Monday, January 31, 2011

Alex's 24th email 1/31/11

I think this is Alex's area. It's not quite how I depicted the City.

Hola Familia!

This Week Was Amazing!!!!! But let me start at the beginning. So remember when I told you I got poked in the eye? Well it was worse than I let on. The next day I woke up and my eye was killing me! Like every time I blinked it hurt and you really don't realize how many times you blink until something like this happens. But I went to the doctor and apparently part of the membrane of my eye got scraped off and it was a little infected. But he gave me some eye drop stuff and seriously it was like putting a drop of fire in my eyeball it was terrible. But now my eye is back to normal so nothing to worry about.

So apparently February is the
month in Chile where everyon
e goes on vacation cause not only in my ward but the others everyone left. We have like no one here in Lo Ovalle anymore haha. Like our bishop is gone for a month and the first counselor and his family is gone for a month. It is ridiculous.

Also a random little thing is n
ow cause of all the heat I am starting to get blonder and I have had a few people call me a Nazi... I guess its cause there are a lot of Germans here haha.

Ok I hope you are all ready f
or an AWESOME story. Like this is Ensign worthy I am serious. So awhile back I told you about this Kid we contacted name Alan right? We taught him once and then he left on vacation for a month. Well last week we decided to pass by for his house and see if he was hom
e and sure enough over the intercom came his voice. He then told us that he couldn't talk with us right then but to come by on Friday. After he told us he has been looking for us because he wants to be BAPTIZED! I got soo pumped when I heard him say that. So we went by Friday and talked with him a little bit and then invited him to come to church. Sunday comes and sure enough Alan came to church. It was awesome since like our whole ward was gone we ended up teaching him a lesson with another youth so that was cool. At the end of the lesson he told us how he knows this is the church is true. Apparently he had been attending another church and just didn't feel anything special about it, so one day he was praying and asking God to send him someone or some kind of sign to bring him to the true church. Right when he finished praying was when we knocked on his door. How cool is that! Of course we still invited him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about Joseph Smith so he can strengthen the testimony that he has and of course he said he would. This kid is just so awesome. After church we invited him to come to the baptism in the other missionaries ward and he wanted to go to see how the whole baptism thing works. So he shows up and he asked me to show him the baptismal font. I showed him and he asked me if this was where he was going to be baptized. I was like "oh wow" haha I have just never had someone soo ready and eager like him before. I then said no he will be baptized in Lo Ovalle haha. Then a guy that was attending the baptism came over and started talking to us and asked if he was a member. Alan said no but I am working on it. The guy asked him when his baptism was and Alan said as soon as possible and then looked at me. I then said in like 3 weeks haha. This is just soo awesome and like the greatest miracle I have seen in my mission and possible my life. It is just soo crazy how the Lord is seriously in this work.

Also big news, Juan passed h
is baptismal interview and is go
ing to be baptized this next Sunday :) It is just awesome to watch this ward and the work here in Lo Ovalle. We still have lots of problems and it is still really hard but we are making amazing progress and for a ward that was called dead by other missionaries now has 2 future baptisms is something cool to experience.
To answer your questions, the heat here is DRY, there is like zero humidity here and I feel like I am suffocating at times from the heat. This week it was 100 or close to it everyday! We now have permission as long as it is approved by president to wear hats. Unfortunately I have never been a hat guy and I hate wearing hats so that does not help me at all. Yes, we still have members do our laundry and we still have our one meal a day with the members. I will be honest though don't tell anyone in my ward but for the most part the meals were better in the Campo. But holy smokes! the fruit and vegetables here are amazing!!! Honestly ridiculous in the Campo and here in the city it is just ridiculously amazing.

Alex in his bed with the afghan that Nana made him. I kept asking him if he'd got it and when he did he said "I got the blanket from Nana. It's perfect because it's hot and the blanket has holes in it."

