Thursday, December 30, 2010

5 Big Events that Shaped Chile in 2010

The year 2010 will go down as a year Chileans will never forget. In what has seemed like an endless stream of major events, tragedies, victories, and celebrations, Chile has had a roller coaster year.

New President

The beginning of the year brought with it a run-off election for the presidency. The unfinished presidential elections of 2009 produced two final candidates, former president Eduardo Frei and businessman Sebastian Piñera.

Piñera came out victorious and became Chile’s 35th president. He replaced the extremely popular president Michelle Bachelet and entered office as a right-wing leader, which has not been had for decades.

Earthquake

President Piñera was literally a few weeks from taking office when a massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake rocked south-central Chile. The powerful earthquake struck in the early hours of February 27th and with its resulting tsunami, left hundreds of people dead and more than 500,000 people homeless. The earthquake damage was so extensive that people are still living in temporary housing near the epicenter.

Chileans all over the country banded together financially to help those impacted by the earthquake, raising millions for relief efforts. This renewed sense of Chilean pride and patriotism was in full swing when Chile headed to the World Cup.

World Cup

On the heels of the disastrous earthquake, the Chilean national soccer team headed to the World Cup in South Africa. Chile won its first World Cup game since 1962, ended up second in their group, and went on to the second round where they were defeated by Brasil. Despite not advancing further, the Chilean national team was a great source of pride and joy for the Chilean people in 2010.

Bicentennial

Chile celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2010. The bicentennial celebrations could be seen and felt throughout the country. The typical patriotism and pride of the annual fiestas patrias was taken to a new level as Chileans celebrated overcoming many challenges this year.

33 Miners

Shortly after the fiestas patrias in September, Chile captured the world’s attention on October 12th as 33 trapped miners were rescued from deep within the earth after 69 days of captivity.

What a Year

Chile had a truly unforgettable year. With both great sadness and joyful celebration, 2010 was a year that awoke a renewed sense of patriotism in Chileans and put Chile in the global spotlight more than any other year in the recent past.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Alex's 19th email from Chile 12/27/10

I loved this live nativity with Elder Leavitt in it :)

Hola familia!

I feel like I just talked with you all :) These last couple days have just left me with such high spirits.

Well to answer your questions I know it is only been a week so I don't really know but I can tell Elder Diaz is awesome. He is hilarious and chill so obviously we get along well. The only thing is I can tell that this area has gotten him down and his companion before me is extremely hard. His comp before me came out with me and his first 4 changes he has had 4 different companions. So, I just need to work hard on him and get his spirits back up.

My first Sunday was cool a little different. First, they called me up to share a little about me so I went up said some stuff and bore my testimony. It was cool. My ward is tiny and they are all crazy old. There is like zero younger people in our ward!! I don't know the exact address of my apartment so I will get that to you next week but if you want I know it is the exact corner of Gran Avenida and Santa Clara above the pizza hut. So if that works cool.

No, there was no special thing if you finished the Book of Mormon in Spanish. I feel really good about it though because there were a ton of people who didn't do it. We celebrated Christmas with the family where I talked with you and we had a little something in our apartment it was cool.

