Happy February 29th!
The work here in Ellicott City continues to hasten. As we approach the month of March, we are hoping for at least 3 baptisms to take place in the next few weeks! Ellicott City, over the last few years, has been in a little bit of a drought, but things are surely changing! And the crazy thing is, it's happening like that in every ward throughout the Maryland Baltimore Mission! President Christiansen told us that the baptisms would double if we did all that we could to focus ourselves and work hard, to be exactly obedient and have the Spirit with us at all times. It is amazing to be a part of!
Last night, we had dinner at the Christiansen's home with the Selby family! Brother Selby, Sarah, and Sydney were all there! The baptism had been put on pause for the last few weeks because the Stake President down in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where they go to school, wouldn't allow their records to be moved up here to Ellicott City. Anyways, we finally got it figured out and either way she will be able to be baptized into the Ellicott City Ward. We're hoping that her grandparents will be able to fly out soon so that she can be baptized! Being with them at dinner was great, Anna Christiansen, President's 12 year old daughter, is the exact same age as Sydney and they get along very well. Sydney and Sarah have definitely become family to all of us!
|President Christiansen with his daughters Anna and Camille.|
Francis should finally be getting home from Nigeria this week! It's been about a month, and he said that was how long he was going to be gone for! We are eagerly awaiting his return so that we can finish teaching him the lessons so that he can be baptized! We're expecting that he will be baptized in March as well as Sydney.
On Wednesday, we had the New Missionary Meeting. This is a meeting that happens usually around halfway through the transfer for all of the missionaries that came out the previous transfer, plus their trainers. It was a smaller group than usual, but the meeting went well and we talked a lot about how important your first few months are on your mission. Sometimes I still feel like I'm in my first few months, but when I look back I really do know that those first few months really help you to start habits, whether good or bad, that will stay with you for the rest of your mission!
I also got to go on two different exchanges this week! One of them I went down to Annapolis with Elder Singleton, which is a really amazing place to be! The other one I stayed in Ellicott City with Elder Moss who is serving in East Baltimore. While on the exchange with Elder Moss, we had a pretty cool miracle that happened. Occasionally, we get texts to our phones with "Headquarter Referrals" and these are people in our area that have requested either a Book of Mormon or a Bible. Well, Elder Lawrence and I recently had been looking at the records of past referrals over a year ago that had never been contacted here in Ellicott City. We found one for a man named Richard Marsh, who had ordered a Book of Mormon back in March of 2014! But the missionaries had never updated it to say if he had received it or not. So, we gave him a call and he said that he was still hoping to receive his Book of Mormon! So, on the exchange, Elder Moss and I went over to his house. We knocked on the door and a man from Liberia answered and looked very confused, but told us to wait and that he needed to get somebody. We waited for about 3 or 4 minutes, and he hadn't come back to the door, so we knocked again, but there was no response. As we were walking back towards our car, a man came out from around the back of the house and started walking up to the porch, where we had placed a Book of Mormon with a note on it for him. We called out to him, and ran over to talk with him. It was Richard! He explained that he lived around back in the basement. He said that he had gone to an LDS church in Rockville, Maryland a few years ago and that he was really hoping to read more of the Book of Mormon and understand it! So, we have an appointment with him this week and we'll see how it goes!
Another miracle with the Headquarter Referrals, we received one last week named Leonard Wiley, and he requested a Bible. So last week we went over to the house, and a kid about 14 years old opened the door. We asked for Leonard, but he wasn't home, so he went to get his mom instead. His mom came to the door and was extremely nice (which isn't usual when you knock on someone's door at 8 in Baltimore) and said that about a month ago, they had found a church that they liked going to, but the only reason they went there was because it was pretty close by. She said Leonard would love for them to come over and teach him and the family! So this will be another family we will have the opportunity to teach!
Here is something pretty random that I noticed this week, and I'm not sure why it hadn't ever hit me before! I realized that if everyone understood the Articles of Faith that Joseph Smith wrote in response to the question "What do Mormons believe?" then there would be so much less misunderstanding about our church! I also realized that during my mission I have hardly even talked about those Articles of Faith! So I've definitely set a goal to use those more in my teaching!
My testimony of Jesus Christ continues to grow. He is the most amazing Man that has ever walked here on this earth. Every day, we have the opportunity to try and improve, to get better, to change, to turn away from our sin, all because of Him! We have the opportunity to develop Christlike attributes, to try and do all things as he would do them, think things that he would think, love people as he would love them. I truly love my Lord and Savior.
I love this quote by President Jeffrey R Holland: "Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend." I believe that everything comes down to us gaining a testimony of the love that Heavenly Father has for us. If we truly understand the Doctrine of a Heavenly Father, we will always strive to be our best, to obey him, and most importantly, to become more like Him.
Thank you for all the support, as always!
- Elder Leavitt