Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Week 88 Gettysburg & Temple Visit

This was a great week! Luckily, this week did not include pneumonia or flash floods like the previous week!

Last week was our temple week! Every 6 months, we get to choose a day during the week to go down to the Washington DC Temple! We went down with Jo Jolissaint this week, it was such a wonderful experience, I truly love the temple! I'm grateful that I have gotten the opportunity to serve so close to one, and am excited for the new Philadelphia temple as well!

It's been interesting with these new boundary changes here in the Columbia Stake where we serve! A few of the members of the Columbia Spanish Branch where I previously served are now in my ward in Ellicott City, it was so great to see some of them at church yesterday! Our new area now includes even more members and our ward has grown! It should be a great opportunity over the next few weeks to get to know some of the new members.

With these changes, some of the missionaries passed off a few of the wonderful people that they were teaching, and we got to meet them this week! First was Larry. He is in his 60's and works as a Maintenance man. He is such a humble man, and originally met with missionaries about 15 years ago and now feels that it is his time to learn more and become a member! The other wonderful person we got to meet was Dennis Danieli. He is 16 years old and a track and field star in High School. He has one of the most amazing Spirits that I've ever been around! He loves reading from the Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized but is waiting for permission from his parents. Both of these people are truly amazing.

This is NOT the "Dwayne Johnson" we met.

We had a pretty cool experience this week while on exchanges! I was in Ellicott City with Elder Carlson, who serves over in East Baltimore. As we were walking around and talking to a few people in a certain neighborhood, this guy came up to us and introduced himself as "Billy" and told us a few things that he knew about the Mormon church. We talked to him about the Restoration, but he only had a few minutes and he said he'd give us a call at a later time. So we figured that was all! And then later that day, we got a text from the Church Headquarters with a referral for a man named "Dwayne Johnson" with an address near the area we had been earlier. So, when we went over to meet Dwayne...it turned out to be Billy! Turns out that he had just kind of given that name because at first he actually thought we were Jehovah Witnesses. After talking with us, he went inside and found the LDS Home Page, and referred himself!! We taught him about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he was so excited to learn more! 

One other great miracle that we had this week was with a man named Joel Hoyle! We got a call from a lady that lives about an hour north of us, and she explained to us that her father Joel is dying of cancer and is currently at a living center in our area. Her name was Lisa and she was the niece of Joel. Joel is the only member of his family, he joined the church in California in his 50's. He is now 82 and has terminal cancer. Lisa explained that he would love a visit from the missionaries! When we went over to visit, we got to meet Joel's son named Russ! He is an amazing man, and we talked to him a lot about the church. He told us that even though Joel's health is not good at all right now, he told Russ to print out the talk "The Only True and Living Church" by Elder Oaks and pass it out to all of the nurses! His dying wish is for Russ to become a member. We got to go back on Saturday and give Russ a Book of Mormon. Who knows? Even though this is an extremely tough time for the Hoyle family, maybe this is exactly what they need to take that next step in finding out about the church. It was such a humbling experience!

Mary Cole is doing great! She has continued to be an amazing member of the Church, even though she has only been a member for a few weeks now! She goes teaching with the Sisters occasionally and has had wonderful experiences! She is taking her husband, son, and granddaughter to the Philadelphia Temple Open House next week, we're so excited to hear about how it goes! Her son is meeting with missionaries in Delaware! Sydney, Marcia, and Francis are all doing well in their first few weeks/months of membership!

Today for preparation day we got to go up to Gettysburg! It was a truly amazing experience seeing all of the history that is there! President Christiansen gave us these CD's that tell stories of the War as you drive to different locations. It was such a humbling experience to see some of the places where one of the most important events in all of American History took place. I'm so grateful for all of the people that defended the unity of our country so that we have the opportunity to still be the United States and not separated! What an amazing place to visit.

- Elder Leavitt

P.S. I felt like this quote went very well with us being able to enjoy something like Gettysburg today! I don't think that Brigham Young means diversion as something that takes us off of our purpose, but I do think that sometimes we get so caught up in what we're doing, we forget to enjoy ourselves in a good, healthy way! 

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