Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Goodbye Findlay, Ohio

Well... We got a call from the Assistants last night, 4 in our zone are being transferred - including me. So tomorrow morning I'll be driving over to Kirtland to the transfer meeting and there I will find out my new area. Whether or not I'll still be a Zone Leader, I don't know.

I have mixed feelings about leaving. All week I have felt like I would be leaving, so I've been somewhat prepared for the news I guess, but it's still hard. I will go wherever the Lord see's fit that I go and I will work harder than ever in this next area. But it'll be hard to leave the people behind. I will especially miss the Vermillion family. (I've typed about a thousand different sentences just now and erase them all... I don't know how to put my feelings into words). I love them all to death, and being able to see the changes that have taken place and to be a part of that has changed my life. And I'm not just saying that... It really has. I'm going to miss those 3 little girls (4 including the newest addition). I'll miss their funny little drawings, their innocent, sweet prayers, their faces lighting up every time we see them, being called "Mercy!" by the 2 year-old, the 4 year-old answering Jesus! to every question we ask... I'll especially miss "mommy and daddy," who I've had the great privilege of creating an eternal friendship with. Tonight I will not be saying goodbye, I'll be saying "see you later!" because I'll be coming back to Findlay someday. Definitely.

This week we had some cool experiences.
- A church tour with Lori. We invited 5 or so member of the ward to go around the building with us and explain the different functions/rooms in the church. We ended in the chapel and taught the Word of Wisdom. Every member in the discussion with us had quit smoking at some point and were able to bear their testimony of the blessings that have come with quitting. We invited Lori to live the Word of Wisdom, she accepted, and hasn't smoked since. We went over a few days later and she told us she had even quit taking her vicodine medicine (she broke her tailbone)! We asked why and she said because it can become addictive! Haha we told her she could definitely take that medication, just to use it as the doctor directs. It's so neat to see such conversion!

- We had a discussion with Terry about faith and the love that God has. He didn't think that God could heal his leg, so we invited him to pray and ask if He could, not would. A few days later we went back over and he told us, "weird stuff's been happenin' since I prayed..." The next day he was talking to a buddy on the phone who told him that God could heal his leg. Then the next day the doctors gave him some new medicine that has had immediate effects on it's healing. He took those as his answer and is very excited! We then invited him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. He said he would. He called us on our way back home that night and said "We had a good meeting tonight, didn't we?" I agreed that we had a very good meeting. He assured us he'd read and pray and would get back to us. He's making a LOT of progress and we're so happy for him!

Well... I don't have much to say and I have a lot to do... Packing (which I strongly dislike), a hair-cut (which I strongly dislike), goodbyes (which I strongly dislike)... Sounds like it'll be a good day! :)

Love you all! You're in my prayers! Reading the Book of Mormon will bring you closer to your Heavenly Father, I can promise you that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

6 months!

A quick update:

- We are still working with Lori. We have re-established our purpose as missionaries and the purpose of the Book of Mormon. Lori pointed out specific feelings that we were able to help her understand is the Holy Ghost. We set a date with Lori for April 16th and now have to work on the Word of Wisdom. Lori has much potential and loves the church. She said every time she goes to church, she feels better and better. And her family has told us that her health has already been improving since she's been attending church. I'm SO excited to work with and help Lori prepare to be baptized.

- We are also working with Terry, who is an...interesting man in his (maybe) late-50's. He keeps all of our commitments but at times struggles with what we teach him. But when it comes to reading the Book of Mormon, he loves it. He says it's very lyrical and that if it is true he would like to become a Mormon.

- We had a Leadership Training Meeting last week. It was Thursday from 10am to 4pm and then Friday from 9am to 4pm for the Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and Training Sisters. On Friday I had to play the piano and give a 20 minute workshop on Ezra Taft Benson's talk, Beware of Pride. Having to give that workshop was slightly nerve-wracking but was good for me. I'm pretty sure right before I was assigned that talk I had prayed for humility... I now know not to pray for such things... (just kidding). It was a great experience, though I probably got more out of it than anybody else! - It's a good talk, everyone should read it and prepare to be rebuked! Thursday evening we ZL's and DL's that live 2 hours away were assigned missionaries in the Cleveland Zone and I got to work with good ol' Elder Perkins (my trainer). He hasn't changed one bit (I'm shaking my head right now) haha, but I love him to death. He's great, and it was fun to be together again. We took a wrong turn and were suddenly in Downtown Cleveland. On St. Patricks Day. Holy Crap. Talk about half-naked girls in green on stilts with green beer in their hands everywhere. There were parades of green and people lined up for blocks trying to get into bars - and it was only 5pm! Sheesh! I didn't know St. Patrick's day was such a big deal!

