Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alex's 15th email from Chile 11/29/10

Elder Leavitt & Elder Pedraza
(I can't tell you who the family is because it came from Alex's companion who posted it on facebook. He tagged Alex in it and I copied and saved the image.)

Hola familia!

This was a hard week for me. Alex asked me not to share the rest of what he wrote except with family and close friends. I just wanted you to know that he had a hard week and is struggling a bit and could you use some prayers in his behalf. Thank you in advance for your thoughts and prayers.

So I will give you a rundown of me week now that I am done talking about that. So Monday my companion almost died. Well not really, but while we were shopping he stops, has a blank stare, kinda wobbles a little, leans up against the wall, puts his hand to his nose and there is blood. He just said he is fine and nothing has happened since weird.

Mario told me he will be baptized before I have changes if by that week I can have a fluent conversation with him. I said "yes!" and I am studying my butt off so this can happen.

So I dont know if I told you this but everyone here in Chile kisses each other on the cheek when they are saying Hi or goodbye. Well I have gone my whole time here in Chile without some close calls but I have been good. Well somehow this week I got kissed twice! Once by a sweet grandmother so it's not that bad and the other one by the daughter of a member! It caught me so off gaurd that is how it happened. I just wasnt expecting it. Elder Pedraza got peed on by a puppy just all over. It was hilarious. He was holding it when it happened. Our investigators are doing amazing we had 9 show up to church on Sunday.

So apparently there is a married couple serving in the temple here named Leavitt from Utah - weird. Also I am close to done with my journal but have that other one that you accidently bought me is that one fine?

Yes we are having a party on the 24 or 23 can't remember. Just sucks cause I will probably have transfers a couple days before Christmas. We find out tonight if 2 of our investigators with baptismal dates divorces went through. We only have one for sure baptism on the 12th - Carlos, and are inviting 2 more investigators tonight to be baptized. I am stoked.

Well I love you will talk to you later bye!


Elder Leavitt

Monday, November 22, 2010

Alex's 14th email from Chile 11/22/2010

The first glimpses of Alex's room in Malloco

Hola Family!

So once again I have had a crazy week and worked a lot and I am so tired. Also today during soccer and I rolled my ankle. It isn't that bad but enough that it is a little annoying to walk, yes it is my bad ankle too but its all good no worries. But ya once again it has been a crazy week.

First I watched a dog eat a chicken! It was pretty intense. Hey did I tell you guys about how a couple weeks ago a pack of 7 dogs killed and ate a 48 yr mother and her 20 yr old daughter? That dogs here are crazy! Tuesday our mission was given a goal that each zone for the month of November will have 1200 contacts, that is mas o menos 10 contacts a day per companionship. Honestly, I don't know how Elder Pedraza and I are gonna be able to do it. We honestly are running from cita to cita and are usually late to them because we have so many. Partly why I am so tired all the time.

Our investigators are progressing so well and this last week we have another investigator with a baptismal date for the 12th of December so that is 3 baptisms for the same day. I am pumped. His name is Carlos. He is 16 and golden all he wants is to be baptized. He has come to church twice now once on his own without us even meeting him. He has two horses. Sarah would be jealous cause I can go over and mess with them whenever I want. I will try to take pictures with them at some point.

Elder Leavitt & Carlo's

Carolina and Geussep are doing amazing. I am pretty sure I have told you about them before but they read everything. They are the ones where we found them gave them pamphlets and they read the whole thing. When we came back well that same cita we gave them Book of Mormons. When we came back they had read the intro and the testimonies. I was shocked. They both want baptism but she knows she can't because she is co living. I am praying for a miracle.

The family Gonzales is doing great. Patricia somehow has been hiding from us the fact that she smokes like once in a while so we took her cigarettes. I kept one, took it apart, and taped it in my journal haha. Same day we were confronted with a drunk. Nothing new, it happens alot but as we talked with him a little we almost got him to give us cigarettes too haha.

Sunday was amazing! we had 7 of our 13 new investigators come to church! We are teaching this family. They are the Garcia's. In their house they have like 12 people living there and we are teaching about half of them and got 5 of them to come to church. The kids loved it. There is Nikita (9) Fernando (8) their mom Carolina (27) her mom Nancy ( no se) her son Aros (11) and Jimmy (14) and Genesis (21). Obviously they all didn't come to church but those are the ones we are teaching. But it was awesome. After sacrament meeting we gave them a tour of the chapel explained how everything works then we went to the last half hour of class. We expected them to leave but after that but they stayed for the whole 3 hours it was awesome and they all enjoyed it. For lunch a family had Elder Pedraza make tacos I was stoked.

