Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 100 Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! I hope that everyone has a great day celebrating this holiday. Today we'll be headed to downtown Baltimore and then back to our apartments by 6! We had a great time playing a little P-Day Dodgeball.

This was an amazing week! For starters, yesterday we were able to attend an African church! To be able to put my experience into words of an email will be tough, but it was interesting to say the least. When we first walked in, there were about 4 people in attendance: one was playing the piano and singing, one was just singing, one was playing the drums, and one was in the audience. We joined the "audience" as they put the lyrics up on a projector. The pastor, Gregory Etunnu from Nigeria, leaned over to me and asked me if I play the drums.'s been close to 2 years since I've played the drums, but I said that I had a drum set back home and then all of a sudden I'm on the front stage playing the drums! Elder Cornejo and Ashby were in the audience with tambourines (handed to them by Gregory) and singing and dancing along. The congregation eventually grew and we all sang and listened to worship songs. I can definitely admit it will be one of the most memorable experiences of my mission! They were so grateful for us to come by and offered a prayer to us. We gave them a Book of Mormon and talked to them about the opportunity of being baptized. I hope that we get to go again next week!

We had an amazing miracle on Saturday night. It was close to 7:30 and honestly every single thing that could've fallen through that day HAD fallen through. We had gone through every backup plan that we had, so we decided to say a prayer on the sidewalk. We knelt in prayer and then went up to the house of someone that missionaries had met months ago...and we got yelled at. So, slightly discouraged, we walked back to the car. We then drove to a street over in Catonsville. We were going to head back to Ellicott City but felt that we should stay. We knocked on a total of four doors, all of which produced no success. The time was approaching 9 and we realized it was time for us to head home. We talked to a few more people on the street and headed back towards the car. The three of us weren't saying much, but I'm sure that we were all thinking basically the same thing: Why didn't we have any success? What were we doing wrong? I was looking down at the sidewalk as I walked towards our car for the last few hundred feet. All of a sudden, a quiet voice asked "Are you the people that work with the Sisters?" At first, I honestly thought that I was imagining it. I looked to my left at the driveway that was by us. There was a car parked in it, facing us. There was a lady in the driver seat with her window down and she had called out the window. We walked over and stopped by her car. We talked to her and she had met the Sisters multiple times and they had always talked about how the Elders could give her a blessing of comfort. She asked if she could pull a chair out on the porch and receive a priesthood blessing. We taught her about the priesthood and then gave the blessing. Afterwards, she told us that she had never felt the Spirit like that. "I've felt the Holy Ghost before...but this felt different. Even better." She told us she'd be coming to church next week, and we walked back to the car amazed at what had just happened, literally the last minute of the night. The next morning though, we talked to the Sisters about it. They had gotten a call late the night before from Roxy, who we had met and given a blessing to. She told the Sisters about the experience in these words: "As I was sitting in my car, I looked down the street. I saw 6 young men walking towards my house and I was nervous because there were so many. As they got closer though, 3 of them suddenly left and it was just 3 people in white shirts and ties. I knew that they were people of God because I saw 3 angels accompanying them." Hearing that experience the next day was one of the most humbling and amazing miracles of my mission.

Yesterday at church we met two new investigators that came to Sacrament! One of them is the cousin of Jesus Casas, who I taught about a year and a half ago and was baptized. She is wanting to be baptized! The other is the son of a lady that just got baptized into the Spanish branch! 

This week we'll be very busy with Zone Conferences! We'll be headed to Martinsburg (West Virginia) tomorrow. Then on Wednesday we'll be in Frederick (Maryland). Thursday we'll be in Baltimore (Maryland) and then up to Lancaster (Pennsylvania) on Friday! And then trying to keep up with our investigators at every available minute in's quite the week! Then the next week we'll be down in Winchester (Virginia), Chambersburg (Pennsylvania) and here in Columbia (Maryland) again!

Thank you so much for the support. I'm so grateful for the emails, letters, encouragement, and all of the prayers in my behalf.

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 99 Teaching the Restoration is so Amazing!

Hey everyone!

This week was so busy, yet so amazing! First off, we are now teaching Carlos and Viridiana Diaz. Elder Cornejo and I, serving together over 15 months ago, originally taught them but haven't seen them since really. But now they are in the Ellicott City Ward because there is no spanish branch, so we get the chance to teach them again. Carlos is a member but Viri isn't. She expressed to us this week though that she is finally feeling open about the idea of the Book of Mormon and that maybe there is a possibility that it is true. It's so cool getting to teach someone that I haven't seen in so long.

Carlos and Viridiana Diaz
(This picture was in July of 2015)

Lately, we as a companionship have been putting a large focus on teaching the Restoration in a shorter amount of time and saving sufficient time to teach our investigators how to pray and to receive revelation. It has taught me SO much about the importance of prayer, especially as we are striving to answer the questions we may have. The whole message of the Restoration is that God speaks again today, that we can have the same opportunity that Joseph Smith had to answer the questions that we have about God and His nature. I've loved learning more and more about Joseph Smith and the wonderful prophet he was. More than anything, I've loved learning more about Jesus Christ and the wonderful church that he has established for our benefit. 

