Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More recent pictures

 Elder Hansen and I with the training sisters

 Our District

 Elder Rasmussen and I - He goes home next transfer

 The Elders in the Kirkland Zone

 The Kirkland Zone

The Sisters in the Kirkland Zone (minus 2 or 3 sets of Sisters who were working at the Historic Kirkland sites for the day.

Another week of time flying by too quickly...

Elder Hansen is being transferred :( We're both really bummed because we thought that we were going to be "safe" and have at least one more transfer together. We love serving together and have been doing a lot of good work together, so it's sad to have him leave. But we know that whatever is happening is inspired and that those who will be placed in our paths will be needing our assistance.

The biggest event that happened this week is probably our area splitting. We met with one of the members of the Branch Council from the Young Single Adults Student Branch to discuss missionary work and raised some concerns, ideas, etc. We have some big plans for how we can do more with the Singles. This meeting was on Sunday before Sacrament Meeting, and unfortunately our ward (Shaker Heights Ward) meets at the same time the YSA Branch meets (and the buildings are about 30-40 minutes away from each other). So Elder Hansen and I had to use the Elders we live with and go on splits. We have been taking turns with another set of Elders from the Cleveland Stake and some Sisters from our Stake to cover the Branch, and this week was our turn. One of the concerns the Branch has been having is that there is such little consistency with the missionaries that they struggle knowing who to turn to or to develop relationships. I attended the Singles Branch on Sunday and while at church I had some ideas to solve the problem just come to me. Elder Hansen and I got back together and I started to explain to him how we could change a few things and start to work our ward and the YSA branch a lot more. So we called President and the Assistants, let them ponder and pray about it, and now we are getting a set of Sisters put in our Ward (to share with us) and are taking over the YSA Branch. We drew up some new boundaries for our area (which is probably one of the smallest geographical areas in the mission, plus we only have like 100 members) and starting Wednesday will have 2 sets of missionaries in our ward, us and the Training Sisters (comparative to Assistants to the Mission President, they are the Historic Kirtland Sites Directors right-hand Sisters). Basically, we now have a power-house ward with missionaries! We're-- or I guess I since Elder Hansen is leaving me :( am really excited for the work that is going to take place. In the past 6 weeks, the members of the Shaker Heights Ward have been becoming more excited and engaged in member missionary work. I believe that with the right application and concerted effort, we could see great results with our Ward and Branch. Whoever is my new companion better be ready to work!

On Saturday, one of the Elders we live with (Elder Stevens) was sick with a sinus infection and we were supposed to be on exchanges with them that day. So I stayed in all day with Elder Stevens - I almost went crazy! But was also glad that Elder Hansen and Elder McMillan could work together. By the end of the day, the apartment was clean, organized, and smelled like brownies (which I received in my Birthday package!). For a few hours I went through stacks of paperwork with information about former investigators. I called so many phone numbers... So... Many... At one point I had to take a break of hearing "The phone number you are trying to call has been disconnected or is no longer in service..." or "beep beep beep beep" that I would call missionaries in our Zone to say hello to and ask about different people I knew they were teaching that day or had concerns with. I called a set of Sisters and said, "I could never be a Kirtland missionary...this phone-call thing is eating away at my brain." Evidence of this? I called an older woman probably in her 50's who had once taken the lessons from Elders. We talked for about 5 minutes, during which she told me she wasn't interested and that she attends The Word church now, and as we were ending our conversation, my end of the conversation sounded like this, "Okay well if you ever do need some service done or help shoveling snow you have our number.....Okay......Thank you, love ya bye."  -----LOVE YA?!?! O_O  I said that and then my brain just froze and I couldn't do anything but hang up and start laughing to myself (sick Elder Stevens was sound asleep in his room). I told this lady "Love ya..." At that point I took a break and went and read my scriptures. Luckily everyone I talked to was very friendly and positive about our call, most not interested, but still positive.

