Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm tired

In these past few weeks serving in North Olmsted, I have gained a greater testimony in work. I have never worked harder my whole mission as I have now, and I have never felt as fulfilled and full of joy as I have recently. The harder we work towards being more like Christ, the harder we strive to bring others unto Him and partake of his beautiful Atonement, the more we build our faith, the better life gets. It's so simple.

Not too many highlights for this week. Last night there was a musical fireside in Kirtland and I was asked to play in it with one of the Sisters singing. We ended the night with "My Heavenly Father's Plan" and though I made plenty of mistakes here and there, everyone liked it. I'll be performing it again this Wednesday at a Leadership Training Meeting and will have someone record it so I can show you guys someday. Who would have guessed I'd be playing the piano so much these days... I guess I'll have a new (or restored more like it) talent when I arrive back home. But that wont be for another 13 months! Hard to believe that 11 months have gone by come tomorrow!

We had an appointment last Tuesday morning with a less-active 35-year-old woman. She has been working hard on getting her life back on track and becoming reactivated, but has had trouble focusing her desires in the right direction. I taught with a member in our ward and the original plans were to read from Alma about faith. But as we sat down in her house and talked for a few minutes, it was clear that the message we had planned wasn't what she needed to hear. So I flipped through my Book of Mormon while we chatted and said a silent prayer, asking what she needs to hear. I found a chapter that stuck out to me and we began the lesson. It was amazing to see how the discussion we had fit the chapter perfectly. We would read a few verses, discuss it, apply it, and then a concern would come up that would be addressed EXACTLY in the next few verses. It was incredible! By the end of the lesson the Spirit was so strong and she had realized what steps she needed to take to help her dedicate herself and become more like her Savior. It was a wonderful experience.

We also did a lot of tracting this week. Though sometimes looked at as a negative experience (it's hard to knock on door after door and be rejected so much when people don't know what they're even rejecting!) I am coming to love talking to EVERYone. We saw many tender mercies of the Lord as we would contact/tract - one lady was pulling out of her driveway and when she saw us stopped and called us over. She asked where we were from and said she wanted to talk to us. She pulled back in her driveway and we followed her into her backyard. Turns out she's going through a very bad divorce and life is starting to be very hard. We shared with her our message and presented her with a Book of Mormon. She said she could feel the Spirit and liked all that we were talking about. As she gave the closing prayer, she prayed that she would keep an open heart and mind, so that if this was true she would accept. I know that her coming to know of more truth in her life is exactly what can heal the bruises of our many trials in life. We are excited to meet with her again this week.

Well, we have a million and two things to do or else I would try to write more. Know that I am doing great and that I am having the time of my life here in Ohio! I love the people, I love my calling, and I love our Savior, Jesus Christ! I wish you all the best!

Love, Elder Dransfield

 Elder Tracy, President Sorensen, Elder McClellan, and Elder Dransfield

 William Lee's baptism

 Map of the mission...and a giraffe...and geese.  In Ohio, people like to dress us like their goose statues.

 Elder Dransfield on the office computer.  Can you see what time it is?

Doing service a few weeks ago.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Another week gone - where did it go??

It's hard to believe the week is over. The days keep going by faster and fast!

In answer to Grandma Wortham's letter, this last transfer we received 11 new missionaries (one of which was a Kirtland Sister). We had a meeting on Thursday for the new missionaries and their trainers here in the mission office. It went very well; I had to give a workshop on Baptism and Confirmation/Love. I used Elder Dallin H. Oaks' talk from last conference called "Desire" and talked about how if our desires are righteous and correct, we can reach our mission goal of 50 baptisms in one month. We are close, but still have a ways to go before we reach our goal!

The Tuesday prior, we had another meeting with the Zone Leaders. This was my first time conducting a meeting as an Assistant. I think it went well. I had to lead the discussion in our mission council. Afterwards we went on exchanges with three different companionships (we're taking advantage of being in a triple-up) and I went down to Canton! I got to see the Nevilles and the Griffiths and had an amazing lesson with them. The Spirit was SO strong as we read from Enos 1:1-12 and talked about how our faith needs to become "unshaken" like that of Enos'. The Nevilles shared an amazing experience about tithing - they weren't sure how they were going to pay it, but faithfully set aside the money and sure enough the Lord provided as His promise in Malachi was fulfilled: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse...and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10). Brother and Sister Neville received a check in the mail for more than they originally needed to pay their tithing. What a great testimony builder of tithing. The Nevilles, Griffiths, and I somehow started talking about temples and talked about all the wonderful blessings we receive from temples. It was such a great evening and I felt so blessed to be reunited with my friends again.

