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!
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