We did find a few people from my millions of phone calls. One is a Jewish man named Brother Leavitte. He is 80 years old and one the phone said he wouldn't mind us coming, as long as we didn't tell him that he was going to burn in hell for being a Jew. I assured him that that is not what we do. He also told me that had had heard that Mormons have the power to read in the dark, and he would be interested in knowing more about this. Haha, awesome. We went over and had a very comfortable, cordial, meeting - beforehand we weren't sure how it would go as those of the Jewish faith typically do not believe that Christ is our Savior, where that is our central message to the world! But we explained to him what the Book of Mormon is and read the Title Page ("Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever--And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations") and Introduction ("Those who gain this divine witness [that the Book of Mormon is true] from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world..."). We helped him really understand that all we're asking him to do is read and pray about the Book of Mormon, because if Jesus really is the Christ, it would be important to him in his life. But man, he was such a nice old man! And very active and fit too! He goes around and performs comedy shows for seniors in hospitals, rehabs, and retirement homes and is always the one doing the physical humor because he can still kick, punch, and fall without any physical limitations. He told us some of the skits they do; I laughed. 

On another note, we are working now to get a few recent-converts from the YSA Branch to the Temple. The Branch is struggling to find a time they can reserve for the Branch to do a temple trip, so we decided to take matters into our own hands. So we called President Sorensen and received permission to assign a few of the Senior/Service missionaries, or some of his councilors, to take them to the Columbus Temple. Hopefully it all works out!

Last Monday, we had a Zone P-day and we went to the stone quarry where the early saints cut stone to build the Kirtland Temple. It was a beautiful day and after that we went on a few hiking trails together and got to this one point that overlooks the whole Cleveland valley, the city, and the lake. It was really cool! I'll send some pictures. 

What else is new... We are teaching Larry again (came to church a few weeks back, his life got really stressful and we paused teaching him temporarily). Joshua called us on Sunday night and then didn't show up for our appointment on Monday :( His phone hasn't been working and can't receive phone calls. We keep praying that he'll call us back or answer our texts. I know that if we don't teach him anytime soon, that someday he'll run into missionaries again and will know that it's all true. We're teaching a man named Garth who has been investigating for about a year now. What keeps him from being baptized is him choosing work over Sabbath Day observance (church) so we've had a few lessons about the importance of church (or the Sacrament) and about Faith. We had a pretty good lesson yesterday and he plans on talking to his boss today. If he chooses not to keep commitments, we will not be able to continue to teach him and we will be sad. Commitments is a form of repentance, repentance is simply changing or aligning our will to God's, and repentance is a prerequisite to baptism. We continue to keep daily contact with him and pray for him.

OH! On Wednesday we went on exchanges with the Elders in Perry, OH! (Sorry my email this week is so scatter-brained). As we were driving to the street which the Elders had prayerfully chosen to tract the night before, the Elder I was with was asking me how to make tracting (knocking doors) effective. Typically people don't really want to talk on the doorsteps. I told him a few things that help me and we parked the car and prayed. We walked up to the first door and the Elder asked me to do it so he could see. I kind of just shrugged my shoulders and went to the door and knocked. The woman wasn't very interested at first, but as we talked and I helped her see the relevance this all has to her life, she said, "Okay fine you can come in, but only for 10 minutes!" Elder Birch had a look of "...how did you do that?" on his face as we walked in. Deep down inside I was thinking the same thing, but knew that the Lord was very involved and wasn't too worried or surprised. We taught her briefly about the Book of Mormon and we only had about two minutes before she had to leave to pick up her granddaugther from school, when her grandson walked in from the kitchen with yellow footprints trailing behind him. There was butter....everywhere. I have never seen a person or kitchen covered in so much butter. And, needless to say, the lady we were teaching kind of freaked out. She grabbed the 2 year old and began to clean him up (yelling a little and totally distracted from our lesson) and I said to the Elder I was with "Hurry, she's gotta leave let's clean the kitchen" and we grabbed some paper towels, got on our hands a knees and began to clean. At the end of it all, she was so touched by our act of service and sincere testimony she said she would like us to come back so we can talk to her more about it all. We exchanged numbers and off we went. Aside from this being a "cool" tracting experience or perfect example for the Elder I was on exchanges with, it also shows that though people may act like they're not interested, as we (as members, not just missionaries) open our mouths and serve and love those around us, we can interest people in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and help them come unto Him! Man...missions are so much fun :)