Well it has just been really cool to celebrate Christmas differently you know? It´s like I totally missed celebrating with my family but it has been cool really focusing on Christ and trying to share that with other people. Being able to share your testimony of Jesus Christ in the time of year where almost everyone in the world is celebrating his birth is such a cool thing to do. It´s like I am just so happy to be a missionary right now. I know that what we are teaching and preaching everyday is so right. I know it is right because I have done everything that I ask my investigators to do. I have read the Book of Mormon which I have just absolutely fallen in love with. You can literally read any page, find some sort of doctrine or reference to Christ, and feel the Spirit testify of those things. Like it says in the introduction, there is no other book on this planet that can do that. I have prayed and asked my Heavenly Father if these things are true and I have felt His Holy Ghost testify to me that this gospel is the gospel of Jesus Christ which he has revealed through his prophet Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph Smith was truly a Prophet of God. Every time I share his story or hear my companion read the first vision i can feel it. There is such power in that story and even if I didn't feel that God has always had prophets. And like mom shared with me last week about her own personal testimony of Joseph Smith why would God love the people in the time of the bible more than us? why would they have prophets and not us? they wouldn't and God loves us just as much as them and like it says in the bible and the Book of Mormon that ¨God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, never turning to the left or to the the right¨ I love my Lord Savior Jesus Christ so much. He has done everything for me. He has given me my Family who I am so blessed to have. They have always been there for me and I know they always will be. I know it is because of My Lord that I can live with them forever. I know through his atoning sacrifice for all of us that all of us have the opportunity to live with our Heavenly Father once more. I love the story in 3 Nephi 11 when Jesus Christ appears to the people of the Americas when he asks everyone to come forth and feel the marks in his hands feet and side. I love especially the part when it says that ¨they came forth one by one¨ I know how personal the atonement really is because before I once felt how can Christ really know what I am going through? how can something he did for everyone be personally for me? Well I know how personal it is. I use it everyday when I pray and ask my God my my short comings and my weaknesses. I know that Jesus Christ died and suffered personally for me. That I can have that chance to become better, god willing help someone else, and live with my God, my loving Brother Jesus Christ, and my Family for eternity. I am so happy to have a chance to share this with the people here in Chile. I don't care if my sector is dead. I already feel like I am losing time to share my testimony with these people. I don't have time to let these thoughts of a dead sector and how hard it will be to get in the way. I am so determined to try if not help someone to the straight and narrow path, to at least help prepare them for someone else who can. I love this gospel so much. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and the plan he created for us. I just thought I should share my testimony with you guys. I don't know if it was the whole Christmas spirit and what not or if someone needed to hear it. But I love you all and hope you all had an amazing Christmas and a happy new year.

Love,

Elder Alexander Thomas Leavitt



Alex's Skype Video Phonecall 12/25/10

Christmas Day with a missionary is more magical than a regular Christmas Day. This Christmas was no exception and even better when earlier in the week Alex told us they had permission to video skype. Thankfully Alex was in an area where this would be available to him. During our conversation Fred snapped some pictures of him and I have several I am going to intersperse throughout this post. This post will be the notes that I took during our conversation.

Alex had told us that he would be calling at 4 p.m. our time. That morning Kira had called to wish us a "Merry Christmas" and then decided instead of being on the phone we should skype - why didn't we think of that? It was fun to see Evan & Landon and of course Kira & Justin as well. While we were on with her Alex started ringing in. We were shocked!!! He had got on to see if it was working. They had gone to the chapel and the internet was not working there so they were at an investigators house testing it out. I told him that if talking then meant we couldn't talk later then we should hang up because we had arranged with all the kids to conference them into the call at 4 p.m. He talked to his companion and said he'd still be able to talk later. We visited for about 30 mins. (Kira also). It was great to find out where he was and who his companion was since he was transferred on Tuesday.

Alex was transferred from the country to the city. He is now in Santiago. He is in the Lo Ovalle district and the La Cisterna zone. La Cisterna is a suburb in Santiago. His new area is about an hour away from his old one (by bus). The city is very different from the country. He re-emphasized this and said "extremely" different than the country. There is concrete everywhere - concrete walls, doors in concrete walls, glass shards in concrete, concrete, concrete, concrete. There are not as many dogs in the city and it is very crowded in the city. The people in the city don't want to talk to you whereas in the country everyone was friendly and would say "Hi". He said his first day in the city he was rejected the entire day. He told us there are 12 zones in his mission and 6 of those are in Santiago. Alex told us that although he is in the city you would think that with everything closer he wouldn't have 45 min. walks like he did while out in the country (Malloco) but that is not the case and he is doing more walking. He told us there is this one house that is painted bright blue or purple (I forgot to write the color down). There are Gypsy's who live in the house and they speak a completely different type of language all together.
His new companion is Elder Diaz from Paraguay. He has been on his mission for a year. He is a convert of 12 years and has 2 little sisters & 1 little brother. We got to speak to him as well and see him. He seemed very nice. They share an apartment (pension) with 2 other Elders. One is from Argentina and the other is from England. Alex couldn't wait to tell us that he lives on top of a Pizza Hut. When he was out in the country there was nothing at all like that and nowhere to eat.
He said that everyone calls his new area the "dead" area of the mission. He is in a smaller ward also. The new ward is full of grandparents and he says there are no young people at all.

