Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 95 "It's not her time, take her back"

Hey everyone! This was another great week here in Ellicott City.

For starters, I'd like to share a really amazing story, the story of Mary Jones. President Christiansen shared this story with us this week. Mary Jones grew up in Baltimore searching for a true religion, seeking for truth for over 66 years without finding it. About 18 years ago, she got in a terrible car accident where she was in a sleep-induced coma for over 6 1/2 months. She had an amazing experience while she was in a coma. Whether it be a dream, a vision, or an experience, this is what happened to her during the coma. She remembers everything being white and more beautiful than she had ever seen before. She saw a man dressed in a white robe, but she could only see from his shoulders down and was not able to lift her head to look at his face. She knew that it was Jesus Christ given the wounds in his hands and feet. She wanted to look at Him but couldn't. He asked her to follow him and she obeyed. As she was walking, she couldn't help but notice the indescribable beauty around her. She came to a path, and on both sides of this path she saw all of her family members for generations. They were all working on something, writing and drawing on boards and she couldn't see what they were doing. She continued to walk with Christ until she came to what she thought was a throne of some sort. She heard a voice say "It is not her time, take her back." She instantly wanted to shout out that she didn't want to go back, she wanted to stay in this beautiful place, but immediately she turned around and followed Christ back. 18 years later, now fully recovered but still remembering that experience, she sat in on a Bible Study with her niece in Washington DC. Her niece had explained to her that she had recently been meeting with missionaries from the LDS Church who would come and read with her. Mary wanted to see what that was like, so she came. Not only did she love the experience, she wanted to have missionaries come over to her house as well! She went online and requested missionaries to come over, but for some reason it didn't go through. 2 weeks later, she found the number for the Mission Office and talked to one of the Senior Couples, requesting that missionaries come over immediately. As they taught her, she loved every moment of it. When they talked about the Spirit World, she realized just how special her experience 18 years ago had been. And now, 18 years later, she was just baptized and confirmed two days ago as the newest member of the only true Church in existence. Want an amazing series of events that were planned well before she came to this world. President had the opportunity to interview her for her baptism where she shared this wonderful story with him.

This fox loves coming up to eat the 
food on the porch of the mission home!!

Larry Miles is doing great! He's preparing for his baptism on the 15th of October. He came to church again and loved it and is so excited about General Conference this weekend. This week in Sacrament, Elder Fisher and I spoke! We were assigned to speak on Prophets and the blessings that come from obeying their counsel. I've grown to become much more comfortable speaking in public and it was a good experience. While we talked, there was Larry right in the middle of the front row, intently listening! He's an amazing man.

This week we saw Dave Ort again, he is the one that is Agnostic and is trying to gain a belief in God again. It was a great visit, he introduced us to his roommate Evan who sat in and listened as well. We went through the story of the Tree of Life in 1 Nephi 8. Afterwards, Dave asked "What do you do if someone believes that all of their beliefs and customs are true but they actually aren't?" We talked about how there is partial truth throughout the entire world, but we have to find the fullness of the truth. Evan then asked: "So how much truth do we need to be able to get into Heaven?" We felt prompted to talk about the Plan of Salvation and ended up teaching the entire lesson and they loved it. They just kept looking at each other and saying "Wow, I've never heard this before!" At the very end, Dave was a bit hesitant to pray, but Evan, obviously having listened very well during the lesson said: "Come on Dave, you can do this! Just pretend like I'm in Spirit Prison and you have to teach me how to pray!" It was a great end to the visit and Dave gave an amazing prayer.

Playing Volleyball on P-Day with a group of the
missionaries in Baltimore Inner Harbor.
(Chandler is in the very back)

Last week, we took a young man from our ward teaching with us. His name is Ben Bartles and he is leaving in January to go to Brazil! While he was with us, he introduced us to a family that lives across from him. They are an older couple named Ron and Mary. They are so nice! They have quite a few medical challenges but accepted our invitation to come help them with some service and to teach them about the Book of Mormon. We've been there twice since and they watched Meet the Mormons and are reading the Book of Mormon!

Deborah, the one that is very similar to Mary Cole who was baptized in July, is now being taught by the Sisters! She said that she wasn't interested in "investigating the Church" just in "joining" so I don't think she completely understood what that phrase meant, and I don't blame her! But it was great to hear that!

Rodger Bryant, who was baptized last October, is doing well! He has lost over 55 pounds in the last 3 months! He seems to be doing better than he was a few months ago and it was good to see him again. While we were about to go into his home, there was a lady down the street that was struggling to parallel park her car, so the member that was with us went down to help. We joined him and as he was parking the car for her, we talked to the lady and one of her friends. Well, it turns out that her friend that was there is already a member of the Church! She said her parents live in Utah but she hasn't been to church in years but said that she'd be willing to come back so she invited us over for dinner to help her return to activity in the Church!

I hope that we are all excited for General Conference this weekend! What an amazing opportunity it is to listen to our modern-day Prophet, President Monson, the First Presidency, the Twelve Apostles, and the other leaders of this amazing Church. I hope that we all prepare and listen intently to the promptings that come to us so that we can improve. Thanks for everything!

- Elder Leavitt

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