Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Week 103 Returning With Honor

Wow. I can't believe this will be my final group email while serving as a full-time missionary in the Maryland Baltimore Mission. I'm so grateful for this wonderful experience that I've been granted with.

"Final Interview with President Christiansen just starting...
while sharing a few Neccos before Prayer"

It's been a great day so far already! Usually on preparation day we don't have appointments until 6, but today we had one during the day since it was the only time they could meet! It was with Jasmine and she is now preparing for baptism! She's been reading the Book of Mormon daily and feeling the power that it brings into those that read it and ponder on its message.

Scott Meushaw, a great friend that Chandler will Miss!

We met an amazing new investigator this week! His name is Mike and he is from the Philippines. We taught him over at UMBC, the University that is close to us. He came from the Philippines only a few months ago! He grew up Catholic but is interested in learning about other faiths. We had such a great lesson with him, and he understood everything about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and offered an amazing prayer at the end! One of my favorite parts of the lessons is when the investigator offers the closing prayer.

I got to go on exchanges over in East Baltimore this past weekend and it was so great! We taught this family named the Silver Family. When we committed them to be baptized, the 10 year old daughter said "I'm not sure if I want to be baptized or not." The mother looked over at her and said "Do you want to go to heaven or not?" This quickly put a smile on the daughter's face as she said "Of course I do!" It was so cool to see, the mom isn't even a member but the whole family is wanting to be baptized!

Megan text this picture to us tonight and said,
"We just said Goodbye to our
 favorite Missionary and gave him a farewell haircut,
He is so excited to see all his family tomorrow.

Carlos and Viri finally got MARRIED this past week!!! After 4 years of living together, they are finally married and then on Sunday, we were able to help her to accept the date of December 24th for her Baptism! She has progressed so well. A year and a half ago, Elder Cornejo and I got to teach her, not knowing where it would lead. The chances were so low of us being back together, the Spanish branch being closed, her moving to our area, everything! But it all worked out and she will be getting baptized soon!
I'd like to bear my testimony of the power of a mission. I'm so grateful for this experience. What a life changing 2 years! I will never forget the experiences that I've had and the people that I've met. Words can not explain how I feel right now. Thank you so much for everyone that has supported me during this time. I love all of you! 

I testify of the power of Jesus Christ, our Savior. I'm grateful for the Atonement and the amazing power that it has. I love our Heavenly Father, who watches and cares for us in all things. I'm so grateful for everything that I've learned and experienced. I'll share more of my experiences in person!

Thank you!!

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 102 Continued Miracles

Hey everyone! I hope that everyone is enjoying the month of November so far. It's still been really nice as far as weather here, the fall has been beautiful!

This was a great week with more amazing miracles. It was an extremely busy week because we were doing Zone Conferences (the last 2 weeks) but we had time after each conference to come back to Ellicott City to continue in the proselyting. We had an amazing miracle last week with a lady named Tess, a story similar to last week's story of Roxy. We were walking around a few nights ago after visiting our investigator, and had a few minutes left in the night. We tried knocking on a few doors and got absolutely rejected at 5 straight doors. Nobody was very nice about it either! We walked up the street, offering a Book of Mormon to a few different people that we passed but the same trend continued. We went into another apartment complex, knocked on a door.....and there was still no success. As we were walking out of the complex, we saw a lady walking up the sidewalk with headphones in. We called out to her and she barely heard and stopped, taking out her earbuds. As we talked to her, she mentioned to us how she needed comfort as she was going through a hard time, so we said a prayer with her. It was amazing to see that even with all of the rejections, the timing worked out perfectly because we were put in her path!

Picture and email I received last week:
We had the wonderful opportunity to have dinner with your son tonight. We so love having him serve here in our ward. I am sure you are so excited to have him home soon. I am the primary president in the ward and have asked your son and his companions to sing in the Primary Program next Sunday. They are being obedient and doing what they are asked. I think it will be great. They will be singing the verses to "Army of Helamen" with the kids joining in on the chorus. I don't think they are too excited to do it, but I am so grateful for their willingness. ~Kirsten Eads

Larry Miles is on date for November 25th! We met with him last night and he officially chose a date. He has been so busy with work that it's been hard for him to select a date, but he seems very committed to this date. His aunt is a member in Georgia and has been encouraging him throughout this process.

Chandler was able to go on splits with AJ Jones again,
a friend from Highschool.

