Monday, September 27, 2010

Alex's 6th email from Chile 9/27/10

Samuel, Elder Leavitt & Sweet Old Man from the ward
(that's how Alex referred to him in an email. I'll try and get his name:)

Hola Familia!

Hey first off Mom I was wondering if you could do me a favor. Could you send me Gladiator and Braveheart soundtracks if at all possible if not that's fine and make sure to send a jump rope. I feel like I am asking for a lot so if I am just ignore it haha. (Alex is asking for the classical soundtracks of those movies for workout music. When Ben was on his mission I sent him a jump rope for exercise for a good cardio workout. Not every companion likes to run)

So AMAZING week. I have so much that happened I hope I can remember it all. Well I am pumped. Our baptism with Samuel went through! I am so blessed to have a baptism within my first change. I attached the photos I took. Hope you don't mind I am just so excited and even more driven now to work hard. So my whole life for some reason kids just kinda are drawn to me. It is insane. I don't know why? Maybe they see me as one of them but I have always been ok with it because I have fun with them and that has not changed here in Chile not at all. All the kids in the ward are always wanting me to play with them haha and for some reason I always somehow get drawn into playing with them. I can't help myself. I never thought it was a bad thing but never did I think it would actually benefit my job as a missionary. I was worried about new investigators because it has been hard trying to find them and we have not been real successful in finding. But I think we have some promising looking people. We had a part member family randomly show up to church Sunday and I hit it off with their 6 year old son. He loves me so hopefully that will help somehow. It was funny, I don't know why I do this, but when a kid is sitting in front of me during sacrament meeting I love messing with them. Usually they love it and apparently this kid did too. It was awesome, after sacrament meeting he jumps off his bench and just comes running over to me so I talked with him all the usual stuff, walked him back over to his family, and got to know them. It was just an awesome experience. We are going to try and go over sometime this week.

Elder Leavitt, Samuel, Sweet Old Man & Elder You

I also had another first this past week. I had my first earthquake! It was legit. It only lasted like 5 seconds but things were moving and it was awesome. It was during a zone meeting with President King so I was not too worried about dying thinking the Lord would protect his Mission President. Best part of this is that the earthquake hit right when President King held up his book of Mormon to emphasize a point.

On Friday I went on divisions with Elder Coria. He is from Argentina and it was the first time I was with a native Elder by myself. Not gonna lie I was a little worried about it but surprisingly it went way well! He knew a little English so that helped but overall I did way good at just communicating in Spanish. I had a blast. I would love to be companions with him at some point in the mission. We got a lot done. I anointed in a blessing of an inactive member they have been working with (in Spanish might I add). Then when we had finished all our visits we were walking and some flaites started yelling at us. Now Flaites are the only people missionaries have to worry about. They are the gangster guys haha. Now me being bigger, I am not too worried about it and for the most part they have yet to mess with me. They just yell swear words and what not usually. But this group started challenging us to play soccer. We had 3 youth with us from Elder Coria´s ward and that's why I think they were challenging us because they had like 6. So if anyone knows anything about me I was pumped and ready to go. I was the first one to say yes haha. We DOMINATED the flaites it was like 8-3. And I especially kicked trash. The Flaites play with no rules so they were pushing and shoving and so I played the same. I took out this one kid so hard it was ridiculous. The youth now call me "King of the Flaites" it was awesome. Best part of it was the Flaites like me now at least in El Sauce Elder Coria´s sector. Over all it was awesome.

I just had an amazing week and feel so amazingly blessed. It is crazy to think I have been out here in Chile almost as long as the time I had in the MTC. It is crazier to think I have a baptism. As far as Spanish is coming I am able to now read out of the Book of Mormon and basically know what is going on. It is awesome. Of course I am still reading both English and Spanish while studying but I think I will do that for a very long time. Funny story, I am now in 2 Nephi 30. I started over again to start it in Spanish. A couple nights ago I had a dream that I was explaining the Isaiah chapters to mom. If I was not a missionary before I am now if you are dreaming about the scriptures. It was just so random. Especially the Isaiah part cause I still don't fully understand what is going on there but somehow I was explaining them to mom. But AHH I am just so pumped and excited to be a missionary. I am so happy it is ridiculous and I love it. Hopefully next week can be as good as this week. Love you all and talk to you next week.

