I swear I was just here yesterday trying to think of what to write; the days just go by faster and faster. Another transfer has gone by, another month already half-over. Come the 22nd I will have been on my mission for 19 out of the 24 months, which absolutely bewilders me. I have been incredibly blessed over these past 19 months and hope that in the next 5 to come that I can work even harder and pray that I can find those who the Lord in preparing. We've heard that the New York Times published an article about Mormon Missionaries in response to the play in Broadway (which is coming to Cleveland by the way). I read on www.mormonnewsroom.org that the article states, "Through it all, their own lives are changing. Their personal values sharpen, and they begin to understand whom they want to be when they return to college." Replace "when they return to college" with "for the rest of their lives" and you've got yourself a winner.
Last Tuesday, after e-mailing, our district and part of the Solon District went to the Cleveland Museum of Art together. They had some incredible pieces and had different exhibits (African, Egyptian, Medieval...). It was pretty neat, but after an hour or so, everyone seemed to be done with the art. It was free, so that was nice. Before we left for the art museum, I made everyone deep clean the apartment for an hour-and-a-half. What can I say? I'm fulfilling my role as a mission Relief Society President. Our apartment looked nice for my new companion and the Spirit is definitely more prevalent in a clean, orderly atmosphere.
Transfer day came and I received my new companion: Elder Ingersoll! I was an Assistant when we picked up his transfer group from the airport and the whole time we had our eye on him for leadership. I went on one or two exchanges with him as he was being trained and 3 months later was training. It's a privilege to Zone Leader "train" him and serve with him! He is from Boise, Idaho, oldest of 5 kids, was drafted to play football for BYU (but left from high school to his mission), and plays the violin. He's awesome. And we've been tearing it up here in Cleveland.
About two or so weeks ago, Elder Prince and I were tracting after one of our investigators told us he wasn't able to talk to us. As we walked down the street, we saw a woman and two teenage boys sitting on the porch. We went over and offered them a card to the Redeemer Exhibit going on at the Kirtland Visitor's Center and began to explain what we did as missionaries. The mother expressed interest in her son and nephew learning more about the gospel and her son asked us to teach him how to pray. We shared a little 20 minute lesson on how to pray and had Chris (her son) pray at the end. It was a great experience and as we were saying goodbye, the mother pulled us aside and said that she would like us to come back and continue to teach her son. We exchanged numbers and off we went.
We tried calling a couple times later in the week and weren't able to get a hold of the mother. I'll admit, we unintentionally let them fall between the cracks for a week or so. On Saturday, we were driving back to the apartment and I asked Elder Ingersoll to try giving her a call - and she answered! She said the only time they would be available is Sunday morning or else next Saturday. We had many meetings the next morning, but weren't going to neglect this little family any longer. Sunday morning we found that the little family was actually a family of EIGHT!
We arrived not really knowing what to expect. First the mother and two of her teenage sons (18 and 17 years old) were sitting with us, then she told her 14 year old daughter to come in the room, and then the father made his way into the room. We weren't sure what to share (the mother seemed to want us to teach basic Christianity principles), and I didn't want them to think we were only here to shove our knowledge in their face, but that we actually cared about their needs and concerns. We were about to teach them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Faith, repentance, baptism, etc.) when I had the thought, "If you REALLY love and care for these people, you'll share with them the message of the Restoration - a message that will truly change their lives and will take care of anybody's needs or concerns." So we did. And the Spirit bore manifest that what we were sharing was true, and all 5 of them wanted to read the Book of Mormon together. The Father was like a child on the edge of his seat, captivated by the message of the gospel being restored through a prophet, and the children all were genuinely interested. They all accepted an invitation to be baptized, especially if it is by someone who is holding the restored Priesthood authority. The father offered the closing prayer, and in it he mentioned how before our meeting he was feeling ill and dizzy and how thankful he was for our meeting because he was now feeling better. He concluded his prayer and we taught the family that what they were feeling was the Spirit. That the Spirit fills us with peace, with clarity, can heal our spiritual, mental, AND physical aliments, such as their father's dizziness. It was a wonderful teaching opportunity and the family seemed more unified and happier than ever. We are so excited for them to learn more and understand how they can become sealed together for eternity. It was a great way to start off a Sunday.
Sunday evening we were in Kirtland helping at KMA - the Kirtland Missionary Academy. It's the Stake's mission prep class and all the Priests and Laurels attend this monthly class. We have to arrange 2 to 6 sets of missionaries to attend each month and President Sorensen recently told us that we should try to go to as many of them as we can. So we went and had a great time! The youth, next month, will be teaching real nonmembers, so yesterday they were role playing the Restoration lesson to us. It was fun and interesting to look at the Priests and realize that where they are, I once was. And comparing that to where I am now. I wonder if they all realize who they can become or how much they are needed. I wonder if they can understand their divine potential and the influence they can have on generations to come. I wonder if they can see how much the gospel of Jesus Christ has blessed their lives and how Jesus Christ is central to their happiness and eternal progression. I wonder if they know that the most important thing in the entire world they can be doing right now at this very second is to prepare to serve an honorable, full-time mission. It is so important. I cannot express in words what my mission has meant to me.
Life is short and it can be hard and complicated. But it doesn't have to be. It's now that we must prepare to meet our Maker and we've been given all the tools to prepare ourselves as best as possible. I have seen more clearly now than ever before in my life the power of daily prayer, regular scripture study, church attendance, etc. We can always change and constantly become what our Heavenly Father has always intended for us to become. Elder Jeffery R. Holland stated it so clearly this last April 2012 General Conference: "So if you have made covenants, keep them. If you haven’t made them, make them. If you have made them and broken them, repent and repair them. It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late."
Love, Elder Dransfield