To answer your questions; yes we taught the Gonzalez's again. We try to at least stop by everyday to make sure they are doing good. We have not gone out to where Elder You went but Carlos lives a 40 min walk in the other direction so I am sure that counts too haha he is awesome sucks he lives so far away. Tell Ben that I have not had guinea pig. I wish but I don't even think they have that here or at least I have not heard or seen it. Same with lamas! They don't have those here either. Book of Mormon reading is coming but slowly. I have to catch up at some point but have like no time.

This is Alex's response to my asking him to share what he is thankful for our Thanksgiving dinner.
Just share that I love them. Am thankful for all of their examples for me that I am thinking about them, praying for them, and wish them all a Happy Thanksgiving!

So I don't know if I told you but here in Chile when people greet each other they always give a kiss on the cheek. Now us as missionaries, we are not allowed to do the kiss on the cheek and it rarely happens when people try to kiss on the cheek cause usually we don't put ourselves in that situation but twice now I have people come in to kiss me and it is always an awkward situation haha.

Well I got to go so I love you all and wish you all the best. I will talk to you next week.

Elder Alex Leavitt

p.s. hey I know it is sucky since you have sent packages already but my walk man broke :( I don't know if you want me to find one here or if you want to send one let me know if you send one. Don't worry and rush it solo. I can wait. Just send it whenever you have stuff to send.

p.p.s My favorite Christmas memories have to be when we are all older and still sleep in that stupid room together. I know we all put up fights and it is usually Sarah who wants to do it but really they are awesome. How a bunch of older 20 to like 16 year olds still rush to get downstairs first and see their Santa presents. It's stupid ridiculous but that's why i love it. I also just love the overall craziness when everyone is home.

Elder Leavitt & Elder Pedraza
(it's summer, look how blonde Alex's hair is getting in these pictures)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Alex's 13th email from Chile 11/15/10

Hola familia,

So I had a ton of changes and a ton of firsts this week. As I am sure you are all wondering my new companions name is Elder Pedraza. He is from Mexico of all places Monterrey to be exact. He is a stud and a work horse. Honestly we have been working so hard and so much and it is showing. Our numbers this week were amazing. We have 13 new investigators and two investigators with baptismal dates. A Hermana and her son. The coolest part of it is that when they get baptized it will complete the family.

But I want to rewind a bit and tell you all the story. So the families name is Gonzales. The dad is an inactive member who was married before and is now living with Patricia. They are not married and have three sons Yaer(18), Pablo Ignacio(12) and Gabriel(4). Pablo was baptized earlier this year but the Hermana has been wanting to be baptized for 12 years now. But they needed the divorce to go through. Finally it will most likely go through the first week of December so we decided to commit her to be baptized the 12 of December because a lot of times if you don't have a goal nothing will happen. Yaer has such a strong knowledge of the Book of Mormon he says it is true but is so scientific he has doubts about the smallest things. So we asked him to pray on Friday if baptism is what he needs but he went to bed at like 1 and admitted to us that he was falling asleep during the prayer. So the next day Saturday we committed him again. Sunday he said he didn't feel anything so we read scriptures. The spirit was strong asked him to go into his room and pray right then and there cause everyone could feel the spirit in the room. While he was in there Elder Pedraza and I sang hymns. Haha kinda weird but in reality it helped the spirit. He came out and again said he felt nothing. Then his dad who is one of the those big macho men who really don't show emotion at all bore one of the most powerful testimonies I have heard. It was amazing. Best part was near the end when he was bearing his testimony of the Book of Mormon and the power he feels when he reads he started to cry. Oh, I can't even describe the power in that testimony. Then my comp bore his testimony equally powerful about how we don't need to have a perfect knowledge before we do things and we need to rely on faith and the inadequacies he felt before his mission. Then he finished, looked at me and I bore testimony of the strength of families and their role in the plan of salvation. How having the knowledge of having an eternal family is such an amazing blessing in my life and how I know all of this is possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ and how personal it is for all of us. When I finished I asked him to look at his family. I asked him if in one year he could picture him and his family all in white at the temple. Him mom started to nod her head and started crying. He nodded his head too. I then went on to tell him how special and lucky he is for having a mother and a father who love him so much and want to be with him forever. I told him everyone talks about how beautiful the temples are, members and non members. How both of them who have been in the temples or have seen pictures will say the inside is even more beautiful than the outside. Then I told him that in reality the covenants we make inside are 10xs more beautiful than both and one of those are eternal families. After I finished my comp and I asked him how he was feeling and he told us he had a strong impression and feeling in his chest. Elder Pedraza asked him if he knew what it was. He nodded his head and said the Holy Ghost. Elder Pedraza then asked if he will be baptized the same day as his mother. When Yaer nodded his head I just felt something hit me in the chest. It was such an amazing and spiritual moment for me. I can honestly say I have not felt the spirit that strong since I went through the temple for myself almost 7 months ago. Just an amazing moment.

