Friday, September 23, 2016

Lessons Better Caught Than Taught

18 Sept 2016

The book I have been gleaning from of late is David A. Bednar's Increase in Learning.   One of Elder Bednar's truths that has resonated with me is that "some lessons are better caught than taught"!   Our mission is quickly coming to a close.   Our scheduled date is 30 November 2016, although, we have told President and Sister Christensen that we will stay until our replacements are here.   That may not be until January 2017.   As November approaches it has made me reflect on everything that I have learned while in Cambodia.

A mission, no matter your age, can't help but make you different.   Such is the case for myself.  Cambodia has provided lessons that were only possible to catch.   If someone had told me that I would only use 2-3 pairs of shoes for the 18 months I would have scoffed at them.   I would have sneered and told them that they just don't understand me!!!   But here I sit in Cambodia with 7 pairs of shoes that I rarely use taking up a lot of valuable suitcase space!!  As trivial and shallow as that is, it was still a lesson I needed to catch.  I have a different perspective of "need". 

Even though my understanding and sense of compassion has broadened my personal ideas of "need" has narrowed.

I have seen poverty that I thought was only privy to a National Geographic magazines.   I have seen families of beggars because that is the "family profession" and has been for several generations.   Little bitty children will sit on a sidewalk or weave in and out of cars that are stopped at a busy intersection going from window to window with their hands clasped asking for money.   They do this all day every day.  I truly have witnessed the physical and spiritual "poor part of the vineyard".   I envision  those scriptures in my head differently now.

The principle that I have taught in classrooms for years that "God knows who you are" has enlarged, yet I have watched my own comprehension shrink.   I have met hundreds of more people that I love and adore.  My friendships have definitely broadened.   I don't mean that in the sense that just my number of friends has increased.... it is much more than that.   There is a quality of friendship that I now see in those that I left at home.   I see a "true" friendship based on their actions.    I look around Phnom Penh and see all the people I DON'T know and in amazement, I wonder,  how could He possibly know EVERYONE by name?   I certainly still believe in that principle but now I have caught the enormity of that principle in awe!  I understand that His love extends way beyond my meager mortal capacity.


I believe that faith does not come by chance but through righteous choices.  It is that action of our works that ushers in the power of testimony that builds more faith to make more righteous choices.   You can't have faith without works nor works without faith.  Faith needs action.  As Elder Bednar explained,  "the power will follow your actions".  The action could be opening a door, a smile, a kind word, opening those scriptures, or a positive nod of the head.  It may be just getting up in the morning and going forward with a day that might look like it doesn't have much promise.

These are some of the lessons that were taught to me a long time ago but I just recently caught the depth of its meaning.  With exception of the first year that I was a member of the Church, I have been fortunate enough to see the Church organization run by an optimum level of priesthood leadership.  I always have had faith and confidence in my priesthood leaders.  Living in Cambodia has given me the opportunity to "catch" a greater appreciation of the Church organization.   Just the smallest of things like having a functioning ward library and how that can change the quality of church participation.

None of the buildings here have libraries in them. They can't keep them stocked because poverty has a tendency to challenge your integrity.   I read the Doctrine and Covenants differently now that I have had a glimpse of a new and emerging Church.  I have a greater understanding of some of the Prophet Joseph's difficulties of teaching a people how the church should be run when it is a new experience all together.

Being on the other side of the world has caused my geographic horizons to broaden.   I know that there is lots more out there for me to see.  I hope I get a chance to do that.

My most remarkable catch......
Now that I have experienced first hand a mission that seemed to be especially designed for me, I have a heightened awareness that God has a vested interest in me.  He is concerned and cares about my mission in life and  what I need to accomplish that mission.   I know that Jesus is the Christ and that he is my Savior.   I can never "catch" that doctrine enough.  Many lessons have been taught and caught these last 16 months,   I have 2 more months to see what else is out there to catch!  I am poised, ready with my net.......


  1. Beautifully stated. Thanks for sharing.
    Love, R

  2. Your writings never cease to touch my spirit and make me think more deeply about life in general and all those out there who are doing the best they can with so little!
    I'm grateful to be counted among your friends and to have been able to read your blog! God bless you and Brian in these last couple of months!

  3. Elder and Sister Leavitt. I am Sister Cynthia Harris from Magrath Alberta and my grandson Elder Steel McDonald( new name in Cambodia will be Elder The) will be coming to Cambodia this next week. I wondered if you get to see him to give him a hug from us. He's hard to miss cause he's 6ft6" and wears a handsome smile. I heard you might be in the Vietnamese branches and that is where he will be as he has been learning that language at the MTC. How wonderful of you to have this blog as it has been wonderful for us to read and understand more about Cambodia. Thank you for serving. I didn't know whether or not to leave you with our email address in case you see him and wanted to send a quick email so our address is Thank you once again for your service. I would love to hear from you if possible. Love Sister Cynthia Harris