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Monday, March 30, 2015

Hi Fan Club....I mean Mom.

Elder Matheny and I got down on our knees this past week and decided we wanted to really put forth our faith and decide with Heavenly Father how many baptism's we could have while we are together.  We prayed and then discussed, then prayed again and discussed... and so on etc.... until we really felt confident.  We know that we can have 15 baptisms in our area.  We as leaders not only need to talk the talk but walk the walk.  There are many things that are required of us to reach this goal... and there are many things that are out of our hands.  As you consecrate yourself to the work you will see miracles.  Tan wrote me an awesome letter that had a fantastic definition of a miracle that is now hanging above my study desk... Miracle: A natural result of correctly applied principles.  Basically, when you have faith that something can happen and you do your part to achieve that... then naturally amazing things are going to happen!  I'm pretty positive that Heavenly Father wants his children baptized..... and so I'm pretty positive He is going to help us accomplish this! haha

A miracle for the week.  We went to follow up with a man that we taught a week ago... but he didn't actually live at the house we talked to him at... However, a lady named J** came to the door and boy oh boy is she a talker.  after about 30 minutes of her talking I just jumped in and said.. "J**, I would love to have you come to church with us tomorrow." She said she would come... and the next morning when we called her she was all dressed and ready to go!  She had a fantastic time and we will be meeting with her this week to help her feel the spirit some more.

I talked to some Jehovah's witness's this week and asked them about some of their Doctrine.  It is a bummer sometimes to hear what other people think Heaven is like.  I am so thankful for the Plan of Salvation and the fact that it is taught to us by Latter Day prophets.  I can't even fathom the Celestial Kingdom and how happy I will be there with my family.  

We are still trying our very best to help the V** family (PM family... we are teaching all the kids).  It is so hard to choose right when you are surrounded by a lot of bad.  That is why the Gospel is so awesome though... Once you feel the change come from the inside... You want to take yourself away from temptations and evil.  

General Conference is going to be a slice of Heaven.  I know that there are going to be some very powerful, bold, and personal talks given.  It was really easy for me last conference to constantly be thinking... Dang, this would be a perfect talk for so and so... This time, if I get that impression, which I am sure I will... that person better be sitting right next to me listening or receiving an email talking about what I felt the Spirit from.  We are so very blessed to hear from the man who is the messenger for God.  What comes out of his mouth is indeed words from God just as the scriptures are.

I encourage any and all to work as hard as you can at whatever you are doing.  No one ever feels good about something they put half their heart into.  Being lazy is for the weak and ain't nobody got time for that.  God has given us so much time to polish and perfect our many talents.  It is not always bad to come up short... but it is to be short in effort.  The Atonement covers what we can't.

I heard a funny quote in church yesterday. "someone once asked... what do you have to do to be a successful member? Answer: Show up.... and say yes"

God is hastening his work... He won't wait for any of us...It is our job to Keep up.  

I am so grateful for many things... and especially the times in my life that I learned to use the Atonement.  I have been the closest to my Heavenly Father through the rough and stressful times rather than the easy breezy beautiful times. Take the time to realize when God has really put his hand in your life and it is amazing to see He is and always will be there.

I love you all!

Elder Crandall the Vandal

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Back to Work

With all the craziness of transfers we weren't able to go out and proselyte until Thursday... but once we did it felt like we never stopped!  I really love being out of the apartment just talking with people.  You will always have a couple butterflies when you go up and talk to someone randomly for the first time but you learn something out of each and every contact.  I was thinking about it... and if I were a person standing on the street, how would I feel if these 2 white guys came up and just started talking to me about my life?  Well, if they were aggressive or awkward I'd be a little stand-off-ish... but if they made me laugh and smile I would be interested in their purpose of coming to talk with me.  Well, our purpose as missionaries when we contact someone is to let them know we care about them... but not only us, but God cares about them.  If we as members of this church don't open our mouths and share this happiness that we carry with us.. then who is going to learn about it.  Go out of your way and tell someone you aren't very familiar with that you care about them and hope they are having a great day.  Fear is the opposite of Faith and Love.  If you love someone then ultimately you want to share the Gospel with them.

We had a pretty cool lesson with Kacey, Kayla, and Carlos (Buddah is his nickname).  They are all siblings and their dad is a Less Active member that wasn't in our records.  Elder Matheny happened to run into them last transfer along with a lot of other part member families that we are working with.  We like to call them "Low hanging fruit." Part members are the way to go if you want converts, retention, and re-activation.  Anyways, we had dinner with them in a members home and then taught them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Teaching lessons in a members home is the way to go because the Spirit is already there!  It is something that I haven't done very often but that is going to change pretty quickly.

As I've gotten to know more of the members from this ward there are a few I have a lot of respect for.  First, Brother Blaschke is the Elders Quorum President and is easily one of the best I've seen.  Why? He magnifies his calling.  It is really easy in the church not to take your calling seriously and do the bare minimum.  When you do the bare minimum you get small small blessings (there's some krio for ya!).  I want a lot of divine help and all the blessings I can get so I have to do something for them!  If a ward runs the way it is really suppose to, then the miracles should be flying left and right.  I expect to see just that in the next little bit because of our efforts and the wards efforts.