WELL! We are heading down to Solon, OH to go bowling with another district and then back to the apartment to clean, pack, cut my hair (with the awesome clippers I got for my Birthday!), and do some shopping. P-days are PREPARATION days, not PLAY days as Grandpa told me at the beginning of my mission ;) But it will be my last day with Elder Hansen and again, we're really bummed. Of course we'll continue to see each other throughout our missions (I've still got, what, 7 months left? ....which is a terrible thought) but I'm drawn back to what my good old friend Brother Lay once told me, "Don't be sad you're leaving, be glad we've met! If we don't see each other again in this life, I'll see ya in the next!" --I did get to go back and see him after I left Findlay, but his words are very true and comforting. I love my mission so much! I have learned so much and have seen my life and habits be molded into someone who I never thought I could be. And that's what the gospel does -the Atonement of Jesus Christ specifically. We all have the ability or choice to change and become more like the Savior, which always brings about more and greater happiness and peace. Thanks for all the prayers and support! I love you all!

Love, Elder Dransfield
 Stone Quarry from the Kirkland Temple days

 The stone quarry

 Our Zone heading off on a hike last Pday

 Cleveland Valley look-out point


 Elder Hansen and I goofing off

Elder Hansen being the designated camera/purse holder for the Sisters

Monday, February 20, 2012

New recommended message

Check out the new "mormon message" video clip, recommended by David. It's located on the lower left side of the blog.

Testimony is to know by the witness of the Holy Ghost. Conversion is to be consistently true to what we know. -Elder Bednar

This week we had many amazing experiences!

First was with a guy named Joshua in his mid-twenties. The East Cleveland Elders talked to him on the bus and came home and told us what an amazing conversation they had with him. They said he has been prepared and will be amazing to teach (he lives in our geographical proselyting area). We had set up an appointment to meet him on Friday at the library, but some things came up and he never showed. We were a little disappointed, but still found worth in going as we saw our Relief Society President there! We talked to her about some of the great lessons we had had with some less-actives Sisters; she was very excited. Later that day Joshua finally called us and apologized, rescheduling for the following day. He said he would call us tomorrow around 11am to confirm our appointment for noon. Well, we got no call at 11am and when we tried calling around 11:30 he wasn't answering. We were a little disheartened but felt like we should go to the library. We didn't get there until 12:30 and said a prayer like usual before we got out of the truck, having faith that we were there for some reason and we would find a way to fulfill our purpose. Seconds after out prayer the phone rang - it was Joshua! He apologized again for not calling and said he had just arrived at the library. We were thrilled and said we would be in shortly!

Our lesson was incredible to say the least. We sat down with him (mind you this is a tall, built, black guy with these two skinny white kids) and said a prayer. We began to ask him all kinds of questions to see what he was looking for in meeting with us, see how religion or God had played a role in his life thus far, explain to him what we were expecting, etc. After a few minutes of just really getting to know each other my companion began to open his restoration pamphlet (little booklets that outline our lessons that we usually will give to people investigating or read it with them). I had a distinct impression to not use the pamphlets for this lesson, that we needed to teach to HIS needs, not the "needs" of the pamphlet. As Joshua was talking and looking down, I motioned to Elder Hansen to not use the pamphlet. He agreed and we began to go "free-style." We talked about our Heavenly Father's love, of prophets, apostasy, constantly reading from scripture found in the Bible and Book of Mormon. We listened a lot - to him and to the Spirit, and based on those things asked questions to help him internalize what we were teaching or to confirm what he was sharing. We bore testimony to him over and over. When we read from the scriptures, we not only read but broke each verse apart and likened them unto us all. At one point he began to ask us questions about repentance and forgiveness. He told us that he's an African-American male who has graduated high school, has no kids, has never served time in jail, and is trying his best to be a law-abiding citizen. "I've beat the odds" he said. He told us how he's trying his best to live his life according to God's commandments and teachings and that he just feels constantly beat down from the world. To combat it all, he said he focuses 90% of his thoughts each day on God and those things which will bring him closer to Him. We were able to easily bring it back to the lesson we were sharing and explain to him that the answer to all of his questions would be found in the simple truths we had yet taught him. We taught about Joseph Smith - the recitation of Joseph's account was perfect. Joshua said he felt like he was walking in Joseph's shoes and didn't doubt that something that miraculous could happen. The lesson just went so well - this because the Spirit was bearing a very clear witness to us all. It was so powerful!

