Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy New Year!

Dearest Friends and Family,
                                             It was so good to hear from many of you on Christmas, so much I wish to say and always too little time. This past week has been a very special week for my companion and I. We had Christmas Conference with half of the Elders in the mission. The conference was broken into two segments, for the first few hours the meeting was held in the Kirtland Temple. An amazing spirit attended the meeting. As we all filed in I sat down early and began to thumb through my Doctrine and Covenants and sat and read of the account of the Savior appearing at the very breastwork of the pulpit in front of me. The temple has come to mean so much to me in my mission, it was my second time inside, the first visit was in the first few hours I had been in the field. We all sang hymns together and had a testimony meeting. I felt so moved upon as I bore my testimony, it was perhaps the simplest and shortest testimony I had bore in my life and yet I felt such a surge of warmth enter my heart as I spoke. President Sorensen addressed us all and he spoke of angles, he spoke of how we are assisted in this work from many on high. He gave accounts of angelic visions that had occured to early and modern saints in the Kirtland temple. He then spoke to the mission about our baptismal service the Sunday prior saying "We attended a baptism this week in which both Elders were baptizing tw young grils, they were all dressed in white and truly looked angelic and full of light". It was very humbling that he made mention of "two of his elders". We then headed down for lunch and the latter half of the conference at the Kirtland Stake Center. We got to receive Christmas letters from our family back home and read them quietly to ourselves, the entire room was a cry fest. Then they let us all watch "17 Miracles" a movie based on miracles recorded by the Willie Hand Cart company. The movie was incredible and the needless to say, the cry fest continued.

                                             Christmas day was so much fun for us both. First thing we did when we woke up was scurry to the living room to open presents like a couple of children. It was weird opening them without family to go hug and thank. I granted my companion permission to go back to sleep, he quickly did so knowing that was probably the only time he would ever hear those words come from my mouth. I stayed up by myself in the dark living room, made some hot chocolate and played "Mr. Krugers Christmas" in my little DVD player. Lets just say I am so soft these days even Mr. Krugers Christmas reduced me to tears, I'm so happy my companion was asleep for that! After Church we got to call home, it was truly great to hear my families voices, in such a big family with so little time it was hard to let you all go. I hope that you all knew of my love and how happy I was to hear that all of you were doing so well. My shortest conversation was with Isaac who informed me of his new Gecko, it was at that moment that I realized nothing has really changed back home. We finished the night eating at one of the members homes and then out teaching one of our investigators.

                                             There is a young girl named Emily we are teaching right now who belongs to a part-member family named the Vagi's here in Ashtabula. We are the only missionaries that have been able to make progress with her and she is going to be prepared to be baptized on January 14th. I feel such a close bond to this whole family. I never want to leave when I am there and I can hardly shake them from my thoughts at times. We are working at getting all of them active again but thus far only the Mom has committed to come back. We taught Emily yesterday and she said that her New Years resolution is to go to church every Sunday! Emily and her Mom also committed to reading the Book of Mormon along a reading schedule in three months after the New Years. WE are working with an excommunicated brother i our ward right now as well who is making a lot of progress and is giving up smoking. We are confident that he can be re-baptized very shortly. We have been so guided and directed in our time here to teach the people we are supposed to teach, we'll keep you posted on further developments. WE did get a call this morning however from one of our most solid investigators who sad she has to cut ties with us because of things her family has been telling her about our faith. So that was kind of hard and its the first time it has really happened t my companion but we can rest with the surety that her life is definitely improved from the first day we met her on the street.

                                             Things are well here. The goodness of God is continually pressed upon me, I feel so full of gratitude to be in the position to help others. Thank you all for your prayers in my behalf, they work! I know that He lives and loves, that is the most important thing I could share. Hope you all have a very Happy New Years!
                                                                                                                   Love, Elder Prince

