Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Watch General Conference This Week!

Watch General Conference this week! And watch the video :)

I love you all, thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. I know that your prayers help me everyday. Have a wonderful week!"

Monday, March 26, 2012

Story Time by Elder Dransfield

I am so excited for General Conference this weekend! It will be the last session I watch on my mission - a weird milestone. But a quick letter about my week... Let's see...

Tuesday we had our Zone Development Meeting (a meeting where Elder Prince and I take everything our leaders have taught us and teach our Zones). It went okay, I've organized better ones. President came and that was a treat. I love him dearly and will be sad when he is released (he has about 2 months left).

After the meeting we exchanged with the Solon Elders and I brought Elder Rasmussen back with me to Shaker Heights. Elder Rasmussen has served as a Zone Leader in Youngstown and was released to shotgun (or whitewash) train in Solon (he's a great Elder). So we worked hard, laughed a lot, and even though all of our appointments fell through, we found many opportunities to fulfill our purpose as representatives of Jesus Christ! I'll share a couple of stories from our hours of tracting...

One made me kind of sad. We talked to a man for probably a good 10 minutes. He was a devout Christian who belonged to one of the many (I call them) mega-churches out here. As you talk to people and they tell you about it, it feels almost more like a club or business than a church, but who am I to judge? He was telling us about all the humanitarian work his church had been doing and I shared with him in Mosiah 2:17 "...when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." We talked about the joys of service and a little about the Book of Mormon. Somehow he began to tell us how his pastor had told everyone in the congregation that they needed to go and get a college degree. In fact, he told them, I am going to go back to college and work on my degree! "What an inspiration!" the man told us "he now has his bachelors and now working on his doctorates and how great he is!" and I couldn't help and think, Whose money is he using to pay for all this schooling? I've heard many people on the streets complain how the pastor of your church hosted his daughter on one of those Sweet 16 T.V. shows and here he is probably spending your money to further his education. What does he need all this education for? Is it going to further his understanding of the scriptures? Is it going to help him come closer to God? I just don't understand. I am by no means trying to judge or ridicule this pastor or church, I just sat there in sadness and gratitude for a church with lay ministry. Where I can know that the intents of church leaders is not their own personal gain, but solely the salvation of God's children. The prophet who we will be hearing from this Saturday receives none of our tithing, none of our contributions... I don't know. Just a random thought and something that reminded me of the blessings of this church.

As we were walking to another street, we saw down the way some teenage boys. Picture this... A huge tree, three boys at the bottom, one throwing a basketball up at the tree repeatedly, another holding a ladder up in the air while yelling at the third to climb up the ladder that he is balancing in the air. Yikes! We called over from the other side of the street to see if they wanted some help. They said yes. Haha, such a funny image...I wish I had taken a picture. We go over and they explain to us that one of their keys (on a key ring or lanyard) accidentally was throw up into the tree and snagged a branch high up in the tree. There was no way to climb the tree and there was nowhere to lean the ladder on. We looked at the situation, looked at the ladder, and came up with a solution in seconds (catch the lanyard around one of the legs of the ladder and pull down). And it worked! Man were they happy. They began to ask who we were which led into a long discussion about the Book of Mormon. Jonathon, whose keys were up in the tree, said that his father actually had a Book of Mormon on their bookshelf inside and was interested in reading it. We haven't been able to contact them since, but this week will probably stop-by.

One last story I'll tell today happened on Saturday. Elder Prince and I were going by a potential investigator that the Shaker Heights East Sisters had found and told us about (they were in our area). They had no phone number so we stopped by, only to find nobody home. We had quite a few other people that we needed to contact that evening before Sunday came and began to head back to the truck, a little discouraged, but pressing-on. As we walked back to the truck, I had the thought "tract around the home." As quickly as that thought came, another jumped in my head, something like "Oh, well we have so many people to contact before the week is over and we really need to see all these other people..." and it just kind of swarmed my mind to the point that I justified leaving. We sat down in the truck and again the thought came "tract around the home!" I questioned whether this thought was out of duty to obedience (President Sorensen always tells us to knock on the doors around where we are stood-up or when somebody isn't home) or whether this thought was something else. Silly Elder Dransfield.......... We had put on our seat belts and started the truck when the thought I had seemed to sink low into my heart and the Spirit constrained me and again there was a, "Stop. Be Still. And tract around the home." I turned to Elder Prince and I said, We need to say a prayer and tract. (good job Elder Dransfield!) We turned off the truck, prayed, and looked around at the many humble, little homes around us. We agreed to which ones we would do and (of course) the first house we knocked on let us right in. We had a wonderful lesson with the Sister Jones and answered several questions through the Book of Mormon. She had her Mac sitting on the coffee table and we uploaded the video: http://youtu.be/3dNYpXZIN_c and invited her to read and pray just as Chris Cook in the video had. It was a powerful lesson. When we began she was having some troubling back pains, but as she walked us out she admitted that her back wasn't hurting her anymore (that's the Spirit).

