Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 12

Hey everyone! It's been quite a while since I was able to write with the Holiday last week and everything, so I hope that everyone is doing well!

Snow, snow, snow! It's been so snowy and cold here, which means not as many people are out on the street to talk to, but provides so many service opportunities!!

The last 2 weeks have been absolutely crazy. My first transfer in the field comes to a close in 2 days, and yesterday I was told that me and Elder Pettersson will get to stay for next transfer, which I'm super excited about, I really love this area! This will be Elder Pettersson's last transfer! They are closing down the Demascus Area in our Zone, so we will now only have 4 Elders for the entire Frederick Stake..which means the work will be even more the next 6 weeks, which I'm excited for!

I've seen miracle after miracle here on my mission. Timing is something that I love to look at. The way we meet people just by the street we choose to walk on. Just by the time they decide to walk out of their house or car! Nothing happens by coincidence. Last night we tried to visit a Less Active Member, but she wasn't there. Feeling discouraged, we wondered why in the world we felt we needed to visit her! As we walked out, a lady and her young daughter were trying to get a car out of the snow. We walked over and helped, and it just so happened that they were Hispanic, from El Salvador. We talked to them, and found out they were a young family: the lady has a husband and 2 young kids. Only the little girl who is 10 or so goes to a church, she takes a bus to a Baptist Church! We talked to them for awhile and will be seeing them again this week to teach them. The young girl sets a great example for her family by attending a church and hopefully we can help her see why our Church is the true one! If we hadn't been in that area, we never would have been able to meet them! Or get to have a snowball fight with the little kids afterwards, which was so much fun! I love spending time with the kids and playing with them, and the lady could tell we really did care about her and her family. We never would have met them if we hadn't tried to visit the Less Active Member in that area!

Another miracle was that we were looking for a guy named Angel, but could not find his house at all. It was not where it should've been, the numbers didn't match up, so we decided to head back to another area. On the way, we got a call from Hermano Gallo, our ward mission leader. So we pulled over to take the call. After the call ended, we saw a guy working on his car and decided to go talk to him. Somehow, through guidance of the Holy Ghost, this was Angel. We had somehow pulled over to the side of HIS house, and had finally found him. The Lord works in amazing ways.

The South Elders have an amazing woman named Sonia getting baptized soon. She has gone through so much! About a year ago she was on date for baptism but then had to have surgery. You will never guess what the ONE thing she couldn't do after this surgery was....BE IMMERGED IN WATER. Yeah, Satan has his ways! But she is now getting baptized in 2 weeks and I am so happy for her! Hopefully her family will follow in her footsteps!!

We have met 2 young guys, probably 20 or so, that are both taking the lessons and are super cool!!! Their names are Ricardos and Stevan, they both like the missionaries and what we have to say.

Lately we have had so many people who fail to keep commitments, to make the effort to truly come unto Christ. It is something that is so sad, because we are looking for the people that will give everything they have to try and find out if our message is true. But as I thought about this, I realized that in our lives, how many times are WE failing to make commitments. Failing to make the effort to truly come unto Christ! Sure, maybe we read the Book of Mormon and know that it is true. But at times, we fail to keep the commitments we have made with our Heavenly Father. So I have realized that I need to be absolutely true to every commitment before I can expect others to do the same. Something I have found that helps them keep commitments is just to show your love for them. Show that you are sad when they aren't keeping them, and thoroughly joyful when they do!

