I'll start with the Baltimore Orioles game! On the 21st, we got to go to the Orioles-Twins baseball game!! It was so much fun to be able to watch sports, it is something that I have definitely missed while I've been gone!! While I was at the game, I got to see many of my friends that I have met so far on my mission! I saw Elder Cornejo, my previous companion, along with the Branch President in the Frederick Branch! Also, our 9 year old investigator Victor Soriano and his sister and dad came!! We got to go up and sit by them for a little bit and they were absolutely loving it! It was so amazing to have all the missionaries in the entire mission all at the game, and the family that we went with also brought 3 of their friends that we are now working with! We also have been invited to go to another Orioles game with the same family, and President Christiansen has given us permission for that, so hopefully soon we will be going to another game! Overall, even though the Orioles lost, it was so fun to be there and meet people, see old friends, and enjoy the night.
|Mormon Family Night|
Over 4,000 LDS members attended the 8th Annual Event
|Camden Field - Orioles vs Twins - August 21, 2015|
|Elder Cornejo and I with Victor and Leylani Soriano|
Rebekah, the lady that Elder Cornejo and I met in the streets, will be getting baptized on the into the Ellicott City Ward. Rebekah is about 35 or 40, a very tall African-American woman that grew up here in Baltimore. Last week, I saw her walk out of sacrament and she ran up to me and said "Elder Leavitt, I was just thinking about you in there! I hope you'll be coming to my baptism!" She then explained how much she was loving coming to church, the Gospel, everything, and how grateful she was that Elder Cornejo and I had stopped and talked to her. I am so grateful for her and all that she has taught me. I can't even explain the feelings I felt to see Rebekah walk out of the chapel, and for her to look at me as a representative of Jesus Christ and somebody that meant something to her. I don't feel like I did much, I talked to her. But to her, what Elder Cornejo and I did changed her life, and because of that, I am so grateful to our Heavenly Father for leading us to where she was walking. Please pray for Rebekah the next few weeks before her baptism!
The progress with Victor and the rest of his family has been absolutely amazing. Victor has now come 3 weeks in a row which means...HE IS GETTING BAPTIZED!! We are so absolutely excited! He has loved the primary, and not only that, his parents and sister have now been reactivated. Last night, we had a dinner with them, and the entire hour we were laughing, everyone was smiling, telling jokes, eating food, it was an absolute amazing time. What a change from when we had first met that family! The mother had not wanted to meet us, the father didn't talk much, but now we have grown so incredibly close and I absolutely love the Soriano Family. , Victor will be baptized and the entire family will now be part of the Church of Jesus Christ. What an amazing miracle!
It has been super fun to teach Victor! We have been trying to do cool object lessons so that he can understand better, and it's truly stretched our imagination. We have been teaching the lessons with everything you can imagine: skittles, One Direction cups, despicable me toys, and it has truly been so fun! We also play baseball with him every time we go! we will be doing a Family Home Evening with them! Victor truly feels like another younger brother to me!
Every single week the Branch seems to grow! 2 months ago, we averaged about 60 in sacrament and 7 in the Gospel Principles class. We are now averaging about 80 in sacrament and 18 in the Gospel Principles class. The Lord is truly helping us in this Branch and it has been so amazing to see. , the Noboa family, a less active family I have been working with for about 4 months now, all returned to church and absolutely loved it. I can't even explain how it feels to see people that mean the world to you making choices to become closer to God!
The last few weeks, I got the opportunity to talk in sacrament and teach Elders Quorum! At the first of my mission, that would have scared me to death! But now that the Lord has continually been helping me, I've been so grateful for opportunities like that and that he has helped me become more comfortable with teaching in the Spanish language! I am truly grateful for the gift of tongues and all that our Heavenly Father gives to us!
As a Zone, we have set the goal of 30 baptisms for September. This is an INCREDIBLE amount because this entire year, 8 months, there has been a total of 14 in the Columbia Zone...so we are trying to double that amount in the span of one month. But as each district and companionship, prayed that was the amount that we truly had the faith that we would be able to reach, so we set it! Well, it's not even the first day of September and this Zone now has 7 children of God that are on date for baptism! It is truly incredible.
|P-Day Golfing to celebrate Elder Abraham's Birthday.|
|Elder Jones & I on the Golf Course today.|
( I just want to clarify that this is a Golf Tee hanging out of my mouth!)
This weekend, I got to go on exchanges with Elder Jones! He is in my district and also went to American Fork High School!! It was so much fun! We had an absolute blast and I loved every minute of it. We also ate a dinner with a family from the Phillipines and I had my first taste of Balut...which is duck embryo! You crack the top of the egg, drink the juice, and then peel off the rest, eat the yellow, and then eat the little duck embryo...it was quite an experience!
, we came up with an idea of assembling a "B-Ball Squad" where we would, at every chance we got, invite people to come play basketball with us the next day at the Lambskin Courts, a court near our apartment. Well at 11 we assembled the team, and we played 5 on 5 at the Lambskin Courts and it was a dream come true haha!! All of my mission I have dreamed of just playing basketball with a ton of super amazing basketball players, and it was so incredibly fun! Me and Elder Jones were the only white boys, but we had a blast and I'll never forget playing with all of them! We even had a few less active members and a few investigators come!
