Monday, December 20, 2010

Hello everyone! We had our first real snow experience here on the Cape- we woke up this morning and everything was covered. The weird thing is that whenever it snows or rains, it gets warmer here, so that's the positive side to the weather.

We had a baptism yesterday at 3 pm! Our friend's name is Jim Tuttle, and he's been listening to missionaries for about 7 months, but only in the last month and a half has he really started progressing. He started reading the Book of Mormon every day, and before we knew it, he was accepting everything we taught, had gotten over some of his fears, and was willing to follow all of the commandments and do anything he needed to do to prepare for baptism. It was amazing to his his conversion. There were about 25 people at his baptism, which is a good number seeing that there were less than 40 people at church earlier that day. The only unexpected event came when Elder Henson and Jim went into the water of the font, and the water turned out to be freezing cold even though we had filled it with hot water from the beginning. Apparently there wasn't too much hot water at all, so the majority of it was filled with cold water. The positive side of this story was that I was standing in the warm, comfortable room watching the baptism, instead of in the water!

The work is going great. I've made lifelong friends out here with members, nonmembers, and other missionaries. I love being a missionary, and I feel God's love when I am serving others. Merry Christmas!

Elder Crandell

P.S. I've been nicknamed Elder Cranberry, Captain Chaos, and Krendoll by some of the people here. Very strange names.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hello everyone! This week was great, we got a bunch of good things done. We have a baptism set for Sunday with one of our investigators, Jim. He is a really good man, this will be awesome.
The mood of the people here as a whole has been happy, which is nice. The Christmas spirit makes missionary work fun. Hopefully that friendly feeling can stick around for awhile!
Not too much time to write today, they are kicking us off of the computers early here at the library where we are emailing. I love the mission, and I'm learning all the time. I feel that my mission call was inspired, and that Massachusetts is exactly where God wants me. I love you all, stay strong.
Elder Crandell

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mason left 9 months from today!! Crazy!!!


Transfers came, and Elder Henson and I will be staying for another one here in the Brewster Branch. Things are going really well. We had three of our investigators come to church, and it was a really big step for one of the guys. It has taken months of effort to get him comfortable with the idea of attending church, but he finally came! He's awesome, he had a great time and the members love him.
Not much else to write, we don't have too much time. Let me say that patience is indeed a godly attribute, but I question how far you should let something go without taking action. I've been patient with things that I shouldn't have, I don't think patience means letting yourself get walked over and pushed just so you don't offend anybody. Patience is doing what is right while enduring well, not giving in to certain activities just to keep peace. Keep the faith, stay strong!
Elder Crandell

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hello everyone!
What a crazy week. We had a bunch of lessons to our investigators that members came to support us, I got to go to Martha's Vineyard twice- once on exchanges for a day, and another day for a district P-Day activity, and we met and taught a family of 4 with members. The week was packed, and we were ridiculously blessed. Sometimes you have to wonder how you can get handed such opportunities, because things just came together perfectly for us time and time again. There was some serious divine intervention with us this week.
We are excited to have Thanksgiving here in Brewster. We have certainly gotten enough offers for breakfast/lunch/dinner on that day. The people here are family already, and I've only been here for 4 and a half weeks. The weeks fly by, it seems like I just got out here on the mission. We find out in a week what happens with transfers, so we'll keep you informed.
I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers, and I have faith that some of the things that I've been praying for will work out eventually. It is a good feeling when you feel like you have at least made a small impact on the lives of the people that you are around. The mission will always be hard for me, because it will always stretch my limits and make me feel like an idiot. That's a good thing!
Elder Crandell

