Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A few more last pictures

Sunset in Norwalk, or rather, proof that God exists

My last District

Across the street from a member's home

Taking pictures with Elder Randall while driving home

Go to the Ohio

Here's a short segment of my weekly letter to President Vellinga - a little edited.

"We set another baptismal date last night! That brings us to three individuals who all have amazing potential to become finders of truth.

Shawnee and her 12-year-old daughter, Passion, have dates for October 21st. Shawnee is dating a less-active member who is undergoing some divorce complications. In our lesson last night, we were going to teach the Plan of Salvation but the Spirit led to us to teach the Doctrine of Christ - with a large emphasis on repentance and baptism. Shawnee admitted to us that since we've been meeting she has felt guilty for a few things she has been doing in her life, and it has led her to reevaluate her relationship with the man she is dating with her relationship with Heavenly Father. With a smile on our face, we explained how the Holy Ghost has been working with her - softening her heart and increasing her sensitivity to the light of Christ within her. Passion is very bright and when we first met her and invited her to be baptized, she was too afraid of the idea to accept the invitation. Last night, she decided that it was something she wanted and said she'd like to be baptized with her mom. I'm excited for them. Wish I could be here to keep teaching them, but they'll be okay.

Alton is another investigator with a date for the 21st of October. We tracted into him after one of our investigators stood us up. We met with him Friday afternoon and had the most wonderful lesson of the transfer. He is one of the most naturally Christ-like people I have ever met. Through his marriage, he is related to one of the members of the ward and has always respected and looked up to this man. He told us that he always wanted what Brother Baer has. And when we knocked at his door, he saw the same thing in us as Brother Baer and decided that he needed to receive what we had to offer him. The Spirit was in rich abundance as we shared the message of the Restoration and especially Joseph Smith's first vision. We invited him to be baptized and he accepted. We proposed a baptismal date, he paused and pondered the day for a few seconds, and then very excited said - "Yes! I will! And to prove it, I will write it down in my Book of Mormon so that when it happens, we'll remember we set the baptismal date this day." I'm grateful I could teach him, even once. I hope and pray that the missionaries will be able to minister to his needs and guide him to the truth."

We have had many other wonderful lessons this week with less-active members who say "that's a weird coincidence that you showed up today" and then before we can leave are desperately looking for a day and time to have us come back. My last day doing service at Fisher-Titus hospital was sad too - the old receptionists wished me a good life. I told them I'd come back someday for a good old hospital cafeteria lunch.. yum! ;) < br>
We had our Mission Conference on Thursday and Elder Anthony D. Perkins of the Quorum of the Seventy came and spoke to us. It was a wonderful Conference. He spoke quite a while on different things like receiving personal revelation, the process of how mission presidents or where we serve our missions are selected, he talked about being worthy of the Spirit, how to teach keeping the Sabbath Day Holy (one of our struggles in the mission). I enjoyed it, it was a treat for my last week. He will be speaking at the Priesthood Session of General Conference next month.

Sunday was the Cleveland Stake Conference. What a HUGE tender mercy THAT was!! The Cleveland Stake Center is in the North Olmsted Ward's building (where I served a quarter of my mission). So I got to see so many members there who I had grown close with. Erica was there and we were able to talk for some time. She is doing great! Someone joked that I would be going home and would be married in 3 weeks and she looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Really??" ...no. Not a chance. haha. But seeing soooo many old friends was such a blessing for my last Sunday. And the Stake Conference talks and choir were probably some of the best I've heard on my mission or ever. It was a very spiritual meeting and overall great day. I can't describe how grateful I am that I was able to have that opportunity so see so many people. It made going home a little harder, but I'm okay!

Obviously this will be my last letter as "Elder Dransfield." A part of me is still in denial. These last two years have felt like a dream. I have experienced some of the deepest sorrows of my life, experienced some of the hardest trials I could be faced with, and have had opportunities presented to me that have stretched, refined, and destroyed me - the old me. In great contrast, I have been filled with the most joyous, God-sent love that has consumed my entire being. I have grown as I have received strength and support to overcome the many mountains which now, to me, look like measly hills. And as I have done all I can to follow Jesus Christ's counsel to lose my life for His sake (Luke 9:24, 17:33, Matthew 10:39, 16:25, Mark 8:35, etc.), I have seen that there is truly "[no] other way" (2 Nephi 31:21).

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life (3 Nephi 5:13). I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust (Psalms 91:2). And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God (D&C 76:22-24). And it came to pass, that I...began to be old...wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream (Jacob 7:26). And in the words of the Savior himself: These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

I do know that Christ lives. I do know that Joseph Smith is the prophet who has restored Christ's church to the earth. I do know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I do not have a belief in these things, but a knowledge. A testimony that has been sculpted and built upon for the last almost 22 years. A testimony of truth that burns throughout my entire being and carries me when I don't think I could walk another step. All can have and know what I do. Read the Book of Mormon. Ponder the teachings it contains. "...ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Moroni 10:4-5).

If you can't tell, I have loved my mission. I would not give up these 2 years for anything. I am excited to come home, but will never forget the experiences I have been greatly blessed with during my time in the Ohio.

"Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high" (D&C 38:32).

Love, Elder Dransfield.

Shawnee and Passion

The Andersons - a great family who helped us do a lot of missionary work

Bishop Delap and his family, from the North Olmsted Ward

Erica - I know it looks funny, but we are NOT holding hands

Sister Sponseller who recently went to the temple.

Monday, September 17, 2012

And the Countdown Begins...

This week we have seen quite a few miracles with many less-active members we have been working with. It breaks my heart that I'm going to have to leave them so soon.

The first guy is Jake. He's an older man who lives in the "armpit of Belleuve" as he told us (Belleuve's a town west of Norwalk). He is on disability and lives in some kind of government home. But Jake LOVES remote control airplanes - the big ones. We met him, really by accident, a week or two ago and set up an appointment to visit again. We ended up having to push our appointment back, and when I called I asked if on the day we decided he would show us some of his airplanes. He said, "What? Really? My airplanes?" I said, "Yeah! I've never actually seen anyone fly those things." He got really excited. I called him the morning of and said "Well, it sure is raining hard... Should we watch the planes another day?" and he said "No, come over. I've been watching the weather channel all day - it'll pass." And he was right. I think Heavenly Father had something to do with the weather because when he got out there, it was the most beautiful day we've had all summer. Absolutely perfect with the whitest, fluffiest clouds you've ever seen. Even the ground was dry by the time we got there! So we spent some time with him, admiring his planes and laughing at all the cool tricks he could do (like chasing the big birds!). We had a great time with him. Afterwards, we drove back to his apartment and shared a lesson. He admitted he's never been in the temple and has always wanted to. We invited him to meet with us weekly to prepare him - he accepted. His demeanor and comprehension was COMPLETELY different from our first, lesson the week before. Funny how just giving someone some time and love the way they need it will soften their heart. He told us while he was flying his plane "This makes me happier than anything in the world." I can see why Heavenly Father prompted me to ask him about his planes.

