Monday, April 30, 2012

11 Month Report

Dearest Family & Friends,
As I reflect upon the week that has passed I am grateful for how my testimony has grown. Elder Hicks and I made a companionship goal that we would fast on all day that we have to prepare workshops for our meetings and then fast additionally on the day that we teach them. We fasted 3 separate days this week in preparation for our Training Meeting with all the brand new missionaries along with their trainers. In addition we fasted for our Mission Council comprised of all of the Zone Leaders in the mission, a meeting where we discuss the needs of the mission and what appropriate actions will be taken. I had a bit of nervousness as this was my first real teaching debut as an Assistant. One thing that has been brought to my attention more times than a few is the important of setting the tone in my assignment. All of the missionaries observe your conduct and look to you for an example. It is an interesting experience all in all but I am enjoying the opportunity to spread my love and just be who I am. Early in the week we had Training Meeting which is a 6 hour meeting the we along with President Sorensen host upstairs here in the Mission Office. I had prepared by study, fasting and prayer and when the time came to conduct and teach I felt so empowered by the Spirit of the Lord. The Spirit guided the entire training and the teaching opportunities went great as all the missionaries were very involved and participated. For the first 4 hours of the meeting we have instruction and then the latter 2 hours we go to downtown Cleveland and contact people on the streets. I had the chance to take a new Elder with me downtown. Before we left the meeting for the city I felt impressed to tell them that that "someone woke up this morning and asked the Lord to send help", I then promised them that we would find this prayerful soul. As Elder Montgomery and I went about the streets the first man we talked to was a man named Jesse. After some conversation and expounding to Him he said " I was just around the corner and I was praying to the Lord to send me some help today; you two are a blessing!". It was an amazing experience as we both recognized him as the good soul who was prepared to hear us that day. Listening to the promptings of the Spirit is such a beautiful thing. As previously mentioned we also had Mission Council this week. This meeting is comprised of the Assistants, the Zone Leaders and President. It is essentially an open council regarding the needs of the mission. President has taught us so much about the importance of counselling and how it is to be conducted in the Church. As important as laboring for the souls here in Ohio is, President is also doubly concerned with making sure his Elders know how administer in the Priesthood. I am like a sponge around this man. He is always teaching us the "unwritten order of things" in regards to running the mission and officiating in the Lord's appointed way.I learned so much about the value of conducting a council. Essentially our Zone Leaders know the most, they have the answers. We are their to help them see our vision as leaders and make sure that their input is valued but also constructive. They are the ones who ultimately choose the course of the mission; we are only their to officiate, delegate, lift and motivate. That is one thing I have come to love and appreciate about President Sorensen, he truly does let his Elders run the mission, he is the great overseer. As stated before my testimony of fasting and prayer was expanded this week. In my workshop to the Zone Leaders I felt as though the Lord gave me every word to say. I didn't have a twitch of nervousness and the purpose of my workshop brought the meeting together in a spirit of unity. I liken the results to the promise given in Alma Chapter 17, verses 2 & 3:
2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
3 But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.
As the meeting concluded we were very pleased with the success of the council. I offered up a silent prayer for I knew that the Lord had supported me in my teaching. It particularly meant alot to me as it is that I am the 'young buck' of the group and to be able to inspire our Zone Leaders only the Spirit of the Lord will suffice as my guide. I certainly hope that the bureaucratic nature of my letters doesn't bore you all, I just hope that it comes across that I feel so supported by the Lord. Teaching by the Spirit requires that we always return the thanks back to the Lord. An analogy I like is to imagine is how ridiculous it would be for a scalpel to congratulate itself on how well it performed a surgery, when in reality it is the Physicians guiding hand that made the successful surgery a reality. So to it is when in the service in the Lord. Any good thing we can do for another human being, any good we can contribute to humanity is only because the Lord has granted us the ability and the opportunity. It is my hope that we understand that He has made possible ALL GOOD THINGS in our lives. I am grateful to be an instrument in His hands, and delight in the Master's work. I know that the Church is true and will continue to grow in it's destined course to fill the entire earth. I know that Joseph is a Prophet and the "what for?" behind his life is simply that he loved the Lord and was obedient to his purposes. I too love the Lord and pray for the strength and courage to always be about His business. If we will frustrate our distractions, the clear vision of the beautiful will of God will unfold itself to our view; it is truly beautiful. The funny thing is I am convinced we don't comprehend even an inkling of the great things in store for them that love the Lord. I have so far to go, so much to learn, so much more capacity to love and serve but in the mean time I am going to love the refining process and always take the time to see how truly blue the sky is. I am always full of thanks when I think about you all. I am so blessed by my friends and family. Thank you for your kind words, your prayers, your advice and above all your loving concern for me. These are days never to be forgotten!
Love, Elder Prince