Monday, November 15, 2010

November 15th

Hey everybody! It's been another fantastic week here in Brewster. We've had 4 member referrals here so far, which is amazing! The members have really helped us out in finding people to teach and then also teaching with us. I would be okay with staying here for quite some time.
We had a couple of interesting things happen this week. On Wednesday we went to a leadership meeting and I got to see Elder Davies and Elder Ichi again! That was nice seeing them again. There were about 40 missionaries there, which was nice because it can sometimes feel like we are isolated way out here in Brewster. We have to track our miles, so it is hard for us to make any extra trips to have district activities or anything. It will all work out, though.
We are helping a woman named Carolyn to prepare for baptism on December 4! She has done a really good job in overcoming obstacles that have been holding her back; we are hopeful that she can be ready for this next big step. We also taught Jim a couple of times. Jim is one of the nicest guys I have ever met, and he has also shown a ton of progress. Hopefully we can help him prepare for baptism in December, he is definitely heading in the right direction. We have some of the best people around us, it's great.
Hope you all are doing well, wherever you are. I love the mission. It is really challenging. I keep finding out more and more ways that I can improve, which is nice because it means there is always something to do. I have a long way to go, let me tell ya!
Elder Crandell

Monday, November 8, 2010

November 8th

Hello everyone! It's a beautiful day for a preparation day, low 40's and rainy. And a couple of days ago we had to scrape ice off of our windows when we were about to leave to a meeting earlier in the morning, that was a new experience for an Arizonan.
This week went well. We had zone conference with three different zones in the mission, zone council with all of the zone leadership, and stake conference on Saturday and Sunday. We were very busy, and because we have to gauge our miles and are given a limit, it really isn't as much fun. We try to get rides whenever we can, but it is still annoying.
Regardless, our week was awesome. We set three baptismal dates this week, and two of them are fairly sturdy. The members have done an awesome job in bringing people to us to teach, and we just hope that we can continue to win the trust of the branch. They are awesome missionaries, I have been very impressed with the members that we have met. This transfer has gone really well so far.
My time is short, but I love you all. I love the mission, and am pleased that it is still fun.
Elder Crandell

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1st

Hello everyone! Another great week here in the Brewster Branch. We had an interesting week visiting the members of the branch and tracting. It sometimes seems like we tract all the time, but then I realize it's because we really are tracting all the time. We have had success, and hopefully we will be able to continue to find people who have been prepared and placed in our path.

Fun experience this week: we taught a lady of the Baha'i faith (spelled something like that) about our message of the Restoration of the gospel in our day, and she explained some of her beliefs. I learned a bunch about what they believe, and she was good about keeping the conversation from becoming contentious. Unfortunately, she didn't seem to be in a position to seek for more truth, so nothing much came of it.

Another cool experience was getting rejected door to door frequently. It almost doesn't register in my mind when someone yells at us instead of just saying they aren't interested; I guess I've adapted to it. I imagine it is a new experience for my companion though- he didn't get any of this at the MTC! But it's ok, we found some people that seemed mildly interested, so hopefully something can come from that.

Mission is going great. I love this opportunity, and am grateful for all the missionaries who dedicate these 2 years to serving. Some of them might not be as valiant as others in keeping that fire going for 2 whole years, but that's why we are all in this together. It's an opportunity to serve the people- nonmembers, members, and other missionaries. Hopefully I can keep it up when things get hard, too. It is definitely "easier said than done", as they say.

Sure Love Ya,
Elder Crandell

Saturday, October 23, 2010

October 23rd

Hello everybody! I have been transferred; my run in the Cambridge 1st Ward has ended. I am now serving in the Brewster Branch, which is the farthest east that you can go in Massachusetts. My area is pretty much the entire arm that sticks out into the ocean- it is massive. It would probably take 3 hours to travel across the whole area. Our apartment is about 5 minutes from the beach, but that isn't really a bonus seeing that we are missionaries, and also that it is winter. I'm also training a new missionary, Elder Henson. He is from Surprise, Arizona. He's a pretty cool guy, he's about 6 feet tall, black, and likes to dance. I love him already!

We are in for an interesting experience. The area is huge, the membership in the branch is at around 30 active people, and we are both completely new to the area. It really is equal to getting a new mission call. This will be a ton of fun, though! We are pretty excited to start building the area here.

