Dear Diane and Alyssa and family,
Yes, of course you can share my letters! Kirtland was great! First we got a tour of the Kirtland Temple ("we" is the missionaries that arrived that day plus President and Sister Sorenson). The Community of Christ tour guide was really great and she focused on things that our churches both believe. She was very motivational and she talked a lot about the celestial and angelic manifestations that were seen in the Kirtland Temple, especially during the dedication. Even better was that Carl Anderson, the man recognized by he Church as the authority on Kirtland, helped her give the tour and added a lot of historic insight. Then we sang "The Spirit of God" in the lower court in the temple and the Spirit was very noticeably present. Both Brother Anderson and the Kirtland Temple tour guide focused a lot on the blessings promised to servants of the Lord in the dedicatory prayer of the temple. After that, we went to the Newell K. Whitney store and the School of Prophets and had some quite sacred experiences there. After that we talked more about the history of the church. It was really interesting to learn about the scourge placed on Kirtland and how it was lifted. I also really like the Mission Song of the Ohio Cleveland Mission; it ties in to a lot of Kirtland's history. It is sung to the tune of "The Army of Helaman":
We have been born, as Nephi of old
To godly parents who love the Lord
We have been taught, and we understand
That we must do as the Lord commands
We are as the Army of Helaman - We have been taught in our youth
and we will be the Lord's missionaries - to bring the world His truth
We have been taught and we will obey
Repent and work with our might each day
We'll call on Him through fasting and prayer
and with His help we will be prepared
We are in the Ohio Cleveland
We have prepared since our youth
and we are in the Ohio Cleveland to bring Ohio His truth
We have been called, to serve in the place
Where Christ, our Savior has shown His face
We know the words our Lord has proclaimed (crescendo)
(piano pauses) (BANG!)"Kirtland will be built up again!!!"
It is really inspirational to sing that as a mission, plus an elder in our mission is a professional concert pianist, so he is always improvising little variations to the songs.
It sounds like the temple dedication was great. I would have liked to have seen it. Fortunately, we had a mission conference the other day and Elder Packer (President Packer's son) spoke about missionary work and it was really good.
Cleveland is pretty much like a cross between downtown SLC and Tijuana. Downtown and the nicer parts are ok, but there are some pretty undesirable government housing projects we get to go to also. There are a LOT of drunk people here, too, just like the TK (Toby Keith) concert it sounds like. People here are surprisingly nice for the most part, if you don't count the not-nice ones. I am assigned to the Cleveland 1st ward. Most of what we do is finding people, we don't have any progressing investigators. They put all our investigators in a different area when I came in.
It hasn't been too hot so far, but it is definitely humid. I am definitely enjoying being here, but I am really busy; I have been writing this letter for 3 days so far, so sorry if I repeat myself or don't make sense.
Elder Marini, my companion, is really easy to get along with, and our District Leader, Elder Waterman, is super funny. Also, one of the elder's in Parma, our neighboring area, Elder Carter, has a personality just like Chris Nestman. I don't know if you know him, but my family will know what I mean; he is super funny and is always talking and gesturing with his hands.
As for packages, Whoppers and licorice sound good to me. Elder Marini says he'll take anything, but I would probably go with Gobstoppers for him.
Thank you for offering to pray for our investigators, that means a lot to me. I wish we had some investigators who were progressing for you to pray for! You can pray for Tenika, Mark, Netty, and Moses, and pray for us to be able find families to teach.
I've just realized that this is quite a long letter. Would you please share it with my mom & dad so they can post it? Also tell them that I got their package/letters today and am replying as fast as I can, but I never have much time to spare for writing.