Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I'm Coming Home

Dearest Family and Friends,
                                           What a week it has been out in the field. I have learned a valuable lesson out in the field that come transfer week nothing is final until it is final. After further contemplation from President Vellinga I will not be heading to Warren, OH to the Ashtabula district. I was a bit sad about this because I thought it would be a great opportunity to visit my recent converts from time to time but a few missionaries who were supposed to come from the MTC now can't make it and our whole board changed. All of my sadness fleeted however when President told me about the next slot that was available to me, my birth place; EAST CLEVELAND! Granted nothing is final yet but as of now that is where I am set to go this coming Wednesday. East Cleveland if you don't remember is where I spent the first 4 1/2 months of my mission. It is a very interesting part of Cleveland. It is about 94% African-American and about 40% of the people live beneath the poverty line. It was hard to see all of the boarded off homes and all of the homeless people. The economy has been driving people out of the city for the last 20 years; sometimes entire streets are like ghost towns. To be honest it was truly the refiners fire for me; it humbled me and grew me right up. It is not a pleasing sight to the eyes but this area has a special place in my heart forever. I have missed the inner city and all the people there so I am pretty ecstatic at the thought I could be back out stomping the same streets I started on; I've got my fingers crossed!
                                          This weekend was such a great weekend. Friday night we went over to Williams apartment to review the entire teaching record with him and to check his understadning of everything we had taught; this kid is so sharp! It was good to see that he had a firm understanding of all of the principles that we had taught him and then we explained to him that all of that was the "what" and we wanted to talk tonight about the "why" of the gospel. As President Uchtdorf says: "The 'what' informs, while the 'why' transforms". We had a testimony meeting with him there in his hotel and we all went in a circle bearing our witness of the restoration of the gospel and of the Saviour. His testimony was pure, humble and true; we all just wanted to cry. The next morning was Williams baptism. Earlier in the week we had made invitations and sent them to all of the active members of the ward to come and attend the service.  As a result we had an amazing attendance. It has been neat to see very important people become so invested in William. President Vellinga offered our opening prayer and our Stake President, President Titera offered the closing prayer; they both have had William in their home for lessons with us and have truly come to love him. This ward has blown me away with their charity and concern for William. Many brought gifts and cards and every one had a warm smile and a hug. Friday night he had asked me to baptize him and I told him I would be honored. You should've seen this kid all dressed in white the next morning. Before we entered the font we knelt in secret prayer in the changing room and thanked the Lord for all he had done for us. I have never felt the spirit so strongly baptizing someone. After he came up out the water we just sat and hugged each other. I felt the spirit so strongly and warmly, it felt as though the font was going to burst into flames! Everybody at the service just sat in reverent silence and one little girl close to the water said simply and quietly " Aw, perfect...". William is such a great young man. He has the heart of a Lion and the spirit is so strong with him. I have never seen someone more sincerely prepared to make this covenant with the Lord; he has come so far!
                                          This weekend was also Stake Conference. Both sessions were excellent. David and Danielle; our converts from June had the opportunity to speak and bear their testimony; they did a great job. I told the members that this was my last time with them and I truly was overwhelmed as I came to realize how much I have grown to love them. Last night I went around after the conference was over and got to give hugs and shed some tears with some of my favorite people on this planet. I will miss the North Olmsted ward so much. I have never been in an area as long as this one and I have never had so much support and praise from the members as I have had here. Nothing gets the ball rolling like having members that are enthused for the work; I know baptisms will continue to happen here.
                                         I am going to miss my good friend Elder Metcalf. I have learned so many life lessons from him. We have spent nearly a quarter of our missions together and have had some amazing experiences. I am so excited for him to continue to serve in this capacity and to bless the loves of the missionaries here.
                                         Well my brothers and sisters, I know that the Lord lives. I am so grateful to belong to the only true and living church on the earth. I pray that my faith my continue to grow and that the Lord might be able to work miracles through my companions and I. I pray that we might sell ourselves to him and not hold onto our sins. I pray that we might not have any sin that seems like a prized possession to us. I know that if our hands are holding firmly to the atonement we can hold onto nothing else. I know that Jesus is the Saviour of the world. If our eyes are fixed upon him we will not sink into the sea of doubt and despair and his invitation to all is simply to "come". I love you all and pray that we all might come unto Him in small way this week!
                                                                                                                                                         Love, Elder Prince

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Times are Changing...

