For the past week we have continued to make preparations for our Luau activity coming up (this Saturday!). We've changed the show a little bit... It will no longer be about two missionaries arriving in Hawaii. It will be about a newly-wed couple who think they are stranded on some deserted island, when really it's Hawaii. The Sister went to school at Julliard for dance and has performed on Broadway and such, so her performing skills are pretty good. They were role-playing possible ideas and we were all laughing. It'll be a lot of fun!
To prepare, we've been calling ALL the members in our ward and setting up appointments to show them a nine minute clip from the Preach My Gospel DVD we got the idea from. Let's just say, I've pretty much got the video memorized. It's to the point now where when the members are watching it on their laptop for lack of a nearby TV, and we can't see the screen, Elder Ingersoll and I can say certain comments right on cue. I even dream about the DVD and the luau. Last week, I had a nightmare that the Relief Society President told me that she wouldn't invite any of her friends. Yes, a nightmare. But the preparations are going well and it should be a great event! Our only concern is that we won't have enough table settings or food. But I have faith and confidence that the Lord will provide for us those things that are out of our control, after we do all we can. It'll be a great activity!
On Thursday, we exchanged with the Assistants and I went with Elder Hicks back to my last area: North Olmsted. We had lunch with Erica (recent-convert) and Michael (was less-active but is now preparing for a mission) and went to do service for Sister Gircis (used to do a lot of service for her on her barn). We had a really great time and it was special to see that a lot of the fruits of my labor there were still growing and even producing more fruits! It was good to be back. AND Elder Hicks and I got Robeks smoothies. Hmmm... My new favorite? Strawanaberry with peanut butter. Mmm!
The family of eight we found a month or so ago is officially M.I.A. and Angel continues to be hot and cold as to her progression. We haven't been able to get a hold of her for a few days. Although last Tuesday we showed up at her house and had a pretty cool experience. We got there and found that she wasn't home when she texted us, explaining that she was helping a friend move then and lost track of time. Rather than simply rescheduling, we asked for the address and went over to also help the friend move. What took us maybe 30 minutes probably would have taken Angel and her friend a few hours to do alone, which deeply touched the friend. She was brought to tears when we told her that we had come to help her move, and again when we had finished it all with enough time for her to drive to her new house (about 45 minutes south, in the Akron area) with still some daylight. While we were moving and cleaning she asked many questions about our beliefs and we invited her to meet with the missionaries down in Akron who we had called and arranged to meet her in 45 minutes to help her unpack. We called the next day to see how everything went and she said how after the missionaries had moved her in, they said they'd have to come back to deliver the message (due to how late it was getting and missionary curfew) and she told them "What? The other guys said you'd share a message! I want my message now!" but she agreed to have them come back. She also told us that she had an outfit picked out for our luau and that she wouldn't miss it for anything :)
There are miracles and blessings everywhere. We just have to be looking with our spiritual eyes. See all the miracles around us and choose to magnify those things, rather than focus all our energies and worries on the troubles before us or stress of the world around us. I often find peace in a verse from John 16:33: "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). It's that eternal perspective that we must keep - that's part of the "endure to the end" part found in 2 Nephi chapter 31. As we count our many blessings and allow ourselves to be, as Lehi puts it, "encircled about eternally in the arms of his love" (2 Nephi 1:15) we can make it through things okay. Angel not being home ("flaming" us as we call it in our mission), brought immediate discouragement. But as we remained calm, loved her as Christ would, and looked for opportunity rather than blame or fault, we found a huge blessings. Life is all a matter of perspective. I wish I had some cool fortune cookie I could quote right now...
Other things that went on this week... Another Zone Meeting. We had the 1st and 2nd councilors in the Stake Presidency and one of President Sorensen's councilors all in attendance. We talked all about member involvement and how important it is to get the home and visiting teachers involved in our rescue efforts. Sunday was Mother's Day which means....skype home! It was so fun to see everyone and get to chat for a bit. It was my last time skyping/calling home until September. Wow! I also gave a talk yesterday at church in the Young Single Adult Branch. I spoke on prayer (and did my best to tie in Mother's to it - at one part I quoted from the Children's Songbook Love is Spoken Here:
I see my mother kneeling
with my family each day,
I hear the words she whispers
as she bows her head to pray.
Her plea to the Father
quiets all my fears,
and I am thankful
love is spoken here.
I am grateful for the many blessings in my life which my Heavenly Father has saw fit for me to have. I'm grateful for the teachings of the prophets, for my family, and the many other friends and examples in my life. I know that God lives and hears and can answer all of our prayers. I know that families can be together beyond the grave - not "till death do us part." I know and have a burning, living testimony within that the Book of Mormon is true. And I know that anyone who reads it can also have such a testimony. I'm grateful for Joseph Smith and his sincere prayer as a 14-year-old young man. It is because of him that I know who Jesus Christ is. And I know that Jesus Christ lives. Thanks for enduring through another random letter by Elder Dransfield. The church is still true over here in Kirtland. I love you all!