Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 71 Francis' Baptism

What an amazing week! This past weekend, Francis Okolo became the newest member of the Restored Church! His baptism and confirmation were absolutely amazing. He bore his testimony afterwards, saying "I know that confirmation brings us closer to Christ, and I have now received the full gift of the light and guidance of the Holy Ghost. In Jesus name, Amen." It was amazing to see him become a member. Now, we are helping him work towards the temple! He is working double time now to be able to have enough money to bring his wife and his daughter over from Nigeria. As soon as they come over, he will get the opportunity to baptize them! His wife's name is Joy and his daughter's name is Goodness!

Sydney Selby is doing great as well. She had to have surgery this last week, but we got to talk to her on the phone and she is feeling alright! We had Anna Christiansen, President's daughter, send her a letter wishing her well. They have become good friends! Now we're just playing the waiting game with Sydney because her grandparents are coming out for her baptism, but not until June 12th! Their family is doing great though.

We had a great experience with Rodger Bryant and his daughter Maria. Rodger hasn't been coming to church for quite a few months now, but we have been trying to teach his daughter Maria...but still have the obstacle of Irma, the wife/mother who doesn't want to be part of the church. Well, this last week, we brought President Hook, the Elders Quorum President, to the lesson with us. It was incredible. He made sure that Rodger knew how much he cared, and then asked "Rodger, what can you set a goal to do that you haven't been doing right now?" Rodger thought about it and replied, "Well, I haven't been doing much at all to be honest." He thought some more, and then expressed his sincere desire to be able to sit in church with his entire family and how it makes him sad to be there alone. But the more he thought, he started to talk about how amazing it would be for his entire family to be able to enjoy the blessings of the Gospel. We watched the wonderful talk from Sister Oscarson from Conference last week, and he loved that. It talked about how our church isn't just a place we can all meet to become better people, it is the one true church. The Spirit was there in the home, and it made everything go so smoothly. That is definitely something I've learned on my mission! Sometimes, some of the things you do on a mission seem like you're invading into their personal life: you are visiting people that already seem to be happy, but are telling them they can have more happiness. You are visiting people who aren't attending church and helping them return. But as soon as the Spirit is there, it makes inviting somebody back to church go so much better. The Holy Ghost does not allow any "awkward" or weird situations to happen, it always seems to work out!

Another miracle that happened this week was while we were trying to meet a part-member family called the Richburgs. We knocked on the door, but nobody answered. It was apparent that the neighbors were home though because of how loud their music was, so we decided that we would knock. A girl that looked like she was in her 20's answered, and looked pretty surprised to have missionaries at her door. She quickly said "I already know a lot about Christ, there isn't much more you can teach me." This actually worked out perfectly though, because we have been trying to put more emphasis recently on the Book of Mormon, so we quickly grabbed a Book of Mormon out of our bags and started teaching her out of it. She had never heard of it before, and we showed her the pictures at the beginning and explained why we had it. She loved it! When we talked about Joseph Smith, she said "Hey! I was looking at my family history recently and I'm related to someone named Joseph Smith, maybe that's him!" Earlier, she had mentioned that her life had been terrible but that she knew God still loved her, and so towards the end when we had gained her trust, we asked her what she had meant by that. She told us that she had been homeless since she was 5. When she was 14, she was taken in by a grown man but got pregnant and then had a child at the age of 15. She told us that she is now 18 and has a 3 year old with Autism. But, through it all, she knew that God still loved her. When we had first met her, she seemed very uninterested, but because the Holy Ghost directed the message towards something unfamiliar, yet familiar at the same time, the Book of Mormon, she loved it and knew there was something that she was missing! We walked away having a stronger testimony of the power the Book of Mormon has. I wish that I would've used the Book of Mormon more for the first part of my mission! I'm starting to figure out things and wish I would've figured it all out earlier. We have passed this girl, named Bethanee Smith, to the Sisters and are excited to hear how it goes!

The Rosskepf family is doing amazing! They were sick this last week, but we brought them some cookies and the Restoration DVD, and when we dropped off the DVD the mom said "Well, I've got about 20 minutes before I put the kids to bed...we'll watch it right now!" I don't think a response like that has ever been given to me in my entire mission....but we took it! Usually people are too busy to watch any sort of video that has to do with a church or God in general....but the Rosskepf family is just different! They are awesome.

Here is an excerpt from President Uchtdorf's talk last week:

If you cannot say you know God is there, you can hope that He is. You can desire to believe. That is enough to start.

Then, acting on that hope, reach out to Heavenly Father. 
God will extend His love toward you, and His work of rescue and transformation will begin.

Over time, you will recognize His hand in your life. You will feel 
His love. And the desire to walk in His light 
and follow His way will grow with every step of faith you take.

We call these steps of faith “obedience.”

I love this. I know that as we take these steps of obedience, we really will be able to recognize His hand in our lives. I'm so grateful for the wonderful restored Gospel of Jesus Christ that allows us to have commandments that give us the opportunity to show our obedience! I love the Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ, and am so grateful for him.

Thank you so much for the continuous support!

- Elder Leavitt

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