Monday, May 30, 2011

Alex's 41st email 5/30/11

 I am bias but I think he's a pretty good looking missionary :)

Hola Family!!

So craziness has struck again. I truly believe Satan is trying his hardest to stop the progress here in La Islita. On Friday night I received word the my big toe is broken. Yes I have broken my frickin toe and I am extremely upset about it.  On Thursday around like 7ish we were stopping and while the bike was still moving I started getting off my bike and fricking kicked a rock perfectly and now have a fracture in my right toe. So ya Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I haven't been able to do anything. Luckily I am in a bike sector so it puts like zero stress on my toe what a blessing right? Starting today I am going back to work full time.  I took the weekend to let my foot rest and maybe it could build up the strength it needs. It's just crazy bad luck on my part eh?

 Here is Alex's unbroken toe. 
He took a picture of each toe to show us the difference.

Alex's broken toe.  Wow! What a difference.

But despite all the craziness we have some awesome news! Camillo now has a baptismal date! This kid is amazing and has been progressing like crazy and has the desire for this gospel.  So ya he has a baptismal date and really wants to be baptized before he has to report back to service he is in the military and has been on leave. We are going to try and stop by his place tonight unfortunately my whole toe situation has been the work on hold for a couple days ugh!

I have come to realize that my district leader Elder Pari really likes me. It was kinda embarrassing but in our district meeting he was talking about us handling rejection and what not and then he said to finish if we all had the attitude and enthusiasm as Elder Leavitt we would all improve our sectors.  I was like cool but I wish he didn't say that to everybody.  Speaking of which I have to give the class tomorrow in our district meeting on the same topic that dad gave his talk revelation through prayer haha. On Friday we had the sickest capacitacion with President King. All about making sure we are converted to the Lord and the gospel before we convert others and we watched the latest MTC talk Elder Holland gave and it was soo legit I can't even describe it. I wish you guys could watch it somehow but I know they don't release those talks.  It was fantastic.

I and I am sure all the other Elders are holding up fine.  It was a tough blow to all of us to lose our brother but if we really let it effect us too hard it's like what are we here for? To testify to these people that we know exactly where he is and what he is doing this instant. He is doing the exact same thing now that he was the day he died; preaching the Plan of Salvation to the children of God.  What an amazing knowledge we have as members of the gospel.  To answer your second question we haven't even really had the opportunity to dive into the depth of our sector yet with this whole toe thing - how annoying. Elder Florez is a champ handling this whole week the way he has. He has a lot of energy as a greenie should have and just wants to help people.  He now has about 3 months in the mission and yes this is his first sector. Training him hasn't been too hard he already knows a lot of the mission and how things work and what not.

 Elder Florez & Elder Leavitt obviously not out in the pueblos.

I have finished the Book of Mormon again in Spanish this past week that is cool for me. I had a dream the other day that I committed a guy to read the Book of Mormon on the terms that I read the bible.  I woke up and had the strangest feeling that I should read the bible from front to cover to tell all those Evangelicos and Testigos de Jehova that yes indeed I have read the bible all the way through we get asked that a lot.  Well I have finished Genesis and am about 25 chapters deep into Exodus.  I am pretty excited about it for some reason.  It's been fun. Also mom I am going to need another journal sent to me here soon.  Thought I would give you a heads up and also I lost my gloves.  I am really upset about those they were fantastic!

 Elder Leavitt & Elder Florez. 
I wish Alex would tell us where these places are. 

Well family I feel like I haven't written a lot.  Please forgive me.  I have just been traveling a lot and chilling in our pension not doing much because of my toe.  This next week there will be no more worries :) I love you all and will talk to you next week!