I'm grateful for how patient our Heavenly Father is with us! Why didn't I act on the first couple promptings to tract, I don't know. But I do know that the Lord's hand is in this work and that the Holy Ghost is very real. I am not perfect, but every day I am trying to become better. There are many wonderful talks about this in the April 2012 Ensign, how Christ's Atonement allows us to continue to improve and become better. I read the article by Elder David A. Bednar called "The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality" this morning while eating my Chex cereal and banana :)

I love the Lord and have never experienced anything as fulfilling and enjoyable as serving a mission. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ can provide answers and peace that the world simply cannot answer. I know that faith in Him is what can give us hope and reason to endure the trials of our lives each day. I know that the Book of Mormon, coupled with the Spirit, is how God tells us what we must do to better understand "the doctrines of the gospel...the plan of salvation, and...what [we] must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come" (Introduction, Book of Mormon). My heart is filled every time I read and I can see the blessing it has been in my life. I hope you enjoyed the stories I shared today, and those are only a few of the many amazing experiences that I have had in these last 18 months. I love the people here and am grateful for the many opportunities my Heavenly Father gives me to help and strengthen their faith in Him.

Watch General Conference this week! http://www.lds.org/general-conference/invite-others?lang=eng <--and watch the video :) I love you all, thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. I know that your prayers help me everyday. Have a wonderful week!

Love, Elder Dransfield

Exchanges with Elder Rasmussen. He made me French Toast and eggs for breakfast - what a good missionary!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sir Charles and the Week of Cabin Fever

This week Elder Prince caught a pretty bad virus/possible sinus infection. He was in a lot of pain and Sister Sorensen advised him to stay inside and rest. We got some Airborne and Melatonin (and NyQuil for bedtime) and kept him pretty subdued all day. While he would sleep, I cleaned the entire apartment (twice), organized all our area book and updated all of our records, called everyone I could possibly think of, and starred out the windows from time to time to imagine how the 75-80 degree weather must feel on ones face... This first came about on Thursday and he slept all-day. We tried to go out and work that night but he couldn't physically do it so we went back and slept some more. Friday we tried to go out and work and we were doing great, but Saturday morning woke up even worse! So it was back to cleaning and organizing for me! Did I go crazy? Maybe a little bit. But it's okay now. It's a new week, the sickness is practically gone, and the sun is still shining! :) But a missionary is definitely not meant to stay in-doors all day.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we had a 2-day Leadership Training Meeting in Cleveland. It was a great meeting! I particularly enjoyed the first day - it felt like we were in a Sauna of the Spirit or something. The next day was good too. We had a senior couple come and do a presentation on mental health (they are in charge of the north-east missions) and I decided that I am crazy. I guess the following couple days proved that to be true... On the Tuesday meeting Elder Prince and I gave a workshop together about the Book of Mormon and everyone loved it. It was refreshing to be with so many leaders for two days and get to pump each other up. That night we had 7 Elders in our apartment! (They didn't want to send the Elders from the Toledo or Youngstown areas back on the 2 hour drive just to come back the next morning, so they filled the Cleveland and Kirtland Stake with all the extra missionaries). Luckily our apartment has 2 big couches and a futon so everyone was able to sleep well.

