Happy Valentines Day! I hope that everyone had a great day yesterday!
The weeks just keep on flying by...it doesn't slow down! This week went by especially fast because we had Zone Conferences. Wednesday we were in Martinsburg, West Virginia; Thursday was Winchester, Virginia; and Friday was in Frederick, Maryland! This next week will be Annapolis, Brooklyn Park, Baltimore, and back to Columbia! I love getting to see what is going on throughout the entire mission. Every Zone Conference, we get to hear from a Recent Convert that recently got baptized in that area, and I have loved hearing those testimonies!
Here in Ellicott City, things are going well! The weather over the last few weeks has really changed up some of our plans, but we are still trying to do the best we can. Francis will be getting back from Nigeria here in a few weeks! We haven't been able to see Sydney for a few weeks, but luckily she'll be here this weekend and we are having a dinner with her family and President's family. We are also teaching Eric! The other day we got to see our neighbors who recently had a baby, we are still working with them and trying to figure out a good way to teach them. There are plenty of people here in the Ellicott City Ward that have been prepared and seem SO close!
This weekend I went on an exchange into the Brooklyn Park Branch, which is South Baltimore. It was very humbling to see some of the areas there in the city, and I loved being able to talk to the people there. They are very nice and willing to talk to missionaries, they all seem to know who we are and what we do. One of our lessons was with a man named John, who has 3 sisters that are all members of the Church. We talked with him and he mentioned to us that the reason he didn't understand the doctrine of this church was because everyone always claims that we are the "one true church" and he doesn't understand why we feel like we can say that. Lately, I've been reading a lot in a talk called "The Answer is the Doctrine" by Elder Bednar. In there, Elder Bednar talks a lot about how the WHY behind everything is always in the doctrine. The reason we do everything we do is because of a specific doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When people don't understand why they do something, it is because they do not understand the doctrine! So, we took a second and thought "What is the doctrine behind our church being the one true church?" We taught him about the way that Jesus Christ establishing his church. The Priesthood, 12 Apostles, the Sacrament. And then we taught him about the way that the Restored church is established, and he was able to figure it out for himself! He realized the simple doctrines that Jesus Christ had taught had now been restored on the earth. He told us that things were really starting to click in his head and that he knew this was the church for him. It was such an amazing lesson! And the night continued that way. Wonderful people, hard circumstances (one man had been in prison for 15 years but is now on the path of repentance and baptism), still willing to learn and listen. It was truly inspirational.
Quote for the week: "Not only does God love us the way we are, but He also loves us enough to refuse to leave us this way."
- Brad Wilcox
I love this quote. As a mission, and throughout all the missions in the world, Elder Oaks has told us to focus on "Teaching Repentance and Baptizing Converts." I believe that repentance is truly what Elder Wilcox explains in this quote: God loves us and wants us to continually change for the better. I'm so grateful for this wonderful gift that we have. The ability to improve! The ability to mess up, learn from it, and get better! I'm so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify of our Savior and do so in the name of Jesus Crhst, Amen.
Thank you all, have an amazing week!
- Elder Leavitt