We've been doing lots of finding (tracting, contacting, member work) and are starting to see some of the blessings. We are finding part-member families and other families found through contacting who are interested in learning more. I am excited for these next few weeks when we will get to start teaching them all more regularly. This week we are going too many Zone Development Meetings (similar to Zone Conferences) and going on many exchanges. So I will not work our area as much as we'd like.

Today in church, I had to give a talk on how the young men's program prepared me for my mission. I told stories about my Dad's conversion, my Mom's conversion, and Kevin's conversion and tied them all to being prepared. As I told the stories, I didn't mention that I was talking about my parents until the end, telling them all that I would not be standing before them at that very moment had members not magnified their callings and treasured up their minds. I got lots of laughs and many compliments after the talk. Now the ward knows who I am and it almost feels like they've "accepted" me.. haha. Oh, and in my story Dad was a hippie with looooong hair :) I don't know how true it is, but it made the story more exciting! :)

In a few weeks. a General Authority will be coming to tour the mission. Elder Tracy will have gone home by then so Elder McClellan and I will be doing a lot of work with him and President Sorensen as well as putting on two Mission Conference type-meetings. I am a little nervous, but know that as I rely on my Heavenly Father that I will be okay. And I really don't have anything to be worried about... So yeah.

I know the gospel is true! I know that Jesus Christ IS our Savior and that God DOES live! As I talk with people on the streets and at parks and see what some of our youth/young adults believe (or what their attitudes towards life are) it scares me a little to think that that's our future generations. I know that God will watch over us, but seriously people. Figure it out! I know that the only way we can be happy is as we diligently serve our Father in Heaven with ALL our heart, might, mind, and strength. Exact obedience will bring us closer to Him than anything else. I have never been happier in my whole life than I have these past (almost) 11 months. And I probably have never worked harder. There are hard days, don't get me wrong, but as we apply the Atonement in our lives, everything is made good again. Jesus Christ's Atonement... Use it. Use it, use it, use it!! As we do, we will BECOME what our Heavenly Father wants us to become. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. If you can't believe it, read the Book of Mormon. It's incredible. It's life changing. Just read it. I don't believe these things, nor do I think them. I KNOW these things are true. And you can too. We all can. Search, Ponder, and Pray. It's true...

Love, Elder Dransfield

Monday, August 8, 2011

Transfer 8

I don't know how time flies by so fast... I'm not sure what to write about this week!

We did a lot of tracting/contacting (talking to people either at parks, at their door, on the streets etc.) We talk to all kinds of people.

We're teaching a 14-year-old named Brandi who was recently adopted into a members family. She doesn't have much understanding or knowledge of Christianity in general, so we're teaching her very slowly and simply. She enjoyed church yesterday and we'll be teaching her and family later this week.

Being an Assistant keeps me so busy, it's great. Here's a little more to a story I think I wrote about a few weeks ago. About Rachel, the less-active 21-year-old who my companion felt prompted to visit. I talked to Elder McMillan on the phone last night and asked how things are going. He said that Rachel has changed so much - as different as black to white. Since I left she has been reading and praying regularly and has been receiving all kinds of answers and revelation. She prayed to help her find something, and she found it five seconds later. She was reading her Book of Mormon, closed the book and left to wash her face, went back to the book and got an overwhelming "knowing" that it was true. All she could say is, "it's has to be true..." She is making drastic changes to her life and putting away bad habits and behaviors. Two days ago she texted the Elders and told them, "I love this gospel! I have never been happier in my life!" and she is now talking about serving a mission. She says she needs a bigger testimony, but is ready to work on it because she's wanted to serve a mission her whole life.

 Again, I don't have much time to write and the stuff I would write about isn't very interesting. We are in a lot of meetings, go on exchanges with missionaries all over Northern Ohio, plan a lot of workshops, pray like crazy, go through lots of paperwork for stake presidents and such, are on the phone 24/7.... We're always doing something. It's awesome.

This last week was Transfers so I was very involved in the coming and going of missionaries. We picked up the new missionaries at the airport and brought them to the mission home. We went over lots of information, role-played, ate food, etc. The next morning we brought them to the Kirtland Temple and Kirtland Sites. At the transfer meeting (at the Kirtland Stake Center) they got with their new companions and we gathered all the missionaries who were flying home the next morning. We had a great lunch and dinner together and that night had a testimony meeting. It was so powerful and tear-filled. It was so exciting/sad to see such amazing missionaries end their mission. Their examples have inpacted me greatly and I'm very blessed to have had the opportunity to work with so many of them (Elder Haines was one of them (we served in Findlay together) and three from the group were former AP's). I think they're all doing well at home now. I'll miss those guys.