Scott Meushaw took them to dinner!

Scott had text me the above 2 picts while they were at dinner.
 I jokingly replied & asked him, "if it wouldn't be too AWKWARD,
would you give Chandler a big hug and kiss from me and tell him
how excited I am for him to come home."haha
Looks like there is NOTHING Scott wont do for these missionaries or their Mamas.:)
I love the terrified look on Chandler's face!

We had a great miracle with Agnes, she is from Cameroon. We stopped by to see her and her son Armel wasn't home so we couldn't enter the house. We talked on the porch and then decided to share the Restoration with her and talk about the Book of Mormon. We invited her to pray at the end, but she said she didn't feel comfortable. We taught her the points of a prayer and then she gave one of the most heartfelt prayers I've ever heard! She thanked Heavenly Father for "her sons that had come to visit her" and for the "ability to talk to my Father about what I've learned."  One of my favorite parts of my mission so far is watching people give one of their first prayers, knowing that they are actually praying in the form of a two-way communication, talking with their Father in Heaven.

We've been teaching this girl named Jasmine, she is the niece of Hermana Casas in our ward! The son of Hermana Casas, named Jesus, was one of the people that we got to baptize last year when we were in the Spanish branch (Elder Cornejo and I). She came to church again yesterday and should be getting baptized within the next few weeks!

Viridana is doing well also! She's finally reading the Book of Mormon and understanding it! Her and Carlos (he's a member) are getting married on Friday!! They invited us to the wedding and it will be great for them to finally get married!

Axel Lara, a recent convert who was baptized at the beginning of my mission, is getting his wisdom teeth out today....which means he is finishing his mission papers!! I'm so excited for him. He wanted to leave during the summer but $2500 was stolen from him and he has been raising money ever since. The adversary has done all he can to keep Axel from serving but now he is getting SO close and I can't wait to hear where he gets to serve.

Scott made dinner for Chandler and his
2 companions on Friday night.

We had the privilege of listening to the testimony of a lady named Zhenya, she is from Russia and is getting baptized in a few days! She has had a crazy life, but is such an amazing woman. She grew up in Russia and never believed there was a God because of what her parents told her. 10 years ago she met missionaries and told them she wasn't interested. Year after year, her life was going down hill. She went through a few marriages and one of her husbands committed suicide. 10 years after she had met missionaries, she saw them again, this time in the United States. She was prepared and is now getting baptized! It's so amazing to see the timing that God has for us.

During the Zone Conferences, a set of Sisters shared an amazing miracle about a woman named Sonia. They had gotten a headquarter referral, meaning that Sonia had asked for a Bible or Book of Mormon to be delivered to her home. They went to deliver it but could NOT find the address anywhere! They searched all over. All of a sudden they met this lady near one of the doors, but she couldn't speak. She wrote out a note to them, telling them that she was Sonia and that they could come inside. As they went in, they learned that Sonia had severe Cancer because of smoking and she couldn't talk anymore. She seemed so excited to talk to the Sister missionaries and wrote out all of her thoughts as they shared the message of the Restoration with her. They said it was a remarkable experience seeing her smile and light up and then write out her thoughts. They continued to teach her, and then they were at a members house one day telling them about Sonia. They explained that Sonia didn't have hair because of the leukemia and the member all of a sudden ran out of the room to get something. She had a beautiful hairpiece and she wanted the Sisters to deliver it to Sonia! The Sisters went to Sonia's house and the caretaker answered, explaining to them that it wasn't a good time. But, as soon as the caretaker saw the hairpiece he yelled "Sonia, you're going to want to come see this!" She ran to the door, grabbed the hairpiece, put it on and danced around the room with a smile across her face. Although I've never met Sonia, I can see the joy on her face as the truths of the Restored Gospel have now entered her life and the Spirit is radiating within her. What an amazing experience it is to see changes like this with people who are truly searching for the truth.

Scott sent me this picture as well as some video of Chandler
Playing the piano at the Christiansen's home last night.
Oh, how I miss hearing him play!

Another miracle I heard from Zone Conference was here in the Columbia area! So, over a year and a half ago, there was a man named Enrique Lopez that was investigating the church. It all started on a rainy night when two elders decided to knock on doors. They knocked on his and....he wasn't interested at all! But....a few weeks later they saw him again, this time on the street and he invited them over, telling them that he just got back in town and was now going through a divorce and would like some help. He was taught for 2 months and I got to meet him once on exchanges, but then he moved to Minnesota. Then, just two months ago he moved back but nobody knew where he lived until Elder Singleton, who used to teach him, saw him at a store and got his address!! And then...he lost the address! But luckily he remembered the name of the street so he told the Elders there what the street name was and they went and knocked EVERY door on that street for 2 straight days. Finally, in the last few doors, they found him and are now teaching him! He just can't get away from the missionaries ha!

