Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alex's Third Letter from the MTC

Hey Everyone!! I am sorry for Ben and Brandon that their countries suck at soccer. If anyone has not noticed yet Chile's doing amazing!

Most of the questions I am getting are about where is my district going on their missions, well there are 5 sets of missionaries in my district, 3 sets of missionaries elder Nielson and I, our roommates Elder Braddy and Elder Higgs, Elder Adair and Elder Burkhart we are all going to Chile Santiago West. So it is pretty dang cool I am excited. Elder Moody and Elder Bown are going to Guatemala and leave for the MTC down there next Tuesday I am so sad I love those guys I am gonna be devastated me and elder moody probably get along the best out of anyone here. Then there is elder Watson and elder cononica he is from Switzerland but they are going to Paris France Spanish speaking! crazy eh? They both speak fluent french Cononica also speaks fluent German and both speak English so they are a power house companionship. Thank you so much mom for my two packages and I was actually going to ask you to send me some pictures so I can show off my family so thank you for that. So ya I guess I will just get into what I did this week. Well I got to meet my mission president and his wife on Friday they are way cool. I love them and they were both soo excited to meet me.. They were both like ELDER LEAVITT!!!!!!!! like we had known each other like forever kind of thing. All the other elders and Hermanas were like do they know each other? It was really funny.. but ya I can tell I will love them.. On Saturday our teachers did like a little interview thing with us and brother penellio did mine I love that teacher. I have never had such an amazing teacher in my life. He is so funny yet I have never met a guy that can be so spiritual as well. Well we are all in the computer lab working and he pulls me out we are walking to the class room and he is like "Elder Leavitt I really like you" and I was like well thanks I like you too hahaha. But he went on to say that he loves my energy and doesn't want to me to ever loose that. I have had so many teachers tell me that they want me to tone it down or like you know.. but he said I am such an amazing people person and that along with that energy I also know when to tone it down and get spiritual and that I will be an amazing missionary and and do amazing work. He asked me if I will help other missionaries in our district because they look up to me. He then said there is a scripture that he said describes me perfectly and I love it.. It is in D&C 123:17 "therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance to see the salvation of god, and for his arm to be revealed.." he said keep up my energy and be cheerful and if I remember to stand still when it is appropriate that I will be able to witness miracles on my mission.. I just love that guy. Well on Sunday I had the opportunity to bless the bread for about 600 missionaries. It was so cool! There were no general authorities there but it was still an amazing experience. Later though I was in a meeting with 8 general authorities and ran into elder Richard G Scott in the bookstore. It has been such an amazing weekend. I have not even been here in two weeks and I am already witnessing miracles and having some of the most spiritual experiences of a lifetime. I love my mission and I am so blessed to be able to serve our lord. Yesterday at the TRC we had to contact set up an appointment in Spanish and then teach a lady the first lesson in English. She is a volunteer and obviously any volunteer would already be LDS. We are in our lesson and we come to the point to where we teach about how god loves and blesses families. I just felt prompted to not really teach that part but bear my testimony about how much I love my family and how god has blessed me through them. The spirit was so strong at that point that she started to cry a little bit and so did I. We went on to have an amazing lesson and she had nothing but amazing things to say to us afterwards. I love all of you so much and you are really the reason why I am the man I am today. I am her for the lord and you guys I love you all.

Elder Leavitt

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Alex's Second Letter from the MTC

Hey Everyone!

Well it is my second email time for the week, dang I am lucky because we do about 30-45 minutes of service on our p-day we get 2 hours of personal time where we can email and do whatever on a another day as well. Well to answer some of your questions I only have 30 minutes of email time but I get to email twice a week so I get an hour in total. The MTC choir is non existent when I am here at the MTC. They are doing construction and what not so there is no choir. I ran into my mission presidents sons a couple times so it was cool to hear about them from him. Oh and do your letters through dear elder cause I get them the next day and I feel cool when I get like 2-3 letters a day from everyone. Ok so coolest thing happened yesterday night, so my companion elder nielson is sick and he asked me to give him a blessing.. it was the first one I have ever given to someone and it is so crazy how powerful the spirit can be. I was amazingly nervous and sometimes there were some pauses but I never could have imagined me being able to say what I said. It was an amazing feeling. I went to bed afterwards and I was just laying there thinking, and like the power and authority I have and used to give Elder Nielson his blessing is the exact same power and authority Christ used to create the earth, same power Moses used to part the red sea. It is just amazing to think about. It has been really cool to get letters from Brandon and Ben and if you could could you send these sections to them.