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hello From North Olmstead

Dearest Family and Friends,
I feel so very blessed to be alive today. Some time ago I remember sitting in my good friend Bro. John Scott's office at the institute building in Ephraim, UT; He had a little seed laminated to a scripture posted upon the wall. The seed was from a Sequoia, the largest trees in North America, attached on a laminated paper with a scripture found in the Book of Alma:
6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
7 And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.
This scripture has come to mean so very much to me. I have found that we cannot force spiritual experiences, all we can do is prepare to be ready for their arrival. The very most great and eternal events have been very small moments. I can;t help but ponder on all of those small moments that have shaped my testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is my desire everyday to be a worthy instrument in His hands to bring to pass the salvation of souls and help them to have the small moments that will define them.
This week has been so very fast and we are working very hard to find people to teach. We have a few on the radar for this week that I am really excited for. Also, this Sunday at our ward council all the council talked about was missionary work, they all resolved that if they were to inspire the ward to do missionary work, they as the leaders would have to quick start the engine and find some people. Each member said that they would invite one friend to hear the gospel this week, the best part was we didn't even bring it up, we just sat drooling as listened to the course of the conversation! All in all I have found that working with the ward and winning the trust of the members is the way to be most effective in the field. An inspiring member lesson is worth 8 hours of tracting in my mind. We had the opportunity to work on one of our members farm for 4 hours on Saturday morning which was alot of fun. It always inspires me to see how our members look out for one another anywhere that I serve.
Also this week Elder Hicks and I traveled around the mission and attended Zone Development Meeting for three different zones. It is pretty cool we just over see the meeting and make sure that all that President has asked of us is covered with all the missionaries. We had the opportunity to give closing remarks at the meetings; it was truly a blessing. I have found that if you will honor those around you, you will have more power and influence as a leader. I have made it a goal to go and look everyone in the eye with a smile and ask how they are doing before the meetings start and the results have been amazing; I feel so much love for my fellow missionaries. This coming week we have Training Meeting where we will tutor all of the new missionaries and their trainers, as well as Mission Council where we meet with all of the Zone Leaders and discuss the current state of the mission and what improvements are needed. The following week will be the "crucible week" for AP's, we have 6 different 6 hour meetings that we are in charge of for all the Zones in the Mission. The coming days will be alot of prayer, fasting and study.
Every day is a blessing. Every day I see the goodness in humanity. I can't express fully the changes that have been wrought in my heart by the atonement. There is nothing more special than watching others come to know themselves and in turn come to know the Father. I thank you all for causing me to stand, for being an answer to my prayers and for being true saints. Let us always be prayerful and watchful. Let our covenants with the Lord be at the forefront of our minds and may we love one another. The Gospel is easy,it's sure and true. It will change us from the inside out as we do the small and simple things. Pray. Study. Learn. Do. Become. Bless others all the while. I am grateful for the Savior and I know He lives! I hope you all have a great week!
Love Always, Elder Prince