We began to teach him about the Book of Mormon and had him open up to the Introduction page in the front. We asked him to read the first paragraph, and he instead read the first two paragraphs. When he finished I had him pause there and began to expound upon some of what we read when he put his hand up to me and said "Wait!" We all sat there in silence as he just stared at the Book of Mormon. Some time passed and he said "Are you telling me that this is the record of the ancestors of the Native Americans?" We responded simply, "Yes." He paused again. "So are you telling me that this is the history of some of the scattered 12 Tribes of Israel?" And, probably dumbfoundedly, we answered boldly, "Yes." And the Spirit was SO strong! He just sat there staring at it and was so impressed that he was holding in his hand such a book. He then asked, "Do you all believe in the gathering of the 12 Tribes of Israel?" And we said, "Joshua, we are the gathering. This church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is in that church which is gathering together the scattered tribes of Israel." We continued to read the introduction and he told us, "I know that me coming to know this is true will probably come 10% through reading and 90% through prayer, but I already believe it's true. I'll pray and ask, but I already believe. I'm not one to be convinced easily, but I already believe everything you've told me." We committed him to baptism and set a date for March. His response was "Yes, baptism is definitely something I want. I will prepare myself for that day." Like I've been saying over and over, the Spirit bore witness so clearly and powerfully. At times we were all almost brought to tears it was so strong. Joshua told us as we were leaving that he considers us brothers and that he is so grateful that we have all met. We prepared him to receive lots of anti/false information about the church, and helped him understand that to find out God's will and God's church, one must ask our Heavenly Father - not a website, a friend, or a pastor to another church. He understood and said we didn't need to worry. Our only worry is what influence his brother, a leader in some church in New York, will have on him. We haven't been able to get a hold of him since (similar to the beginning of this story - we just can never get him to answer his phone) but are meeting with him tonight. We are very hopeful and excited for him. Like the Elders had told us, he was prepared and amazing.

We also had an incredible baptism on Saturday! It was for Julia (Hu-lia) Hernandez, our Spanish investigator! This week we (more my companion since I don't speak any Spanish) were preparing her and teaching her the last few principles so she would be ready. In my last lesson with her, Elder Hansen turned to me and asked me to bear my testimony to her about the principle of obedience. He said, "talk slowly." It was interesting what happened. She was listening very intently to me and I knew I had to choose my words carefully, yet I still wanted it to be my true, pure testimony. I did, and I relied heavily upon what the Spirit would direct me to say. And as I spoke, I could feel my mouth being filled as it talks about in D&C 33:8. And we all could feel of that sweet Spirit that was present, just as with our lesson with Joshua above. And Julia understood every word I said. Though my words were simple, they were from my heart and were true.  

Her baptism was also all in Spanish. A few missionaries from our zone attended with nonmembers, investigators, and less-actives. And all of us (who couldn't understand Spanish) were touched by the amazing Spirit that was present - as talks were given, as the musical number was performed, and especially as the ordinance was performed and when Julia bore her testimony at the end. Tears were falling down her face as she explained how she had been searching for the right church and had found it. Her confirmation the following day at church was equally powerful.