- It feels like Findlay has been in a little slump for the past few weeks. We just had an investigator (Nedra) ask us to not come back for two or three months, for she wants to read the entire Book of Mormon before we come back (and clean her carpets). She understands that the Book of Mormon being true would mean that our church is true, but it seems like her desire to change and that “real intent” isn't quite there. We're respecting her wishes to give her some space, but have planned many ways to maintain at least weekly-contact. This week is going to be good though! I'm determined to finish this transfer with a bang! We have planned some amazing lessons and I think are slowly but surely getting through to the members about referrals - tracting doesn't work for us missionaries anymore. People are becoming more and more anti-social, and honestly I probably would turn Mormon missionaries away too if they knocked my door! But Findlay has much potential and I know that as long as we are diligent and work hard that the Lord will bless us with success.

I'M ALMOST 6 MONTHS OLD!!!! I can't believe I'm 1/4th done with my mission! It feels like YESTERDAY that I flew to SLC and was picked up by the Smiths... that a freak hail storm hammered down RIGHT as I was leaving for the Missionary Training Center, that I was leaving for Ohio at 5am only to find out that me, another elder, and two sisters didn't have plane tickets... etc. Time is flying by. And I can already tell that I'm going to be devastated when I have to leave. If I didn't have my family to come home to, I probably never would. These have been some of the most challenging months of my life, but have been 6 of the absolute happiest. I have made life-long friends, grown tremendously, learned a lot about myself, and most importantly have gained such a stronger testimony. I guess it's time to burn a tie ;)

6 months old = burn a tie
12 months old = burn a white shirt
18 months old = burn pants/slacks
24 months old = burn a suit

...I think a tie will be the extent of my burn-age.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Found My Wallet!!!

This I did this week...

Monday (March 7th): Went and did some service (flood clean-up) at the Lawrences. Played Settlers of Catan at a members. Taught a few lessons in the evening.

Tuesday: More service. Cleaning up and setting back up the laser tag arena that a member owns. Our 12-man zone is all coming to Findlay today for a Zone P-day where we are going to play (free) laser tag for as long as we want! It's a pretty cool place - pirate themed and two stories. Gunna kick some butt today! We taught an older lady named Nedra. We found her through tracting and at her door briefly taught her the restoration. She said she wouldn't mind a Book of Mormon to read and since then we've stopped by four or five times. We have taught her about the Restoration, The Plan of Salvation, The Gospel of Jesus Christ and she has read the first few books in the Book of Mormon. Nedra believes that all churches are the same and it doesn't matter which we join as long as we have that belief in Christ (which a lot of people believe actually). Everyone is entitled to their believes and we respect what Nedra thinks. But if the Book of Mormon is true, that means that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet. And if he truly was a prophet, that means he DID see God, the Father, and His son, Jesus Christ who told him to join none of the churches on the earth at that time. That a restoration was needed so that the complete gospel and church that Jesus Christ set up on the earth would once again be established. The only way one can know if the Book of Mormon is true is to read it, ponder its teachings, and pray and ask God if it is true.

Wednesday: We had a Zone Development Meeting. The other 10 missionaries in our Findlay Zone (covers from St. Marys to Fremont) came up for a three hour long meeting in which workshops were held, role plays were practiced, and edification took place. The theme was "Teach People, Not Lessons." We had some of the District Leaders give short workshops and then Elder Haines and I gave a 30 minute one in which we used the Preach My Gospel 2 DVD's to show some powerful examples. Listening is so important in missionary work! Listening to the investigator AND the Spirit. We role played asking inspired, Heaven-sent questions. Questions that help investigators understand better, think deeper, apply the concepts, but most importantly, feel the Spirit. It was a great meeting. I love my zone! That evening we ate with a couple where the wife is a member but the husband is not. The wife had never had the missionaries over as her husband is a little bit "anti" but she felt prompted to after receiving a voicemail from us asking if we could stop by. Everyone was a little bit nervous/on edge at first (I think) but it turned out to be a wonderful dinner! We shared a short scripture about Christ being our foundation (Helaman 5:12) and as we were leaving he told us we could come back whenever we wanted - that this dinner didn't need to be the last one! We were happy that it went well.

