Monday, April 29, 2013

Full sprint in Ohio

Dearest Family and Friends,

                                                This has been one of the fastest weeks of my mission; I can hardly believe I am hear reporting again! I'll have you all know that our investigators are doing great and one of them bore her testimony yesterday in sacrament meeting; it was so edifying to hear her. We are working very closely with the ward and availing ourselves to any service we can render. This may be the shortest e-mail I've ever written so I apologize but I want to leave you with my testimony this week. I am grateful to say that I represent Jesus Christ in Youngstown, OH. I can testify that it is by His grace I am permitted to do any good works. I am grateful for my purpose of inviting others to come unto Him; there is no more noble purpose and to be called in my weakness to declare His gospel is truly a honor. Elder Chapman and I are continuing to enjoy our time together. I wish I could expose the goodness of this Elder adequately. I know we are creating a friendship that will span into the eternities! I love you all so much and am grateful for your support and prayers! I know that our Father Lives! I know our Redeemer Lives because the Spirit tells me it  is so! Love you all and hope that you have a wonderful day! 

Love, Elder Prince

Enjoying my life

Dearest Family and Friends,

                                                Things are off on the right foot here in Youngstown. I have to tell you that from the first day it has felt so good to be working with my brother Elder Chapman. He is a missionary that truly serves with all he has and I am so privileged to be his companion right now. I have seen many miracles this week. I have been in the area on previous exchanges in my mission and it seems that all of the people that I had only brief moment to meet in the past are the people that I have been able to connect with in a deep way already in only a few days time. There is so much that has happened I don't have sufficient time to explain it all but I have had some cool experiences that I will touch on lightly.
My first night in the area I had the privilege of going to Youngstown University to teach a class on social diversity. We did a cover of our religion and had the opportunity to bear testimony to a class of 40 students and then opened up our time to a Q&A session. I love being able to testify to others and to clear up all of the misconceptions that people have. I was joking around, fist bumping and getting heartfelt all in the same setting; it was alotof fun.
We are teaching a young man who we received through media referral last week and he is so prepared to hear the gospel! His name is Shawn and he has such a contrite spirit. Through the course of the week we have been able to teach him and to listen to him bear testimony of how he has felt as he studied the gospel has been inspiring. He said he has not had a particularly happy life and that some two months ago he found a Book of Mormon in his house and began to read. He said I have been happier in these last few months than at any other time in my life. We have committed him to baptism and he came for the first time this Sunday. He expressed to us that he would like to work towards being a missionary one day! We will keep you posted on Shawn!
Also, we are working with a part member family; the Smeltser's. After a Word of Wisdom lesson this week they encouraged us to follow them home because they wanted to surrender all of their tobacco, liquor, tea and coffee and all paraphernalia! It was such a humbling act of faith to watch these two humble people comb their house and handover over three grocery bags of materials. We promised them blessing for their faith and game them a priesthood blessing. They allowed us to come in this week and help them clean up the whole apartment; I felt like I was on the crew of a home make over show! The whole place was night and day different and they were so appreciative.
There have been other miracles. Elder Chapman and I are so excited to be working together. We are living, laughing and loving and fulfilling our purpose all the day long. I feel like this whole scenario is a tender mercy straight from the Lord. Elder Chapman and I were in tears last night as we stayed up talking about our commitment to the gospel and our appreciation and love for each other. I don't know why I have been so fortunate to have these blessings but none the less I can testify God lives! I am serving on borrowed time and truly finding that all the experience of the last 23 months and past that is culminating into a special ending here in Youngstown; the field is white! I know that we may be released as full time missionaries at some point but we are never released from being servants of God! I am happy and fortunate! 

