Monday, August 27, 2012

My Missionary Friends

After our last district meeting ... at Olive Garden


Last district pday

Our vegetable garden outside our Canton apt.

Elder D. with Elder Ingersoll and Sister Tokunaga striking a "sister" pose

Saying GoodBye in Canton



Sister Nelville

The Davis Family

Sister Dayton, the Relief Society President. She gave me a little sheep because that's what we do as missionaries, gather the Lord's sheep.

More Pictures... At the Akron Zoo

Goat vs. Missionary

City Boy

Primary Activity and the Akron Zoo

Polishing shoes.

Shaving a balloon

At the Akron Zoo

Scene from the Lion King

My Week in the Middle of Nowhere!

This week has been a very fulfilling week and much got done. We have met almost everyone the Sister missionaries before us were meeting with or those who the Bishop had asked us to see.

One family is Hispanic, the Jimenez family, and are tons of fun. The husband in not a member, the mother hasn't been to church in a while, and two of her four kids go to a different ward with some of their extended family. Sister Jimenez is always cracking jokes and is very nice to us. I had mentioned how we don't get fed very much in this area, and her 14-year-old son elbowed her saying "hint hint..." so they invited us to a barbecue birthday party for one of their grandchildren (turning 4). It was at a park by some reservoir and we had a great time with all of the family! We met all of her children and her husband, her brother (who is a less-active member in our ward), and a few other friends. They had a pinata and cake too :) It was a beautiful day (which means very little-to-no humidity...ha) and helped us get to know the family much better.

We've also been teaching these two kids - Derek (12) and Dylan (10). Their mom was baptized around 5 years ago and hasn't attended church in a long time. The boys like Elders a lot better than Sisters (the 10 year old wouldn't come down for the lessons before because they're girls...) and we have a blast with them. They can be pretty distracted and attention-hungry, but we manage to have good lessons with them. We had finished one of our lessons and Dylan had rode his skateboard away outside and a minute later came back with two small boxes of Krispy Kream donuts and said "I GOT DONUTS!!!!" Haha, my first thought was "Did he pull those out of a trash can, or did he steal those?" but I guess the guy who delivers the donuts always gives the kids who run to the truck a few boxes. So we got to take one of the two boxes! Yum.

Wednesday we went to the Fisher-Titus Hospital to seek out their volunteer opportunities. Missionaries have gone there in the past and so we thought we'd give it a shot. They said they would love us to come and help escort their patients to different rooms or parts of the hospital. We think it's a great opportunity to be one-on-one with different people have leave the door open for questions and answers! We had to get TB Shots and background checks while we were there - not sure I'll pass the background check ;)

Wednesday night we also helped with a primary activity. It was on missionary work and the Sisters before us were supposed to be doing all of it. So the Sunday before, the Primary President pulled us aside and asked if we knew anything about it. NO! But we were happy to pull something together. It was only for senior primary (ages like 8-12 or something like that? There were like 12 girls and 3 boys). I kind of took charge or the whole thing and decided that we'd be having the kids come to the "Sandusky MTC." We typed up some fake mission calls (that looked just like our real ones) and had the Bishop sign them all. We called them to the Ecuador Guayaquil South Mission because one of the ladies in the Primary Presidency served her mission there. The Primary President made some nametags and we made passports of the kids to travel to each of the 4 stations we'd have set-up. One station was the "culture" station, where Sister Torres brought all kinds of pictures and objects from her mission and she taught the kids about learning the language, eating the food, etc. One station was the "study" station, where they talked about studying the scriptures on a mission and more of the spiritual side of the activity. One was the "work" station, and we had the Sandusky Elders set up some fake-tracting opportunities. Members (including the Bishop) were in different classrooms in a hallway and the little kids had to knock on the door and do what we do. We heard the kids were pretty impressive. Our station was the "dress" station. It was awesome! We took the bags of leftover Sister-clothes from our apartment and some of our clothes and decorated our area like a big closet. We also had some shoes on a table to shine (we didn't bring the polish, just the brushes), an ironing board and iron (not plugged in), a shirt needing some buttons sewed on, and outside had the shaving station! So we taught the kids about how important it was to be able to do these things (shining shoes, sewing, ironing, etc.) and had them do them all. We then would have them put on some of the different clothes we had brought and so they were all dressed up like missionaries - they loved it! We then brought them outside where we had balloons with faces on them, shaving cream, and some cheap-o razors. We explained that Elders need to be clean-shaven and that these missionaries (the balloons) needed help shaving. So we would put shaving cream all over the balloon and hold the balloons for the kids while they shaved. Most of the realized that if they just used the plastic-side of the razor, the chances of the balloon popping went way down. But some cut the balloon and "the companion exploded with anger" - and got shaving cream ALL OVER them! hahaha it was awesome! They had the dress-up clothes on so it was okay. Overall the activity went great and the Primary leaders were very impressed and grateful. We had fun.