We ran into Scott Meushaw at Church yesterday.

We got to have dinner at the Stake President's house this week. President Mitchell has been an amazing example to me of a wonderful leader in the Church. I've gotten the chance to spend most of my mission in his stake, about a year and a half total. I've loved serving with him. We practiced teaching the Restoration with them and had an amazing experience. Even with the members, teaching the Restoration is such an amazing testimony to me of why we are out here on missions spreading the wonderful Gospel.

We met two people from Haiti this week that are so great! Steven and Joseph. They both served in the Army and grew closer to God through that. We talked with them a lot about Jesus Christ and his church being on the earth, and they invited us back for this week. It's been amazing during my mission to meet people from so many different areas of the world.
We met Scott for dinner again tonight.

I'm so grateful for the experiences that I've had! I know this email was super short this week, but I will have more experiences to share next week!


- Elder Leavitt

Mom is LOVING the look of her Apps for tracking my return.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Week 98 Transfer week

Hey everyone!!!

This was probably the busiest week of my mission up to this point! Last week was transfer week and so we were able to pick up the new missionaries and drop off the missionaries that have finished their 2 years or 18 months. It was so weird seeing Elder Fisher leave Ellicott City to go train a new missionary! That was a fun part about it though because as we picked up the new missionaries, Elder Tucker (his new companion) had no idea that he was going to be with Elder Fisher! He was excited when he heard that though. 

I'm now with Elder Cornejo and Elder Ashby! It has been so great! It's been awhile since I've been in a trio but it's been so much fun and we've had so much work to do! I love both of them! Elder Cornejo is from California and joined the church just 3 years ago. Elder Ashby is from Lehi and has been out a bit more than a year. They have both taught me so much so far, I'm grateful for their examples! We've had some great experiences already.

Over the first few days of the transfer, I took them to meet Bishop Moffat, our bishop in the Ellicott City Ward. He gave each of us a blessing to prepare for the transfer. I was so grateful for the blessing that he gave me! He talked about how he was grateful that as I've been here over the last year I have helped the ward to grow and become better. That I have had an impact on the ward members. It was such a humbling thing to hear and I have loved serving here with these amazing people. I feel like I've served my entire mission right here in Ellicott City! He promised that as I help the ward council and open my mouth and share the Gospel with everyone that our companionship would be blessed. I'm so grateful for the priesthood and for the opportunity we have to receive blessings. He gave blessings to Elder Cornejo and Ashby as well and it was so cool to see how each blessing was different about how we could help out the ward this transfer.

A quick photo of me, Elder Ashby & Elder Cornejo after
grabbing some Wings with Scott Meushaw last night.

I can't remember how much I've shared about a man named Don Elliott in our ward, but he has an amazing story! He was baptized 4 years ago but about a year ago went inactive because he was offended by someone in the ward. When I first came into the ward, I didn't know who he was and he didn't attend. Elder Lawrence and I got to know him more and more and then Elder Fisher and I helped him out a lot. He's made such an amazing change in his life. He is active in the church, has a calling, just went to the temple to do all of his family's work, and just taught the lesson in Elders Quorum last week! He has had quite the past and is an interesting man, but has grown to be one of my closest friends. 

5 or so months ago, Elder Fisher and I taught a man named Kunle from Nigeria, but he went to Nigeria for the entire summer! He's been back for a few weeks and we FINALLY got ahold of him and he wants to be baptized in the first week of November!! 

We saw Dave Ort again this week! Dave is the one that doesn't believe in God but watched General Conference with us and really enjoyed it. As we taught a lesson about prayer and about the Prophet, he continued to show how much he has learned over the last few weeks. At the very end of the lesson, he gave an incredible prayer and referred to God as his "spiritual dad." It's been so cool to see his progression as he has learned more about God and the relationship that he has with him.

Larry came to church yesterday! As did Carlos and Viridiana, a family that we used to teach in the Columbia Spanish branch! We also had Matthew Johnson at church, he has not gone to church for 2 or 3 years but has come the last 2 weeks and came out teaching with us! He's 21 and we're hoping to help him to want to serve a mission!

A man in our ward named Brother Flores gave an amazing talk in church yesterday. He was talking about how when he was growing up in Peru, he would always go fishing with his dad. They would go out on a boat and try to catch fish, but never ended up getting anything. After years of this, they went out with professional fishermen in Peru. Instead of just holding the rods, the natives would take a bit of the line and slide it in between their lips, explaining that their lips were able to sense the fish biting on the line and they would be able to reel them in. They were much more successful as they did this, and Brother Flores watched as they caught fish after fish. He compared this to how we must be more sensitive to the things that we feel and then act on them quickly. If they felt that there was a fish but didn't reel it in quickly enough, they wouldn't be able to catch the fish. I loved the principle as he taught about ALL of the things that we learn but we need to be much more sensitive to those thoughts and realize what we can change through those feelings.

Things are going great! I hope all is well with everyone!

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 97 Last Transfer Of My Misssion

Hey everyone! I hope that everyone is doing well and enjoying this time of year! It's been beautiful here and perfect weather.

