Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week 29 Called to be District Leader

The days seem like weeks and the weeks seem like days. I still remember hearing that and never truly understanding what it meant. I truly do have to agree with that statement now, as another transfer comes to a close! 

I hope everyone had an amazing Father's Day! I'm so grateful for my dad and all that he does. I'm so grateful for the way he raised me and the way he honors his priesthood in every single way!

Well, for this next transfer, many changes will happen! First of all, we will be getting new Mission Presidents. I have loved serving under President and Sister Richards. They are the nicest people I have ever met, and I am so grateful for their leadership. The Christiansen's will be coming in, and I know with all my heart they will do an amazing job also! For this next transfer, I will be staying in Columbia, and will now be the District Leader here. I'm super excited for this opportunity and know that I'll need God's help a lot to serve the other missionaries around me. I will be serving with a missionary named Elder Cornejo, so for the first time in my mission I will be the older companion. It will be quite a change, but I'm super excited to see how it goes!

President & Sister Richards.

This week was really slow as far as with our investigators, we weren't able to see any of them because of their work schedules and our busy schedule with service. This week we helped 2 different families move, which was almost an all day ordeal!

Missionaries/Professional Movers, Elder Leavitt & Elder Ence
We had a cool miracle on Sunday, we were driving into a little neighborhood and we saw the Spanish Sisters driving out, so they rolled their window down and said "Elders, go over to that group of guys and bear your testimony! We just gave them pamphlets!" So we did just that! We went over there and provided a second testimony to what the Sisters had just taught them, and it was super super cool that we were led to the people they had just talked to. Well....the miracle continues, because a few days later I was sitting with Christian Santizo, a less active youth about my age. A guy walked in and Christian said "This is my uncle." I knew I had recognized him from somewhere...then I realized he was one of the guys we had talked to with the pamphlets! He turned out to be the brother of a member family! It was truly amazing.

"Regarding one's testimony, remember: that which one willingly shares he keeps, while that which he selfishly keeps, he loses. Teach and Testify. There is no better combination." Well, I know that this email was pretty short this week, but I want to share this  quote to finish. Testimony is the most amazing thing in the world. I challenge every single person to go out and WILLINGLY share that testimony of yours! I know that you will be blessed as you do it :)

- Elder Leavitt

P.S. This is my last week with Elder Ence, he is being transferred to Baltimore. I have really enjoyed my time with him even though it has been short.
Speaking of short.....
where did these SHORTS come from Elders?:)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

week 28 Miracle after Miracle

Just when I thought the miracles surely must slow down, this week I saw some of the most amazing miracles of my entire mission so far!

I'll start out with the story of what happened on Monday. It was 5
o clock so it was almost the end of our Preparation Day. We were sitting in a park eating dinner with Gino Valentine, one of the Young Men in the Branch that will be serving a mission in a few months. We had told Alvaro, our investigator from Honduras, that around 8 that night we were going to come see him in the Pizza place that he worked at, but throughout that day he hadn't replied or answered. As we were sitting there eating, all of a sudden someone comes walking up to us. At first I wasn't sure who would just walk up to the missionaries, but then I realized who it was: Alvaro. Keep in mind, we were probably about 25 miles from where he lives and 15 from where he works. But there he was, making the effort to come up and talk to us. He told us that he had actually just quit his job that day, and that he wants us to come visit him at his new restaurant this upcoming week! It was so cool to have just been sitting in the park and see him. He said he had just decided to drive out here and do some shopping and go for a walk! So this week, we will be visiting him at the restaurant and we will see how it goes!

