Monday, October 22, 2012

With Love from Ohio

Dearest Family and Friends,

Another great week has passed here in Ohio. I am learning so much right now. Elder Mo'Unga and I have had an excellent week together and we can hardly believe we have been together nearly a month! This weekend was Stake Conference in Kirtland. I love going to Kirtland for any reason especially to gather with the Saints. It is so inspiring to me to think that 180 years ago we were all gathered bearing testimony and here we are on the same ground with the same conviction! Ali and Mohsen came along to Stake Conference and again were touched by the spirit. These two young men are so eager to be baptized; it has been hard having to delay their baptismal date and deny their enthusiasm having to first handle the protocol of the church in working with Muslims; it all has it's good reason it is just hard because they so desire to enter the fold and helping them do so is our entire livelihood Nonetheless, the Lord is very mindful of these two great guys and I know that all will be well! We are also working with a great lady named Marilyn; she is an African-American, single mother of three.She is so fun and always trying to poke fun at Elder Mo'Unga and I. We have been helping her gain a testimony and this week she said that she knew for a fact that the Lord was helping her. She has been giving up smoking and it has been inspiring to watch her. Every time we meet with her she has more light. We are praying all will go well.
Things in East Cleveland are great. The weather is about to take a turn; I have been mentally preparing myself as best I can for an entire winter on foot. It is so dang cold out here; there is no other way to put it. Also It is an interesting place to be right now with the Presidential election. There are more Obama signs in my area than their are grains of sand on the beach; it is crazy. Everyday we have people asking us what we think about the whole thing; I always just tell them I am going to be voting for Jesus Christ this election and in all elections forevermore; it is pretty funny. Not that I have lost my patriotic side, but I am more concerned with not knowing what the Celtics have done this off season than I am who will be the next President of our country; I probably should reconsider my priorities sometime soon. Things are going great. I have a smile on my face and my winter gear makes me look like I am part of the Mafia. Pray for me.
I hope that you all have a great week this week and know that our Redeemer lives!
 Love, Elder Prince

Monday, October 15, 2012

With Love from East Cleveland

Dearest Family and Friends!
Great to be with you today! Things here in East Cleveland are going great. I love this area because you can have experiences here that you can't get any where else in the mission. I love talking with people from all over the globe and testifying of the Saviour to them. They are from all over; from Iran to China, to Turkey and India. This area is laden with children of God from all over the earth. As far as the work we had our most successful week yet! We had two investigators come to church in the family ward and Ali and Mohsen are still doing well in the Young Single Adult Branch. We had some powerful lessons with them this week and they are still very excited about the gospel. W are hoping that President Vellinga will approve for us to set baptismal dates with them soon! We have been all over the map this week and our members have been extremely kind to give of their time and resources to help us travel around. I think it built their faith to see some investigators come to church!
Autumn is the greatest season in Ohio. The trees here are beautiful as the foliage changes color. Everyday it seems to get a little colder and the impending winter has me a bit antsy as Elder Mo'Unga and I will be on foot all winter long. East Cleveland is a biking area right next to the lake, so will get plenty of snow and plenty of wind. We don't have a car to warm up our hands and feet from time to time but luckily for us the Spirit of God is likened unto a fire burning! Of a truth it saddens me that this is my last winter in this place that I love. Every season here now is my last and I don't think I have fully accepted that this will all end one day. I have built my life around Ohio, all the thoughts and feelings of my heart are here. Going home will be like building a house, putting all of your heart into it and then up and leaving. Only to hold its image in your heart and mind. I often wonder how the saints felt as they walked away from Kirtland and looked back the temple only to experience the same in Nauvoo. Ultimately everything God blesses us with in this life will only be a memory; but the relationships we hold are eternal. This is why the deepest cries of my heart are that myself, my family and my friends live in righteousness. What we are becoming everyday has eternal consequence. Upon reading these words in my study this morning my thoughts were turned to all of my family, friends and those I have taught:
14)...and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness. 15) And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God.
16) And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still;
- 2 Nephi 9: 14-16
I testify that these words are true. I pray that we may follow Christ and know true joy. I pray that when the days comes that we have this perfect recollection it may be full of the beautiful memories that we have made together. Ohio means everything to me. One of my favorite Mother Theresa quotes goes as follows: "What you may spend your whole life building, others may ruin in a night; build anyways". I pray that none of my labors may be in vain here. And that what we are building may last forever. I feel it my sacred honor to build Kirtland again. Righteousness is the plea of our Father. May we chose him this week is my prayer. Jesus is the Christ and the Redeemer of us all. In his name, amen.