Alex wasn't able to say goodbye to everyone in his old area and some of the kids that loved him had a hard time with the fact that he was leaving. One of the families that he had grown particularly close to was the Gonzales family. He has talked about them a lot in his emails and the wife & son had asked him to baptize them. They are a very poor family and sent 3 Christmas presents for him with Elder Pedraza to bring to the mission Christmas party. Alex said he felt so guilty and bad because he knows how poor they are. Alex told us that the Dad is a very big man and very tough. Not the kind of person you would want to mess with. He took Alex by the shoulders and told him that he looks at Alex like he is his own son. He gave him a card with his contact information on it and told him that if he ever needs anything, anywhere, anytime while on his mission to call him and he will be there.

Another family he grew close to, the Garcia Family, sent notes and a card for Alex through Elder Pedraza. They are a family of 13 that live all together in one small house. He said the notes were very touching and meant a lot to him.

He said that Mission Christmas party was a lot of fun. In the morning he got to play soccer, football & basketball. Then they watched the Joseph Smith video in Spanish. After that a counselor in the area 70 spoke to them for a couple of hours on the Book of Mormon & Joseph Smith (their party was on Joseph Smith's birthday). They then had lunch, a white elephant exchange & took a mission photo. President King had challenged the mission to read the Book of Mormon in the amount of time it took Joseph Smith to translate it and by his birthday. Alex was trying to do it in both Spanish & English. It became apparent he couldn't do it in both by the deadline so he decided to do it in Spanish. He made the goal - YAY!!!!

Alex's mission president, President King, is from Provo, UT. At the Christmas party every missionary in the mission got a personal letter from someone in President King's home ward in Utah. Alex was really impressed by that. I am also!

Alex asked us if we thought he looked like he's lost weight. It looked like he's lost a little just by his face. He still looks healthy and strong. I guess anyone there that he shows our family picture to says he's lost weight. He told us that he has the 'sickest' tan lines and that it has been getting really hot 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) and summer has just started. He says it will get hotter. We forgot to ask if it was a humid heat. He said his apartment does not have air conditioning and they have a space heater for the winter. He also told us that he really isn't using his gel anymore and his hair has got very blonde. He told us that he hopes at some point he gets to serve on the coast in the summer where the temperatures are more moderate and in the 70's.

The mission got rid of the 'Mamita's' but members wash their clothes and they only need to bring their own detergent. He told us he is making his own "Chilean" dictionary because even though they speak Spanish they have their own slang and words. He showed us his little pocket dictionary he carries around so that he can write new words in it as he comes across them. He also had written a list of things to tell us in addition to what we may ask. I was proud of my boy. He's been learning from me :)

He told us that the people there pronounce his name "Elder Leeahvee". Fred asked him how far it is from one end of the mission to the other and Alex said it's about 3 hours and had to remind Ben how skinny Chile is.

While we were talking with him we got to meet some of the family members whose home they were in. They and Elder Diaz loved it when Ben or Brandon would speak in Spanish with them. In the morning Justin even spoke Spanish to his companion. Alex's English already has a bit of an accent to it and it was fun to hear him speak Spanish to his companion and the people of the home. Both Brandon & Ben said he's doing very well. He said "goodbye" to them and some of us a couple of times (we took turns on the video part of skype because it wouldn't let us do it at as a group) and over there they say "Chow." I told Alex that sounds Italian but I guess in some of those Latin countries over there that's what they say and Chile is one of them.

We asked Alex about the food and he had a lot to say about it. He started to laugh when asking us if he had told us the name of his favorite food. He hadn't told us before and he was laughing because of what it is called. It is called "ass' and no it's not donkey. He said the meat is like Philly Cheese Steak and it's in a giant hot dog bun with a relish on it that they call 'America' even though he says it's not like any relish we have here in America. The relish is made out of carrots and he loves it so much that he said you can buy big bags of it and he wants to buy 4 big bags and send them home right before he comes home so he can have them when he gets here.

