Monday, June 18, 2012

Humility: learning how to breathe under water

This week, the Sorensen's had their mission tour farewell. In three different days, they had meetings around the mission to basically say a few last words, tell us they love us, show us a cool video of Jeffrey R. Holland, and give us all a gift and hug/hand shake goodbye. It was a bitter-sweet meeting. The missionaries in each meeting all made arrangements to pay tribute to the Sorensens and the Akron and Youngstown Zone (my meeting) decided to sing a song as tribute. I thought it was a weak-sauce idea and did a little something extra. One of the Elders in our apartment ordered a nice, genuine leather-bound Book of Mormon. He accidentally ordered the compact size which is about 8x4" - a small guy! He wanted to order a new (bigger one) so we took advantage of the opportunity and I decided to have all the missionaries in the mission mark their favorite scripture and write their name next to it. I didn't think it would be that difficult, but anyone who knows me knows that I usually go crazy with projects like these. Here's the story of Elder Dransfield and the Farewell Gift:

Chapter 1: Once upon a time, it was Monday morning. Phonebook out, we call the local Christian Bookstore. We ask them if they can do engravings on sets of scriptures and they said they charge $5. Perfect! We asked if they will even do a Book of Mormon. They said yes. A few hours pass by and me and Elder Becksted drive to this store. We look around, see some Greg Olsen paintings, pick-up some scripture markers (for Elder B) and go to the check-out desk. Well... They refused to engrave my Book of Mormon. I asked why and she said that if a book isn't bought at their store and they mess-up, it cannot be replaced and thus they do not want to be liable for that. I asked if there was something I could sign that says "I don't care if they mess-up, I just need this done" and she said "no, we just wont do it." I probably stood there in silence looking down at the book for 30 seconds and the lady said, "I'm sorry, we just can't do it." I looked up and said, "Is there somewhere else I could go?" She told me they were the only place that do it in the area and that if I wanted I could go to the trophy shop where they can engrave things, but not put the silver or gold lining in. I told her that wouldn't do; that's not what you do with scriptures. I left asking, "Are you sure there's no way you can help me?" She said no. I thanked her and left.

Chapter 2: I never thought I would be so grateful for the Catholic church as I was this day. When we left the Christian Bookstore, I punched into my GPS point-of-interests "Christian." I scrolled through what seemed to be hundreds of churches when I saw the little icon for a store: "St. Raphael Christian Bookstore." I looked at Elder Becksted and said, "Well this will be awkward," and off we went. We pull up to a quaint little store nearby a large Catholic church - the lack of cars causing it to seem abandoned. We walked in and a little old lady asked, "Can I help you?" I probably sounded like a desperate lunatic as I explained to her what I needed and that the Christian Bookstore couldn't help me. "Yes, we can do that," she told me. I handed her over the book and she asked when I needed it back by. "Umm...right now?" She told me there was no way she could do it today, that usually people will drop these things off and give them days (dayS - plural! I had a mini-heart attack and millions of stomach ulcers suddenly appeared all over my stomach) to finish these. I told her that this was a going away present for someone we were seeing tomorrow. She quoted part of the Laborers in the Vineyard parable "something something eleventh hour" and said she would have it ready for me by tomorrow at 10am. The meeting was at 11am. I told her that would have to do. I thanked her and told her that I loved her for helping us. She looked at me funny. What is it with me telling everyone I love them?

Chapters 3, 4, 5, and 6 have to do with me running to Walmart and the Holley's apartment (the senior missionary couple in our ward) to figure out what to put on the inside flaps of the book, calling the Roseville Cover-to-Cover asking them to tell me the measurements of the book I had left with an old Catholic, and trying to do missionary work simultaneously. When we stopped by Walmart to print off some pictures for the Book of Mormon, the woman at the photo-center asked where the pictures were taken. It was a perfect opportunity to talk about the church and what we did and for the next 20 minutes she told us how her mother had recently passed away and how hard it has been. She has a brother who just moved to Utah and has been meeting with missionaries. We testified that families can be together forever and left with her spirits much higher than when we arrived. She was such a nice lady, not interested, but very kind. There's missionary work to be done everywhere - even Walmart!

