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!
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