Love, Elder Leavitt

P.S. in response to dad I forgot to add this in my original letter, Yes the toilets flush the opposite way haha and all missionaries listen to general conference in their native language that is given to us by the prophet himself. I am assuming they don't want us missing anything. Also you should send me everyone's rosters in fantasy so I can see why Brandon is doing so well haha cause that doesnt seem right.

Elder Leavitt & Samuel

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Alex's 5th letter from Chile 9/21/10

Elder Leavitt & Elder You
with some youth from the ward dressed to dance the Cueca
(The youth danced the Cueca not the Elders. Although
I'm sure Alex would have loved to dance :)

Hey Everyone!

This week was insane. Literally everyone was partying all week. But before I get into that I will start at the beginning. On Wednesday we had exchanges. I was with elder Crockett who is from Utah and we were in El Manzano. It was awesome. We had a couple of appointments and most of them fell through so we were walking on our way to another when elder Crockett randomly just knocked a house. This 16 year old looking kid came out we talked to him and he was way receptive. We went in blessed the house and set up an appointment. So I helped him and his comp have a new investigator it was just cool to see him so in tune with the spirit to randomly knock a house. We then had an appointment with a kid named Diego and he is awesome. I talked so much in the appointment compared to usual and the family couldn't believe I had been in Chile for only a month. It was way neat. Overall way awesome day.

Then the partying started. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday we were not able to do like anything! It was like a 5 day weekend/holiday in Chile. Like on Friday we had a ward activity it went from 12 to 9! It was sooo much fun. So me and elder You started out by making some empanadas with some of the members, sang the national anthem ate a ton of food! Chileans love their meat. I had so much steak this weekend it is ridiculous. I tried to fly a Chilean kite, raced in a sack race and I got second place by the way haha. Played the equivalent of Chilean horseshoes and watched a lot of Cueca which is the native dance of Chile. They hired a professional Cueca dance group to come but also the youth in the ward did it too. Then to end the day I dominated some Chileans in basketball haha. They wanted to see if I actually knew how to play haha. Saturday we had a lunch appointment with the Cortez family turns out it was like a family barbeque so that was a way fun as well. After that we went to some recent converts house and ate even more food and they taught me how to trompo or also known as using one of the string top things. I actually got pretty good at it.

Elder Leavitt & Elder You making empanadas

Yummy! The final product

Sunday for me though was the best day. Samuel came to church and passed his baptismal interview so he is gonna be baptized this Sunday and he asked this sweet old man in the ward to baptize him. This man every time he sees Samuel gives him a hug and asks him about his week and how he is doing so I am pumped. Overall this week was a blast but I am also ready to get back to some real work haha.

Elder You´s name you pronounce as if you are saying "hey you there!" haha and he has one younger brother. I am pretty positive I will always have an hermana that washes our clothes unless the building we are living in has a washer in it which Elder you says there are some. I know I am super lucky. Basically we buy the detergent and then she washes them so no we don't actually pay her. On P-days we play soccer every week with our zone so we get together as a zone every week for the most part. Like I said this week was pretty slow so no we didn't find anyone new this week. Yes I am completely healthy now so no worries. I am gonna send a couple emails with pictures and what not cause I took a ton haha.

As for the spotlight I would think you could share some of my other stories I have shared with you. Talk about Chile and how amazing it is and that I know this is such an amazing work. That I am working hard learning and progressing. I don't know what to say haha. Well I love you all hope you enjoy the pictures and will talk to you next week.

Elder Leavitt

p.s. I saw my first rincon spider, these things are all over Chile and will kill you if you get bitten and don't receive an injection quickly enough

Kids from the ward dancing the Cueca

Elder Leavitt & Elder You at the Cortez Family Barbeque

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy 200th Birthday Chile!!

Picture courtesy Bicentenario Chile

September 18, 2010 is Chile’s Bicentennial. On this date in 1810, the fledgling Chilean government formed up to begin its long road to independence. Chile would have to fight for several more years to win its independence from Spain. In fact, Chile officially declared its independence on February 12, 1818.
2010 has been a very tough year for Chile. On February 27th, a massive 8.8 earthquake struck near Concepción, Chile, that with the accompanying tsunami killed several hundred people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
The Chileans rallied to help their fellow countrymen and the spirit of solidarity and patriotism was palatable in the air.
This year, Chile celebrates its birthday with a grateful heart for a recovery and a hope for a brighter future.
So have an asado, enjoy some empanadas, and celebrate!
¡Viva Chile!