Elder Alexander Thomas Leavitt

Sis. King sent me an email about Alex and his toe.  I wanted to share it:

I was with Elder Leavitt this past week on his way to have his broken toe looked at. He is a good sport and won't let it stop him from working. We love Elder broken toe we had a good laugh he will be OK just a little sore but always a big smile. Thank you for a wonderful son who loves being a missionary. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Alex's 40th email 5/23/11

 This email has some shocking news in it.  Elder Madsen was emergency transferred to fill a spot in another area.  You can read why below.  Alex is sad that they haven't had more time together.  They got along so well and were working together so well.  As you know, Alex referred to him as a 'work horse' last week.  Maybe at some point they can become companions again and finish what they had just started.  Alex is extremely sad about the reason Elder Madsen was needed elsewhere.  He neglected to tell us the name of the of missionary and his family but we will pray for their family nonetheless and Heavenly Father will know who they are.  We will also pray for that young man's companion and all the other missionaries that knew him and may be affected by his passing. 

This is a picture of Alex & Elder Madsen.  I can tell Elder Madsen has a great sense of humor :)

Hola Familia!!
So I cannot even wait to tell you what has happened.  So like 2 days ago on Saturday a missionary while running in the morning had trouble breathing, collapsed and died! Elder Madsen has been emergency transferred out of La Islita to fill his spot. They also emergency transferred another Elder From our apartment combining the two La Islita sectors into one huge Sector!  I will be here with Elder Florez a greenie from Columbia to work the new La Islita sector.  We only found out last night too.  It has been crazy getting everything figured out.  Technically I am a step dad now in the mission too haha.  It's just sad and crazy to think about cause I knew the Elder that died too.  I was in Malloco when he was a greenie in another part of Peñaflor.  My prayers go out to his family it's just insane to think about.
But it's sad cause Elder Madsen and I have been making so much progress here in La Islita. Camillo is progressing like crazy.  He has kept with every commitment we have given him.  He is reading and understanding everything and has so much excitement and enthusiasm to learn it is just refreshing.  Laura is praying about a baptismal date.  Hopefully she will receive an answer but it is just going to be so much harder now cause we are basically 2 missionaries working and covering two big sectors.  I am going to be soo tired!  But Elder Florez is legit and we will do work!
Camillo and Laura are doing awesome.  We have not been able to meet with Raul and Vivianna lately.  That makes me sad.  The new bike is not new.  It's some other used one.  I would say it is about the same quality lame.  Some other cool stuff that have happened,  I finished the Book of Mormon again this past week in Spanish.  That made me happy.  I gave a talk in church on tithing,  a flippin dog ate my helmet so I need to get a new one.  We gave a ton of blessings this past week to people.  It was way neat.  I had the worst migraine yesterday and it is still killing me today ugh!  I am learning flaite from Camillo and them haha and I am teaching them English.  They are so legit.
Sorry my letter is so short.  It has been hectic dealing with everything that's been happening and I don't have much internet time today.  I love you all and I am praying for you.  Congrats on all the graduations!!
Con mucho Amor,
Elder Alex Leavitt

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Alex's 39th email 5/16/11

 Elder Leavitt & Elder Madsen
Alex writes "I told you I am in wine country here in La Islita.  Well here is a batch of grapes out of the wine barrels"

Hola Familia!!!!

First off I am way tired.  We have been working like crazy trying to get this place going but it is way difficult.  I will be honest this place is about ten times as dead as Lo Ovalle was but we are working hard so it will just take a little bit of time. I probably have done more contacting in the 3 weeks I have been here than in all my other sectors combined it's insane and I know that is why I have been so tired. 

 Alex mentioned in his Mother's Day call that their area is surrounded by a mountain.  I'm assuming this is it.

So guess what? There is now a new rule that we are no longer allowed to go to the temple as a mission.  It made me sad.  We are allowed to go for converts going for the first time and when we leave the mission.  We also learned that Elder Madsen and I are getting new bikes tomorrow.  Just in time too!  My seat on my bike just broke off haha. I got a new helmet too and it is crazy.  I swear the thing is military grade haha.  

 Bye, bye bike!  He sure sounds excited about getting a new one. 

