Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mid- nighted

Hello Dear Family,
   I have to be very brief today as I have a lot on the agenda. P-Day is not play day, it is preparation day. Friday night at 9:30 I received a call from the AP's and they told me to have my bag's packed and ready to go to Ashtabula, OH by 7 A.M.! Apparently there were some problems in this area (I didn't ask) and they needed to get an Elder out and fill the vacant spot immediately. In the mission if you get transferred before the normal transfer date it is called getting "mid-nighted", so literally at midnight I was packing up my stuff and getting out of East Cleveland. I am going to miss that area alot, I put my whole heart into it. It felt good as I called the Bishop and told him I was leaving, he congratulated me on how I left the area. Some of the members I was close with were crying on the phone, the whole thing was pretty bitter sweet, as it is a new opportunity and a new challenge.

So I am now in Ashtabula with Elder O'Donley. We will only be together for about another week, (transfers on the 26th). He is leaving the area after being here 6 months, and I was also called Saturday morning to be a trainer for a new missionary coming from the MTC next week! I am honored to be able to train. I know that my dedication to work is about to take on a new meaning. It is definitely going to be a challenge. AS for another piece of mission terminology, when two Elders take over a new area without one of them being there previously it is called "white-washing" an area. That is what we will be doing. I feel like I am starting from the bottom up but it will definitely be growing experience. A lot of new responsibility and alot my relying on the Lord, that is over all feeling in my life. I know that I can rise to the challenge and progress this area. It is huge! Which is nice because I finally got my driving privileges and I am the captain of a brand new Dodge truck! (It's my baby).

 My first Sunday in Ashtabula was pretty awesome. I got to meet the amazing members here and I actually met a woman who is my Dad's cousin! Her name is Sis. Smith! I can't remember the first name but I'll get to know her better as time goes by. I felt that was a little tender mercy of the Lord to have her in the middle of the country in Ohio. It was also a little weird to here her refer to my Grandma as "aunt Emma".

 I just want you all to know that the sweet letters and packages you all send really mean alot. I really struggle to find time to write you back, I feel bad. I am a bit overwhelmed at the moment and hope you all will be patient with me in my lack of response. Just know that I am doing the Lord's work and I am doing my best. I am so grateful for the many blessing and challenges of this life. Please pray for me to get my feet under me in my new area and my new assignment. I love you all so much.

 I know that God lives and that Jesus is our Saviour.
Remembrance is everything, remember Him this week!

Love, Elder Prince

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A letter home to family

What a week it has been! On Tuesday I had an interview with my mission President which was quite interesting. The tendency for me in my life has been that as I have an interview with someone of high ranking in the church I tend to get nervous, just my foolish nature I suppose. I used to do it with Bishop Cannon until our relationship grew to be a true friendship. So before I went in I told myself that I was going to show him the true colors of my personality, that is laugh uncontrollably if I think something is funny, cry if I am sad, ask for help if I need help. As we began to talk I felt heavy. I had had a long week and was a bit discouraged with where I was spiritually. I told him that I was feeling a decline of desire. That I felt I had some how plateaued spiritually for the moment  and that I could be doing better. I love President Sorensen because he is a listener. He asked me a few questions and then began to expound the Doctrine and Covenants to me. All in all I left the meeting feeling pretty much the same way, but I left with his encouraging advice. He told me to write a vision of myself, and to be that vision at least until the end of the transfer and to "drink deeply" from the scriptures every chance I get. At his counsel I wrote up a vision of myself and I have spent the free minutes that I do have reading the scriptures and a few great things have come to  my mind. Above all else I came to the realization that I was setting expectations for myself, that great as they may be, were for my betterment and not solely focused on the people I serve. I have a hope that by the time I return home I will be a more refined human being, more holy, more humble, and more loving. All of these things come with time and are the natural result  of serving others. I have realized that I need not worry about becoming something for 2013. I need to be in tune with the spirit on a day to day basis and all other things will come.

 My brother Kiefer wrote me a letter this week that really made my thoughts come full circle as he explained to me that his mission papers are now in and how grateful he was to be following the gospel. He told me how I need to be easier on myself ( a note of advice that I have heard from countless others). He told me if I labored all my days and baptized a single soul on my mission that it would be worth it (something I remember myself saying before my mission). And what really touched my heart and re-kindled the flame was how we expressed to me his gratitude for how I brought him into the gospel.

A few days later I received a letter from a young woman I have never met. She said that she attends Snow College and that she had heard stories of an "un-named" young man from Brother Scott who had gone through struggles to find his way and ultimately made it on a mission. She said that un-named person had come up a month prior in a lesson from her "Miracle of Forgiveness" class and how she felt a strong impression to seek my name and information and write me, an impression she didn't follow through on. She said that a month later she was having a lesson on "sins of omission" and that she had the same strong impression. So she wrote me a 3 page letter sharing her struggles, her prompting of the spirit to write me me and lastly her encouragement and testimony. Her advice and encouragement were identical to the counsel given by my mission president, that of going with all struggles and cares to the scriptures. These experiences really strengthened me this week. I have received so many kind words and gifts from my friends and families, that have proved to me another level of love that I didn't realize previously existed. After receiving gifts in the mail this week from both my mother and father that touched me and warmed my heart I was reminded by the spirit that if my earthly parents love me and know how to answer to my needs, how much more does my Heavenly Father have for me. This is true for all of us. He is going to grant all of the things he has promised. If we have a high vision of ourselves, he has one higher for us. His love is made manifest to me in the plainest and sometimes strangest of ways. Of all the wrong that I do, the great is being forgetful. I have so much to remember and in turn to be grateful for.