Love, Elder Prince

Best Mission in the World...

Brandon says this is the reason why he is serving in the best mission in the world... :)

Inner City Love

Dearest Friends and Family,
So great to be with you this week! So much to say in so little time so I hope you can get a glimpse of how things are going out here in East Cleveland. First we have to start with the few days leading up to conference. Elder Mo'Unga and I have been telling so many people to come and listen to a prophets voice I felt like Armageddon was coming! We were telling everyone when they could come down to the chapel and listens to the Lord's mouthpiece; it was so much fun. And I wish to recount to you our best practice of the week:
In our apartment we have a supply closet in which we have all of our pass along cards, brochures, books, etc. In this closet we have several Book of Mormons in various languages and before we headed out the door we felt impressed to grab our only copy of a Pharsi (Persian) Book of Mormon. Not sure why; just remembered seeing it and felt impressed to pack it along with us. About mid-way through the day while contacting on a busy street by Case Western University we stopped at a bus stop and began talking to a middle-eastern man. His name is Mohsen; he is from Iran and is a student at Cleveland State University; here in America for an opportunity to gain an education and build a life for himself. We began telling him about the Lord Jesus Christ and what he can do for us in our lives if we will come unto him. He was interested and just after we had swapped information and we were ready do go our separate ways we remembered that Book of Mormon we had felt impressed to bring with us earlier. We pulled it out, handed it too him and you should have seen the look on his face. He acted as though manna from heaven had just fallen into his hands and said humbly "This is a gift from God; that is my language!". We then looked him square in the eyes and told him we did not know why we grabbed that Book this morning but now we knew. We bore testimony right there on the street that that book would help him come unto Christ. After some later communication he committed to come to priesthood session later that week. He surely came on Saturday with his friend Ali (Also from Iran here for school). They loved the entire broadcast and asked many questions. After the broadcast ended the whole chapel cleared and we were left alone with them. We began to ask them how they felt. The went on to try their best to describe the spirit as best they could The said they had never felt this way before and that they felt so good. We again began to testify to them and told them we knew they were lead to us by the hand of the Lord. We then committed them to read the Book of Mormon that night and pray to know if it was indeed true. Despite how very excited we were for them we still realized there were many hurdles to overcome being that there are many rules in our mission about teaching people with a Muslim background. We called President Vellinga and relayed to him the circumstances of our findi9ng and teaching these two humble young men. He told us that we would have to schedule an appointment as soon as possible in which he would interview them with a series of question s to determine whether or not we should proceed with the teaching. Needless to say, we were on our knees that all would be well. The next day we met with Ali, Mohsen, and President. It very well may have been one of the most spiritual meetings I have ever been a part of. You should've heard these two young men explain why they were here. The spoke of the oppression of the government in Iran and the practices of control that they exercise by way of Islamic beliefs. They said that they had desired to become Christian for some three years now and that they had to attend Church underground in Iran to just learn about Christ. They said they would be arrested or put to death upon converting to Christianity if found out. For that reason they did not convert to any church and had been anxious to join one since coming to the states so 2 months ago. They went on to explain how grateful they were to be in America and to enjoy their new found freedoms. They also expressed that they intended to stay and that all they desired to do was follow Christ. They said that they knew we had been lead to them and that they were thirsty to hear more. We again committed them to pray to know the truth fullness of the Book of Mormon. Last night we met again and followed up on our invitation. They explained to us that together they had prayed for some 25 minutes and that after doing so sincerely and humbly they were filled with a warmth. They said they thought it was strange that they felt such a warmth because their apartment was cold; they said they had to open the windows! Mind you all, we had never described to them how the Spirit is often described as to be a "burning in the bosom". They then said "after reading the pamphlet you gave us we realized that we were feeling the Holy Ghost". Listening to these two describe their experience was incredible; we were all touched. They are some of the humblest and perhaps most intelligent people I have taught on my mission; the Lord has been hearing their prayers. I truly believe that they will both become members of this church in the very near future. Thank goodness the Holy Ghost told us to grab that Book!
In parting I want to echo the words of my family and friends on their mission who have expressed their love of General Conference. I felt the spirit so strongly all though out. I hope that we may not be complacent in our belief about God. I hope that we will be wise and keep the commandments. I pray that we will follow our Leaders and in so doing follow Christ. I know that this church is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Back Home

