Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to Greet a Chilean

Chileans greet each other with a kiss

For the most part Alex has been able to dodge the way Chilean women greet each other.  He's had only one grandmother that managed to get him :) 

Don’t be embarrassed or unsure of yourself when greeting a Chilean. Here’s what you need to know…

Men greeting each other for the first time will do so with a firm handshake. You’re safe to use a handshake in almost any setting, business or casual, especially as a foreigner meeting new people.

If a man is friends with another man, they will exchange an abrazo which is like a big bear hug with a pat on the back. Sometimes this abrazo follows a three step process: shake hands, give a hug, shake hands again.

Women will greet other women with a kiss on the cheek. Likewise, men greet women (even if they have never met before) with a kiss on the cheek.

This kiss on the cheek isn’t really a kiss as much as it is kissing the air. Lightly touch right cheeks and blow a soft kiss into the air. Beware that old women (think grandmas) will probably plant a big juicy kiss on your cheek.

As a general rule of thumb, when meeting people for the first time:

Women always greet others with a kiss.

Men greet other men with handshakes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Alex's 32nd email from Chile 3/28/11

This picture makes me laugh because it's a typical Alex picture
Hola Familia!!

So this week was just overall awesome. I have not worked so hard in such a long time and I am loving it.  We are constantly on the move walking to appointments or knocking doors it is awesome. But side effect is I am always just super tired but at least it is a good tired :) 

Paul is progressing very well.  He couldn't come to church Sunday though cause he is sick and actually was taken to the hospital.  We are going to try and pass by for him tonight and see how he is. But now I don't know if I told you his little brother really wants to be baptized so I am excited about that. 

I have come to realize that and had been wondering why I have not been finding many families to teach and baptize. Everyone in the mission dreams of finding just some large family and baptizing them and later going to the temple with them to see them sealed as a eternal family.  The Mission president and other leaders say we need to focus on finding families and here I am looking at my work I have been doing and I am thinking to myself "why on earth have I not found a family?"  But I have realized what I have mainly been doing is completing families and then reactivating them.  Which you know what?  I am totally ok with.  To watch first Alan be baptized was amazing but to watch his influence activate his mom who is working crazy hard to be able to take the sacrament again and then watching their example influence Hermana Jessica's sister Mussi to want the same thing and now Samantha is going to be baptized this Sunday is just amazing that I can't even describe the joy I am feeling.  Especially when Hermana Mussi and Samantha asked me to baptize Samantha this Sunday. I am soo happy it is ridiculous.   So ya Samantha will be baptized this Sunday in between sessions :) 

So crazy news I have received. Elder Pedraza got sent home before this last change. I guess he stopped getting better and was having depression problems so now he is back home.  It blew me away.  I know we had our problems but that is still sad.  I feel really bad for him. 

So we have really focused on trying to find new people to teach and with the help of the Lord we found this awesome family we have taught a couple times and I am really hoping they continue to progress. The guys name is Maximus.  How legit of a name is that?  But they are really sweet.  It's the two of them and their baby.  They are newly weds and are awesome.  I am praying big time for them. Nacho is really starting to show some progress.  He is the inactive kid I have talked about and we have worked alot with him.  His brother-in-law is an amazing artist and said he is going to make me something.  I am excited to see what he makes. 

Tell Dad I have not received any Easter letter or the package from the young women. I am pretty sure Alan's dad is a member just inactive. The weather is weird it has gotten all hot again but is still super cold in  the mornings.  I am repping my Lama jacket a lot in the mornings. 

So something sad, Mussi´s husband is not a member and drinks alot.  Apparently they have been fighting alot and has been saying he wants to leave them. It breaks my heart to hear that happening especially to Mussi and Samantha.  He hasn't left yet but we go over to Alan's house and a couple times she has been there just crying. It´s like I want to help but I don't know what I would do or if I am even allowed or could do anything.  It's just something I find so stupid.  Just makes me think about what it says about Fathers like that in Jacob where God is tired of seeing the Tears of his beautiful daughters for the sake of Dad's and Father's. Even if I can't do anything just reafirms the testimony I have of what kind of Dad I want to be in the future and especially the need to make sure you pick your spouse carefully and make sure you both have the same standards and goals in life so you don't have problems like this.  Honestly one of the saddest things I have seen in my mission.  It just honestly tears me apart on the inside watching this effect Samantha and Mussi. 