Friday was a Zone Conference - they had everyone bear their testimony at the end who would be leaving before the next Zone Conference. Saturday we walked around Norwalk all day from about 2pm to 8pm because we're very low on miles for this month! So we walked and walked and walked and were able to make contact with everyone who we were trying to see! We also got more honks and yells from cars driving-by on the busier roads than probably my whole mission put together! The people of Norwalk are a different people... But we love 'em anyways.

It's been busy as usual and we're having a blast. Elder Jarvis and I are doing our best to find some success in our area. I'm able to understand a little bit more everyday why I got transferred here with only 6 weeks left - there's always a reason when it comes to Heavenly Father. I hope everyone reading this can also see His hand in their lives. Everything always seems to work out as we do what we are told. I'm grateful for knowing that. Love you all, have an awesome day!

Love, Elder Dransfield

Learning about the culture of Ecuator

The "study" station

Knocking on doors. The bishop answered.

learning about ironing

Picking out missionary clothes

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Norwalk: The Beginning of the End

I am now serving in Norwalk, Ohio. It is about 25 miles south of Sandusky, Ohio which is right up on the lake. East of Toledo, West of Cleveland, kind of in the middle of the two. Sandusky is known for their huge, indoor-water parks and Ohio's best amusement park - Cedar Point. Norwalk is known for... I'm not really sure yet. Yesterday, somebody told us that there is a virus named after the town. So, that's cool! Norwalk is a small little town in the sticks where nobody every leaves. It's very different than any other town/city I've served in.

Elder Jarvis is my new companion. He is from Safford, Arizona and has been on his mission for almost a year. I picked him up from the airport when I was an AP - now he's my senior companion! I'm leaving this mission the way I came in ;) He is my 8th companion since I've been released as an AP. President Sorensen had told me that I wouldn't serve with a missionary more than a transfer for the rest of my mission, but I figured I could get by at least ONE 2-transfer comp! Guess not. Norwalk was and has been for years a Sister missionary area. Elder Jarvis and I "shotgunned" or "white-washed" the area (they put two new missionaries in an area instead of transferring just one at a time), which has been interesting. Our first night here, I started feeling really sick and next thing you know, I was over a toilette trying to throw-up. For the next 3 days I was down-and-out, trying to kick the stomach virus which I thought I had stayed clear of the 2 or 3 weeks our apartment was all sick. I got it my last day. What are the odds! I'm feeling like 99% better today, so we'll be working or tails off now.

It's been an interesting transition from Sisters to Elders. Usually when an area is white-washed, there is not much work going on. Here, though, the Sisters had tons of investigators and less-active members they were teaching. It's been overwhelming trying to contact all these people as quickly as possible while fighting some stomach virus. But we've slowly but surely been catching everyone home and establishing good first-impressions (thus trust!). The ward welcomed us warmly although were very confused why we weren't dressed in skirts with name tags reading "Sister...". The ward originally had one set of Elders and one set of Sisters - now there are two sets of Elders. We have a great Bishop and a new Ward Mission Leader who are excited about the work - so hopefully we will be able to feed their fire and get the ward to start doing some of their own missionary work.

The Sisters left our apartment very clean and we have not found long hairs all over the place, so we've been very grateful. We have called one of the Sisters who served here before like everyday with questions, but I think we're getting the hang of everything now. The reason they took the Sisters out was because of the need for more Sisters at the Kirtland Historical Sites. The church is assigning less Seniors to the Sites because they're needed in other parts of the world. So there were good Sisters here and they left us with great notes, people, and work to do. This is my second area I've white-washed, so here we go!

My last day in Canton was a little sad, but not as bad as I thought it would be. We went by some members houses and said goodbye, had a district P-day at the Holley's where we ate, played games, and took pictures, and we ended our day having dinner at the Bosnackovic's. Sister B was pretty sad that I was going - she decided that we were friends in the pre-existence, but I told them that it wouldn't be the last time we see each other! She made us her famous salmon and enchilada's (Elder Montgomery wanted Mexican) for dinner - Mmmmm! I got to say goodbye to people like Bonnie and Keith - both were shocked I was going and sad to see me go. But they're both on great paths now and are doing amazing in their progression. I'll come back to that ward and they'll be in the Bishopric and Relief Society Presidency ;) Just kidding, but I'm happy for them. It's cool to reflect back and see why I came back to Canton for such a short time - see the lives I was able to be a part of and help. I'm sure I'll do the same when I am leaving Norwalk.