Tuesday I went on divisions with a greenie named Elder Britt.  The kid is legit haha.  We had a fun time.  I have never been with someone though who didn't really know Spanish so it was weird at first having to really talk the whole time but I made him talk alot though cause I know it is good for him and he thanked me actually cause I guess his comp really doesn't give him time to talk.  But it was awesome we taught alot of lessons in his sector. 
OH!!! awesome story!! so I told you already we get attacked alot while riding bikes.  Well I have always tried kicking them but for the most part they stay just out of kicking range so I have never hit one.  But like it's scary when they attack cause if you are not careful you will crash, they run in front of your bike and all around you and so ya.  But when I was on division a group of dogs came running at us. It was beautiful,  this dog comes running up on my right side and leaped at me to bite me. I stared it down the whole way winded up and let my foot go and nailed it in the face!  It was soo legit!!  Made my day haha. 
We have been doing a ton of contacts like I said and have found 5 news this week.  We are pretty happy.  I have high hopes for 2 of them.  This older guy named Raul who loved having us over and actually invited us to a asado, and Camillo who is 20 and in the military.  Camillo is soo cool and so fun to talk to.  He is funny and likes to goof around but when we start teaching or start talking about the gospel he gets way serious and into it.  He is golden I can feel it.  I have a very good feeling about him, also Laura.  We feel like we are going to invite them to baptism in the next one or two appointments.   We feel like they are ready so keep them in your prayers.  They have been progressing a lot I am excited about them.

Asado is a term used both for a range of barbecue techniques and the social event of having or attending a barbecue in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and southern Brazil. In these countries asado is also the standard word for barbecue.  This a picture of the asado that Raul invited the Elders to.

We have a cita with Vivianna tonight I am excited for that.  Elder Madsen is a stud.  I love that kid.  I hope I get to be with him another change.  We have a great time and the kid is a workhorse. The branch is tiny.  I told you how we have 4 Elders in our one branch.  So I thought it would be good to count how many members live in our sector.  So we can see how we are doing with our own personal sector attendance.  We can't do anything to help the other sector but we can help ours you know.  So I decided to count our own personal attendance as well.   Well out of 57 members who attended this last Sunday 13 live in our sector crazy!  Part of the reason our sector is slow is that we have very little member support. Saturday we went to the feria.  Basically where they close down a street and sell goods.  We set up a table had pictures of Christ, pamphlets, pass along cards, had a free sign, and the four of us sang hymns.  Then we would do a little contacting and sing some more.  It was fun and we usually give away almost all of the stuff it was cool.  Also we went exploring and found some huge mansions.  We contacted some and this white guy walks out! Turns out this dude is from New Castle England and has been living in Talagante for the past 20 years! insane.  It was cool and surprisingly difficult to contact in English. 

 Alex in his area.  You can see an orchard at the base of the mountain.

Well family I love you a ton I am out of time and will talk to you next week!!


Elder Leavitt

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mother's Day Phone Call 5/8/11

We love this smile and are so glad we got to see it during our Skype session.

We had a wonderful talk with Alex for about an hour on Mother's Day.  The pictures we took this time are not nearly as clear as they were at Christmas but they are still fun to have.  The first thing his sisters noticed is that he has lost weight - enough that we could  notice.  He told us it's okay because he has a 6 pack :)  He also told us that there are missionaries who have gained 20-30 kilos because of all the bread and the way they eat in Chile.  Alex LOVES the bread & the food!!  I asked him if they celebrate Mother's Day in Chile and they do.  He said they don't really do anything different than what we do here.  He and Elder Madsen were invited to a Mother's Day Barbeque and it was really good.

Alex was quite excited to show us his Llama tie and talk about all of us other Llama clothing he has acquired.  He talked with quite an accent this time and there were several times where he did not know the English word for something and would ask his companion.  If his companion didn't know or didn't hear him he would just try to explain it as best he could.  It really was fun to not only hear him speak in Spanish again but especially fun to hear his Spanish accent while speaking English.  He also told us that he dreams in Spanish and that his companions tell him he "sleep talks" in Spanish.

