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

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