Also during Zone Conferences, I got the privilege to talk about the Restoration. I'm so grateful for Joseph Smith, who studied out his question until he got the answer. He didn't quit, although he may have thought about it. He wanted to know what church was true and he went to every extent that he could to find his answer! And because of that, the Gospel has been restored through him. What an amazing message it is, and I hope that we never forget that!

Thank you all for the support!

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 100 Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! I hope that everyone has a great day celebrating this holiday. Today we'll be headed to downtown Baltimore and then back to our apartments by 6! We had a great time playing a little P-Day Dodgeball.

This was an amazing week! For starters, yesterday we were able to attend an African church! To be able to put my experience into words of an email will be tough, but it was interesting to say the least. When we first walked in, there were about 4 people in attendance: one was playing the piano and singing, one was just singing, one was playing the drums, and one was in the audience. We joined the "audience" as they put the lyrics up on a projector. The pastor, Gregory Etunnu from Nigeria, leaned over to me and asked me if I play the drums.'s been close to 2 years since I've played the drums, but I said that I had a drum set back home and then all of a sudden I'm on the front stage playing the drums! Elder Cornejo and Ashby were in the audience with tambourines (handed to them by Gregory) and singing and dancing along. The congregation eventually grew and we all sang and listened to worship songs. I can definitely admit it will be one of the most memorable experiences of my mission! They were so grateful for us to come by and offered a prayer to us. We gave them a Book of Mormon and talked to them about the opportunity of being baptized. I hope that we get to go again next week!

We had an amazing miracle on Saturday night. It was close to 7:30 and honestly every single thing that could've fallen through that day HAD fallen through. We had gone through every backup plan that we had, so we decided to say a prayer on the sidewalk. We knelt in prayer and then went up to the house of someone that missionaries had met months ago...and we got yelled at. So, slightly discouraged, we walked back to the car. We then drove to a street over in Catonsville. We were going to head back to Ellicott City but felt that we should stay. We knocked on a total of four doors, all of which produced no success. The time was approaching 9 and we realized it was time for us to head home. We talked to a few more people on the street and headed back towards the car. The three of us weren't saying much, but I'm sure that we were all thinking basically the same thing: Why didn't we have any success? What were we doing wrong? I was looking down at the sidewalk as I walked towards our car for the last few hundred feet. All of a sudden, a quiet voice asked "Are you the people that work with the Sisters?" At first, I honestly thought that I was imagining it. I looked to my left at the driveway that was by us. There was a car parked in it, facing us. There was a lady in the driver seat with her window down and she had called out the window. We walked over and stopped by her car. We talked to her and she had met the Sisters multiple times and they had always talked about how the Elders could give her a blessing of comfort. She asked if she could pull a chair out on the porch and receive a priesthood blessing. We taught her about the priesthood and then gave the blessing. Afterwards, she told us that she had never felt the Spirit like that. "I've felt the Holy Ghost before...but this felt different. Even better." She told us she'd be coming to church next week, and we walked back to the car amazed at what had just happened, literally the last minute of the night. The next morning though, we talked to the Sisters about it. They had gotten a call late the night before from Roxy, who we had met and given a blessing to. She told the Sisters about the experience in these words: "As I was sitting in my car, I looked down the street. I saw 6 young men walking towards my house and I was nervous because there were so many. As they got closer though, 3 of them suddenly left and it was just 3 people in white shirts and ties. I knew that they were people of God because I saw 3 angels accompanying them." Hearing that experience the next day was one of the most humbling and amazing miracles of my mission.

Yesterday at church we met two new investigators that came to Sacrament! One of them is the cousin of Jesus Casas, who I taught about a year and a half ago and was baptized. She is wanting to be baptized! The other is the son of a lady that just got baptized into the Spanish branch! 