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Dearest Family,
                        I am indeed grateful to write you this good morning and report to you the great blessing of the work my companion and I are engaged in. On Sunday my companion and I were able to baptize our friends Angie Hepler and Alliyah Harris who have been investigating with us since my first week in Ashtabula. I was also able to confer the Gift of The Holy Ghost  to my dear friend Mike Smith. It was a fruitful day at the ward and all went smoothly. The baptismal service was so strong in the Spirit. President Sorensen drove all the way from Cleveland to address the service, it was awesome! Elder Crosland went first into the water and baptized Alliyah and I followed shortly after with Angie. The girls were glowing and couldnt wipe the smile off their faces for the rest of the day! After the service I went and thanked their parents for all their support upon which they were so grateful to us for all the work we had put in with both of them. Angie's Mom then told me how she was really worried for her daughter in the previous months and that in the past weeks she had noticed such a light in her and she said it seemed as if she had a "fresh start". It was great to see someone besides myself could see the illumination in both of these grils. They have come so far in the last few months and truly have a desire to follow Christ. As I wrote in my journal last night I reflected upon the events from the day and was truly visited by the spirit. I was reminded of an experience that I had ten weeks prior on one of my last nights in East Cleveland. The heater in our apartment was broken so I was sleeping on the floor of my Zone Leaders room in hopes to that all of us would heat it up. That night I was pleading with the Lord in prayer, literally crying to him. I had felt so unsuccessful because of how hard I was working and yet hadn't recognized the many fruits of my labors. From the labors of the day, the longing for soemthing more and my sincere prayer, I was completely wiped. I just put my head into the pillow and wanted to be out. Elder Rangel than stooped down and laid on the floor next to me and asked me in his thick Venezuelan "Why are you crying hermano?". All I could muster out was " I want to be successful so bad". He then assured me that I was successful, and that  long before I came out I was successful, I however  failed to fully comprehend what he was trying to say to me because I wasn't measuring success the way the Lord does. I didn't want to take his optimistic advice fully because he was baptizing people left and right. He was trying to show me that even if I didn't see immediate measurable results I was successful because of what I do and because of who I am. I needed that assurnace so much that night and I suppose that I reflected upon that night as I wrote my feelings about Angie and Alliyah's baptsim last night because I recognize how far the Lord has taken me since that broken hearted prayer in October.  We have baptized 5 people in 5 weeks. The Lord knew in my prayer that I wanted to help people recieve these ordinances and fulfill my purpose, that I wanted to really make a difference. The bit of wisdom that I have learned however is that success is not these things. Success is all about a commitment despite outward results. It is who you are when nobody is looking. It is saying a heartfelt prayer even when you are exhausted and want sleep. It's tracting even when it is cold and dark outside and there is only 15 minutes left in the day. Yesterday at the baptism was a bitter sweet moment because I realized how much dilligently teaching these teenagers the gospel these last two months had helped me grow and learn, it has help me become. My happiness and success was in the journey to the water, and now it will be the journey to the temple as they begin a new chapter of their conversion.

                I am discovering more that my personal endeavor for peace and purpose is what drives me more than anything, and I am also realizing in greater light that without my Saviour I will never be able to find either. Our search is truly in vain until we acknowledge who He is and what He taught us to do. Being that this week we celebrate Christmas I want to tell you perosnally that I owe everything to the Lord Jesus Christ. He has delivered me time and time again and has supported me in every challenge of my life. Success and happiness will come as we enjoy the journey. It will come as we decide to give up mediocry in day to day life in exchange for the upward struggle of refinement. Only as we live for Him and work to acquire His attributes will we find peace and fulfillment in our life.  As we offer presents this week I hope we consider what we may offer to the Lord. My hope is we would give our lives to know Him as it is that He gave His to know us, what a thought. I love you all and I thank you so much for your love and support. All of the kind gifts and words have truly warmed my heart this week. I wish you all a merry Christmas! 
                                                                      Love, Elder Prince

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Dearest Friends and Family,
 It is good to have a moment to write you this week. Time seems to be moving faster than I can ever remember. Elder Crosland and I are up to out neck in work, what a blessing! We went tracting this week in 25 degree weather and everybody tells us that we haven't seen anything yet! We are grateful that we have so many people to work with right now because we hardly notice that it is freezing outside and to be honest there is not much time to think about yourself.
 Sunday we had another baptism! This week it was our friend Mikey Smith! He was so excited and it was good to see him finally make his baptismal covenant after having taught him for the last 2 1/2 months! The service was really powerful and his non-member Mom was crying from start to finish, pretty awesome stuff!
  We hope to be baptizing two more young girls this coming Sunday! We are going to have a busy week getting everything approved and ready to go but all should be well! Their names are Angie and Aaliyah, two best friends from a few minutes away from our home here in Ashtabula, we have also been teaching them for the last two months. We are also taking our new investigator, Billie Jo, (who is awesome by the way) to Kirtland this week to take a tour and see the nativity set they have there. We invited her to be baptized next month and we feel that she may be one of those "Golden Investigators" you here about, as she is constantly reminding us that she has no doubt God placed us in her path!