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 2 from North Olmstead

Dearest Friends and Family,
My first full week as an Assistant has passed and the good news is... I am still alive! wooohhhooooo! This has been the fastest week of my mission by a long shot. I am now averaging about4.5 hours of sleep a night and to anyone who knows me, I need my sleep! Another evidence however that the Lord's hand is in this work is the fact that I am surprisingly not that tired through tout the day. I told my companion Elder Hicks that we are going to use the power of positive thinking to stay awake so when I yawn I say something along the lines of "Oh, Wow! I am so full of energy right now!" it's pretty funny. I love my new companion. He is one of the most laid back leaders I have ever met and we love to do impersonations together, we have been stuck acting like these Italian best friends all week it cracks me up. He is also very spiritual and we love to get back to the apartment and just talk about what the Lord is teaching us in our lives. Right now he and I are co-authoring an essay called "Entering the Attitude of Prayer". The idea behind the essay is to have something to read right before you pray at night that will motivate you to say a sincere prayer, to do so you must "enter into an attitude of prayer" and consider what it is that you truly are asking for and whom you are asking it of; needless to say I am excited for the final project. The work in North Olmsted is very slow right now, we essentially have no investigators so we are doing alot of finding work and trying to inspire members to do missionary work. Member missionary work is something I never realized was so very important until now; I can think of so many friends I want to share the gospel with when I get home!
I wish I had more to report on this week, it has been alot of busy work and not a whole lot of teaching. This whole experience is a big transition for me. I love to be outside and mingling amongst the people so this has been a big change. I do want to share one verse of scripture with you all that touched my heart this week it is found in the Book of Helaman, Chapter 3, Verse 35:
"Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."
I received a precious letter from a very old friend this week that caused me to search the scriptures. My friend was going through some of the very same challenges I had experienced in years past when I first decided to try and change myself. She asked why I had decided to go on a mission and what helped me change. I came across this scripture as I pondered her question and felt impressed that this scripture conveyed how I feel. The steps to change are simple yet they will change you from the inside out if you let them. I want to say that the only way we can truly change, become who we truly are, and be happy is to first acknowledge that we need Heavenly Father in our lives and if we want his help all we need to do is pray and call upon Him. He longs to communicate with His children and I know that getting on my knees and asking for help was the turning point in my life. Fasting for specific needs will only make your prayers more powerful and the answer you receive more clear and direct. The pattern of the scriptures show us that when ever we call upon the Lord for help we become more humble, when we become humble He blesses us with those things we stand in need of, we experience the power of the atonement and experience the joy of forgiveness and change. Finally we become purified and sanctified or holy. The light is in us, the day looks promising as does tomorrow. You don't receive all the light in a day or in a prayer, but you do add to it every single time you try. Every time you pray, every time you fast, every time you do something kind for another person, every time you read your scriptures. There is no limit to the light we can receive, and where the light is, the darkness of the past cannot be. The gospel is simple, it only requires that we act and do what is right. Start with a sincere prayer for help if you want to change; He will answer. That is my promise and my sincere testimony. I know He saved my life. Jesus Christ is the reason for it all; He truly lives!
Love, Elder Prince

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hello From North Olmstead!