I am starting to get the youth in our ward mainly the guys to come out and work with us. Apparently before the other missionaries didn't sit to well with them cause the guys in the ward are just ridiculously stupid and crazy haha. They are (lelos) its a nice fancy word here in Chile that just means crazy stupid. So in that sense they are just like me and they love me so I get the young men to come out and work with us which is awesome because these kids are legit and need to get on missions cause right now they are just going to church and what not because of their parents. They have told me they have friend requested me on facebook haha. Also they are in love with Kira, Alycia, and Sarah so they told me they friend requested them too...ridiculous.

Today is the last day of this
change so crazy to think I have been here in Lo Ovalle for one change now. In my pension the only person that is changing is Elder Worthin which is a big blow to me cause he is awesome and his comp and my comp have like some Spanish click going on and it is annoying. I still love Elder Diaz and he is awesome but he is just soo quiet. At times I don't know whats up and when I talk to him he gives me one word answers but he has been like that the whole time. We are still working hard and having fun as a companionship and he is starting to get a little more animated with the success we are having. So all in all it is still good. Ugh! I am just soo pumped! I LOVE THE MISSION!!!
I love you all and i will talk to you next week :)

Elder Alexander Thomas Leavitt

P.S. hey has Sarah gotten my card yet let me know when it gets there

I think this may be his zone. I talked to another Mom a couple of weeks ago and she as telling me that she attended a fireside held by President & Sister King before they left on their mission. There is significance with the thumbs up in the pictures. I guess Elder Eyering did this to President King when they met with him about accepting the call and getting things ironed out in regards to a school for their daughter (The King's were called to another mission but there was no American school there for their daughter). The King's have now adopted this sign for the mission. I still have yet to ask Alex if this is why they do this in all the pictures or if they just do it to do it.

I think this is Alex & his district

Sorry if this picture offends anyone. All I can say is that "boys will be boys." Alex writes "Elder Worthen had these pictures and I made him give them to me. Someone spilled juice on the floor ha!ha!"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Alex's 23rd email from Chile 1/24/11

Hola! Familia!

It is so hot here. The last two days it has been like 34 degrees celsius. I don't know hot exactly that is but it is hot that's all I know. Also it is insane it is hot all the time like all day and all night but night like starts at 10 30 it does not get dark until like 10 O'clock here. It messes with my mind cause I think it is way earlier and then I ask my comp where we are going and he tells me back to the pension. Then I get pack to the pension start changing my clothes and my socks have like all these white lines all over them. I have come to the conclusion that the white is the crystallized salt from my sweat it is soooo hot here.

On Monday it was way cool. I took part in my first confirmation. A kid in my ward was baptized and I was asked to join in the circle it was my first one. Also I blessed the sacrament in Spanish for the first time. Only because we took the sacrament to an older Hermano in our ward (wow that was a struggle. I kept messing up with my Spanish and English) but it was a way neat experience. It reminded me of when we would bring the sacrament to Brother Petit (i cant spell). I loved doing that.

On Friday I spent the whole day in the downtown of Santiago because I was going to go get my cranet, basically my Chilean ID. It took all day there were soo many lines and different buildings we had to go to. But it was fun cause I went with my group from the MTC so it was cool to see them all again. But also Elder Pedraza was there cause in a year or so you need to go and renew it. Now the first time I saw Elder Pedraza was like 3 or 4 days after we had changes at the Christmas party and he did not come over to talk to me at all and I wasn't about to start up a convo with him. But, when he walked into the room and saw me his face lit up and he was like ELDER LEAVITT!!! He was so excited to see me. Later he told me how he misses me wants me back and how the whole ward misses me. Also he doesn't like his new comp very much and apparently the ward doesn't either. It's just nice to be appreciated every now and then especially when they took you for granted before. But it was way cool to just talk about Malloco hear how everyone was doing and how they all want me to write them letters haha. After we got everything finished all the Elders that had to get their carnets done went for lunch it was cool. I got back to my sector around like 7 at night and I left at 6 in the morning.

