Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Catching up

Well, we're a little behind in these parts, so here's a two-week catch-up post. Enjoy!

From 06.07.10

This may be a funny and strange way to start off an e-mail, but Elder Kirk had a weird dream the other night that he was emergency transferred to help Pres. Robbins pack!!! Yeah I know!! What in the world was going on in his head? Anyway, thought I'd start off with a light moment. :) Well, this week was quite a whirlwind of adventures, to say the least. This past preparation day, I was sitting in the library waiting for Elder Kirk to be done e-mailing (I had already finished) when I got a call from Sister Earl in the mission office. She said that Pres. Robbins needed a head count of the missionaries scheduled to go home in August, and which ones would like to still go home in August or wait until September, due to the fact that the transfers between the current mission and the new one don't match up. Well, as you know I had just unloaded on you all about everything that was going through my mind as I weighed the decision about college....and here was Sister Earl, calling to get my "final answer," so to speak! Well, I told her August because I've prayed and pondered about it and it still feels right. So anyway, that was only the beginning of what turned out to be a very interesting week. We went to the Cincinnati Art Museum on Tuesday, which has over 60,000 pieces of work from over 6,000 years of world history. For a historian like myself, it was definitely neat to see. Plus, it was all free! You can't beat that, especially when you're on a "missionary budget." We also had a bit of a scare this week as we temporarily lost our cell phone.....downtown, and on the bus! You put those three together into an equation, and it would seem more than likely that the cell phone would be long gone. However, I've learned that praying for specific things more often than not brings specific answers. I was pretty sure that asking the Lord to recover our cell phone fell under the category of that, "which is right," (3 Ne. 18:20) so I felt comfortable asking Him to: 1) Have an honest person find it on the bus and turn it in; 2) Deliver it into our hands; and 3) That it wouldn't be damaged in any way. Well, that is EXACTLY what happened! We went downtown on Friday morning to the lost and found, and they said the lost items wouldn't be brought in until 11:30-12, so we went to follow up with a few people. When we got back, they said the cell phone was not there. Well, we were disappointed but understood that everything would work out, whether or not we got the cell phone back. After an appointment near our apartment, we went back to see if the assistants or Elder Fox, the mission finance secretary, might've been by to help find the phone. Well, they beat us to it!! They went to the lost and found while we were following up with people and it was there!! We were very grateful and told the Lord so. Yes, even for something that seems trivial like a lost cell phone, the Lord truly does answer our prayers. Sunday was also a good day, as we were able to teach 6 lessons, and one of which is a great new investigator named Denitra whom we helped carry a heavy load to her apartment a few weeks back. We've also been able to start having regular coordination each Thursday with Bro. Martin because his job is on summer hours now, so he's free in the evenings. We talked with him about starting a Preach My Gospel class for the members, and he loved the idea. He set up a meeting with the bishop on Sunday morning, and we told him the same things we mentioned to Bro. Martin, and he gave us his full support. We also told the leadership in PEC later that morning, and then announced it again in priesthood. We intend to start this Wednesday evening, and we are very excited!! The reasons for the class are, quite simply, to build member trust and enthusiasm and to increase their confidence and skills to effectively share the gospel. Lucky for us, Preach My Gospel gives us the "how-to" of missionary work. I will keep you posted on how it goes as the weeks go along. It will be great!!!! During the third hour yesterday, we were asked to talk to the young men about Preach My Gospel and were able to teach an impromptu lesson on the Restoration. We invited them to attend our class as well whenever they feel welcome, so it would almost be like missionary prep for them!! As you know, I was blessed before my mission to have plenty of things to help me prepare to effectively serve full-time, and now I feel that I have a responsibility to do something similar for others. In other news, Shawntae and her family our doing very well lately. They have gotten back into a habit of daily, family scripture study and prayer, and we are going to start talking about baptism again soon since Jameill Sr. is now in a halfway house and can attend something like a baptism. Michelle Baker was sick with a cold all week and was unable to attend Church, but as of this writing she has been clean for 5 days now. We had a great visit with her yesterday, accompanied by Bro. and Sis. Milburn, and Michelle feels determined to be ready for baptism by the 26th. We encouraged her to simply leave her apartment and go somewhere else whenever she gets a temptation, much like Joseph in Egypt in his encounter with Potiphar's wife. She even bought ribs and a bunch of other summer picnic staples with the intent to feed us sometime this week, and I'm really looking forward to THAT! Another one of our progressing investigators is Shelley Capell, a neighbor of Steve Stanley( our less-active recent convert) in Price Hill. We've had several really good lessons with her, and we were able to help her start painting her room on Saturday, although we could've gotten a lot more done if it weren't for her crazy kids! Nonetheless, we previously had given her a reading assignment of Alma 32: 26-43 (big surprise!), and not only did she read it, but she took about a page of notes!!!! I love it when they take notes! They were really good ones to, and we invited her to "experiment" upon Moroni's promise concerning the Book of Mormon, and she accepted without hesitation. Those are just a few highlights, but all in all, we have a pretty solid teaching pool going right now. I'm pretty confident that with the addition of the Preach My Gospel class, that teaching pool is only going to get bigger as the members start to really share the gospel with friends and family. In the words of Pres. Hinckley, we have "barely scratched the surface" here in Cincinnati. I'm grateful for the privilege of being able to labor in this fruitful part of the Lord's vineyard. I pray that the Lord will make me capable of caring for it as He would. I look forward also this coming Wednesday to Zone Conference, the last one in the Ohio Cincinnati Mission! It's gonna be good!! All three Cincinnati Zones will be there, plus my next mission president, Pres. Jensen. Sounds like you all had really good time at the family reunion in Yellowstone. That is definitely a place I'm gonna have to visit sometime! You've been getting some 90 degree days, huh? Well, I think I would prefer it over Ohio because we have the ridiculous humidity thrown in!! We've had couple of good thunderstorms so far, but haven't been under any tornado warnings yet. They are sure to come sometime though, and for some reason Elder Kirk is excited about seeing one! Too bad we aren't allowed to go anywhere when we've got a tornado warning. So besides the "bi-polar weather," as I like to call it, everything else is going great! I look forward also to receving that package, hopefully this week. Thanks as always for your continued faith and prayers! God Bless! 

