Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 27, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009 0
Hello Everyone!

Another week down and that means I only hav less than two weeks left. I'm so excited not only because I will be sent out to the mission field but because I will aslo get my flight plans today or tomorrow! I hope everything is going well with everyone. Things here have been amazing, well unforgetable, and I'm truely thankful that I have gotten the opportunity to be a part of them.

So this last Sunday was a special Sunday because is was the Oquirrh Mountain Temple dedication and it was amazing. The talks were amazing...especially hearing the sacrifices that people make to get to the temple. It makes me more grateful that I have always had the opportunity to go to one, and most of all that I didn't have to sacrifice a lot to get to one, unlike other members of the Church who have to save for years! It's truely humbling to hear those stories. There was this one story about a family who could only get 4 of their children to come with the parents to get sealed together for all eternity, while the other 6 had to stay behind. How disheartening that is, to only have part of your family and not the whole thing. The spirit was so strong in that meeting and I'm so thankful that we got the opportunity to be a part of that meeting.

Every tuesday we have a devotional with a leader of the Church and sometimes we get the opportunity to hear from the General Authorities. This week we got that opportunity! It was AMAZING! We got to hear from Richard G. Scott and what an inspired man. To see him put his prepared talk aside and to listen to the spirit to know what all of us needed to hear. I have gained a better testimony of the apostles of the Lord. At the beginning of the meeting he asked who was learning a new language. He then proceeded and gave us a blessing of the gift of tongues and of protection. He could have given a normal blessing but instead he chose and said "I normally don't do this but I will use my apostolic powers to give you these blessings in the name of Jesus Christ." How amazing is that? I know he is an inspired man and I know that those blessings have been given to us by an apostle of the Lord. So yeah amazing week, huh?

Apart from those amazing spiritual experiences, I got to host more missionaries this week. Pretty legit. Anyways during the week our district decided that we should practice interpreting so that we can gain better reception skills. I did it from spanish to ASL and apparently I did great! To think that I'm to only person here at the MTC that can translate spanish to ASL is amaizing. I'm so grateful that I have that ability and I know that with that ability I will be able to bless the lives of others. I'm so grateful for this opportunity and I can't wait to get out in the mission field.

I miss you all so much but I know that I still need to be here. Afterall Christ sacrificed His life for the service of others so the least I can do is sacrifice two years of my life. Love you all, and I will talk to you next week!

Elder Leavell

Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 20, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009 0
Hello Everyone!

     How is everyone doing? It's great to hear from all of you! Letters are honestly gold here if that were possible and I'm going to have to agree with that statement. This week has been another week that has flown by and I'm coming to the final stretch in the MTC. I'm glad that I don't have much longer because I want to get out there as soon as I can!

      Anyways the language is coming great! My teachers have said that I needed to work on my reception skills so that is what I have been concentrating on this entire week and I have noticed an improvement. Like I don't have to concentrate as much to understand everything, so that is giving me more energy throughout the day. We don't really talk anymore and it's weird to talk sometimes now. Like my voice sometimes goes away because we don't talk a lot anymore. Weird huh? So maybe when I finish my mission I won't have a voice, that would definitely be weird haha. But either way I have to love the language and I have come to appreciate my calling and all the opportunities that it has given me already.

      I'd like to share an experience with all of you that has happened to me today. As you all know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in temple work just as it was in the Biblical days. So every P-day, or in other words every thursday for me, we get the opportunity to go to the Provo Temple. The mission president has asked that we don't practice our language skills during the temple sessions by having our mission language in the temple session but this week the temple workers asked us if we wanted to do that. We told them no at first because of that rule but they insisted and did it anyway. Sort of weird but oh well. WOW!! I love the ASL temple session it's amazing. I learned so much from that and I'm greateful that they let us have the opportunity to do that. After that, we talked to the temple president and asked him a lot of questions. Those men are so wise and so smart with the scriptures and everythign to do with the temple. I'm so happy today, it's crazy. So yeah today was an amazing day.

      The MTC is great, yeah it's like a boot camp, but it's for our own good, to get us ready for the mission field. You're always tired but I never thought that the work would never not wear you out. But it's worth it, I know that it is becuase I feel that the Lord is guided each and every step of mine to know what to study for our investigators, who are our teachers who portray investigators that they had while they were on the mission. It's hard becuase they don't wnat to listen sometimes, and most of all it's hard to express your thoughts when you're learning the language as you are teaching. It's certainly frustrating when you can't get the point across.

      Well the timer is flashing at me so I have to go. I hope everything is going well with all of you and I hope to hear from you soon!

Elder Leavell

Thursday, August 13, 2009

To all August 13,2009.

Thursday, August 13, 2009 0
Hello again!

     It's another week down and this one was by far, one of the fastest weeks in my life. It feels like it was just yesterday when I wrote another email but it's not. Oh well. I'm going into my 6th week so 2/3 of the way done, and then I'm off to LA. I'm so pumped and excited, especially seeing Elder Ludwig go off to Argentina. I know he will do well and serve the Argentinan people well.

     Anyways, the language has been coming along well, we had interpreters come for the firesides and devotionals and it was amazing to see how we should be signing, but what was more scary is that that's how I'm going to be while I'm out on the mission! It's funny to see everyone staring at us, since we sit in the front row, because they think it's interesting I guess. I don't know. All I know is that they don't look at the speaker but instead look at us signing and the interpreters. Sort of funny. 

