Monday, September 26, 2011

Alex's 58th email from Chile 9/26/11

Be on the look out for a lot of pictures at the end of the email.  I'm not even putting them all in. I'll save some for days when he doesn't send any.
A sign at the mine where the Elders went for p-day 

Hola Familia!!

So although dieciocho is gone here in La Islita it is still in full drive. Every night this week our branch has been practising their cueca for the huge district activity that was on the 24th. So Elder Garcia and I a couple times dropped by and made our presence known and to see how it was.

The mine on Monday was awesome.  I was so happy we went. It is hard sometimes to go out and see historical places in Chile as missionaries and we would have never known this mine was there if we didn't have members who loved us and invited us to go. Chile is the number one exporter of copper and although this was a copper mine back when it was in full bloom Chile is just known for its mines and I think I heard it has one of the worlds largest mines.  So all in all it was a neat experience to go and see it.  We played in the ruins of the mine and actually went crawling through some of the tunnels they had there it was way neat. I am really glad the family Gomez invited us.

Alex with the Gomez family

This last week we had a sweet zone conference.  We had classes on becoming better teachers and what not but guess what? I sang a special musical number in a trio! That was the first time I have every done anything like that and I won't lie I was scared out of my mind but it went awesome and we had lots of compliments. But now I can say I have done some type of musical performance & where you could actually hear me. More than just in a choir type situation. At the conference we received a new mission rule. When we finish the mission we can no longer go visit our converts before we leave. :(   Mom I also got your package this last week!  Thanks for the chanter grandpa it is frickin difficult.

Talagante Zone Conference

This last week we got a call from Carolina the mom of our three recent converts and she was bawling asking us to come over.  Turns out she is losing her flower store and was asking us what to do.  So first thing that came to my mind was fasting.  We taught an awesome lesson about the power of prayer and fast shared our testimonies and it looks like things are going to be turning out good.  She may actually have a better offer and things awesome huh?

Friday we had our last greenie meeting in Maipu it was cool.  We had a sweet powerpoint presentation about the family of President King.  It was over all an awesome meeting. Also friday night we went to the baptism of Stephanie she basically thinks I am awesomeand invited me to go so I spoke at her baptism and then Sunday I got to take part in her confirmation :) .Saturday we had the huge District activity. We went to a camping ground and the whole stake was there. I won the sack race this year instead of second place like last year and our branch won basically all of the competicions!  I lost my voice from yelling so much but it was way cool. Crazy story, so you know how they say serving a mission is saving souls.  Well at this activity I saved a life! This lady started choking and everyone was just staring at her so I run over bust out the hiemlich maneuver and she coughed out a fatty chunk of bread and just starts bawling cause she was scared.  She did thank me afterwards.  So after 15 months in the mission I gave a lady my first hug but it was worth it. Afterwards the lights went out all over chile for about two hours so we ended our day early about 8 because we have rules where if something like that happens we go to the house.  So basically we just went to the house and by the time the lights came back it was after 10 so it was a short work day.

Elder Leavitt & Stephanie

Sunday was awesome because like I said I got to be in the circle for Stephanie's confirmation and then Miguel the dad of the family who took us to the mine asked me to be in the circle when he recieved the priesthood. We have worked with this family sooo long to get them reactivated and I love them so much.  They always want us to come over and we got them talking about be sealed :)

In the Bible I am now in Mathew 5.  Oh that's right I finished the OLD TESTIMENT!!!! I am so pumped and so happy. I have learned so much and i have found it soo useful for me here in the mission. Most members in the church have not read the bible, only the Book of Mormon and that is awesome but we forget that the Bible also is scripture and when we talk with our friends normally it is only the Bible they know.  I have been able to connect and use the bible so much more and more sufficently.  I have found the blessings of reading it really helping me become a better teacher.

Rafeal is doing awesome. He is praying and reading all on his own. He asked US how he can start paying tithing.  He was like "hey it's in the scriptures I should probably start doing it".  He is awesome.  That family is soo much happier now. I haven't seen them any closer :) Elder Garcia is doing great he really doesn't want me to get changed haha and he says "Hi" back.

Well family I love you all so much enjoy the many pictures I am sending and I will talk to you next week.