On Tuesday night, Larry dropped us :( It's sad because he was doing very well. He was reading on his own, studying the pamphlets we had left with him, was telling us how much happier he has been, and then we showed up at his door for our appointment and he turned us away. The next day we called to see what was up and he told us he was going to do "his own thing." We think him trying to quit smoking was stressing him out and breaking free from the chains of poverty or traditions of those in the ghetto proved to be too difficult. We are going to give him a week or two and call him back. It's too bad because the ward had provided him with church clothes that we were going to bring over. We're going to still give them to him whether or not he wants to be taught/join the church, but it's just sad because the things we were teaching him were helping him grow, change, and understand so much. He also claims to be schizophrenic (not sure if he really is or if it's a ploy to receive disability) but that could play a factor. This is the second time he's dropped us, so we are just going to pray for him and try again next week.

Mia is doing well! She is our 8-year-old investigator. We were at the Singles Branch yesterday (where I gave a talk on "Being Faithful") and so we didn't get to see her at church. So when we went over yesterday she saw us, her face just beamed with happiness and she ran over to us and gave us big hugs. She's a really cute little girl. We taught her and her cousins/brother (all under the age of 8) about Tithing and used cookies from the dinner we just came from. They liked the cookies.

We are also teaching Kenny right now. He is a 16-year-old who is severely autistic. His mother joined the church back in September and expressed the desire for him to be baptized so that he can participate in different church activities with her. After the Bishop and Stake President talked, they asked us to prepare him for baptism. I was a little worried at first because he definitely requires some special attention/teaching, but it has proved to be a really neat experience. We meet with them twice a week, once at different members homes for Family Home Evening, and then once with us and a member we bring. And we teach him once principle at a time (God is your loving Heavenly Father, Prayer, the Gospel blesses families, the 10 Commandments). We teach with a lot of body language, pictures, songs, and other visuals. His mom teaches him to the best of her abilities and then we come and reaffirm what she has taught him. Repetition is the law of learning for us as humans and for Kenny this is especially true. We really would just use three or four one-liners teaching about the principle and would repeat them and the action or picture affiliated with it. It is cool to see him actually learn and remember the things, and also get really excited when we teach him. There is always a very sweet, gentle Spirit and you know that he is a lot closer to Heavenly Father than we can grasp. It's been a really neat experience that I don't think too many people get to participate in.

A funny story for this week! There is a less-active, older, black, frail widow in our ward named Sister Oliver. She has a few teeth, can barely hear, and can't see very well. She lives in a house that is full of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She has to use one of those cool stair electric chairs to climb her stairs. She loves loves loves the missionaries and is a fireball. A few weeks ago I bought her a large-print Book of Mormon (the pages are the size of a sheet of computer paper) so that she can read. She was trilled! -but needs to get glasses before she can read. Anyways, she is now in the Sister missionaries area so we went over once to tell her about the Sisters and how they would come over and teach her from now on. You'd think she was going to die of excitement and said that we all had to come back for dinner next week. I told her we'd see (we're not supposed to eat at someones house with more than 2 of us) and went on our way. Well...the Sisters went over and told her that we'd LOVE to all come over and we would LOVE to have dinner! And I'm not about to offend this little Sister, so we went over for dinner. We got there and her and her daughter were fixing us some sandwiches and I asked if there was a male in the house (there almost always is, but be always make sure). They said of course! And then started screaming "CHARLES!!!! SIR CHARLES!!!! CHARLES!!!!" and this little tiny white dog that looks like it's 20 years old, blind, and deaf hobbles into the kitchen and they pick him up and say "This is the man of the house!" ....I can't remember if I laughed of slapped my forehead but we told them we'd have to come over another time to eat. But Sister Oliver would not have this! She had us and the Sisters take outside one of her glass end tables and put it on the sidewalk. So...we had a picnic outside. It was hilarious. Sister Oliver really enjoyed it and I'm glad she did, but I don't think we'll be doing that again. Haha... "SIR CHARLES!!!!!!!!!" -I wish you could have seen that little dog slither around the corner...haha

Today I was reading in 3 Nephi 13 and really liked verses 25-28. Verse 28 "Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin" and before that in verse 26 it talks about how the fowls of the air sow not, nor reap not "yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" This is of course Christ speaking and is compared to Matthew chapter 6 in the New Testament. But basically, what I take from this, is he is asking us to evaluate our faith and trust in Him. Why do we worry and fret over so many little things in our lives? Why don't we trust in God more? Consider the lilies of the field - or meditate over the attributes of nature. Nature is one of the most simple lifeforms on the earth yet are almost in a sense the most "obedient" to the rules of God. The lilies of the field always grow and reach for the sun (Son) and thrive off of the light which is given off. Our Heavenly Father is aware of our lives and will take care of us - we need not have fear or concern for what lies ahead. As we focus our lives on the Savior and his teachings, we will grow like the lilies of the field. I love the Book of Mormon!

