Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Missionary work is SO MUCH FUN!!!!

Had a great/crazy week! Taught about 22 lessons (we aim for 20), got to see the usual people I talk about (the Nevilles, Sister Haas, Sister Hughes, the Bosnakovic's, etc.). Have some sad/exciting news.
First, the sad news:

I'm being transferred. I am so sad to leave the people I mentioned above (plus some others, i.e. Dorothy & Judy, the Griffiths, Brother Peck, etc.) and my companion. I will not be here for the baptism of Brother and Sister Neville, but am so excited for them and amazed at how Spiritually prepared they are! They are such great people, what a blessing it has been to work with them.

[translation of missionary slang] Shot-gunning an area is when two missionaries are transferred, paired together, and sent somewhere where neither was originally serving. It can be stressful if the missionaries before you didn't fill out good information about the people they're teaching. Greenie is what you call a missionary who is fresh in the missionary field (like grass?). The cool part is that the Sylvania area is two areas merged together (one was a former Zone Leader area and the other was my Greenie area). So I know the ward already, I know half of the area, and the area has a lot of potential having been a Zone Leader area 4 1/2 months ago or so.

I got the news Friday night and was a little taken back when President Sorensen released me as a Zone Leader and called me to be a Trainer.
(What this means, is I'll be the companion to a missionary who is fresh out of the MTC - I will be his first companion). It's a great experience to train and shows what trust our Mission President and the Lord have in us; our example and influence on the new missionaries will affect the rest of their mission, so it is up to us to teach them the importance of obedience, love, ministering, working-hard, etc. I'm so excited! Oh- and President Sorensen JUST called - I've been called to be the District Leader for a 6-man district (average size). In my district will be the Toledo Zone Leaders (who I'm good friends with), me and my "boy" (we refer to the missionaries we train as our sons, my "grandpa" will be going home tomorrow - I'm so sad!), and another missionary who is training and his greenie. President called it a "power-house district" ...it'll be a lot of fun!!

16 new missionaries (10 Elders, 6 Sisters) will be coming to the mission tomorrow. And us trainers will be starting a new program that the Brethren have created for trainers. It's not supposed to start until August, but President Soresen has permission to start early. I'm not too familiar with the program, so I'll have to explain it in a later email.

Yesterday we had a meeting in Cleveland from 10am till 5pm where President Sorensen, Sister Sorensen, and the three assistants (one is getting replaced this transfer) talked to us about eeeeverything that had to do with training. It was very uplifting and exciting! President then told me and another missionary where we'd be shot-gun training and I literally shouted for joy! He said "Sylvania" and I nearly stood up and said "Seriously?! Serious- oh my gosh! YES!!! That's AWESOME!!!
YES!!!!" haha I'm SO pumped! I've been telling people for a few months now how much I'd enjoy to shot-gun my greenie area and that's exactly what I'm getting to do! Talk about a tender mercy of the Lord! I'm so grateful for this opportunity! I'm sad to leave the people here, but I know that this is where I'm needed. Sylvania is where the Lord needs me to be! I'll be driving up to Kirtland tomorrow morning, will meet my "son" at 11:30am, Elder Bills and I will play one more musical number together (which I'll have someone record and will hopefully send home), and then I'll be off to Sylvania! I'm going to call the Bishop, Ward Mission Leader, and a few members I know to get the ball rolling and help get my new missionary accustomed to his new home for
3 months (oh yeah, the new program is made for trainers and their greenies to be together for at least 12 weeks - two transfer cycles).

Now, on a completely different note... Last Friday we had a ZDM (Zone Development Meeting) in Akron. The focus of our meeting was contacting
- talking to people on the streets. It was a very fun ZDM! I gave a workshop on how we talk with people. And to get some points across, we played reverse cherades! (Sister Sorensen encouraged us to be more creative with our workshops and meetings). I wrote down some points in Preach My Gospel called "how to begin teaching points" and had two teams of 5. They had to draw a slip of paper that said something like "our message cannot all be learned at once" and then as a group, silently act it out together to one team member. It forced much creativity, team-work, helped people to get out of their shell, pay attention to body language, communicating, etc. It was so much fun!
Following that we did a role-play of talking to people at a park. Half of the 25 missionaries went to the side of the cultural hall we weren't using and walked around, and the other half had to go contact them. Again, a very fun experience! Then, Elder Bills gave a workshop about Purpose and why we contact/talk to people. Then we all got aboard a few vans and trucks and headed into the heart of Akron where we contacted for a good 45 minutes to an hour. We found many people who are willing to have a missionary visit or phone call. Overall, it was probably my favorite ZDM that I've put together these past 7 1/2 months of being a Zone Leader. Crazy to think that tomorrow I will have been out for 9 months!