Another family we are working with are the Rosales - a Hispanic couple in their 70's. I love these two like they are a part of my family. We have taught them two or three times (they were invited by the Ward Council months and months ago to take the lessons from us to help them return to church, which they accepted. Due to some medical problems getting in the way, they ended up having to pause the Sisters from coming over so much, and when we got here we started the lessons over). We had a lesson Thursday, teaching about the Plan of Salvation. The discussion made an unusual turn talking strictly about church and we invited them to come back. They gave the usual excuses "it's too early...our legs are too this or that... etc." and we just listened and addressed their concerns. The Spirit must have pricked Brother Rosales, because he felt impressed to share with us the real reason he struggles to come back. I probably wont write about it on here, it's long and personal. But basically some family trials in Mexico arose, secrets were uncovered, and the Bishop in Mexico wasn't very helpful to Brother Rosales. Other things happened (some word of wisdom battles, which have long been over) and now it's been 20+ years since he's been to church. He told us he's not sure how we'll react when he comes back, because he's been holding in this anger (not towards the church, but his father) for so long. We listened and ministered to him. The member who came with us (who knew them when they were active in the church) talked about the healing power of forgiving others. It was very good. Then I had the distinct impression to invited to take a tour of the church building. He liked the idea of the church tour.

We met at his house Saturday around 4pm. We drove up together (it's about a 20 min ride to church) and for the next couples hours went from room to room, talking about the memories he had - his baptism, his families baptism, his daughters in Young Woman's, etc. But when we went into the Chapel-- Wow. I will never forget the experience there with him. We walked in and just sat for a while. Then we pulled out the hymn books and sang a few hymns he could remember. The one that stood out to him the most was "I Need Thee Every Hour." We pulled out the sacrament trays and the prayers. In tears, he read them out-loud. We talked about the Spirit which we are promised in those prayers and then sat in silence some more. The room felt like it was fogged with a wonderful Spirit - so peaceful, so serene. We had told the Bishop we would be there and asked him to stop-by if he had time. Of course he made time and he popped in near the end of out time in the chapel. He and his wife got to meet Brother Rosales and talked for some time. Brother Rosales told him about what had been happening - his inactivity, his father, how he told us all this and our amazing Bishop ministered to his needs. He invited him back to church and Brother Rosales said - not this Sunday, but next Sunday we will be here. As we were leaving, Brother Rosales said to me, I never thought I would be able to show my face there again.

They invited us over for dinner the next day (yesterday) and we had a wonderful time. They are very sad I'm leaving. Even though we've only spent three of four evenings together, it feels like we've been together forever. But they're on the right track now and I'm fairly confident that they can be considered active members soon. I will be sad to leave them.

We also met with Sister Jimenez and her family yesterday. The Bishop came with us (along with 3 of his kids!). We had an awesome lesson about families - Sister Jimenez was lead to tears again. She's such an awesome person - I told her last night that she needs to come back to church - less-so because she needs it, but this ward really needs her! Her family has so much to offer and she knows it's all true. It's just difficult to take on something again after so long of putting it off. Them and the Rosales' are two families I hope I can keep in touch with. They'll be back at church soon. I know it :)

Well, I've probably written too much for everyone - ha! It's been a rewarding week being able to see so many people touched by the Spirit and coming closer to Christ in their lives. I'm grateful for my testimony of Christ. I couldn't image not knowing or not believing in Him. Hymn #136 "I know that My Redeemer Lives" is going through my head right now... "I know that my Redeemer lives... What comfort this sweet sentence gives! ...He lives, my kind, wise heavenly Friend. He lives and loves me to the end...." Good hymn - anyways. I'm grateful for our Savior and for how much my testimony and understand of Him has increased these last 2 years. What a blessing it's been.

Well! We are going to go meet some Elders in Lorain to play some volleyball! Thanks for the many letters, prayers, love, etc. that have been sent my way these last few years. I'm grateful for the many examples in my life which have led me to this point. I wrote in my journal the other night, "I can't imagine where I would be right now if I didn't serve a mission." It has truly been some of the best 2 years. But why am I talking like this?? I still have 10 days left! I still have all the time in the world to find, teach, baptize! I'm going to live it up and when I walk off that plane next week, I'll be a pile of pulp who has given my all to the Lord. And man, it's all so worth it.

I really do love all of you. Thank you.

Love, Elder Dransfield

The ladies we do service with at the hospital every Friday morning. Nancy (left) is our boss and Rose (red head on right) we have been told by EVERYONE in the hospital is one we have to "look out for" haha, they're very sweet and they love us coming

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Norwalk: The Maple City

We had a good week... We're teaching more lessons and are keeping very busy.

Last week we taught one of our new investigators, Shawnee, for the second time. Our ward mission leader came with us and when the Spirit was strong we invited her to be baptized on October 21st. With tears streaming down her face she accepted and we explained what she would need to do to prepare for that day. It was such a great lesson. She has four children ages 16, 12, 8, and 6 that will hopefully all will be able to be baptized with her (her 16 year old gives her a lot of grief) but if anything can help her family, it will be this gospel and church.

I was able to go on exchanges this week with Elder Parkinson (we were Assistants together). He serves in Garfield Heights - the Parma area (suburbs of Cleveland) and we had a great time. We found some new investigators, got to work in the ghetto a little bit (which is the funnest), and gave an awesome church tour at the end of the night to two of their investigators. We had a couple from the ward with us and as we went around from room to room, there was such a wonderful spirit. We had soft music playing on the speakers that play in all the rooms channeled from the Chapel and all the lights were on, rooms orderly and clean. So the appearance and atmosphere was just perfect for the Spirit to be noticed the most. But when we walked into the chapel at the end of our tour, and sat on the front benches, the Spirit was SO strong. It felt like a waterfall of peace just overcame all of us and we sat there for about 5 minutes just basking in the wonderful peace and tranquility - the soft music still playing. We stopped the music and asked the two ladies what they thought. One just nodded her head and said "I can feel it... This is where I need to be" and the other smiled and nodded in agreement. We walked around and explained what the Sacrament was and how the services are ran, and then we ended our tour with a musical number by Elder Parkinson and I. It's called My Kindness Shall Not Depart from Thee - he sang, I played the piano. It was a wonderful night and we all were edified.