Dearest Family & Friends,
                                        Great to be with you this week. I apologize having not written in two weeks; the last two P-Days we had half of our mission together for a mission P-Day where we all got together to play games and have competitions; it was pretty epic. Not to mention the events were held in Hiram Ohio where the prophet Joseph Smith first saw the three kingdoms of heaven; it is also the same home he was dragged from in the night when he was tarred and feathered. It is always an honor to go the John Johnson farm and feel the sacred spirit there.
                                     Things for me are about to change quite a bit. I am being released from my assignment as assistant to the President and being transferred on the 26th to serve as a district leader in Warren, Ohio. I am going back to the Ashtabula District where I was for three months where I trained Elder Crosland so I will be able to go on exchanges to the area of the mission that has the biggest part of my heart; Ashtabula. Speaking of Elder Crosland, he was called to be a Zone Leader next transfer. I am really proud of him; he has come a long way and he is a very obedient missionary. He also just finished training Elder Chapman from Salt Lake City and Elder Chapman will be training a new missionary next transfer so in others words my "mission posterity" is growing like rabbits right now. I will be a "great grandfather" next transfer! Like anybody cares but I am proud of these Elders and how hard working they are.
                                        It is going to be bittersweet leaving this ward. I have been here longer than any other place on my mission. I feel like I have established more relationships and friendships in this area than any other place I have worked. Sunday morning we got a call at 6:30 AM and were asked if we could talk in sacrament which we happily accepted. I got to talk on how preparing for conference has blessed my life and share my testimony of how I came to know President Monson was truly a prophet; it felt good to give them my testimony for the last time although none of them I will be leaving on a good note however as William Garret is going to be baptized this Saturday! I have seen this man apply the atonement in a most touching way. The ward has been nothing short of unbelievable. They are all rallying around this young man. William is very bright and sincere. He has such a love of the gospel all ready. He has been so humble and accepting of the commitments that we leave him. Yesterday we took him up to Kirltand for a tour and it was one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. First we watch "Joseph Smith;The Prophet of the Restoration" with him in Newel K. Whitney's home. It was just us, William and a brother from our ward. The Sisters giving the tour did an amazing job at pointing out the spirit. Next we went into the Whitney store into the school of the prophets and had a mini testimony meeting. We all talked about the Fathers love and read accounts of the early bretheren who had seen the Father and the Son in vision in that very same room. William said he felt the spirit from the time we stepped foot in Kirltand. Truly days never to be forgotten.
                                          This week is also going to be alot of fun as we have Elder Perkins of the 70 coming to tour the mission. He is planning on interviewing Elder Metcalf and I on Wednesday night. I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Elder Nash last year and of course Elder Golden when he visited,  so I look forward very much to feeling the strong spirit of these men and learning from their council. We are hosting him for two big conferences on Thursday and Friday and then Saturday we have the baptism. It is going to be busy weekend. Well my friends thank you all for you love and support. Know that things here are well. I am busier than ever but enjoying every second!
                                                                                                                        "The church is true, the book is blue and in the end, we win!"- Cleon Skousen
                                                                                                                                        Love you all,
                                                                                                                                                          Elder Prince

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

On the Road in Ohio

Dearest Family and Friends,
What a great week it has been. I have been traveling all over Northern Ohio. Monday night I slept on a couch in Perrysburg; Tuesday I slept on the floor Canton; Wednesday on the couch in Shaker Heights; Thursday in my bed in Rocky River and finally Friday night I was given a bed to sleep in on the road as I stayed in Garfield Heights Ohio. This week we hosted Zone Conference where we had several hours each day to train the missionaries. We we able to instruct about 80 % of the mission; we have one more conference on Wednesday out in Youngstown. I love traveling across this state and looking out on the beautiful countryside and the trip over to Youngstown this week is my favorite drive in the mission; Ohio is utterly beautiful. Instructing the missionaries this week has been a real fun time. We have had some powerfully moving meetings; one in particular in Kirtland was so strong in the spirit; come testimony time we were all weeping like children; it's the best!
This week we have also had the privilege of continuing our teaching of William. I can say enough about how special this young man is. We had three lessons with him this week and each one has been so special. Saturday night as I was praying for him I had the very distinct impression to tell him to go and meet the Bishop and to introduce himself for a second time in Priesthood meeting. So towards the end of sacrament I said " I have two things that will really help you today, will you do them?"; in true William fashion he said yes. I instructed him to go up by himself as soon as the prayer was over and go and introduce himself to the Bishop. He B-Lined it up to the front after the prayer and was able to get a meeting with the Bishop scheduled for after church. He took my advice again to re-introduce himself in Priesthood meeting as he did last week but with more confidence and a louder voice and I told him to share his feelings about what is going on in his life. I told him that one of the beauties of the Priesthood is that when you join the church you now have brothers all over this planet and that if they see that you are good and that you sincerely want their fellowship, they will all break their backs for you. You got up right when they asked for visitors and shared again who he was and how he felt about his investigating; he did such a great job! When the meeting was over their were brothers sticking to him like glue, it was the coolest thing to watch. He has been struggling to find employment and one of the brothers got him an interview with the owner of a restaurant that he knew about an hour after church ended and also gave him his bike so that he could make the 15 minute ride to work. Because of his troubles in the past William had really been struggling to find work and would begin to tear up as he explained all of the places he had interviewed to work at that had denied him once they found out about his past. The Stake President also said that he would love to have William over for dinner and a lesson tonight at his home; I just can't say enough about how good our ward is and how powerful their love has been to William. After his interview for work yesterday he came to lunch at one of the members home and we had a lesson with him on the core fundamentals of the church; faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. The lesson was powerful and the member that we brought with us really reached out to him in testimony; again, we were all crying like children. We then gave him a priesthood blessing for his smoking habit. The spirit was so strong as we hugged at the conclusion of the blessing. I am so excited for this young man. We are seeing real change work in him as he accesses the atonement. His baptismal date is on the 22nd of September so be sure to keep a prayer in your heart for him.
I have never been happier than I am now. I truly know Christ lives. I know that he is guiding me and helping find His children who are seeking him. I pray that we may all find him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Love, Elder Prince