Also pretty cool I met a guy that was like training with a American football in the street so I walked over threw the ball with him a little and later found out he is on a team here in Chile and training for a team that Chile is getting together to go up to the states to play pretty cool.

Also when I was in the office Hermana Dorius showed me the letter you sent her. She got it like 3 days ago and loved it. Also this guy in our ward showed us this video it is crazy! It's about the earthquake and tsunami here in Chile. It was pretty cool so I wrote down the title for you to look up on youtube. It's something like this Terremoto y tsunami, chile 2010 vive. Also cool fact, our mission here in Chile sends more missionaries and has more hospital bills than all the other missions in Chile combined!!

Your questions now. I cant think of anything I need for my birthday. Everyone says I need to get a Canadian soccer jersey. I do have one in my closet already that dad got me. They say that's why I am good at soccer cause I am not truly gringo haha. They all call me the Canadian. They still can't believe how good at soccer I am. The Primary sacrament meeting in Spanish was awesome! I loved it and yes it was in Malloco. Yes the pictures were from the view of my apartment. I took them because usually you can't see the mountains with the snow cause of smog. Oh also the other elders are Elder Baroco and Elder Worthin. And yes for sure I will start taking more fotos of Chilean life. I am good still happy to be here, loving it actually. I am still working with Elder Diaz trying to get him more excited. Ya P-days are basically the same. Still play soccer every p-day but cool today we brought our investigator Nicolas his buddy Kevin who is a member and a kid named Nacho that is an in active recent convert so really cool. Juan didn't pass his interview for baptism so we pushed it back to the 5th and will work on strengthening some things. I am just happy he isn't all down about it and he has a good attitude. And yes we get the Liahona's in English and Spanish fairly regularly.

Well that's all I got for you guys I love you all. I am working hard, studying hard, and trying to my best. I love you all and will talk to you next week :)

Con Mucho Amor,

Elder Alex Leavitt

Alex sent another message when I went back and checked my email. Here's what he said:

hey also thanks for the picture it was awesome! oh another story I forgot to tell you was today when I was kicking trash at soccer I went up for a header against the goalie. I was trying to score and he stabbed my eye the hardest I have ever been poked in the eye before. It was terrible. They said it looked like it might have taken a chunk of my cornia but I think it looks normal and I am all good :)

*Ben helped me find a video. I typed in the address Alex gave and there were a lot to choose from. I don't know if this is the one he watched or not.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pituto: Why Friends are better than money in Chile

Chilean society is built on the back of social connections. These networks of relationships are formed amongst family, neighbors, co-workers, college buddies, and childhood friends.

Pituto is the Chilean slang for connections that come in handy in a variety of circumstances.

There is a saying in Chile, es mejor tener amigos que plata, which means “It is better to have friends than money.”

Do you need a new job? Pituto will help you find it through an old friend.

Want a private tour of the presidential palace? Pituto helps when your friend works there.

Having a hard time getting a reservation during the busy travel season? Don’t worry, pituto happens to have a cousin that works down there and can get you in.

Pituto is so pervasive that often times being on the outside is that much harder — for a gringo or a Chilean.

So just remember: friends are better than money in Chile.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Alex's 22nd email from Chile 1/17/11

Alex's desk

Hola Familia!

This week has been crazy. Monday we taught Juan and it was awesome he told us he wanted us to pass by and teach him everyday. We didn't teach him everyday but like 4 or 5 times this week. He is progressing like crazy he has accepted all of our commitments word of wisdom, law of chastity everything. He didn't go to church but that's because he was sick. He is so awesome and has just totally changed everything in his life. I have honestly not seen someone change like him.

It has been sooooo flippin hot here. It was funny though, one day we were walking and the street was just like a flippin river. These people opened up the fire extinguisher and dammed off the water and created a flippin pool in the middle of the road haha. It was funny to watch.

