Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Week 103 Returning With Honor

Wow. I can't believe this will be my final group email while serving as a full-time missionary in the Maryland Baltimore Mission. I'm so grateful for this wonderful experience that I've been granted with.

"Final Interview with President Christiansen just starting...
while sharing a few Neccos before Prayer"

It's been a great day so far already! Usually on preparation day we don't have appointments until 6, but today we had one during the day since it was the only time they could meet! It was with Jasmine and she is now preparing for baptism! She's been reading the Book of Mormon daily and feeling the power that it brings into those that read it and ponder on its message.

Scott Meushaw, a great friend that Chandler will Miss!

We met an amazing new investigator this week! His name is Mike and he is from the Philippines. We taught him over at UMBC, the University that is close to us. He came from the Philippines only a few months ago! He grew up Catholic but is interested in learning about other faiths. We had such a great lesson with him, and he understood everything about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and offered an amazing prayer at the end! One of my favorite parts of the lessons is when the investigator offers the closing prayer.

I got to go on exchanges over in East Baltimore this past weekend and it was so great! We taught this family named the Silver Family. When we committed them to be baptized, the 10 year old daughter said "I'm not sure if I want to be baptized or not." The mother looked over at her and said "Do you want to go to heaven or not?" This quickly put a smile on the daughter's face as she said "Of course I do!" It was so cool to see, the mom isn't even a member but the whole family is wanting to be baptized!

Megan text this picture to us tonight and said,
"We just said Goodbye to our
 favorite Missionary and gave him a farewell haircut,
He is so excited to see all his family tomorrow.

Carlos and Viri finally got MARRIED this past week!!! After 4 years of living together, they are finally married and then on Sunday, we were able to help her to accept the date of December 24th for her Baptism! She has progressed so well. A year and a half ago, Elder Cornejo and I got to teach her, not knowing where it would lead. The chances were so low of us being back together, the Spanish branch being closed, her moving to our area, everything! But it all worked out and she will be getting baptized soon!
I'd like to bear my testimony of the power of a mission. I'm so grateful for this experience. What a life changing 2 years! I will never forget the experiences that I've had and the people that I've met. Words can not explain how I feel right now. Thank you so much for everyone that has supported me during this time. I love all of you! 

I testify of the power of Jesus Christ, our Savior. I'm grateful for the Atonement and the amazing power that it has. I love our Heavenly Father, who watches and cares for us in all things. I'm so grateful for everything that I've learned and experienced. I'll share more of my experiences in person!

Thank you!!

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 102 Continued Miracles

Hey everyone! I hope that everyone is enjoying the month of November so far. It's still been really nice as far as weather here, the fall has been beautiful!

This was a great week with more amazing miracles. It was an extremely busy week because we were doing Zone Conferences (the last 2 weeks) but we had time after each conference to come back to Ellicott City to continue in the proselyting. We had an amazing miracle last week with a lady named Tess, a story similar to last week's story of Roxy. We were walking around a few nights ago after visiting our investigator, and had a few minutes left in the night. We tried knocking on a few doors and got absolutely rejected at 5 straight doors. Nobody was very nice about it either! We walked up the street, offering a Book of Mormon to a few different people that we passed but the same trend continued. We went into another apartment complex, knocked on a door.....and there was still no success. As we were walking out of the complex, we saw a lady walking up the sidewalk with headphones in. We called out to her and she barely heard and stopped, taking out her earbuds. As we talked to her, she mentioned to us how she needed comfort as she was going through a hard time, so we said a prayer with her. It was amazing to see that even with all of the rejections, the timing worked out perfectly because we were put in her path!

Picture and email I received last week:
We had the wonderful opportunity to have dinner with your son tonight. We so love having him serve here in our ward. I am sure you are so excited to have him home soon. I am the primary president in the ward and have asked your son and his companions to sing in the Primary Program next Sunday. They are being obedient and doing what they are asked. I think it will be great. They will be singing the verses to "Army of Helamen" with the kids joining in on the chorus. I don't think they are too excited to do it, but I am so grateful for their willingness. ~Kirsten Eads

Larry Miles is on date for November 25th! We met with him last night and he officially chose a date. He has been so busy with work that it's been hard for him to select a date, but he seems very committed to this date. His aunt is a member in Georgia and has been encouraging him throughout this process.

Chandler was able to go on splits with AJ Jones again,
a friend from Highschool.

Scott Meushaw took them to dinner!

Scott had text me the above 2 picts while they were at dinner.
 I jokingly replied & asked him, "if it wouldn't be too AWKWARD,
would you give Chandler a big hug and kiss from me and tell him
how excited I am for him to come home."haha
Looks like there is NOTHING Scott wont do for these missionaries or their Mamas.:)
I love the terrified look on Chandler's face!