Dearest Friends and Family,
                                                    Where do I start? The transition back to the field has been great. Wednesday I got my new companion; Elder Sione Mo'Unga from Orem Utah. Elder Mo'Unga is the man; he is a big Tongan and with a teddy bear’s heart. These last few days we have been out contacting in the streets for hours and we are loving it! He is great with the people out here and has a very natural way of treating them that draws them to our message.
                                                   I can't tell you how happy I was to return to this ward and all the members treat me like their son or their little brother! They were texting me and saying welcome back! We went to a ward BBQ on Saturday and I got to mingle with all of them again for the first time since I left a year ago and they were all so happy and excited. At the BBQ I asked the Bishop if we could speak in Sacrament soon and he said, "How soon can you be ready". To make a long story short we spoke in sacrament the next day and it went so well. I love speaking to the ward wherever I go because it lets the members see that you really are about your Father's business. The talks went great and by the end of church our meal calendar had filled right up!

I am so excited to be working amongst these people again. I feel like I left home and now I'm back! We have been out visiting many of the people I used to teach and two of them showed up for church yesterday! I was so happy to see them! My companion has asked me to help him with his gospel knowledge/teaching as it is he has only been out for 4 months; and despite my infant knowledge I committed to him I would help him in any way that I could. He is so humble and appreciative and we have hit it off right from the start. We have committed that we are going to work our hardest and not let any opportunity pass us by. We have been out on the streets a lot these last few days and not letting a soul pass by us without trying to share our message; it is so fun to have all of this time to try and find prepared hearts.

We have a long ways to go to get this ward excited about missionary work. We are very few in numbers and very undermanned in our callings and should technically be called a branch. But I think these first few days have been a great start of a foundation and a culture that we want to establish here. Members last night were telling us how appreciative they were that we were actually coming into their homes to teach them something and helping them feel the spirit. As happy as I was with the compliment I was a little disappointed wondering to myself "Isn’t that what missionaries are supposed to do every time?". here is a lot that needs to be corrected with how the area has been ran these last few months but I've already gotten the apartment clean and the area book all put together and updated. The other Elders we live with are our Zone Leaders and they are both brand new in their assignment so I am happy to be there for them in any way they need me. I love being in this position; being able to take the things I have learned over the last half year and be able to bless others’ lives and effectively help them come unto the Savior. I am so grateful that the Lord has been so mindful of me and has blessed me with people to teach and responsibilities to fill. The atonement has set me free in my life and I know that the Lord is now fully able to use me as an instrument in his hands. I am excited to fill my new assignment and be an example. I never realized how much I loved President Vellinga until I hugged him goodbye at the transfer meeting. He told me how grateful he was for my help and how much he loved me; he is such a good man. He told me that one of the test of a true leader is the example they will set when they climb off the peak of the mountain and walk with the knowledge of the great view. I knew what he meant and my goal is to be the most humble follower of my leaders that I can be; that I might be a blessing to them and show them how to return humbly to any assignment in the mission. The Lord has placed me in the right place at the right time and my heart is full of thanks! I hope to be telling you about some investigators soon! I love you all! He Lives! Love, Elder Prince

Elder Prince and Elder Metcalf

Bran and Elder Metcalf last week