Love, Elder Prince

Monday, April 15, 2013

Being Old in Youngstown

  Dearest Family and Friends,

                                           It is with great excitement I write you all this week! This week has been a roller coaster. On Thursday I felt impressed to call our investigator Leisha during lunch so I made the call there at the table. Dan (room-mate) picked up the phone and barley able to make out his words told us that there was an emergency; that the house had caught fire and that everyone was leaving! I told him to stay calm and that we would be there within the hour. Elder Payne was on exchange so I took another Elder from my district to there house as fast as we could put our clothes on and bike over. As I pulled up the house I was overwhelmed with sadness as I saw that black smoke stains had breathed out the upper windows and men were already there boarding them off. I have been at this home almost every day for the last two months; all the people inside have grown to be like family to me. I walked in the back door and there was nothing but darkness and sad faces. The house was uninhabitable and all of our friends had to leave. I just started to ask everyone if they were all right. Dan nearly broke down as I tried to encourage him and give him a hug. After speaking sometime with him outside I walked into the house and Mary just fell into my arms sobbing. The whole scene was awful and amidst it all Dan and Mary decided to part ways and not be married. It felt like our entire vision and goal was being removed faster than we could look. Over the course of the weekend we did all we could to rally the members around them and help get them on their feet while also trying to salvage whatever we could from the ravaged house. Both of these couples who we have been working so diligently with split ways and two moved out of our area. Still I kept my spiritual focus and refused to ask God why, but rather "what now"?
                                  I cannot help but bear witness that God has had his hand in this incident. Two days before the fire happened Leisha called us and told us that she had decided she was going to live the law of Chastity and move in with her parents so she could be baptized; this provided her extra incentive to leave and she has still decided to stay true to her decision. The relationship between Dan and Mary came into focus alot for us over this whole ordeal. There was so much going on that we were not aware of and I feel strongly that Mary getting out of that environment with the kids was the best possible thing; and despite her very stressful weekend she still managed to wake up Sunday morning and get all of her kids ready for three hours of church. I am so proud of her. I have truly come to love these two women with all of my heart. They are living the gospel and acting upon what we share with them. All of this has brought us closer together and the church's support has been amazing and endeared Mary and Leisha to their ward family. Things don't always going according to our plans but the Lord has answered our prayers and through a tragedy strengthened our investigators and essentially sifted them from the wheat. Mary and Leisha are working on being baptized in the coming month. Leisha is now living in the Ashtabula ward and will be being taught by two sister missionaries in my district; they will be a perfect fit!
                                 Tomorrow is transfers and will conclude my  12 week training of Elder Payne. On Wednesday I had my final infield interview with President Vellinga which was very hard for me. He and I were fighting back tears the whole time. It was hard for me not to be somber the rest of the day; even though the interview was great and full of laughs I still haven't accepted that my mission truly is coming to a close. He asked me if I would like to stay in Warren which I said I would. I told him that I would love to baptize as many people as I can into this ward before I leave after he asked me what my vision was of the next six weeks.  On Saturday morning President Vellinga called and asked if he could speak to me alone (gulp); I always know he has something up his sleeve when this happens. He asked me if I would accept the assignment to be a Zone Leader for my final transfer in the same zone I am currently serving in. Somewhat shocked, I told him I would gladly do that. I was very surprised be assigned to be a district leader this late in the game so to be assigned a zone leader for my last six weeks was unexpected. I am pretty sure he is trying to work me into pulp before I go home ;). So my final transfer I will be serving as a Zone Leader along side on of my favorite missionaries in Ohio; Elder Chapman. In mission terms Elder Chapman is my grandson. My trainee, Elder Crosland trained Elder Chapman. I really love him alot and have always wanted to serve with him. It will be a very happy ending. I will be serving in the city of Youngstown, Ohio for these last 6 weeks and I am excited to leave it all in Ohio. I know that alot of exciting things lay in store for the future but I am here and focused on the people of Ohio until my final minute just like my trainer Elder Martinez set the example for me. I am so excited to do whatever the Lord and my mission President expect of me.  I am going to work my hardest for the next transfer and I can't wait to see what miracles the Lord has in store. It was hard to say goodbye to the people I have come to love so much in the last 3 months. Warren will always have a place in my heart. I am going to miss Elder Payne and I am also excited to announce that in the same phone call President asked Elder Payne if he would train a new missionary! He is worthy and willing and the Lord will qualify him! He and I have been through so much together in these last three months; I love him like a brother and will never forget our time together.
                                I can testify that God lives. I know that with an eternal perspective and an understanding of the plan we can endure any trial, rise to any occasion and with the help of God accomplish more than we ever thought possible. Jesus is the Christ and to He and the Father are all the praise! I love you all and appreciate your prayers! Do what is right and let the consequence follow! Love, Elder Prince