I know that as I have been given this new calling, I have been growing and enlarging my capacity. As it says in Alma 34:32 "...this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." As I grow and become what my Heavenly Father wants me to become, I can see how I am being prepared for that great day when I return to my Father. I know that this gospel is true and that it changes lives; it blesses millions every day. I love you all. Sorry I'm not so thorough in my letter... Just go on a mission and see for yourself what it's like

Love, Elder Dransfield

President Sorensen with (from left) Elder Dransfield, Elder McClellan, and Elder Tracy, current Assistants, and Elder Hunt, Elder Smith, and Elder Farmer, former Assistants.

President Sorensen with the Assistants:  From left, Elder Dransfield, Elder McClellan, and Elder Tracy taken at the Mission Office on July 28, 2011.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm tired

This past week...has long...but has awesome. I had NO idea what being an Assistant to the President entailed. Now I do. And I'm exhausted. And I've never been happier.

I left Toledo Tuesday morning around 7:30am and at 10oclock my time as an AP began as I arrived at a Trainers Meeting and gave a workshop. From then till now everything is kind of a blurr... Wednesday we had to drive to the east side of Ohio to drop off/pick-up a car and then drive down south to Canton (my old stomping grounds!) to pick up a couple missionaries who were going home due to medical issues. We worked with them for the day and sent them off at the airport the next. Then Thursday was our Transfer Meeting, where President Sorensen and us prayerfully decide transfer changes, leadership assignements, and so forth. It was amazing to see how the Lord's hand is so involved in those transfers. We would keep shifting missionaries around until it everything felt right and pieced together perfectly. We even went back on Friday to make a few more big changes. It's been really cool.

We tracted 17 hours last week; we're trying to find people to teach. On Sunday night in our last hours of tracting for the week we found a lady who was SO prepared to meet us and have us teach her family. They have been searching for the right church and have had this inner-conflict of choosing the right one for quite some time. We talked to her about the Restoration and about her family and she really wants us to come meet her husband and kids and to teach them. (We found her at a park-area). Where those 17 hours worth this one lady and her family? Yes.

My companions are Elder Tracy and Elder McClellan. They're two of the best missionaries out here, so I'm learning a lot from them. Elder Tracy will be going home in about 3 weeks (mid-transfer due to school starting) and Elder McClellan has 3 months left. So I'll be replacing Elder Tracy and then very, very soon after we'll be in another triple-up as a new AP will replace Elder McClellan. Elder Tracy is from Washington and Elder McClellan is from Utah. I don't know what else to write about...I'm exhausted.

It's been a lot of fun to get to see and be a part of what keeps the mission running. I now get to interact with so many more missionaries and get to help with preaching the gospel all over the mission. It's a real blessing. New missionaries are coming in tomorrow afternoon, so we'll be picking them up at the airport, talking to them at the mission home, etc. Then Wednesday all the missionaries who are being transferred to a new area will meet up in Kirtland, get with their new companions, and go back out in to the field. So we've been very busy with pulling all the fine-details together.

I know the church is true and I've never been happier than on my mission. I love you all, hopefully next week I'll have more to say and write about.

Love, Elder Dransfield

Monday, August 1, 2011

Just when I thought things couldn't get much crazier! SENT 7-25-11

This week we had some amazing lessons with less-actives and part-member families. From those less-actives we are already seeing potential referrals. It is very exciting to see this area start to come alive and see blessings pop out of nowhere!
On Monday we stopped by a less active in her early 20's named Rachel. Elder McMillan felt prompted his first week to stop-by this less-active who missionaries had noted "do not contact." I was a little skeptical but very interested to see what would happen. We stopped by and Rachel's father answered the door, telling us she wasn't home. Monday we had made plans to try again and after we prayed in the car, I told Elder McMillan that he would be doing the door approach since this was "his" prompting. He seemed fairly confident. We knocked, a girl answered, and Elder McMillan froze; all he could push out of his mouth was something along the lines of "I...felt like...we needed to see you." Her response was "Well thaaaat's weird… Let me get some shoes on." We were both pretty shocked I think, and when she came back out she explained that she needed to run her mother to the hospital but that it wasn't a coincidence that we showed up that very day. We set up an appointment for the following day and finished our day by tracting her street.

Tuesday we met and turns out that everything in her life for the past 7 months or so hasn't been going very well. And the very day we knocked on her door, she had had a long talk with an elderly woman about getting a hold of her "church people" for some spiritual guidance. In fact, as she was getting her mother ready for the hospital and was getting very frustrated, she looked up towards the sky and said something like "Lord, help me!" and then a knock at the door. Walking to the door she said to her dad, "Watch, it's probably the Mormons" - boy was she right! We had a great discussion with her and after hearing about her conversion and her falling away, invited her to take the missionary discussions - to start over fresh and to gain the testimony she thinks she never had. The funny thing is, she used to go out with the sister missionaries ALL the time and knows everything there is to know about the gospel. I think she just doesn't know the "why" to the gospel... She gets the "what" and "how" but doesn't understand the doctrine. I think much good will transpire from this and at the very least, it taught Elder McMillan a great lesson about listening to Spiritual promptings.