What do you think? Have a question? Share your thoughts by commenting on the blog.

Best Regards,

P.S. Are you going to Chile? Avoid culture shock by reading my Gringo's Culture Guide to Chile.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Alex's Fourth Letter from Chile

Hola Familia!

So I guess all good comes with its opposition right? Or at least that is what I am suppose to teach people and it is amazingly true! So Samuel came to our appointment on Tuesday! We taught him about the word of wisdom, oh he hasn't come to church because, one his alarm didn't go off the first time, and the second time he went to our chapel instead of the stake center for conference. But he came to Tuesday so I am happy. We committed him and he said he would do anything for God and said he would live the word of wisdom. Also we rescheduled his baptismal date for the 25th of September.

Then on Thursday I started feeling like I was starting to get a sore throat and a headache so I drank a ton of water and took some drugs. Friday I woke up with probably the worst headache I have had since my incident freshman year. I got out of bed and couldn't walk straight, my vision was blurred and I was so dizzy. It was terrible. I asked Elder You for a blessing which he gave me and I then felt like I was good to go to our lunch appt. I had such a sore throat it felt like it was on fire just from the air outside. We got there and I had like zero appetite to eat lunch, but since they take their food very seriously down here I forced myself to eat and then I started feeling terrible again. The hermana noticed I was starting to space, put her hand on my face, told me I was burning up and had a fever and had Elder You take me home. On the way home we got a call that our clothes were done being washed. Luckily the hermanas house is right on the way back to our place so we stopped there picked them up when she asked if we could give her daughter a blessing because she broke her knee or something. Don't really know I just heard the word knee and it was all wrapped up. So just like 1 or 2 hours earlier I just received a blessing and then helped give one. (Just a little side note, blessings are gonna kill me here everyone here has a minimum of 4 names if not more! It is so hard to remember their names) So when we finished we continued on our way home almost having my throat catch fire again where I just crashed for the rest of the day it was terrible. The next day we really didn't get much done again. We had lunch knocked doors for a little then went back to the pension because of the rioting. I was ok with it because although I no longer had a headache my throat still hurt. But I guess out here on September 11th they really enjoy cutting the power lines so in parts of Malloco there was no power. Luckily we never lost ours. Also in some of the worse parts of town they had bonfires in the street. I could see one from the back window but from what I heard there was like 3 or 4. Overall it was a fun night. We ate lots of food and played a lot of checkers and chess haha.

Sunday was awesome! but also had a little downside. Samuel came to church! I was pumped. Also I no longer had a sore throat and only had a runny nose haha. Also an 8 year old had a baptism in our ward it was awesome and guess who came to the service? Samuel! I had even forgotten we invited him to come, but it was really neat he remembered and I know it was a good experience for him. The family was even good enough to invite him to the party afterwards which he went to. The little bit of the downside of the day was at lunch. At the Dinosos we were eating and now usually I don't talk in English just to talk in English. I try to understand and respond in Spanish but when I don't know what they said and can't figure it out I ask Elder You to translate so I can answer. Or if there had been a conversation for a while I ask him to give me an idea of what just happened. So I asked him what just happened and there eldest son who doesn't live there, is married, and was just over for family dinner starts flippin out. I was sooo confused. He kept saying "DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH IN THIS HOUSE! I lived in the States for a year I know what you said!" and went on and on. Elder You was defending me and us and was like "if you know English you wouldn't be upset" and it was crazy. Even his brother told him to calm down and it's like everyone tells me not to speak English and I understand what they mean. Like I need to speak Spanish, but if I honestly have no idea what they say or don't know a word I will ask my companion and then continue in Spanish. The people here just assume I should know it already but heck, I know people living in the States for like 8 years who still don't know English so I am happy with how I am progressing, and I am progressing. I have noticed it and other people have noticed it. But holy heck it was insane so we just ate very quickly didn't talk for the rest of the meal and left as soon as possible.