Second, is Brother Mudford.  He has had a rougher past and fell away from the church for over 20 years.  However, as he has found his way back and begun to live ALL of the commandments.  He really glows! He is a testimony to those we teach who are struggling with an addiction that it really is possible to overcome bad habits!  

It is not enough to go just go through the motions.  We need to put our whole heart into all that we do!  Romans 6:17-18.  

Happy birthday to Cleo and to Jessie! I love you both and I'm so thankful for your spunky personalities!!

Love Elder Crandall the Vandal

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Last Pictures in Palmdale, California.

Playing ball with some investigators.

Having a lot more fun than just playing basketball.

This is the boy who left my house last year.  A bit goofy and always finding a way to have fun.

If it weren't for the shirt, I wouldn't know who this is.

Los Angeles Temple. 

Some of his last zone in Palmdale.

Some of the Palmdale Elders.

A dear Bishop who has treated him so well for the
last 7 months.  Thank you so much for all you did.

Awesome Palmdale Missionaries.

What a beautiful family!!!!

Saying goodbye before heading off to Bakersfield.
We love you Palmdale.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Crazy couple of days but a fantastic last week

My last week in the Ana Verde couldn't have been any better.  I have grown to love that ward more than I thought possible.  Heavenly Father knew that the only place that could help me adjust as quickly as I did was in Palmdale.  Elder Burke and I had some amazing lessons that just kept me smiling the whole week.  One investigator named Terry has been doing everything it takes to be baptized except read the Book of Mormon consistently... so we have been really following up a lot with that the last couple visits.  Well, we went by this very last time and asked how his reading has been going since last week.  He said he hadn't read that day so in my mind I was thinking... dang... he still isn't doing it.... so we asked what he has been reading and found out that he read all the way to Alma in less than a week!!!! His soon to be wife said she would go in the other room to check on him every once in while and he would just be glued to it!  The Book of Mormon will convert anyone to the Gospel of Jesus Christ if they will sit down read it... and follow the promptings that they get from it.

So we were just about to start a lesson with Tray when I got a text from President Wilson that said call me ASAP.  Tray was busy texting my mom about meeting up in Salt Lake anyways so I figured I would go give him a quick call.  Well, no offense to President Wilson, but he must have bonked his head or something because he asked me if I would be one of his assistants.  The first words out of my mouth were, "oh boy" haha.  I am so excited to work more closely with President Wilson and the missionaries.  I have a lot of responsibility and I can feel the weight on my shoulders... but good thing Christ promises us that he will lift our burdens. Mathew 11: 28-30.

 28 ¶Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I love this scripture.  It has helped me several times throughout my mission.

My last Sunday in church was bitter sweet.  All of the investigators I have been working closely with were at church... and a new investigator named Victor from Romania even showed up!  There was a talk given in sacrament that really touched me. The sister shared her conversion story and made me appreciate being raised in the church.  It was perfect for all of my investigators to hear.  She explained so beautifully the happiness she has found in the gospel and the fear and sadness without it. 

As soon as church ended Elder Hyde and Elder Haubner... the East Side Assistants picked me up to drive to bakersfield.  I was able to say goodbye to the whole ward and get pictures with most of them right before they dragged me into the van.  

Ever since then I have been in constant motion it feels like. Picking missionaries up from the airport dropping them off, pretending like I know what's going on and just having the biggest smile possible. haha  I realized at transfer meeting that I really only know the missionaries that served in Palmdale... so I've got a whole mission that I need to start memorizing haha! My fingers are crossed that we will be able to get out and proselyte before the end of the day.  I am serving in the same ward that I came into when I came from Sierra Leone.  I remember thinking "ah dang... I wish I could have gotten to know this ward better."  Well, now is my chance! haha

Elder Duckworth went home this morning.  He was my first Zone leader in Palmdale along with Elder Matheny (who is my new companion right now).  We pretty much stayed up packing his stuff and wrestled over a tie that we have constantly been stealing from each other back and forth for the past 7 months.  I really look up to him.  I hope that by the end of my mission I will have worked as hard as he did and be as close to Heavenly Father as he is.  He is one of my mission heros for sure. I hope he has a sweet reunion with his Fambo!

I love you all and appreciate all the love I receive from you!

Love Elder Crandall the Vandal

P.S.  I will try and send some pictures later in the week.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Rock moving day.  The missionaries loved participating in this adventure.

Almost had to pull the Lawn Mower into the house to get the rock in the right place.
Who knows what they are doing here except for having fun, and
showing that after 13 months on his mission, Elder Crandall's muscles
aren't like they used to be.  Elder Burke has only been out 7 months.
He still has some muscles that haven't atrophied. 