This week we had a Zone Development Meeting (a meeting with all the missionaries in the stake - not quite a Zone Conference, but similar) and I was asked to be in charge of the role-plays. They explained that they wanted it to be like mock-contacting (talking to people on the streets) and asked me to make up some little scenarios. They had little cards printed out that had information like this:

Name: Benjamin Young Religious Background: Non-denominational/ Christian; attend the Word Church Currant Occupation: Internship-ing with Goodyear Family Status: 3-year old son; pregnant wife Story: Living in Akron and on your way to a job interview with Key Bank as a budget analyst. Don’t know Cleveland well and parked 10 blocks too far – your interview is in 15 minutes. It will determine if you get the job. Missionaries walk by on the street as you walk quickly to your interview.

It was a lot of fun and almost every story I created was based on real people I have contacted into or taught. We got to the mission office early (where the meeting was held) and set up the room we'd be in with different props and had had the missionaries who would be the non-missionaries bring tshirts, hats, backpacks, etc. to where for the role-play. It was awesome and we all learned a lot. The missionaries had a good time and afterwards we had a discussion on what went well and what didn't. The theme was "talk WITH people, not TO people" -- or in other words, we're here as missionaries to share a message that will improve the quality of people's lives and to invite them to come unto Christ... Not here to get as many baptisms or people to church as we can. It all went really well though.

Monday was Zoned Out! Half of the mission gets together on 2 different days and we have a big P-day together. We did this last year, except because I was an Assistant, I didn't get to participate as much because I ran one of the "stations." There were 4 different rooms we would rotate to (because we were in 4 groups) - one was a game like Mafia, one of a Preach My Gospel scripture-chase-like game, one was a jeopardy game, and the last was a tour of the Johnson Home. They were all a lot of fun and being in the Johnson Home one last time as a missionary was very special. That's where D&C 76 was received. After the stations, we all have lunch together, change into our pday clothes (every zone makes shirts as you can see in the pictures), we do a big fun relay race -- Cleveland Zone won! We dominated :) and then we're excused to go play basketball, football, volleyball, etc. for the rest of the time. It was a BEAUTIFUL day outside so we played volleyball outside. It was a lot of fun.

This week we got to work at the local hospital again. This time they had us assigned as "travelers" which are people who escort the patience around the hospital. We got to work with two older men and a girl our age who works there. They were hilarious and for 2 hours we were running all around the hospital, talking to the patience, laughing with them, explaining to them how to get back to the waiting room (the hospital is under construction and it's like a maze getting around there). But walked SO much! We also learned how-to and how-to-not push a wheelchair :) It was a great few hours of service and we loved getting to talk to so many people who would said "Oh! You're Mormons!" when we'd mention we were on missions. On Wed, Sep 12, 2012 at 11:52 AM, David Dransfield wrote: I don't know why Norwalk is the "Maple City," but that's what all the signs say...

So another busy week, like I said, and the next 2 are going to be just as busy I'm sure. Everywhere I go (whether it's a missionary or a member) I am reminded that I don't have too much time left. It's awful! It will be a strange transition to go home and I will be very sad to leave, but I am excited to see my family again :) I'm so grateful for how wonderfully blessed I've been on my mission. I have grown and changed so much and my life has been eternally enriched because of the experiences I have had. I hope I can continue to be a missionary for the rest of my life whether or not I have a black name tag, because the blessings of this gospel are too great to keep to myself. I wish the world could understand what we know and have! It's amazing.. Almost too good to be true. But it is true.

I love you all! Have an awesome week!

Love, Elder Dransfield

Norwalk Country

Outside the Johnson Home

Cleveland Zone - Winners of Zoned Out!

Elder Ingersoll, Sister Tokunaga, and Elder D. - They put on the Luau together earlier this year.

Elder McMillians - I trained him

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Walk Around Norwalk

As we were leaving a members house this week, the dad walked over to one of his daughters who was playing with their big, white dog. He asked, "What's on her (the dog's) head??" His daughter responded, "mud." He then asked, "How did the mud get there?" (there were two parallel lines above the eyes), and her answer was "I was trying to make her like Simba on Lion King!" :) It made me laugh.

Since we've been whitewashed in the area, we have been working hard to do most of our work through the ward members. One way we have done this is contact the home and visiting teachers of those that we are to be meeting with. We had one example of success with this on Monday when a Sister from the ward set up an appointment for us to meet them. They had been invited by the ward to take the missionary discussions in a hope to fuel their testimony and help them return to church, which they at one point accepted, but their eagerness to meet regularly had been fading before we arrived here. But we went over and had a great time getting to know them and the Visiting Teacher re-invited them to take the discussions from us. At first they were a little hesitant to commit again, but by the end they were willing. They are an older Hispanic couple (the husband is from Mexico and cannot STAND illegal immigrants or people who are on welfare. He was getting all fiery talking about those who don't work or complain and then get even more mad as he brought up politics and healthcare). haha! They have quite a few children, only one is active in the church and she lives in Utah.

We had an awesome lesson with the Jimenez family as well. Met with all of them and had a great discussion on how the gospel blesses our lives. Sister Jimenez was in tears as she told us how she's been visiting mormon.org and lds.org everyday to help bring the Spirit back into her life and how much that has been affecting her. She is determined to start working on getting her life Spiritually back on track and eventually wants to start coming back to church and have the gospel more in her life. She knows it's true, and has just struggled (as I think most do) at how discouraging it can be to consistently make mistakes and have to repent. We talked about how we grow and learn and the love that God always has for us and our families. I'm grateful we CAN repent, and as it reads in Doctrine and Covenants 58:42, "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more." We love that family, and the youngest son (he's 14) and his cousin (who goes to a ward down south, out of our mission boundaries) both came to our ward on Sunday!

We have been teaching a man named Dave for a little more than a week, and have been struggling with him. Sister missionaries tracted into him 8+ years ago as he was going through a divorce with him wife. A few weeks ago, he called Salt Lake to ask for the information of that Sister missionary - because she was so nice. They talked him into meeting with us instead, and so we received notification and went over. He has many, many medical ailments and battles with severe depression, and because of so could probably open up his own pharmacy with all the pills he has. He lives in government housing and doesn't have a job and borrows his father's car when he needs to go somewhere. In our last lesson, he had just gotten back from the doctors who told him he couldn't have the medication he was asking for quite yet because they needed to do some follow-up appointments. This upset him greatly and he was so deep in his anger and depression that his receptiveness was very weak. And we were also trying to talk to him through the cloud of cigarette smoke around him (like pig-pen from Charlie Brown - I'm not kidding). So it was a sad lesson... He told us that he had prayed before he went into the doctors office and had "full faith" but that God fell through and didn't give him what he wanted. We talked about what faith in Christ means, and when he didn't seem to be listening, we put in the movie Finding Faith in Christ so he could just watch the tv. It seemed to work, and afterwards we invited him to pray differently. I remembered in a talk by Elder David A. Bednar when he used the story in 1 Nephi 7 to explain that we must not pray to have our circumstances changed, rather pray for strength to change or overcome our circumstances. When we left he was still stewing in his depression and has hasn't answered his phone since. But things will work out - Heavenly Father will help happen whatever needs to happen.