 Elder Madsen & Elder Leavitt

Alex's new companion is Elder Madsen from Le Grande, Oregon.  We were able to talk to him for a few minutes and that was fun.  He seems like a wonderful young man and I know that Alex really likes him.  He told us that his Mom had found my mission blog before he entered the MTC and has been following it.  Isn't it fun that she's been following it and now our boys are companions?  I think it's pretty neat :)  His Mom and I are now facebook friends as well.  Alex also told us of another missionary who came in not that long ago that he met who told him that he had followed the blog as well.  

Alex with some members from the branch.  It's their laptop the Elders used to make their calls.

Fred mentioned that our first phone call with Alex at Christmas he had just been transferred 4 days before that and now this call he had just been transferred for just a little over a week.  It was great to find out more about his area.  Alex kept telling us over and over how large their area (sector) is.  He said that they could ride a bus for 45 mins. and still not leave the area.  The area is a little warmer than when he was in Santiago.  His area is surrounded by a big hill/mountain.  He says it's an interesting area because they work mostly in little pueblos out in the country and there is mostly shacks and then you'll randomly run across a mansion.  It's a center for grapes and everything smells like wine.  He said that they have spending a lot of time exploring the sector as they do their work because there are no maps of the area so they are learning as they go and trying to make their own maps.  Alex told us they don't live in their sector (which I already said is out in the pueblos).  They get to ride bikes because their area is so remote and so large.  He said that the pedal on his bike had fallen off at least 5 times since he's been there but he's grateful to have the bike.  He said that dogs try to attack them while they are riding.  He tries to kick them but they always jump back just in time.  Alex told us that they have a 30 minute bus ride to go get groceries.  They are not in a ward but are in a branch.  There are 4 Elders assigned to the branch.  The Church rents a house for the branch to meet in.  There are 45 members in the branch. Alex says that the people in the area are pretty friendly.

Do you remember that I had mentioned that in Alex's other areas he had people tell him he looked like Ken the Barbie?  Well in this area they think he looks like him also ha!ha!  You know, we never thought that while he was growing up but we've now all decided we can see it :)  In this area they also think he looks like Matt Damon.  We have actually heard that one before.  I guess some also think he looks like Jim Carrey but I don't see that one.  I guess the members love to have him say a quote from Don Quixote (La Libre) that his sidekick Sancho says "No time to lose!"  Every time he says it they laugh and laugh.

Alex laughing and rubbing his eyes after Alexis has his say "No time to lose!" They were all laughing so hard.  We didn't really get it.

Alex told us a funny story about an investigator that they are no longer teaching.  We took some funny pictures of him telling us in a very animated way.  The story is too long to write but the basics of the story are that he was sick, prayed to be healed and Jesus came to him with a bowl of onions and told him to eat the onions and how he can now eat onions anytime of  the day and that Jesus healed him with the onions.  

Alex relating the onion story.

Alex told us that in Chile they have a bunch of random ideas (superstitions) that are interesting.  The one he shared with us apparently isn't native to Chile but is something that other Latino countries believe also.  Ben was telling us they were the same in Mexico.  The one he told us about was the "crooked mouth" superstition. He was telling us that there are times that they will knock on a door and the person will come to the door with their mouth covered and will tell them they can't come out.  They think if they drink something hot and then come out in the cold their mouth will become crooked.  Alex said they will tell story after story about different people they know that this has happened to.

  Alex showing us how they come to the door covering their mouths 
so that the cold air doesn't get in.

Alex demonstrating a crooked mouth.

Alex asked us if we could send him some teeth whitening products because the mate & ecco wheat drink they drink are staining his teeth.  He also told us that he is excited because it's becoming empanada season again and he loves eating them.  He also loves a bread called amasado and he wants to learn how to make both.  He has told us several times how good the bread is and while he was talking to us Alexis brought him some amasado.