This week I will hit my 18 month mark which will mean I am 3/4 of the way done with my mission. I am in denial. And it freaks me out to think about it - I feel like I just got dropped off in the MTC! But I am grateful for the many tender mercies and experience the Lord places in my life day in and day out. I know Christ lives and that he suffered for our literally all of our pains and our afflictions in the Garden of Gethsemane. As we look towards the Son of the living God, we can be relieved of the hardships of this life and be liberated from the chains of sadness, confusion, guilt and doubt. I have never felt so free and empowered than on my mission - these feelings which come through my obedience, daily scripture study, fervent and constant prayer, regular church attendance, and desire to share the truthfulness of the gospel with others. Life is amazing. "Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect" (3 Nephi 12:48). We must strive to be like the Savior, if we are to ever understand what it truly means to have joy. The world may try to give you happiness, but it is only through the Atonement of our Lord and Savior that we can have joy. 

Love, Elder Dransfield 
 Picnic with Sister Oliver

 Recent Zone picture

Saturday, March 17, 2012

One cockroach vs two missionaries (3/12/12)

Whenever I start these weekly letters, I always stare at the white box and have no idea what to write... The weeks just seem to be blurring together and my days and weeks flying by too quickly for me to recount what happened! I guess I'll crack open my planner and see what I can't recollect...

Tuesday we had another Mission Council - this time in the School of Prophets, in the upstairs of the Newl K. Whitney Store located on the Kirtland Historical Sites. This room was kind of like the first, mini-MTC where the early saints would be instructed and taught to prepare themselves before going out to proclaim the gospel. It was the Sorensens, the Assistants, the Training Sisters, and Zone Leaders who were in attendance. We read through most of Doctrine and Covenants Section 88 where we are taught about revelation. In there it talks about receiving light and understanding, using our agency, the importance of gaining intelligence to prepare us, being worthy of the Spirit, how the scriptures prepare us, how fasting and prayer keep us clean... A lot of great teachings which show us how to see with more of our "spiritual eyes" I guess. Learning truth gives us light (figuratively and literally) and shows evidence of our faith and love of the Savior. After our meeting there, President and Sister Sorensen took us all out to a little Italian restaurant and then went back to the Kirtland Visitors Center to have the remainder of our meeting (the actual council). By the way, here in Ohio they don't say "Italian" like they do in California... the "i" is not pronounced like the word "igloo" or "idiot" ...they stress their "i"s like when we say "I" or "eye." It's strange. Say it outloud: eye-tallian. Hmm... But I like it and sometimes catch myself saying it without thinking ;)

On Friday we got to work at Case Western University again. We set up out little table for our 2 hour period and had lots of people take copies of the Book of Mormon! It is Spring Break this week so a lot of of the students were m.i.a. but we still got to pass out about 10 or 12 copies. It's fun to talk with the students about our beliefs.

Saturday we had to drive down to Garretsville, Ohio for a baptismal interview. We had planned to take our lunch break down there and heard there was some really good Amish restaurants. So on our was back to Cleveland we stopped by this large house-store place and wondered if maybe there was Amish food inside. Instead we found a European baker (not sure where he was from, sounded kind of Spanish) named Raphael, who was the nicest, craziest baker I've ever met. He had talked to Sister Missionaries in the past and really like them, so even though we had no cash on us he gave us a loaf of some homemade pepperoni bread and said he wasn't worried about us paying him back someday because "everyone always eventually does." Or something like that... (again, kind of crazy). We'll be giving the Sisters today some cash to pay him back for his generosity. We were grateful because his break sustained us for the hour drive back to Cleveland! Mr. crazy bread man gave us directions to a popular Amish restaurant and we went by to find a ridiculously long line of old seniors waiting to be seated. We didn't have time to wait and eat, but man! did it smell good! I'm determined to eat there someday! It's in Middlefield, Ohio which (according to the little "Welcome to Middleton, Ohio!" sign) has the 4th largest Amish settlement in the world! Fancy that...