This week we'll be very busy with Zone Conferences! We'll be headed to Martinsburg (West Virginia) tomorrow. Then on Wednesday we'll be in Frederick (Maryland). Thursday we'll be in Baltimore (Maryland) and then up to Lancaster (Pennsylvania) on Friday! And then trying to keep up with our investigators at every available minute in's quite the week! Then the next week we'll be down in Winchester (Virginia), Chambersburg (Pennsylvania) and here in Columbia (Maryland) again!

Thank you so much for the support. I'm so grateful for the emails, letters, encouragement, and all of the prayers in my behalf.

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 99 Teaching the Restoration is so Amazing!

Hey everyone!

This week was so busy, yet so amazing! First off, we are now teaching Carlos and Viridiana Diaz. Elder Cornejo and I, serving together over 15 months ago, originally taught them but haven't seen them since really. But now they are in the Ellicott City Ward because there is no spanish branch, so we get the chance to teach them again. Carlos is a member but Viri isn't. She expressed to us this week though that she is finally feeling open about the idea of the Book of Mormon and that maybe there is a possibility that it is true. It's so cool getting to teach someone that I haven't seen in so long.

Carlos and Viridiana Diaz
(This picture was in July of 2015)

Lately, we as a companionship have been putting a large focus on teaching the Restoration in a shorter amount of time and saving sufficient time to teach our investigators how to pray and to receive revelation. It has taught me SO much about the importance of prayer, especially as we are striving to answer the questions we may have. The whole message of the Restoration is that God speaks again today, that we can have the same opportunity that Joseph Smith had to answer the questions that we have about God and His nature. I've loved learning more and more about Joseph Smith and the wonderful prophet he was. More than anything, I've loved learning more about Jesus Christ and the wonderful church that he has established for our benefit. 

We ran into Scott Meushaw at Church yesterday.

We got to have dinner at the Stake President's house this week. President Mitchell has been an amazing example to me of a wonderful leader in the Church. I've gotten the chance to spend most of my mission in his stake, about a year and a half total. I've loved serving with him. We practiced teaching the Restoration with them and had an amazing experience. Even with the members, teaching the Restoration is such an amazing testimony to me of why we are out here on missions spreading the wonderful Gospel.

We met two people from Haiti this week that are so great! Steven and Joseph. They both served in the Army and grew closer to God through that. We talked with them a lot about Jesus Christ and his church being on the earth, and they invited us back for this week. It's been amazing during my mission to meet people from so many different areas of the world.
We met Scott for dinner again tonight.

I'm so grateful for the experiences that I've had! I know this email was super short this week, but I will have more experiences to share next week!


- Elder Leavitt

Mom is LOVING the look of her Apps for tracking my return.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Week 98 Transfer week

Hey everyone!!!

This was probably the busiest week of my mission up to this point! Last week was transfer week and so we were able to pick up the new missionaries and drop off the missionaries that have finished their 2 years or 18 months. It was so weird seeing Elder Fisher leave Ellicott City to go train a new missionary! That was a fun part about it though because as we picked up the new missionaries, Elder Tucker (his new companion) had no idea that he was going to be with Elder Fisher! He was excited when he heard that though. 

I'm now with Elder Cornejo and Elder Ashby! It has been so great! It's been awhile since I've been in a trio but it's been so much fun and we've had so much work to do! I love both of them! Elder Cornejo is from California and joined the church just 3 years ago. Elder Ashby is from Lehi and has been out a bit more than a year. They have both taught me so much so far, I'm grateful for their examples! We've had some great experiences already.

Over the first few days of the transfer, I took them to meet Bishop Moffat, our bishop in the Ellicott City Ward. He gave each of us a blessing to prepare for the transfer. I was so grateful for the blessing that he gave me! He talked about how he was grateful that as I've been here over the last year I have helped the ward to grow and become better. That I have had an impact on the ward members. It was such a humbling thing to hear and I have loved serving here with these amazing people. I feel like I've served my entire mission right here in Ellicott City! He promised that as I help the ward council and open my mouth and share the Gospel with everyone that our companionship would be blessed. I'm so grateful for the priesthood and for the opportunity we have to receive blessings. He gave blessings to Elder Cornejo and Ashby as well and it was so cool to see how each blessing was different about how we could help out the ward this transfer.

A quick photo of me, Elder Ashby & Elder Cornejo after
grabbing some Wings with Scott Meushaw last night.

