Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 47 Face Everything And Rise

President & Sister Christiansen with some of our Zone. 
Baptism, baptism, baptism. Our Zone continues to bring up baptism with every single person that we come in contact with. At first, we thought it could be super awkward bringing baptism up while having just met these people a few seconds or minutes before. But we have seen so many amazing miracles. Saying things like "If you found a church that the Spirit told you was true, would you be baptized into it?" or "Will you change your life by being baptized?" sound like super bold things to say, but it has been amazing and the reactions have been great. Our Zone got over 160 baptismal invitations this week! Tomorrow we will be setting the new Baptism goal for the month of November. Elder Mumm and I also designed a new pass along card about baptism that the mission is now using, it is super cool!

We continue to work with Jerry, our investigator, who is trying to stop smoking weed and cigarettes. He is doing a lot better and this past week, he actually let us into the house and his Dad started taking the lessons as well! His dad is from Puerto Rico. His dad came to church on Sunday! Please pray for Jerry to continue to work on the Word of Wisdom.

Can't decide which mask to go with for Halloween,
Obama or the Bear?!? Mom says they're both pretty SCARY!!!

Halloween Goodies from Home.

I've been thinking about the talk by President Uchtdorf to start off Conference just a few weeks ago. He talked a lot about enjoying our membership. One of the questions that I have been asking myself is "Is how I'm living right now how I want to live for eternity?" I think that as we ask ourselves that, we will put our life in the order that it needs to be so that we can have eternal happiness!

This week in Elders Quorum we talked about having fear of God and not man. Someone said that they heard this quote:

"Fear either means to:

Face Everything And Rise
Forget Everything And Run"

I love that, we really do have that option. We can face everything and we can become better, or we can run from the fear and forget it all. I love that and I think that is something I am definitely trying to work on.

My ponderize scripture for the week: 
"Yea, I know that I am nothing. As to my strength, I am weak. Therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things, yeah, behold many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." - Alma 26:12

Well this transfer has gone super fast! This Sunday we receive calls for the next transfer. Thank you for the support! Love you!

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 46 Visiting the D.C. Temple

Even though it is starting to get way too cold, life in Shenandoah Valley continues to stay incredibly busy, and the miracles keep on coming!

We have been praying for people to teach for quite awhile now. As we have searched for people to teach, we came across an 18 year old named Jerry who we just met a few weeks ago. Last night, exactly 2 weeks after we met him, we had another lesson with him and in these 2 weeks I have never seen such an amazing change in a person! He started out with problems of being addicted to weed and cigarettes, not knowing much about God at all, and is now making efforts to completely change his life around. Jerry is down to only 1 cigarette a day and is done with smoking weed. Seeing his change and his testimony of Jesus Christ has been so absolutely amazing. He is currently on date for baptism on the 14th of November.

This week I got to go on 2 exchanges with other Elders in the Zone, both of which are just in their first few weeks of their missions! Sometimes it feels like I'm still in the first few weeks too, but then I realize it's almost been a year! The time has flown by. It was so amazing to be with these awesome missionaries. My first exchange I got to go back into a Spanish area for a few days and I loved it and realized how much I miss speaking Spanish. The second exchange was in my own area and I was with Elder Stafford, the Elder that has a stutter. He said that before his mission, he would stutter every single word. But out here on his mission, every single day he is getting better and better and he stutters maybe 1 out of 5 words now. It is such a humbling thing to see and I'm so grateful for his amazing example of serving through hardships!

I got the opportunity this week to go to the beautiful D.C. temple, one of Elder Mumm's converts was going through for the first time. I absolutely love the temple. It is so extremely beautiful inside and out, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to be able to visit it while on my mission. Such a beautiful and amazing place to be!

Winchester Zone continues to do absolutely amazing! What was one of the slowest zones is absolutely tearing it up! This week we issued a challenge of baptismal invitations, inviting everybody on the streets to be baptized and it was so cool! We had 81 in the Zone this week! 81 people that were invited to be baptized. What a remarkable accomplishment, all thanks to the wonderful missionaries around us!

From Elder Durrant's talk about ponderizing scriptures, I'd like to send a scripture each week that I will be ponderizing! I'm so excited to see the blessings of ponderizing scriptures.

Weekly Ponderize Scripture: Mosiah 4:27  "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent; that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order."

Thank you for everything!

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week 45 General Conference

Elder Mumm & I after a session of conference having lunch at the Jensen's home.
What an amazing General Conference! I have truly loved watching General Conference on my mission. Being able to hear from the Prophet and His Apostles! So much was learned, and I'm so grateful for their strength. I'm so grateful for President Monson, who throughout his hardships is still up there being strong for our church. I love him and sustain him as our prophet! It was also great to see 3 new Apostles be called, they will do an amazing job and I'm so excited for the future years of their callings.