Not much else to report, still trying to figure out what we are doing here. It is such a change from my last area, it is insane. And I'm driving again for the first time in almost 8 months! Love you all, hope everything is going well.

Elder Crandell

October 18th

Hello everybody! The missionary work continues here in the Cambridge 1st Ward. We find out tomorrow whether or not any of us will be getting transferred. I've been here for 7 and 1/2 months, so I will probably be leaving, but there is no guarantee. It seems like missionaries are staying longer and longer in areas on average in our mission, so I could be one of those that stays at least 9 months in an area. I'll be okay with whatever happens; I have been here for a long time, but I'm also comfortable with the area and there are still plenty of people to talk to, which keeps things interesting.

I had a great experience this week, you will all enjoy this.

Many of you know that I am colorblind, and if you knew that about me, then you also knew that it hasn't really affected my life. I just see colors a little bit differently, so it doesn't really seem like a big deal. Well, a couple of days ago I went into my closet to pick out some pants to wear for the day. I have four sets of black pants, and one set of blue pants. Knowing that I am colorblind, and also knowing that I am going to wear my plain black suit coat, I hold up the pair of pants that I have selected and compare them to the coat- I needed to make sure that they were black! After testing them, I put them on along with my suit coat and headed out for the day.

About two hours later, Elder Hansen (a temporary companion of mine until transfers) started laughing at me and told me to look at my pants. I did look down, and realized that I had still somehow managed to wear my blue pants. Pretty embarrassing, especially because I had done this a couple of years ago in high school. You would think that I would be able to catch something like that if I tested it like I did, but I'll probably just have to put my blue pants in a separate closet or have my companions double-check my apparel to make sure I don't look like an idiot.

So things are still fun, and I'm still being humbled in a variety of ways. I love being on the mission, and it is amazing to see the impact that you can have on a community if you just put a little bit more effort each day into helping others out. I will be eternally grateful for my mission. Love you all! I'll write a little bit on Wednesday to let you know if I'm getting transferred.

Elder Crandell

October 13th

Hello again! It's been another great week here in Cambridge 1st Ward. The cities of Somerville and Cambridge are still as fun as ever. Transfers are coming up, so I might only be here for another week! It's weird to think about- I want to get as much stuff done before I head out of here, if that's what is going to happen to me. Oh, and our companionship has three elders now, because one of our roommates who was here waiting for his VISA got it, so he left his companion behind and flew to Brazil. Now there's the three of us left, and we cover both wards and areas. Kinda crazy, but it will only be for 1 week so it won't be for very long.

We have had a great week. We set a baptismal date with someone that was on vacation for awhile, but we were able to meet up with them again. Hopefully we can help him prepare for baptism in 3 weeks!

We also went to an organ concert with our friend Mike at his church in Boston. Not only that, but he played the bells for us, too. I'll have to send home the pics and the videos so you know what I'm talking about hahaha.

We went on exchanges with the assistants yesterday, that was pretty fun. I was with Elder Fowlke, who leaves next week. He's a great missionary, it was a ton of fun. A bunch of missionary fun- I guess I should watch what I say, we didn't go to any movies or anything.

Hope everyone is doing excellent back at home. I'm having the time of my life here, because I've finally found something that has challenged me far greater than anything else, and it is the most rewarding as well. Love you all, and I'll write back next Wednesday about whether or not I got transferred.

Elder Crandell

Monday, October 4, 2010

Well... what a weird week. We had some very strange teaching opportunities. We met a guy who is a return missionary, and has fallen away from the Church. I mean "fallen away" as in "looks like a pirate, not a return missionary." He had a huge, straggly beard and was dressed literally as a pirate would, with a bandanna and ripped clothes. He seemed like someone that would be very difficult to have a conversation with, but we were wrong. Elder Ichi and I got his number down and met up with him another day, and once we sat down and talked to him we noticed that he really is a normal guy. He said that after his mission in Peru (Cedar, don't become like this guy) he came back and let himself relax a little too much once he didn't have so many rules. He said he learned the hard way that most of the commandments are real. He doesn't associate himself with the Church anymore, but he did love his mission and he respects us missionaries greatly. It was one of the most interesting lessons I have ever had. I would say it was 'the' most interesting, if not for another lesson/dinner that we had with Catholic missionaries.