On a more lighter note, Elder Sanchez said something funny to me this morning.  He said the way I talk and sound when speaking Spanish I sound Russian.  I was like "hmmmm I guess that is better than American" so I am guessing my accent is getting better hahaha.  It just made me laugh cause Russian is just so random. 

Hey I loved hearing about Frank that guy is a stud tell him "hi" for me :)

Well family and friends I Love you all.  I love my mission.  I am so happy to be here and be doing what I am doing. We taught Nacho a lesson yesterday about missionary work and I could not have been more animated and excited while talking about it.  I have such a strong testimony of what I am doing here and how it can bless the lives of the people you are teaching and come in contact with, and also how it blesses the life of the missionary.  I have been so blessed that I can't even begin to make a list of the ways of how it has already effected who I am, who I want to be and the goals and things I want to do with my life.  I have never been so focused on what is truly important in this life. I pray for you guys every night.  It's weird, I feel like I just got here but in my zone I am actually one of the older ones.  It's so strange to have other missionaries ask me for advise. I love you all!

             Con Mucho Amor,
                                          Elder Alexander Thomas Leavitt

Monday, March 21, 2011

Alex's 31st email from Chile 3/21/11

 Alex eating his birthday cake. It looks yummy!

Hola Familia!!!!

AMAZING WEEK! I love my new companion he is a fellow gringo named Elder Sellers.  He is from Virginia and has 17 months in the mission. The kid is a stud and we have been tearing Lo Ovalle apart.  We do talk a little more English than we should but for some reason I feel like my Spanish is way better than it has been.  I am actually talking a ton if not more than my companion at times in our lessons so I don't know what happened cause my Spanish is pretty dang legit now. 
Our first day together I took him by this kid named Paul who has 14 years.  We had only passed by his place like two times and have not really taught him much but we went to see if he was home and started teaching him about the Holy Ghost and Eternal Life.  I asked him if he wants these things in his life and he said yes. I asked him if he knew what he needed to do if he wanted them, He said yes I need to be baptized. So I then asked him if he would be baptized on the 10th of April by someone who holds the proper authority and he said YES!  Since then this kid has been on fire! He went to a young mens activity on Saturday and church this past Sunday it has been awesome!  He is such a good kid. It is going to be awesome teaching him. 
Samantha has her baptismal interview this Tuesday. That girl is adorable. We were teaching her the 10 commandments and she would always have to say she is obeying that commandment.  We get to the 5th obey your father and mother and all that then she says "I respect my parents until they just keep asking me to do alot of stuff"  I just started laughing it was funny the way she said it. 
Jessica is doing amazing.  We have a goal for her to stop smoking and we are going to have a party.  I am pretty excited about it. Elder Mahoni an elder from New Zealand is sitting next to me and says hi. 
Sunday was amazing our chapel was filled!!!  We have been working really hard with the inactive families in our ward and a ton of them came to church it was awesome to see them. Alan was excited because he blessed the sacrament for the first time. I love watching how excited he is about this gospel. It has just been awesome watching this Ward grow and expanding.  It has truly been such a blessing being here. Just seeing what it was and what it is now is just amazing.  I love the mission.

I loved my birthday gifts!!  I wore my Canadian soccer jersey to play soccer today.  Everyone thought that it was legit!  Which it is. I ate the chocolate so fast haha.  I had no control. They have like some brand of brownies in some of the bigger stores but for the most part they are still unknown to Chileans and they love them! Alan's mom was just like that was so easy to make but they are delicious haha.   Elder Diaz went to Ochagavia.  It is still in the city and he is not that far from me like only 10 mins. Elder Mann in my pension also went and Elder Barco is training a guy from Peru. Here in my mission we get up at 7:30, we leave at like 11:30,  eat lunch at like 1 or 2,  go back out to work at 3:30 and we need to be in the pension the latest by 10:30 at night then bed at 11:30.  I personally like the hours of our mission.

This change is going to be awesome!  I am so excited.  Hopefully we can find some more legit people to teach here in a little bit so I can see them progress before I head out. I am so stoked to be here.