Some of our investigators we are teaching are Mya (8 year old whose Grandfather was baptized about a year ago). She's really sweet and her and her 6-year-old brother adore us. They came to church on Sunday really late and their Grandpa sat in the back while they ran to the bench we were sitting in and squeezed themselves between us. Thus we had to babysit. At church, the primary children were being taught about missionaries, so we were asked to stop-by a few classrooms as a special guest appearance. We talked to the kids for a few minutes and then put them through some "missionary training" (mind you this was the 5 and 6 year old classes) where each kid would take a turn not knowing about Jesus or the Book of Mormon and would knock on their door (to the classroom) and would ask them if we could teach them more. Only one told us no. Haha. At the end we gave them all stickers that say "I hope they call me on a mission" that I got for my Birthday. They loved it!

Larry is doing well. It was so sad when his ride called us asking if Larry had remembered that they were picking him up. I called (this is like 10 minutes before church started and he lives 20-30 minutes away) and he answered, explaining he was on the bus about 20 minutes away from his house. He had left early in the morning to pick up his wife from his sisters house and they were all dressed and ready for church. But he said that he didn't want them to wait for him any longer and that he would just come next week. We were sad. He lives on the border of our ward and another (the Cleveland 3rd ward) and we talked to one of the high councilors about possibly allowing him to attend the other ward which is significantly closer for him - plus he could take the bus there rather than relying on a ride from members. Elder Prince and I both feel it would help him a lot and the demographics of that ward fit him better anyways (this ward covers East Cleveland...). So we'll see how that goes. If he do switch him, he will be taught by the Elders we live with. And I'm honestly okay with it; I don't care who does what, just that he gets to enter the waters of baptism and make those sacred covenants with Heavenly Father. It's been amazing to see the change in him - every time we come back over there is a little bit more light in his eyes. He reads, he's trying his best to quit smoking (he picked a date for the 14th to go cold turkey I think), and he offers himself for service all the time. He's a great guy - it's sad to see some of these peoples trapped by the chains of poverty and ignorance. Larry recognizes that what he has been learning is helping him and he is so excited to be baptized.

This week we have a 2-day Leadership Training Meeting in Cleveland. It should be a wonderful, edifying experience and we're excited. Elder Prince and I are giving a 30 minute workshop on "How to read the Book of Mormon to gain a testimony," which is the same topic when Elder Hansen and I gave our "Come Thou Fount" workshop. Elder Prince and I are thinking about doing a different song, but teach the principle the same way. After the Tuesday meeting we will be bringing 7 Elders back to our apartment (so that they don't have to drive the 2 hour drive back to Toledo, Findlay, Youngstown, etc.) and will be getting to work our area like crazy! 2 will go to East Cleveland, and the rest of us will be working Shaker Heights. Should be fun!

Did I ever write to you all about the cockroach we found in our apartment a few weeks back? I'll tell it again... It was the Tuesday before transfers and I was in the living room vacuuming and cleaning while Elder Hansen was packing in our room. The other Elders were out shopping. Suddenly I heard Elder Hansen screaming and calling for my name. I thought he was just goofing off and ignored him but he kept screaming for me to come into our room. As I was running and was in the hallway he yells "COCKROACH!!!!" Now...I've seen a good many of cockroaches on my mission (one of the pluses of being a missionary) and usually they're the size of an earwig or something small. Right? No. This one was at least 2 inches long. And fat. I wanted to barf (yeah I'm a pansy...but the sound of crunching a 2 inch cockroach isn't something they prepare you for in the MTC!!) So when I saw it, I started screaming too. Hahaha, oh man...it was bad. I ran back and put on one of the Elders' snow boots and we grabbed a few snow shovels. It kept scurrying along the wall from the door to behind my short/long dresser. So I would move the furniture and Elder Hansen would start smacking our wood floor like crazy with the shovels (while of course streaming the whole time). At one point it started jumping!!!!! Ahhhhhh!!!! After many smacks, it stopped moving we scooped it up and threw it out the window. It was one of the funniest, nastiest things on my mission. We called the apartment management and I demanded that they spray our apartment for bugs. Hahaha oh man...and I call the bread man crazy...