Dearest Friends and Family,
So very good to be with you all today (electronically of course..). What a week it has been. My week started by first going on a "mini-mission" with a recent convert from our singles branch named LaShaun Haley. He came and stayed in our apartment from Wednesday to Friday and lived exactly like a missionary, schedule, study, teaching, etc. It was great to be with him and it gave him so much encouragement about serving a mission this fall. I really love this young man alot and feel that we will be friends for many years to come. One night we were talking about his conversion to the gospel and he said that I was the first person that he ever talked to in an LDS church and how after our conversation he was settled that he was "in the right place", that really touched me. It is funny how the little things that you do can have a profound effect down the road. Speaking of which there was a woman baptized in East Cleveland (my first area) this Saturday that I found while riding home on the bus one night. I never even got to teach her, that made me feel so good! There was also another baptism in Canton (my old area) that I was able to attend for a woman named Pam Loydle. When my companion and I first arrived in the area she had been dropped by the previous missionaries. We met back with her and she really committed to changing. She got all her life in order and was doing great when I left so was so happy to see that she had stuck with it! Her baptism was so powerful she was crying as soon as she came out of the water! It was so good to be back in my old area amidst all of my old friends. At the service my dear friend Danielle Griffiths came up and tearfully thanked me for all that I had done for her and her son. She said that her father is coming in to town to baptize her soon and that her son is now giving out Books of Mormon at school! Her thanks were so sincere, it was probably the most powerful moment of mission.
Anyways, I feel a bit jumbled in writing all of this because so many good things happened this week but perhaps the biggest news came on Thursday night. President Sorensen called and asked me how I was doing and if there was any thing going on in my personal life. This is always a red flag so I started to worry about what I had done. I told him about things that were stressful but that nothing was really out of the normal. I was not sure why I was being interrogated. He then said "Well, Elder Prince I want to extend a calling to you to be the new Assistant, will you accept?". All I could muster out was "I will". I can't explain how shocked I was. He assured me that the calling was of the Lord and the "he qualifies those whom he chooses". This call has really caused me to evaluate myself and my commitment to the Lord. As one of my friends has said "the easy part of your mission is over, from here it is high adventure". If you lose your focus in this capacity you will fall behind in a day. After much council with the Lord in prayer I have found assurance, though it has been easy for the adversary to whisper the thoughts of inadequacy to me. The promise of the Lord has been given may times that if it his His will, there will always be a way. My responsibilities this week have been quite interesting from assisting President in who will be transferred in the coming area to gathering statistics for the entire mission. Typically President has his assistance serve for four transfers which is the equivalent of about 6 months. My position is peculiar however because President Sorensen will be leaving while I am an AP. It will be a major responsibility to usher in the new Mission President, President Vallinga, as he will receive only a few hours of instruction. In other words, until our new mission President figures out how to run the mission it will be on my companion and I to show him. Last night we were in the office gathering numbers and working Excel spreadsheets (which is perhaps the most terrifying thing I've ever done) until early in the morning. President stayed until about midnight and I asked him if he would mind giving me a blessing. I told him that I was feeling overwhelmed and could really use the Lord's guidance. It was one of the most powerful blessings of my whole life. Every word uttered was what I needed. The gist of the Spirit's communication was that the Lord would qualify me and teach me His true nature. Also, that I was to be humble and diligent and that all would work together. This is the hardest things I have ever done, hands down.
The Lord has ever required more at my hand than before which I am still trying to swallow to be honest. Nevertheless I know in whom I have trusted. The Lord has lead me through "the wilderness and over the waters of the great deep". Know that my prayers are always with you my loved ones. It feels to me that the hour has come on my mission that anything less than all of me will not suffice. I am humbled to know that the Lord sustains those whom he chooses according to their faith and diligence. Pointing to my head last night I told my companion "I have nothing", moving my hand to my heart I told him "I have everything", now getting the two to work in harmony is the trick, to lose yourself is the only remedy. I am not sure how it is all going to work out, I just know it will. I really appreciate all of your kind words, your prayers and your hope. It is a great season to be called to serve. I want to leave you with some scriptures that spoke to my heart while I was in the spirit of prayer. They are from the Pearl of Great Price, Book of Moses, Chapter 6:
31 And when Enoch had heard these words, he bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant? 32 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thymouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good.
33 Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you.

I do not know why I have found favor with the Lord, but I know he loves His children. He sought me when a stranger and has proven me with His matchless love. I know He lives and will bring to pass many mighty miracles for which we will praise His name forever.

-Love Always, Elder Prince

Pics for the Fan Club

I might have stolen a few pictures from Brandon`s mission blog so we could have the latest pics of him. These are from leaderships, trainings, meetings, and conferences so far this year-
I may be bias, but I think he is one of the most handsome missionaries in Ohio! :) And the best part is, he looks like he is having a lot of fun.
We love you Elder Prince!