Tuesday we went over and did some service for a less-active woman who is battling cancer. We mowed her lawn and did some hard-core weeding. The coming Thursday she would be going in for her 4th treatment (of 8 total) of chemotherapy. She was very touched by the service and we were able to share a message afterwards similar to Dave - that God will hear our cries and prayers and provide us with the strength necessary to make it through the trials that are put upon us (Mosiah 24:9-16).

We did a lot of other little things here and there, but Sunday I had the coolest thing happen! We were in the foyer at church, greeting the members as they came in and for a moment I had turned my back to the doors to talk to someone behind us. When out of the corner of my eye, I see a couple walking by and I briefly glanced over and then did one of those dramatic double-takes to see it was a couple from the North Olmsted Ward: the Schroth's! He was baptized a few months before I had been tranferred there and I was privileged to teach him about keeping the Sabbath Day holy while on exchanges with the Assistants. He would come out teaching with us often and Sister Schroth (who I swear is a twin of Joyce Smith (her name is Joyce too!)) works very closely with the Mayor of the city (I talked about some of the stuff we did with them back in November-December probably). But so we worked through her a lot to be more active in the community. They would also feed us the best dinners ever - she's famous amongst the missionaries for her cookie pies :) But it was so fun to see them and visit with them. They have a condo up in Catawba (the pennisula above Sanduksy) that they come to periodically, and when they do they'll come to the Sandusky Ward for the Sacrament. When I was being transferred I was never able to get a hold of them to stop-by and say goodbye, so it was a tender mercy to see them once last time before I go home.

And that's the recap of another exciting week in Norwalk! These next few weeks are pretty busy... Friday we have a Cleveland Zone meeting, then the next week we have Zoned Out (which is half of the mission getting together for a fun p-day), the next week is our Mission Conference (Elder Perkins, a Seventy, will be coming to tour the mission), and the next week is...well, it'll never come so we don't have to worry about that ;) But the work moves forward and it's all still true! So have a great day and week! Love you all!

Elder Dransfield

Brother and Sister Schroth

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Missionary Friends

After our last district meeting ... at Olive Garden


Last district pday

Our vegetable garden outside our Canton apt.

Elder D. with Elder Ingersoll and Sister Tokunaga striking a "sister" pose

Saying GoodBye in Canton



Sister Nelville

The Davis Family

Sister Dayton, the Relief Society President. She gave me a little sheep because that's what we do as missionaries, gather the Lord's sheep.

More Pictures... At the Akron Zoo

Goat vs. Missionary

City Boy

Primary Activity and the Akron Zoo

Polishing shoes.

Shaving a balloon

At the Akron Zoo

Scene from the Lion King

My Week in the Middle of Nowhere!

This week has been a very fulfilling week and much got done. We have met almost everyone the Sister missionaries before us were meeting with or those who the Bishop had asked us to see.

One family is Hispanic, the Jimenez family, and are tons of fun. The husband in not a member, the mother hasn't been to church in a while, and two of her four kids go to a different ward with some of their extended family. Sister Jimenez is always cracking jokes and is very nice to us. I had mentioned how we don't get fed very much in this area, and her 14-year-old son elbowed her saying "hint hint..." so they invited us to a barbecue birthday party for one of their grandchildren (turning 4). It was at a park by some reservoir and we had a great time with all of the family! We met all of her children and her husband, her brother (who is a less-active member in our ward), and a few other friends. They had a pinata and cake too :) It was a beautiful day (which means very little-to-no humidity...ha) and helped us get to know the family much better.

We've also been teaching these two kids - Derek (12) and Dylan (10). Their mom was baptized around 5 years ago and hasn't attended church in a long time. The boys like Elders a lot better than Sisters (the 10 year old wouldn't come down for the lessons before because they're girls...) and we have a blast with them. They can be pretty distracted and attention-hungry, but we manage to have good lessons with them. We had finished one of our lessons and Dylan had rode his skateboard away outside and a minute later came back with two small boxes of Krispy Kream donuts and said "I GOT DONUTS!!!!" Haha, my first thought was "Did he pull those out of a trash can, or did he steal those?" but I guess the guy who delivers the donuts always gives the kids who run to the truck a few boxes. So we got to take one of the two boxes! Yum.

Wednesday we went to the Fisher-Titus Hospital to seek out their volunteer opportunities. Missionaries have gone there in the past and so we thought we'd give it a shot. They said they would love us to come and help escort their patients to different rooms or parts of the hospital. We think it's a great opportunity to be one-on-one with different people have leave the door open for questions and answers! We had to get TB Shots and background checks while we were there - not sure I'll pass the background check ;)

Wednesday night we also helped with a primary activity. It was on missionary work and the Sisters before us were supposed to be doing all of it. So the Sunday before, the Primary President pulled us aside and asked if we knew anything about it. NO! But we were happy to pull something together. It was only for senior primary (ages like 8-12 or something like that? There were like 12 girls and 3 boys). I kind of took charge or the whole thing and decided that we'd be having the kids come to the "Sandusky MTC." We typed up some fake mission calls (that looked just like our real ones) and had the Bishop sign them all. We called them to the Ecuador Guayaquil South Mission because one of the ladies in the Primary Presidency served her mission there. The Primary President made some nametags and we made passports of the kids to travel to each of the 4 stations we'd have set-up. One station was the "culture" station, where Sister Torres brought all kinds of pictures and objects from her mission and she taught the kids about learning the language, eating the food, etc. One station was the "study" station, where they talked about studying the scriptures on a mission and more of the spiritual side of the activity. One was the "work" station, and we had the Sandusky Elders set up some fake-tracting opportunities. Members (including the Bishop) were in different classrooms in a hallway and the little kids had to knock on the door and do what we do. We heard the kids were pretty impressive. Our station was the "dress" station. It was awesome! We took the bags of leftover Sister-clothes from our apartment and some of our clothes and decorated our area like a big closet. We also had some shoes on a table to shine (we didn't bring the polish, just the brushes), an ironing board and iron (not plugged in), a shirt needing some buttons sewed on, and outside had the shaving station! So we taught the kids about how important it was to be able to do these things (shining shoes, sewing, ironing, etc.) and had them do them all. We then would have them put on some of the different clothes we had brought and so they were all dressed up like missionaries - they loved it! We then brought them outside where we had balloons with faces on them, shaving cream, and some cheap-o razors. We explained that Elders need to be clean-shaven and that these missionaries (the balloons) needed help shaving. So we would put shaving cream all over the balloon and hold the balloons for the kids while they shaved. Most of the realized that if they just used the plastic-side of the razor, the chances of the balloon popping went way down. But some cut the balloon and "the companion exploded with anger" - and got shaving cream ALL OVER them! hahaha it was awesome! They had the dress-up clothes on so it was okay. Overall the activity went great and the Primary leaders were very impressed and grateful. We had fun.