So! That's my week. The weather continues to confuse us all - yesterday was unbelievably warm, today it's raining but still warm. I don't mind it. But I am grateful for the numerous tender mercies I see in my life every day and love my Heavenly Father. I am in 3 Nephi chapter 8 in my Book of Mormon study - I am annoyed by the pride of the people, but more excited to read of the Savior's personal ministry to the people in the Americas, following his resurrection, in the next chapters. I am thankful for the power of prayer, because I know it works and with it I receive answers and impressions daily. Many of the prayers lately have been for those in Chardon, Ohio, which I'm assuming everyone (not on a mission) has heard about. Chardon is in our Stake and the church did a big "project linus" blanket drive for all the students at the school. Pretty cool. Hope everyone has a great week! Love you all!

--Elder Dransfield
 Me and Pam

 Me and Elder Prince

 Genealogy picture - We all trained each other

 The Kirkland leaders

My transfer group - the sisters who we came out with went home last Wednesday

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Week: meeting, meeting, planning, ghetto, meeting, planning, meeting, meeting, heart attack, meeting, scriptures, sleep... And life is SO good!

First off, this week has been wild and probably one of the most mentally exhausting weeks of my mission.
Second off, I love my mission more than words can describe!

Transfers were on Wednesday and I received my new companion - Elder Prince from Sandy, Utah. He has been out for 9 months and this is his first transfer serving as a Zone Leader. Elder Hansen was transferred to New Philadelphia, Ohio and is going to do amazing things there! He is in probably the most beautiful area in our mission - luscious, green, rolling hills and some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. I'm excited for him and his companion. Elder Prince is a stellar missionary - I am hardly training him how to be a zone leader as much as just showing him the ropes and how to channel or fine tune one's leadership qualities to fit the needs of a zone/mission. It was been a lot of fun! He's learning quickly and soon I'll be able to kick back and let him do all the work! -ha! If I kicked back I would go crazy. He is incredible though. 

I feel bad for Elder Prince because his first few days here we were swamped in meetings, planning, coordinating, etc. to make these new boundaries work out. We now have the Training Sisters, Sisters Bills and Tokunaga (from Utah and Hawaii), sharing our ward and the YSA University Branch with us. We have had to meet together with many of the leaders and with each other so that I could explain to all three of these new missionaries (my companion and the Sisters) who everyone is, what's been going on, what Elder Hansen and I have been building, etc. Needless to say, after a few days of doing more planning than working, my brain started to melt a little. But with much fasting and prayer, all is well! In fact, Sunday, which to me was test of how well we had or had not coordinated everything, went fantastic! The ward has responded so well to having the Sisters with us and I have never seen a ward so ecstatic and willing to do missionary work! We have given the Sisters many of our investigators and less-actives we had been working with that are now in their area or would work better with the Sisters. All 4 of us are very excited and like Elder Hansen and I had been saying, big things are going to be happening soon!

We have had some great lessons with one of our former investigators Larry. Larry lives in the ghetto --and I mean GHETTO-- and when he dropped us a few weeks back I wasn't too surprised. But he called us up and asked us to come back over and is now making huge strides to quit smoking and be worthy for baptism. On Wednesday we taught him with our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Baker (or the Bee Man as we call him --he has his own honey bee's and makes his own honey; it's incredible), and as we taught him about the Word of Wisdom and faith, Brother Baker also suggested a few tips to help with the taste or cravings. On Saturday, the day he was supposed to go cold-turkey, Elder Prince and I ran to the store and bought him a few of the suggestions given by Brother Baker. When we showed up to give them to him, we invited us in and told us he had already got all that stuff, but accepted the gift anyways. Then he showed up at church and volunteered to read everything, say every prayer, and even to help the deacons empty out the trashcans after church. He talked to a lot of the people and found himself a ride to come play basketball with the Ward on Tuesday night. I think I need to have more charity and faith for those with Larry's demographics, because he is doing so well! He is also working on getting a vehicle so that he can become more independent. He's a great guy and I really hope he continues to press forward. One must be willing to pay the price for the gospel, and once you do you see that in retrospect, there was no prince or sacrifice, for the blessings and joy far outweigh what you "gave up." I know that as Larry continues to give up his smoking that he will be greatly blessed - not just health-wise, but spiritually. We also gave him blessing on Friday; the Spirit was strong and at the end he laughed and said, "I felt it! I felt it!" haha, he's a great guy.

