Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My week in a nutshell....or blog-shell?

Here are the highlights for each day this past week.

Monday (April 23rd): The Preach My Gospel night (two Mondays ago) went very well! All families are very eager to see the last episode. There was such a strong Spirit as parents shared their conversion stories and testimonies. What great examples to their children!

Tuesday: We had another GREAT lesson with the Nevilles. We finished teaching the Plan of Salvation and had such a great discussion. Sister Neville told us how she could feel her thoughts changing as she reads the Book of Mormon daily. She says she is much more positive, less-judgemental, more uplifted, etc. Brother Neville told us how he thought he knew everything, but we've opened up so many doors that bring so much peace to their lives. He said that when he grows up, he hopes he can be just like us. They told us that nothing would stop them from coming to church this Sunday!

Wednesday: Had our quarterly Zone Conference. President Sorensen, his assistants, Sister Sorensen, and two of the office missionaries and the 25 missionaries in our zone came together from 9am to 4pm for our Zone Conference. We talked about teaching our investigators the importance of prayer, having more faith to find, being strictly obedient, and about many other topics (though the main focus was prayer). It was a great meeting where we could all re-energize our Spiritual "batteries" and refocus our purpose and drive.

That night we had a HUGE thunderstorm - the biggest I think I've ever seen in my life (which, being from California, doesn't say much - but still it was huge!). It was sunny and warm that day and around 7pm-ish we were talking to people in the ghetto (I was on exchanges). One minute it was bright, the next minute (literally the next minute) I looked up and saw huge dark clouds above.

We quickly left to go pick up the biking elders and got them just as the big storm hit. It POURED ridiculously and lightening was flashing every 20 seconds or so with thunder roaring constantly. A few of us got a little wet as we took off our jackets and jumped in some puddles...

Thursday: Did some service for a recent-covert. Fixed up her yard, organized her shed, and cleaned the leaves out of her rain gutter.

Friday: We've been teaching a non-member (Sister Hart) for a while and haven't seen much progress from her. We go over and read from the Book of Mormon with her or reteach and reteach and reteach the Restoration.
This last appointment we had with her, Sister Hart opened up to us about concerns she has for her mother who lives in Colorado. She said that her mother needs some “Christian fellowship” and agreed that missionaries going to her home would be best. We contacted the Kirtland Sites, gave them the information, and the Sisters will now call the missionaries in Colorado and send them to Sister Hart's mother. It's good to know that Sister Hart does recognize the peace in ones life as we embrace the gospel and talk of Jesus Christ and His teachings.

Saturday: Was a nice, busy day. We ate dinner at the Bosnakovic's (where we dug the huge hole you could fit a baby elephant into). The pond looks great and the fish love it! (Don't ask how I know that...).
We had some amazing barbecue and had a lot of fun with them. That's something that I really like about this time of the year in Ohio - everyone barbecues!

This night I also saw my first firefly! They are SO cool!!! Once there are more out, I'm going to catch them and put them in bottles... Maybe I'll mail you one if you ask me nicely! (just kidding)

Sunday: The highlight of my week. The Nevilles were finally able to come to church! They arrived a little bit early so we could give them a brief tour of the building, and as we did so one of the members of the ward toured with us and introduced them to eeeeeveryone! It was so great! That Sunday we had talks about baptism, the Word of Wisdom, and "through small and simple things, great things come to pass." The lessons for the next two hours were on repentance and money management/tithing. They were all taught SO well and the Nevilles loved them all! When the Word of Wisdom was talked about we were a little bit nervous (we hadn't taught them about that commandment yet) but they had no concerns or behaviors that were against it - how amazing! After church we got some texts from them telling us how grateful they are for the Lord sending us to them and how peaceful they felt. They reorganized their day so that the worldly chores would not interfere with their focus on our Savior. They already have such a great understanding of the powerful Spirit that is felt within the church and can see the difference between this one and others. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn't simply a church, it's a lifestyle and a family. It's the truth! It's the complete gospel restored to this dispensation through a prophet, similar to many, many times in the Bible! We have another appointment with the Nevilles tomorrow and are looking forward to it.