A few thoughts to end. 1st, I was reading in 2 Nephi 29 about how people will say "I have a Bible, and I need no more Bible!" and that is sooo true, especially with the Hispanic community here. They don't believe that another bible is needed! They have the "palabra de Dios" the word of God already! Or they believe that they have already been saved because they signed a document and recited a prayer. But I have gained such an amazing testimony of the Book of Mormon. It is something that backs up the bible completely, and truly testifies of Jesus Christ. 2nd, was something I realized when I got to watch the Saratov Approach. They talk about the Atonement and how Jesus Christ didn't necessarily WANT to take the bitter cup and bleed. He asked the Father if there was another way, and when he realized that there wasn't, he did it. He wanted to do it for us, not for himself. As missionaries, we might not WANT to spend our day walking through snow and having people lie to us about their addresses, but there is no other way to share this amazing message that we have!! Last thing I would like to share is how we all can do our own missionary work. I was reading something about how people buy products based off of the reaction of the customers. For example, if everyone I know that has an Apple phone loves it, I will probably buy an Apple phone. The way we show our love for the Gospel works this exact same way. If we are living every single day with a smile and with happiness, people are going to wonder what it is that we have. What is the product that they are buying that makes them so happy? It's the Gospel. As a Missionary, I'm not "selling a product" but sharing a message. People are going to buy that, or believe it in this sense, if they see that this product, the Gospel, has truly blessed my life and been an asset to me and a benefit. I hope that we all truly live like this. Be examples of Christ and his Gospel, so that people can see you truly love the product of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are grateful you accepted it and live the Principles.

I love you all! Stay safe! Avoid dogs, I got bit by one this week! :)

Elder Leavitt

Valentine's Package from Home

Week 11

Sorry, no letter for week 11. With last Monday being President's Day the Public Library was closed so Chandler was unable to get to a computer. Believe me, no one was more sad about this than ME! Hopefully he will have a lot to tell us in his next letter!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week 10

  Axel Lara, Newest member of the Frederick Branch

Another crazy week!
The highlight of the week was definitely on Saturday, the Baptism of Axel Lara. Axel is the first member of his family to join the Church, what an amazing example he is setting!! He had his girlfriend's dad baptize him. His girlfriend goes to BYU-Idaho so was on Facetime watching the whole thing, which was so cool! Everybody there felt the Spirit so strongly. We asked his dad, Carlos, to give the closing prayer, and he cried during the entire thing and gave one of the most beautiful prayers I have ever heard. Carlos wants to take the lessons from us, and Axel is going to be such a help with many of our Investigators. I'm so proud of him. Axel has taken a huge step on the path to Christ, and set an example for his ENTIRE family to see. He will be a Missionary for years to come with his family, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to know him. Yesterday I got the opportunity to be in the circle to give him the Holy Ghost and the Aaronic Priesthood, which were amazing experiences also.

This Guy is so AWESOME!!!
This week has been tough as far as meeting people that are super interested. We've had a lot of people that were tough, either because they were drunk, had heard a lot of anti, or were Jehovah Witnesses. It's been a lot of people trying to tell us what we believe and what we are doing wrong, and really has been hard to work with!

We didn't get to see David or Wilber this week, both of them were gone everytime we went over! But now with Axel, we will be taking him with us to a lot of lessons, and his testimony will help us so much, especially because Wilber is close to the same age! We have been teaching an elderly lady named Carmen Lopez, and that is going really well, she agreed that if she finds out this is true, she would love to be baptized! We didn't get to see Rosi and Virgilio much either, but we will be talking a lot about Marriage with them this week!

On Valentine's Day, we will be having another Marriage/Baptism from the Frederick South Elders. It's so cool because I had never seen that before, but now have seen it twice in the last few weeks! This time only the girl is a non-member, the guy is a Member! So they will be getting married and then she will be getting baptized right after. We will be bringing Rosi and Virgilio and hopefully they see the importance of marriage and baptism from witnessing this.

As far as the branch goes, yesterday we had the highest attendance in the history of the Branch. 118 people! My first week there were maybe 40 there, so it is definitely growing. We have been working so hard with Less Active Members, visiting them and helping them come, and it really is working. Hector, a 12 year old from Honduras, has become one of my super good friends here and has started coming back to church. Him and his mom went less active because his dad died 5 days after the entire family was baptized. It is such a sad story, but it is cool that he is coming back, and we are trying to get his mom to want to come back also!

I am the Piano/Organ player for the ward, everyone knows me as the Piano player and calls me that. Also, since none of the Hispanics can really pronounce my last name, I'm mostly known as Elder Levite (like the tribe)!

Last night we got the prompting to go to house of a Former Investigator, and he let us in immediately and we had a conversation with the entire family and will be seeing them again on Tuesday for Dinner! It is so cool to see the Promptings of the Holy Ghost in leading us to where we need to go.