Alex said that the milk is gross and comes in a box but he has learned to drink it and be okay with it. The weirdest thing he has eaten is sliced pig face on bread. A family in Malloco was going to feed him Iguana but he was transferred before that happened. He was sad he missed out on that. One of the bizarre things they do out in the country sometimes is drink the blood of the animals they've just butchered. He was glad he was never offered that and prays he isn't ever offered it.

They eat a lot of bread and a lot of salad. They don't use the type of salad dressings we do. He said they just use lemon and salt on their salads. He said he has eaten everything that has been served to him - even a salad that had live ladybugs on it.

They put mayonnaise, olives and eggs in everything. He said they will crack an egg on everything and gave us the example that if someone were to serve him potatoes there would be an egg on top whether it was sunny side up, hard boiled or whatever. He eats 2 meals a day. He eats a bowl of cereal every morning for breakfast and then at 1 - 2 p.m. is when Chileans eat their big meal of the day and they eat it with a family. He said he doesn't really eat after that meal. Everyone drinks Coke with everything. He will ask for a glass of water and they come back with a glass of coke. Bon Bons are his favorite Chilean sweet.

We will get to skype with him on Mother's Day :) It was wonderful to see and hear that he is happy, healthy and doing well. What an unexpected blessing this was for all us to be able to speak with him and see him. Alex was especially thrilled to see his nieces & nephews and Sheba. We did not bring down Tom the snake or bring Javier his fish over for him to see. We feel very blessed as his parents!

They are laughing at something funny Brandon said in Spanish

Now the Hermana is laughing also

Monday, December 20, 2010

Alex's 18th email from Chile 12/20/10

A live nativity at the Santiago Temple with members & investigators from Malloco

Hola familia!

Well this week has been way weird...But before I get into it I will let you know now that I have transfers tomorrow so crazy! I am finally leaving my first sector! loco. It just sucks a little bit because it is so close to Christmas and I will not know anyone there :( but I know it will all be fine.

Well there are some things from last week I forgot to write about because of the craziness with Elder Pedraza so in this email I will try to remember to include them. Well I don't know if I told you but last week I had divisions with a greenie greenie, like has less than a month here in Chile and so it was weird to be the man in charge of like everything. But it was way cool cause it was such a booster to my Spanish cause I like taught everything it was so legit.

One of the senior couples in our mission used to live in PQ crazy! and was in our ward. They gave us their table when we helped them move! They are the Dorius family. I sent a picture to you guys.

Hermana Dawn Dorius & Elder Leavitt

Imagine my surprise when I open this email and see a note to Alex from Hermana Dorius with this picture. I'm sure that if Alex had not been in the office while his companion was being checked out this wouldn't have happened. The Dorius family lived in our ward here in San Diego many years ago and Alex was much too young to even remember them. We helped them move when they left and they gave us a table and chairs that we kept and then some years later gave them to Kira & Justin when they were married. Another interesting connection, many years ago when Fred & I went to Scotland we attended church and met a Sis. Mills who was kind enough to give me some genealogy help. She ended up having a daughter serve a mission in Alberta, Canada and asked me if I would write her which I did more than once. Sadly she never served where we were living. Years later, even after the Dorius family had moved out, one of their older sons married that same Sister missionary - Tanya Mills. Crazy connections eh?

The Gonzales family asked me to baptize them but I am not going to be here :( they are amazing!! The hermana had a birthday and I bought them an awesome gift haha a colo-colo clock hahaha. Their son who is like 3 or 4 I guess has been asking them when the missionaries are going to come over. This kid is in love with me haha. His name is Gabriel and is always attached to my leg when I am there. It was when I was over at their house and I realized I finished 6 months! And when I say realized it was because Yair told me. Haha we was on my facebook. I guess mom posted something about it. It is crazy to think I have finished a fourth of my mission.

I think this must be part of the Gonzalez family with little Gabriel hanging on to Alex's leg. This is on their Temple trip.