Hey Brandon! thanks for the letter, and I am sorry I didn't really write you when you were on your mission haha, and thanks for sending me your dear john letter it made me laugh. You don't need to worry about me wasting away my mission. I know why I am out here and I am doing everything I can to not get distracted.. I love this work and I know I am out here for the right reasons. I know exactly what you mean about the missionaries out here who are just pretending I can see it already. I have been working so hard to be able to be worthy enough to have the holy ghost as my constant companion and that I can be able to teach through him. I forget who said it but I read somewhere that without the spirit you cannot teach and you should not teach. So that is the main thing I am working towards. Brandon I love you and I will talk to you later your younger taller brother Elder Leavitt

Hey Ben!! GO CHILE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't remember if it was you or Brandon who said Chile sucks but doesn't matter haha (he's talking about their soccer team & I told him in a letter they had advanced in the World Cup) hey thanks for writing me it was really cool to get a letter from you. Yes I have found the box with the ice cream in it haha and the chocolate milk is addicting. I think my goal is to gain about ten or so pounds when I am in here, find some kind of tape worm in Chile and loose about 20. I think that would even it out a lil bit. Hey well you need to tell me how Mexico is treating you and everything. So ya the entire first presidency and everything and the quorum of the twelve is here and the MTC is on like crazy lock down and what not. I have been playing Futbol and what not. I am doing ok but there are like 30 people on the field at once so its just mass chaos. Ok well I love you and cant hear from you again soon. love you Elder Leavitt

So funny story haha, last night, ok well first there is an elder jackson who is some huge fat black guy in my zone. Me and elder nielson decided it would be funny if we threw a couple tootsie rolls at him while he was going pee haha. Well we did and he comes running at at us, we scream and run away.. he was chasing us around our residence halls and everything and it was soo funny. We would stop peek around a corner and he would be barreling down the hall at us like some crazy guy. Then we thought he gave up or something and so we go into our room and we thought everything was good. Then I look and I see one of my roommates with a camera and I knew something was up. I was like he is totally in the closet. So I swing open the closet and sure enough some huge black bear of a man comes flying out. It was so scary but hilarious at the same time haha. I gave him a big hug told him he was awesome and that was that.. I love my zone, I love my teachers, I love everything about the MTC. I am having the spiritual experience of a lifetime. I know the church is true and that I am ordained of God. I am a representative of the Lord and I am here to do his will. He has done everything for me and the least I can do is to give him two years of my life. I love all of you guys and I will talk to you later peace out!
Elder Leavitt

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Alex's First Letter from the MTC

You will have to excuse Alex's grammar and lack of punctuation. It sounds like he was in a hurry and the computers are on a timer. If you don't push send by the time limit your email won't go. We are thrilled to have it nonetheless :)