Monday, April 2, 2012

10 Month Report

Dearest Family and Friends,
It is great to write you today, sunshine fills my heart. Each week I am renewed upon hearing from you all and the good things that are taking place in your lives. I love where we stand in this moment of time. Though we are all faced with trials we have the knowledge that all may be overcome. I am particularly happy to write you all today because there is something so promising in life come this time of year; the snow is gone, the sky is open, the flowers are returning and we can always remember the promise of Resurrection of the Lord. I thought yesterday of our lives broken down into natures seasons; 0-25 yrs old being the early spring, 25-50 the prime summer, 50-75 the fall and 75-100 winter, our last season. We see how each season brings new change and new promise. I am so grateful to be 20 years old in the spring of my life. I am grateful for the light, knowledge and nourishment that sustains my life. It humbles me to think that the air I breathe, the electric charge that pumps my heart, the very seconds on the clock are all gifts from the Lord. The Lord in His wisdom gave us all these things that we might have time to "come to ourselves", know our divine purpose, and become as a child all over again. I thank my Saviour that He made it ALL possible.
This has been a powerful week for me, starting first with an exchange I was able to go on with a missionary who came out the same transfer as me. Early on in our day together I felt the prompting of the spirit say to me "Elder Prince, just listen". We went out and knocked doors for about three hours or so and in the process of our walk I truly tried to "just listen". This good Elder went on to explain to me many of the spiritual difficulties he was facing and I was very touched by his trust in me. He was truly struggling in feeling fulfilled in his work. His labors thus far have yielded minimal results as he has had very few people to teach for the entirety of his mission. As I listened my mind referenced back to a the words of Spencer W. Kimball who commented on Jesus as being "a listening leader. Because he loved others with a perfect love, he listened without being condescending. A great leader listens not only to others, but also to his conscience and to the promptings of God." As I heard him explain his problems I truly started to feel such charity for him. The conversations went on for the course of the day. The next morning during companionship studies I could sense again that there was hurt behind his blue eyes. I did all I could to encourage Him and I thanked him for the perspective that he has gained and his example to me. Around this time I just listened again and after some conversation I just looked at him, I looked into him. Few times have I felt the spirit speak through me as I did in this instance. The words seemed to flow from my lips and I am not entirely sure what I said although I know that I reverted over and over to the mercy of the Lord and the need to forget ourselves. I spoke and then as quickly as I had begun it seems that my words just halted. It was silent for a minute that seemed like an hour, finally I broke the silence and said "Tell me what you think?". This big, strong, 6' 4'' Elder cried and said simply enough, "You just said everything I needed to hear". He opened up in such a way after that that I knew he had found the diagnosis to how he had been feeling. It is moments like these that I will never forget, as we are both young seeds in the spring of life relying wholly upon the Master to grow.
Conference this weekend was so very filling for me. I thought over and over again about all the Lord has done for us. I thought over and over about how there truly is not another thing like this Church in all the world. How grateful I was for the hope of the whole message. Uchtdorf empowers me, Eyring humbles me, Bednar informs me and of course Holland rebukes me. I love our leaders so very much. How blessed we are to have a Prophet who amongst the troubled times chooses to smile and laugh.
Elder Dransfiled and I are continuing to try and find people. We were able to take our 8 year old investigator Mya to another 8 year olds baptism yesterday, she was so excited, kids truly can feel the spirit.I am almost certain that Elder Dransfield is going to get transferred in a week and a half. He has been in leadership for all but 6 weeks of his mission and I think President is going to apply mercy and let Him have rest for the final months of his service. The new responsibilities this transfer has brought me easily overwhelm me if I try to do it all myself. I am learning the art of delegating and constantly being reminded that If I don't rely on the Lord I am a stressed out piece of work. All in all things are great. I realize that I hardly ever report about things that are bad, I guess I just want to provide a refreshing alternative to the Newspaper. Thank you all for the time you take to read these things. I feel like Nephi when he says he writes the scriptures for the benefit of his family that he might persuade us to do good. This is why I end with my testimony each week. I just want the world to know that Christ is real. I want them to know who they are. I want them to know why Job said we shouted for glory before the foundations of the world. I want them to know that God communicates through the abstract but His mercies are plain as day. His laws are laid out before us. His Sacrifice is complete. He has won His greatest battle. I want them to know theonly thing left now for usis to chose. The only thing we have to give Him is our broken heart and contrite spirit. How refreshed is the heart that finally exclaims "Not my will but thine". I love the Lord. I thank Him for His patience with a wretch like me. May his goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Him evermore. I thank Him for the family and friends who make my life rich. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Love, Elder Prince