Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Week 76 Importance of the Family

This week, Elder Fisher & I learned a lot about the importance of the family. I love this quote from The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

"Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord, Jesus Christ."
This has been something I've known throughout my life, but has been brought to my remembrance over and over again throughout the last few weeks. As Elder Fisher and I have talked about it, we've realized that something we've both wanted to do our entire missions has been to teach full families. There have been times when I've been able to teach an entire family, but for the most part it has been individuals from a family or people that live by themselves. As we have made this our focus, we have now found almost 6 full families that we are teaching, more than either of us have ever been able to teach! I am so grateful to the Lord for blessing us with this opportunity to learn from these incredible people.

The first of those families is the Selby family, who we have been working with for a few months. Brother Selby is divorced and has 3 kids: Grayson (17), Sarah (15), and Sydney (12). Brother Selby is working on being re-baptized, Sydney is getting baptized a month from tomorrow, and then in July, we will get to go with their whole family including Sarah and Grayson to do Baptisms for the dead! It's been amazing to see this entire family reactivated, and now to see Sydney come into the church. They all came to church on Sunday and we ate dinner with them at the Christiansen's home...along with a special guest, Bronson Kaufusi! Bronson played football for BYU and now plays for the Baltimore Ravens. He randomly walked into our sacrament on Sunday!

Elder Fisher and I with Bronson Kaufusi.

Another one of those families is the Rosskopf family. It has still been tough to be able to set specific times for appointments, but we have seen them pretty regularly and are trying to help them come to church. Their kids are Elisa (11), Mikey (10), and Isaiah (4), and I can totally see this entire family joining the church!

Next is the Diaz family. There have been missionaries that have performed service for the Diaz family in the past, and Elder Fisher and I had the opportunity to go over and do service for them as well. We helped them out for about a half hour and then Laura, the mother said "So, what exactly are mormons?" We were then able to teach the entire Restoration lesson to Laura and Welvy, her husband. They have 3 children, Ella (8), Danny (3), and Jake (1). We'll be seeing them again on Friday!

Another family we've been privileged to meet has been the Jolissaint Family. This consists of Josef and Megan, who 24 and 25 respectively, and they are members of the Church. Josef is a convert of about 5 or 6 years. They live in the basement of Joe's parents home, named Greg and Debby. Last night, Joe and Megan invited us over to a birthday dinner for Debby, and Megan invited her to take the missionary discussions and she agreed! Greg is a little bit more hesitant but we know things will change. Joe has 3 other brothers who are all non-members and one of them lives at the home as well! 

And then, to continue with the Jolissaint Family, for dinner last night they invited their neighbors over from Cameroon! They are a family of 5 who also came to church a few weeks ago for a baby blessing. We got to get to know them last night and they are all great people. Martin, the father has been looking up a lot about Mormons and what the Book of Mormon is and is very interested in learning more!

Another miracle with being able to teach a family is the Johnson family. Elder Fisher and I were looking through past records and found a family under the name of Johnson that had been contacted by missionaries over a year ago. So, we stopped by! They have 4 children all under the age of 16, and are interested in learning more! We have come by a few times since and are now teaching them and we are so excited to see how it goes!  Like I said, I'm so grateful for families and the opportunity to meet these amazing people and teach them! I love the doctrines and principles that we can learn about the family in the Book of Mormon as well.

Mary Cole is still doing so great, she is going to a Relief Society Activity tonight with the ward! They have been so supportive of her and she is reading the Book of Mormon and preparing to be baptized in June which is so exciting! 

Well, the work continues to go on! I'm so grateful for the wonderful experiences I've had so far on my mission and continue to have. I love the Lord, Jesus Christ, and all that he does for us. I am so grateful for the restored Gospel, the opportunity we have to learn of the truth and learn of the ways that we can continue to progress. Thank you all for the support!

- Elder Leavitt

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Week 75 Mother's Day

Happy Mothers Day!! I hope that everyone had a great day yesterday! This week went by so fast! We've been so busy lately that time continues to fly by and I can't believe I'm already writing another email on a Monday.
I enjoyed getting to Skype one last time
with my Family for Mother's Day!