Things are going well, as they always have. The weather is nice, the church is true, and I still have gained no weight :'( But it's all good! I'm grateful to get to serve here in Ohio and spend my last few weeks in this new assignment. President Sorensen told me, before I was released, that he was going to squeeze me like a sponge and get everything out of me before my mission is over. At transfer meeting, one of the Assistants came up to me and whispered to me that where I was going is how they would get every drop of everything I know/have out of me. So here we go! It will be the most exhausting, yet empowering, last 6 weeks, but I'm ready for it! Have a great week everyone!

Love, Elder Dransfield

Doing service My new companion, Elder Jarvis This is from a harbor in Sandusky,Ohio

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Broken Heart, Contrite Spirit, and Life Full of Joy

This last week Elder Montgomery faced a lot of sickness. It started with a sore throat and headache, then throwing up and exhaustion, and then some kind of hives or cold sores all over his arms and legs. It's been bizarre. But I played Elder Mom again and took care of him - hung up a blanket over the window to darken our room, give him lots of orange juice, give him the pills he needed at the times he needed them, make him his lunch and dinners... After 4 days of this, I decided I can never be a stay-at-home mom. It's too hard. This must be why they send us on missions - to appreciate our moms and soon-to-be-wives more. Good grief!

We taught Liz again yesterday and had a great lesson. We shared with her the rest of the Plan of Salvation. She admitted that our last lesson was a little bit distracting (a baby and basset hound hogging all the attention) and that her mind has felt like mush for the past few months. So we gave her the cliff-notes version; I drew her a picture of the Plan of Salvation and walked her through it. She asked us about her handicapped son who has since passed and we assured her that she would see him again. At the end of our lesson, she said that this had been our best lesson yet. Not because of the way he taught, but because she didn't feel any confusion or conflicting (prior-religious beliefs) feelings. She was able to find comfort and greater understanding by learning the plan and, though she has received so much opposition from family and friends for meeting with us (already! It's only been a few weeks!!) she is slowly feeling her faith returning. So that's good - we're doing our job I guess. About time!

Last night we received transfer information and my stomach dropped when they said that I would be transferred. I was positive that I would end my mission in Canton - which has always been my dream to come back here and "die" here. We all thought this would be my last destination before the final destination. But no. My heart ached last night. I sent a few texts out to close friends and practically family that I've gained out here and everyone seemed to be as shocked as me. But it's where the Lord needs me. I'll go where He wants me to go... This morning while I was brushing my teeth, I thought "I feel like Mary Poppins having to leave at the end of the movie," which was followed by "Why am I thinking about Mary Poppins?" haha. But even if I understand the way the revelation works in the mission office for transfers, it's still hard. I can't keep writing, I'm still on-edge about it. I don't care where I'm sent, I know I'll be able to handle it and will do all I can to build up a missionary, ward, area, etc. These last few weeks are where I give it all I've got.

Well I only have 6 weeks left. Most people reading this are probably thinking "Woo hoo!" and I'm sure after I'm home I'll be thinking that too. But all this change, all the ending of the most incredible 2 years of service, the completion of the "best two years" as every says... It really sucks. I'm happy to see family and old friends, but I could stay here for the rest of my life. Not many times in my life have I felt my heart hurt as much as it has the last 13 hours. But I'll survive :)

I'll end with my favorite scripture, which throughout my mission has given me hope and perspective. John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." It's only in and through Christ, the Savior, that I can find "peace" and "good cheer." Without the knowledge and testimony I have, I imagine life would be a little slower, sadder, and harder. But as I rely on my faith and live it, I can feel His influence in my daily steps, His comfort in my tears. I'm grateful for the church, for the restoration of Priesthood authority, and for the blessing it has been to be back in Canton, Ohio. I love the people here and will always have a special place in my heart of Ohio - but specifically Canton. I love you all. Whoever is reading this, try a little harder today to be a little better. Try it out and see how much happier you will be when you lay your head down to rest. That's the why we're here. That's why we exist - to be happy.

Love, Elder Dransfield

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Adventures of Dr. Dransfield, the Three Blind Mice, and NCMO's

Ohhh Monday. Here I am, having no idea what to talk about or where to start. Bear with me...

