Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Week 94 Meeting an APOSTLE

Hey everyone! I hope that everything is going well and that you have had a great week so far. It was an amazing week here in the Maryland Baltimore Mission!

This last weekend, we had the amazing privilege to hear from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Kevin E. Calderwood, our Area Seventy in the North America Northeast Area. It was so great! Elder Oaks is also the chairman of the Missionary Executive Committee. It was such a wonderful experience to get the opportunity to learn from these amazing Servants of the Lord!

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
I had the privilege of introducing Elder Oaks. 

On Saturday, the entire mission gathered for a special conference in Frederick, Maryland.  As we were waiting in the chapel, there was such a strong Spirit knowing that we were going to be able to listen to Elder Oaks, Elder Robbins, and Elder Calderwood. When they made their entrance, we all stood as they walked towards the front of the chapel. We each got the chance to walk through and shake each of their hands. There is such a power just from shaking the hand of an Apostle! After we all had that opportunity, we began the meeting and had such a wonderful experience! Elder Oaks is not only one of the most amazing teachers, he's extremely funny! He had us laughing the entire time! President & Sister Christiansen began the meeting with their testimonies, and then Elder Calderwood spoke. He talked about how we learn from Grace to Grace, line upon line, precept upon precept. He served as the Mission President for the New York New York South Mission just a few years ago. Following his remarks, Elder Robbins spoke! He is an amazing speaker as well. He talked about Christlike Attributes, focusing his remarks on the concept of love. Elder Oaks was the concluding speaker, and he started off by saying "Elders and Sisters, the things I say to missionaries are different depending on the mission. Sometimes, I need to teach them about why they're here. But, as I shook hands with each one of you, I can tell that you know who you are and why you are here." That was so amazing to hear from him and I'm so grateful to get to serve in this mission, President & Sister Christiansen are incredible leaders and the  culture of the mission is great to be around. Elder Oaks spoke a lot about revelation, how we can seek and receive it. He opened it up for about 30 minutes just for a Question and Answer session. Like I said before, Elder Oaks is extremely funny! Someone asked a question about discouragement and he said something like "it is so easy to be discouraged sometimes because of the rudeness of the world, especially during the time of an election such as this." Now, he was trying to make a point of how divided people can become during these times, but everyone kind of laughed because most people in Maryland at least seem to not like either of the choices (I feel blessed to know close to little about this upcoming election) and Elder Oaks started laughing as well, and he looks around and says "Ok, do not put that comment on the internet! I was not making a political comment!" He said funny things like that throughout the meeting, yet brought the Spirit more than I've ever felt before. It was a perfect balance and such an amazing thing to be able to learn from him. There are many more stories, but they are hard to explain through email in the fullness that he was able to explain them!

Sister Christiansen, Elder Fisher, Elder Dallin H. Oaks,
 Me and President Chistiansen

On Sunday, we got to hear from Elder Oaks again! He came to the Columbia Stake for Stake Conference, and since we're serving in that stake currently, we got to come! He arrived about 45 minutes early and started walking from row to row, talking and shaking hands with every person in attendance! It was so amazing to see. As he saw Elder Fisher and I again, he said "You know Elders, I've been wondering...how did two red heads become companions?" I think a lot of people have wondered that! He made incredible remarks on Sunday as well, but I will just share one of the things he talked about. He invited an 8 year old boy to come up named Adam Mitchell. Adam is the son of the Stake President. He explained to the congregation that he was going to demonstrate a principle of what it feels like in a new leadership calling or when something changes in your life. He talked about what it means to have a "mantle" on you. When you come into a new calling, there is often a mantle that you feel like you must fit immediately. He then proceeded to take off his suit jacket, and he placed it on Adam. Obviously, it was much too big. He told Adam to face the congregation for a few minutes to demonstrate this principle. He talked about how no matter what, when we started a new calling or responsibility we will not fit, it will be much too big. He talked about how we will always be able to grow into it, but we need to realize that it will take time. It was a great object lesson! He went on to teach more about Sabbath Day Observance, Tithing, Missions, and other great doctrines and principles. Towards the end he once again showed his great sense of humor! He was trying to find a scripture on his iPad but seemed to be struggling and a bit frustrated with how it was working. He referred to his iPad as an "infernal device" and said "I wouldn't even be using this thing if President Packer hadn't told us that we had to!" President Christiansen ended up loaning him his paper scriptures, but the entire congregation was laughing as Elder Oaks demonstrated an amazing balance of humor and Spiritual teaching. I am so grateful for the chance that we had to learn from him this weekend! Later that day, we got a picture with him before President & Sister Christiansen took him to the airport. As he shook the hands of Elder Fisher and I one last time, he said something that I will never forget and always strive to live up to: "Elders, thank you for being the kind of missionaries that we need." I'll never forget that moment, and hope that I can become better every single day to some day be as Spiritually in tune and humble as Elder Oaks.

A Day I will NEVER forget!

Mary Cole got to be in attendance for the conference with Elder Oaks and she loved it! She shared a really cool experience with us this week. We were reading 2 Nephi 31 from the Book of Mormon, and asked her how the Gift of the Holy Ghost has blessed her since her baptism. She told us that just a few weeks ago, she was eating lunch with her brother. Her brother got her coffee and asked her to drink it before it got cold. She had quit drinking coffee ever since she had learned about the commandment to live the Word of Wisdom. She didn't want to offend her brother and started to lift the cup up to her mouth. While doing so, she felt this feeling in her stomach that she described as something that was trying to tell her she shouldn't drink it. She set it down and explained that she no longer drinks coffee! It was so amazing to see her recognize an experience with the Holy Ghost. Obviously, something like drinking coffee is not going to be as serious as other sins, but she recognized it as a commandment of God and knew that as long as we follow his commandments, we are blessed! Regardless of whether or not we know all of the reasons behind it, we trust in a living and loving God and we obey!

It was an amazing week! Thank you again for the wonderful love and support!

- Elder Leavitt

Joseph & Megan Giuseppe family.

Megan cuts our hair for us.

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