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

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