Ok to answer your very few questions, I noticed, the emailing building is literally a 5 min walk down the street of where we live which is very convenient. The owner knows us very well now and likes us alot. We didn't find anyone new this week to teach but I am just stoked Samuel reappeared. So just a few random funny things things week. So we were at lunch with this family and they have like a 12 year old daughter and she is way into music and I was like "I know the coolest song ever! look up Alex Leavitt- alive." (that is my music video if you forgot) (click here to check out the video) Well now I am famous. The family thought it was hilarious and sent it to everyone in the ward! For like the last week I have gotten "I saw you on YouTube! haha I think it is kinda funny." Also on Tuesday I got my first letters! I am pumped! Another funny comment I have gotten was that this girl just randomly said at one of our lunch appointments that she thinks I look like Ken Barbie. Personally I don't see it but her and her mom totally agree. I dont know if it is because I am white or what but ya they do. Elder You couldn't stop laughing after that one. Also I bought me a fatty Chilean Flag for the 18th! Which I am pretty sure I said already is Independence Day down here. So now we are reppin it in our window at the house. Our neighbor thanked us for putting his countries flag up and he respects that, so hey go us haha.

Well and today is Monday my p-day and speaking of which I already told you this whole next week I'd basically gonna be a huge party because it's their 200 year mark. So besides everyone getting this week off they are giving them next Monday as day off to recover so all the businesses will be closed. So next Tuesday is my p-day so no email next Monday. Today was fun. Our zone went to our neighboring zone and played on a professional teams big practice soccer turf field! Not gonna lie it was legit and we killed them like 7-2. So Peñaflor is basically the best zone. Ok besides that and it rained like 2 days last week. I think I am out of stuff to talk about. Ok I love you guys and I will talk to you next week.


Elder Leavitt

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What a Coincidence!!!!

Alycia has a brother-in-law named Derrick. Derrick and Alex are about 6 months apart in age. Derrick received his mission call to the Chile Rancaugua Mission the same week as Alycia & Trevor's wedding. He has been in Chile since February. Imagine our surprise when Alex was called to serve in Chile also although a different mission. We thought that would be the last of the coincidences until this.........

Elder Crowley & Elder Leavitt

Do you remember when Alex talked about Elder Scott coming to the speak and that they combined two missions to listen to him? Well.....they combined Alex & Derrick's missions. Crazy eh?!! The odds of these two ever seeing each other in Chile while serving in different missions is next to nil. What a fun surprise for them and our families. I'm a little bias but I think it's a great picture of both of them :)

I received a little email from Sister King the other day in response to an email I had sent her. I had shared with her what Alex had written home about her and President King and their recent Stake conference they attended. Here's what she had to say:

Dear Sister Leavitt,

It is always so fun to get an email from you. Yes we did speak at Stake Conference I did it in Spanish and was so nervous but I did it! Elder Leavitt is getting it slowly slowly but it will come he is so cute and happy all the time I just love him. This Chilean Spanish is something. Elder You is so sweet he has only been a member 4 years this month he was so proud of his anniversary this month of his baptism. He is a great missionary and wants to please the Lord.
Yes he will be going home in November it makes us sad we will miss Elder You. His Mother lives in San Mateo, Ca. and this is her email. We do not have his fathers information but neither one of them are members. I know any Mother loves to hear good things about her son. Good luck with that and thank you for sharing,

Hermana King

Elder Leavitt took this picture of us at Stake conference I just wish he would of been in it.

President & Sister King & their daughter at Stake Conference

Monday, September 6, 2010

Alex's Third Letter from Chile

Hey Everyone!

Ok so to answer your many questions, no your letters are not too long. heidiyou@, warrenyou7@ those are Elder You's parents emails if you want to write them. Speaking of how awesome Elder You is he gave me a Colo-Colo jersey which is my soccer team down here. It was way nice of him. He goes home in November so that will be sad. My zone leaders are Elder Rawlins and Elder Sornoza and Elder You is the district leader. My greenie meeting was good we had a ton of pizza. The only thing that could have made it better is if it were in English it is a flippin greenie meeting and it was all in Spanish which seems really dumb to me.