I guess this week I learned more than anything just the language, power, and necessity of the Holy Ghost. Without the Spirit, we missionaries are not to teach people. We are to do everything by the Spirit (not just us missionaries, us as sons and daughters of God!). For we know that Spirit teaches truth and edifies and that the Spirit is how people will come to understand the truth of the church, the Book of Mormon, of latter-day prophets, etc. - not by the convincing language of some 19 year old kids. I know what I know because of what I have been taught or shown by the Spirit. I know that we can pray and receive answers from our Heavenly Father through the Spirit - direct, clear, specific revelation! I know that this church is true, and though other churches are good and their intentions are similar to the Savior's, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church on the earth with the authority, keys, and Priesthood of God. It's that simple, and it's true. I am grateful for the power of prayer. This week I studied in the Book of Alma and was particularly fond of the allegory of Zenos in Alma chapter 33. I liked what Joshua said "90% of my answer will come through prayer." We can indeed receive answers from God. In the Epistle of James 1:5 we are instructed to ask God of those things we lack wisdom for. He is a loving Heavenly Father and will show us the way to return to Him. The gate to return to him is narrow and there is only one way. I'm grateful for the priesthood, allowing us to perform the necessary ordinances, such as baptism or sealing families to be together forever, that allow us to return to Him. I love this gospel! I love my calling as a missionary. I am one of the luckiest 21-year olds in the world!

I will continue to update everyone on Joshua. We pray that he will continue to seek for this truth, overcome any opposition, and that he will receive the comfort, light, and deep joy that is affiliated with it. Thank you for all the love, support and prayers! Now go read the Book of Mormon :)

"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." - Moroni 10:5

Love, Elder Dransfield

Julia Hernandez's baptism

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hitherto hath the Lord helped us - 1 Samuel 7:12

We've had another rough week!! I don't know why it's been so hard! I know Ether said "for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith" (Either 12:6), but man, it's been brutal! Through this all, Elder Hansen and I have developed a lot of faith and patience. We have dropped (stopped teaching) all but four investigators. One of those only speaks Spanish, one is in a nursing home, and one is 8 years old; we're teaching a very diverse group. But we are extremely grateful for those we are teaching, and are just going to be putting more time towards finding than teaching. This week we don't have any meetings to distract us from proselyting in our area and we are excited to work.

On Tuesday we had a District Leader Council meeting with our 4 District Leaders and 2 Training Sisters (basically Sister AP's over Kirtland Historical Sites). It was basically a mini-Mission Council were we discussed different principles of Christlike Leadership and effective ministering, and concluded with a council where we came up with goals for the Zone to increase our baptisms. They were inspired and I was again impressed by how the Spirit of Revelation worked among us all. We talk, throw out different ideas, talk some more, and continue this until the Spirit confirms to all of us that what we have is good; that what we have is what the Lord would have us do. I am confident that as our Zone implements these goals, that we will find more, teach more, and baptize more. I'm very excited! (some of these goals include things like the amount of time we put into "finding," how we seek after referrals, how many more people we strive to talk to daily, etc.). All of our ideas are based on Preach My Gospel or council we've received from President Sorensen, and like I said, I'm excited!