Monday (yesterday - Memorial Day): Last night we went to our Ward Mission Leader's house and learned what Dough Boys are... Basically you take Pillsbury Dough Boy biscuit dough and mold it around a stick with a cylinder shape on the end. You cook it in a fire and then fill it up with Nutella, pudding, strawberries, honey, whipped cream, etc.
They are SO good! 

Today we did some service for a family who is moving to Akron - we moved pretty much everything into a moving truck. It was very tiring (and hot!) but was worth it. They're a great family and we're going to miss them a lot!

That's pretty much my a summary of my week. It was a pretty busy, normal week. Things are starting to pick up (such as the temperature) and we're eating pretty well. I love all the letters I still get even though I'm so terrible at writing people back - so thanks for putting up with me! I love you guys and wish you the best week!

Love, Elder David Dransfield

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ohio baptisms, and Ohio fish, and Ohio barbecues, and other Ohio stuff like that...

We had a baptism this week! Dorothy, our 80 year old investigator, was baptized on Saturday, May 21st and confirmed the following day. Her baptism went very well, and was heavily attended by family members not of our faith! Dorothy's husband was a member and one of her daughters is a less-active member. There was such great love and support at the Baptism, and many seemed to be receptive to the Spirit. Hopefully we will be able to work with some of her family soon! The baptism itself was pretty interesting; Elder Bills and I both had to get in the water to help her become completely submerged. Due to her old age and buoyancy, Elder Bills couldn’t get her all the way under alone. The original plan was that both of us would help her down the steps and then Elder Bills would take it from there. To look nice, I wore baptismal clothes as well, but wasn’t planning on getting very wet.
Well… Elder Bills quickly noticed that he’d need assistance to get her under the water. So I ended up getting very wet…and didn’t have a change of underwear with me… BUT, it was definitely worth it! When she came up out of the water, she was glowing and was so proud! It’s been so much fun to work with her and the family members in our ward.
Note-to-self: Always pack an extra change of underwear! I also was very privileged in getting to confirm Dorothy a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and give her the Holy Ghost. What a special experience I will never forget.

This week we also did a huge amount of service for a part-member family. We got from Sister Bosnakovic asking for some help to dig a big hole. We waited for the rain to stop and went over Friday morning to start the project. What a project… We dug a 5-6 foot deep hole that would be filled with about two thousand gallons of water to become a coy fish pond. It was hard work but really established a great friendship between the nonmember husband and us missionaries. They fed us lunch and dinner and asked us to come back the next day to finish up. We went over Saturday before and after the baptism and finished with only a few popped blisters, sore muscles, and a nice, red sunburn. Fred insisted they feed us again and Sister Bosnakovic said they’d be having us over for dinner weekly :) Fred has a lot of potential and would make a great member. Elder Bills and I have been discussing ways we could invite him to take the lessons and learn more because we know how much this will bless his life! And what than to be sealed to your wife and family for time and all eternity?!

The Nevilles were unable to come to church Sunday due to food poisoning. :( They called Sunday morning extremely apologetic, telling us how they had bought clothes the day prior and were so sorry they were too sick too come. They said next week they’d come for sure!
We’ll be seeing them Tuesday and are so excited. We look forward to their appointments more than anyone else (is it wrong of me to pick favorites? Like a parent picking favorites? If so, oops!).

Disclaimer: This idea was not mine, I stole it from the missionaries in the California Roseville Mission. Today we are having a Preach My Gospel night with several families in our ward. Our Ward Mission Leader invited all the families who have missionaries out in the field and all the prospective Elders (and their families) to come and watch The District 2, episodes one and two. We will all be going to a members home for a barbecue at 6pm and following will teach them about missionary work/the importance of members. We will watch the first 30-something minute episode, then will stop and discuss. We will invite them to think of someone who they as a family can focus on and do missionary work with. We will then show the second episode and will close with our Ward Mission Leader’s conversion story/testimony. For the families to see the third/last episode, they will have to set an appointment with us, and once we are in their homes we will role-play!
We are very excited, as are the members. We will be holding this once every month or two if this is a successful activity.