Another miracle, something I'll probably never forget in my entire life, happened on Friday. All of our plans just seemed to fall through, and we honestly weren't sure what we were going to do. We decided we just needed to go talk to people, and since it was time for lunch, we decided to eat at Costco where we could see a bunch of people. Well, I can tell you that those plans fell through for a reason. The Lord guides his servants where he needs them to be. We came up to the intersection right before Costco, and there seemed to be a lot of traffic. We finally made it through and realized that it was because there was a car just stopped right in the middle of the intersection. We drove past it, parked in the Costco parking lot, then ran back down the hill to help out the driver. We noticed right away that he needed help, so we told him to put it in neutral and that we would push him. This hill was steep to say the least. But I will never in my life forget that moment, in the hot, humid air, pushing his car as cars come flying by the intersection around the broken car. We finally got him into the Costco parking lot, where he thanked us and we talked a little about who we are and what we do as missionaries. He said his name was Luis and that he was 24 and from Mexico. He gave us his number and address, but said he'd call us in a few weeks probably, so we were thinking that he wasn't too interested. As we walked away though, I felt the impression to say something, so I said "Hey, if you need more help, call us." We went into Costco and ate lunch. As were finishing, I looked at the phone and had a call from a random number. I answered it and heard "Hey Missionaries. This is Luis. Umm...are you still here?" He had taken us seriously when we said we could help! So we went back out there, and he needed jumper cables and antifreeze, so we gave him a jump and helped him with the car. We were with him for probably a good hour and a half or so, so we got to know him super well. He talked about how he had smoked and drank, but changed his life around to help his girlfriend with her 3 kids. His girlfriend is 31 and has a 17, 14, and 10 year old, and Luis helps her with all of them. It was an amazing opportunity to get to know him! Well, the miracle continues when that night, he sent us a text. The man that had said maybe in a few weeks, sent us a text saying "Hey guys, thanks for all the help today. I'll be free tomorrow if you want to come over." We were so amazed at the miracle that God had provided for us! So on Saturday, we took Julen Rodriguez, a recently returned missionary, and had an amazing lesson about the Restoration!

Biking with some YM from my Branch. One just returned from his mission, one will be leaving in a few weeks for Mongolia on his mission and the other is waiting for his Mission call to come.

We had an amazing Zone Conference this week, the final Zone Conference for President and Sister Richards. It was truly inspirational, and I'm so grateful for such wonderful Mission Presidents. They have done so well, and you can tell how sad they are that they are having to leave their mission family, but they are amazing and I know that in their future callings they will continue to spread the Gospel and be amazing examples to all!

Zone Conference

I definitely get the opportunity to meet interesting people, people from all over the place! These are conversations that I'll never forget! For example, this week we met a man named Julio Vasquez...who talked about how he uses God in every decision he makes. As he explained this to us, he was yelling and beating on his chest, because God gets him super excited, why else! He looked at us and yelled "You know what I do at the store?? I look at the 2 different types of juices and say: 'God, which should I have?' and the juice that he wants me to have, that's the juice that I choose! For some reason, God sure loves his Mango Juice!" This type of conversation went on for about 15 minutes, and it was something I'm not soon to forget! I love meeting people and having these interesting conversations like this haha :)

Working on a Service Project.
I know that this is God's work and that everything happens for a reason. I'm so grateful for my mission!

I hope that everyone is doing well! I pray every day for all of you and for your safety!

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, June 8, 2015

Week 27 6th Month Mark!

This week flew by! The weeks really just seem to be blending together recently!
"The Burning of the Tie"
(a tradition of missionaries to celebrate their 6 month mark)
This week we set a goal of trying to call every person on the Branch Focus List. The Focus list is families that haven't been coming recently, the families and individuals that we are really trying to work with and help the most. There are about 15 different families or individuals and our goal was to call every single one and set up an appointment. Well, even though not all answered, we put in the effort, and we got to see almost every single family or individual on the list! It was a miracle that we were able to set up so many appointments, and it helped me get to know everybody in the Branch!

 "Super Hero" package from home.
My Hero DOES wear a white shirt & a Name Tag that says
Elder Leavitt on it!

This past week we had a Branch fast for Missionary Work. The entire week, the Branch was fasting. But how it was done was that one family would fast for a whole day, and a different family the next. That way we had people fasting the entire week, and then finished it all together on Sunday. It was SUCH a cool experience, and I've never participated in something like that! I really feel touched by the examples of the members to do something like that!

Helping to make "Cow Tongue Tacos", Yum.......
This week I had an experience that I will never ever forget. After District Meeting on Tuesday, we had to take Elder Wind and Elder Lewis back to their apartment. They are both English Elders that are serving close by. Elder Wind actually went to Pleasant Grove High, so I knew him before the mission. Anyways, we asked the question "Why did you come on a mission?" and I'll never forget what happened. Each of us, in turn, bore testimony of the journey of getting on a mission. It made me realize that every single person out here has had trials in their life and has learned from them. The Spirit was so strong as each person in turn talked about their trials that eventually led them to where they are: brother being killed, getting parasites, and a Liver disease. By the end, 4 elders were all in tears, yet we weren't ashamed.