Yes, that isn't a typo. Apparently there is such a thing as a Catholic missionary, but they are a different breed of missionary. They are called "Focus Missionaries", and they stay by the college campuses and target the youth their age. They don't really proselyte or contact people like we do, they mostly hold Bible study groups. We met them a couple of weeks ago and talked for a bit, then we gave each other our information to meet up another time. They called us earlier this week and invited us to dinner, and before we knew what was happening we were having dinner with 4 Catholic missionaries. It wasn't contentious, it was mostly us sharing our basic beliefs and experiences with each other and finding out more about the two churches. One thing that we did not get into was the Great Apostasy, which they asked about and challenged us to show them evidence of, but we felt it wasn't the right place to have that sort of detailed discussion and went back to basics to keep the discussion healthy. It was pretty sweet, I have to say.

We taught another guy who majored in religion, that was also interesting. He was pretty open about hearing our message, which was a surprise because most of the people who study religion in this area either don't believe in God or do not want to hear anything else about God. We'll hopefully meet up with him again this next week to share more.

Another cool experience- we taught an older woman who hadn't been active in the Church for over 20 years. We met her on the street and asked her if we could sit down and talk for a little bit. We found out that she had previously been the Relief Society President of the Spanish branch here in the Cambridge area. It didn't sound like she had been taught everything before being baptized. She had heard some misunderstandings about the temple and what their purpose was. It was such a great experience- she asked us, "Where in the Bible does it say anything about doing things for dead people?", and we were able to show and explain to her several different scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:29; Malachi 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:18-19; and 1 Peter 4:6. It was fantastic- she wrote down everything we shared and said she would look into it. The sad thing is that she is moving back to the Dominican Republic within the next week, so we might not be able to meet with her again.

Yes, awesome week. Conference was very uplifting, and I feel like I learned a ton of ways that I can improve. Hope that everyone is doing well, I love you all!

Elder Crandell

Monday, September 27, 2010

September 27th

Another busy week in the Cambridge 1st Ward. We got back into contact with an investigator that we haven't seen in a long time, and he came to church this Sunday. That was definitely a blessing to see him there! We will hopefully be able to meet up with him and a few other people this next week.

General conference is here! We are very excited to get people to come to that, and the members we have talked to said they would all work on bringing their friends to it. General conference is pretty much the Superbowl for missionaries; we are happy that it's here. We get to listen to the apostles, prophet, and other inspired leaders talk directly to us, that doesn't happen every day.

Gonna be a short email for this week, sorry, but time is short today. Everything is awesome, and I am glad that I have been given this opportunity to search for myself what I believe and who I am. I keep finding things I can do differently that will make me a better person, which I'm grateful for. It's really hard to change, though, so good thing it's 2 years!

Elder Crandell

Monday, September 20, 2010

September 20th

Oh, hey there friends. It's Elder Crandell. I'm still on a mission, and still with the Cambridge 1st Ward. The work is going great- we had a weird week, it seemed like every day didn't go as planned, but they all went well at the same time. I feel like this really is my new home. There are members and nonmembers that have taken the role of being my mother and father for the time being, it's really interesting how that has happened.

Elder Ichi and I taught a guy a first lesson in Portuguese, although I'm pretty sure I had no idea what was being said the entire time. I don't understand anything in Portuguese. I'm assuming (and hoping) that Elder Ichi was teaching the man about Heavenly Father, prophets, and Jesus Christ, and not saying to the guy, "My companion here is a dumb, ugly fool". I wouldn't know either way, I just nodded and smiled most of the time. We are passing him off to the Portuguese missionaries this week.

