Dearest Family and Friends;
I apologize in advance if this is brief. It is such a special time to be on a mission right now. I love the Holiday season in the field; all people seem to be a little friendlier. We are hoping to undertake a lot of work in the area right now if everything continues to go the way it is. We have had a few setbacks in the last few weeks with the loss of many investigators; including Ali & Mohsen who we have not heard from in a week. President had cleared them for baptism and the next day we never heard from them again; it has been hard on our hearts. I am realizing more and more however that 'real growth' is the most important thing. Like President Hinckley said, there is no point in doing missionary work if we cannot retain the fruit of our labor so the fact that we haven't heard from them when they were doing so well hurts a lot less because they aren't doing this after they had been baptized.
The work with the members is beginning to pick up as well. The ward here is a labyrinth of gospel conversions and backgrounds. It is such an odd mixture; young Caucasian student families mixed in with a hand full of African-American native Clevelanders. It is of sad report that I tell you there could be much better unity between the two and we are seeing as part of a much more grand accomplishment of what could happen here with missionary work that the two groups have to have more love and unity in our ward body or the body will continue in its shrinking trend. I never thought that it would be my job as a missionary to go and cry for unity amongst members. We have been very loving but also very candid in our lessons with them in the last two weeks and I have found it most interesting to find that they put up no contest to our cry for unity; they acknowledge it and accept that there needs to be more love of Christ. We have been inviting them to do simple things to increase unity and missionary work including having a family over for dinner that they norm ally wouldn’t or sitting by someone in church that they normally wouldn't sit by. I feel that the Lord has been directing Elder Mo'Unga in a most interesting way this last month. He has been guiding us to so many less active members that haven't had contact with the church in years who are now ready to come back. Three that hadn’t been at all in a year were all at church on Sunday and all were happy to be there. This last year there has been 5 convert baptisms in this ward and all 5 are less active; I have felt so strongly that something needs to change within the ward before the Lord will bless us with any more sheep to feed. My only worry is that I won’t be here long enough to see this unfold, but I trust in due time that the ward will be more unified and the Native Cleveland families will build up the church body again. I have tried to keep negative things about people or places I serve out of my reports home but that is what we are dealing with right now. The Lord has stated that "if ye are not one, ye are not mine". Despite the challenges we are facing we do recognize the Lord is helping us so much and the members here truly do have so much love within them. The next step is helping them all see a vision of what could become here if we do missionary work and what will become if we don't.
This is the Lords work. He has given us the commission to participate with him in the building of His kingdom. I pray that we may all examine our commitment to live like the Savior and "feed His sheep" if we truly love Him. I pray that we may not only live in a spirit of thanks and giving at this time of year but that this may be the hallmark of our lives and the way of our daily walk. I know that God lives and that he will support us in our practical and our seemingly impossible challenges. I am humbled to bear the title of servant for the Lord Jesus Christ!
Love, Elder Prince