This is the view from Alex's apartment.
He said that usually the smog is so bad that you can't see the mountains with snow on them. I'm assuming those mountains in the back ground with snow on them are the Andes Mountain range.

Friday is where all my news is though. We had zone conference. It was in Republica and it was pretty cool. We had a 70 come talk to us about improving our teaching skills. Also I didn't even realize it but every conference they celebrate all the birthdays of the missionaries that are in between conferences which is like every other change. So I had my birthday celebrated and got a thing of banana bread! I got a ton of mail. Finally got the package with Ben's walk man thank you. But, I also got my dear john! It is ok though, a close friend sent me a letter about a month ago and told me she has been dating a guy pretty seriously so I have been expecting it. Really I am fine. I just thought it was funny cause didn't Brandon get his dear john on his birthday and I got mine the day we celebrated it haha. Also we had a dear john party later and they made me take a picture with it. But most importantly I got two letters from the family Gonzales. I am so happy you don't even believe it. This just made everything better. One I got a wedding invite from them and a letter from Juan Pablo the dad. He has been inactive for YEARS! I told you guys that in the letter he said I have big news for you 1. we got married on the 8th of January, 2. Patricia was baptized on the 9th, 3. guess who baptized her? I did! I am just soo happy for that family they have been waiting so long for this and it is even better that he baptized her. This family can seriously change the ward there in Malloco they are so awesome. Literally that letter alone just made everything ok about my dear john just everything. It doesn't matter because I am here for something that is way more important. God has a plan for me and my life and I know one day I will be blessed for it. Well, not one day I already am :)

Zone Conference with Elder Corbridge from the First Quorum of the Seventy

So we found this group of youth like 3 friends about 15 yrs that want to listen to the lessons. One of them is soo awesome his name is Nicolas and is way legit. I am excited about it cause our ward has like almost no youth.

Saturday we had an awesome activity with the priesthood of our ward where we made and ate hamburgers in the house of one of our other investigators. We brought Juan. It was awesome everyone loved it. At the activity though the 1st counselor asked me to give a talk the next day! I was like what? I had to give a talk on member missionaries and how everyone is one. So I go home write about 2 and a half pages for my talk, go to church and I am the last speaker and they left me with like 30 mins to talk! I had been praying like crazy the entire morning. I can honestly tell you now the gift of tongues is real. Never in my whole mission has my Spanish been this good. I didn't even use the talk I wrote and talked the whole 30 mins and actually went a little over. I told my ward about and started with the story of Kira and her example for me and how she was an amazing member missionary growing up and still is. Shared a scripture about the sons of mosiah and talked about their love for everyone and their desire to teach and share the gospel with everyone after their conversions. Honestly it felt like the best talk I have ever given. I obviously talked about more stuff but don't have time to write it all. After a hermana came up to me told me she was enchanted with my talk, it was beautiful, and she understood everything (in the beginning of my talk I asked for forgiveness if they couldn't understand me). It was way awesome! Also forgot to tell you that morning we had a meeting with the bishop in the morning and the church was flooded! Some kids turned the fire hose on and didn't turn it off all the way so we spent the morning drying everything before church started.

To answer your questions, no I didn't feel the earthquake it was too far south. Umm it will probably start getting colder around April I think. I know the seasons are just opposite. Juan is awesome he is progressing a ton! Chileans end their sentences with 'po' usually but 'ya' too 'ya' is just more natural for me I guess haha I never thought of it. No my knee started hurting on a Saturday but it is basically all gone. I only feel it now and then now so it is getting better. The family with the paperwork is good they are just hard to get in touch with at times. You can attach photos if you want. I don't think it would slow anything down. About Grandpa Leavitt all I remember is the last family gathering we had when everyone camped outside the house haha. I played in the huge puddles and pretend pieces of wood were ships, and how he brought everyone of us in and gave us his quote and I remember I sat on the side of his bed and gave him a hug. Then it was like the first day or close to it that we finally got back to San Diego we got the phone call that he died and I just bawled. I don't know why I did I had only met him once that I could remember. And now I have his tie and use it on my mission and I have his missionary plaque on the mission (a quote on prayer that he gave each of his grandkids before he passed away). Guess since I never really got to know him I can try somehow. I don't even know if this makes sense but those are the memories I have of my Grandpa Leavitt.