Hey Everyone!!! The MTC is awesome!! so first things first i am guessing you want to know who my comapanion is.. his name is Jordan Nielson.. he is from St.. George utah.. i have already asked if he knows the Crowleys but no he doesnt. the Provo temple will re open in july so i will be able to go there.. but i dont know if i will be too excited cause i guess now we just get like 2 exrtra hours to just chill which has been really nice.. it is so crazy i have only been here like basically a week and i feel like i have been here for like ever. one thing i guess that is really cool is the i guess my zone does some service this so we get an extra hour and a half on thursdays for P Days so i get to email twice a week!! my roomates are awesome elder braddy is from north carolina and came straight from highschool like he graduated maybve like 2 weeks ago, and elder higgs who is from no mname town in utah and he is a lil of a goof but he is funny. me and my companion get along way nicely and i have possibly the best district ever there is not a single person i dont like and i am becoming way good friends with all of them.. my branch president is way awesome.. our branch presidents wont shake hands with us at all though.. they only give hugs which i personally think is awesome.. one of my teachers are from chile conception and he is one of the funniest guys i have met.. i dont have much time to write cause i somehow lost 10 minutes of my email time cause i accidently exited my email and it took that time off.. so i am trying to rush.. so all the new mission presidents come in tomorrow and the entire first presidency of the church and quorum of the 12 are all going to be here this entire week!!!!! and they are giving them free range to go anyone where in the MTC and will just be wandering the MTC the entire week i am kinda freaking out.. something really cool though is me and my roommates volunteered and were chosen to prepare the sacrement next sunday so good chance i will be able to meet some of them then.. i am really having a cool experience here.. i was thinking alot about you guys on fathers day and i miss you all a ton.. but it has been super cool everytime i open the scriptures here it opens to the excact scripture i needed to hear. I have run into some of my buddies since i have been here coolest one though was i ran into ryan Snow a couple times i know you guys have never met him but he was in the elders quorum with me up in utah.. the spirit here in the MTC is amazing, i have probably never prayed this much in my life and and it is awesome i cant even tell you how much the spirit has been here we had a fireside the other day and it was all about remembering.. they talked about remember your name on your badge how your family has sacraficed for you to be here and how they have made you the man you are and it is so true i owe everything for you guys and i am so thankful for it.. also it talked about the lords name being there and how we need to remember we are his representatives and how we need to remember everything he has done for us i love this church so so much and i know i am doing the right thing thing.. as it says in 2 nephi 33 dont remember the verse but it says "as the lord hath commanded me and i will obey amen.." i am glad i am doing that which the lord hath commanded me and i will be the best missionary i can.. i love you all and miss you all.. Your missionary Elder Alexander Leavitt

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Alex Arrives in Utah & at the MTC (Missionary Training Center)

Alex at the Salt Lake Temple

We left for Utah a few days before Alex was to report to the MTC (Missionary Training Center). This allowed us time to finish up a few things we needed to do for him and also allowed us to visit with our kids who are up there. I know Alex enjoyed those couple of days.

On Sunday we went to church with Alycia & Trevor and Alex & Sarah went to Marie's Stake Conference. They both commented on what a wonderful meeting it was. After church we headed back to the Sanchez home where Brandon, Serene and the girls are staying while he has his internship in Salt Lake City. We had some of our family for dinner - Fred's brother Greg, his wife Gaylia, their son Damon, Robert, Byron and his wife Shelly and their new baby Allan. It was great to see them. Marie was able to be there with us also :)

Monday we headed to Provo and finished up some of what we needed to do for Alex. We of course stopped and ate at the creamery and got our chocolate milk :) While we were there we were able to see two former missionaries that we were particularly close to while they served here. They married after their mission and just had a sweet baby boy. I also ran into one of the girls from my trek family :) That night we had an FHE (family home evening) barbeque. We invited family & friends. Some of the friends we invited used to live in Rosemary & area when we were there. We were happy that Marie was able to spend FHE with us. Fred picked up Aunt Nola and it is always wonderful to see her. Luetta (Baxter), her husband Doug and their girls came. It was so fun to have them there. Sadly none of our other Rosemary friends were able to make it. The Gallup's who live in the Sanchez's ward came over. Dan is from Cardston and Fred went to school with his sister. He is also related to Aunt Nola so that was fun for her to go over genealogy. They showed us their "Canada" basement. It was pretty neat. (They are also related to the Gallup's from Rosemary)

Tuesday we headed into Salt Lake. We went to the University first where Alex talked with an advisor about registering for classes before he gets home from his mission. From there we picked up Marie and we all headed to the Church Office building that Brandon works in. We ate lunch in the cafeteria. It was great! We had hoped to have a tour of where he works but we were to pressed for time. We were meeting Alex's friend Harrison Hinz at the Temple. Marie was a sweetheart and hung with Sarah while we were at the Temple. Sarah had a blast and they bought matching sunglasses :)