We had an interesting talk that discussed agency during church yesterday. It made me think that while we always have the ability to make decisions for ourselves, sometimes if we make a "pre-decision", or choose to do something before another decision is made, that the previous decision will actually limit our agency in the second decision. The limitation on our agency seems like it could be both good and bad, depending on our previous decision. Not sure if that made sense, but for things like choice of friends, music, and daily routine, those things seem capable of shaping our choices that we make for the day, week, or year. Maybe even a lifetime. I kinda like the idea, and I do know that we all have the ability to choose for ourselves.

Elder Crandell

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 13th

Great, great week. Thanks for the emails and letters, give thanks to Kelley for the drawing, and thank you Dad for the email. It is nice to hear things are going well with the business/family/home and whatnot. Christmas/Thanksgiving/Birthday gift request for me- I really miss those audio tapes that talk about Jesus Christ's life as a story, Dad used to listen to them in the car. I keep thinking about those, ask him if he knows what I'm talking about!

(For friends and family)

Once again, great week here in the Cambridge 1st Ward! The work is going well; we were busy last week, and next week is lined up to be busy, too. The members are awesome, I love this ward. I would definitely be ok with coming back and going to Cambridge 1st. We are working to get members to set appointments with nonmembers so that we can work our schedules around theirs after they set up a visit, and that should make it easier on us to meet with people.

We had an interesting encounter a couple of days ago. A man approached us on the street, walked up close to us, and said right into our faces, "I just need to tell you guys that you are a racist organization. You look down on us blacks and treat us like dirt. A religious leader of mine said that black people are gods and white people are devils." So I asked him, "Are you saying that white people are devils, and that we are racist?" and he simply replied, "Yes." We started walking away from him and wished him a good day. Elder Ichi and I were greatly amused at how ironic that guy's claim was, and Elder Ichi informed me that he had wanted to say, "Sir, look at me. I don't know if you have noticed, but I'm not white!" It must have been funny for my trusty Brazilian companion to be called a "racist, white devil"! We had a really good laugh, that's about all you can do after experiences like that happen.

I have a testimony of missionary work and the blessings that come from it. I know that the commandments are given to us as an opportunity to receive blessings. I guess the saddest way to gain this testimony is to see countless people break the laws of God, and for even nonreligious people to say that the things they chose made them lose the ability to freely choose. Hopefully we can show people that there is a way to escape from those chains that they are in!

Elder Crandell

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

August 8th

Hello everyone! This week was awesome, we had a baptism! I was lucky enough to baptize Kentra, who is 8, and Elder Davies (my previous companion) came back to baptize Phillips, 11. There were a ton of people there, and the program was great. It was awesome to see the whole ward come together to make this a memorable experience for these kids.

Transfers are this week, that's why I'm emailing today and not Monday. We found out that both Elder Ichi and I will be staying here for at least one more transfer. It's crazy that I'm going to be in my first area for so long, but I'm grateful because I want to keep working with the people we have found. I can't believe I've already been out for 6 months! Time is flying by, and it's because we make sure every day is a busy one.

I am grateful for this church, as an organization. The role of each calling and position in the Church is inspired, and miracles happen when they all work together. The priesthood is a blessing and an opportunity. How lucky we are to be involved in the work of Heavenly Father, working to help others obtain eternal life! I will be eternally grateful for my mission, because I already have been blessed in ways that nobody besides myself would understand. One of the most comforting things about my faith is that I can know for myself, not faking it for others.

Well, time is short. Hope everything is going well back home! Stay strong!

Elder Crandell

Monday, August 30, 2010

August 30th

Hello nation. (Colbert fans, anyone?) This week have been fantastic, and I'm not just saying that, Tony Demattia. We were able to see great things happen- we found a bunch of people to teach, we had several people come to church, we have a baptism planned for this Sunday, September 5th, and the ward is doing a great job in helping us out with teaching and being examples to our non-members. This was a really busy week for us, and busy = fun here on the mission. It seems like every week I learn something that I can do better to help with my missionary work, and I'm grateful for that. It keeps the experience from becoming monotonous.