I loved every talk from Conference, but one of the ones that really stood out to me was by Elder Holland about motherhood. I am so grateful for my mother and all that she does for me! I can testify of what Elder Holland said about the love of a Mother being the closest kind of love to that of our Heavenly Father's love for us. I am so grateful for her and the person that she is, so grateful for all that she teaches me. I love you Mom! I also loved Elder Durrant's advise of picking a verse to memorize each week, and then asking others "What is your verse?" I can see that as we do this, the scriptures will mean so much more to us!

Helping the Jensen's put their decorations up.

Well, it has been an incredibly busy last few weeks with plenty of miracles and stories, so hopefully I can share all of them without forgetting some!

I'll start out by talking about our Zone here in Winchester. The Winchester Zone has always been known as one of the slowest zones in the mission. There is just a lot fewer members and less work throughout the last few years. But the Elders and Sisters of our Zone are absolutely killing it right now! A few weeks ago, we started the month of October with Zone Training, where our entire zone gets together. Elder Mumm and I prayed and prepared instructions and activities so that we could set a goal of baptisms for the new month of October. When the time came towards the end of the Zone Training, we all kneeled and offered a prayer. As we discussed the Goal that we should set, we eventually agreed on having 25 people either baptized or with a baptismal date by the end of October. Keep in mind, the record for Winchester in a transfer of 6 weeks had been like 4 baptisms. But as we talked about the people we felt were close to baptism, we agreed that with the faith of our Zone, we could do it. We also read in Genesis 18:14 where it says "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" and agreed that nothing is too hard for the Lord.

Well, since setting those goals, we have seen so many amazing miracles. Today, October 12th, we currently have 11 people that have a date for baptism. Within a week and a half 11 wonderful children of God have chosen to be baptized, the most in Winchester in years. It has truly been a miracle to see the work and faith of all those around us and we serve here in this Zone!  The entire idea of Winchester Zone has completely changed as the weeks have gone on!

A few weeks ago, I got to go on exchanges with Elder Lawrence, one of the Assistants to the President. We have become super good friends, so it was a super fun few days, and I got to go back to Columbia, Maryland for a few days to serve. The exchange was interesting to say the least though! For starters, we picked up Elder Ball, who had just come into the mission a week before. Since he got in, he has constantly been sick. He can't keep any food down and can't do anything but lay down and he has been struggling. So the first night, we went to the Mission Home where he and Sister Christiansen were. While he spent most of his time in the bathroom because he couldn't keep anything down, we talked to Sister Christiansen and she mentioned that Elder Ball has Crohn's Disease. I was a bit surprised, so I said "Does he really? So do I!" It was the first missionary I had ever met that had Crohn's, which is a disease that I have because of my Liver Disease. Sister Christiansen looked at me and said "You do?? Well Elder Leavitt, I guess that is why this exchange happened then." It was so cool to see that we were in the right place at the right moment and the assistants, not knowing this would happen, had planned the exchange for this week. I spent a few hours that night talking with Elder Ball as we shared the experiences of our hardships. Elder Lawrence and I took Elder Ball to our apartment that night because he stayed the next few days with us. Afterwards, Sister Christiansen said that it meant so much to Elder Ball to have somebody to talk to about what he was going through. Little did he know that it meant so much to me to see somebody like him, with such a positive attitude even though he was so visibly sick! Sadly, Elder Ball had to go home a few days later. I was incredibly sad upon learning that news. But I am going to stay in contact with him, and I'm so grateful for the experience of getting to meet him and seeing how strong of a man he is. Coincidences don't happen!

Just as a side Chandler's Mom I would like to add that when he was called
on his mission and I was speaking with the Dr. over the missionaries for the Church, he told me that there were ONLY 51 Missionaries at that time serving in all of the world with Crohn's disease and more than half of those will end up going home because it is such a debilitating Disease and very difficult to serve a mission with it. When Chandler was diagnosed with his Liver disease he was also diagnosed with  Crohn's Disease and a few additional things as well because of the Liver disease. I know it cannot be easy but he never complains, he just continues on faithfully in the Lord's service. He is one of the strongest and most  faithful people I know and I am so proud of him! Thank you for all of your continued prayers on his behalf! I am so thankful that he has been able to go and continues to be able to serve his mission.

Well another part of that exchange happened the very first night as well! As we were about to go to sleep, Elder Lawrence was trying to put a blanket up over the window because the street lights let in quite a lot of light. As he did so, he was standing on a table that has wood on its borders and glass on the inside. Well...his foot slipped a little bit and he completely broke through the glass and it cut him pretty good! I looked at it and calmly (well I tried to be calm) told him I wouldn't advise for him to look at the cut haha. We called Sister Christiansen and she came and took Elder Lawrence to the Emergency Room, where he got 3 stitches and now might have to have surgery! So please keep him in your prayers! All of this happened just in a few days of 1 exchange, Elder Lawrence and I joked that we would be laughing about this years from now, but we were already laughing about it the next day!