In the end, the book looked like as follows: The cover had engraved in gold along the bottom "Ohio Cleveland Mission." When you opened the cover, the left side of the flap had a picture of the Kirtland Temple with part of D&C 38:32 quoted. The right side had our mission song (Armies of Helaman adapted into a Kirtland theme) lyrics. The back cover flap had a picture of the School of Prophets (from the Kirtland Historical Sites) with the rest of the D&C 38:32 quoted. On the left side of the flap was a little note where I quoted part of 2 Nephi 32:3 (words of Christ tell you...) and Jacob 7:26 (time passed a dream) and wrote about how much we'd miss them and hope they can treasure our favorite scriptures. I was very pleased with the finished product and when they presented it to the Sorensen's at the end of our meeting, they were very touched. I'm glad I could give them something that they can, hopefully, treasure forever. They took the book all around to each meeting (we were first) and had all the missionaries highlight their favorite scripture and sign their name. Mission accomplished. The End. I blame all of this on being around Kirtland Sisters for too long ;) just kidding!

So where does Elder Dransfield find time to do real missionary work amongst all of this? No sure. But we had a great week and have found many interested people from tracting! One house we knocked on and a mom answered. We began talking when three little children (ages 7, 5, and 4) ran out from between her legs and were running around the deck, asking us questions and showing us their toys. We visited with them for a bit and asked the mom if we could share a lesson with them. We taught them how their hands can teach them about Jesus and showed them a trick to know what faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end, and the Atonement are. They liked it. One house we knocked and a man came out with a nine millimeter hanging at his side. We talked for a good 30 minutes until he agreed to hear more and we shared the message of the restoration with him. One house we knocked remembered missionaries from two years ago who used to come and help her with her yard work. I named a few and she got really excited when I named the correct two: Elders Mo'unga and Farmer. She can't wait for us to come back next week. Another house we knocked on and a guy came out. He shared with us how he left the Amish faith when him and his wife were born-again. We talked about how important Christ was. He was very friendly and though not interested, we had a great contact with him. All kinds of miracles and tender mercies occur from diligence in tracting. It's not the best finding technique, but it definitely brings blessings into our lives as missionaries. The best way to find people, is to share with your friends how the restored gospel has helped and blessed your life and invite them to learn more (Sister Maas...*cough cough*).

Bonnie is still amazing. Her baptismal date is for July 7th and she is so excited for it. She really "gets it" when it comes to the gospel and what we're teaching her. Usually this ward likes baptisms to fall on Sundays so that more of the ward can attend (after church) but Bonnie made the comment that she would like to be conferred the gift of the Holy Ghost as soon as possible after her baptism. That way she's not vulnerable or in that state of limbo for too long (baptism and the a week later the Holy Ghost). It was such a sincere and heart-felt concern that we felt that a Saturday baptism would be more than appropriate. I wouldn't want to put someone in that state of discomfort. Bonnie is awesome and we love teaching her. She's going to be an amazing member! We hope we can meet and maybe even teach her husband soon and allow them to begin the journey of becoming an eternal family.

Today we are going up to Uniontown to play golf with Fred. Him and his wife (who is a member) feed us amazing food every week. Last year when I was here, I helped them build their coy pond. It's light outside, contrasted with dark clouds and thick humidity, but hitting at the driving range should be fun. If I can hit the ball... ha!

I think that's about it. Father's Day has come and gone. I'm grateful for my father and his love and example to me! I've got an awesome dad :) Can't wait to be just like him someday.

I still love Canton. Elder Harris works hard with me and the members treat us great. This week I will hit my 21-month-mark. Wow! I know everyone says this, but it really feels like I just left yesterday. Time flies when you're having fun! And are happy! Thanks for all the letters and prayers that are sent my way. I'm so grateful for how blessed I have been these past 21 months! Take care. Love you all!

Elder Dransfield

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