Friday was a Zone Conference - they had everyone bear their testimony at the end who would be leaving before the next Zone Conference. Saturday we walked around Norwalk all day from about 2pm to 8pm because we're very low on miles for this month! So we walked and walked and walked and were able to make contact with everyone who we were trying to see! We also got more honks and yells from cars driving-by on the busier roads than probably my whole mission put together! The people of Norwalk are a different people... But we love 'em anyways.

It's been busy as usual and we're having a blast. Elder Jarvis and I are doing our best to find some success in our area. I'm able to understand a little bit more everyday why I got transferred here with only 6 weeks left - there's always a reason when it comes to Heavenly Father. I hope everyone reading this can also see His hand in their lives. Everything always seems to work out as we do what we are told. I'm grateful for knowing that. Love you all, have an awesome day!

Love, Elder Dransfield

Learning about the culture of Ecuator

The "study" station

Knocking on doors. The bishop answered.

learning about ironing

Picking out missionary clothes

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Norwalk: The Beginning of the End

I am now serving in Norwalk, Ohio. It is about 25 miles south of Sandusky, Ohio which is right up on the lake. East of Toledo, West of Cleveland, kind of in the middle of the two. Sandusky is known for their huge, indoor-water parks and Ohio's best amusement park - Cedar Point. Norwalk is known for... I'm not really sure yet. Yesterday, somebody told us that there is a virus named after the town. So, that's cool! Norwalk is a small little town in the sticks where nobody every leaves. It's very different than any other town/city I've served in.

Elder Jarvis is my new companion. He is from Safford, Arizona and has been on his mission for almost a year. I picked him up from the airport when I was an AP - now he's my senior companion! I'm leaving this mission the way I came in ;) He is my 8th companion since I've been released as an AP. President Sorensen had told me that I wouldn't serve with a missionary more than a transfer for the rest of my mission, but I figured I could get by at least ONE 2-transfer comp! Guess not. Norwalk was and has been for years a Sister missionary area. Elder Jarvis and I "shotgunned" or "white-washed" the area (they put two new missionaries in an area instead of transferring just one at a time), which has been interesting. Our first night here, I started feeling really sick and next thing you know, I was over a toilette trying to throw-up. For the next 3 days I was down-and-out, trying to kick the stomach virus which I thought I had stayed clear of the 2 or 3 weeks our apartment was all sick. I got it my last day. What are the odds! I'm feeling like 99% better today, so we'll be working or tails off now.

It's been an interesting transition from Sisters to Elders. Usually when an area is white-washed, there is not much work going on. Here, though, the Sisters had tons of investigators and less-active members they were teaching. It's been overwhelming trying to contact all these people as quickly as possible while fighting some stomach virus. But we've slowly but surely been catching everyone home and establishing good first-impressions (thus trust!). The ward welcomed us warmly although were very confused why we weren't dressed in skirts with name tags reading "Sister...". The ward originally had one set of Elders and one set of Sisters - now there are two sets of Elders. We have a great Bishop and a new Ward Mission Leader who are excited about the work - so hopefully we will be able to feed their fire and get the ward to start doing some of their own missionary work.

The Sisters left our apartment very clean and we have not found long hairs all over the place, so we've been very grateful. We have called one of the Sisters who served here before like everyday with questions, but I think we're getting the hang of everything now. The reason they took the Sisters out was because of the need for more Sisters at the Kirtland Historical Sites. The church is assigning less Seniors to the Sites because they're needed in other parts of the world. So there were good Sisters here and they left us with great notes, people, and work to do. This is my second area I've white-washed, so here we go!

My last day in Canton was a little sad, but not as bad as I thought it would be. We went by some members houses and said goodbye, had a district P-day at the Holley's where we ate, played games, and took pictures, and we ended our day having dinner at the Bosnackovic's. Sister B was pretty sad that I was going - she decided that we were friends in the pre-existence, but I told them that it wouldn't be the last time we see each other! She made us her famous salmon and enchilada's (Elder Montgomery wanted Mexican) for dinner - Mmmmm! I got to say goodbye to people like Bonnie and Keith - both were shocked I was going and sad to see me go. But they're both on great paths now and are doing amazing in their progression. I'll come back to that ward and they'll be in the Bishopric and Relief Society Presidency ;) Just kidding, but I'm happy for them. It's cool to reflect back and see why I came back to Canton for such a short time - see the lives I was able to be a part of and help. I'm sure I'll do the same when I am leaving Norwalk.

Things are going well, as they always have. The weather is nice, the church is true, and I still have gained no weight :'( But it's all good! I'm grateful to get to serve here in Ohio and spend my last few weeks in this new assignment. President Sorensen told me, before I was released, that he was going to squeeze me like a sponge and get everything out of me before my mission is over. At transfer meeting, one of the Assistants came up to me and whispered to me that where I was going is how they would get every drop of everything I know/have out of me. So here we go! It will be the most exhausting, yet empowering, last 6 weeks, but I'm ready for it! Have a great week everyone!

Love, Elder Dransfield

Doing service My new companion, Elder Jarvis This is from a harbor in Sandusky,Ohio

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Broken Heart, Contrite Spirit, and Life Full of Joy

This last week Elder Montgomery faced a lot of sickness. It started with a sore throat and headache, then throwing up and exhaustion, and then some kind of hives or cold sores all over his arms and legs. It's been bizarre. But I played Elder Mom again and took care of him - hung up a blanket over the window to darken our room, give him lots of orange juice, give him the pills he needed at the times he needed them, make him his lunch and dinners... After 4 days of this, I decided I can never be a stay-at-home mom. It's too hard. This must be why they send us on missions - to appreciate our moms and soon-to-be-wives more. Good grief!

We taught Liz again yesterday and had a great lesson. We shared with her the rest of the Plan of Salvation. She admitted that our last lesson was a little bit distracting (a baby and basset hound hogging all the attention) and that her mind has felt like mush for the past few months. So we gave her the cliff-notes version; I drew her a picture of the Plan of Salvation and walked her through it. She asked us about her handicapped son who has since passed and we assured her that she would see him again. At the end of our lesson, she said that this had been our best lesson yet. Not because of the way he taught, but because she didn't feel any confusion or conflicting (prior-religious beliefs) feelings. She was able to find comfort and greater understanding by learning the plan and, though she has received so much opposition from family and friends for meeting with us (already! It's only been a few weeks!!) she is slowly feeling her faith returning. So that's good - we're doing our job I guess. About time!