Despite my losing of 5 pounds instead of gaining 50, everything is going very well here in Ohio. I'm glad the world didn't end like people were telling us on the streets, but if it had, what is there to be afraid of? Some comfort and peace can consume our lives as we put our trust in God and keep all of His commandments. The weather is getting warmer (and more humid!) here, which means summer is on it's way!
Yesterday I turned "eight months old" - can you believe 1/3 of my mission is over?! I can't!!! But I am so grateful to be serving my fellow brothers and sisters here in The Ohio!

"And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gathered unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless-- Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio..." (D&C 38:31-32).

Love, Elder David Dransfield

Elder Dransfield, Dorothy, Elder Bills

Monday, May 16, 2011

To Rain? Or Not to Rain? That's Never the Question. It's Always Raining...

My Faithful Blog Followers,

It's still raining here in Ohio. I'm wondering if I should start building an arc and collect the animals two-by-two... I'll probably be okay. But we've been having some pretty wicked thunder/lightening storms. We were driving two days ago and a HUGE bolt of lightening shot across the sky. So I pulled over into the parking lot of The First Christian Church (people were looking at us funny) and we sat and watched the lightening for a couple minutes. It would streak across they sky, and then the thunder would boom so loudly that you would think someone shot a gun right by your ear! And I'm not exaggerating! It was loud! And then it started to pour rain really, really hard - I thought it was a monsoon or something, but my companion assured me it was just a rain storm. The lady at the front desk of the library just told one of her co-workers we are expecting rain everyday this week. Sounds like I'd better go buy some arm-floaties!

It was transfers week this week (I'm staying in Canton) and we have quite a few changes in our zone. Change is always good, and we're excited to see what we can accomplish this transfer (a transfer = 6 weeks).

We taught the Neville's and Dorothy again this week. Unfortunately the William's called us and told us that they would like to end our meetings, that they don't want to become Mormon anymore. This kind of news is always hard, but it's important to stay postitive and know that the Lord will take care of everything.

The Nevilles are truly feasting upon the words of Christ and write down many questions for us from their reading of The Book of Mormon. Sister Neville tells us that she finds the Book of Mormon so much easier to understand than the Bible, yet they seem and feel so similar. She also noted that when she has been reading during her lunch break at work, she seems to always gets interrupted! When she would read the Bible at work before we met her, no one ever distracted her, but ever since the Book of Mormon she feels like it's hard to find time to read it - but this doesn't stop her! She recognized that it is definitely Satan trying to pull her away from reading something that would help her grow closer to God.

What she likes about the Book of Mormon is it's simplicity. The Bible can be interpreted in so many ways (why do we have so many churches? Ah! Joseph Smith asked a similar question) while the Book of Mormon is much more direct. A concept that would make sense as we look at the history of the two books. Both writings come from Prophets called by God. The Bible originates from the Middle Eastern part of the world, the Book of Mormon from the Americas. The Bible is a compilation of the writings of Apostles and Prophets, put together by a group of men who decided what should and should not be in the Bible and has been translated numerous times- what precious truths have been taken out and lost? We don't know. The Book of Mormon is also a compilation of the prophets, was abridged and put together by a prophet, and hundreds of years later was translated once by a prophet. We can find comfort in knowing that the Book of Mormon is so completely true to it's original writings. And thus it would make sense why it's so much easier to understand. God wouldn't want his prophets to writing confusing and controversial doctrines in his Holy book. He has made his commandments simple enough for EVERYONE to understand, regardless of your schooling or spirituality. I'm glad that the Nevilles are finding such comfort and peace as they read the Book of Mormon, because I find similar peace and understanding as I read. As Joseph Smith said, "the Book of Mormon [is] the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (Introduction to The Book of Mormon).