Elder Pedraza told me the other night he couldn't sleep because I was sleep talking in SPANISH and he kept thinking I was talking to him. CRAZY!!! One of our investigators had their baby! His name is Diego and is awesome! When we were there they gave me an invite to their wedding which I won't be here for either :( but it is cool they have a date for baptism the day after their wedding :) so it is all good.

Elder Leavitt & Elder Pedraza on the Santiago Temple grounds.

Oh my gosh, it was soo sad. This 9 year old boy in sacrament meeting had a musical number. He played the piano and sang Silent Night, but he messed up, started crying, and ran out it was so sad. If anyone knows anything about music it is way hard to play and sing at the same time and he was doing awesome until he messed up.

OK I know you have been waiting to hear what happened with Pedraza. Well last Tuesday after another appointment with the psychologist we were allowed to go home but with the weirdest schedule ever. We are not allowed to leave until 6 p.m. and need to be back at 9 p.m. We only have 3 hours a day to work! And good thing too because I think Elder Pedraza might have a real problem. He is always saying he is fine but a lot of the time he can't even walk straight. He also would get mad at me because he lies a lot to our leaders about how he is doing and when I tell them the truth he gets really upset haha. But like he started crying on two separate occasions because of something somebody said to him. Like something that really is not a big deal. I have never seen such an emotional person like him. He really only had one bad attackish type thing this week where he couldn't remember what happened. It is weird he will talk through it all but the next day not remember. This one was funny because he gave away a shirt and didn't remember haha.

Our investigators were way happy to have us back for the little time we had with them. Things are not totally back on track but they are going. Carlos was baptized and was at church this Sunday and has had friends with him the last two weeks this kid is golden.

Elder Leavitt & Elder Pedraza at the Santiago Temple with members and investigators.

I have the pingo number. I dont know when I will call cause I don't know the plans with my new companion yet. I know sucky. I have not recieved anymore packages yet. I am worried too about grampa and Nana´s package. I am probably only going to be able and finish the Book of Mormon in Spanish not English :( but I thought Spanish was a little more impportant haha. We are having that big Mission christmas party and a giant secret santa type thing too pretty cool! In chile there are like zero christmas lights so sad. But about every house has a big fake christmas tree so that is cool. But as going all out like in the States, no, it is a little sad but it's all good.

Well I love you guys and I can't wait to talk to you on Saturday :) Here are pictures from the temple and what not.

Love, Elder Alexander Leavitt

On the bus on the way to the Temple in Santiago.

I blew this picture up to get a closer look at the nativity. Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus & the Shepherd all have real cloth on and the sheep has fake wool of some type.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Alex's 17 email from Chile 12/13/10

Hola Familia!

So craziest week of my life ready? This will probably be the longest email I send cause it has been ridiculous. So on Thursday in the morning while getting ready Elder Pedraza was crying that my shirt was wrinkly, but in reality he is the type of person that irons their shirt like twice each morning and at night and I had like one wrinkle. To be completely honest my shirt was fine but he was freaking out. He is like "in the manuel misional it says this" and called the district leader. Finally I was "whatever", there is no point in having a mad companion because of my shirt so I ironed my shirt. But he was still mad at me and didn't talk to me for like an hour. Finally he says to me that we are not going to the temple because of my attitude (our temple is out of our mission and we don't ever get to go, but we got permission from President because we had like 13 investigators that wanted to go with our ward). I was like "whatever you can't just decide that." He then goes off and starts packing his suitcases. He called the assistants and told them he is leaving! Finally the district leader comes over takes me and leaves his companion while we waited for the assistentes to show up. Finally they show up, talk to us individually, and then together. Elder Pedraza like refused to talk and was not participating whatsoever. Finally he agreed to try and we went to the temple. It was awesome we had 14 investigators show up. There were exhibits of nativities from all over the world and it was awesome. We took photos with our investigators and it was just a way neat experience.