Con Mucho Amor,

Elder Alex Leavitt

Mote con huessilo.  The drink I didn't like and now I do :)

This is to show you how all the houses have Chilean flags and I mean every single one!
Me flying a kite.
These are the ruins of the mine and me on top.
Elder Leavitt & Elder Garcia

Friday, September 23, 2011

Alex in front of the sign that is no longer there. He sent this picture to us while he was in the MTC
(Missionary Training Center)

So the other night I had a dream that Alex came home. We were all so happy. He was happy and there were just a lot of smiles and hugs. I don't know why I had that dream. Maybe because Fred and I were talking about his mission the night before and I went to bed with it on my mind. Who knows? All I know is that it was the first time I have dreamed about him coming home since he left. I did notice on Sunday in our ward bulletin that he is the next boy to come home even though it's not until June. That was a little freaky when I realized that. The next morning I woke up to an email from my Missionary Mom's group I belong to and this video was attached. I watched it twice and bawled. I'm starting to tear up just writing about it. Why would I watch it twice right? I couldn't help myself.

As much as it's been easier to have Alex gone than it was Brandon & Ben, two years is still a long time and just recently I've been really missing him. Maybe that's another reason why I had that dream. It's been easier with Alex gone on his mission because technology has improved so much. He will send home pictures in his emails almost weekly. With my other boys we had to wait for months for pictures to come in the mail. It's great to be able to see him consistently. Salt Lake now allows skype for Christmas and Mother's Day calls. It is so wonderful to be able to not only talk to your son but actually see him where you can interact with him. It's also amazing to meet his companions that you will most likely never meet. We've also enjoyed meeting some of the members. We truly are blessed with the advancement of technology, but even with all of that you still miss your boy here and there.

The day we dropped Alex off. There were large crowds of families waiting to get their picture by this sign.

We have had three completely different experiences dropping our boys off at the MTC. Brandon's was different because the MTC was under renovations, Ben's was the norm until the norm changed (I really need to write down the differences in another post). The experience we had with Alex is the one they show in the video. This is now the norm for dropping missionary's off. They have you drive up and they direct you to a sign and a spot on the curb. You say your good bye at the curb and then your missionary walks away with another missionary who guides him to where he needs to go. I actually prefer this way to the old way. They allow you as much time as you want to say goodbye. You aren't competing with all the other weeping, wailing, laughing and talking of a room full of people. It's more intimate and private and I really liked having that time just to ourselves.

Us girls hugging Alex good bye. It really didn't hit me until we were on the freeway leaving Provo. You can see the missionary helping Alex patiently waiting in the background with Alex's silver/gray luggage.

This video made me sad that we never took a video of Brandon or Ben and that we never took one of Alex when we dropped him off. When Brandon & Ben came home we were all just so excited that we were lucky we remembered to even take pictures! The thing I don't like about taking a video at certain events is that I feel like I miss out on the moment. I think I will be happy just to get pictures of Alex unless we can talk someone else into taking a video for us. For now, I can enjoy this video and know that that I have experienced this twice before with my boys and I look forward to that sweet reunion again with my Alex. We are so proud of him and the service he is rendering. We are proud of the man that he has become. We are stronger in our faith because of his service and example to us. Alex I love you more than words can express!!!

Love your Mum xxxxooo

Alex & President Rees. President Rees set him apart to be a missionary the night before he was to enter the MTC. President Rees was his Stake President while he was a student at the University of Utah. He is also a former mission president.

All of our family who were able to attend the setting apart. We wish Ben & Kira could have been there but it's hard when everyone gets married and moves away.

Lunch at the Brick Oven before entering the MTC.

Alex & his MTC district all pointing to where they will be serving.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Alex's 57th email from Chile 9/19/11

Alex climbing at Santa Lucia

Hola Familia!!!

So this week was way fun. Although in most areas the missionary work was dead. As you all know, well maybe not, but yesterday was Dieciocho September 18th Chile's Independance Day, and here in Chile they celebrate it for like a week straight. This is the time of year of Asados, drunken encounters, people having kite battles and the sound of cueca all around you.  The cueca is the national dance of Chile.  Well needless to say not many people wanted to talk to us this week and probably this next week either.  But ya overall it was still fun this week.

On Tuesday I had divisions with Elder Chase a greenie from Georgia who is awesome. I love that guy. I would love to be comps with him in the future. We had an awesome day. I was in their sector and we tore it up.  The best part was that we got into a ladies house taught the first lesson and the spirit was so strong we set a baptismal date on the very first appointment and she wants to be baptized how cool is that? We decided that Elder Chase and I are the same person but from different coasts. On Wednesday we went back to our companions and I was back in La Islita. 

Alex at Santa Lucia

This past week our ward has been practising the cueca everyday for our huge activity on the 24th. I am excited for that. I have learned the cueca basically so thats cool but I am terrible at it so don't ever ask me to do it for you guys. Thursday we had division within our branch. OH! about the divisions i went on with Elder Chase. Elder Garcia and Elder Grow thought it would be funny to go by the members houses and tell them I  had changes and didn't have time to come by. Well about 5 different families cried when they heard I had changes. Carolina the mom of Mark and Sebastian had to CALL me and hear my voice to believe them and feel better that I wasn't gone.  At least I know I am loved here. 