We challenged quite a few people to be baptized this week, and although none of the people accepted, they were definitely open to thinking about taking that step and praying about it. That was good to see- it can be hard to ask somebody, "Will you be baptized by the proper priesthood authority of God? Will you prepare to be baptized on (such and such) date?" when it seems that people would be put off by such a bold question. However, I have seen that if you say it lovingly and pray for the Spirit, the invitation becomes natural.

So yes, this week was great. I may not know everything, and I might not be right on certain things, but I'm glad that I have found a faith and a God that can provide ways and means to bring me to an understanding. If we are here on this earth preparing ourselves to be like our Heavenly Father, then shouldn't we try to do as He does- be the answer to other's prayers, work for the immortality and eternal life of other people, and learn to be creators ourselves? It seems like learning to create a beautiful experience out of a negative beginning, or turning the weak into something strong, is exactly what our Heavenly Father wants us to learn. We aren't on this earth to do things like our Father, we are here to become like our Father. And that transformation should not (or maybe can't) happen after we die. I'm grateful that I can be a missionary, and be working with the Lord in His vineyard to bring out good fruit.

Love you all,
Elder Crandell

Monday, August 23, 2010

August 23rd

Hello everyone! It's been another great week in the Cambridge 1st Ward, and Cambridge and Somerville are still (arguably) the best cities to cover in the mission. Good news- we have a baptismal date set for September 5th, and it looks very promising! We have been working with this family for awhile, and the two kids are definitely ready! Elder Ichi and I are happy, and Elder Davies (my last companion) is excited to see them go through, too.

The ward is really stepping up to help us with the work- we have had members teaching with us in lessons, helping us schedule appointments with people, and helping those that we bring to church feel welcome. We have had awesome experiences the past couple of weeks at church, and this next week should be even better because we have a couple of lessons planned with non-members that members have said they will go to.

I've thought about the mission experience lately, and have been surprised at the things that I will do on a routine basis. So many times I have gotten myself into situations where all I can think of is, "Why the heck am I doing this?" The good thing about it is that these moments are all of "good report". Whenever I feel like the work has become drudgery- something that I just have to get done- I have found that the best thing to do is to figure out why I'm feeling that way about a certain part of missionary work. Even if I can't figure it out, I think just giving my all to make the work fun has been the best solution. Laughter really is the best medicine, both for yourself and for those around you!

Elder Crandell

Monday, August 9, 2010

August 9th

Hello everyone! Cambridge 1st Ward is the place to be, the work is going great and the members are really stepping up. We have a dinner planned with a member for every night this week! We've also had members coming to our lessons, which really helps those we are teaching to be able to understand what a regular member of our church is like.

Elder Ichi and I have been doing well together. We've been teaching a bunch, and our lessons are going smoothly. He's a really spiritual guy and easy to be around, which I'm grateful for.

We probably had the best Sunday since I have been here. We had 5 people we are teaching come to church, and that's not counting a couple of people we aren't teaching who also came to church. To make it even better, there were a bunch of less-active members who came! It was fantastic to see people make it to sacrament meeting, and I felt like all the efforts this past 5 months were worth it just to witness what happened at church. Sometimes the work might be going at a different pace than you would like, but no effort is wasted. The funny part about sacrament meeting was that the talks were all centered on patience. I guess it was something that I needed to hear!

I've thought about my decision to serve a mission, and I've also thought about why I believe the things that I go out and teach. I struggle with different obstacles week to week, but the mission seems to be designed to bring out your biggest weaknesses and give you an opportunity to make them strengths. Sometimes I wonder what the line is between taking on hardships and just being an idiot, giving myself trials. There are so many things that I don't know, but my testimony is as strong today as the day that I chose to serve a mission. I believe in Jesus Christ, and the Book of Mormon really is another testament of Jesus Christ. While some may say that scriptural accounts are embellished to enhance teaching, I believe that the events within the scriptures hold truth at the core, and that Jesus Christ was literally the Son of God. He was a real Person, and did all that He said He did. I am grateful for Him and for His example to us all!

We are only as strong as the promises we keep.

