Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Week 80 The Progression of the Mission

Hey everyone! This was another wonderful week. There are so many experiences that happen throughout the week that it is hard to keep track of! 

For starters, this last Wednesday was the beginning of a new transfer! Sadly, though, that meant that a few missionaries would be going home, and Elder Lawrence, who I was companions with for more than 4 months, was one of those! It was a cool experience to drop him off at the airport though, seeing how we had done that together with so many missionaries and now he was in their shoes. I'm grateful for Elder Lawrence and the example that he is to me!

Elder Spencer Lawrence with his Family @ the SLC airport,
after a LONG 4 hour delay in his flight home.

My family was able to attend his homecoming
 in Grantsville, Utah.

The last few weeks, Elder Fisher and I have been talking a lot about the progression of the mission and how amazing it has been to see the series of events that have taken place to get us to where we are! Here are some of those events:

July 2015 - President Christiansen and Sister Christiansen become the Mission President and Wife. With the change in a Mission President, the focus of the work sometimes changes based on their training in the MTC from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. More emphasis and focus was put on baptism and confirmation.

October 2015 - Elder Quentin L Cook from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visits our mission and gives some amazing promises: As we learn to plan and prepare, we will be able to see more success as a Mission. As one of the Elders was going up to say the closing prayer, Elder Cook stood back up and said "I have one more thing to say, I'm sorry. It's come to me three times and I've ignored it. I want to tell you to focus on finding those people that are within the age of 16 to 25, the Millennial generation." Well, more than a 3rd of the baptisms this year have been people in that age range!

November 2015 - As is usual with a new Mission President, the Missionary Department sends out 2 visitors to help the mission. Our visitors were Brother Hill and Brother Donaldson. Elder Lawrence and I got to go out teaching with Brother Donaldson and we had a Leadership Meeting as a mission with these two. Many of the things that we were used to doing over the last year were changed, reverted back to the original teachings of the Preach My Gospel handbook, and many people were concerned about all of the changes! President Christiansen tells the mission of the  Lord's vision for the Maryland Baltimore Mission, which is to double the baptisms in 2016. We are promised that by making the necessary changes, this will be accomplished.

November 2015 - Later that same month, Elder Teh, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, comes out and does a mission tour, teaching us many amazing things about becoming a Consecrated Missionary.

January 2016 - For the first time in over 10 years, the Missionary Department, led by Elder Oaks, holds a live Missionary Broadcast for all full-time missionaries. They teach us based on the theme of "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts."

Feb-Apr 2016 - More visits from members of the Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Perkins and Elder Carlson! They both leave amazing promises upon the mission and talk about the success that continues to happen. 

It has been so amazing to see these things happening! I've loved meeting the people that have found the gospel and seen the amazing blessings that have come to them through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our goal to double the baptisms is in sight because of the faith that President Christiansen shows and the wonderful hand of the Lord in all things!

As an update to those that we are teaching, Sydney Selby is getting baptized this Sunday, the 19th! We're so excited, her grandparents flew out from Nevada and everything is set up, it will be an incredible experience. She's so excited as well!

We got to meet Mary's husband for the first time this past week! He is a very nice guy, we are trying to help him have the desire to learn as well. On Sunday, Mary came over to the Christiansen's home for dinner, and she accepted the date of July 9th to be baptized! It was an amazing lesson, we talked about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful for our Savior! His wonderful example brings the Spirit into the room every time he is talked about!

The Rosskopf family is reading the Book of Mormon! They are going through a lot right now as far as trials and tribulations, but they have stayed so strong and they are such good people. We've loved  teaching them and are trying to help them on the path that leads towards all of the blessings of the Restored Gospel.

Mark is also doing well! We've still been meeting with him at the library. He is reading the Book of Mormon as well! Our testimonies of the Book of Mormon have definitely increased the last few weeks as we have seen the influence it has on our investigators.

We also had a great experience last night with Andre, who is going through a tough time because of his fiancee leaving him. As we talked last night though, he opened up and said that he really wants to learn how to get past it, how to move on and accept the plan that God has for him. He wants to be there at church on Sunday and is so excited for all of the things he is learning!

This week, I noticed something in one of the hymns. This came on Sunday in Sacrament as we sang Hymn 29, A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief. I'll share a few of those verses. (I especially love the last few verses, which are seldom sung):

1. A poor, wayfaring Man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not pow'r to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love; I knew not why.

5. Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment--he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.

6. In pris'n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor's doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him 'mid shame and scorn.
My friendship's utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, "I will!"

7. Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
"Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me."

These words mean so much to me! I love that last verse. I am reminded of the scripture in Matthew 25:40 - Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. To think that we will be able to see the Savior and we will be able to hear him say "Of me thou hast not been ashamed" leaves me with so much joy and comfort!

Thank you so much for all of the support!!!!

- Elder Leavitt

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