Last night we went over to deliver a large print Book of Mormon to our friend Brother Leavitt. We called him on Wednesday to make sure Sunday night was still okay and he explained to us that he really liked us, but he wasn't going to convert and wasn't really interested in learning. I was heartbroken and explained to him how I had bought him this large Book of Mormon and asked if we could still come over. He was very thankful and agreed. Well... we stopped by last night and his son (who is older and has some slight mental health issues) answered and told us that his father was in the hospital due to suffering from a heart attack!!! I was even MORE heartbroken! I loved this old 80-year-old Jewish man so much! And you all would too if you met him! The son didn't know which hospital he was at else we would have driven there immediately, so we instead taught the son a little bit more about the restoration and Book of Mormon.

I have to share some of my Book of Mormon studies from this morning. I'm going to explode. This 90-day reading challenge that we, as a mission, have been engaged in since January 1st has created in me a greater love and enthusiasm for the Book of Mormon. This morning I read from Helaman chapters 3-5. I cannot express in words how moved I am by this book. "...and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory" (Helaman 5:44) -maybe that's it. I see evidence of the Book of Mormon's truth as I apply it's principles in my life and see the promised blessings! For example, I see in my life that the "peace and exceedingly great joy" (Helaman 3:32) that the Nephites felt, I too feel as I "lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked-- And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven" (Helaman 3:29-30). Or as I pray! "Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name" (Helaman 3:27). That is what we as LDS Missionaries ask people to do every day! To search, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon, with real intent, and as it is promised in Moroni 10:4; the Holy Ghost will manifest truth unto you! What incredible evidence of the Lord and "his miraculous and matchless power" (Helaman 4:25). Helaman chapter 5 is one of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon. Verse 9 testifying of our Lord and Savior who "cometh to redeem the world." Verse 12 - a father pleading with his two sons to remember "that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation...a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." The rest of the chapter entails the story of Lehi and Nephi, two outstanding missionaries and witnesses of God. I love the conversion of the Lamanites; the still small voice that penetrates their hearts and distills their pride. "And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from the heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words. And it came to pass that there came a voice unto them, yea, a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper, saying: Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world" (Helaman 5:45-47). I could go on and on about what I studied, but I just KNOW with every fiber in my being, with my entire soul and every ounce of understanding that this book, the Book of Mormon, is true! I know that it changes lives! I love it! Every time I read it, I am filled with the Spirit of God, which edifies, sanctifies, and teaches me how I can come closer to being like my Savior and returning to live with him and our Heavenly Father. A loving Heavenly Father who has provided us with the way, which "there is no other way nor means" (Helaman 5:9), to return to Him. "...remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men...ponder [the Book of Mormon] in your hearts...ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true...with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ...And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Moroni 10:3-5). Read the book. Rid yourself of your pride, your excuses, your "fear...and lay aside very sin, which easily doth beset you" (Alma 7:15), and read the book. And that's my cry of repentance for the day. My cry driven from the deep joy which doth stir my soul. "O THAT I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!" (Alma 29:1). I know a bit how Alma must have felt.

My soul is filled with joy! I love my mission and for who I have become, what I have learned, but most importantly for the lives that I have been able to touch. For the eyes I have been able to open. The understanding I have been able to bring to my brothers and sisters. This isn't just another church I'm telling people about; this is eternal life, with our families. It's all so true. This is my testimony. I love you all! And I mean that from the bottom of my heart! Life is SO good! If you don't think so, open up to 1 Nephi chapter 1 verse 1 and start reading. Love you.

Elder Dransfield

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Photos from Mission Council in Hiram, January 31, 2012

This is copy of an email that was sent to a group of missionaries from President Sorensen.


I thought you would like a copy of these pictures from Mission Council, 31 January 2012.  Thank you for all you do to build this mission and inspire your missionaries to understand and apply their purpose.  Your examples will have a lasting effect on this mission.  I am so very proud of each one of you.  Know that I love you,  President Sorensen