 It is a pretty exciting time here! I love the Holiday season and all the ward members here have been very mindful of us and all our needs. I love this area's members so much. I'll miss them alot when it comes time to leave, they are always constantly looking for ways to help us and feed us!
 I apologize that I cant say more about this week. We are running behind today because we volunteered to help Aaliyah's family move today so we did that for most of the morning. Serve first, preach second is the motto. I sure love you all and am so thrilled by all the good that you do. Life is such a beautiful thing. I grow more and more in my testimony of the Savior's atonement, until we access it and let it work in us we can never fulfill the full measure of our creation. We are offspring of the thee most powerful, creative, intelligent and loving Being in the universe and his power is ready at hand. I know that there is no limit to who we may become, and the beauty of it all is it's simplicity. Start with a humble prayer on your knees and watch the immediate impact upon your next 24 hours! I love you all and know that He lives! Hope you all have a great day today!                                                     

Love, Elder Prince

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pictures from Ohio!

 Dear Elder Prince,

Thank you for the early Christmas Present! It felt that way when I opened up your letter today, and was able to see all of these pictures! We love being able to see you out in the field. We are delighted in your work! Wow! Is Ohio ever beautiful in the fall! It is great to see your happy, bright smiling face, and see the radiating light in your countinace. For those who love you, there is nothing greater to see in all the world! We know your efforts are growing the Kingdom of God! We are so proud of you, and your pure and wonderful giving heart! Our prayers and well wishes are always with you. We pray you will carry our love with you, and know we stand behind you every step of the way!

Forever Loving You,
Your Sister, Jessica

Dear Family and friends,

These pictures came today! I hope you enjoy seeing them. The captions are in Brandon`s words for the most part, with maybe a little commentary from me in the mix. The pictures are in order of date taken, and range from end of October to December in the mission field. I know I can speak for all of us when I express our love and admiration to Elder Prince. Please keep writing and supporting him in his efforts to share the message of our beloved gosple!


AP McClellan and Elder O`Donley

Brandon and Elder McClellan, His last week in the mission.

Elder Prince and his `Trainee` - first picture together in Kirtland at a Transfer meeting. 
With Elder Sumsion at transfers... it was good to see him again... one of my best friends!

With Elder O`Donley, companions for 10 days...
With my old zone leaders and roommates ( my brothers! ) at transfer mtg. Elder Bills and Elder Rangel.
Me and Elder McClellan

 With Elder Crosland his first timeout tracking... Beautiful Ohio in the Fall!... and Lots of Rain!
 This NO TRESPASSING sign was Epic. Seriously. Don`t even mess.
 With Elder Crosland in the truck.
 Elder Prince with Brother Fay
Elder Prince and the Headley`s
 Bran with Gary McCoy (investigator in East Cleveland)
Elder Sumsion and Gary
In the park after a lesson with Angie, DJ, and Mikey.
 Elder Prince and Elder Crosland before Lily`s baptism
 Bran and George Johnson. Dude is 74 and still wind surfson Lake Erie... We can tell! He doesn`t look at day over 45! :)
Lily and Elder Prince before Lily`s baptism. Double thumbs up!! :)
What a sweet girl this is. There are many from coast to coast who are so proud of this young woman!

 The Elder`s with Lily before her baptism..
The Elder`s with Lily`s family...