Monday, April 8, 2013

Conference Time in Ohio

Dearest Family and Friends,
                                           The sun is out and I feel that we have officially turned our backs on winter here in Ohio! Another great week has passed and I feel so empowered by the inspired messages of General Conference! Elder Payne and I had a great week this week and our investigators are continuing to progress nicely. One of them has quit cigarettes for over three weeks now! We are planning a wedding for Daniel and Mary on the 20th of April and then a baptism the following weekend! Working with Dan, Mary and Leisha has been such a testimony builder for me. I have watched them changed so much in these last few months and they are coming to know who they truly are; loved children of our Father. Please keep these good people in your prayers. They are working so hard and doing so well and these next few weeks will prove to be vital for them.
                                            I was so filled by the messages of our leaders this weekend. I enjoyed Elder Packers testimony of the Savior and I felt it was a great tender mercy to hear again from Elder Golden in my final session of conference as a missionary. The constancy of God's love has been so impressed upon me these last few weeks. I am so grateful for this season of the year and the promise that it brings. When autumn sets and ushers in winter the leaves fall from the trees and the green is lost in the landscape but the source of light from which they all grow has not changed; the earth moves it position in such a way that the warmth of the sun is not felt. The sun's temperature never changed, neither the light that it constantly provides for growth. When the earth changes it's position and draws nearer to the sun, the light and warmth draws nearer to it also. Though the seasons change and perhaps circumstances look and feel different in our lives; God's love remains as constant and unchanging as the sun. I hope that we may all position ourselves to feel his love. His love is there regardless of our choices; but our choices in large measure determine how much of His love we feel. I know that our Father in Heaven loves us. I hope that come what may we will always stay close to His light and warmth; it is our choice. I know He lives as does His son. I know that 177 years ago last week that the Savior Jesus Christ appeared in the Kirltand temple; one week after it's dedicatory payer; and many years after hard work and sacrifice. I know also there that Moses, Elijah and Elias restored the keys of God to commence His work for the eventual return of the Christ! May our lamps be trimmed and burning for the return of the Bridegroom!
                                                                                                              Love Always, Elder Prince

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Spring!

Dearest Friends and Family!
                                            Great to be able to write you all today! Elder Payne and I had such a fun and productive week and the work here in Warren continues to roll forward. I will say however that my body is just tired. I feel like an old man when I get out of bed every day. Elder Payne and I are biking roughly 15-20 miles a day and running every morning; the point of the fact is that missionary work is a different kind of tiring; it is mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically draining. Elder Payne said that 2 minutes after my prayer was over last night I was deep snoring and I never snore. The good news is that the spirit really does revive you and gets you excited for another day but I will tell you that the first thing I am doing when I get home is taking a nap. Speaking of waking up; this morning our investigators invited us over to their house to try the 2nd hottest chillis' in the world:THE GHOST CHILI. We all ate them at the same time and all I can say is that it dominated all of us; truly baptism by fire. This was about an hour and a half ago and I am still in pain but it was some good clean missionary fun!
                                            Dan and Mary are continuing to do well. Mary and Leisha went to the Young Women's broadcast this weekend and they both felt the spirit very strongly. They are growing more and more excited for their baptisms this month! Elder Payne and I also set a goal of finding 4 new investigators this week and we were blessed to find 5! My goal this week has been to be more bold at door steps without being over bearing. It is an interesting thing when you step up your boldness with people because they rejection grows more severe but so does also your success in finding those who are prepared and are touched by the fact that you mean what you are saying. This weekend was great to get out and talk to people about the Risen Lord. I loved talking to people about the promises that his atonement brought mankind; many of which promises they are completely ignorant to. We also had 5 investigators come to church on Sunday which was awesome and all of them had a great experience. All is well, we are working hard, having fun and time is flying.
                                            My dear friends, I wish to leave you my testimony today and I would want you all to know of the hope that I have in Christ. I have tried with all sincerity to let the atonement have full sway in my heart; even so much that it was my wish to lose all desire to sin and I can truly say I know that He has changed me. The greatest miracle is a change of heart. I don;t know how he brings about these internal changes but I look back on who I used to be and I do not recognize that person. Every morning I look into framed glass picture of the Savior in my room and as I tie my tie I ask myself if I have received His image in my countenance. I am not all that good looking but I know that even my face reflects what the Lord has done for me. If I ever changed for the good in my life is was because with His stripes I was healed, by His word I was comforted and by His power I moved forward. I want you all to know that He is the reason for anything that is good in me. I pray that we may "always remember Him, that we may always have his spirit to be with us". He lives still today and I pray that we may prepare for when He returns (Alma 34:32-35). I love you all and leave you these words in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
                                                                                                             Love, Elder Prince