Thursday - Friday: Lots of driving, lots of teaching, etc. Friday we were asked to give talks on Sunday.

Saturday: The Toledo Stake had a Young Men's activity (President Andy Kirkham was in charge of it!). It was a really powerful experience for the young men and helped them to get a feel for missionary work. They put them in districts (a classroom of 7 youth and 2 missionaries) and we taught them the Doctrine of Christ and then role played. One of the boys in my district brought a non-member friend so he and I taught him and then I had them teach me. It was kind of cool to be taught by a non-member who had JUST learned something. My favorite part was the muffins and fruit they had in the beginning... (just kidding)

Sunday: I had to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting about the importance of the Holy Ghost in gaining a testimony. My companion gave one about the importance of the Holy Ghost in missionary work. The talk went well! I had warned one of the ward members that I was giving a talk and not to make faces at me (Brother Lay - we like to tease each other a lot, he's older-ish). He said "Ohhhh! Okay!" And I didn't think anything of it... A youth speaks, then my companion speaks, then I get up to speak. As soon as I look up, I see in the very back Brother Lay standing up, fingers sprawled, thumbs at the side of his face, making a "neener neener neener" motion with his body. I was about to BUST out with laughter when I accidentally said into the microphone "Brother Lay! Sit down!" ...the whole ward turned around as he sat down, laughing his head off and then turned back to me. I did NOT mean to say that out loud and then started my talk. It was pretty funny. I got a lot of compliments about my talk and people asking what Brother Lay did. Someone asked if it part of my plan, to move all the attention off me and send it somewhere else to make me less nervous. I told him I'm not THAT smart... I was happy with my talk and glad that people liked it.

One last cool story. For about a week now my wallet has been missing. I lost it the night when the river was rapidly raising and we were quickly making sandbags for people. We had checked all over the apartment, all over the truck, at places we had been that day, checked the Mayor's office/Lost and Found, the police station, asked members, prayed like crazy... I couldn't find it anywhere! I had given up on finding it and was in the process of getting a new Driver's License and debit/credit cards, when Monday night a member calls me: "Are you missing a wallet?" I nearly fell over when she told me someone had found it and given it to her. In my wallet was my ministerial certificate (which pretty much shows people that we really are missionaries, like a missionary license). A man was biking to work one morning and saw a white thing in the snow (I put my wallet items in this white handbook). He looked at it and saw that it belonged to a kid in California. He was going to mail it to me when he saw this little scrap of paper that said "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" - the ministerial certificate was completely torn, wet, and ruined except for the part with the church name on it. He knew a member of the church, called her and she took it from him. It was such a blessing! Now I don't have to become an Ohioan! :)

Well, we have to go meet our Zone at the Laser Tag arena now. We've heard bits and peaces about the natural disasters in Japan and back west. What terrible news. It's times like these where we can find peace and comfort in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm grateful for my family and for the safety that the Lord has bestowed upon them. I hope we can all continue to grow closer to our Heavenly Father and become more Christ-like every day! Love you all!

Elder Dransfield

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Shoes are Soaking Wet...

So... Findlay got lots of water last week. LOTS. Basements are still pumping out water and people are still calling us/Red Cross asking for help. This past week us four missionaries probably did 50+ hours of service (which didn't leave much time for teaching). We ripped out carpets, power washed houses and patios, bagged hundreds of sandbags, moved those sandbags, army crawled through crawl spaces with less than two feet of height (I was almost EATEN by wolf spider the size of a CAR!!! -I might be exaggerating a little bit!)... Lots and lots of service, but as missionaries we are called to serve. And the people of Findlay need(ed) us, so we're more than happy to help!