On the way home Elder Pedraza started to feel sick on the bus and I thought it was just him getting car sick. We got off the bus and he was like "I need to sit down" and just plopped himself on the sidewalk. Me and a family we were with were like "well at least sit on a bench" so we helped him up and walking over he just lost all his strength and crashed. He couldn't breathe and was flipping out. He threw up twice and was just bad and passed out. I called our bishop for a ride to the hospital. Finally he came and we carried my companion into the car and started off. In the car he was in and out of consciousness like 12 times and was talking to someone. It sounded like he was talking to and old friend from Mexico it was way weird. In the hospital after a while the doctors told us that everything checked out fine and it was all emotional. We took him to the bishops house after to get something too eat but he was too out of it to eat anything. From there we went to Maipu where the assistants live and stayed in their apartment for the night. I carried Elder Pedraza so much that night my arms were sore in the morning it was crazy.

The next day we slept in cause I flippin went to bed at 3 in the morning and he had a meeting with the mission psychologist. After the doctor comes out and tells me I have my hands full with Elder Pedraza and remember anyone can handle the easy ones. So after we go home and we're told to just relax and take it easy but elder pedraza wanted to go out and see a family. But I told him that president told us to stay. So he calls president and convinces him to be able to go out and see one family. We leave and on the way back to our house he has another attack! He just drops can't breathe and lost all his strength. So I waved down the Chilean equivalent of a taxi ( a colectivo) and got a ride to our pension. Turns out the driver was a member of another ward and didn't charge us so that was cool. I carried my companion upstairs and put him on my bed cause I have bottom bunk and I didnt want him falling from the top. Elder Pedraza had calmed down and was just sleeping so I left the room to change and for some reason elder Pedraza decided to get up and try going downstairs so he ended falling down the stairs cause he had no strength and was out of it. So I go check make sure he is ok and called my leaders. He was fine, no broken bones or anything, but he was gone on some other planet. He was not making sense. He kept trying to get up, lose strength and whack his head on the floor. So I brought down our mattresses from upstairs and put him in bed. I thought it was better to sleep downstairs so he wouldn't wake up in the middle of the night and fall again but he kept trying to get up and go to work. He kept saying ¨ elder leavitt we are late, we have appointments¨ "Ëlder Leavitt we need to meet with carlos come on we are late¨ Basically every time he tried getting up I pushed him back into bed. Luckily I had the number of the doctor and was talking to him the whole time. Finally he went to sleep and I finally went to bed at like 4 or 5 in the morning.

The next day we were told not to leave until president came. They also sent our district leader to come help me watch Elder Pedraza until president showed up. Finally president showed up, talked with us for a little, took us to lunch, and after a ton of crying and asking Elder Pedraza convinced president to let him go out to one appointment and that he would be home by 9. Well we went out and Elder Pedraza by 9 oclock refused to leave so we got home at 10 and by then he had another little attack. I got a ride with a member back to our place and put him to bed.

In the morning he was feeling way bad and couldn't even get up stairs without my help. But we had the baptism of Carlos on Sunday and needed to go. So our bishop picked us up and brought us to church. At church elder pedraza had another attack. The assistants came and picked us up and took us to the big hospital in Santiago. We missed the baptism of our investigator :( Once again they told us it was just stress and emotions.

After we were taken to basically the jail apartment of the mission where we waited for president. He came and elder pedraza was asleep so I told him everything that happened. We then went to the mission home to have lunch. It was awesome! Highlight of the week, I made a ginger bread temple with hermana king and her daughter while my comp slept. We then went back to the jail of the mission and spent the night there. I am told we will probably be there for 2 to 3 days. I am so bored cause we are not allowed out of the pension with exception to email today. We have another doctors appt. for elder pedraza. So ya that has been my week.