I can't remember how much I've shared about a man named Don Elliott in our ward, but he has an amazing story! He was baptized 4 years ago but about a year ago went inactive because he was offended by someone in the ward. When I first came into the ward, I didn't know who he was and he didn't attend. Elder Lawrence and I got to know him more and more and then Elder Fisher and I helped him out a lot. He's made such an amazing change in his life. He is active in the church, has a calling, just went to the temple to do all of his family's work, and just taught the lesson in Elders Quorum last week! He has had quite the past and is an interesting man, but has grown to be one of my closest friends. 

5 or so months ago, Elder Fisher and I taught a man named Kunle from Nigeria, but he went to Nigeria for the entire summer! He's been back for a few weeks and we FINALLY got ahold of him and he wants to be baptized in the first week of November!! 

We saw Dave Ort again this week! Dave is the one that doesn't believe in God but watched General Conference with us and really enjoyed it. As we taught a lesson about prayer and about the Prophet, he continued to show how much he has learned over the last few weeks. At the very end of the lesson, he gave an incredible prayer and referred to God as his "spiritual dad." It's been so cool to see his progression as he has learned more about God and the relationship that he has with him.

Larry came to church yesterday! As did Carlos and Viridiana, a family that we used to teach in the Columbia Spanish branch! We also had Matthew Johnson at church, he has not gone to church for 2 or 3 years but has come the last 2 weeks and came out teaching with us! He's 21 and we're hoping to help him to want to serve a mission!

A man in our ward named Brother Flores gave an amazing talk in church yesterday. He was talking about how when he was growing up in Peru, he would always go fishing with his dad. They would go out on a boat and try to catch fish, but never ended up getting anything. After years of this, they went out with professional fishermen in Peru. Instead of just holding the rods, the natives would take a bit of the line and slide it in between their lips, explaining that their lips were able to sense the fish biting on the line and they would be able to reel them in. They were much more successful as they did this, and Brother Flores watched as they caught fish after fish. He compared this to how we must be more sensitive to the things that we feel and then act on them quickly. If they felt that there was a fish but didn't reel it in quickly enough, they wouldn't be able to catch the fish. I loved the principle as he taught about ALL of the things that we learn but we need to be much more sensitive to those thoughts and realize what we can change through those feelings.

Things are going great! I hope all is well with everyone!

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 97 Last Transfer Of My Misssion

Hey everyone! I hope that everyone is doing well and enjoying this time of year! It's been beautiful here and perfect weather.

So, it's transfer week once again! I'm sure most of you thought I'd be leaving Ellicott City because I've been here a year, I did too! But...I'm staying again and I'm so excited! I'll be serving with two new assistants, Elders Ashby and Cornejo, and am excited to serve with them! This will be my 9th transfer here in Ellicott City, I'm still not tired of it though! I love it here! I'm very sad to not be with Elder Fisher anymore, I've loved serving with him. He'll be going to Jones Falls, a ward north of Baltimore, to train a new missionary. He's taught me so much and I know that we've made a friendship that will last a very long time, I'm grateful for his example to me.

Elder Fisher and I have shared some amazing
experiences together!
Elder Cornejo is on the left, we were companions
back in June of 2015 in Columbia.
He is one of the missionaries that was just called as AP.

We had a great week! It's been hard to get ahold of Larry recently, but we finally got to talk to him on the phone and he assured us that he's still interested but his best friend is currently in Shock Trauma so he has been visiting the hospital daily. We had been worried that he was avoiding us, but he told us once again that this is now "his church" and that he is inviting his friends to come and join as well! His baptism will be in just a couple of weeks! He's doing well and loves everything he's learned so far.

There was an amazing family that got baptized in the ward north of us this week! The Redding family is a family of 7! It has been very rare to have entire families like that join the church, but it was so cool to see! they love everything about the Church, they attend every mutual activity, sacrament, and anything they are allowed to attend!

I've recently been thinking a lot about the importance of prayer. Prayer was one of the themes I noticed during the very first session of General Conference, with talks like Sister McConkie and Elder Uceda. I'm so grateful for prayer! How amazing it is that a loving Heavenly Father really is as close as a prayer. I'm still working on being more sincere in my prayers and letting it guide me in my everyday life, but I've felt like I've learned so much recently about the importance of prayer and how it is absolutely essential to us gaining a relationship with our Father. 

Sorry there isn't much this week! There will be plenty next week with all of these changes!

Thank you so much once again, I'm so grateful for the support I receive every single week. Have a good one!

- Elder Leavitt

My family was able to attend a Fireside with Jason Wright
last night. He is such a great guy and I love working with him.