Hey everyone! With Memorial Day this week, our email schedule was a bit messed up!
This last week we had Zone Conferences! There are 9 zones in our missions but we combined the Conferences so we had 4 of them to do. Elder Fisher and I get the opportunity to travel to each of these and we got to instruct on "Spiritual Planning & Preparation." On Tuesday we were in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Wednesday was Frederick, Maryland. Thursday was Columbia, Maryland. Friday was Baltimore, Maryland. It's always a cool experience to get to be around the mission and see the different areas! Zone Conferences went well and we talked a lot about our progress on the way to doubling the baptisms in 2016.
Elder Fisher and I have had the opportunity to see some incredible miracles lately. One of these miracles has been Mary Cole! We've been working with her for a few weeks now and she is preparing to be baptized here in the month of June. A few weeks ago, I shared the miracle of how she randomly accepted a job at a Senior Living Center, met a member of the church and eventually the Sister missionaries, and then expressed interest in learning more. Well, over the last few weeks she has continued to progress thanks to the wonderful support of the ward! A few weeks ago there was a Relief Society activity coming up, so we asked the Relief Society President, Sister Gardner, if she would be willing to call Mary and invite her! Well, she did and Mary was more than happy to come! The following Sunday, Mary came to church and sat with Sister Gardner. She met all of the women in the Relief Society and they continued to friendship her and help her along. This past week, Mary's mother had a stroke and was hospitalized. As we notified some of the members, Mary was flooded with texts spreading the love and support for her and her mother. On Sunday night, we had the opportunity to go visit Mary and her mother in the hospital. Mary broke down and expressed her sincere gratitude for the members and missionaries that continued to reach out to her. She even said "I'm sorry that I wasn't at church today, but tell me all about it!" Mary is an amazing example to me and I'm so incredibly grateful for the chance we have to work with her! She'll be getting baptized on June 25th and is doing so well.
Another miracle we had the last few weeks is the Selby family. Brother Selby is a member and has 3 children. Sydney, one of the daughters that hasn’t been baptized, was supposed to be baptized back in January but wanted her grandparents to come out for it and with scheduling conflicts, it kept getting postponed! As May approached, the Selby family had missed 4 or 5 straight weeks of church and we were starting to get a little bit concerned that the interest level was going down. As we were planning ahead for one of our weeks, we felt prompted to go visit Brother Selby just one-on-one. Up until that point, we had really only visited them every other weekend because that was the only time the kids came to their dad’s home. One night that week, we set up an appointment to visit him. As we were driving there, we were talking about what the best way would be to talk to him about church attendance and how we could help them. We once again had a prompting about him, and felt that if we went in and got him to open up a little bit, he would bring up church attendance without us even having to say anything specifically about it. It sort of felt like we were winging it, but we relied on that Spiritual prompting and went on in. We had a great talk with him, he told us about work, family life, everything that was going on. And then, out of the blue and as we were talking about something completely different, he looked up and said “By the way, we don’t have anything this weekend so we’ll definitely be at church.” I think Elder Fisher and I were a bit caught off guard but tried to hide it, knowing that he really had just brought up church attendance without us even saying anything related to that. From there, we talked about why they hadn’t been there and got the baptism of Sydney all planned for June 18th, 2 weeks away!
We had the wonderful opportunity to start teaching a man named Mark yesterday! Elders serving in the downtown Baltimore area contacted him on a bus and passed his information off to us. He had come up to them, saying that he was studying different religions and would like anything that they had that he could read. Yesterday, we met him at a library and taught him all about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and he accepted the invitation to be baptized as well! He talked about how good he felt as he talked to the missionaries, that something just felt different and he identified that as the Holy Ghost as he learned more about the role of the Spirit. He is a pretty quiet guy, grew up in Baltimore, lives with a few of his sisters and is probably around 35 years old. We will be seeing him again tomorrow and working on setting a date for his baptism and continuing to teach him and to help him.
Debby Jolissaint came to church as well! She came a few weeks ago for her granddaughter’s baby blessing and loved it. Her son was baptized a few years ago and she has expressed interest over the last few years in learning more but her husband has bit a little bit opposed to it. But, she has accepted the invitation to take the missionary lessons and is preparing to be baptized sometime in July!
Both the Rosskopf family and the Diaz family continue to add to the wonderful miracles happening here in the Lord’s work. We had a great lesson with the Rosskopf family yesterday, and all 3 of their kids participated as well! We taught all about the Book of Mormon, and the father, Mike Rosskopf, was excited to have his own copy and to begin reading. They watched the Restoration DVD as a family and he said that he has definitely felt like Joseph Smith many times in his life, searching for the truth throughout all of the churches in this world. The kids love reading “The Illustrated Book of Mormon” and are learning the stories as well. We hope to have them at church this week as they continue to learn and grow! The Diaz family is progressing very well also. We saw them yesterday as well, helping them with some service they had asked for. They expressed interest once again in the differences between our church and the Catholic Church, and have been reading the Book of Mormon also. Their kids have participated in the lessons as well!
Transfers are a week from today! This has been my 5th transfer in Ellicott City, so I guess we'll see what happens!
In closing, I’d like to share a short story from President Monson’s October 2015 address entitled “Be an Example and a Light.”
“Recently, as I have been reading and pondering the scriptures, two passages in particular have stayed with me. Both are familiar to us. The first is from the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The second scripture is one which came to my mind as I pondered the meaning of the first. It is from the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to Timothy: “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” To illustrate that the light which comes from a pure and loving spirit is recognized by others, I share with you an experience of many years ago. At that time, leaders of the Church met with officials in Jerusalem to work out a lease agreement for land on which the Church’s Jerusalem Center would be built. In order to obtain the permissions needed, the Church had to agree that no proselyting would be undertaken by our members who would occupy the center. After that agreement had been made, one of the Israeli officials, who was well acquainted with the Church and its members, remarked that he knew the Church would honor the no-proselyting agreement. “But,” he said, referring to the students who would attend there, “what are we going to do about the light that is in their eyes?” May that special light ever shine within us, that it might be recognized and appreciated by others.”
I am so grateful for our beloved Prophet and for these wonderful truths that he expressed in this story. I’m so grateful for the light that continues to shine within each one of us and the opportunity we have to share that light with others. Thank you for all of the wonderful support, have an amazing week!
- Elder Leavitt