So, it's transfer week once again! I'm sure most of you thought I'd be leaving Ellicott City because I've been here a year, I did too! But...I'm staying again and I'm so excited! I'll be serving with two new assistants, Elders Ashby and Cornejo, and am excited to serve with them! This will be my 9th transfer here in Ellicott City, I'm still not tired of it though! I love it here! I'm very sad to not be with Elder Fisher anymore, I've loved serving with him. He'll be going to Jones Falls, a ward north of Baltimore, to train a new missionary. He's taught me so much and I know that we've made a friendship that will last a very long time, I'm grateful for his example to me.

Elder Fisher and I have shared some amazing
experiences together!
Elder Cornejo is on the left, we were companions
back in June of 2015 in Columbia.
He is one of the missionaries that was just called as AP.

We had a great week! It's been hard to get ahold of Larry recently, but we finally got to talk to him on the phone and he assured us that he's still interested but his best friend is currently in Shock Trauma so he has been visiting the hospital daily. We had been worried that he was avoiding us, but he told us once again that this is now "his church" and that he is inviting his friends to come and join as well! His baptism will be in just a couple of weeks! He's doing well and loves everything he's learned so far.

There was an amazing family that got baptized in the ward north of us this week! The Redding family is a family of 7! It has been very rare to have entire families like that join the church, but it was so cool to see! they love everything about the Church, they attend every mutual activity, sacrament, and anything they are allowed to attend!

I've recently been thinking a lot about the importance of prayer. Prayer was one of the themes I noticed during the very first session of General Conference, with talks like Sister McConkie and Elder Uceda. I'm so grateful for prayer! How amazing it is that a loving Heavenly Father really is as close as a prayer. I'm still working on being more sincere in my prayers and letting it guide me in my everyday life, but I've felt like I've learned so much recently about the importance of prayer and how it is absolutely essential to us gaining a relationship with our Father. 

Sorry there isn't much this week! There will be plenty next week with all of these changes!

Thank you so much once again, I'm so grateful for the support I receive every single week. Have a good one!

- Elder Leavitt

My family was able to attend a Fireside with Jason Wright
last night. He is such a great guy and I love working with him.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Week 96 "To Whom Shall We Go?"

Hey everyone! I hope that all enjoyed General Conference this weekend and were able to listen to the Prophet and His Apostles and other leaders of the Church. What an amazing weekend it was!

I have always liked listening to General Conference, but until I came on my mission I didn't have a very great understanding of how important and essential it is for us to listen and follow the counsel of our leaders. I'm so grateful for the opportunity that we have to be here at this time, to have the restored truths that we have, and to be able to have the guidance of President Monson, the First Presidency, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I love how everyone can get something different out of conference. I have always been told that if you write down questions in preparation, you will be able to find your answers. I had multiple questions that I pondered about beforehand, and every single one of them was addressed in one way or another. The one that stands out the most to me was my question of "How can I make prayer more sincere and meaningful?" Well, within even the first session there were two entire talks dedicated to talking about prayer. Overall, every single talk provided me with something that I can improve on and I'm so grateful for that. I particularly enjoyed Elder Ballard's talk, "To whom shall we go?", and President Uchtdorf's opening remarks. I'm grateful that President Monson was well enough to speak to the us and that we could listen to his guidance and wisdom.

I'm excited for the next six months now, where I get the opportunity to put all of these things into action! I hope that we all can continue to remember the impressions that we had and follow through on the commitments that we have now made to ourselves, to our families, and to our Heavenly Father.

It was a very busy week! We had two different exchanges. For one of them, I got to stay in Ellicott City with Elder Ashby, and for the other I went to Frederick with Elder Wilson. Being back in Frederick made me feel like I was back towards the beginning of my mission, it brought me so many amazing memories. While in Frederick, Elder Wilson and I found such an amazing family! Christina Goodwin is the mother's name. She is separated from her husband and has five children. We knocked on her door and she allowed us in. She had previously lived in Colorado and knew many different members of the Church. She instantly had so many questions! We taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel and about the Book of Mormon, which she loved and believed immediately. Towards the end of her lesson, her 15 year old daughter came home and Christina said "Kiya, come sit with us and listen!" She then went on to explain and teach the entire lesson to her daughter! Not only was it great evidence that she had paid attention during the lesson, it showed the impact that it had on her. She told her daughter: "We've had such an amazing discussion tonight, this will change our lives!" It's so amazing to see people that can immediately realize the difference that Faith in a Living and Loving God can bring into their lives. Christina and her children accepted the invitation to be baptized and I'm so excited to hear about their progress over the next few weeks! It was such an amazing miracle.

A few months ago, we had another Elder named Elder Fisher (not my companion though) and he had to go home after a few months because his dad was in very poor condition. He went home and his father passed away a few weeks later of cancer. This week, he came back to the mission and we picked him up at the airport. He's been such an amazing example to me of perseverance. I'm sure that coming back out on the mission after going home would be one of the hardest things to do, but I'm so grateful for him and his example!

I hope all is well! Thanks for everything!

- Elder Leavitt