Alex and amasado.  He loves it!
Ben & Alex have always called Alycia "Sisha" and Alex was telling Alycia that "Sisha" is a word in Chile that means grape juice that is almost alcohol but not.  I'm not sure how it's spelled but he said it's pronounced the same.
Some other random comments from the phone call:

*He told us he was the reigning chess champion in Lo Ovalle (his last area).

*His mission is the lowest baptizing mission in South America.

*He put the notes I sent him from his setting apart in his study journal and refers to them often.  He said other missionaries have really liked that idea.

*One of the kids was eating a string cheese and Alex asked if that's what they were eating and that he missed eating that.  He said that cheese is very expensive in Chile.

*He really hopes to get some Chilean Lapis their national stone.  He saw it in the Temple and he just loves it.

*He was laughing as he told us that he saw a guy riding a bike with a rooster on the handlebars.  I asked him if he got a picture but he said he didn't and that he doesn't just carry his camera around getting random pictures because it would get stolen.

*Throughout the conversation the three men there with them kept commenting on how beautiful Alex's sisters were.  At the end when just Kira was still on one of them thought she looked like a Latin actress.

*Alexis then told us what a great missionary Alex is.  He said he was a "10".  

Alexis telling us Alex is great a missionary.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Alex's 38th email from Chile 5/9/11

 This picture of Alex was taken during our skype conversation. I don't know why it's not as clear as the ones we took during our Christmas talk with him.

Hola familia!!!

Hmmm, I will be honest I feel like I told you guys everything yesterday hopefully you won't be disappointed with this email. First off it was amazing to talk to you all yesterday. But basically we have just been working hard here in La Islita. We just keep doing contacts and trying to build that teaching pool.  The mission did some statistical thing awhile back and showed that in our mission you need to find 30 new investigators to have one baptism.  As of right now our teaching pool is small but we have found a good number of contacts here in La Islita. Cool story,  actually after we hung up last night we went right to work.  We taught some recent converts and then went to an appointment with some investigators we have but it fell through.  They told us we they were busy so we went to go to someone elses house. When Elder Madsen and I felt like we should go knock on a house we contacted a while back that was pretty receptive and said we could come by in another moment.  So we knocked it out.  They come, there was a man there, and we went in. It is a Mom Vivianna and here daughter Marian.  They are awesome. I asked them straight up why they let us in their house and what do they want from us and why were we there. Vivianna told us that she was just tired with some stuff in her life and wants to put herself and have a better relationship with Jesus Christ.  We had an amazing appointment with her and we feel like they will have baptismal dates here in a little bit so we found 2 new solid new investigators after I called home.

 Elder Leavitt & Elder Madsen

Something I have started doing at nights is since I am out in the campo you can see the stars like crazy.  I have gotten a map of some common constellations in the southern hemisphere cause we know they are all different, but now I can find the southern cross easily and am trying to figure out some other ones.  I thought dad would think that is cool.

To answer your questions: Two of the guys were brothers; Fabion and Alexis and their cousin German. The district leaders live a 30 min bus ride from us in Talagante and I actually have divisions with them tomorrow. But ya I feel like I don't have much to tell you guys because of the Skype call but I love you and I am still just super excited to be here in Chile right now. I know I have not had crazy statistical success as a missionary but I am happy and proud of what I have done thus far. I have no regrets in regards of what I could have done. I feel like I have been guided to those families and people I have met throughout my time here in Chile up to now and have been able to watch and witness some amazing miracles. It is still crazy to just look at how much I actually have done and how much I have progressed in the amount of time I have. When we have what is most important always in our minds and hearts we will never deviate from the path the Lord has set for us. We will never fall into stupid temptation and we will become and do what God expects from us. I try sharing that principal with all the members in my ward and branches. I ask them what is the one thing you want most for yourself.  The majority of the answers has to do with Eternal life and living with our families forever. That is exactly it and if we can remember that what we do in this life will have an effect on that opportunity to live with our families forever we will never mess up. And that is why I am here. I am here so people can remember what is most important because truthfully that is what is most important for me. I want to live with you guys forever, to be able to help others have what I have to have this same joy and happiness within the Gospel of Christ.  It was cool, we were teaching this to a family in our branch and just before I had shown them the pictures of my family I have and he stopped me and said "from what you just said and from the pictures you have I can tell just how much this means to you and I want that same thing for me and my family." It was cool to watch it click in his head.