Con Mucho Amor,
                          Elder Leavitt

Monday, March 14, 2011

Alex's 30th email from Chile 3/14/11

Happy Birthday Alex!!!

Hola Familia!!

This week was amazing. So first off though I had my first thing where someone was a real jerk to me situation happen. We were walking on a crowded sidewalk one day and this lady just spits a fatty lugy thing all over me and my comp it was disgusting. Interesting story we were walking and this shirtless man walks up to us and starts telling us how he trusts us knows we are good people and act in the name of Christ.  Then says if we were true servants of Christ we would help unload this huge truck filled with stuff so us being true disciples of Christ helped this guy unload a truck of a ton of stuff haha.  My shirt was soo dirty afterwards. Hey speaking of Japan I was going to ask you how the missionaries are doing there cause I have a really good friend serving his mission there in Sapporro. 

Alex, Juan, Elder Diaz & Alan at the Santiago Temple.
(look how tan Alex is!!)

Alan was excited to tell me that we were friends on facebook and that he was your friend too haha. SO BEST PART OF THE WEEK. So we went to the Temple again with Alan and this time Juan too but not for a tour or anything.  Alan and Juan went to do Baptisms!!!  And we were allowed to go and watch them! But even cooler was even though we were not allowed to do the baptism we were allowed to do their confirmations!  So I did my first confirmations in Spanish!! Oh it was soo cool.  I loved it!  The Spirit was so strong and it was just a neat thing to be able to do with our converts. I have been so amazingly blessed while on my mission with cool opportunities like this. There was a temple missionary there named Elder Workman. He thinks we are related because we come from Canada.  He said he was going to call you guys.  Let me know if he does. Something really cool about the temple was that as like highlights on the inside there is this stone called Lapiz Lassuli or something like that.  This stone is soo pretty, it is blue and it is unique to only Chile and the middle east it is just super pretty.  I loved it. After we went to the CCM  again for Alan. (The CCM is the missionary training center in Santiago).  He wanted to go and say hi to the missionaries and take a picture.  It was cool for them too because we went the first time before he was baptized and that batch of missionaries had just gotten there and they are there for 3 weeks.  Well when we went they were just ending their time there and Alan had been baptized received the holy ghost and went to the temple way neat!
Elder Nielsen & Elder Leavitt MTC companions now in the same zone and at the Santiago Temple.
My Birthday was awesome! Elder Nielson bought me a present.  I love that guy now he has changed and grown a lot. He bought me a recorder.  One of the plastic flute things haha so I can play hymns. Alan and his family threw me a birthday party!  It was super nice of them to do.  It was way fun.  We had cake and dinner and I brought the brownie mix you sent me and shared it with them.  It was just super awesome.  I love that family. Awesome news though! Jessica, Alan's mom is now an active member of the church.  God has blessed that family soo much and Samantha should be getting baptized here in the next little bit.  I am super pumped about it.

Jessica & Alex making the brownie mix I sent for his birthday.

So Tomorrow is transfers and Elder Diaz is now leaving me.  So I have another change here at least which I am happy about because I still feel like the work the Lord has for me here in Lo Ovalle is not done yet.  I still feel like there is someone else I need to find.  I don't know who but I know he is there.  I have not had a feeling like this before its weird. Elder Champion has changes.  I am sad about that but oh well. 
Yes they have daylights saving here in Chile I don't know when it is though haha. Yes the Key chain is for you and I am glad you enjoyed the box there is some cool stuff in there. Elder Champion is from California and he was in the MTC the same time as me but in a different part.  He has one more change than I do. Ya and Elder Nielson is in my zone.  The ward is doing amazing.  They are growing and on Sunday we had the best assistance and numbers for the ward in the entire time I have been there.  It is awesome just watching this place grow and strengthen.  I love it.  
The weather is starting to change but like fast this last week it has deffinantly changed to autumn.  Man I can't spell.  It is starting to be colder in the mornings and for longer it doesnt get hot until like 1 in the afternoon now its crazy.  I am happy I bought that Llama jacket.

Well I love you guys and pray for you every night.  It is awesome to be here in Chile and doing what I am doing.  It is an amazing feeling to actually know you are being used as a tool and instrument in the hand of the Lord.  It is a feeling I will never forget.

