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