Last Sunday we also went to a Fireside at the Kirtland sites where Mark Lusvardi spoke. Brother Lusvardi is from Salt Lake City, UT and is in charge of all the Church Visitors Centers all over the world. He designed some of the Kirtland sights. It was a very uplifting, inspirational meeting. We went up with a few members and our investigator Sister Hughes. We all had a great time. He talked about President Monson's talk "To the Rescue" and about the painting he refers to. He talked about how we need to be rescuing our brothers and sisters, be those men on the row boat who are not giving up to go save those in the storm. Great fireside!

Wow... I wrote SO much! Hopefully it all makes sense and isn't me just rambling on and on. I'm very excited for the times ahead and sense a lot of growth and challenges coming my way. But I am ready to take them on and become the missionary and son that my Heavenly Father wants me to become. I better go now; I have a lot of packing and cleaning to do! I know this work is so important and that the message we share is true. I bear testimony of the happiness that has entered my entire being as I've devoted these measly 9 months to the Lord. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and have enjoyed watching the lives that have been touched and changed. "It's a great day to be a saint!" - Elder Smith, former Assistant to the President.

Love, Elder Dransfield

My new address:
4615 N. Holland-Sylvania Rd. #13
Toledo, OH 43623

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And another week goes by

This past week was one of the slower weeks of my mission. We didn't get to teach too many lessons and it proved to be discouraging. But Elder Bills and I were able to keep one another going.

On Tuesday we had that big meeting in Cleveland. It was our monthly Mission Council where the 6 Zone Leader companionships and the Training Sisters meet together with President Sorensen and discuss different business regarding the mission. Half of our meeting is where we counsel, the other half we are taught by Presidnet and his two assistants. We talked about contacting - talking to people on the streets. Following their workshops, we were paired up and sent out into a suburb of Cleveland. My temporary-companion was Elder Farmer (probably the best missionary in the mission). We had some really great conversations and were able to find a lot of people interested in learning more. One girl I almost made fall of her bike as I waved her down. Her name was Gabby and she was so excited to learn more! I learned a lot from Elder Farmer in that hour-and-a-half. Contacting and talking to people is so much fun!

We had another appointment with the Nevilles this week. They are doing great and working hard towards their baptism which will be on July 16th! We might get to start teaching one of Brother Neville's daughters which would be so exciting! What a blessing this gospel can be to families!

We're also teaching Sister Hughes who I mentioned in my last update.
She has been taught all of the missionary lessons and plans on being baptized near the end of July. Elder Bills and I are reviewing all the lessons with her until then. She says I look like a doctor with my glasses on... Hmm...

Last week I worked in a soup kitchen for the first time! I was in charge of handing out the cookies. All the little kids would come to me over and over and ask for more cookies for their "sick" brother or for their mom who just told me she didn't want any cookies... I would then quote scripture to them about lying, fire and brimstone, she bears (2 Kings 2:24), etc. Just kidding. It was great to be able to volunteer there.

Transfers are a week from this Wednesday. That means that I will find out on Monday if I'm staying in Canton or being transferred. It's really a toss-up whether Elder Bills or I will stay or go. We both want to stay together for at least one more transfer, but will go wherever the Lord wants us to go! I will email on Tuesday and let everyone know, but note: I will NOT know where I am going until transfer meeting (which is in Kirtland, OH) on Wednesday.

Sorry this is a kind of lame email... We have lots of dinners lined up for this and next week, so that is a nice change! And the weather is supposed to be great this week. I've been so blessed these (almost) 9 months. We truly do have a loving Heavenly Father!

Have a great week!
Love, Elder Dransfield
This is my zone at a zone-pday

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Being a missionary means getting invited to many Graduation parties. Graduation parties means food. Food + Missionary = A Happy Missionary!