Last night we received transfer information and my stomach dropped when they said that I would be transferred. I was positive that I would end my mission in Canton - which has always been my dream to come back here and "die" here. We all thought this would be my last destination before the final destination. But no. My heart ached last night. I sent a few texts out to close friends and practically family that I've gained out here and everyone seemed to be as shocked as me. But it's where the Lord needs me. I'll go where He wants me to go... This morning while I was brushing my teeth, I thought "I feel like Mary Poppins having to leave at the end of the movie," which was followed by "Why am I thinking about Mary Poppins?" haha. But even if I understand the way the revelation works in the mission office for transfers, it's still hard. I can't keep writing, I'm still on-edge about it. I don't care where I'm sent, I know I'll be able to handle it and will do all I can to build up a missionary, ward, area, etc. These last few weeks are where I give it all I've got.

Well I only have 6 weeks left. Most people reading this are probably thinking "Woo hoo!" and I'm sure after I'm home I'll be thinking that too. But all this change, all the ending of the most incredible 2 years of service, the completion of the "best two years" as every says... It really sucks. I'm happy to see family and old friends, but I could stay here for the rest of my life. Not many times in my life have I felt my heart hurt as much as it has the last 13 hours. But I'll survive :)

I'll end with my favorite scripture, which throughout my mission has given me hope and perspective. John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." It's only in and through Christ, the Savior, that I can find "peace" and "good cheer." Without the knowledge and testimony I have, I imagine life would be a little slower, sadder, and harder. But as I rely on my faith and live it, I can feel His influence in my daily steps, His comfort in my tears. I'm grateful for the church, for the restoration of Priesthood authority, and for the blessing it has been to be back in Canton, Ohio. I love the people here and will always have a special place in my heart of Ohio - but specifically Canton. I love you all. Whoever is reading this, try a little harder today to be a little better. Try it out and see how much happier you will be when you lay your head down to rest. That's the why we're here. That's why we exist - to be happy.

Love, Elder Dransfield

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Adventures of Dr. Dransfield, the Three Blind Mice, and NCMO's

Ohhh Monday. Here I am, having no idea what to talk about or where to start. Bear with me...

This week we started teaching a lady named Liz. She is in her 60's and grew up on the east coast with a man who is now a member of the church. He has been talking with her about the church for years, and her Catholic beliefs always caused her to not worry too much about what he was sharing. Two years ago she suffered from a heart attack and other health challenges, and since then even more trials in her life. Her friend, who is now in South Carolina, asked her if she was ready to have the missionaries be sent to her house. She said yes, and that's where we come in (literally!). She is awesome. Very kind, very smart, and very desirous to know if God has really been there for her through all these bad things - is He even real at all? We assured her that all of her questions and concerns, the hungering of her soul, can and will be resolved through the teachings of Jesus Christ. Due to work she was unable to come to church yesterday, but she plans on being their next week! The cool thing is she lives right by two other families from the ward, so she has some neighbors she can rely on for any future help. We are excited for her and hope that she can receive answers to her prayers and reading.

Bonnie is doing great! She got a new job and has had some really cool experiences with the Holy Ghost. I asked her earlier in the week if she could feel a difference, and she's been having lots of testimony building experiences. She said, "I need to write them down, they're starting to wrack up and I'm starting to forget some of them." One of those was when she was at the grocery store. She was going down her shopping list and suddenly had the thought to go and get some vinegar. She disregarded it for it didn't make sense to go across the store for it while she could just work her way there as she went through her list. She again had a very clear and sharp thought/impression to go and get the vinegar now. She decided she should do it and when she go to the isle, there was a little old woman by the sugar who was suffering from a heart-attack or stroke. There was nobody else around and so Bonnie ran to get help and was able to get an ambulance to pick her up. She has also noticed how the Holy Ghost has helped her remain calm in frustrating or stressful situations. I'm grateful that she's noticed all these blessings! Her new job is 3rd shift, but she is just happy to have a job (and have weekends off! Woo hoo!).

Bonnie also texted us last yesterday and I almost fell over laughing. I have to share this and I hope she doesn't care. For those who went to BYU, this will be hilarious. For those who didn't or haven't, ask someone else what we're talking about.

Bonnie: Watching a show on Mormon college life. Now I know what a NCMO "nick-mo" is and a DTR. Ha! I'm having an omg moment myself! Bonnie: At BYU Me: HAHAHAHA oh my gosh, you're kidding me?! What show is this? Bonnie: History Channel! Me: Wow! I can't believe that! I'm cracking up... We're with another member and he's laughing too. How is that history channel worthy?? Bonnie: The history of how religion shaped Utah territory. Bonnie: I have no freaking idea, but I'm a wreck cuz I'm STILL laughing. Now I have the inside of the BYU crew. HAHA

I'm laughing as I retype this. I promise the rest of our texts/phone calls are more purpose driven. That was just too funny and I had to share. Ohhhhh BYU/Utah...

This week one of the Elders in the apartment was sick. To help the other Elders with their schedule (to keep them from having to cancel everything) we shared areas and took turns baby-sitting (or "elder-sitting") him. I took the first day and quarantined him in his bedroom. I put a big blanket up to cover the window, gave him a fan and some cold water bottles, and said, "Go to sleep. When you wake up, go back to sleep. When you wake up again and feel restless and like you want to come downstairs with me, go back to sleep. I don't want to see your face for the next 3 hours. Goodnight!" And thus it was. I deep-cleaned the downstairs, made a million-and-a-half phone calls, and decided that if I had to stay inside for much longer I would whither away. I'm no Martha Stuart, but I survived. He is doing better now, so that's good.

We also found this week some little friends who have been living with us. The first one we named Mickey. The second one was killed before we could think of a name. Just kidding we didn't name them - but the mouse traps took care of the job. Nobody wanted to dispose of the dead bodies so I had to. The second one we found in the morning. We were in the living room and watched it run from the basement door to the kitchen. I walked in after it and as I passed the refrigerator, it jetted out towards me and ran right between my legs. I yelled, somehow manged to throw both legs up into the air, turn sideways and spin 270 degrees mid-air. I then ran back into the living room. I wasn't so much scared of the mouse, it just startled me. But at least it wasn't another cockroach ;)

We had another great lesson with Keith (I mentioned him last week). He came to church and stayed all three hours! He loved it and when we went over later that day for a lesson, he had his nephew and his nephew's girlfriend come and join our lesson. All three should be at church next week! Keith is just on fire right now - he sees how much the gospel has been changing him (and so quickly) and is so much happier than he's been in a long time. He always gets a little emotional during Sacrament Meeting, but does a good job at hiding it! We're excited for him and the great things that lie ahead for him.