So far here in the mission I have been keeping a tally of things that have happened to me. I have kicked 1 dog in the face, have hit 3 dogs with rocks, been kissed by 1 drunk guy, have had a very long handshake with 2 drunk guys, been offered beer by 1 drunk guy, I have seen 1 drunk guy peeing on the side of a building and then another drunk guy sang me a song in English or attempted to. Also this week not a single person was home when they said we could come by. Samuel has gone missing. He has missed the last 2 Sundays, didn't show up to our appt. at the chapel and he doesn't have a cell phone for us to call and we cant go by his house because his parents don't like us. So it has been frustrating but luckily I can say me and Elder You have done all we can and just hope he realizes that he needs the gospel in his life. He has told us he knows it is true and wants to be baptizedso I don't know what is happening. The pastor was not home when our appt. was setup for and we have yet to be able to get in touch with the Mexican family.

Stake conference was good Hermana King spoke at the adult session on Saturday and President King spoke at the actual conference. We didn't go to the adult session so I didn't hear her talk but she did get up and bore a short testimony on Sunday she did very well. Llittle miracle to note, I really didn't understand much of the conference but President Kings talk I understood the entire thing. It was sooo neat! I don't know why but I did and it was cool. Also I am starting to understand the scriptures in Spanish when I am reading them a whole lot more now. I still am reading super slow but I am getting it. Overall I am starting to understand a whole lot more.

We recieve our mail once a week on Wednesdays from the office elders who drive around dropping it off. On p-days I usually wake up, do my push ups and sit ups, study, take a colectivo to the via la foresta chaple and play soccer. Then we come back to Malloco, I shower change into church clothes go to the store buy groceries drop them off at the pension, then go to the emailing building and email you guys. Then we get to work. We are in the Peñaflor area and my sector is malloco all the Peñaflor stake.

Now that I answered your questions I can now share some cool stories. First, I have met two returned missionaries who served under President Northcutt small world eh? (President Northcutt was our Stake President before he was called to be a Mission President in Argentina) They both loved him by the way. Two I know why I am was sent to Chile. All over the place there are cemented in ping pong tables with permanent metal nets haha. One day we were walking and this family was playing on one and I talked Elder You into coming with me so I could challenge them. I beat everyone there haha and we got their address and will come by at some point and try to teach them. It was way cool. On our way back to our pension there are these kids that are always there. The kids here call everyone older than them uncle or tio, so we walk back and they are always "tio! tio!" wanting us to play with them. One day we jumped rope with them and another we played soccer with them. When we were playing soccer it was 5 little kids versus us 2 missionaries. We had such a huge group of parents watching us play with their little kids. I think it was a good thing because now everyone talks to us a whole lot more and I think they now think we are regular people just like them.

Here in Chile there are some big holidays coming up. One is this Saturday not really a holiday but on Sept. 11 a long time ago some college students were killed protesting. Now every Sept. 11 everyone just starts rioting. We are not allowed to leave our pensions that day. The other is Sept. 18 Chile's independence day. It's their 200 year anniversary and it is gonna be 4 days of celebrating. I am flippin pumped. Basically every family in the ward wants us to come celebrate with them.

Last story was yesterday at our lunch appt. with the Dinoso's. We had just finished eating when their son came in drunk. They have 10 kids who are all active except their 20 year old son. He is a very funny drunk and was saying all this ridiculous stuff. I felt so bad for Hermana Dinoso she was so embarrassed and looked like she was on the verge of tears and left. After awhile they asked me for a spiritual thought. Don't ask me why you ask the guy who has been in Chile for 3 weeks and still doesn't know Spanish but I did it anyway. I shared my favorite scripture Deuteronomy 20 3-4 all about how Christ is with his people strengthens them and will save them from their enemies. I shared how that scripture has helped me through so many hard moments in my life and how through the scriptures and our faith in Jesus Christ we can get through anything. Surprisingly they all understood me including the drunk one. Hermano Dinoso bore such a strong testimony to his son. It was really powerful. Unfortunately I really think he needs to do that when his son is not drunk. He wants us to have something prepared for his son on Sundays now. Mainly he wants us to bear our testimony to him and start teaching him. You can really tell they love and are worried for their sons well being. They thanked me for my testimony and scripture it was really neat.