Ok well I need to hurry and write about the rest of my week. Like I said we have been working a ton and another first I had was I blessed my first home! It was crazy. I was scared out of my mind but I did it. It was really cool to do.

My Spanish is sooo much better like a ton. I pretty much understand everything. I am just slow to respond cause I am still translating everything in my head and I am talking a ton more too. So I am really happy where I am at and glad it is all starting to come faster too. It's funny cause as I am typing this and I am thinking of what I want to say certain words I am starting to think in Spanish and have to correct myself.

To answer your questions, Threesomes were better. Still got ignored a little but not as much. It was easier cause it was pday and I could just sleep or something. But it was one Latino and one American. Ya, I have met Elder Kenison. I know his face have not really talked to him. To be honest I have only seen him a couple times. Transfers are in Maipu at the mission office. Everyone who has transfers go there and they put up lists and then you find your comp and go to your sector. We have zone conference every other change. I think in my zone there are 6 districts but for zone conference it is bigger. I don't know why they call it just zone conference but in zone conference we have the Peñaflor zone, San Antonio zone, Melipilla zone, and Maipu zone.

To finish up telling you about Elder Pedraza. He has been in the field for 14 months. He is 192 days older than I. It's weird I guess Mexico is the only country who get to go out when they are 18. He loves soccer haha. Obviously has a big family but only him and his parents are members but really he is crazy legit love the guy. Only thing is he is a little to rule Nazi. Like I am all for following the rules and what not but he is kinda to the extreme. Like he was getting all up on me because I was stretching on Sunday. I was like "what?" Obviously we don't workout on Sunday but I was stretching cause I was sore. Then he was getting all weird about music on Sunday and that I had a wrinkle on my sleeve and wanted me to iron it out. But I will take him over a comp who just does nothing and breaks all the rules any day. I love the guy. I am excited cause he is excited we are about to bust some huge miracles here in Malloco and we already have! We are going to try and get another fecha this week!

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

Elder Alex Leavitt

p.s. so another first some guy tried selling us weed the other day walking home it was weird.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Alex's Spider

This Chilean Rincon spider is even more dangerous than its really dangerous North American counterpart, the Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa).

Here's some information on the spider that kind of freaked Alex out. It's a good thing he killed it. It's the second one he's seen. I wonder how big it was compared to this one? He said it was big. I sure wouldn't want to find one of these in my house!

The Chilean recluse spider is a venomous spider, Loxosceles laeta, of the family Sicariidae (formerly of the family Loxoscelidae). In Spanish, it (and other South American recluse spiders) is known as araña de rincón, or "spider of the corner"; in Portuguese, as Aranha-marrom or "brown spider". This spider is considered by many to be the most dangerous of the recluse spiders, and its bite is known to frequently result in severe systemic reactions, including death.
Some bites are minor with no necrosis, but a small number produce severe dermonecrotic lesions (cutaneous loxoscelism) or even systemic conditions (viscerocutaneous loxoscelism); sometimes resulting in renal failure and in 3-4% of cases in a recent clinical study in Chile, death.
The serious bites form a necrotising ulcer that destroys soft tissue and may take months and very rarely years to heal, leaving deep scars. The damaged tissue will become gangrenous and eventually slough away. Initially there may be no pain from a bite, but over time the wound may grow to as large as 10 inches (25 cm) in extreme cases.
Bites may take up to seven hours to cause visible damage; more serious systemic effects may occur before this time, as venom of any kind spreads throughout the body in minutes. Deaths have been reported for the related South American species L. intermedia. A longstanding medical condition known by travelers and residents to Chile, the gangrenous spot of Chile, is now believed to be caused by recluse spider bites.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Alex's 12th email from Chile 11/8/10

Hola family!

So I had an email from President King today that said he was sending me a Latin comp with a ton of excitement for the work. I'm pumped! I don't know where he is from but at least I know my Spanish is about to get crazy better!

It's funny to hear it was hot for you too. It has been sooo hot this last week! On Saturday it was up in the 30's but the weather has been crazy weird too. It was super hot Saturday like I said but then Sunday it just rained all day and now today it is just cold and suppose to get hot later in the day. Random! Apparently this is the first time it has rained in November since like people could remember. They blame it all on the earthquake haha.

Elder You's last week was weird haha just weird to think he was leaving and that I will basically be leading the sector now because I know everyone, where everything is, and I will basically just be the one who knows everything which will be new for me because that was always Elder You's job. Friday the ward had a party for him they called it their family home evening night. This ward is awesome by the way.