Con Mucho amor.

                            Elder Leavitt

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Alex's 29th email from Chile 3/7/11

 Santa Lucia

Hola Familia!!
This Week was an awesome one.  Man I read your letter this week and there were some words you used I had to think twice about just to remember the meaning. I was like "dang my English is terrible now." But wow I am super surprised that my package got there so fast.  Haha I am glad you liked all the pictures.  I was pretty proud of it.  I made sure they had to cut through two Jesus Christ to get to my package. Haha hey just tell me you found that necklace with the old school peso.  I love that thing. But tell me what you think about it and what is in it and everything. I got my Birthday package this week.  Thank you soo much.  I will tell you more of what I think about it this next Monday.  It is wierd to think I am going to be 20 years old this Saturday.  It makes me feel super old and like I have a lot of time in the mission. Alan's mom told me they are going to throw me a party haha.

On Monday I bought the most amazing jacket and I am sending pictures of it cause I am so pumped about it. Hey don't go out of your way but if you can send me envelopes from the States that would be awesome the envelopes here are terrible and I always need to tape them closed cause the dumb glue doesnt work.  Hey also I looked and I don't have the notes from my setting apart can you send them to me?

So like I said this week was legit.  I would call it the week of many blessings. I say that because we gave a ton of blessings this week. We were walking one day and there was an ambulance on the street outside a members house and I was like that is odd and I felt like we should go by and see if it was actually for them or for some other house but we were on the way to a cita.  So we didn't but the cita was not home so I was like "hey lets go by the house" and sure enough it was for this member.  The husband said she had not been feeling well and then just kinda passed out.  I asked him if he had given her a blessing and he said she hadn't asked for one and he said he didn't have any oil.   So I whipped out my oil we went in and gave her a blessing and sure enough it was awesome.  Afterwards the color in her face came back and she was way better.  The husband was so excited and kept saying it was a miracle and what not. Something that I forgot that was really cool was when we walked into the room the hermana said "look God sent me two angels"  I know it really isn't anything special but it did make me feel really good about myself.   

Also I went on divisions this week and I have come to love divisions because everytime I go on one something really cool happens and this time didn't change.  We had a really good day, taught alot, and at night we were going to a cita and these three gypsies called us over and said they had a question for us.  So we go over and they were like "hey we want to have a blessing of health, you know with your oil and hands on the head and then they did the little motion".  We were both just taken back.  I was like "how do you even know about that" and they said years ago they recieved one from other missionaries.  So we went in and sat on their rug crossed legged under this huge tarp just like gypsies do and first explained everything about blessings. These gypsies were awesome.  They were so humble and had so much faith.  They said we may not be apart of your church but we know you young boys are sent from God and have his power to heal us.  They said it so confidently it was amazing.  So we gave these three gypsy ladies blessings.  They had the craziest names it was ridiculous.  One was like Chevonka or something like that.  Also I love when they talk in their Romanian language.  But we gave the first two their blessings.  They had like bad backs and migranes and what not. Then the last one comes up and in a low voice and says "I need something a little different. For years me and my husband have been trying to have a baby.  We have gone to doctors and they all said they couldn't do anything and I need you to bless me so I can have one."  All I could do in this moment was think of Kira. So we told her that we could give her this blessing but to remember that she will recieve it only if she has the faith that this could happen.  She told us she had the faith so we gave her the blessing.  After I explained that it is important to remember the God does not have the same time schedule as we do.  That he sees everything perfectly and we only have one point of view. That he will answer your prays and bless you accordingly to when he feels we need to recieve those things.  It was an awesome experience.

 Alex & Elder Champion

So school started this last week and now there are kids always in the streets in their school uniforms.  It's weird, cause when I got here it was like that too.  Also to come along with school all of a sudden all these flippin parrots showed up.  They screech soo loud.  I guess they are called loros.  They are greenish and sneaky.   I have yet been able to catch a photo of one but  I continue to try.