I'm so grateful to be back in Canton. I love it down here - the members, the landscaping, the people... Everything is so great. Elder Montgomery and I are doing very well and are having a blast serving together. I hope he or I don't get transferred next week (the 15th in our transfer meeting)! But wherever the Lord needs us, that's where we'll go. Hope everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Dransfield

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bonnie's Baptism!

This week was very exciting with the baptism of Bonnie! The service was held Friday evening and was a very uplifting service (as they all usually are). Sister Maas and Brother Winters both gave powerful talks on baptism and the Holy Ghost, and after the ordinance we were privileged with a musical number by Sister Randell and Sister Neville (who Elder Bills and I taught when I was here last year). I performed the baptism and did it just the way she asked me to - dunked her hard and fast! Bonnie admitted to us the day before the baptism that she has a fear of water and that if anything happened to cause me to have to baptize her a second time (her foot or hair or something was not submerged), she wasn't sure if she could handle going under a second time. We assured her that everything would work out and it would be okay. In my mind I was thinking, this is a great thing to tell someone who has never baptized anyone before. Great. About 30 minutes before the service, we practiced (as we had earlier that week) and our Relief Society President, Sister Dayton, suggested that I step on her toes to make sure that she didn't float up. I visualized myself stepping on her toes and then falling over or something crazy. But Bonnie really liked that idea. Great. So the last talk is given and Bonnie and I are excused to lead everyone to the baptismal font, my companion and her husband following closely behind (he's the man in the picture). We got in there, the water was a perfect temperature and height, I raised my arm, said the prayer, and dunked her. She went down hard and fast - none of this graceful, movie-worthy baptism. This was the real deal. But she went all the way under and it worked! She got a little bit of water up her nose, but felt very happy and energized. We had a good turn-out from the ward and lots of cookies afterwards.

We picked up a new investigator this week - her name is Haileigh (said like Hailey). She is 16 and is dating one of the young men in our ward. We have taught her twice now and she is doing well. We're trying to make sure she wants to learn for herself (not her boyfriend) which you see a lot as missionaries. It will be difficult to develop your own testimony if the intentions are in the right place. But she's a very nice, sweet girl and seems to have a desire for your own spiritual welfare. We will hopefully be meeting with her mother in the next week or so to make sure it's okay to continue teaching. Yesterday we had lunch together and then taught about who Jesus Christ is. We watched the short-film, Find Faith in Christ.

We also had a great lesson with Keith this week - someone whose been working on getting back into the church. He was baptized in his early teens and, now in his 30's, is relearning a lot of the doctrine of the church. He's been doing amazing though - he's come to church the last two weeks, he's been reading and praying almost every day, and yesterday when we went over, I swear his eyes looked lighter. There was a glow or light in his eyes that wasn't there two months ago and I pointed out to him how the Spirit was with him. You could see it in his eyes. I've been told that before (that the eyes are the window to the soul) and that people have a glow, but I've never really seen it until Keith yesterday. There's not only an emotional and spiritual change that he's experiencing, but a literal, physical change. Anyways, I'm just so excited for him and all the changes he's been making to become worthy for the Spirit and the temple. He's such a great great guy and we love him.

I got a text this week from Elder Hansen (who is serving up in Cleveland now) telling me that he was with some of the Single Adults in Cleveland and that Erica was there! She went to the temple to perform temple baptisms that day and when I asked him how she felt, he said that it was an extremely spiritual experience and it made her day; she can't believe this is a reality. :) That made me happy - to hear that she is doing well and is progressing in the gospel. I also got a letter this week from the Vermillion family which I was ecstatic to receive (I taught them in Findlay and they were baptized in February of 2011)! They are doing really well and are planning on going to the temple to be sealed as a family this September! Oh, how I wish I could be there with them! I guess we'll see what happens, but I am very, very happy for them. Missions are so great!

Saturday, the Canton Ward had a ward party - a Pioneer Picnic to celebrate pioneer day (which was last week). Afterwards, Elder Montgomery and I drove over to a part-member, less-active family's house who we haven't been able to get a hold of for a long time. We pulled up, prayed, and when we got out of the car we saw them getting into their van and begin to pull-out of the driveway. We walked up and waited at the end and when they saw us, the husband (a member) came out and was very friendly and told us that they were on their way to watch the fireworks that the Football Hall of Fame puts on to officially begin Hall of Fame Week. He asked us if we wanted to come with them and I felt like we really needed to go, so we said yes! We followed-them to downtown Canton to a big parking lot they go to every year to watch the fireworks from. We parked and as we were walking to a better spot to sit, we saw the Hornings - a large family in our ward and one of my favorites! They had invited us to come there with them that night but we declined, and when they saw us they motioned us over to them. So we and this part-member family all went over and sat near them. I was dumbfounded how perfectly orchestrated the whole night turned out to be. There were children and grandchildren who were the same ages as the family we had arrived with, and immediate fellowship took place. The wife of the family we were with's parents and sister showed up and we got to talk with them all night until the fireworks came on. It was a great show and the whole experience was a perfect opportunity to have time to really get to know the family. They are really nice and said we could come over to their house sometime to talk more - we will be calling them today. They are strong in their faith and know very little about our church. So we'll see what happens. I just thought the whole night was so cool - we showed up at the perfect time, he had to have felt prompted to invite us to come with them (how easily could he have said, We're actually just heading out now, why don't you call us and we can set something up?), and then members of the church are sitting in the exact spot we were heading towards. It was one of those moments that makes you go, God is in control!

I only have 8 Sunday's left here in Ohio, but whose counting? (actually, I am. But not counting for the sake of a count-down, counting because it freaks me out!!!). I can't believe how fast time goes by now! I am grateful for the countless opportunities and blessings that I have receive here on my mission. I know these last months will go by fast, but I'm ready to work my tail off until the sun goes down on September 25th. Because it's all true and it's all worth it. Hope everyone has an awesome week and it's not too hot wherever you're at!

Love, Elder Dransfield

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Trip to the Chiropractor

Yesterday was my 22nd month mark - I'm still in denial that I can count on one hand how many months I have left. I began formulating the following plan to prevent my releasal - when they drop us off at the Cleveland airport, I would "go to the bathroom" only to mysteriously disappear. Then for the rest of my life, I could remain a missionary - only to be known as the lone missionary who wanders from terminal to terminal, handing out pass-along-cards and proclaiming the gospel to all who travel through Cleveland. The idea sounded great until I thought - who would catch me first? My mission president? The police? Or my mom. Definitely mom. The plan wouldn't work... Anyways-- this is just a distraction. My week:

For the last almost 2 weeks, I have been suffering from some minor headaches. They start at the base of my skull (where my neck and skull meet - in that "behind the eyes" migraine spot) and slowly creep up to my temples and then across my forehead. Once it wraps around my whole head, I feel like someone is squeezing my forehead and pushing on the back of my eyes - it's not very comfortable. At first I tried to ignore it because the squeezing wasn't too bad, but by Thursday I began to feel nauseous and figured I should call the mission president's wife - who then referred me to the mission doctor. Apparently I have tension headaches and was told that I need to see a chiropractor - preferably a member who could do it for free.