Elder Crandell

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August 2nd

Hello everyone! It has been a very busy week. We had transfers, and my new companion is Elder Ichi (pronounced ee-shee). He's a beast! Actually he is smaller than me, but he works like a beast. He was born in Brazil, has lived in Utah for 7 years, speaks Portuguese fluently, and a little bit of Spanish. We get along great, and he is an awesome missionary already. This week has been packed with buying him stuff and getting stuff packed away. He has officially been in the mission field for four days now, and he hasn't gone home yet, which is amazing considering he is stuck with me! He is a very good-natured guy and ready to work, so this should be the best transfer yet of the mission.

We are working with three baptismal dates, and still have the same obstacles as before: we need the mother of kids we are teaching to be more active in the Church, another lady to quit smoking, and for the permission from the parents of a teenager we are teaching. Hopefully with Elder Ichi coming in, we'll be able to get through these troubles.

Mission is going great, and I'm still learning a ton. I'm excited for the summer to be over, but at the same time I am fearful for my life when the winter gets here. Cold weather and I don't get along very well.

Love you all, stay strong. Jesus Christ is Our Savior and Redeemer, and He is able to succor us according to our infirmities. (To avoid "plagiarism", I'll refer you all to Alma 7: 11-13 as my source.) He knows what we go through- we are never alone!

Elder Crandell

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28th

Hello everyone! Things are going great here in the Cambridge 1st Ward! This week has been a little hectic, so I'll start from the previous week.

We went on a tour around Boston with our friend Mike, and the tour guide was actually Steve, the man who played the organ for us a couple of weeks ago. It was insightful and interesting to see all of the stuff that as a kid you learn about, and also funny to hear how much of the history that we are taught is either exaggerated or made up completely to make a better story. For someone interested in political science, it was refreshing to hear that the founders of our country were just as opinionated, stubborn, and willing to propagandize to get their way as politicians are today.

We have a couple of baptismal dates we are working with, but there are some things that need to happen before they are ready to be baptized. We need to help one lady quit smoking, get the mother of two kids that we are working with to be more active in the church (she is a member), find out where the parents of a 16-yr-old kid we're teaching live (and get their permission for his baptism), and for another man to understand that our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are two distinct beings.

Things are going well with everyone though, and we are still busy teaching! It's awesome to have the opportunity to teach those people that we have been blessed to find. Oh, and I'm going to be training next transfer, so this will be a unique experience training someone in the same place as I was previously trained. It will be challenging.

Crazy stuff! It's going to be a completely different transfer, but I'm excited for it. The ward is doing well, and the members have been helping us out a whole bunch with getting involved in the work. Seriously, missionary work is incredible when the members and missionaries work together!

Hope all is going well, love you all.

Elder Crandell
Hello everyone!

Another great week here in the Cambridge 1st Ward. This was our second week in the new stake center, and it is still awesome. Members are doing well and helping us out by giving some of our investigators rides to church, and coming with us on lessons. Sunday was sweet too, because we were able to walk to church with an 18 yr old named Steve that had promised us that if we came by his house at 12:30 on Sunday, he would go with us to church... So naturally, we were prepared to be disappointed, but a miracle happened. He was actually at his house, and all dressed up to go to church! Even with our foolish lack of faith, this guy was responsible enough to keep his promise. That may have been the miracle of the week.

We also met with a guy from China (he was a media referral who had visited the Salt Lake Temple) that says he has no background in religion, never thought about if there was a higher power, and never thought there was any special or grand purpose to life. Needless to say, we taught a very simplified lesson! He asked some incredible questions during the lesson: "Why are there so many churches here? That is something that troubles me about America- how can anyone know which church is really the right one?" We opened to Joseph Smith History and read some of the things that Joseph Smith himself had felt about his own experience; it was so cool to hear this man explain the same exact concern that a prophet of God had. We taught about the importance of having the priesthood authority, and challenged him to read and ask God for himself. He said he would read from the Book of Mormon and pray about the things we had taught. And he wants to hear more!

