baked me a cake and and bought me some ties! (I was so surprised!). They live out in the country a ways and when we left there house around 8:45pm the wind was STRONG. If I had attached a sturdy piece of cardboard to my back, I would have flown away like a kite. Well... that next morning we had a meeting in Cleveland (2.5 hour drive east). Cleveland gets a LOT of snow, Findlay usually gets more ice.
We drove up at 5am and were just fine. When we were heading back around 5pm, the storm had hit Ohio. Snow...everywhere...raining ice (mini-hail)...everywhere...freezing rain (yeah, I had no idea what freezing rain was until we were driving home and when the rain would hit the windshield it would instantly freeze. What the?)...everywhere... ice (okay...you get it. The weather was pretty crappy). But it wasn't THAT bad. Just TONS of snow that buried HUGE layers of ice. Do you know what that means? We had lots of shoveling to do the next couple days. Yay. I guess on the bright side, I AM quite buff now :P
3. Now I'll give you the run down of the families and people we are teaching. I'll just copy part of what I wrote to our Mission President and expound on them a little...
Mandy (30's) and Catie (9), husband/father is a less-active member. The family of five have been coming to church for the past month now and are already a part of the ward family. Mandy and Catie have dates for February 26th and are progressing towards that date very nicely. They have been praying as a family every night for the past few weeks and are starting to read as a family every night. They are definitely seeing the fruits of their reading and praying and are growing as a family. Aaron (husband) is trying to quit smoking this week so that he will be worthy to baptized his wife and daughter. Correction - he will be quitting. He will be worthy. We are still working with him to quit smoking, this weekend he is going cold turkey. The family has three little girls (8, 4, and 2 years old) who absolutely love us. And we love the family! They're so great! We had a snowball fight with them yesterday after our lesson hehe :)
Amber (20's - I called her "Susan" in a prior email, I figure if I just don't use last names it'll be okay) and Lori (old-er), daughter and mother. Our only issue with them is illness that keeps us from teaching them (the flu bug is going around these days). We have started teaching them at Lori's sister's house. Her sister was a less-active who has decided to activate herself as we teach her sister. Lori and Amber both recognize the Spirit, are reading the Book of Mormon, and love us missionaries. We will be setting a baptismal date with them this week. Lori calls me her little bud. I try to text or call her everyday to make sure she's doing alright - she has health issues and a lot of drama/stress is being caused within her family. She needs all the support and tlc she can get.
Brad (40's), lives with members of the church temporarily. His work schedule is pretty sporadic but he is one of the most humble, kind, and considerate guys I have ever met. He really really wants to be baptized and so we're trying to teach him quickly but effectively.
Shelby (almost 18) first was introduced to the church when she came to services on Sunday with her boyfriend. We've taught her everything that we as missionaries are required to teach before baptism. She understands it all, has prayed about the Book of Mormon and has received her answer regarding it's truthfulness, she attends church every week, reads the Book of Mormon daily, is great friends with many of the members (not just her boyfriend), etc. Shelby is planning on being baptized as soon as her father is comfortable with her joining the church (he wants her to take a little bit more time investigating so she can decide if this is what she REALLY wants - which we totally respect and agree with). She is considering attending school at one of the BYU's. We love working with her as she is such a sweet, kind person. She gave me a tie for my birthday. Maybe that's why "we love working with her" ...ha!
This week we also taught a family of three who are neighbors to a less-active family. We tracted into them (were knocking on doors and the father was kind enough not to slam the door in our face) and scheduled a return appointment. They told us how they were looking for a church to join because they want their 10-year-old son to start going to a church. We taught them about the restoration and are going back on Tuesday to give them a copy of the Book of Mormon. The fact that we meet for three hours on Sundays amazed (and scared?) them, but we'll see what happens as we meet with them a few more times. It's hard to turn something away when the Spirit is burning in your bosom!
I freaking love all of these people!! With ALL of my heart! I constantly think to myself, I wish I could do more! I wish I could do more! But in reality, teaching them of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and giving them the means to live a life filled with pure and simple joy is probably the best thing I could do for everyone. I have the BEST job in the whole wide world! And I get to do it 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 2 years. How much better can it get?
That's pretty much my life in nutshell right now. We have a meeting with our zone on Wednesday (for those who don't know what a Zone is... There are 6 Zones in the Ohio Cleveland Mission. My companion and I are in charge of the Findlay Zone. In our Zone there are 3 Districts, in each District 2 areas, in each area one companionship. Do the math, that makes 12 missionaries in my zone (including myself). So this Wednesday us 12 missionaries are getting together for a 3 hour meeting where we teach, discuss, and role play on how we can be better teachers and overall missionaries.
We're supposed to be getting some more snow in the next couple days. Yikes! I've been dressing warmer these days because I'm tired of old ladies yelling at me about getting sick. Psh... I still weigh 135 pounds :( But do 100 sit ups and 50 push ups every morning! ..well, not EVERY morning... This morning I just did the push ups (but did 60!) Hahaaaa...
Alright. That's it for this week. I hope SOMEone is reading this... I enjoy writing them and it's probably the best way to keep tabs on me because I literally have no time for writing letters. So busy!!! Love you all! I know this church contains the fullness of the gospel that Jesus Christ established on the earth. I've prayed about it and have received an answer. I'm so grateful for our Savior and all that he has done for us. Study the Atonement, there is so much to it. The gospel is literally centered around it. Have a great week!
Love, Elder David Dransfield