Dearest Family and Friends,
I thought by titling my e-mail as 'Fire and Rescue' this week more of you may be interested in reading my 400th e-mail ;). This week has been one of the best weeks of my entire mission and in many unexpected ways. On Tuesday we had our Ward Mission Leader (Bro. Huxel) out with us on a split for the entire day. During the morning we taught a few lessons together and then decided to get a bite to eat around noon. After a while we all decided we would make an impromptu visit to an older man in our ward who despite coming every week faithfully was not seen the previous Sunday. This lead us to drive to his trailer park a few minutes away in route we passed right by the trailer of a less active woman in our ward. As we passed by her house Elder Colf looked out the window and said "Why is Sis. Allred's house destroyed?". We then all looked and paused only to see that black smoke stains covered every window trimming and all of the glass had been shattered out. In the same instant that we looked upon this burnt trailer the Sr. Couple in our ward, the Palmers, came walking out with black hands stained in ash. Then out came Sister Allred with tears streaming down her shocked face. Her electrical company had turned on the power for the first time in months and appliances that were previously left on had caused the entire trailer to go up in flames. The entire inside was covered in a black smoke residue. Both the Sr.Couple and ourselves had shown up within half an hour. Both of us felt impressed to be on that street at that time. If you could see the enormity of the area I cover you would understand that this would be the equivalent of showing up to visit a member of your ward on one street in a ward boundary the size of all of Sandy Utah without any communication other than whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Elder Colf and I cancelled all appointment that day and spent the rest of the night helping this woman salvage anything she could from what remained of her destroyed dwelling. I couldn't help think of the words of the song, "Let the Holy Spirit guide, let it's whispers govern choice". Needless to say this good women knew this was a wake up call and she knew that we were all sent to her for a reason.
The next day I was honored to attend the funeral of one of my best friends here in Cleveland; brother Bill Colbourne. Just last week I had found out of his passing and was utterly shocked, he was only 44 years old. Bill was one of the most faithful latter-day saints I have ever known. He had a crippling case of cerebral palsy and despite walking and talking with extreme difficulty he faithfully attended church and passed the sacrament every week. He was one of my first member friends here in Cleveland and would always talk to me every time we saw each other. Bill is the only person that could make me lose my focus and talk about the Celtics for entire priesthood meeting. I will miss him alot but I truly enjoyed his funeral service which was a combination of heartfelt testimony and belly aching laughter. I look forward to the day I get to play basketball with him in the Celestial Kingdom.
This week we also had our quarterly interview with President. From a few challenging weeks leading up to the interview my mood was moral was a bit low and seemed to carry over into our meeting. I told him that I had been trying my hardest here in the city and despite my efforts I was feeling disappointed regularly. One of President Vellinga's greatest gifts is the gift of listening. He listens very intently and is always full of Christlike perspective. He helped remind me of a few things that helped me realize no matter what the fruits of your labors may be it is often going unnoticed and unsaid what great things are happening within the heart of a missionary as he passes through adversity. President Vellinga asked me if I would preach the gospel even if the Lord told me not a soul would listen. I told him I would. He then went on to say that was ultimately my duty. That is not to say neither of us believe others will listen in East Cleveland but it is said more so to allude to the fact that a major part of our commission is to plant seeds of testimony, show forth Christlike examples, correct false doctrines and warn this generation of the consequences of sin. It would be honest in telling you all that I have not had a harder 4 1/2 months of my mission as there has been these last three transfers. In all, I have served nearly 9 months in the inner city of the East side of Cleveland and at times I feel the greatest convert from these efforts has been myself. The lessons I have learned had refined my soul and magnified my capacities especially in tolerance, patience and love. I am so grateful for my labors here. They have caused my to stop looking for happiness in circumstance. I have been blessed by the Lord to recognize the small blessings and miracles everyday. My eyes see the hurt of a lost people every day and yet I see the divine children of God in all of them. As the scriptures say I feel 'encompassed about' with the blood and sins of this generation yet the Lord has helped remain hopeful. As of late so many things have reminded me of the truth that the Saviors love is felt in humility. It is felt in hope. I am so grateful that I am have been called to labor so long in this place and have been counted worthy to suffer what little things I have for the Lord. In the backdrop of saints of old I feel adversity that the adversity of my life to have been such a small thing; yet I feel akin to them and that we are linked together in our love for the Lord. I want to thank you all for your mindful and heartfelt prayers. I am also grateful for my great priesthood leaders who have helped me see the good in so many challenges and especially President Vellinga at this time. I walked out of our interview more sure I was ready to face my circumstances.
Only a few days later President Vellinga called in all of the former assistants in the mission (Elder Metcalf, Elder Parkinson and myself) to have a special meeting regarding the growth of the mission in the coming months as he need our help and experience in planning for over 30 new areas! Together we helped him plan for over 4 hours working the logistics of cars, meeting houses, apartments, etc. There are currently 62 companionship's in the mission and by the time of transfer meeting I leave from there will be roughly 95 companionship's! It was thrilling to be able to help him plan for the promised prospect of such great growth. I also felt in an honor to be able to render my opinion with such fine Elders. By the time we all finished counseling together we had come up with a plan that seemed perfect to us all; it was a very edifying experience. As we prayed to end our meeting President stopped us before we stood up and said "Elders, I want to thank you for your help. This is exactly what I hoped would happen. This was one of the most important meetings this mission has ever had". I was grateful and excited to have been there.
Ok, Ok, I know this is a biography but I have to finish by sharing with you all the experience I had in Kirltand on Sunday. The singles branch that we cover took us with them to have a special sacrament and testimony meeting in the Kirltand temple Sunday morning. It was such a special meeting and privilege. I felt like one of the early saints as we all gathered to worship and partake in ordinance in the lower assembly of the temple. Following the meeting we took our investigator Walneisha on a tour of the historic sites; it was a great time. Walniesha is also going to be getting baptized this Saturday so we are very excited for her. All in all there is so much to be grateful for. This week has been a blessing and I can't wait to see where the Lord will lead my feet looking ahead! Lead kindly light! Love Always, Elder Prince
P.S. Sorry if there is a slew of grammatical errors in this letter. I am tired from restlessness in bed last night :0