Elder Hansen and I, right after the meeting, went out and implemented some of our goals and we passed out 3 copies of the Book of Mormon in like 45 minutes and got 2 return appointments! At one of those, we met with two brothers, Don and Djuan. They are amazing! On the street we gave them both copies of the Book of Mormon and explained what it was. They said they were interested and that they would call us. They also said they might be moving soon but weren't sure when. We also got their number so that we could call them (people don't usually call). But later that night we received a text message from them asking when we were free, and we arranged with a member (recent convert who was baptized last September) whose house could meet at for a discussion. They arrived and we had an amazing lesson. As we taught about the Great Apostasy they were baffled by the fact that they were talking about that exact principle earlier that day. After we had concluded and we were getting ready to leave, I told them about our Singles Branch and how we'd love to see them there. Then they broke the news to us - when they said they were going to be moving soon, they didn't mean in a few months, they meant in a few DAYS! They were moving this Sunday! It was so sad! Even the member whose house we were at was sad! But they were eager to meet with missionaries where they'd be moving (Georgia). Those two were pretty cool. Didn't have any family they could turn to and didn't have really anything but each other. So they had arranged to move to Georgia to escape the slums of Cleveland and start over (hopefully to begin their dream career of singing R&B. We were going to meet with them the next day (since they were moving so soon) and at the meeting they were going to give us their new address in Georgia (they didn't know it at the first meeting). But they were running so late to our second meeting that we had to cancel and reschedule, but then the unthinkable happened! They ran out of minutes for their phone and it died!!!!!! And we didn't know where they lived because we talked to them on a street we were tracting and they didn't ever want us to come to their house because it was so filthy!!! And we weren't able to ever make contact with them again!!!! :(  I am devastated!!! "I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain [that we got their address in Georgia before their phone died!!!]" (Alma 13:27). Oh man... I do know, however, and am reminded in the Book of Mormon every time I read it how merciful the Lord is. This was only their first encounter with missionaries and I know it wont be their last. Heavenly Father will guide them back to this when the time is right, and one day they will be baptized. I'm sure of it.

On Thursday we had a Zone Conference. It was all centered on the Book of Mormon. Elder Hansen and I were asked to give a workshop on "How to help investigators read the Book of Mormon to gain a testimony." We studied in Preach My Gospel chapter 5 and read on pages 110 about how many investigators either do not read the Book of Mormon or do no understand what they read. It talks about different teaching skills to use or things to take into consideration (i.e. Read with them if they didn't keep their reading commitment from the last visit, pause frequently as you read and describe what words or phrases mean, point out different principles or doctrines that can be pulled from the scripture, "liken"the scriptures unto them (I think that's the most important one!), etc.). We were thinking of a creative way we could teach this to the missionaries and the idea came to us to use these same ideas from page 110 to help the missionaries understand a hymn more! We all sing hymns (or songs) and usually just focus on the beat or the surface level feelings/words we intake. But all hymns (and a lot of songs) have a much deeper meaning that, when we understand it, can bring about a whole new song. We put together a pool of different hymns we each liked that we could do and then the idea again popped into our head - Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing! An early church history kind of song seemed fitting as we would be holding our conference a block away from the Kirtland Historical Sites. Unfortunately, we knew nothing about the song (it's background, what some of the words meant (like Ebenezer)) so with the help of some members, we investigated and tore apart the song! --I felt like I was back in my AP Literature class! The song is (more) incredible when you come to understand that the song is talking about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That through Him dying for us and suffering for us, we can change and align our lives and desires with that of the Father's. So for our workshop on Thursday, we read through Preach My Gospel and discussed the things I mentioned above, then we gave them all a copy of the lyrics to the song and read it with them, breaking it down bit by bit and helping them to see the deeper meaning of the song. Then we ended our workshop by playing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's rendition of the song (which is the best version I've heard) and man.. it was so powerful! We all (even Elder Hansen and myself included) were so edified and enlightened. We received many compliments afterwards and throughout the week, so hopefully that means that the missionaries see the connection of helping investigators understand the scriptures and them understanding the music.

Also at the Zone Conference, Elder Hansen and I performed a piano duet musical number "I know my Heavenly Father Loves Me" - a children's hymn sung in the Primary at church. Thanks mom for sending the music! :)

We're having a baptism this Saturday for Julia (pronounced Hulia), our Spanish investigator. Whenever we teach her, we have to have a member who speaks Spanish (which we have tons of...Returned missionaries...they're awesome!) and I either sit off to the side and send texts to our investigators/missionaries, or we go on Splits and I go teach someone else. The only gospel words I know in Spanish are Jesus Christ and Chastity... But her baptism should be great! It's going to be all in Spanish and we've made tons of preparations for it! Even though I will not be able to understand the words, I am excited to feel the Spirit that will be there, for "in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest" (D&C 84:20). A baptism is the greatest portrayal of the Atonement changing ones life and at it the Spirit is in rich abundance. That's why we work so hard to get our investigators to come baptisms performed by someone holding the restored Priesthood authority - because there the power of god is being used to change the life of one of His children!  