We have found a new investigator named Francisco, a friend of Hermano Villatoro, a less active in the branch. This week we will be visiting him as long with Alvaro, our other investigator. Finding people has still been tough, but we're working to find more!

I truly have loved my time in Columbia so far, every day seems like a new miracle. This past weekend we helped out with another quinceanera, and got the opportunity to meet more and more people and talk about the Gospel! 

I love playing Soccer with both the members and investigators!
There were some quotes that I read this week that I really really love. The first was this: "Some blessings come soon, some blessings come later, some blessings don't come until heaven. But for those who Live the Gospel, blessings will come." I love that. Because sometimes we wonder where those blessings are. We've been choosing the right or trying our hardest but don't feel like we're getting rewarded, but we are PROMISED that those blessings will come if we live the Gospel every day! 

Another: "The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They MAKE the best of everything."  I've truly realized that on my mission. The people that are the happiest, always have a happy attitude. I've realized how much more I need to work on that! To make the best of everything instead of trying to attain everything. Attitude is so much more important on your mission, as it really decides how your days go! 

I love this Gospel. I love it so much. I'm so grateful for the Atonement and the wonderful power that it has to change lives and give us something to lean on on those days when everything seems to go wrong. I'm so grateful for my mission and for the support that I have. Have an amazing week!!

- Elder Leavitt

Monday, June 1, 2015

Week 26 LIFT

Well, I know that it's only been a few days, but I guess a lot has still happened!!

We've had great opportunities lately to meet new people! Friday night we had a big celebration for the members of the branch that had just graduated, at the Valentine's house, a member family.  We got the opportunity to talk to many people that weren't members, and it was a super good experience!  Saturday night we got the opportunity to play sports with members of the Branch. It was super fun, and I've definitely learned to love soccer while on my mission, I've been playing almost every single week out here!! One of the members had her boyfriend there, so we got to talk to him a bit about the church, and he will be coming next week and bringing more friends!

Yesterday was one of the most amazing days of my mission so far. Before church, we were trying for hours to find a ride for Alvaro, a referral that said he would be interested in coming to church. We talked to Hermano Mora, and he said he would go pick him up. Well, he went over there and Alvaro didn't answer the door or the phone, so Hermano Mora called us and told us he was just coming to the church and that Alvaro had ignored us. But then a few minutes later, he drives up to the church with Alvaro! He explained that he had felt a prompting to go try again, and it had worked! So Alvaro came to church and had an amazing experience. He is from Honduras, and his entire family is down there. We will be teaching him this week and getting to know him more! 

For sacrament, we had the homecoming of Julen Rodriguez, who had been serving in California. It was awesome to talk to a missionary that had just returned home, and get advice for the rest of my mission! 

After church, we went to the Rodriguez House, where we had dinner with them and their family for the Homecoming. I got to see the Gemio family from Frederick, and that was so awesome! They were so excited, and we got to talk for a while and catch up, even though it's only a been a few weeks, I've missed those members! 

From there we went to the Noboa's, a less active family that I still hadn't met yet. All I had heard about them was that nobody was sure why they don't still go to church, because their family is so amazing and always doing the right things. We went there and I had one of the most spiritual experiences I've ever had. We talked for a while, just getting to know each other, and then we watched a new Mormon Message called the Lift. I'm pretty sure I was crying in less than 5 seconds of the video! If you haven't seen that yet, please watch it. It might be one of the most amazing videos of service I have ever seen. They loved it too, and were crying by the end. I don't know their story or why they don't come, but you could see in their eyes how grateful they were for the visit.  They kept thanking us for still remembering them and visiting them even though they haven't been to church. This morning, Hermana Noboa texted us saying that she had shared that video with her mom and hasn't stopped thinking about it. The Spirit was so strong and I loved meeting them.
We went to another Less Active Family, the Cantarero's. We got to meet them and talk to them, and we ate a late dinner with them. They invited us back, so we will continue to work with them also!

The work is definitely progressing. I'm so grateful for all of  the experiences that I am having! Have an amazing week.

- Elder Leavitt