Monday, October 12, 2009

Hola. ¿Cómo están? Oct. 12,2009

Monday, October 12, 2009
Hello family & friends,

     It was great to hear from all of you this past week. This week has for sure gone by so fast and my first month in the mission has also gone by SO fast! It's crazy to think about it! But there have been some interesting experiences today, well this morning was an interesting experience but I'll talk about that later.

     Tuesday was a normal day, but with some intersting turns with our investigators. I don't remember if I mentioned Adrian in my other email but I'll explain the situation again. This kid has two deaf grandparents and he lives with them and his dad. That day we decided to commit him and his grandparents to go to church. As we were teaching, the father walked in and said that he didn't want us to be teaching him anymore (even though Adrian sits in on our lessons with the grandparents) because he doesn't feel that he is ready to decide for himself. Anyways, I wish he would have heard the talk by Elder Christofferson about how agency is influenced by knowledge and truth. But what disappoints me most is the grandparents, they have found every literal excuse to not go to church and they have been without the blessings of going to church. So now we have to find a way for Adrian to go to church with the permission of his dad with another member or with his dad. I have high hopes for this kid and he is so ready to be baptized, all we have to do is get over these bumps in the road and then he will be golden. So please pray that we will have the knowledge to know the concerns of the father so that we can get Adrian to come to church.

     The following day, I had splits with Elder Lovelace and once again it was an interesting day. haha. Everything piled up on us from meetings, to driving to the mission home, all without any notice. The Maravillas family asked us to help them move some more stuff into their new apartment and no lie, they had over 300 DVDs it was INSANE! So we were there till about 1:00 PM and we decided to change and eat some lunch. After that the manager of our building decided to come inspect what needed to be done...becuase the bathroom door came off...so he was in our apartment for another hour. As we decided to go to Long Beach to start teaching, the mission home called and said that we had to go pick up our car today...because Elder Balaich broke the transmission (it's a V4 Ford Fusion) so big car with no power...because it was car free day tomorrow. Once we got up to the mission home I had a meeting with President Blackburn until about 6. So it was a crazy day full of errands and tidious work. We finally started teaching at about 7 and went to go get dinner at 9. I was so hungry at that point. Oh well at least we got everything done so that we could be more productive for the week to come. 

     Because we are in the ASL program and the temple is in our area, the Mission President has allowed us to go to the temple with our branch to show support every month when they do, so this Saturday I got to go through the temple again. The LA temple is beautiful and huge. And the best part was that it was all in ASL. I was so nervous because I didn't know I could understand everything and do everything I needed to do but it was an amazing experience. And it was so awesome to see all the members from the different branches come and serve the Lord in His house. Such a spirital experience that was. 

     Anyways so today was by far the most interesting experience I have had so far on my mission. As we were doing our personal study we heard some shouting and banging outside our door, but thought nothing of it. Sounded like an argument but nothing too serious. We were so wrong. All of the sudden things started to escalate and we could hear things thrown against the wall of our neighbors, screaming, and hitting. Long story short we had to call the cops becuase it was really getting out of hand and the screams started turning into cries for help. Don't worry we are ok we stayed in our apartment the whole time and didn't do anything stupid, well we wanted to but we knew that the cops could take care of it better. The cops came within minutes and the people wouldn't come out. Finally the cops forced someone out and handcuffed the whole family and to our amazement the 12 year old girl had cuts and bruises on her face and all over her. They said that the girl was not obeying them so they were giving her a spanking but that was so much more than a spanking. So now child services are going to be stopping by in the near future to figure out the situation in more detail. I hope the family doesn't get serperated because of us but I know that calling the cops was something that we needed to do. So yeah it was an intersting morning haha. I love LA. 

     Alright for the spiritual thought today I decided to talk about an experience that the Savior had soon after His second tour to Galilee. At this point in time the Pharisees were trying to find excuses to kill Him but once again the Savior found another opportunity to teach more of His gospel.

     Now, for all of you who have scriptures I'll be talking about the experience in Matthew 12, specifically verses 22-30. Alright, at this point the Savior was given a man that was "possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb." Having these three things in Jewish culture was thought to be uncurable, even by the Pharisees, so this man had been rebuked and pushed aside for some time. But to their amazement the Savior healed him and the people asked, "is not this the son of David?" or, in other words, "is not this the [Christ that we have been waiting for all this time for?]" With this comment made by the Jews the Pharisees attacked the Savior and said, "This fellow doth not cast devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the Devils." Now some background on Beelzebub, Beelzebub was a Philistine God that had the title of "chief of the demons" or Satan. So the Pharisees said the Savior cast of devils with the power of Satan. As always the Savior calmly responded, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:" The remarks of the Savior suggest that even with the most basic knowledge of the gospel, that the Pharisees would have, everyone would know that Beelzebub, or Satan, works against the Savior. The Savior continues, "And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?" With that being said the Savior has already denounced the statements that the Pharisees have said, but he continues to explain His authority. Verses 27 and 28, "(27) And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. (28) But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." After reading these two verses two questions came up, is the Savior implying that we shall be given His authority or is He saying that He has come to establish His kingdom? The answer is simple, it's both. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and through his translation of Biblical scriptures by the word of God, I have received more insight to this scripture. So the 28th verse would go something like this, "But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. (JST) For they also cast out devils by the Spirit of God, for unto them is given power over devils, that they may cast them out." One can note that the Savior said that we can receive that same power and authority that He has, to cast our devils and to be judges over the people as it states in verse 27. But without the JST we would not have gained that knowledge into the teachings of the Savior.

     But the Savior continues to further engrave His authority and gospel. He says, "Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house." As we all know, the Savior had bound and cast Satan out of Heaven AND He also has bound and cast his evil spirits out of His children. But Christ had to first bind and cast out Satan to gain power over his spirits, otherwise, Christ would have no power over them who is the "strong man." How great is the Savior's power and authority! And as always the Savior leaves everyone with a thought that I leave with you as well, the Savior said to pick a said and to not be in between, He said, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."

     Sooo....my challenge to you is will you choose a side? Will you keep the commandments or will you disobey? Will you read the scriptures and pray or will you not? This list could go on forever but I know if we follow the Savior's counsel we can become worthy of His blessings that He wishes to bestow upon us. I hope that this leaves you thinking what side you are on, becuase I know that I have found myself on the His side and I know that because I know that I feel the Spirit in everything I do as a missionary. It guides me in everything and all we have to do is choose. 

     I love you all and I miss you so much. I hope that everything is going well with all of you! Hope to hear from you soon!

With love,
Elder Leavell

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