In The Doctrine and Covenants it reads, "Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together" (Section 50 verse 22). This is how I feel when I teach our investigators by the Spirit; as I teach them, they teach me. We understand one another and are both edified by the Holy Ghost. My testimony has grown so much on my mission, and I imagine it will continue to grow. I have witnessed a light enter into people's eyes as they learn more about this true gospel. As verse 24 in the same section reads, "That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day." Dorothy's baptism is scheduled for this Saturday and we are so excited for her to make these wonderful convenents with our Heavenly Father. I am so grateful to have been able to see the light enter her eyes and fill her life.

I love what I am doing right now. I can feel myself coming closer to my Heavenly Father each and every day. I know that we can all find such great peace and a literal "filling" feeling as we come closer to him and witness His great love for us.

Have a geat week!
Love, Elder Dransfield

District Picture last week before transfers

May 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Story Time!

A few random facts:
1. Roadkill is a synonym for Ohio
2. Everyone says that Warshington (yes, 'waRshington') gets a lot of rain and no sunshine. Why doesn't anybody every talk about Ohio??
3. Elder Hinds (one of the missionaries I live with; he's from So. Cal) and I planted a garden. Our tomatoes have sprouted!
4. It's hard to teach people when you don't have a voice. I got sick this week and lost my voice. Don't worry, the antibiotics are helping. Side effects of the medication include (and I quote) "sometimes it makes people not think." I'm glad my voice is back so I can be an effective missionary, but what of my brain??
5. My hair is not very red anymore... People tell me I have brown hair. Maybe it's the water?
6. Ohio's water is pretty nasty.
7. I weiged myself last night. I've lost 4 pounds. I thought missionaries are supposed to gain 30 pounds! Grr!
8. Ohio is a lot prettier in the Spring than it is in the Winter.

Elder Bills and I have recently found many people to teach. We are so excited to be teaching such elect individuals and are excited to help them feel the Holy Ghost and come unto Christ. Here are a few we are teaching:

The Nevilles - About a month ago we received a text from the church headquarters in Salt Lake City for someone who ordered a Book of Mormon from mormon.org (that's how we're notified, text messaging). They lived a good 30 minutes south, so we planned a trip down there for the next day. We drove, and we drove, and we drove, and finally found their house on a big hill in some country town. We pulled up their long drive way, said a prayer (we always pray before we teach someone) and got out of the truck to find Brother Neville standing by his garage. "Can I help you boys?" he asked us. We told him who we were and asked if his wife was home. He said that she was, but that she was busy on the phone with some computer tech people and was preoccupied. He was so excited to see us though! He kept thanking us for coming all the way to see them and about 45 minutes later we left. In that 45 minutes we talked about steam engines, the surgery he'd be getting on his hand the next day, but more interestingly his past experiences with the church. Brother Neville fought in the Vietnam War alongside a mormon (we'll call him Mike, for I can't remember his name). Mike and Brother Neville came to be very close, and Mike's calm, happy persona really impressed him. After the war they lost contact with each other (this was before the time of facebook I'm assuming. <-- That was a joke). Years went by, and Brother Neville never forgot about this heroic figure, Mike. Well not too long ago, Brother Neville somehow found his friend Mike in a Utah phonebook. And since then the two have kept in very close contact. Mike is still a member of the church in Utah, has a large family, and shared a lot of information with Brother Neville about the church. So basically, Brother Neville really respects the church. We told Brother Neville we'd call later that week after his surgery and would try to set up an appointment. Well... we had a wrong number. And they lived too far to just stop by (we have to be careful with how many miles we use each day). So about 3 or 4 weeks later, Elder Bills and I decided to try them again. We found the long driveway, pulled up, bowed our heads, and looked up to see Brother Neville again! He told us to come on in so we every excitedly followed him. We finally met Sister Neville, sat at their table, they gave us some drinks, and we started chatting. After we had gotten to know each other a little and established our purpose as missionaries, we asked if we could share with them our message of the Restoration. It was wonderful! Such a sweet Spirit lingered in the home as we spoke, and after we recited Joseph Smith's encounter in the Sacred Grove "I saw a pillar of light..." Sister Neville asked us, "Do you think that Joseph Smith was the 'chosen one' because of his child-like humility and innocence and his sincere desire to know the truth?" My eyes were probably the size of quarters by her inspired question. We told her yes, and talked about how we have to have that same attitude if we are to find out if the Book of Mormon is true. The Neville's are so excited to find out if what we are teaching is true, to receive an answer from God by the power of the Holy Ghost. We're already such great friends and have only met twice! We will be seeing them again tonight and will be teaching about the Plan of Salvation.