Well I literally have no time now but I wanted to end with something I found while flipping through my missionary study journal. It was a quote I wrote down from this last General Conference and I don't even remember who said it but it just hit me crazy hard when I read it again. It says something like this cause I am doing this from memory ¨ We will all one day have to relate what we did with the name of Christ¨ It hit me way hard cause one I wear his name everyday here in Chile. But then I was like "wait we all took upon ourselves the name of Christ when we were baptized and then weekly as we take the sacrament." It just makes you think of what you do from day to day that one day you will be judged for it. I don't know thought I would share that with you.


Elder Alex Leavitt

p.s. Hey I sent Sarah something special last week I really hope it gets there let me know when it does.

Alex with his 'Dear John' at his 'Dear John' party.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Alex's 21st letter from Chile 1/10/11

I believe this was taken at the Mission Christmas Party.
I recognize 3 of the Elders from some of Alex's MTC pictures but only remember two names.
Far left is Elder Nielsen; his companion in the MTC & Elder Moody is between
Elder Nielsen & Alex.

Hola family!

AMAZING WEEK!!! but I will save that news for later. So turns out I have been swearing like my whole time here and didn't even know!! I do this thing with my hands sometimes ya... well turns out it means F*** you mother! And no one has told me until I was at the house of an investigator and they told me. Crazy embarrassing right? So I just explained how in the States it has no significance and how I guess I need to work on not doing it haha. (I think they must say "ya" at the end of their sentences in Chile because Alex used it a lot while he was talking to us at Christmas and he is now using it when he write.)

This is the home where Alex & Elder Diaz spent Christmas

Also another funny story, the other day we were walking and here in the city it is like all walls in front of the houses and we were heading to an appointment and someone from behind their wall shot me in the face with a water gun!! I was so stunned I had no idea what had just happened.

But on a more spiritual note I guess, this is also a cool story, so every week we get pouch that is when we receive our letters and what not. Well in pouch for me and elder Diaz we received about 5-6 old paperwork for old investigators for our sector. Some were from 2 years ago. We have no idea who sent them or how they even had them but we passed by for them and found this one solid family that lost contact with the missionaries over a year ago! It is so cool and I am so excited to start working with them. This week also we got a ton of new mission rules. I guess some crazy stuff went down in another mission here in Chile and we are no longer allowed to take photos with the Sister missionaries unless you have your comp and she has hers crazy!

Another picture of the Elders at Christmas.
(Alex asked us while we were on skype if it looked like he had lost weight because people there have told him he looks like he has. It was hard to tell just from his face but we said maybe he had a little. In this picture where we can see him standing it's very obvious he has lost weight.)

It has been soooo hot here like crazy! The other night I couldn't sleep I was so hot it was terrible. Also all week my knee has been killing me but I have been living with it. I have been icing it and taking ibuprofen so hopefully it works.

A cool story, so a family of investigators that we have told me the other day they really like me because I am crazy and like to have fun haha. They said they don't like those missionaries that are pure work and as they said ¨Square¨ haha. So that made me feel cool. Oh Sunday Elder Diaz randomly was called on to give a talk with zero warning so that scares me to think I might get called on haha.

I am just so happy with all the progress we are making here and that leads me to my last and crazy awesome news. WE HAVE A FECHA!!! We set an baptismal date with one of our investigators for the 29th of January. I am just so crazy excited cause there has not been a baptism here for a long time. His name is Juan. He is like 50 something and his wife who has been like "I am catholic and not going to change" the whole time told us that he is the head of the family and with a little work she would probably follow or something like that. But Juan is amazing. He was a raging alcoholic like you could find him passed out in the middle of the street. But he has just totally changed his life and it is soo awesome. I love this guy. He is a little goof but he is cool. Just neat to see people change their lives you know?