On Friday was when all the huge festivities started. Right outside of our house our little neiborhood had a huge block party. Us four missionaries made our presence but couldn't stay long due to bedtime rules and what not.  But it was way fun. That party didn't end until 5 in the morning, I know because the music was blasting!!!  Saturday we had a sweet Asado with a family in our ward. Hey Mom question, I have another Utah T-shirt that is black and has the U and everything right? I love that shirt and I have one here in the mission but I am going to give it away here in this sector. I just want to know I have another one waiting for me in the house. I am giving it to this girl who in return is giving me all of her piercings and a tie and the promise to never buy peircings again.  Her parents are so happy with me to get her to do this. She has taken all her peircing out and I think now finally the holes all closed. Sunday was the 18th, after church we had an asado for lunch, after we were invited to eat Empanadas, with another family we ate completos, and ended our day with an asado with Carolina and them. I am still full. Today we were celebrating another day off here in Chile with the family Gomez and are going to a mine. I am pumped haha. (I thought you'd enjoy the comment Fred made when he read about the mine, "I hope they don't have a cave and trap him down there for three months.")

A statue in Santiago? 

In the Bible I am close to ending Habakuk. I am so close to finishing the bible its crazy. Mote con Huesillo is the drink I didn't like. I am actually starting to like it now weird. I guess it all depends on how old the peach is. I actually have fotos of the drink but I forgot my cable and can't attach fotos so next week. Jose has disappeared. I am really sad about that. Rafeal is doing great!! I am so excited about him. Transfers are the 11th of Octubre.  To email I think if I remember correctly we have like an hour and 10 or 15 minutes.  My shoes are in excellent condition I have taken very good care of my shoes. Something I find very cool is during the month of September litterally every house in Chile has the Chilean flag waving it is really neat and real cool.

So I was sitting on the bus and I realized that I have been here in Chile to see the plants green, give fruit, turn color,die, and now everything is blooming again. How crazy is that. I was like "wow I have been here awhile," then thought about it and at the end of this change I would have spent a fourth of my mission in La Islita!  Crazy! Well hopefully this next week we can teach a little more. It is insane to me how a country just shuts down like this haha. I love you and will talk to you next week.


Elder Alex Leavitt

Got your email mom just in time :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Alex's 56th email from Chile 9/13/11

I have a surprise at the end of the blog :)

Alex & his dog Shadow. He's going to really miss her when he gets transferred. I'm pretty sure he's not supposed to have a dog in his room.....oh well

Hola Familia!!

So this week was a good week, first off Mom thanks for all of your post cards haha, and I have yet to get your package but we will see if it comes tomorrow. It has actually been pretty hot lately. It is crazy to me just how quickly the climate changes here. This week we did a good amount of contacting because we have been lacking in people to teach. It went pretty well and we had 5 news this week. The biggest problem is the 18th of September. It was like this last year and it really looks like it is going to happen again. For the last half of September the missionary work dies. Basically half of our contacts answers are like this, “ I would love to listen to you guys but wait until after the 18th to come by to our house: or something close to it. We get so many 18th excuses it is ridiculous. (This is Chile’s Independence Day)

The most frustrating thing about this week was that Jose couldn’t meet with us once this week. So we postponed his baptismal date because we couldn’t teach him the last few lessons he needed. But to make things better we met with Rafael taught him the first lesson and it was awesome. He accepted everything understood everything and seem pretty genuine the whole time. I am really excited about it. 

Alex climbing on Pday (preparation day)

Working with Elder Garcia is always funny and interesting. He just says some of the most ridiculous stuff sometimes during contacts lessons ect. We just have a good time together. I have looked back on companionship history and I have in the long run been very lucky. 

So basically I decided I am the worst emailer in the world. I forget so much stuff and I feel my emails suck haha but yes there is a huge 50th anniversary party here in Chile coming up soon. Apparently general authorities and everyone is coming. We don’t know yet if us missionaries are actually gonna be able to go or not. I sure as heck hope so. Jose is excellent.  The Dad just needs to get his work schedule worked out so he doesn’t work on Sundays. 

