This week we had our second (last) Mission Christmas Conference. It was the same procedure as the week prior but this time I gave a 10 minute talk in the Kirtland Temple (instead of conducting the meeting). It was a great meeting, a little better than the first if I had to pick. The speakers were great and the Spirit was so strong - especially as we all concluded with hymn #2 - The Spirit of God. I gave my talk on the "doctrine" of Christmas, as found in 1 Nephi 11 - the Condescension of God. This was taken from a 1969 BYU Devotional by Elder Bruce R. McConkie called "Behold the Condescension of God." The meeting went great and after our lunch we presented to President and Sister Sorensen their Christmas Present from the mission. We've been working on it for a couple months and when they unwrapped it they couldn't speak. We had collected a picture of every companionship and with the help of the Kirtland Historical Sites made a collage and framed it. They hung it the entryway of the mission home and said they absolutely love it! I'm glad we could do something special for them.
After the conference we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders from the Akron Zone - Elder Green and I stayed here in North Olmsted. Thursday morning we showed up at 8:30 at a less-actives home where 440 bushels of shavings were being delivered. They charge 40 bucks every hour it takes to unload, and since she's sick and couldn't unload, we and her home teacher showed up to stack them in her barn. It was a great workout! We got it done in 30minutes so they only charged 20 dollars. Woo hoo! We got to share a message with her non-member sister after the job was done, and though she wasn't too interested, it was a good meeting.
In other news, Erica is being baptized this Sunday (Jan 1st)!!! Elder Parkinson will be baptizing her and I will confirm her the following week. We will also be meeting with some of her family and friends before the baptism to teach them a little of what she's doing and why it's relevant to them. Last week she took our her nose and tongue ring! When we taught her how our bodies are temples and how the prophets have counseled us to have only one piercing in our ears (speaking of which, have you checked out the new For Strength of Youth pamphlet?? https://lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/ForTheStrengthOfYouth-eng.pdf?lang=eng) she originally figured what's happened has happened and she will make the right choice from now on. But as she dwelled on it and allowed the Spirit to work on her, she decided to take them out for good! She will be interviewed tonight to make sure she's ready to be baptized.
On Christmas Eve we drove to Mayfield, Ohio (near Kirtland) and met up with 6 Elders, 8 Sisters, the Smith's, and the Sorensen's to go caroling to some of Karl Anderson's neighbors. It was great! Afterwards Karl and Joyce Anderson invited us back to their house for some hot chocolate and we visited for a bit. Karl showed us some old artifacts he has - replica's of the original keys to the Kirtland Temple, Carthrage Jail, Liberty Jail, etc., a mite from Jerusalem (widow's mite from Old Testament), some oil lamps that were excavated in Israel, sand from Egypt, etc. It was pretty cool! Karl Anderson is known as Mr. Kirtland and knows all there is to know about the church history that passed through there. The Church Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve call upon him for information quite often. He's awesome - older, has the most contagious laugh in the world, and is the kindest man you'll ever meet. It was a honor to spend Christmas Eve with him!
Christmas was great. Got to skype home :) :) :) We went to a handful of members houses for dinners/desserts/games and got TONS of presents from the Ward!!! We got a box that was probably 40+ pounds full of candy, missionary supplies, gift cards, personal hygiene stuff, etc.! It was crazy! The little kids at the house (we were with 3 families from the ward who had a combined Christmas dinner) helped us open all the presents and were in Heaven. They were amazed at all our presents and kept asking if they could have some of them! One kept saying "You're going to get sick from all this candy!" and then would look at us with a look that was saying "so share with me!" - he's 5 years old. I'm grateful for all the gits, cards, and love that was sent my way. Weird that I wont have another Christmas out here as a missionary...
This week is full of meetings, exchanges, looking at transfers that will be coming up in a couple weeks, and a baptism! Another busy week ahead :) And the best part of it all is there is STILL no snow on the ground! The sun in shining and the clouds are white and puffy as can be! I feel like I'm back in California! Hope everyone had a great Christmas and has a great new years!
Love, Elder Dransfield