Well guys I love you a ton it really was great to talk to you. Mom I hope you enjoyed your mothers day. Hopefully you guys don't think I am getting to skinny haha. OK till next week!

Con Mucho Amor,
                           Elder Alexander Thomas Leavitt

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Alex's 37th email from Chile 5/2/11

Hola Familia!!!

So this week has been crazy and I am very sore. As you know I have had transfers on Monday.  I said goodbye to a ton of Families in Lo Ovalle but the hardest to say goodbye to was Alan´s family.  We visited had so food and then when it was time to go they went around the table sharing their feelings about me and how I have blessed their lives.  It was so awesome and a blessing for me to hear them talk. They all gave me little notes to read after I was back in the pension. Alan was bawling and wouldn't let go of me when I gave him a hug goodbye, I love that kid. He is truly going to be a force down here in Chile and will be an amazing missionary one day.  He has one of the strongest testimonies I have seen since being on the mission.

So I am now in the zone of Talagante, in the sector La Islita. Talagante is right next door to Peñaflor and I actually drove through Malloco to get there.  It was cool to see my first zone a little again. I was moved up to senior companion which is crazy to think about for me.  I totally didn't feel ready but obviously someone did. I will just work hard and do my best I guess.  My companion is another gringo named Elder Madsen.  He is from Oregon he has about 8 months in the mission.  He is a hard worker and we get along great.  In Talagante there are 6 sectors and my sector is Gigantic!  I am actually in one of 5 sectors in the whole mission that gets to use bikes.  We could honestly take a bus for 45 mins and not leave our sector and for that I am super sore.  It has been a long time since I have ridden a bike this much but now I feel like I have officially been made a real stereotypical missionary with the helmet and mountain bike haha.  To get here we took the bus it was a long ride. I really only know like 2 other missionaries in the zone but its cool.  I like to meet new people.  In our pension we live with two other missionaries. Elder Rhon from Ecuador and Elder Florez from Columbia.  They are awesome and we have a blast in the pension.

Like I said my sector is huge but it is beautiful here.  There are vineyards everywhere! And just pastures and groves and everything.  I love the campo.  Only downside is the smell.  Our pension has a slaughter house right next to it and in the mornings that smells gross and everywhere just smells like alchohol from all the grapes fermenting but really this place is beautiful.  Unlike Malloco I really don't have a nice condensed little city where we do most of our work.  We have a bunch of pocket pueblos where we need to ride our bikes to or take a bus.  It is a huge change from the city. La Islita is a branch that has 4 missionaries.  Our pension, the 4, of us share the branch.  The other two Elders have the more little town part of La Islita and Elder Madsen and I work the pueblos out in the sticks.  Only downside is that the majority of the members live in their sector so we have almost no support in our part. Elder Madsen has told me that our sector has been dead or at least super slow as of the work. From my Lo Ovalle experience I just see it as it has a lot of work to be done.  But this last week and actually in 2 days we found 9 new investigators. Ya at first it will be slow building that teaching pool but I think we can get this place going again :)

At nights I am so tired I am nearly a hundred percent positive it is the bikes.  We ride soo much and not always on roads and when it is on road the roads suck haha.  But hey now I can ride a bike without hands. I had never been able to do that before so that is cool haha.  Well I will be sure to be taking some awesome pictures for you guys.  I love you and I will talk to you on Sunday for Mothers Day!!

Con Mucho Amor,
                          Elder Alexander Leavitt