Those are some of the highlights of the week. Pam is doing well. We have started over teaching her and her reading the in the Book of Mormon is slow (about 4 verses a day) but steady. The 8 year old I mentioned is the granddaugther of a recent-convert and is so bright! It's fun to teach the gospel so simply, yet sometimes can prove challenging! I give props to the primary teachers out there!

I know that our Heavenly Father loves us so much; he is preparing the hearts of His people everywhere to accept this great message we share. Alma 16:16-17 reads, "And there was no inequality among them; the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming-- That they might not be hardened against the word, that they might not be unbelieving..." We are all equal in God's eyes, and His blessings and tender mercies can be found in our every day. Our lives are saturated in His love, and one of the greatest joys of missionary work is when you can help someone feel the Spirit that testifies to them of that infinite love. Though Valentines Day may be more of a "Halmark Holiday," what a great reason to see the love He has for us in our lives and to help others feel that love. I love the gospel; I love everything about it and try harder and harder everyday to personify the attributes of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He lives! He is the fount of every blessing. His is the mount, Calvary, that we are fixed upon. May we all raise our own Ebenezer and remember how the Lord has helped us in our lives. May we bind our wandering hearts to Him. I know that our Heavenly Father lives as well! They are real, they know us, and they desire more than anything for us to return to live with them! This I know to be true.

Love, Elder Dransfield

Monday, February 6, 2012

My happy birthday in pictures

 The amazing Ben & Jerry's ice cream cake that my sister Christine and her husband ordered for me!

 Our ward mission leader, Brother Baker, cutting the cake.  We had dinner with his family and I brought dessert.

 Me enjoying the cake

 One of the Baker girls enjoying the cake a little more than me...

 Later that night, alone at my desk...

Elder Hansen found me the next morning...

My first blog as a 21-year old!

 Picture from mission council after going to the John Johnson Farm.  The finger pointing is an inside joke.  My favorite part of the picture is how President justpopped in!  I love President Sorensen, he's amazing!

 We all came to Ohio together and are all Zone Leaders and Assistants to the President.  It's cool and we are all the best of friends.

 A text message we got during mission council that made us crack up.  We run a tight ship here in the Kirkland Stake!

Me still in sock about being 21!

Had a great past week! A quick summary of it all...

Tuesday we drove to Hiram, Ohio to the John Johnson Farm. This is where D&C 76 along with 16 other revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants. All of us Zone Leaders and President Sorensen took a tour given by one of our senior missionary couples and we ended our tour in Joseph Smith's Translation Room (it was in this room he would receive revelation for the Bible and correct some of the misinterpretations/translations). There were as many revelations received there as at the Kirtland Historical Sites and there was definitely a spirit of place there. What was really cool is that Section 76 was received on February 16th, 1832 - so we sat in the room 180 years later (plus a couple of weeks) and read the restored truths concerning the Plan of Salvation. There are 6 visions in the section: first that of the Father and the Son, then of the pride and rebellion of the devil, next the sons of perdition, Celestial Kingdom, Terrestial Kingdom, and then the Telestial Kingdom. It concludes with a summary-like explanation. It was an incredible experience. I had the privilege of doing this last year (the day after my Birthday) and remember having a like-experience. The Spirit was so strong and we all read and discussed those things that we had questions about or feelings we had about the scripture. What I kept noticing over and over again was the incredible evidence of God's love, the damning effects of pride, and the sorrow our Heavenly Father must feel when one is so blinded and destroyed by pride (which it just so happens I read all about in my personal study this morning in Alma 1-4!). In verse 32 it says that, speaking of the sons of perdition, "I say that it had been better for them never to have been born." I used to read the phrase and think, "Wow...God is pretty upset with those individuals" but as we sat in that room and read, I realized that my perception of the attitude of God was all wrong! He isn't saying "I wish I never brought you into existence" as much as he is saying "You don't realize the eternal pain and agony you will have to suffer because of your choices, and I wish that you hadn't of been born so that you wouldn't have to suffer this unquenchable pain." He doesn't want us to suffer; nothing that our Heavenly Father requires of us or wishes for us brings us to misery or pain. He loves His children unconditionally, and he loves them all equally. It was just very revelatory for me and others in the room.