Marie & Sarah

It was a wonderful experience to go through the Salt Lake Temple with the boys. After the session was done I saw Alex hugging this lady in the Temple. It turns out it is Sis. Calder who is the wife of the counselor in his University Ward bishopric. Her husband is the counselor that worked closely with the Elder's Quorum presidency that Alex was in and he got to know them quite well. They also hosted many FHE's at their home. It was fun to meet her. Alex introduced her to me as his "Salt Lake Mom." What a treat for Alex to see her in the Temple. We were very happy to meet her.
Alex & Harrison

Alex & Brandon

After the Temple we quickly, and I mean quickly, went and saw an amazing model of the Salt Lake Temple that is in the South Visitor's center. You can see all the rooms inside etc. It was pretty amazing! I wish we had had more time but we had to go and pick up Marie & Sarah from the mall so that we could get to Alex's setting apart. We picked the girls up, drove Marie home, talked with her parents for a few minutes and said our good-bye's.

We then headed to the Stake President's home. We knew we were in the right area but couldn't find the final street to turn onto. Alex's Bishop lived on the main street and he had pointed it out to us. He told us to turn around and he would see if the gate to the Bishop's cul de sac was open. His plan was to go ask them how to get to the Stake President's home. Alex had just got to the gate when a car pulled up and guess who it was? It was his Bishop!! What are the odds?! He gave Alex a great big hug and then had us follow him over. He was not able to stay and gave his apologies. It was wonderful how throughout our day these people that Alex knew so well this school year kept showing up where we were to give him hugs and show their love & support.

We were able to visit with the Stake President for about 10 mins. while we waited for Alycia & Trevor to arrive. We found out that he was a former mission president. He gave Alex some counsel & advice that only someone who has been a mission president could do. What a blessing! It was also a blessing to have some of our children there to support Alex. Sarah, Brandon, Aylcia & Trevor were able to be there with us. The setting apart was amazing and the spirit was so strong. When it was over I had a wave of emotion sweep over me as the realization hit "He's now a missionary." I looked at him and you could see the change and the mantle that had been placed upon him. We are so proud of him and know that he will be an amazing missionary.

Alex & President Douglas Rees

Our Family at President Rees' home

The next morning we got up and started getting ready to go. We had time to go and get some lunch before dropping him off. Alex chose to eat at the Brick Oven. It was great as usual and it was fun to see other missionaries in there that were getting ready to leave just like Alex. They gave him a "companion dessert" bag to take to the MTC. There were some goodies for him & his companion. How cool was that? Why didn't we know this for our other two boys?

Lunch at the Brick Oven

We got to the MTC and parked across the street and then stood in line for our turn to take our pictures in front of the MTC sign. Then we walked back to the car and drove back to the MTC driveway. That's where they directed us to our spot on the curb where would unload his luggage and say our goodbyes. There were two Elder's there waiting for us. They helped with the luggage and said "Hello" to us and asked Alex where he was headed. I had heard a lot of complaints about the new "drop off" system and was quite curious as to what it would be like. I can honestly say that I liked it more than our other experiences. Our other experiences were wonderful but this one was much better in the fact that it was much more intimate, personal & private.

Elder Alexander Thomas Leavitt

They give you your space for your good bye, unlike the airport where you have the security people telling you you have to hurry and move your car. They allow you to take as little or as long as you want to say your good bye. Then one of the missionaries takes your missionary with luggage in tow and they start walking towards the front of the MTC. Then you leave.

There weren't hundreds of people around with a lot of crying, laughing and talking. It was just us. Our own little family having our own special private goodbye. I really did love it and prefer it over all the other experiences I've had. It was amazing and a little surreal. It's hard to believe he's gone. We are now anxiously awaiting that first letter.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Alex's Mission Farewell - Part 3

Our family outside the San Diego Temple after the session; Brandon, Kira, Sharley, Ben, Alex, Me, Alycia, Fred & Trevor

Monday was Memorial Day and we had two big events. The first thing we did that day was attend the Temple with Alex. This was his first time through and he chose to wait for all of his siblings to be here when they came for his farewell. As I sat in the Temple with 5 of our 6 children I was overcome with joy, love & gratefulness to my Heavenly Father for sending me such sweet spirits. My cup truly overfloweth. I know that someday in the future we will all be there with our "Sweet" Sarah. We were very blessed to have some dear friends and my cousin & her husband attend with us also. The support for Alex & our family has been amazing! We really missed having Serene & Justin with us but they were there in spirit. The Utah car had to leave immediately after the temple and Kira and Justin had to rearrange their schedules due to a conflict, but we were happy they all made it work and were willing to make the sacrifice to be there for Alex.