This week we started teaching a lady named Liz. She is in her 60's and grew up on the east coast with a man who is now a member of the church. He has been talking with her about the church for years, and her Catholic beliefs always caused her to not worry too much about what he was sharing. Two years ago she suffered from a heart attack and other health challenges, and since then even more trials in her life. Her friend, who is now in South Carolina, asked her if she was ready to have the missionaries be sent to her house. She said yes, and that's where we come in (literally!). She is awesome. Very kind, very smart, and very desirous to know if God has really been there for her through all these bad things - is He even real at all? We assured her that all of her questions and concerns, the hungering of her soul, can and will be resolved through the teachings of Jesus Christ. Due to work she was unable to come to church yesterday, but she plans on being their next week! The cool thing is she lives right by two other families from the ward, so she has some neighbors she can rely on for any future help. We are excited for her and hope that she can receive answers to her prayers and reading.

Bonnie is doing great! She got a new job and has had some really cool experiences with the Holy Ghost. I asked her earlier in the week if she could feel a difference, and she's been having lots of testimony building experiences. She said, "I need to write them down, they're starting to wrack up and I'm starting to forget some of them." One of those was when she was at the grocery store. She was going down her shopping list and suddenly had the thought to go and get some vinegar. She disregarded it for it didn't make sense to go across the store for it while she could just work her way there as she went through her list. She again had a very clear and sharp thought/impression to go and get the vinegar now. She decided she should do it and when she go to the isle, there was a little old woman by the sugar who was suffering from a heart-attack or stroke. There was nobody else around and so Bonnie ran to get help and was able to get an ambulance to pick her up. She has also noticed how the Holy Ghost has helped her remain calm in frustrating or stressful situations. I'm grateful that she's noticed all these blessings! Her new job is 3rd shift, but she is just happy to have a job (and have weekends off! Woo hoo!).

Bonnie also texted us last yesterday and I almost fell over laughing. I have to share this and I hope she doesn't care. For those who went to BYU, this will be hilarious. For those who didn't or haven't, ask someone else what we're talking about.

Bonnie: Watching a show on Mormon college life. Now I know what a NCMO "nick-mo" is and a DTR. Ha! I'm having an omg moment myself! Bonnie: At BYU Me: HAHAHAHA oh my gosh, you're kidding me?! What show is this? Bonnie: History Channel! Me: Wow! I can't believe that! I'm cracking up... We're with another member and he's laughing too. How is that history channel worthy?? Bonnie: The history of how religion shaped Utah territory. Bonnie: I have no freaking idea, but I'm a wreck cuz I'm STILL laughing. Now I have the inside of the BYU crew. HAHA

I'm laughing as I retype this. I promise the rest of our texts/phone calls are more purpose driven. That was just too funny and I had to share. Ohhhhh BYU/Utah...

This week one of the Elders in the apartment was sick. To help the other Elders with their schedule (to keep them from having to cancel everything) we shared areas and took turns baby-sitting (or "elder-sitting") him. I took the first day and quarantined him in his bedroom. I put a big blanket up to cover the window, gave him a fan and some cold water bottles, and said, "Go to sleep. When you wake up, go back to sleep. When you wake up again and feel restless and like you want to come downstairs with me, go back to sleep. I don't want to see your face for the next 3 hours. Goodnight!" And thus it was. I deep-cleaned the downstairs, made a million-and-a-half phone calls, and decided that if I had to stay inside for much longer I would whither away. I'm no Martha Stuart, but I survived. He is doing better now, so that's good.

We also found this week some little friends who have been living with us. The first one we named Mickey. The second one was killed before we could think of a name. Just kidding we didn't name them - but the mouse traps took care of the job. Nobody wanted to dispose of the dead bodies so I had to. The second one we found in the morning. We were in the living room and watched it run from the basement door to the kitchen. I walked in after it and as I passed the refrigerator, it jetted out towards me and ran right between my legs. I yelled, somehow manged to throw both legs up into the air, turn sideways and spin 270 degrees mid-air. I then ran back into the living room. I wasn't so much scared of the mouse, it just startled me. But at least it wasn't another cockroach ;)

We had another great lesson with Keith (I mentioned him last week). He came to church and stayed all three hours! He loved it and when we went over later that day for a lesson, he had his nephew and his nephew's girlfriend come and join our lesson. All three should be at church next week! Keith is just on fire right now - he sees how much the gospel has been changing him (and so quickly) and is so much happier than he's been in a long time. He always gets a little emotional during Sacrament Meeting, but does a good job at hiding it! We're excited for him and the great things that lie ahead for him.

I'm so grateful to be back in Canton. I love it down here - the members, the landscaping, the people... Everything is so great. Elder Montgomery and I are doing very well and are having a blast serving together. I hope he or I don't get transferred next week (the 15th in our transfer meeting)! But wherever the Lord needs us, that's where we'll go. Hope everyone has a great week!

Love, Elder Dransfield