Dearest Friends and Family,
What a wild week it has been! The mission is challenging for so many reasons. Leaving East Cleveland was such an experience. The night I left I was biking down a street on my way home thinking about how much I truly love that area. The spirit whispered to me "This is the last time you'll be on this street". Also that same night we recieved a call from a man whose father we had been ministering to in the Hospital for a few weeks. He informed us that his Father had passed away a few hours prior and he thanked us for all that we had done to help their family. I called up my favorite members and the Bishop and they all left me with words of thanks and encouragement, the whole experience was bitter sweet, but I know now that the Lord has better things in store for me.
Early in the week I went back down to Cleveland to attend a trainers meeting held at the mission home. I was so excited by the new responsibilities I have in training a new missionary. I have set some goals for myself on what kind of leader I want to this good elder. Above all I want to try and think of him before I think of myself and do all I can to lead by example. I feel so privilaged to be trusted enough to whitewash a new area with a brand-new elder. The work is set for us, but I know that we can do alot of good here in Ashtabula. The work has all ready commenced and I am so excited!
Ashtabula is quite a run down place. Alot of poverty, nothing new for me, but the difference is that it is all white people! The ward is spread out with it's members from many different towns from about an hour and a half driving distance from the chapel, so working with members will be a bit of a challenge, we'll figure it out.
Right now we have 7 baptismal dates! All of which are teenagers! There ages range from 11 to 19 and all abut two are girls. I am loving teaching these young kids because they need the gospel as much as anybody and they are all so enthused about it! One of our AP's came down this week to help me get my area reading and to teach me how to work with the members and ward leaders. It was so good to have him around. His named is Elder McClellan. I admire this Elder so much, he set an incredible example for me in the three days he was here. I was like a spounge soaking in every word that he told me.
Last weekend we were tracting and we ran into two young woman, Jonica & Moraya. After meeting them they agreed to have us back and we taught them for three days in a row and they came to all three hours of church on Sunday. The lessons have been so filled with the spirit and each visit these girls get more and more committed to be better. We taught them the first five principles of the Gospel of Christ, namely Faith, repentane, baptism, recieveing the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end and following the lesson I got my bold on and invited them to humble repent of their sins in prayer that same night. WE called last night to follow up on their reading, praying and our challenge and they said that they forgot to repent, but that they stayed up together reading from the Book of Mormon until two in the morning! This is sweet music to a missionaries ears! So excited to keep teaching them and help them progress. Transfers are tommorrow and we are driving down to Cleveland to meet my new greenie! I am going to have him extend the invitation to be baptized to thses two girls on his fist lesson, it is going to be beautiful!
I am again also finding so much joy in helping out the less actives and this week I have been particularly touched by the faith of one whose name is Garfield Fay. I have to send a picture of him because he is hard to describe other than he reminds me of what I think Porter Rockwell might look like/act like in real life. This guy is so raw, big old white and grey beard, long hair, and yet so loving humble, and what I apprecaite more than anything, honest. We taught him about faith and I expounded a few scriptures from the New Testament to him about letting go and following Christ. It must have really hit home with him because he came to church the next day for the first time in a long time and came out teaching with us all yesterday! This man's story is so incredible. He had to flee from his family with his wife and kids because his sister married into the Cleveland Mob, making him "mob family". They wanted him to work for them and use his weaponry skills he had attained in his 12 years in the Army/Navy! He spent alot of years out in Las Vegas and has an incredible conversion story. That is why the mission is great, you get to meet people you never would've and their stories of faith humble you so much! I also have become tight with a woman in our ward named Sue Smith, who happens to be my Dad's cousin all the way out here in Ashtabula! We read her some scriptures from the Doctrine and Covenants about strong members role in bringing weak members back (a subject I know a little about i.e. Bishop Cannon and Bro. Scott). She mentioned that her son and His wife were struggling and hadn't been to church in some time. I told them I would follow up with them as soon as possible. So last night we rode our bikes across town (felt like I was in East Cleve again) and went and found Jared and Missy Smith (not Justin & Missy but close). Only Jared was home when we arrived but I explained who were were and how we were actually second cousins! He let us in and we proceeded to have a great conversation with him. He totally opened up to us about the struggles he is facing and how he has been dealing with not feeling forgiven despite having repented and changed. I related so much to what he described and began to expound the scriptures to him about how loving and merciful our Heavenly Father truly is. The spirit was so strong and it was such a blessing to connect with him so deeply. We committed him to read from the Book of Mormon everyday until we returned for a week and said we would talk about how he felt. Before we left he agreed to let us give him a blessing and the spirit flowed just the water. All were edified and grateful and blessed for the meeting.
Last night when we got home I was so overwhelmed by the love and gratitude I had felt for the day. I layed on the bed of my truck for a moment and just looked at the stars and how beautiful they were. I hadn't looked at the stars while on my mission and as I had this moment of peace and gratitude I reflected on the grandeur of it all. That the Almighty would make all of this and yet care for his children individually and intimately. I can't fathom that type of love! We are so blessed to be alive. I find that I am happier the more I lose myself. The less I think about home (don't take it wrong), myself and my worries and focus on others I am filled with love. I want you all again to know of my surety that God lives and loves. I am so grateful that there is a purpose to life and that we all have each other. In unity we can do anything. I love you all so much and thank you all for your warm words and encouragement, all is well in the Ohio.
All my love till next time- Elder Prince