 Alex & Elder Champion

Sunday Alan was confirmed and he recieved the Holy Ghost and the priesthood!  His great-Grandmother who couldnt be any happier bought the kid two new suits!  So he came to church looking like a champ.  He asked to wear our plaques for a little so he could look like a missionary.  He has decided that in 3 years he is going on a mission.  I love this kid.  The bishop bore his testimony and asked all the dads to give their kids blessing before school starts. Alan then asked us if we could give him a blessing that night for school the next day.  What 16 year old kid does that?  I love him. So we went by and gave him a blessing it was awesome. So that ends my week of blessings haha.
 Alan at his baptism with his Father, Mother & Great Grandmother
Elder Diaz & Alex

To answer your questions, Dad if you found the street if you are in a car and turn right off of gran avenida onto santa clara its the corner building on the right. 

 Alex, Elder Champion, Elder Diaz

Some investigators, todovia we have Gabriela and her family she has slowed down cause she has an uncle who is an evangelico priest that is confusing her but she is still progressing, a lady named Patricia that is pretty awesome, a kid named Paul who is awesome and I feel like with a little time he will be baptized, and then finally Carmen the wife of Juan.  She is a very stubborn lady but she is progressing.
No it has not cooled off at all.  My entire back is just soaked as I am sitting here writing you this letter.  Yes, I have a copy of my mission call but if you could send me a copy of my setting apart that would be legit. 
Something cool,  remember those living scripture videos we would always watch before church as little kids?? Well I now have a ton of them in Spanish! How legit is that.  I am soo pumped about it!!  Has Kira gotten my letter?
Well family we were super late getting to internet today perdoname. I love you all and I pray for you guys everynight,
Con Mucho Amor,
                           Elder Alex Leavitt

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chilean Salad Recipes

Chilean salad, or ensalada chilena is a traditional Chilean food that you will encounter during your stay in Chile.

Here’s a Chilean salad next to some freshly eaten seafood:


If you are used to a salad with lots of lettuce and green color, you may not even think that ensalada chilena qualifies as a salad.

However, this salad variation consisting primarily of tomatoes, onions, and cilantro is a common side dish with Chilean meals.

There are many different recipes but the basic ingredients are:
3 sliced tomatoes
1 sliced onion
1/4 cup diced cilantro
1 tablespoon oil
Salt, vinegar, pepper to taste.

Here's another persons experience and recipe for Chilean Salad.  Doesn't her picture below look delicious?:

I will never forget the first time I ordered “Chilean Salad” back as an exchange student. Expecting a heaping bowl of greens, to my dismay, what arrived was a simple plate of peeled tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. The waiter, sensing my confusion, quickly explained that the term “salad” in Chile is a generic term for any fresh vegetable, raw or cooked, served cold as an accompaniment.  And in this case, Chilean salad was always made with tomatoes. Aha!.

This salad is a staple on every Chilean table. I am sure if you polled any Chilean, they would name this as a perennial favorite. Quite simply it goes with everything. From the classic humitas, sweet corn tamales, and corn pie in the summer time to costillar de cerdo, spicy pork ribs, grilled chicken, fried fish, any asado, barbecued beef, or even as a side with empanadas or beans which Chileans love. The freshness of the tomatoes, mildness of the onions, and the herbs create crunchy, juicy, tangy, herby ecstasy in your mouth.

Cecilia, my mother-in-law, taught me the age-old Chilean trick of tempering the onions with salt or sugar to take away their sting so they can be savored raw in the salad. Although many Chilean cooks would add cilantro to this recipe, basil is so abundant in the summer time and pairs so well with ripe, succulent tomatoes, I have taken the liberty of making that substitution.

1 medium onion or red onion
1 teaspoon of salt or sugar
3 large ripe tomatoes
¼ cup basil cut in threads, or chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Sea salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Slice the onion paper-thin, cutting with the grain (lengthwise). Separate the sections with your fingers. To temper, sprinkle a teaspoon of salt or sugar, combine well with your hands to mix. Set aside for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, peel, slice, and arrange the tomatoes on a platter. If you prefer, you can leave the skins on the tomatoes although traditionally, most Chileans will peel them.Cut the basil in threads by rolling the washed leaves up like a cigar and slicing finely. When the onion has rested and rendered its “milk,” rinse it well with cold water and gently squeeze out the excess liquid. Arrange the onions on top of the tomatoes and sprinkle with the basil threads.Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly toss before serving.   Serves 4-6 as a side.