One week through this transfer already, and this has definitely been another week that I will never forget from my mission. Each week provides amazing miracles from God and I am so grateful to be able to be part of this wonderful work!
I guess I will start out with last Tuesday with the Soriano Family. The parents are members, the daughter that is 14 is a member, but 9 year old Victor has not been baptized. They are all less active and haven't been to church in quite a few years. Hermana Soriano has had some problems the last few years and her husband has supported her decision to stay home. Tuesday night we went over to the Soriano family, and talked about Victor and the steps he needs to take to be baptized. We asked Hermano Soriano how badly he wants Victor to be baptized, and Hermano Soriano broke down a little bit and told us "Elders, I know that I need to be doing more. I need to be taking him to church and help him learn these things so he can be baptized." We were SO excited to hear him say that! He told us that he would probably not be able to get his wife to be able to come, but he would sure try.
Now flash forward to Sunday. We had been praying all week, trying to call and text them to remind them and help them get there, but they hadn't answered. Saturday Night we asked the whole District to remember them in their prayers. So, Sunday at 11:00 we were sitting in the chapel, and sacrament started, but we still hadn't heard from the Soriano family. I was starting to lack faith, and just wondering why in the world we had worked so hard and they hadn't come! Well, I will never forget when at 11:10, not only Victor and his dad and sister, but also his mother, walked in through those doors. The entire family coming to the church for the first time in a few years! I quickly repented of my lack of faith and realized what a miracle God had given us. I ran over to them and sat by them, and they had an absolutely amazing time at church. Everybody welcomed them back into their arms, and they fully plan on continuing to come throughout the next few weeks, and Victor now has the date of baptism for September 5th! It was truly a marvelous experience that I will never ever forget!
This Sunday was also the highest attendance for the Columbia Spanish Branch in a few years! We had about 75 people there, and about 15 of them were all new Less Actives that haven't been in a long long time! In our Gospel Principles class, we had the most people we have ever had! Elder Chaico and I also got the chance to teach Elders Quorum, we got to talk about the family and the importance of it and it was such an amazing opportunity.
Another amazing miracle was with Rebekah, the lady that me and Elder Cornejo had street contacted a few weeks ago, and we had passed off to the Sisters in a different area. When we first met her, we knew that something was super special about her, she loved everything she heard about the Book of Mormon and was super excited to learn more. Well, over the last few weeks the Sisters in the Ellicott City Ward have been teaching her. She had come to church a few times too! Well on Thursday I got a call, saying "Elder Leavitt guess what?? Rebekah is going to get baptized on September 5th!!" I can't even explain how excited I was to hear about that!! Rebekah has been telling the Sisters about how she will never forget when Elder Cornejo and I (the redhead) first contacted her. I remember that day when we met her, nothing had gone very well, everything had fallen through and so we had just started walking around and when we saw her we felt like we should walk over and talk to her. Now, because of the way God works and puts people in our paths, she has been coming to church and will be getting baptized the same day as Victor!! At church on Sunday they said she was telling everybody about her baptism and about how excited she is!
Carlos and Viridiana, the young couple we have been working with, are currently in Las Vegas with Viri's family and they are getting married! We are super excited for them, and now that they are married Viri can get baptized soon if she decides it is something for her. Our investigator William has been doing well too, we just haven't got to see him much the last few weeks! We have been sending him Book of Mormon excerpts though and he loves reading through the Book!
Elder Cornejo, who is in serving in Frederick where I started my mission, updated me on a few of the people out there and how they are doing and they are doing so well! A lady named Ana Konter who we had been working with has now come back to church and she wants to do her endowments in the temple! It is so amazing to see the progression of all of these amazing people I have met and become so close with.
This week we will be going to the Orioles Game on Friday for Mormon Night! We are going with the Riggin family, and they are bringing 2 friends that aren't members! I'm super super excited for the game and it should be an awesome experience!
On Sunday, a member of the Stake High Council spoke in the branch and I absolutely loved his talk. He shared an amazing story:
"There once was a man renting an apartment. This apartment was absolutely filthy. The dishes of every meal he had eaten the last few months were strewn around the apartment. He used dirty clothes as his blankets to sleep. An old orange was in the corner of the room, slowly molding. One day, he realized that he wouldn't be able to pay the rent any longer, so he put out an ad for a roommate to come join him. After a few weeks, he received a call from a guy that was willing to help out with the rent. The man came to the apartment with all of his stuff to move in. As soon as he saw the dirty dishes, he said "Hey before I move into here, let's clean up all these dishes." "Seriously? That's just the way I live!" "Come on, let's just clean up these dishes and I'll help you." Reluctantly, the man cleans up all his dishes with the help of his new roommate. That night as they go to bed, the new roommate sees that both of the beds have dirty clothes all over them. "Hey before we go to bed, let's just clean up all these dirty clothes." "Really? That's just how I live." "Come on, I'll help you out!" A little bit less reluctantly, the man cleans up his dirty clothes with the help of his new roommate. The next day, the new roommate sees the moldy food "Hey let's..." but the other man interrupts saying "I know, you're right. Come on, let's clean it up." Quickly the man had learned to clean up the things that were dirty around the apartment."
The High Councilman compared this new roommate to the Gift of the Holy Ghost. All of us, no matter what, have the ability to have a "roommate" that will always be there to help us. He will always offer to help clean up, help guide us, whatever it may be. And as we listen and pay attention to him, we continue to grow and learn, and pretty soon the things we are reluctant to clean up, become easy for us and we see the amazing life we can have as we clean up everything around us. I absolutely loved this and started to think about when in my life I had ignored my "roommate" and just left everything a mess. I loved the way he explained this.
One more thing I would like to share from my reading of the New Testament. It is the last few verses of Mark Chapter 4. It is the story of Jesus Christ calming the storm. The apostles are in the middle of a huge storm, and they run into where Christ is sleeping and basically ask him "Is it not important to you that we are suffering in this storm?" and as Christ calms the storm he asks them "Why are you lacking faith?" I thought of it in a different way I had ever thought of it before. I realized that many times in our lives, we feel like Christ or Heavenly Father is just asleep in the back room as we go through the roughest storms of our lives. We ask "Do you not care that we are in a storm and suffering?" and as he calms the storm, we realize how much faith we really lacked. Christ and Heavenly Father, and I can say this without a doubt, are never sleeping on us. They are always watching out for us, and even though we might feel like we're alone in the middle of the storm, we always have their guidance and I am so incredibly grateful for that.
I have loved my mission, and continue to love it every single day. Thank you so much for the support!
- Elder Leavitt