Monday, April 18, 2016

Week 72 The Doctrine is always the WHY

We had so much fun playing Beach Football in North Baltimore today.
A group of Towson University Football Players asked us Missionaries
if we wanted to join in on their game, it was awesome!
(Chandler is the one in the hat)

It's been a busy week!!! The weeks just continue to fly by, and then by the time it gets to Monday, I can only remember half of the things that have happened...but I will try and expound on the highlights of the week!

This past week, Elder Fisher & I had a very interesting experience with a 19 year old named Trevon. Within one week, 3 different sets of missionaries had run into him! So, we got a text with his information and we called him and set up an appointment. He texted us a few hours before the appointment and asked that we also bring over a Doctrine and Covenants, which was something we had never got asked before! However, we grabbed a copy and headed over. Upon arriving, Trevon told us that he had a few questions for us...these few questions ended up being 10 pages of questions that he had gotten off of Anti-Mormon websites. We answered all of the questions that he asked us, and he would never respond, he would just put the paper down and ask the next question....To go back a little bit, recently Elder Fisher & I have been studying a lot about "The Answer is the Doctrine" by Elder Bednar. To summarize what he says, people get so caught up in the principles and applications of things, they bypass the main important doctrines, the most simple truths. So, this is exactly what was happening. Instead of focusing on the Doctrine that Joseph Smith was a prophet, Trevon was caught up in a bunch of principles and applications (random revelations in the D&C, etc) and hadn't even prayed about the Doctrine. So, that is what we told him! We explained to him that these were questions that we had never studied that much about, because what we did know was that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that means all of the little things just fall into place! It was an amazing learning experience to really understand what Elder Bednar meant. The Doctrine is always the WHY behind everything. We are always going to be motivated if we can understand the basic doctrines of the Gospel. We read quite a lot of different sections out of the Book of Mormon with Trevon as well and it ended up being a great lesson. However, when we came a few days later, he wanted to bash a little bit, and he would ask us trap questions and then read his own response out of the Bible. As a mission, we have been striving to focus more on the Book of Mormon than anything else, and we were promised that there would be less contention and more Spirit if we read out of that with everyone we met. It was such a testimony to me to see that! The second lesson, with him reading confusing verses out of the Bible that he had twisted a little bit, brought contention into the room. Even though there was no arguing, you could feel such a difference from the experience we had had reading straight out of the Book of Mormon. Even though Trevon isn't ready to accept the Gospel at this time, those two lessons taught us a lot and it was something that I'll never forget and always want to apply to my life!

Elder Fisher & I with Francis Okolo at his baptism.
We saw Francis this week, he is doing great! He is trying to get a different job so that he can have more time off on Sundays. He is preparing to go to the temple for Baptisms as well! The members are doing a great job of fellowshipping him as well. Sydney is doing great, we'll get to see her this weekend when she comes up from Virginia! The Rosskopf family has been hard to get in with, Mike (the husband) has been working all week, but they watched the Restoration DVD as a family and so we're very excited to follow up with that! We also have a dinner this Friday with the Rasmussen family, Sister Rasmussen isn't a member and she is from Russia.

Tonight we met a man named Jason Sing who grew up in Provo! He is Catholic and teaches at Loyola out here in Baltimore. It was crazy to meet someone out here that wasn't a member but grew up in Utah, he asked me if I had ever gone to Purple Turtle in Pleasant Grove, a question I had never thought I would get on my mission! It was a great conversation though, we talked about his experience with the Church, growing up in Utah, and he invited us back this week, so we're excited to see how that goes!

For those of you who don't know what the Purple Turtle is, it is a little Drive-In
not far from my home that we would go to for Shakes!

There is a younger couple in our ward named the Jolissaints, Megan and Joe. Joe was baptized when he was 17, and his parents aren't members, but they live with them. A few weeks ago, Joe and Megan took them down to the Visitors Center at the Washington DC temple! And then this last week, Joe texted us and said "Hey, my mom wants to meet with you guys!" So we're also excited to see how things go there! The work is always hastening.

The last few weeks, I've been pondering the relationship between two of Elder Holland's talks. One is from the October 2012 General Conference and the other is from the most recent. These are some of my favorite quotes from these talks:

"I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty." (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, The First Great Commandment, October 2012)

"My brothers and sisters, the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor." (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Tomorrow the Lord will do Wonders Among You, April 2016)

I love the way Elder Holland speaks, but more importantly I love being able to know that God loves us with all of his heart, might, mind, and strength. As I was talking about early, the only Doctrine that we need to fully understand and believe is simply that God loves us. Everything else, the Atonement, the Plan of Salvation, every single thing about the Gospel is an appendage to the Doctrine that God loves us! I am truly convinced that the more we believe this, the more we are willing to change, to become better, and to progress. I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father, that possesses every quality that a loving Father should possess and more. I'm so grateful for the knowledge that he loves us unconditionally, and I'm so grateful for the commandment to love Him in return.

Thanks for everything!

- Elder Leavitt

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