Miracles do happen, faith leads to those miracles, and the tender mercies of the Lord are all around us if we take the time to look for them. Love you all!

Elder Crandell

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 7th

Happy 4th of July! We had an awesome week. We were able to set two baptismal dates with people that we have been teaching. One is set for July 18th, and the other is July 25th. The July 18th one might need to get pushed back a couple of weeks, but the 25th date should be pretty solid if we work well with the members. The work is going great! We have been teaching quite a bit, and we are excited that we have a baptismal font in our own church building!

We celebrated the 4th by going over to Herbie Kenney's house, a blind member of our ward. He has been feeling pretty weak, and we haven't been able to visit him for a long time. It was great that we were finally able to see him again on Saturday, and we went and did his shopping so that we could have food to party with him on Sunday night. We watched the fireworks together on the balcony of his building; even though he couldn't see them, he had a great time with us. Two other Elders that used to be in the area before came as well, so we all had a great time with Herbie. Hopefully he keeps feeling better. Herbie is an incredibly generous man.

Another awesome experience after church on Sunday- we went with our friend Mike to his church, and got to see their organ that they have there. It is one of the biggest in the world! His friend Steve played a couple of songs for us, and he "opened up" the organ for some of the songs and used some of the louder pipes. The building was shaking, it was really cool. Steve also played "Come, Come Ye Saints" which was awesome to hear! Mike and Steve also took us on a little tour around their church grounds- they have a bunch of stained glass paintings that were pretty cool. We recorded some songs and took pictures, so you should get them the next time I send the memory card home.

We taught another guy this week that disagreed with what we do as missionaries. He said that it doesn't matter what church you go to, because most churches teach the same principles anyways, so we shouldn't try to teach anyone that has their own religion because it leads to people being "ripped from their communities and families". It was a very interesting view that he had, and while I won't write all of my thoughts or reactions to his views, I do have to say that I am ever more grateful for the Restoration of the gospel and the priesthood, because that is what keeps the teachings of Christ pure and correct, and separates us from other churches. In Preach My Gospel, it says something like "The message of the Restoration is either true or it is not." I love that sentence! It is very bold and clear. To me, it says that without the Restoration, all of the things that we teach won't last or endure, because they aren't built on the rock that Christ built His church on- apostles and prophets.

Things are going well, and we (Elder Davies and I) are still having fun serving here in the Cambridge 1st Ward. I've been out on the mission for 4 months now! Time is flying by. I have a testimony that this work that we are involved in is true in itself, and that the blessings of it are innumerable. Oh, and I'll also throw in that the Demattia family is awesome. And some crazy guy named Tony makes church fun every week hahaha, hope he reads that.

Love you all,
Elder Crandel

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28th

Hello everybody! Things are going great in the Cambridge 1st Ward, we just dedicated our new stake center which is just one street over from where we used to meet for church. Our ward will meet in the new building, along with 5 other wards! There are two chapels, one of them smaller and on a different floor as the other, so two congregations can meet at the same time. The Portuguese branch will be meeting at the same time as us at 1pm, and our youth programs will all be combined because all of the youth know English. This will help out a ton because we don't have very many youth, so this will be very helpful.

We have had a pretty slow week because we were giving tours of the new building for many of the days. Even though we didn't have very much time to teach people because of the tours, our lessons were pretty high quality. Quality over quantity, right?

Since I don't want to bore anybody who reads this, I guess I will mostly write every week about something that I have learned, instead of rambling on about people that most of you will never meet. The interesting thing I thought about this week was what I actually believe for myself, and why (or how) my testimony is different from that of other people. It is interesting to me that so many people can be so devoted to defending creeds that I honestly don't think they can truly believe. It seems like some people try to serve God and mammon at the same time, and I often check myself to see if I am doing the same. Since the creeds and beliefs that I hold dear have thus far directed me toward serving God, I feel like I can trust the things that I have put effort into finding out their truth for myself. Love you all!

Elder Crandell

Friday, June 25, 2010