To answer your questions, Elder Champion was in Peñaflor with me remember? But got changed and now one change later we are in the same district again. He is legit. He is one of my best friends here in the mission. He is from California too up near San Francisco. Elder Nielson is actually in my Zone now. He is doing way better and is normal now. I like him and we have some good conversations. I think the MTC was just hard for him. And I wrote the family back and will mail it this week.

Hey, so I am starting to make a package to send home cause I have a bunch of stuff that piling up ya? So I want to know if you think I should send home my journal. I have about a weeks amount of pages left in it so I think I will send it what do you think?

Christmas in a missionary apartment.
Elder from England, Elder Diaz, Elder Leavitt & Elder from Argentina

Well I feel like this is a short email but there are pictures so that makes up for it. I love you all a ton and will talk to you later.

Con Mucho Amor,

Elder Leavitt

Monday, January 3, 2011

Alex's 20th email from Chile 01/03/11

The Mission Picture taken at the Mission Christmas Party - December 23, 2010
(Alex is on the 4th/5th row in towards the middle on the left hand side. His tie is red)

Hola Familia!

So I had a pretty cool week. Monday played some soccer I am really starting to dominate now just thought I would let you know.

Then Tuesday we had interviews with President King. We had a good interview. He was all like "how is the new sector?" I was like "you know its all good" He asked how my old investigators in Malloco are doing. I told him they are good and then he was like "you had a lot of them ya?" I said "yes" and then he was like "sorry about that" haha it was funny. But over all I love that man. He said he feels that Elder Diaz and I can really get this sector going so it is cool he has that confidence in me.

On Wednesday I had divisions with Elder Marideña. I probably butchered his name. But it was cool. I had a good time and we had some good lessons and his little review thing of me was awesome I was pretty stoked.

Then on Thursday the zone leaders came and had divisions with us. So 2 days in a row! But we stayed in the sector and did work! In that day we did so much contacting and knocking doors it was ridiculous! But we found two new investigators and they are awesome! I am really excited about it. One is this older grandpa guy and he thinks I am German. I have tried telling him I am not German, but he doesn't believe me because he has German in him and is really proud of it, so he thinks I am German. The other is this kid Alan and he is golden. His whole family is inactive but have been so inactive now one in the ward knows them and he is the only one who is not baptized. He is 16 and just a little bit ago has started searching for a religion. He is awesome.

Then on Saturday we had divisions again but this time I went with Elder Champion! He is one of my best friends here in the mission he was in Peñaflor with me and we have basically the same time. It was awesome and I had a ton of fun with him and we did work.

Sunday we had an investigator show up to church! And had some good lessons that day too. All in all we are starting to make some head way here in Lo Ovalle and I am way excited about it!

My favorite scripture is Deutronomy 20: 3 - 4

3And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;

4For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

That has been my favorite scripture since high school and it has gotten me threw some pretty hard times.

For new Years we actually got to stay out a little later how bout that? haha it was awesome but here they celebrate new years like backwards. Like in the states we start our parties at like 9ish ya? Then we party all night do the countdown then like one more hour and then around 1ish everyone goes home. At least that's how I remember it. Here they do the countdown and start their party and end at like 8 in the morning! On Monday there were so many drunks laying around everywhere!! I wish I had my camera to take pictures but I didn't know. It was just so funny. But we celebrated New Years with our mission leader Edic. He is tight and his family is awesome. It was a lot of fun.

Elder Diaz is doing better. I think I am starting to rub off on him so that is good. I just don't think he used to my craziness haha. Sharing the apartment is awesome. I am just glad I like the other guys. I could tell it would suck though if I didn't. Overall it is awesome and all of us really get along well. But ya it is all good here.

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

Con mucho amor,

Elder Alex Leavitt

All thumbs up in this one :)