What else happened Tuesday... Oh yeah, my Birthday :) Thanks for the cake and presents and cards! I am so spoiled! I'd say it was probably the best thing I could have done on my 21st Birthday, other than my family being there with me. I will never forget it!

The rest of the week was pretty routine. We dropped a couple of investigators and continue to seek after more people whom we can share the restored truth to. Pam is doing really well!! We called her to confirm an appointment we had on Thursday and she canceled on us and so I asked her if she wanted us to keep trying to come over or if she wasn't interested anymore. I think it scared her, the thought of us not teaching her anymore, and she said that the next day would definitely work. We went on exchanges that day so Elder Hansen and Elder McMillan went and taught her. She said that she has overcome the trials that she was experiencing and understands that she just needs to be patient (and stop smoking - it's what caused her to have a stroke in the first place!). So next week she should start coming to church every week and we are so excited for her! Her baptismal date is for March 3rd.

On Friday we went on exchanges with the missionaries we live with. They cover the East Cleveland area - probably the most dangerous area in our whole mission. We drove the bus and tracks (like the metro) and then walked everywhere else. We taught a lot of people and talked to even MORE people while we traveled (via bus, etc.). There are a lot of...interesting people in Cleveland. A lot of poverty and people just searching for hope. Come 6pm, we were traveling towards the heart of the ghetto to teach a couple of their investigators. As we walked through some neighborhoods we were told 4 times to "be safe" (we would say hello to everyone we passed and they were usually friendly and would tell us something like that) and one time a lady pulled over in her car and said "what are you two doing here?! It is NOT safe for you to be here at night! You need to get out of here!" We assured her we were safe and would be cautious of our surroundings. Elder Stevens (who I was on the exchange with) and I then had a great conversation about the very real protection we receive as missionaries. That as we are obedient to the commandments and missionary work, and ultimately as we carry the Spirit with us, we have nothing to fear. We knew that if there was any danger around us, that we would be warned and as we heeded to the promptings of the Holy Ghost that we would be delivered. And to top it, we have the Priesthood, so we would be okay. That night we walked past 11 bullet shells (one being a shotgun and another a pistachio shell...). It was fun to be in a walking area for a day though. Sometimes driving everywhere makes you feel lazy. I slept well that night! What am I saying...I sleep well EVERY night! :)

But overall it was a great week. We faced some opposition with investigators being dropped but we aren't going to let that hinder the work here in Cleveland! I love my mission and love the people who I've met so far. I just talked to an older lady for like 10 minutes about genealogy here at the library. I overheard her on the computer across from me asking one of the librarians for help and he didn't really know what he was talking about. So as she was getting ready to leave I asked if she was doing some Family History work and she said "No! I'm doing Genealogy work!" and told me how she's been to Salt Lake (which made me get a huge grin) and has collected ALL this info and I started talking about our Family History Libraries and referred her to ours in Kirtland. She was SO excited that she didn't even have to use her cane! (just kidding...but seriously).

I'm grateful for the love that our Heavenly Father has for us. I have been enveloped in this 90-day Book of Mormon reading challenge and am filled every single morning with the Spirit and greater understanding/clarity. Like I previously mentioned, I read Alma 1-4 today and felt so sad for the pride that just ate away at those nations. Elder Hansen and I experienced the effects of Pride this last week as a recent convert (part-member family) chewed us and the Bishop out for the craziest things. It was heart-wrenching to see how his pride had destroyed his faith and testimony. I know that as we pray for charity, the pure love of Christ, that we can overcome our own pride and raise ourselves to a new standard. I know that through Jesus Christ all is possible! And I know that as we change our habits and opinions to be aligned with that of our Father's, we find real happiness.

Love, Elder D

Thursday, February 2, 2012