I am so thankful for my family. There is such strength in a unified and eternal family. I have seen that more here in Chile than anywhere else. When your whole family has the exact same goal in life it is so cool. Everyone is willing to help and build each other up. That is why God has given us families for that exact purpose. That is why the family is such a strong motivator for people to join the church. If you meet anyone, anyone in the world whose family is not active or not members they would literally do anything give anything to have a sealed family that can last for eternity. I love my family and everything they have done for me and for helping me be who I am today.

I love you guys and will talk to you next week,

Elder Leavitt

hey p.s. you have yet to send me everyone's birthdays. Say happy birthday to Kira for me love ya Elder Leavitt

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A few thoughts & Pictures from the MTC

Alex sent home a box from the MTC. In that box were a bunch of pictures, his basketball shoes, a few other little things. Alex can come across as a tough, strong athletic guy. For those of us who know him well there is a very soft & tender side to him. He's not afraid to show emotion although at times he will try hard to hide it. Alex is also sentimental although he will try to be tough and not show that at times either :) Growing up Alex was always good to the kids who struggled. He's always been someone a coach or friend could count on.

In the box Alex sent home two missionary name tags. He sent one of his that was broken and another one that said Elder Leavitt and was in English. In his letter he explained it was his Grandpa's missionary tag and he had taken it to the MTC but didn't want to lose it in Chile. I had no idea he had taken that with him. Fred told me that Alex had asked him if he could take it with him and he told him he could. Alex was very young when his Grandpa Leavitt passed away and doesn't really have a lot of memories of him. He does look to his example from stories he's heard and also knowing of the two missions he served. I never really realized how much until now when he took that name tag with him. I also think that in some small way this was also a connection for Alex to have with his Grandpa Leavitt. I know his Grandpa Leavitt is proud of him and watching out for him.

Alex took two other things with him on his mission and I wish I had pictures of them but sadly I don't. I didn't know he had done this either until recently. He took one of Fred's ties he wore on his mission and he took one of the ties his Grandpa Shaw gave him. Alex has always looked up to his Dad and his example and I know that he feels he has a little bit of his Dad & his Dad's mission experience with him now in Chile as he wears that tie. Alex loves his Grandpa Shaw and looks up to him also for the many qualities and talents he has. He now has a piece of his Grandpa Shaw in Chile with him also and will feel his presence and support as he wears that tie. I was so touched that Alex would think to do that. I hope we will get pictures of him in those ties. All three of these men have been wonderful examples to Alex growing up.

Enjoy the pictures he sent from the MTC :)

Alex wrote on the back of this picture saying that the sign is no longer there. They are now making a new entrance to the MTC.

Alex was excited when the Provo Temple re-opened and he was able to go a few times before leaving the MTC.

Elder Nielson, Elder Martindale & Elder Leavitt

Alex's room in the MTC

Alex's District
Elder Nielson, Elder Leavitt, Elder Adair, Elder Braddy, Elder Moody, Elder Bown, Elder Higgs, Elder Burkhart, Elder Cononica, Elder Watson

Their service project - setting up chairs twice a week for devotionals & special meetings. It was because it was twice a week that Alex was able to email home from the MTC twice a week. Something I'd never heard of before. He was very lucky!!!

Elder Leavitt & Elder Nielson biking
(Alex's mission is a walking mission so this is the only 'biking' picture he will have)

Alex writes "We had a district slumber party."

Elder Plewe. We dated McConkie cousins together.
(it's too bad that Alex didn't get a picture of him and Ryan Snow together. Ryan dated a McConkie cousin as well. Alex & Ryan saw each other briefly once. Alex & Ryan are great friends. They were in the same ward together and served in the Elder's Quorum together)

Elder Leavitt & Elder Stapley
both from the Penasquitos Stake in San Diego, CA

This is gross and I didn't want to include it but Fred did. Here's what Alex wrote,
"I shaved my initials into Elder Nielson's back."

Hermana Murry and Olsen with Elder Leavitt

Trust Alex! Here's what he wrote:
"Funny story, this zone was taking pictures and me and Elder Adair decided
to sneak into their pictures."

The District pointing to where they are going:
Elder Adair, Braddy, Leavitt, Moody, Bown, Nielson, Higgs, Burkhart, Cononcia & Watson