Elders sitting on a cannon on Pday

Well guys I Love you all so much.  It’s great to hear how everyone is doing and that all is good. Till next week

Con Amor,
                Elder Leavitt

P.S. Hey mom I am getting to the point where I need to start keeping an eye out for gifts. I have basically an idea what I want for all the guys and you. But I have no idea what to get the girls. Can you ask all the girls if they want Clothes, Jewelry, or Bags and other stuff. Elder Garcia is excellent I love the guy. Slowly but surely he is starting to remember stuff and can say more and more in contacts and lessons. So this Sunday is the 18th and it is crazy to think it was a year ago I was at this date with Elder You. The time has flown by. In the Bible I am in Joel chapter 1! I am pretty excited for to finish the old testament here in a little. It is amazing how much I have learned and how many cool scriptures I know now.

It is so fun to not only see Alex but to hear him :)  Even though he may have an accent there are some things that will never change.  This is their Pday at Santa Lucia. 

Alex's 55th email from Chile 9/5/11

Kites for sale

Hola Family!!!

Well winter is finally over and spring is kicking in full force. And now once again the skies are filled with the Chilean square kites and the Chilean flags are everywhere. Now I don't know if I have told you about these kites before but they are pretty cool. One you don't fly them normally at least how I was taught as a little kid. It's constant pulling down reeling out reeling in and it's hard. I can't do it. But it's awesome. They are all over the place and the kids here battle their kites. They try to wrap their kite around the lines of other people and burn the string so their kite falls to the ground. For me this is the best part. There is always a group of little kids waiting like vultures for downed kites. Once they see the kite get cut they are sprinting chasing it down and steal the kite from the owner. So basically you do not want to loose so your kite doesn't get jacked. The best part of spring is though it is no longer cold. I now leave during the day in my short sleeve working on my farmers tan.

Kite fighting field

Well this week nothing really new or exciting happened, just the good ole missionary work.  Which I am completely ok with. We taught some good lessons, had an awesome lesson with Jose our investigator with a baptismal date for the 17th of September. He is progressing a lot and I am excited for him to get baptized. So is his dad, who is an inactive member we have been working with as well.

I don't want to sound cocky or anything but it makes me feel loved, but everyone in our branch wants to have lunch with Elder Gracia and I. It's nothing special and is probably bad but it makes me feel cool and loved. Elder Garcia is progressing a lot. I am proud of him we just always need to go over the lessons and do lots of practices so he can get down the principals. Man I feel like not much happened this week and that I don't have much to write. Probably the most exciting thing that happened this week was that MArk, Sebastian and Marion were confirmed this week and the Confirmations went great! Elder Garcia messed up the wording the first time but it all worked out in the end. It was awesome and I am so excited for that family.

On Saturday we did another cosechon or as Mom calls it blitz but in the sector of the Hermanas. I was with Elder Chase again and we did really good. We entered a house, a gave a house blessing, and set an appointment for the hermanas to go by. I think it's cool how we do that here. Elder Merchans Greenie is from Colombia. Unfortunately he told me straight up he hates gringos and never wants a gringo companion. But at least now he is scared of me because of something that happened. So I am going to tell you.

So 3 days ago at like 2 in the morning the alarm of Elder Gueto went off. It was beeping for like 5 minutes until one of the two Elder Merchan and Elder Gueto turned it off. But I was already awake and not a happy camper for getting woken up at 2 in the morning, but I didn't say anything. The NEXT day the same alarm went off at 7 in the morning a half hour before we need to get up. It was beeping and beeping and nobody was getting up to turn it off. I was soo mad so I counted in my head till ten then got out of bed. The other two missionaries sleep in another room. I slammed open the door, turned on the lights, found the dumb clock, turned it off, threw to the floor and slmmed the door behind me and went to my bed.  Unfortunately when you get woken up its almost impossible to fall back asleep. Later when we were all up I went over to Elder Gueto and said the next time your clock goes off before 7:30 I am going to throw it against the wall and you won't have a clock anymore. He has been very respectful since that day. Now everyone in the pension loves talking about that story because no one has ever seen me mad before haha.

Yes, I do my internet everyweek in an internet cafe, here called cibers. The girls in the foto last week is the youth in our branch. We don't have a single young man in our branch all girls. The baptismal date of Jose is for the 17th of September. Oh Something cool, we are now going to teach Rafeal the dad of Mark and Sebastian. Hopefully we can complete that family!!!

Well guys thats all I can think of for you. Hopefully it is sufficient.  I love you all soo much and will talk to you next week!!

Con Mucho Amor,
                            Elder Alex Leavitt

A little side note about the kite flying/fighting that Alex talks about:

El Volantín (Kite)

Kite flying is a favorite pastime in Chile. Chileans like to make their own kites from balsa wood and tissue paper. These are then attached to large spools of rope as seen in the picture. One competition that people play with kites is to try and cut down another's kite. This is done by flying your kite such that your string wraps around that of another and cuts their line. Real competitors often coat their string in glass to increase their chances of earning a victory known as a commission.