Kira & Alycia

Alex & Alycia - part of the "Blonde" family

After the Temple session we took some pictures outside and then we had a once and a lifetime opportunity of attending the setting apart of Alex as a Temple Ordinance worker. We had the privilege of being in the Temple President's office and Fred was able to assist. What an amazing opportunity to be in President Olson's presence and hear him speak with Alex and then bless him. He's an amazing man. He has a replica of a doorknob from the Salt Lake Temple on his desk. He has had some amazing experiences with his job in the church in regards to Temples etc. Fred could tell you all more about that since he works closely with him at the Temple.

Alex in an epic picture of the Temple with all of it's scaffolding. Imagine the stories he can tell his children someday about his first time through the San Diego Temple.

Kira posing while her brothers pose in the background. The Temple had several weddings cancel and move to other Temples because of the scaffolding.

Ben & Sharley's 2nd wedding anniversary was this day also.

After the Temple we headed home to change so that we could head over to our ward Memorial Day picnic at the park. Alex was anxious to get over there to see everyone. There is always great food and fun games. There is always a volleyball net set up and a soccer game going. There is a park for the kids to play in and they had bubbles and other fun things for the kids to do. We really enjoyed ourselves. I came home exhausted from the weekend. Kira, Sarah & Alex went thrift store shopping while Fred & I both napped on the couches.

I almost forgot to mention something that happened when we got home from the Temple. The night before I was too tired to clean up after the open house so I just left everything. When I walked in the door after being gone all morning I walked into not only two happy little boys that Sarah had been tending but my entire house cleaned, with the dishwasher going, the floors swept, the garbage emptied and......she had also cleaned the back yard and had got the hose out and was washing down all the chairs and tables. I was so overcome by it all I started crying. She really is so incredibly sweet and thoughtful.

Ben & Sharley visiting with Kira & Evan. Kira was glad they came to the picnic since she doesn't get to see them often because she lives in Canada.

Sarah & the Jafek boys: Alex, Sam & Timmy

Cassie & Landon. Landon loved the attention and Cassie was a great little babysitter.

Landon, Cassie, Alex, Sarah & Sam

Silly Evan with chocolate all over his face.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Alex's farewell - Part 2

Sunday was a big day! The first thing on the agenda was to pick Ben up from the airport. Alex looked sharp in his new gray suit and his tie that Marie gave him. He got a lot of compliments on how nice he looked and how well it all went together. Alex was not given a topic to speak on other than what he did to prepare for his mission. Sometimes that can be more difficult than had they given him a topic. They told him he was to speak for 15 mins. Alex prepared his talk with 6 bullet points. I believe it was his Bishop in Utah or it was some other leader that had encouraged him to try and speak without having a talk all written out. I was impressed that that's what he did. Alex ended up having 30 mins. instead of 15 and I was a little concerned if his 6 bullet points could stretch out that long. He did a great job!Carston Kooyman also spoke on Sunday. This was special for Alex because he loves their family and was excited to hear he would be speaking with him. Carston spoke on his mission and experiences he had that helped shape his testimony and who he is today. It was a great talk! If Alex got anything out of his talk I hope it was to keep his missionary journals. He will treasure those down the road just as Carston treasures his.

Kira arranged Alex's favorite hymn "If You Could Hie to Kolob," and performed it on oboe with Marie Riches accompanying her on piano. It was so beautiful!! So many people came up to me after and even the following week commenting on how much they loved it. This was a surprise for Alex. We were all quite emotional after listening to her play. I miss hearing her play on a regular basis.