So I have gotten 3 packages; yours, grandma's and the one from sister bessey and the ward and I am in process of writing them back - haven't had too much time with things. The temple was awesome like I said. We didn't do a session cause we were with investigators and I didn't meet the Leavitt's but it was just so awesome and next week I will try to send photos. About transfers I will find out the Sunday before so I think that should be next Sunday. Crazy! time is starting to speed up and this week went by fast! Scripture reading is ok. I am not too far behind, sounds like I will have a ton of time to catch up though. (This is in response to the question I asked Alex in regards to their mission challenge to read the Book of Mormon in the amount of time it took Joseph Smith to translate it. He was reading it in both Spanish & English to surprise President King)

This has just been a crazy hard and stressful week for me. I am tired of just sitting around and babysitting all day but he is my companion right? And this could easily be the reason I am with him because from what the doctor has told me was that he could not have given me better instructions than what I have done to help him and the calmness I have had through it all. So that made me feel cool. It just sucks how I can't teach, meet with my investigators, and I kinda lost a p-day. I guess I am just learning patience right now right? Well I love you all, miss you, and will talk to you next week.

Love,

Elder Alex Leavitt

*I think it would be great if all of us could remember Elder Pedraza in our prayers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Alex's 16th email from Chile 12/6/10


Hola familia,

So I had a crazy but good week. Well for the first time this change me and Elder Pedraza really clicked and I am so grateful. It has been so hard for me. But despite all this we finally clicked and have been rocking and getting along really well. It has been great and really because of it my Spanish has just started to really skyrocket. I am starting to have conversations with people. It is so awesome. One example which was a really neat experience for me was with a kid named Yair. He is the daughter of one of our investigators with a baptismal date and has been struggling with testimony and everything. So I pulled him aside one day and him and me just had a talk. He just opened up like I've never heard before. I have been teaching him and his family since I first got here and it was awesome. Without help or anything I had such a neat conversation with this kid. It was just awesome. We made goals and everything to help with his doubts and building testimony.

The family Gonzales has been having trouble. Their dad has been out of work for a long time and in January they were going to have everything cut; power, water, gas, everything and they didn't even have money for bread. Well the Lord has once again has shown his hand in our work. We have been praying for them for so long now and they are doing everything to become an eternal family that this week he found work that is even better than the job he had before.

Awesome news, we have so many investigators and in fact we have 5 fechas and 13 progressing investigators that we have gotten permission to go to the temple this Thursday with our ward. We have 11 investigators that said they will go and that is why we get to go. I am soo excited! oh speaking of 5 fechas, Carolina this past week committed to baptism. It just has been soo crazy how well everything is going.

I had told president about everything that happened between me and Pedraza and his email this week made me feel way better. Elder Pedraza puts on this strong face and makes lots of jokes but in reality he is crazy sensitive and can take things the wrong way. So I have just been working really hard not to say anything that he can take the wrong way, although I guess this morning I was trying to say something and dropped one of the worst swear words here in Chile haha oops. Luckily it was just to him in the pension. It has just been good this week.

Carolina's kids had a birthday Sunday and they invited us so we went and it was awesome. They also gave us presents, both Elder Pedraza and I, but said we can't open it until we leave Malloco. I love that family. Carolina also asked me to baptize her but I probably won't be here in Malloco :( It was so sweet, she was like "you have the authority to baptize right?" I said "yes" and she was like "oh ok good, so you can baptize me then" it was awesome.

Elder Leavitt with Carolina & her kids at their birthday party

Crazy news fricking biggest Rincon in our pension!!!! Seriously biggest spider I have seen inside a house. I have pictures :)

This is the best of two pictures he sent. Alex was right, this spider is huge!!

To answer your questions, yes Carlos is getting baptized this Sunday by Elder Pedraza. We had 5 investigators at church. Garcias could not make it they were getting the house and everything ready for the birthday party. I will most likely have transfers. Sucky, I just wish transfers were not so close to Christmas.

Sad story, Sunday morning we were going picking up our investigators for church and there was this kid probably 16 and he had blood all over his hands and was bawling. He was totally high on something and just saying "help me! help me!" saying he has kids and no family to help him and all this stuff and all we could do was just try and ignore him and walk away. It was so sad. I didn't know what to do. Well but besides that everything is great. I am loving my mission so no worries! ok I love you all and will talk to you later.

Love,

Elder Leavitt

I like these pictures Alex sent because it shows us what his surroundings look like.

Alex writes: that hat photo is a kids of one of our investigators he wrote Leavi on it so he can remember me ha!ha!