Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Week 42 Saying Goodbye to Columbia

Winchester, Virginia is about 100 miles west of Baltimore.

Well, to start things off, tomorrow I will be transferred! It is definitely a bittersweet feeling because I truly have loved serving here in Columbia! The Branch and the work here is so amazing and I have loved every single thing about it. I am being transferred to the west part of the mission, outside of Maryland! I will be serving in Winchester, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley Ward! I will be serving as a Zone Leader there, which means I will be part of an English Ward. That is also a bittersweet feeling for me, because as excited and nervous I am to serve as a Zone Leader, I will definitely miss the Spanish Branches that I have served in! My new companion will be Elder Mumm, who has been out about a year and a half.
Winchester, Virginia

Shenandoah Valley

This last Saturday was an incredibly special day, the baptism of Victor Soriano! It was an absolutely amazing experience, and the Soriano family brought many friends to see! The water was incredibly cold and he started shivering as soon as he entered the water, but other than that he truly loved the experience haha! It was so exciting, and then the next day we went and had dinner with the entire family. They have changed so much since the first time I met them, and I will truly miss them so much! What an amazing experience to serve here and get to meet them!
Victor's Baptism Day
My Little Hombre
Elder Chaico & I with Victor & Jake Russin
The Soriano Family
Today was my final district meeting as district leader. I have truly loved serving around these missionaries, I have an incredible district! They work so hard and together we have put in amazing efforts. I'm grateful for that calling and grateful for all of the amazing things I was taught and was able to learn.

Roberto Lopez
(member of the Columbia Branch)
Ramirez Family
(Branch Members)
Hernandez Family
(Branch Members)
I love this quote: "No missionary can determine the lasting effects of his or her labors" This quote is from Elder Richard G Scott. Wow! And as I just typed that quote, I received a text saying that Elder Scott just passed away, so this quote has even more meaning to me right now. There are times that I definitely feel like I could've done more in Columbia, but I am so grateful for the opportunities I had and the work I was able to put in, for the incredible help of the Lord. I'm also incredibly grateful for Elder Scott, and all of the apostles of our Lord and Savior.

Well, to Shenandoah I go!

Thank you for all the incredible support, from prayers to letters, and everything in between!
- Elder Leavitt

*We received another sweet e-mail from Sister Wright this past week.

Dear Brother and Sister Leavitt, 
We have enjoyed getting to know and work with Elder Leavitt . He is such a good hard working elder and always happy and friendly with everyone.  He and Elder Chaico seem to help everyone and are always so busy!  The people that they work with all love them.  It was exciting that they had a baptism yesterday! Here are a couple more pictures for you. 
Love,  The Wrights
Elder & Sister Wright

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 41 Hearing Elder Cook Speak

As September moves on, our Zone continues to focus on the goal we have set of 30 baptisms! This week, we have now reached 13 people with a baptismal date! 3 of those will be getting baptized on the 19th, this Saturday. The Lord is definitely hastening the work!

One of those is Victor Soriano. Over my time here in Columbia, I have seen a drastic change in Victor and the entire Soriano family. At the beginning, they wouldn't answer the door, calls, accept missionaries into their house. They had been less active for a few years. And now, coming to church for the 5th straight time yesterday, they have made so many friends, they call US to set up the appointments, they love everything about the Church and are having an amazing time. Leylani, Victor's 13 year old sister absolutely loves Young Womens. The parents are enjoying their classes and being with their family at church. And this Saturday, 9 year old Victor will now be baptized into the church!

Package from home! Cookies, Cookies and more Cookies....
This week I also got the chance to see quite a few of my good friends from the Frederick Branch. We had a testimony meeting in Baltimore, and many people came from Frederick. Alex and Christina came with their family, and a few other families came, and I got to see them for the first time in a few months. I can not even explain seeing these wondeful people out here, these people that I have become so close with and have become such good friends with! They are all doing so well and staying strong in the church.
Elder Quentin & Mary Cook
Last Saturday we had the amazing opportunity of going to Annapolis to have Elder Quentin L Cook talk with us! It was so amazing! He talked about how important missionary work is, and his wife was an amazing speaker as well. We all got the opportunity to shake his hand, to get to talk to one of the 12 apostles of the Lord. What an incredible privilege! 

Later that same day we had the opporunity to attend the baptism of a new member in the Baltimore Spanish branch. The baptism took place in a river! It was the first baptism I've ever watched in a river, and it was such a cool experience. It was just like watching Jesus Christ and John the Baptist in the Jordan River, the symbolism was even more apparent!

Another miracle that happened this week was that we finally got our car back! After more than a month of walking, biking, and sharing a car, we finally have our car back and that has helped us out so much! It definitely taught us a lot about what it would be like here in Columbia without that car!

Things have been going super well here! This next sunday we will be getting transfer calls! I feel like this could be my last week here in Columbia, but we will see what the Lord desires of me! I'm so excited and so grateful for everything that has happened on my mission. I learned a lot this last week about myself and about standing up for what you believe! Never back down! I love you all, thank you for the support!

 - Elder Leavitt

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Week 40 Labor Day

Well, it's been quite the week and I am so grateful for the constant prayers and support, because we are definitely seeing the blessings and guidance of the Lord!

As I said last week, as a Zone we have set the goal of 30 baptisms for the month of September, which is quite a high goal, because only 14 baptisms have happened in the first 8 months of the year....well we already have 11 wonderful children of God with a date to be baptized! We are so absolutely amazed and excited by the Hand of the Lord! Victor's baptism got moved to the 19th, so in just under 2 weeks he will be baptized!

This last week, we got to do a family home evening with the Soriano family, and it went incredibly well. They all came to church again, and are still doing awesome! They have all become Active Members now and Victor is doing so well also! Thank you so much for all the prayers on his behalf.

Yesterday, we had a Labor Day Picnic for the branch, and we had almost 150 people there! So many of the less-actives that we had never met came and we got to meet so many new people! It was so much fun and we did mountain biking, basketball, frisbee, soccer, and had so much fun!

We have continued our new Saturday tradition of basketball and it has been so much fun! Our 2nd time around now, we had even more people and we had this huge tournament and it was an absolute blast! Playing street basketball during my mission is just a dream come true!

Well, this Saturday, Quentin L Cook from the Quorum of the Twelve will be coming to speak to our mission!!! I am so excited for the opportunity to meet with a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. It will be an amazing learning experience.

Well, thank you for all of the support. I am so grateful for the prayers and the wonderful emails I receive from all of you. Thank you!!

- Elder Leavitt

*We received the following picture & letter this week from a sweet couple serving in Chandler's Mission office. What a wonderful surprise!!

Chandler and his Companion, Elder Chaico

Dear Brother and Sister Leavitt, 
Just want you to know how wonderful we think your son is.  We are a senior missionary couple who work in the mission office so we get to know all the missionaries. Elder Leavitt is outstanding.  He works so hard and is loved so much by those in his district. What a leader he is and a joy to be around! 
Thanks for sending him to us!

 Elder & Sister Wright