All day Monday the river was rising. By the evening time it started to fill streets and homes. Elder Haines and I were supposed to go to Cleveland that night for a Zone Leader Council meeting the following day (these happen once a month). It was going to be held in the School of Prophets and would probably have been an amazing Spiritual experience. My companion talked to our mission president about the floods and us coming to Cleveland and our mission president asked what we thought we should do. The decision was made to go to Cleveland and if the floods got bad we could call the missionaries in our Zone (in surrounding cities) and have them help. I felt uneasy about going. We were packing and I decided that I couldn't just leave Findlay while water was quickly filling the city. I called our mission president and told him that I felt we needed to stay and that we needed to call in some "back-up." He agreed and it was done. We had eight missionaries that night sandbagging like mad men! The next morning water was everywhere! Tuesday at noon the river/flooding peaked and started to go down. But since then we've had rain and snow that's been keeping the river high. Supposedly we're getting another big storm this week and flooding could happen again. Let's pray it doesn't! I'm glad we chose to stay rather than go to the meeting. We've been working side-by-side with red cross going to people that call us to clean there homes.

Speaking of people getting wet, Brad was baptized this last Saturday! We were so excited for him and he seemed to glow afterwards. Brad is in his 40's and lives with members of the church. He seemed to glow after his baptism! We'll continue to work with him although he already acts like a member of the church. He's such a great, humble guy! I'm glad that I've been able to help yet another child of God perform that saving ordinance so they can one day return to live with our Heavenly Father!

Well, I don't have much time. This morning we were helping people clean their basement that was about four feet full of water! Hopefully this week (physically) is a little bit easier. Wet carpet is heavy!!! Thank you for all your support and prayers! I couldn't do it without you guys! Stay safe! Choose the right! Read your scriptures!

Love, Elder David Dransfield

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Floods in Findlay!

I don't have much time to write, Findlay is supposed to get 17.5 feet of water from the River. In 2007 it was 18.5 (says a member) and really hurt Findlay. The church was on the ball and helped the city out a lot. People still remember the missionaries and members in their yellow "helping hands" shirts cleaning the city. We have to run to walmart right now to buy water and supplies just in case. Crazy!

This week we had a wonderful baptism with Mandy and Caite being baptized by their husband/father Aaron. There was definitley some opposition a day or so before the baptism, but the testimonies of the family kept them strong and they were able to enter the waters of baptism! What a wonderful ordinance baptism is - the first saving ordinance required for us to return to live with Heavenly Father. Baptism is different in our church than others, as the proper Priesthood authority has been restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith, thus The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being the only church on the earth having the proper keys and authority to baptize. I'll talk more about it next week!

Next week our investigator Brad will be baptized and we are so excited for him! He's such a great guy and wants so badly to do what's right!

This morning we got a call during our studies from a member who owns a laser tag place that we go to occassionally on P-Days. He said that he needed our help moving all the stuff out, so we quickly changed and drove over to help. His building is right by the river that was rapidly getting wider/taller. We had to move EVERYTHING, taking about 3 or 4 hours - but we were glad to help. Here is a church article about the flood in '07: http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/51011/Relentless-rain-in-Midwest.html - Bishop Jones is my Findlay Ward Bishop and President Peterson is no longer the Mission President. Hopefully this doesn't happen again, but if it does we will be ready. I can't write much more, we HAVE to go now! Flooding like CRAZY! Keep Findlay in your prayers!

I love my mission so much. I have changed so much in these past 5 months (wow, it's hard to realize that 5 months have gone by!) and can already tell that these changes will affect my eternal life. I am so humbled and grateful to be here in Ohio to be serving God's children. The Book of Mormon is the ONLY way that people can know that this church is true; one must read it, ponder it, and pray about it. We are promised by a prophet of old that if we pray about it that God WILL answer us! And if the Book of Mormon is indeed true, then Joseph Smith IS the prophet of the restoration, Jesus IS the Christ, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints IS Christ's church restored to the earth today. I have read the Book of Mormon. I have prayed about it. I have received my answer. And as the gospel has blessed my life, I in turn am out here to help people experience the unconditional love and joy I feel on a daily basis. My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. I know that God lives, I know that Jesus is the Christ, and I know that this church is true.

Love, Elder David Dransfield

My first baptism

This is a great family!

The Anual Findlay Ward Chili Cook-off ... we were the judges. We had to taste test 28 chilis. I almost died.