Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

I'll start my weekly letter with a miracle story, evidence that the Lord's hand truly is in this work. We called President about it last night and he suggested we e-mailed Elder Marcus B. Nash (who we had Mission Conference with last week) and share with him our experience. Here's a copy of what I sent (with a few modifications): 

Dear Elder Nash,
Thank you again for your instruction and help at last weeks Mission Conference here in the Ohio. You have inspired many missionaries and have helped us create a wonderful vision for this mission. Elder McClellan and I had a great experience yesterday (Sunday) as we followed your counsel to find ways we can better serve our Bishops. We would like to share this with you.
Yesterday in our P.E.C. meeting, we received a list of information concerning ten members who recently have moved into our ward boundaries whom the ward knew very little or nothing about; our assignment was to contact these individuals. We had several appointments set up that day and didn't see where we would have time to make these many stop-bys, but Heavenly Father had other plans as all of our appointments canceled on us during church. With a now very open day, our goal was to tackle the list and return and report to our Bishop that evening.
The few phone numbers we had didn't work, so we began to drive all over in search for these in-active members. Many no longer lived at the address we were given, one told us we could possibly come back, and another handful weren't home - our patience was being tested. The last name on our sheet was for a girl named Jaime. Our GPS showed that the house number we had received (556) did not exist, so we made a guess as to what it could be and headed there. We pulled into an upper-middle-class neighborhood and found a place to park, not really sure where this house was. We prayed, got out of the car, and began to approach a woman in her front yard when we heard a strange noise in the distant trees. We looked over and a wall of rain was speeding towards us, and within seconds it was absolutely pouring. We ran and ran until we found house number 8556, finding shelter from the rain on the doorstep. We knocked and, to our dismay, found nobody home. Soaking wet, we decided to wait a few minutes for the storm to die down and write this less-active a note (although we weren't even sure if this was her house). Before our pens even touched the note card, we heard the garage door open and a car pulled onto the driveway. We ran into the garage (it was still pouring rain) to be greeted by a young couple and their 3 children. We asked if she was Jaime, and she said yes! We chatted for a bit and they eventually invited us into their home to dry off.
Background we found out: Jaime hasn't been active in the church "for years," though grew up fully-active and was even a seminary graduate. Her non-member boyfriend, Raphal, knows a little about the church. We found out that they were just on their way home from a picnic dinner with Jaime's family - and the LDS missionaries! Jaime's mother (a Relief Society President from the Kirtland Stake) had invited two of our missionaries to their family gathering in hopes of finding some potential missionary work/reactivation within her family.
We invited Jaime's family to take the missionary discussions and come unto Christ, which they both accepted. We had a wonderful lesson about Family Prayer, had Raphal offer a kneeling prayer, invited them to church, set up a return appointment, and left having so much gratitude in our hearts. We immediately called the Elders they ate dinner with and they gave us the phone number to Jaime's mother. When we called, the mother had just gotten off the phone with Jaime and was absolutely trilled by the chain of events. Jaime called asking her mother if she had sent us over, and after the mother expressed her confusion, Jaime excitedly told her about finding us soaking wet on their porch, us teaching them a lesson, Raphal praying, them attending church next Sunday, and our return appointment. I think many years of prayers were answered last night.
We are beyond excited to have found this wonderful family and are ready to help them prepare to become an eternal family. We are so humbled by these tender mercies, and are grateful for the counsel you left with us. After meeting with this family, we immediately called the Bishop and went over to his home (Oh yeah, he lives about 3 minutes away from this family. And his children are the exact ages of their children). The Bishop was not only impressed by how quickly we contacted the ten names, but was the entire family was ecstatic about the new find and they immediately started making plans for fellowship. The Spirit filled their home as their love for the gospel and this new family was expressed. Again, thank you for your commitment to fast and pray for ways we can better support our Bishop. We have been so greatly blessed and cannot wait to see the rest of the mission find similar experiences. Have a great week!
Elder Dransfield and Elder McClellan
Ohio Cleveland Mission

It continues to amaze me how everything worked out so perfectly yesterday. We had several appointments set up for Sunday and throughout church they all canceled on us. Had we not spend however-long at each of the ten names, we would not have made it to Jaime's house while they were home. Had the rain not come at the precise moment it did, we would not have waited as long as we did at Jaime's house. As we allow the Lord to guide us, we will find much success and happiness in our lives.

This week I have been pondering much about the concept of being comfortable, or rather stepping out of our comfort zones. Yesterday in our fast-and-testimony meeting, a girl said something along the lines of "I knew it was the Spirit because the Spirit is usually telling me something I don't want to do!" (I think she was talking about doing Family History work or something). This made me think of many prophets in the scriptures. Nephi "shrunk and would that [he] might not" when he was instructed by the Spirit to take action in receiving the brass plates from Laban in 1 Nephi 4:10-17. Samuel the Lamanite "was about to return to his own land" after being cast out of the city when the "the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again" in Helaman 13:1-4. When Jonah was commanded to cry repentance unto the people of Nineveh, he "rose up to flee...from the presence of the Lord" (Jonah 1). Once he finally exercised faith and carried-out the task, we read in chapter 4 that "they turned from their evil way." All of these men had to step out of their comfort zones in order for great things to come to pass. And as each one did so, relying solely upon the Spirit, he was edified, he grew, he was prepared even that much more to return to our Father in Heaven. That is why we are here on earth: to learn, to grow, to gain experience... I am drawn to Luke chapter 22. We read, "And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (verses 41-44). He did this to "take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people...that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people...to succor his people...that he might blot out their transgressions..." (Alma 7:11-13), not so that he would be comfortable. Not so that he could be relaxed and have a great time. He set aside his own personal comfort to fulfill the commandments of the Father. I could write pages and pages about this so I'm going to stop now. But think about your own life...are you stuck in a comfort zone? Is there more you should be doing? I don't know...just some thoughts. I bring this up because of the many things I've had to "overcome" and the comfort zones I've had to step out of on my mission and the changes that I have seen take place within me. The growth that I have undergone in this these past 11 months. What a blessing.

I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and for his tremendous, self-less sacrifice. His infinite Atonement. The Atonement is what helps us to change, helps us to become, enables us... May we all remember Him and allow His Atonement to work within us. I have been so richly blessed on my mission - I almost feel spoiled. I know that as we lose ourselves in the gospel, we will find ourselves. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has restored truths that can be found nowhere else. I know that what we share with people is true and that it fills us with a deeper satisfaction and understanding than anything on this earth can even come close to. I know this is true, with all of my heart and with ever fiber of my being.

Love, Elder Dransfield

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