 I am blessed to have this outlet of sharing my feelings with you each week. I have made it a point that I want to always be genuine in how I feel, especially with the ones I love. If the words that come from my heart seem heavy , know that I too feel light so much. I am being supported to this work. I love the people. I feel the spirit and when I am discouraged peace is ALWAYS provided. Our Heavenly Father is intimately and individually aware of His children. Like the song says, "count your blessing and it will surprise you what the Lord has done". In the unfortunate case that any of you find yourselves asking "how has the Lord shown his love for me?", and you can't see your family, your friends, your food, shelter and clothes. If you are a lot like me and forget. Let us go to the scriptures and read about the atonement which is the greatest example of how the Lord has shown his love for us. I believe in Christ. He is the bed-rock of my soul. I wish I had the words and capacity to explain what He means to me. I love you all so much and I thank you for the love you share with me and for being a family I can confide in weekly.

 We are so blessed!

 Love, Elder Prince

Monday, October 3, 2011

4 Month Report!

Dearest Friends and Family,
                                          Greetings from the eastern shore of Lake Erie.
 The Fall has set in here in East Cleveland. The thick green of summer is passing away, the blue of the sky is fading to gray and I wish you could all see the beautiful leaves.
 I look more intently on the changing seasons, the faces of the people, the housing, the buildings, it is a strange feeling I get as I look at my area as it is rougher than any place I've ever been, it is quite run down and the abandoned buildings cast off an 'erie' vibe (no pun intended), but, I cant tell you how beautiful this place is to me. I love the red brick buildings everywhere, all the corner stores, the buses, the schools, the black people, the white people, them Muslims, Christians and the Jews. Poor and rich, it is all here.
 I plan my schedule every night but to be honest,I have no idea what my day is going to bring. The temperature dropped off about 20 degrees and it has rained all week. I was sick about 4 days this week, one of which I stayed in. My Zone Leader(Elder Bills) stayed home with me and sang me about 20 hymns while my companion went on an exchange with my other Zone Leader (Elder Rangel). So aside from being under the weather it truly was a great week.
My companion and I have been working with a less active family in our ward named the Sipps for about a month and a half now and aswe were making our weekly visit to them last week with a typical short message when it just came to me that I need to go in there and be flat out bold about coming to church, so being confident in my impression I took no prisoners! The mother of the family still hasn't come to church, a habit which has persisted the better part of two years now, but the 19 year old daughter took to our invitation.
This young girls name is Jaenetta. She is 19 and has a 3 year old son named Jamari. This girl is the diamond in the rough. She initially stopped coming to church because she felt that during her pregnancy she was being wrongfully judged and out casted. She has taken us up on our challenge to attend church regularly and participated this week in a service project, a ward BBQ, and two weeks of church attendance (Including conference). The light is back in this girl, night and day difference from when we first started meeting with them. She told us this week she got accepted into college, and broke things off with her boyfriend she felthe was going in the opposite direction. She is also trying to buy a CTR ring this week, I had to smile at that. Perhaps what has even more encouraging than this girls progress has been her missionary efforts. She referred us to four investigators since we have began working with her. It is little things like this that make me feel like I am making a difference.
 I am doing all I can to further submit myself to this work. Your mind cannot be on something other than the work whilst you hope to get the work done. I have noticed that if I let my mind drift I begin to be neglectful of the little things that make a big difference out here.
      My testimony has been so strengthened this week by General Conference. I loved every minute of it. Saturday night tugged on my heart strings as I reflected upon it being the traditional night to be out with my father and brothers. I hadn't missed a Priesthood Session with them in years. So upon being moved by my sentimental side I went on an exchange with my brother from a Venezuelan mother, Elder Rangel, and went to this really posh restaurant around the corner from me and ordered up a $5 appetizer and a muscle shooter in commemoration of my Dad! Priesthood session was incredible, I was really moved by many of the addresses, particularly Elder Hollands. I was also happy to hear the announcement of new temples being built, especially Star Valley as I know that place is near and dear to my friend Brother Scott.
           I want you all to know that things are well here in Cleveland. Despite laboring these last 4 months without a single baptism I feel that I fulfill my purpose every day. I have grown in my testimony and grown in my love for family, friends, and strangers. Perhaps more than any other facet of my testimony, my love for the Plan of Salvation has grown. As I teach our loving Heavenly Father's plan I can help but wonder about my standing before Him. I know how we can find our standing with Him, we must check our desires. If our desires are pure and of the intent to serve those around us and reach from something charitable then we are right where we need to be. I know that He lives, he loves endlessly, and desires our happiness.
 His spirit flows like water, that is,it takes the path of least resistance, my prayer is that the ones I teach and love most will not resist his ever extended hand. The underlying theme of this General Conference was repentance. I swear to use this gift. To re-commit daily, and to continue to retain a remembrance of my Savior. Repentance should not be dreadful, in fact it is the opposite. I know no matter who we are, where we have been, or what we have done the hand is still extended. I find it a beautiful ting that the Master was an observer of nature and used his observations in his teachings, so let our eyes see the changing leaves and skies and be drawn to the promise that because of Him, we too can die and be re-born. It is going to be a long winter in Cleveland, and so it will be in Salt Lake but may the love that He provides continually warm us each day and be manifested in how we treat each other.
I love you all so much!
Elder Prince.