Alex did an amazing job on his talk. He quoted Elder Ronald A. Rasband from a talk he gave this past conference on missionary work, "At this time in your life, a mission call from the Lord, my young friends, is the most important work that you can do. Prepare now, live righteously, learn from your family and Church leaders, and come join with us in building the kingdom of God on earth - accept your divine appointment in "so great a cause." 

He was quite emotional about his testimony, the opportunity to serve & his family. He shared with all of us his journey that has got him to this point. He talked about how it was really his senior year in high-school when he made a big shift in really preparing to serve a mission. He must have mentioned "how blessed" he has been ten times throughout his talk - maybe even more. He feels very blessed to have grown up in the ward he did and he thanked all of his amazing teachers he had growing up. He thanked the members of the ward for being the examples they were to him. He talked about learning not only from his teachers and the ward members but from his church leaders as well.

Alex referred to 3 scriptures during his talk. When he was speaking about living righteously and preparing for this stage of his life he read 1 Nephi 2:9. When he shared with us his testimony and how he gained his testimony he read D&C 89:11. He ended his talk & testimony by sharing D&C 15: 6.

Next to his testimony, excitement to serve and hearing how blessed he truly feels to have the life he has had the best part for me was the beautiful tribute he paid to his siblings. It was very apparent how much he loves each one of them and the impact they have had in his life. He even referred to his sisters as "beautiful daughters of God."I didn't really get to see everyone who was there but one surprise was to his elementary school teacher he had for 4th & 5th grade - Ms. Karen Bosco. It was so wonderful of her to be there to show her love & support. She came up to me afterward and said "No one told me I should bring Kleenex." She had never been to a missionary farewell before.

Alex & Ms. Bosco

That night we had an open house for Alex. It was so much fun to have people over. Kids were playing ping pong & blowing darts, adults were visiting, and there was a lot of yummy food to snack on. It was fun to see some of Alex's friends. Some of the ones who came he has known since elementary school. We had a great time visiting and are so grateful for wonderful family & wonderful friends who are always here to support our family.

We took too many pictures to post but here is a sampling of our day:

Nate, Alex, Evan & Brendan

Just a few of the people who came to hear Alex speak.

Kira & Mandy - Mandy is like another daughter to us :)

Evan with his "Future Missionary" tag.

Mark, Frank, Alex, Bree, Brittany, Christina

Thomas, Afton & Vicky

Elle, Olivia, Hannah, Alex & Abbie

Alex, Brandon, Ben & Trevor playing video games after everyone had left.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Alex's Farewell - Part 1

Alex's farewell was the May long weekend (Memorial Day Weekend). It was great to have family & friends here to celebrate. Kira, Evan & Landon arrived Monday evening - they came from Florida where they had been on a family vacation. Alycia, Trevor & Brandon arrived Friday afternoon. Ben arrived Sunday morning & Sharley later that evening. We missed Justin & Serene & the girls but we understood they couldn't be here. Serene & the girls made a special trip to see Alex before he left. Distance didn't really allow Justin to do that.

Friday after the Utah car arrived the boys all went to the beach. They came home that night and played games as usual. Saturday morning was spent preparing for the open house on Sunday. Then that afternoon we went to the Mormon Battalion visitor's center. It was just reopened in January after being closed for major renovations (about 3 yrs.) It is amazing!!!! If you haven't been or will be visiting San Diego you really need to go. It's very interactive, fascinating & fun! From there we headed to the Old Town Mexican Cafe for dinner. It was fun to all be together.

Kira, Evan & Landon & the covered wagon
Alycia & Brandon at Fort Leavenworth

When we got on the trail Evan wanted to roast marshmallows and announced "We're camping!"

Brandon demonstrating how he washed his clothes by hand his entire mission.

Landon LOVED the water and wanted to get in the wash tub!

Alex scouting out San Diego from the tower.

Evan playing with the brick by the kiln.

Alex & Trevor panning for gold.

Sarah told us that Alex J was good at juggling. He showed us that indeed he is.

Uncko Awex & Evan

Old Town Mexican Cafe