Mary is doing so great! This last week we took her on a tour of the church building with Brother Wood from the Ward. She loved it and accepted the invitation to be baptized, so will be getting baptized in a few weeks here in June! Our next step is to try and involve the husband in wanting to learn more as well, we haven't got to meet him so are hoping to soon. We have an appointment with her again tomorrow. It was such a miracle for her to even meet the missionaries in the first place, so we are so grateful for the opportunity we've had to teach her and see her progress! We've also realized a pretty cool miracle in regards to Mary. A few weeks ago, we had that experience with Trevon who had the 10 pages of anti-mormon literature. Well, as we were teaching him, we learned SO much about Prayer and the Holy Ghost, and how important it is that we put everything aside and just rely on the Holy Ghost to tell us what is right and wrong in deciding about the Church. Well, nothing ever really came out of teaching Trevon, but what is amazing is that everything that we learned from that experience has been what we have taught Mary. We have focused on prayer and the Holy Ghost with her and that is exactly what she has needed! It's amazing how the Lord does His work.

The Rosskopf family continues to do well also! President Christiansen's son-in-law is in town and he came with us to teach them, and conveniently he is from Tennessee, where Sheila Rosskopf is from as well! They are doing good and we're just trying to help them get church as a priority! 

I also got the opportunity to go on an exchange down in Woodstock, Virginia this past week! It was a cool experience because Woodstock is so much different than where I am serving right now. Ellicott City is just about 15 miles out of Baltimore, so it is a pretty busy place, more of a city-type feel. But Woodstock is a very country-type town and it was fun to be there! We had a cool experience when we went to eat dinner with an active family, they have an 18 year old son who has fallen away from attending church, but he ate dinner with us and when we asked "Who do you know that is going through a tough time and needs some help?" he said "Well, you've got one sitting right here." So, we talked with him about how we can help and he expressed his desire to return and it was such an amazing chance to get to know him more!

Jason Wright was at our meeting in Woodstock & had us do a little experiment. 
We were balancing on each other as they slowly removed ALL of the chairs 
out from underneath us. 
The object was for us to stay up without the assistance of the chairs.
It took us a few attempts, but we finally succeeded! 

This week I get to go on an exchange back to Shenandoah Valley where I used to serve! It will be another busy week, and I'm so excited to see how everything goes!

Thank you for the support!

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, May 2, 2016

Week 74 Cinco De Mayo

May?? I've still never gotten used to how quickly the months seem to go by!! But I can tell by the first few days that May is going to be a great month here in the mission field!

We had the opportunity to meet with Mary Cole, who I had mentioned a little bit last week, and it was so great! Mary is so prepared! We had 2 lessons with her and Sister Hubenthal and Mangisi had one as well, and she is preparing for a baptismal date! She is in her 60's and works in a nursing home, she is the sweetest lady. She is very interested in the Book of Mormon and what it means, and has been reading it! We have another appointment with her tomorrow night and are very excited to keep teaching her.

This past week was transfers, and everyone is now settled into their new areas! Elder Fisher and I are still together in Ellicott City, and I have no problem with that because we've had a great time so far! I'm excited for this transfer and being able to see all of the wonderful things that happen throughout the Mission!!

This weekend, Joe Jolissaint, a member in the ward, brought his parents to church because he was blessing his little baby girl. He asked Elder Fisher and I to participate in it as well, the first baby blessing I had every participated in and it was such a great experience! It was also so awesome to get to meet his parents, who loved the sacrament meeting. During Fast and Testimony meeting, it was such a Spiritual experience, everyone that got up to bear their testimony bore a testimony of the love that Heavenly Father has for us. It was the first time I had gotten up during my mission to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting, I usually try and let the members of the ward share theirs. But I felt prompted and got up and talked a little bit about how much LOVE I had felt from Heavenly Father throughout all my medical problems, and I was so grateful that I did!

This week the Christiansens got to go to the Mission President Seminar, where Elder Oaks came as well!! They enjoyed it and brought back many great instructions given from Elder Oaks and the other General Authorities that attended! I'm so grateful for the wonderful Apostles that we have to look up to.

This week will be busy! I'm going on an exchange all the way out to Woodstock, Virginia tomorrow! Other than that, things will be pretty normal! 

Thanks so much for the support!

- Elder Leavitt