And from two weeks ago:
There are a lot of things going through my mind right now, and I have spent much of the past week pondering and praying about what the Lord's will is for me. Obviously, transfers brought a great deal of anticipation and anxiety (especially from Elder Kirk) but in the end we both received confirmation that Cincinnati was where we are supposed to be, and I'm thankful that the Lord let us know that. The other big thing that has occupied my mind has been what to do about school when I get back. I keep getting the feeling that I'm supposed to go to BYU-I starting in the fall, but because the transfer cycles between Cincinnati and Columbus don't match up, I wouldn't make it home in time for that semester. I know I'm not the only one praying about this, you obviously have done so a great deal as well. Perhaps even Pres. Robbins has too since I told him about all this last week. At this point, there's still a lot I don't know, and I feel that the Lord understands that I would like more than 2 weeks to spend with family and friends before I head off to school. So maybe that is one reason why I am currently serving where I am, but those are just thoughts that keep coming to me. I hope all of this makes sense so far. I'm going to keep thinking about it, and if my feelings don't change, then I may have to go home a couple weeks early to have more time to get ready for school and other things.....or maybe not, because I don't know what Pres. Jensen, the Columbus mission president, has planned for all these "old" missionaries that he will be getting next month. I'm sure Pres. Robbins will give us plenty of information about it as it gets closer, so I'm going to try and not have any major anxiety attacks! As for the work here, things have been moving very smoothly the past couple of weeks. They have been very balanced, which is something we really focused on as a district last transfer, especially after the fireside. I'm excited to continue serving in this district, they are a great group who have their hearts and minds in the right place. Yesterday, we had a very successful ward Memorial Day picnic, with many of our investigators and even some less-actives attending. All of them voiced to me that they had a very enjoyable time and were able to mingle with members and even one another. That was neat to see and brought a smile to my face! Elder Kirk and I dominated the water balloon toss, thanks to watching Mom and Dad win it every year at the Livingston family reunion. That of course was followed by a huge water fight and I was completely soaked, thanks in large part to Shawntae's many kids! It felt pretty good actually, since this last week and probably this week will be very warm. The ward wants to put a greater focus on such activities, and we are wholeheartedly in favor of that because it allows people to see a different side of us and certainly opens doors to teach the gospel. We are also going to try and start a Preach My Gospel class for members next week, and we already have come up with many ideas for helping the members catch the vision. Now we just need to get things arranged with the attendees! :) We had a major breakthrough last week with Shawntae, namely her "husband" Jameill Sr. is now in a halfway house and is allowed to attend Church services every week! The only problem is he doesn't get let out until 11, which is when sacrament meeting starts in the Cincinnati Ward! So this past Sunday, I went with our ward mission leader, Bro. Martin, and picked up all of our investigators in the bishop's 15 passenger van. It was quite an adventure driving pretty much around Cincinnati, and we made it back before sacrament meeting was over. Then we had to run everybody back when it was all over, and on the way back to the Church, we could hear something dragging under the van so we stopped to check it out. A homeless guy nearby saw us and came over to ask what the problem was. He took a bungie cord and rigged the loose part back to the bottom of the car in just a few minutes! I can assure you that Bro. Martin and I would probably still be there now if it hadn't been for his help. Too bad neither of us had any money to give him, because he pretty much saved the day. Besides, it was the end of the month so I didn't have any money to give him anyway! :) So anyway, Jameill Sr. also came to the picnic yesterday and had an enjoyable time, and right now we're just working on building up his trust. Shawntae is definitely helping him understand what we're all about, so we're hoping to have a chance to sit down and begin teaching him, and with any luck as well as the Lord's will, we'll baptize the whole family! As for Michelle Baker, she came to Church again this week and had a very spiritual experience during sacrament meeting. I truly believe that she is losing the desire to use drugs, and if she stays clean for 3 more weeks then she will get baptized as scheduled! It's a really exciting time to be here right now, and I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to continue building on the foundation we have laid thus far. I am particularly excited that we are focusing on Christlike attributes this transfer, which is my absolute favorite!!!! I know it's what we need, and I plan to involve the Lord in planning and preparing for each district meeting, since it's His work and we're trying to become like Him. He, therefore, is the best one to ask about developing His attributes! On Monday we went to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, which was INCREDIBLE!!!! There was so much to see and do, I only lament that we ran out of time or I'd probably still be there! I took well over a hundred pictures, so it was certainly worth the 10 bucks I paid to get in. Well, this letter has been kind of scatterbrained but really informative. I look forward to another great transfer, and the exciting things that will be happening over the next several weeks. I hope you enjoy the reunion up in Yellowstone, and that everything else in life is as it should be. Speaking of Elder Christofferson, he is conducting a special stake meeting the week before stake conference, so there is the slight possibility that he could tour our mission as well. THAT would be cool!!! May the Lord continue to bless and sustain you each day as He has me! Have another great week!         

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