     I don't know what else to say since everyday is the same here, no lie. But I do have an experience to share. So I lived in Wilsonville, OR back in the day and I hadn't really had any relations with the Church, so I didn't really know who was a member or not. But one day at lunch here this "random" Elder comes up to me and says "Erik?! Oh my gosh, how have you been?! Do you remember me?!" At first I was like uh...who are you and no I don't remember you, but I have to go I'm going to be late for class, which I was by the way. But later on the day I saw him again and same thing happened, except I wanted to know how he knew my name since it's not on your name tag. Anyways it turns out we hung out at school and played wall ball. We had science class together in the 8th grade at Inza R. Wood Middle School. Interesting huh? This is just evidence that this world is a pretty small place and everything. So yeah that's been the high light of the week. 

     So our district gets to host the new missionaries this coming Wednesday so I'm looking forward to that. I don't know what else to say, the Spirit is so strong here it's hard to describe. But yeah, been learning a lot, not just about the gospel but about myself as well. OH, and my companion is doing better, I think that something hit him and now he is putting in more effort, so that's a good thing.

I hope all is well with all of you and I hope to hear from all of you. I'm glad to be here, there is no place I'd rather be. Anyways I got to go and I'll email next week.

Take Care,
Elder Leavell

Saturday, August 8, 2009

August 6,2009.

Saturday, August 8, 2009 0
Hello again!

So this is now the fourth week in the MTC. How great it has been to serve the Lord and see how the blessings of the Spirit touch us in our daily lives here, it's amazing! How is everyone doing? I hope everything is going well with all of you and I wish nothing but the best for all of you.

Anyways this week has been an interesting one. Last Friday was our first TRC appointment in all ASL. It was crazy but I knew that I had the spirit because I didn't understand anything but I was led to know what to say when I needed to say something. We taught this lady that was deaf and she was very demanding with our sign. I think she corrected both of us a couple of times but it wasn't discouraging. But I think that we helped her understand the importance of the gospel and how it can make us happier. So that was a great obstacle that we had to climb and I will say that it was a success.

The weeks are starting to go a lot faster now and I'm enjoying that. Not that I don't like the MTC but because I want to be out in the field and teaching people the gospel. My companion got call from his mission president in San Diego and he is now leaving a week early, what a lucky elder. But I know that my companion is ready language wise so I know that it will not affect him in any way. Another way that I feel that the spirit has affected me this week is when we went to the RC this last Tuesday. I have a progressing investigator, her name is Cassandra, and I have talked to her twice now. This time she had a lot more questions concering the gold plates that she said "coincidently miraculously disappeared when the people were kicking them out of their land." But for some reason I felt that she was not really worried about that and I felt impressed that she was reading anti-mormon literature. She said that she had and she asked me how I knew. I didn't know what to tell her, other than the fact that I knew through the spirit. Even though we were talking through a chat I know that she felt the spirit when I taught her that that sort of literature is not good for the spirit and that it creates contention. I gave her the scripture in 3 Nephi that says that contention is of the devil and if anything creates contention it's not of the Lord. She finally understood the importance of not reading that material because yes it's another point of view of the church but that point of view is not true and it's the devil trying to prevent people from the gospel. So pray for her that she will understand and commit to not read that material any longer and that she will have questions that are from her, not from authors that are against the Church.

I love the MTC, I love the spirit that has and is here. It's so strong here, it's amazing! We had our first mission conference and even though it was two hours long, it was really insightful and meaningful to me. I enjoy having front row seats to every fireside and devotional since we are ASL missionaries. We also get an interpreter this next tuesday so pray for me that I will be able to understand and be able to learn more of the language through that experience.

I love you all, I pray for all of you, and I hope that you are all doing well. The Church is true.

Take Care,
Elder Leavell

To all July,30,2009.

Hey Everyone!

     It's been nice to hear from all of you! I know I might say that every single time but it's like christmas everytime someone gets mail!
     This past week has definitely been another interesting one with my companion. He is struggling with finding his purpose here, but the problem is that the teachers and my branch president thinks that he is trying to find an excuse to get sent out of here, which is really unfortunate. At first it was around me, where he treated me like scum but it was only a matter of time where he would start acting the same around my teachers and my branch president. When they ask him why he decided to serve a mission he says I don't know and serving a mission is not special at all. I honestly care for him, I want him to succeed but at the same time it's really hard to motivate dead weight to start moving again. So if you could pray for him to decide what he really wants to do, whether it is to stay or leave, pray that he can have the peace of heart and mind in whatever he decides. 
     Other than that the MTC has been an amazing experience, the language has been coming along, slow but coming, and the teachers are still surprised how things have come to me concerning the language. This week is my frist week where we are teaching in American Sign Language so it's been stressful trying to be able to not think in English since the grammar is not the same. But we have been teaching two principles of the plan of salvation every day and it's been going well so far. Tomorrow we teach the whole lesson in ASL at the TRC so wish me luck with that! Something that I had barely noticed this week about ASL is that even if you don't know the sign, you can play charades (I hope that is how you spell it) and describe the thing that you want to say. Our class moto is "Show don't tell" and to me that means a lot. Since you can play charades with what you are teaching you can put some of yourself into the lesson, instead of just teaching the lesson and testifying that it's true. I'm not saying that you can't do that in a speaking language but after teaching here at the MTC I have noticed that when you teach a deaf person you are not just leaving the message with them, but you are also leaving yourself and I think that it's truely an amazing thing! The only down side to that is that a lot of the deaf community is not ready to hear the message but when you do find someone, you first have to build a relationship with them and then teach them the lesson.

     Anyways I have been truely humbled by the experiences I have had at the MTC. It's been really difficult to overcome the obstacles that the adversary has put before me but I know that I'm here not for myself but for the Lord. I know that I have been put with my companion for a reason, whether I may not like it at times, I know that Lord is trying to teach me something and I hope that I can learn it and be able to exemplify it so that I can become a better missionary. I hope that all of you are doing really well! I hope that the weather in Vegas isn't to killer because I know it can get that way! and I hope to hear from all of you soon!

Elder leavell

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