Well, Friday we had plans to go up to Kirtland to see an annual musical produced by the stake called "This is Kirtland!" We are able to bring investigators to see those kinds of things and we had arranged for Bonnie and 5 or 6 members to all go up that afternoon. Bonnie had to cancel the day before due to family responsibilities, and the trip was going to be canceled. But then one of the members told us how she had invited a nonmember friend whose done quite a bit with missionaries in the past and that she would be coming. Plus, Shaker Heights (my last ward) is right along the way to Kirtland and the Elders Quorum President in that ward is a Chiropractor that had always offered to adjust us or help us with any problems we had. So we made the arrangements to go by his office on the way to Kirtland and then to his house on the way back (a double dose of back and neck fixing). He showed me lots of different neck exercises that should help the headaches to go away and taught me a little bit how the body, spine, and skull work. I was so grateful for his help - he and the mission doctor both said that if the headaches haven't subsided within a week that I will need to see another (more local) chiropractor. So we'll see! I am feeling significantly better today, but can still feel a very light pressure at the base of my skull.

But the Kirtland musical was really impressive. It tells the story of Kirtland and the talent all comes from those in the Kirtland Stake. It was fun for me to see many members who I had worked with in the Shaker Heigths Ward and Young Single Adults Branch. But the story, songs, dancing, and everything is original and I was really impressed by it all. This is their 9th year producing it.

We've been following-up with a lot of people who Elder Harris and I tracted into last transfer and have been teaching a lot of people for the first time. Unfortunately, teaching people you meet at a door are not always as reliable as when someone refers a friend to learn more (unless that person is Erica...). But we keep looking and trying to work with the ward to help them do missionary work. One of the youth invited his girlfriend to church yesterday and we will be teaching her today at their Family Home Evening. We're excited to teach her!

Here's a typical story of how Elder Dransfield is treated at dinners... We had a member and her two sons take us out to eat at Panera Bread. We ordered, sat down, they brought us our food, we blessed it, and began to eat. Well I must have eaten too quickly, because the member (who is Russian mind you) said "You must still be hungry! Let's go get you more food!" I tried to tell her that I was full, but there was no getting around it - I had to order another sandwich. I whispered to the missionary I was on exchanges with (Elder Davies) and asked him to help me eat half, but he wouldn't. So I ate, and I ate, and I ate some more. We finished and I felt like the purple balloon girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when the member said, "Now let's go get you some frozen yogurt at Menchies!" By the end of dinner, they had to roll me out of the Menchies. Ugh... I ate too much and guess what? I didn't gain a pound. My whole mission everyone has told me they will fatten me up. And all have failed. :(

Everything is going well though. Once I get over these headaches I'll be able to go 100mph again. Bonnie's baptism is this Friday. She asked me to baptize her - this will be the first time I physically baptize someone. It'll be a special experience I'm sure. We'll be spending these next few days staying busy, making calls, creating more plans for the baptism. I'm excited :)

Have a great week! Love, Elder Dransfield

Monday, July 16, 2012

Another week in July

We kept very busy this week. We had dinner and a lesson with Bonnie at her soon-to-be Visiting Teachers house (who is also the Stake Relief Society President). It was delicious and amazing. We're pushing her date back a week due to some complications with her Kidney Stones. She continues to study diligently and grow in her faith. She has had so much opposition: first her health and now her job. About a month or so ago, Bonnie decided she needed to do something about working on Sundays so that she could come to church and keep the Sabbath Day holy. She prayed and received an answer to simply ask her boss. She did so and received permission to have all of her Sundays off. We were all very excited! Well, a few weeks ago the management was changed and her new boss started to give her grief for asking for all Sundays off. She explained that she would work any day, any time, she just needed her Sunday mornings off. This did not fly very well with her boss. This last week, they began to lay people off and Bonnie only having worked there for 6 months knew that she could be on chopping block. She walked into work this last Saturday and as soon as she did she heard her name on the overhead speaker to come to the boss' office. She went and he pointed out the fact that they had already let one person go and asked if she would still like to request Sunday mornings off. She said, "We live in America - I think I should be allowed to hold a job and want to go to church." And he said something along the lines of "Well, we can fix that..." - he stamped some paper with her information on it and said "you're fired." Talk about receiving opposition. Bonnie is not too worried - she is remaining faithful that things will work out, and she has her masters and much experience with different jobs. We introduced her to the employment specialist and the ward is going to help her find a new job. "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven" - Hymn #27 Praise to the Man.

I just texted her here at the library. This is our conversation: Us: We forgot to ask you yesterday - have you passed 3 Nephi 11 yet? Her: Yes! Us: What do you think?? What chapter are you on? Her: It blows me away, and I know it's true. I'm starting Ether.

Her commitment and desire is so great. She is amazing! :)

This last week we probably did 10 to 15 hours of service. We weeded and mulched, we weeded some more, we helped organize the sink section at the Habitat for Humanity, and more. It's taken a lot of our time, but it's been nice to serve. They love us at the Habitat for Humanity - probably because we work the hardest out of everyone there and don't get paid for it. They're always confused why we would come there without needing any signatures or proof of service. We have been trying to slip in little comments about the church or our missions here and there. Hopefully we can find some teaching opportunities through it all!

This week was Elder Becksted's 20th birthday. We didn't see any presents or anything come in the mail, so we planned a last minute surprise birthday party at the Holley's (the senior couple) apartment. After our last appointment, we ran over to the dollar tree and bought some balloons and streamers. The Holley's bought a cake (they would have made it but didn't have time) and then called the Elders and asked them to come over and help them with something on the computer. They came over around 9:15pm and we did the usual "surprise!" and singing and cake-eating. We had a nice time and Elder Becksted seemed touched.

Let's see...what else is there...? Oh yeah!!! My new companion...

My new companion is Elder Montgomery. He is from West Jordan, Utah, he's been on his mission for about 4 months, and I already love his guts. He's a hard worker and isn't afraid to open his mouth and teach/talk to people, so we've been going a million miles per hour together. I'm guessing we will serve together until I go home. I'll have a picture and more info about him next week. And hopefully more stories. We've been contacting many potential investigators we've found through our tracting efforts the last few weeks and are having success doing so.

But life is great and the work moves forward! I love my mission and the amazing power of the Atonement in all of our lives. Stay cool and have a great week!

Love, Elder Dransfield

Elders in our district Elder Becksted's 20th surprise birthday party