The Williams - Next we're working with the Williams. Sister Williams’s brother is a member in another ward in the Stake. He talked to Elder Bills while on exchanges and decided that his sister needed to meet with us. He asked her and her husband, they accepted the invitation, and we went over with the brother last Saturday. The brother (whose name slips my mind) informed us that the Williams were going through some hard things right now and that the Gospel could really benefit them. We really emphasized on the "how to begin teaching" points in Preach My Gospel (explains our purpose and what we share as missionaries) and as a result had a very, very good first lesson. They understand our purpose, they understand the Book of Mormon and its importance, and they understand how our messages will help them. They too want the Book of Mormon to be true. We talked to them on the phone yesterday and they had a few questions for us about 1 Nephi. We'll be seeing them again Saturday.

Dorothy - I think I've shared a little bit about Dorothy. She's older, her brother is a member in our ward, and we're having a blast teaching her. I taught my most powerful lesson yet with her a couple weeks ago which I talked about already. She is so fun to teach, she tells us how she has to "punch Satan in the face" when he tries to make her too tired to come to our appointments! I tell her that I'm glad we're friends, because I sure wouldn't want her punching my face! She's the sweetest old lady and will be Baptized on the 21st.

Those are a few stories that I hope you all like. A lot of good things are happening. Thank you for all your prayers and words of encouragement. Tomorrow is Transfer Day - I will be staying in Canton for at least another 6 weeks (which is good because of all the people I just wrote about!). 

I got to Skype home on Sunday for Mother's Day! It was the best thing ever! We talked for about an hour and I got to see little Luke - who's not so little anymore! His pointy chin is brilliant haha!

I love what I've been doing for the past 7 1/2 months and don't want to be anywhere else! I know that the scriptures and words of our latter-day prophets are inspired by God and that if we follow their teachings we will have true and complete joy in our lives. I know that our Father in Heaven loves us all very, very much. I know that the Book of Mormon changes lives as people read, ponder, and pray about it. It has changed my life and for that I am grateful. I hope everyone takes care! I love you all!

Love, Elder David Dransfield

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Quick Update for the Blog

Hey everyone! Sorry I didn't get to write last Monday! Had to be in Cleveland to practice a musical number for a missionary meeting (Mission Council). Things are going very good! It seems to never stop raining here, but it's so green I really don't mind. No tornadoes (yet) so that's a relief! I've been pretty sick this past week. Started Saturday with a headache and Tuesday I got really dizzy and light headed. Wednesday and Thursday I didn't have a voice at all! It made missionary work pretty interesting! The doctor thinks I have a virus, so now I'm on medication. One of the side-effects is "it sometimes makes you not think." How am I supposed to be a missionary if I can't think OR talk!?!? Haha, it's been an adventure! I get to call/skype home tomorrow and I am so so so excited! Mother's Day is offically the best holiday of the year! Well, I'll have more stories come Tuesday (not Monday because transfers are on Wednesday. I don't think I'll be transferred, but will let you all know Tues). Hope everyone is doing well! Have a great weekend!

Love, Elder Dransfield