I'm so grateful for all of the support and for all of the prayers. Thank you!
- Elder Leavitt

I think we may have a future Missionary here!

Monday, February 2, 2015

week 9

Visitors Center at Washington DC Temple

Hello everyone!
This was a crazy week, full of so many different things! Elder Fisher, who had appendix surgery got back into our area, so we took turns staying with him throughout the week, so Monday Night and Friday, I did a ton of studying and preparing!

Monday we had lunch with President Richards, he is such a great Mission President and you can tell he loves every single person. Every P Day, I get to play basketball which is of course such an amazing thing for me, I love that time so much! There are some great players in my Area, and I love the competition.

Tuesday I got to go on Splits with Elder Orton, our District Leader. We went and taught a lady that is getting baptized on February 14th! The entire branch has had 1 baptism in the last 2 years...but 2015 has already brought 2 and 3 more in the next few weeks, so 5 in the first 2 months of 2015! The work is growing. The scripture is true, "A Marvelous Work is about to come forth among the children of Men."

We have had a lot of lessons with Members and Less Actives this week, trying to be the glue holding them to the Branch. There is a lot of contention, and it is hard sometimes because they see the missionaries as people they can vent to! So we have to go around and teach them about loving everyone and having a testimony in the LORD, not in the Branch Presidency. Every week, more people have showed up at Sacrament, which is such a good sign. The branch is definitely growing, and next week we will be having our Branch Conference!

Wednesday we found 3 new investigators. We taught an elderly woman named Carmen Lopez, who believes in God but doesn't have a Church. She seems very interested and we will be seeing her again tonight! The other 2 new investigators were really a miracle. One of the investigators that we have been teaching for a few weeks now is named Wilber. He is 17 and has quite a lot of interesting beliefs, and he believes that the only way he will know that the Book of Mormon is true is through a dream, because that is the only way he believes revelation can be received. So we have taught him a lot about the Holy Ghost. Anyways, Wednesday night when Elder Pettersson asked me where we should go, I instantly felt like Wilber was who we should go see. It turned out that when we got there, his Mom was doing Bible Study with him. We have been over 5 or more times, but she has never wanted to sit in and has not been very interested. She said, in Spanish, that she would like to hear the lesson today, and then all of a sudden the Dad came out too. They have seen us numerous times, but we came at the perfect moment and they wanted to join. They had so many questions and you could tell she has heard many false things about Joseph Smith. There is a LOT of that here, a lot of Anti stuff that goes around. She believed that Joseph Smith thought he was higher than God and Jesus Christ. We taught them the Restoration and now the parents would like to know more.

Axel is still a solid solid kid. He is going to be baptized in just a few days! I am so excited for him. We took him and Hector, a less active from Honduras, to the Washington DC Visitors Center on Saturday, where the Branch got to watch Meet the Mormons in Spanish! It was so cool. Rosi and Virgilo, 2 of our other investigators showed up also and they feel like they want to be baptized soon also! The Temple was beautiful and we will be going back there in a few weeks to do a Session.

David is another investigator, and he is still very very intellectual and likes to understand everything, very deeply. He has interesting beliefs about Church, and he believes that he should give his own time to the Lord at his house, not in a church. And that he shouldn't have a girlfriend, because that distracts from his relationship with God. But as we have taught him, he has seemed more interested. One of the times, his friend was there and his friend just wanted to Bible Bash. It was so hard to feel the Spirit, and in those cases we just told them that if they didn't want to hear and heed to our message, it was their decision. Ever since then, they have been so cooperative and helpful and have liked the messages.

Things are going well here. The members are so funny and kind, always trying to feed us and help us. I have had lessons with people from Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Columbia, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Cuba, and Ecuador so far. It feels like I am a long ways from the United States, it is such a mix of different cultures and food! I love the people so much and the language.

I have a testimony of this church. I wouldn't be out on a mission if I didn't! I love the Lord and I love this opportunity that I get to be out here. I'm so grateful for the people and the amazing Gospel that we have to share with them. Thank you so much for all of your support!

- Elder Leavitt

This is a cool display in the visitors center of the temple.