So it turns out Chileans don't have the best feelings for Argentinians and Peruvians. I have had families tell me they don't want me to get either but especially towards Peruvians. I have had families we are teaching say that if I get a Peruvian we are no longer allowed in their house. One said that if I get one he can sit outside and I teach them. I kinda chuckled at that one. Also the other day there was the biggest Rincon (Remember that's the spider he talked about before and then I looked it up and told you all how dangerous it was?) ever in our pension! I almost died, but I killed it and am praying that is the only one I see again inside my house.

I am in the same threesome I was in when Elder You went to the temple. I am vacationing. No worries. I walk behind them just hum a song or just think and look around haha. I get my new comp like around 9 or 10 in the morning tomorrow. Elder You flies out at 11 tonight. (Brandon sent Alex a special message about threesome's; hence the reference to vacationing. I'll include it so you know what he is talking about.)

Here's what Brandon wrote:

I never liked three-somes because someone inevitably feels like a third wheel. Too many missionaries in a room will tend to try and out-do each other or ignore each other, neither of which is very effective. There is a reason missionaries walk two by two. My advice if your feeling like the third wheel is to treat the experience like a vacation. You are not being expected to contribute and you're not making any decisions. Enjoy the weather, walking around new places, and talking to la gente just for the sake of doing it. Contribute when included, vacation when you are not. (this of course according to the dictates of the Spirit).

Another word of advice about transfers. Not all companions are created equal. Sometimes you will get a Nephi and sometimes you will get a Laman. Nephi's are the easy ones; the gifts. Laman's take more patience and love. You may even get a Gadianton but these are rare (and can pretty much only be endured). Just remember my advice at the beginning of your mission about love: if you can truly demonstrate sincere love for all your companions they will eventually respond to you; Nephite or otherwise. Also remember that, regardless of what type of missionary your companion is, that your mission is not only to the people of Chile, but to him. It may be that the greatest good you do in a transfer is to help your companion and, if that proves to be the case, embrace the opportunity.

We had daylight savings like a month ago I think I don't remember. I just know we have already put our clocks ahead an hour like a month ago.

Well I love you guys. Can't wait to hear from you next week wish me luck with the new comp!

Con mucho Amor,
Elder Alex Leavitt

Monday, November 1, 2010

Alex's 11th email from Chile 11/1/10

Hola Familia,

So I had a crazy week! So to start off I have some sad news. We went to go visit Eugenio this last week and he told us he is no longer interested in meeting with us. We asked him why and he just said he is happy with the catholic church which we know is bogus because he told us he didn't like the catholic church. After a lot of questions and prying we found out a lot of his friends have been feeding him anti-Mormon literature and have been talking bad about the Mormons. So I was pretty upset about it but we are still going to visit him every now and then. It is just so sad cause he was so ready for the gospel in his life.

I had my first zone conference this last week and it was pretty sweet. We learned about the difference of having faith and acting on faith. Hermana King talked on gratitude which made me happy because I had just given her her chocolate and thank you note for my pants.

On Thursday there was a tornado in Conception which I guess just doesn't happen here. It was sooo crazy windy it was ridiculous and then also it started pouring on us! We got soaked but it was kinda fun at the same time.

Friday Elder You got to go to the temple with President and Hermana King. So I was put in a threesome. I was excited about it until I got there and all they did was ignore me or when they did say something to me they were just giving me crap. It sucked and I did not have fun.

Saturday was pretty fun though. Elder You got to visit all of his old sectors and I got to go with him so I got to see a lot of the mission I have not seen yet. It was awesome because a lot of people complimented on how well my Spanish was and the people were awesome. So I guess during the earthquake the catholic chapels took the most damage. We walked by one and all the angels on the side of this chapel fell off except for the wings. It looked pretty strange just seeing these holes in the side of the building and wings just chillen there. In Chile it turns out there is a decent German population and actually some German colonies. I say this because Saturday was Oktoberfest haha and I didn't know we had a German colony in Malloco because I have not seen any white people but there was a huge Oktoberfest that went down. Then today I saw these two white guys with Oktoberfest hats on in the grocery store while shopping. They walked up to me and started talking to me in German. I guess they saw a white guy and thought I was German haha. It was funny. Halloween is here in Chile but not big. There were some tricker treaters but not a lot. Also I guess it just gives people an excuse to stay up all night and party.

Today our zone and the Talagante zone rented a big field and played soccer it was awesome and I dominated. I had four goals. Also thanks for the second package I got that this last week
Transfers are next Tuesday and we go to the mission office and have a little meeting then go back to our sectors. Not excited about next Monday because I will probably be with the same two elders that were jerks to me. Elder you goes home next Monday. We didn't have a curfew for Halloween because it really is not all that big here. I am a little behind in the Book of Mormon because of all the traveling I did this week so I need to catch up. Malloco is a ward and we have on average about 80 people show up. Recently it has been a little lower but on average about 80.

I love you guys and i will talk to you later :)

Elder Alex Leavitt