 Elder Crosland and I playing pool in Bro. Fay`s man cave with Brother Maybe ( who we contacted at Walmart, and activated in the church. )
 Getting my focus on!...
Bro Fay, Me, and Justin Maybe

Me in front of our house and truck! :)

The work is rolling forth! Again, we are so proud of you, Elder Prince! It sure is great to see you. Thank you for sharing the pictures! WE love you!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Season`s Greetings from Ashtabula

Dear Family and Friends,
                                         It has been another event filled week here in Ashtabula, the temperature is getting pretty low but the work is started to really heat up! We had an amazing Christmas Devotional on Sunday night by the First Presidency that we were able to get one of our part member families to attend. Amongst the many blessings of this great week the one that stands crowning is the opportunity I had to baptize my friend Darryl Lynn Braden. We have been teaching this young man for the last two months and he has changed so much. Sunday we had the baptism after church. In my all white outfit I purposely wore one of my short sleeve shirts that I wore all summer biking in my first area as a token and reminder of all the days I worked so hard in the ghetto summer heat of East Cleveland. The shirt has a slight yellow tint despite my countless efforts to Clorox the life out of it, I know that is pretty gross but never the less it felt good to finally get down in the water and administer the ordinance of baptism with that raggedy old reminder on my back. We have been working like crazy with the youth in this area and projecting 4 more baptisms in the coming month as well as another this Sunday. I can't believe how much the Lord is blessing us, we have people to meet with all day long!
                                         This week has truly been special for me. Tuesday night we had dinner at the home of Richard and Sue Smith and they gave me a Christmas present. Buried deep in the archives they got hold of a six-generation family record fittingly named "Our Prince Heritage". It had an account of my great great great Grandfather George Prince clear to writings my Dad had written about his recollections of his late grandparents. I can't tell you the spirit that filled me, I stayed up that night in the living room just pondering upon all the writings and being filled with the spirit. It told of how my old Father George Prince told his family that he had had a vision in which he told his family "Some time in the future two men dressed in black whole cloth coats and top hats will come to visit us, they will be men of God and will have a message for us". It says that his family believed his words and that he was known for being a visionary. Tow years later in 1855 two Latter-day Saint missionary came to South Africa and found my ancestors, they immediately accepted the gospel, and the faith has been held now for over 150 years. I just sat and pondered. I thought about how that decision effected me all these years later, even down to the clothes I had on my arm at the moment I read. It was a reminder to me that our decisions don't only affect us, they potentially effect thousands.
                                        While we were out tracting this week we had an amazing experience. We knocked on a door, no reply and moved on. We stopped an chatted with a woman and the next house and suddenly I spotted a woman from the home prior and went and started talking to her. Her name is Billie Jo Compton. A 41 year old grandmother whose husband left her for another woman after 17 years of marriage. She explained that she is raising her two year old grandson who is a heroin baby who had been abandoned by her daughter. She said that her daughter graduated High School on the honor roll and then slipped in with the wrong crowd after graduation, became addicted to heroin, and that she hasn't heard a word from her in 5 months. This woman has given her whole life to raising her grandchild and has such a pure heart. She has been born and raised Jehovah's Witness but explained that she has never been baptized. We asked if we could return the next day and teach her and she gladly accepted. As we began teaching her the next day we taught about the Holy Ghost and it role in our lives, as it is that the witnesses have no belief in a Holy Spirit. We showed her verses from her own Witnesses bible that clearly state that God spirit is a working factor in all of our lives. We invited her to pray about what we had taught and the spirit flooded the room. She said she couldn't explain how she felt. She kept going on about the warmth and the excitement of her heart, it was all too real. She then promptly invited us back for a second lesson that same day (this never happens). As we drove off to other meetings she called and said to eat nothing before we came back and said she was ordering us a bunch of food for dinner. We went back and she said that she had prayed and felt an overwhelming feeling that she couldn't explained. She called her parents and told them and she also called the Jehovah Witnesses that she has a weekly study with and told them she no longer wants to meet with them! I couldn't believe all of this! She came to Church on Sunday and had a great time and also attended the baptism after church. She is having us back over for dinner on Thursday night, we are so excited for this woman, please keep her in your prayers if you would.
                                        Well friends I sure do love you. I want you to know that the work is going great. Thank you all for the warm words and encouragement throughout the week! The Saviour truly lives! This is his work, I have no doubt. I love you all and hope you have a great day!
                                                                                                                                       Love Elder Prince