This week we also taught a wonderful lesson to a less-active, part-member family, the Finks. Sister Fink has been getting a lot of anti  by one of her older daughters (who is a member of the church but now attends a Baptist church). The daughter has been telling her mom about all the ways our religion contradicts itself. In one lesson we addressed some simple, very basic concerns, helping Sister Fink to realize what a great testimony she already had and showing her how to strengthen it even further. In the next lesson she asked to us to specifically teach her (and her non-member 16-year-old daughter) about the Spirit World (where we go when we die). We found lots of information in our personal studies (most in the Bible which blew me away; why don't more religions talk about it?!) and put together a lesson during companion study. That night we had such a great lesson! The Spirit was so strong and Sister Finks’ testimony seemed to grow immensely! 

With another less-active, part-member family (Mary) we have been trying so hard to help her see the importance of church and baptism for her 3 teenage children. We were so close to teaching the entire family on Tuesday when her son broke her car window and Mary fell apart - we rescheduled our appointment. Our next appointment, Mary said that she doesn't think her kids will want to take the discussions, even though we've asked 2 of the 3 if they want to be baptized and they both said yes. We had another powerful lesson about the importance of motherhood, being an example, baptism, and faith. I closed our lesson with a prayer and by the end she was in tears. She thanked me for "being so awesome" and told me to tell my mom that she raised an incredible son and has so much to be proud of. I really didn't do anything... The prayer was less of me and more of the Spirit.
This week we had the privilege of also teaching a missionary from the ward (serving in Mesa, Arizona)'s very good friend. He asked her if she’d take the discussions and she agreed. She has been Catholic her whole life, but doesn't believe in everything the Catholic Church stands for. She was very receptive and comfortable with the fact that this religion could (is) the correct one. We invited her to be baptized and to find out for herself if the Book of Mormon is true which she was more than happy to do. She's a great girl and could benefit so much from these gospel truths (as could the rest of her family)!

Through our tracting efforts we also have found a couple of new less-actives and potential investigators to be working with. One Less-active member we did service for the very next day (a very active, elderly woman whose husband is a non-member who is mentally dying due to Parkinson’s disease). She struggles with her husband’s condition and really needed us the night we “tracted” into her; she thrived off our ability to listen and the Spirit that was with us. We noticed she needed some yard work done and asked if we could come over the next day to work on it. She didn’t say no, so we got there in the morning while she was a work. Not soon after we started, her daughter came over, to take care of her dad, and was so happy to see us. We talked for a good while and found out that her husband was trying to find a new church. She was more than happy to talk to him about meeting with us and was very impressed as we told her about our missions and the church. All of the family is Catholic but have issues here and there with the church. We will be meeting with the less-active woman tonight and will hopefully be able to get more information about her family. Again, so much potential!

Elder McMillan is great; he's already showing signs of becoming an amazing missionary. It's been a blast getting to serve with him. It was a great experience for me to come back to the Toledo 2nd Ward. Last night at dinner, the High Priest Group Leader told us that the ward has been talking very highly of us and is glad that they have "real missionaries" back in the ward. The trust and the faith is back, and multiple members have referrals that are so close to being ready to meet with us. I hope I've done all that I was supposed to do here with Elder McMillan and that the Lord is proud of the results. It's funny that both times I have served in this area, I've been unexpectedly transferred out and unexpectedly called to some leadership position that I feel TOTALLY unqualified for!

At 12:18pm, President Sorensen called. After chatting for a few minutes, he told me that he felt impressed to call me to be his new Assistant. I was shocked! I'm pretty sure I said to him "Are you serious?" I obviously accepted the call and told him I'd have to pray about it, but that if he was inspired to do this that I'm sure I'll get the same answer. This is insane. I never thought I would become an Assistant to the President, and definitely not after being out for only 10 months! But I know that as I put my strength in the Lord, that I can do whatever He calls me to do.  I'm excited, I'm shocked, I'm nervous, I'm touched, but most of all I'm ready to do whatever the Lord has in store for me. I'm ready to become purpose.

"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he hath commandeth them." - 1 Nephi 3:5

Love, Elder Dransfield

 Toledo, Ohio

 Another Ohio storm...

Me and Elder McMillan's last day as companions