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: 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! <--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!

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