While on this exchange with Elder Jones, we prayed to be able to be led to one of the 30 and more that need to be found. Well, night at around , with 30 minutes of contacting left before we walked back to the apartment, we found ourselves in a court full of townhouses. We decided that we would each close our eyes and point a direction, and then we would go in the middle of where we were pointing. So, we said a prayer, closed our eyes, and pointed. Well...we pointed in the exact same direction, to the exact same townhouse, so we walked that way. We knocked on the door, and a boy around 15 or 16 answered the door. I could tell he spoke Spanish, so I started talking to him. That was another cool part of being on exchanges, even though I wasn't serving in my area for the weekend (I was with the ward that Elder Jones is serving in) I still got to meet Spanish people and it was like we were covering 2 areas at once! Anyways, Alex told us that his parents went to a church but had been telling him that he needed to find a church that he liked going to. We also found out that he goes to the same high school as some of the members of the branch. We invited him to soccer and he invited us back this week. It was one of the most memorable miracles I'll always remember from my mission, and I'm so grateful for the guidance of the Lord! I am so excited to see what happens with Alex! Please remember to keep him in your prayers also!
The next day, while still on the exchange, we read something in a tracting book that talked about picking streets to contact. We decided we would each look at the map and write down a list of 20 names of Streets that we could contact on. So together we chose 20, I chose 10 and he chose 10. Then out of those 20, we prayed and then chose our top 5, without looking at what each other were writing. Well out of the 5 we chose, 3 ended up being the exact same. I'm not sure what the exact probability of that is...but pretty low that out of 20, we would pick 3 of the same. Anyways, that night we started with the top one out of those 3: Babylon Crest. We knocked every single door that is on Babylon Crest. Our very first knock, a guy opened and before we could even say anything he said: "Hey I already know who you are, my parents are members!" Which might be a common thing to get in Utah...but in the middle of Columbia, Maryland that is pretty rare to find. We knew from our first knock that God was guiding us. I guess now as I write about my experiences the last few weeks, there is a common theme of God guiding his missionaries to where they need to be at the right time. Well, we talked with this man whose parents were members. His name was Dave, and even though he said he wasn't too interested, he thanked us for the work that we were doing, and we headed to the next house. A few knocks later, we met an old man named Tom, who was very nice and told us all about the Spanish people that lived right next to him. He also told us to avoid the Seventh Day Adventists that lived across from him...which of course means we headed right over there! On my mission, I have loved meeting Seventh Day Adventists because they have many similar beliefs and it is very interesting to talk to them. They weren't at their house, but we left a card on their house and the Spanish house, and continued on our way. Our next house was a man named Leon, who when he answered was not too happy with us. He kept asking "So why exactly are you here? Why do I need your message?" and continued to tell us that he was a good person, had good morals and didn't need help from anybody. Well for really the first time in my mission, we were able to teach an entire lesson right there on the porch. As we taught about Priesthood Authority, and talked about the reason he would need to be baptized into this Church, his entire countenance changed. From the beginning with "Why do I need to get baptized again?" it turned into "You know what, I've never got to go to your church. What's the address?" We talked to him for a total of about 15 minutes, and it was a complete change from beginning to end. It was truly amazing to see how a person can change their attitude so quickly towards the church or the missionaries. Well, we capped off the street with our last house, which was opened by a very large man who when he saw us said "Come on are you kidding me?? It's 8:30 and the Ravens game is on!" and proceeded to slam the door...but other than that, Babylon Crest was a success! I have come to love even experiences like that..people just love their Ravens preseason football! It was so cool to see the process of choosing Babylon Crest, and then the results of that street as we followed the Holy Ghost!
Another miracle I'd like to share comes from the Ellicott City Ward. The Elders serving there, Elder Pail and Lawrence, told me about an amazing miracle they had. They are teaching a man named Roger, who has really been interested in the church. Roger also invited his friend Steve to take the lessons and do a church tour and things like that. Anyways, last week they were meeting with Roger and could tell that Roger was a bit sad about something. They finally decided to ask Roger: "Hey what's going on?" and Roger said "Steve got incredibly sick and was taken to the emergency room." The Elders taught Roger about priesthood blessings and then said, "Do you think that Steve would like a blessing?" Roger wasn't sure, but he said he would ask. A few hours later, the Elders received a text from Roger with the hospital room number and said Steve would love that. They went to the hospital, where things were not looking too well. The Doctors said that he would be in ICU for at least 5 more days. The Elders gave Steve a blessing. That SAME night, just a few hours later, Roger called the Elders. They said they would never forget the way they felt as Roger told them, "Well guys, I'm not sure what you did, but Steve is already out of the hospital." After just being told he would stay in ICU for 5 days, he was out. Roger and Steve saw the amazing blessings of the Priesthood. I am so grateful for that and so grateful for the wonderful miracles that happen in the work of the Lord!
Well, I am so incredibly grateful for my mission. The last few weeks have been crazy busy and just continue to be absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for your support!
- Elder Leavitt