We had a slower week this week, but great things are happening.

Brother and Sister Neville have received their answers that the Book of Mormon is true and are immersing themselves in the gospel completely. After church, our Relief Society President gave Sister Neville a hymnal to practice the songs for when she plays in Relief Society. After church we got a text from her telling us how she played the first 50 songs when she got home from church - the only reason she stopped was because her fingers got tired! (I wish that was my excuse for not playing!). The Nevilles love church and the ward loves them!
And we love them! Every time I see them, I think to myself, "Man...I am SO lucky to get to teach these two!" They are extremely complimentary towards us for how much we've opened their eyes and helped them to grow. Again, I feel like they help me grow, because in all of our lessons I seem to learn something (whether it be about doctrine or the Spirit or the love our Father in Heaven has for each and every one of His children).

-- tornado sirens just went off--

In our last meeting with them, we brought over our Relief Society President and her husband (whose in the Stake Presidency) and decided to go off-roading missionary-style! Instead of teaching one of the lessons missionaries are required to teach investigators before baptism, we prayed about what their needs were and planned a lesson around the Holy Ghost and how we receive answers. Usually this topic is explained in each principle we teach, but we wanted to focus merely on that. As missionaries we talk a lot about how we need to "teach people, not lessons," which is exactly what we did. It was in this meeting that we found out that they have both received their (tearful) answers and that they know the church is true. I wish everyone would pray about the Book of Mormon! Sheesh! What's stopping everyone??

This week we also set up a church tour with Sister Hart (she gave us the referral for her mother in Colorado the week prior). Sister Hart has never come to church because she has social-phobia; I think is what she called it. We addressed her concerns and explained the purpose of a church tour which she was very comfortable with. We will be conducting one this Saturday with members of the ward in hopes that this could resolve her fears and that she can feel the special Spirit in the chapel.

Lately as a mission, we have been focusing on street contacting - this means talking to everyone who is in our paths. We as missionaries have to realize that we may feel prompted to stop-by a less-active not necessarily for that member, but maybe for someone who we will be crossing paths with. It's pretty nerve-wracking to walk up to someone who is washing their car who probably doesn’t feel like talking about religion. But when we act on those promptings to talk to someone and put ourselves out there, Heavenly Father will bless us and will help us find those of His children who are ready to hear the message of the Restoration.

Now for some random things: I got my hair cut by one of the missionaries I live with (Elder Hinds) and it actually looks pretty good! It’s short, but I like it! --- Elder Haines (who I served with in Findlay, Oh) had a lawn mowing accident and broke the joint in his right, big toe! He is now on crutches and with only 2 ½ months left has to make the decision of going home early. I sure hope he doesn’t!!! --- The Canton-area has been having some crazy weather, such as hail the size of baseballs. Luckily the storm passed over us before it spewed out that kind of damage! --- We taught a former Mennonite a second time who wanted to see if he could make us “tick.”
He failed. We agreed that we probably don’t need to meet anymore. Nice guy! --- We helped a family move last Tuesday and their air conditioner was broken! Luckily their otter-pops made everything okay
--- We have a baptism coming up in a few weeks for Sister Hughes (I haven’t written much about her, I’ll talk about her next week probably). That’ll be exciting. --- Tomorrow I have a meeting in Cleveland from 10am to 6pm! Long day ahead!

Well… I think I’m out of things to talk about. I’m grateful for all the experiences I’ve had on my mission thus far and look forward to more wonderful people I’ll get to meet! These past 8 ½ months have flown by, and I imagine that my mission will just continue to fly.
I’ve learned so much about myself, about others, but more importantly about our Heavenly Father and Savior. I’m grateful that we have a loving Heavenly Father who has blessed us with eternal families, inspired prophets, and continual revelation. A Stake Patriarch was once asked what he notices the most in the many blessings he gives.
His response:  Oh the love, the love God has for His children. I know that God lives. I know that He loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, our elder brother who suffered for each and every one of us. I know that families can be together forever. “And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself.
And now I do know of myself that they are true…” Alma 5:46. I know these things just like Alma knew these things. Have a great week!

Love, Elder Dransfield