Last Week of the Transfer is This Week :(

I love optimism.... why look at things or life in a negative way... There are so many good things that can be focused on so that we don't need to dwell on the negative. "the best way to wake up with a smile on your face every single morning is to put a hanger in your mouth the night before." -Some Apostle.
This morning we were doing laundry at the Soukup's house and Robin (the mom) wanted to surprise Brian (the dad) by moving all of the massive rocks they have in their front yard to a better looking spot.   At one point, we needed to pull a rock a certain way so she was literally pulling the rock with her sit down lawn mower from inside the house!  She is my hero.  Her quote for the day was... "Bad decisions make for Great stories" haha and here I am telling you a great story based off a bad... yet successful decision :)  Elder Burke and I also got our morning work out that's for sure!
We had a zone training meeting this week that went really well.  We really wanted to focus on faith and miracles because without the 2 then missionary work is impossible.  It is so easy to get down on yourself, your companion, your area and to feel like everything isn't going the way you want it to when you are a missionary.  Well, as easy as it is to do that... I think it is even easier to do just the opposite.  If you want to be happy and enjoy something... then you make the best of what you've got.  When you are living by the commandments and following the Spirit... You should expect miracles.  
So in order to get our zone excited and pumped we read all of Ether 12 together and discussed it.  Right after that, we sang "Faith" the primary song and had everyone stand up.  We taught them the hand motions that I made and we sang it about 4 times together.  Oh boy, I wish I could describe the smiles that were just beaming while we were doing that!! The only experience I can compare it to was when I was back home jumping on the tramp with 6 of my best friends singing the "Doe Ray Me" song at the top of our lungs! Pure joy:)
I am really starting to grasp the idea that we all have unique talents.  There is not a missionary cookie cutter piece that everyone fits into.  If we don't add our own pazzaz to things then we won't enjoy because we are trying to be someone we are not.  There are certain rules that you do need to follow... but within those rules the World is your Oyster!!... whatever that means!! hahaha
I can't wait for this next week!  I'm not going to let a single person past me without trying my best to make their day!  We have a lot of awesome investigators that we are enjoying working with.  My goal is to love the investigators that I haven't found yet just as much as the ones I am teaching right now.... meaning... I'm gonna try to love anyone and everyone!
Who knows where I will be going at the end of this transfer or if I get to dig my roots even deeper into the work I've started here. Regardless, I will be happy:)
I love you all.
Shout out to Haley Babe! Can't believe you and I are so a like.  Happy birthday coming up!!!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Living the Good Life!!!

What a week ladies and gentlemen.... what a week!

I had my own little eye opener to how deep and intricate Heavenly Fathers Plan can be for each of us.  I was driving in the car with Elder Barrick... yes... THE Elder Barrick on Exchange just thinking about all that has happened.  If Heavenly Father had appeared to me himself 7 months ago and told me that in just 7 short months I would be in Palmdale California on exchange with Elder Barrick having the time of my life I probably would have laughed and patted him on the back thinking he was completely joking! haha Heavenly Father definitely has a sense of humor... but not this time! haha 

Elder Barrick and I caught up on some old times and tried speaking Krio to each other pretty much the whole day! I have lost almost all of it so it was nice to pick some of it back up!  We are hoping to get together for a lunch sometime this week and make some Casava Leaf or should I say SAKI!!! WOOT!  Salone brought lots of great stories and laughs... but I know that Bakersfield is bringing lots of growth and applicable experience.  We both agree that we needed to be here and it makes me so happy to see him enjoying it as much as I do. Alma 17 explains exactly how I feel:

Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.

 But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.

So I had the best fast and testimony meeting I have had on my mission so far. We had some investigators there who have been before but have never seen testimony meeting. The very first girl that went up to bear her testimony didn't even poke above the podium. She bore such a sweet, sincere, and adorable testimony. The second she said amen... there was just an explosion of hands clapping in the back! haha Oh it reminded me of sacrament meetings in Salone. They quickly realized that we don't clap but they are so cool that they just laughed it off:) 

Then, a little girl named Analise who was sitting right next to me wanted to do it to. She was so excited but nervous to go up and do it. Finally she got the guts up and went up there with one of the sister missionaries. She stood in front of the microphone silent for a little bit and then expressed how much she loved her mom and family. She then stopped and started to cry... not a cry that you would think a little kid would normally give... She was feeling the Spirit and I'm sure she wasn't use to it. She then pushed through the tears and feelings she had and thanked Jesus Christ for dying for her so she could be with her family forever. Geraldine (her mother) was in tears. She has just recently been coming back to church since we started meeting with her. I have been praying that she would have an experience with the Spirit that would not let her look back to her old life. This was the experience I was hoping she would have. The Spirit does amazing things for us... but the overwhelming feeling I know it brings has to be the best part. It was really sweet to see the bond between Geraldine and her 2 daughters as they sat in their seats and cried while holding each other. Children have a greater effect on people than you would think.

I was reminded how much I love the Law of Chastity this week. It has to be my favorite lesson to teach when the Spirit is present because it brings such a pure and clean feeling. Everyone wants to go to heaven... and on top of that... everyone wants to be in heaven with their family. Living the Law of Chastity is the only way to have a happy family. 

Shout out to Papa and Cleo, that is so cool you got to take a quick trip home and share your love with those at home. You 2 are the best missionaries ever!

Love Elder Crandall the Vandal