Another week full of miracles here in the Maryland Baltimore Mission!
The first miracle I'd like to share actually wasn't something that had happened this week, actually something that had happened months ago that I had never realized until this week! It actually starts over a year ago when I was serving in the Columbia 3rd Spanish Branch with Elder Cornejo. It was a super humid day, which is almost every single day in Maryland, and we were by an apartment complex on a street called Brook Way in Columbia. As we were walking up this hill back towards our car, there was a lady coming out of her apartment and heading towards the mailbox to get her mail. She looked hesitant to talk to us, but we made our way over and introduced ourselves and shared the Book of Mormon with her. She was excited about the idea of the Book of Mormon and we gave her the information for the Sister Missionaries. She told us her name was Rebekah, that she had grown up here in Baltimore, and that she was actually looking for a Church but had thought we were Jehovah Witnesses. She told us we could send the Sisters by. A few days later, we heard back from the Sisters, Sister Anderson and Sister Rogers, and they had met with her and had a wonderful lesson! Over the next few weeks, she came to church a few times and accepted a date to be baptized. When that date approached, she became very sick and wasn't even able to meet with the missionaries as often. It was extremely sad to see her fade away, and then I was transferred out to Winchester, Virginia. A few weeks later, I came back to Ellicott City and since she was now in my ward boundaries, stopped by again to try and teach her, but never got in touch with her. To be honest, that has been one of the experiences that I've always wished I could go back and somehow change her getting sick and be able to see her and her son get baptized. But, here is the miracle about all of this! So for a meeting on Friday, Sister Anderson, who now serves up in Hanover, Pennsylvania, shared a miracle that I had never realized before. While her and Sister Rogers were teaching Rebekah, they found a few other people to teach in that same area because they were frequently around Brook Way. One of the days that they were around that area, they met a man named Greg and his son Grayson, who had recently moved in. They offered to help them move some of the stuff into their apartment, and came to found out they were members of the church! Their records weren't in the Ward though, and so they were able to get their names and talk to the leadership in the Ellicott City Ward to find out where their records were. Well, a few months later this provided the means for Elder Lawrence and I to start teaching Greg and his son Grayson, who turned out to be the Selby family! We found out that one of Grayson's sister had never been baptized, and that they hadn't been able to go to church in about 5 years. We taught the family, Sydney got baptized in June, and now they are all going in a few weeks to do baptisms for the dead at the Washington DC Temple! It started out as Elder Cornejo and I talking to Rebekah, passing her off to the Sisters, the Sisters being in the right place at the right time and meeting the Selby family, and then a few months later the Selby's getting baptized and becoming active again in the church. I never would've connected all of these things together, but I have now realized that maybe that was all part of the plan! They needed to be teaching Rebekah at that time to be able to find the Selby family. And I know that Rebekah will one day be taught again and I can't wait for that day!
Mary Cole continues to amaze! In what is now her 4th week or so of being a member of the Church, her week consisted of the following:
Tuesday - Took her husband, son, and granddaughter up to the Philadelphia Temple Open House to tour the new temple
Wednesday - Went with her friend Tina to the Washington DC Temple Visitors Center and shared her testimony of how becoming baptized into the restored Church has blessed her life. Later that night, helped a less active member of the Church in the Columbia 1st Ward
Friday - Met with us, shared a bit of Meet the Mormons with her and she said she would show it to her husband David, who she is trying to involve more and more!
Sunday - Met with Bishop for a temple recommend and received a calling in the Church! She is on the Relief Society committee!
Tuesday (tomorrow) - Is going to be meeting with a Family History Consultant to prepare a name for the temple!
Mary is so amazing....she is such a Christlike person! It has been so amazing to see her progression week after week, she hasn't missed a Sunday yet!
Another amazing miracle is that while I'm typing this, Mark Martin, our investigator who is preparing to be baptized, is with a family in our ward up at the Philadelphia Temple Open House! They offered to take him and he was really excited for that opportunity.
We found a few great families to teach this week. One family is the Crescenzi family, Sister Crescenzi is a member and her husband is not but is open to learning. The next is the Lodowski family, a very similar situation where the wife is a member of the Church but her husband is not. He is an active member of the Church of Christ and one of the nicest guys I've met! When we met with him on Monday he asked us all about our families and our testimony. The next is the Rohr family, which was quite a miracle in itself! They had been taught by missionaries over a year ago, and so we stopped by on Monday. We met the wife, her name was Stacy, and was so nice and invited us back on Saturday! So we stopped by. Her husband's name is Keith, and he is agnostic. They have 2 children, one that goes to the University of Maryland and a daughter in high school. They talked about how they don't trust in organized religion. Stacy was raised Catholic but has been to many different religions. They didn't know much about our Faith and asked many questions, and talked about how the Members that they new from the Church were all very nice. We taught them about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration and they loved it, and had never heard much about it before, and said that they will be visiting our church to see what it is like. Keith is a physical therapist and is such a nice guy, they are an awesome family!
This week, I came across two statements that I hadn't heard before concerning our ultimate decision in life. The first came from President Brigham Young who said, "It is the Kingdom of God or nothing." The second, very similar, was quoted by Elder Neil A Maxwell in one of his talks in General Conference: "If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead." As I have pondered over that this week, I have realized that, in a way, these statements describe what missionary work is all about: our duty and purpose is to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth, in the form of the restored Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Those statements have made me realize how important it really is to evaluate ourselves and to ponder on which side we are choosing, because in the end the only thing that matters is what we put first!
Thank you again for all of the wonderful support, have a great week!
- Elder Leavitt