Sister Wright and I wanted to show our support!

Here in Shenandoah Valley, it has been hard to find investigators for the longest time! So because of that, every chance we get we have been out on the streets talking to people! I've definitely been doing more street contacting the last few weeks then ever before in my mission, which provides an amazing opportunity to meet people! 

Yes, even Restrooms are a blessing!

One of those experiences sounds pretty strange, but was definitely a cool experience! So, we had been outside almost the whole day, and we had been drinking a lot of water. Needless to say, we needed to use the restroom and we weren't anywhere near a gas station or a place that we could go. So, we prayed that somebody would let us into their house. Right after the prayer, we saw a spanish guy and talked to him. Well, he didn't live at that house, but told us the neighbor that he worked for would probably let us in, so we walked over there. There was no answer, but as we turned to go, we saw a van pull into a driveway a few houses away. The timing was perfect, and we walked over to the van. A guy got out and we started talking with him. After we were about to go, we asked, which was a bit awkward if there was anyway we could use his restroom! He looked at us and said "You know, usually I would say no, but for some reason I'm going to say yes." I know that this story is not about something incredibly Spiritual, but I know that the Lord was looking out for us and he answered our prayer! Just a little laugh for the day :)

Things are going amazing and we have seen so many miracles. Thank you so much for the support!!

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 43 Starting Out in Shenandoah

It's been a crazy week, and I'm now in Shenandoah Valley, in Winchester, Virginia!

Shenandoah is definitely a different experience than the other places that I have been on my mission! The landscape, people, just a little of everything is different! Being in an English Ward is way different! There are 3x more members and attendance and it just seems like we have so many people to visit! At times, I definitely miss serving in a Spanish Branch, but it has been super fun! There are a total of 6 missionaries serving in our ward, Elder Mumm and I, Elder Honings and Rodriguez for Spanish, and Sister Nish and Sister Hubenthal.

Being a Zone Leader is also way different! There is a lot of responsibility, but I have definitely enjoyed it! The missionaries in my Zone are super awesome workers and they are doing so well! A few of them just barely started their missions last week and they are already doing so great! I'd like to share a quick experiences of one of the Elders in my zone, Elder Stafford. Elder Stafford has had a serious stutter all of his life, which causes him problems when he is speaking. He says he can't control it and sometimes his mind just shuts off and it does it to him. He is very annoyed by it, and for years didn't go to church because people would tease him about it. But when he received his Patriarchal Blessing, he was promised the ability to speak on his mission. Since he has come out, the stutter has already started to go away. It was so amazing to see him bear his testimony, even with the stutter it made it even more powerful that through all of his challenges he is serving a mission and putting his faith in the Lord!

We went and visited a Less-Active Member named Brother Mandel this week. We had felt prompted to go see him, and as soon as we got there he broke down and told us about the many problems he is going through, and that he has stuggled even wanting to live. We had an amazing lesson with him and showed him a picture of Jesus Christ and had him look at it and picture how much love Christ has for him. It has been amazing on my mission seeing the power of just a picture of Jesus Christ. What a truly Loving Savior we have in the Heavens!

A few random miracles from other missionaries around the mission! This first one, the two elders were biking home late at night, when they passed a lady walking, listening to music. They tried to get her attention but couldn't, so rode their bikes in front of her and she took out her earphones. They begin to talk about the church and she started to cry. She told them that she used to be a member a very long time ago, but had struggled with going back to church. Right then, she had been listening to a song that had talked about meeting people that change your life, and she felt that the missionaries meeting her at that moment was perfect, she would love to come back to church. What an amazing miracle!  Another  Miracle was that these Elders saw a University of Utah flag, so they decided to go contact the house. The man ended up answering after about the 4th day of going over and knocking the door. He explained that he also used to be a member and they talked with him for a bit. As they walked away, the Elders thought "I wonder how many years his family has been praying for him." That week, they got a call from the man's son, a missionary serving in the New Jersey Mission. This son said "Thank you so much for answering years and years of my prayers. My dad has finally started meeting with missionaries again." How amazing is this work of the Lord!

Lately President Christiansen has put a focus on baptism, and this mission has completely changed. After being the lowest in baptisms of all 26 northeast missions, the Maryland Baltimore Mission has now moved to the most number of baptisms. Obviously, this is definitely not a competition! But with his focus on Baptism, many amazing changes have been made and are taking place in the work of the Lord!
I have loved serving here in Shenandoah and am so excited for the time that I will get to serve here! I'm so grateful for the Lord and his work, so grateful for all that I have. Thank you for the support every week!

- Elder Leavitt