We had a great miracle with Agnes, she is from Cameroon. We stopped by to see her and her son Armel wasn't home so we couldn't enter the house. We talked on the porch and then decided to share the Restoration with her and talk about the Book of Mormon. We invited her to pray at the end, but she said she didn't feel comfortable. We taught her the points of a prayer and then she gave one of the most heartfelt prayers I've ever heard! She thanked Heavenly Father for "her sons that had come to visit her" and for the "ability to talk to my Father about what I've learned."  One of my favorite parts of my mission so far is watching people give one of their first prayers, knowing that they are actually praying in the form of a two-way communication, talking with their Father in Heaven.

We've been teaching this girl named Jasmine, she is the niece of Hermana Casas in our ward! The son of Hermana Casas, named Jesus, was one of the people that we got to baptize last year when we were in the Spanish branch (Elder Cornejo and I). She came to church again yesterday and should be getting baptized within the next few weeks!

Viridana is doing well also! She's finally reading the Book of Mormon and understanding it! Her and Carlos (he's a member) are getting married on Friday!! They invited us to the wedding and it will be great for them to finally get married!

Axel Lara, a recent convert who was baptized at the beginning of my mission, is getting his wisdom teeth out today....which means he is finishing his mission papers!! I'm so excited for him. He wanted to leave during the summer but $2500 was stolen from him and he has been raising money ever since. The adversary has done all he can to keep Axel from serving but now he is getting SO close and I can't wait to hear where he gets to serve.

Scott made dinner for Chandler and his
2 companions on Friday night.

We had the privilege of listening to the testimony of a lady named Zhenya, she is from Russia and is getting baptized in a few days! She has had a crazy life, but is such an amazing woman. She grew up in Russia and never believed there was a God because of what her parents told her. 10 years ago she met missionaries and told them she wasn't interested. Year after year, her life was going down hill. She went through a few marriages and one of her husbands committed suicide. 10 years after she had met missionaries, she saw them again, this time in the United States. She was prepared and is now getting baptized! It's so amazing to see the timing that God has for us.

During the Zone Conferences, a set of Sisters shared an amazing miracle about a woman named Sonia. They had gotten a headquarter referral, meaning that Sonia had asked for a Bible or Book of Mormon to be delivered to her home. They went to deliver it but could NOT find the address anywhere! They searched all over. All of a sudden they met this lady near one of the doors, but she couldn't speak. She wrote out a note to them, telling them that she was Sonia and that they could come inside. As they went in, they learned that Sonia had severe Cancer because of smoking and she couldn't talk anymore. She seemed so excited to talk to the Sister missionaries and wrote out all of her thoughts as they shared the message of the Restoration with her. They said it was a remarkable experience seeing her smile and light up and then write out her thoughts. They continued to teach her, and then they were at a members house one day telling them about Sonia. They explained that Sonia didn't have hair because of the leukemia and the member all of a sudden ran out of the room to get something. She had a beautiful hairpiece and she wanted the Sisters to deliver it to Sonia! The Sisters went to Sonia's house and the caretaker answered, explaining to them that it wasn't a good time. But, as soon as the caretaker saw the hairpiece he yelled "Sonia, you're going to want to come see this!" She ran to the door, grabbed the hairpiece, put it on and danced around the room with a smile across her face. Although I've never met Sonia, I can see the joy on her face as the truths of the Restored Gospel have now entered her life and the Spirit is radiating within her. What an amazing experience it is to see changes like this with people who are truly searching for the truth.

Scott sent me this picture as well as some video of Chandler
Playing the piano at the Christiansen's home last night.
Oh, how I miss hearing him play!

Another miracle I heard from Zone Conference was here in the Columbia area! So, over a year and a half ago, there was a man named Enrique Lopez that was investigating the church. It all started on a rainy night when two elders decided to knock on doors. They knocked on his and....he wasn't interested at all! But....a few weeks later they saw him again, this time on the street and he invited them over, telling them that he just got back in town and was now going through a divorce and would like some help. He was taught for 2 months and I got to meet him once on exchanges, but then he moved to Minnesota. Then, just two months ago he moved back but nobody knew where he lived until Elder Singleton, who used to teach him, saw him at a store and got his address!! And then...he lost the address! But luckily he remembered the name of the street so he told the Elders there what the street name was and they went and knocked EVERY door on that street for 2 straight days. Finally, in the last few doors, they found him and are now teaching him! He just can't get away from the missionaries ha!

Also during Zone Conferences, I got the privilege to talk about the Restoration. I'm so grateful for Joseph Smith, who studied out his question until he got the answer. He didn't quit, although he may have thought about it. He wanted to know what church was true and he went to every extent that he could to find his answer! And because of that, the Gospel has been restored through him. What an amazing message it is, and I hope that we never forget that!

Thank you all for the support!

- Elder Leavitt