Monday, November 23, 2009

Remember..

Monday, November 23, 2009 0
Family & Friends,

How are you all doing? It's been another crazy week of course. But it's been a really inspiration experience to see how the Lord has prepared His children for us so that we may have the opportunity to teach them. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for me as the mission goes on.

On saturday I got the opportunity to go on splits with my district leader, which so happens to be my companion haha. I know that that day was a test of faith for the both of us to see if we would endure to the end of the day because we received the biggest blessing that day. Throughout the whole day we didn't have a single lesson, we tried to contact some people we hadn't met before and they were either busy or not home. It got really discouraging to see that we were having no success that day. But it all was in the purpose of the Lord. We were about an hour ahead of schedule and we were on our last backup, Juan, so as were driving to his house we were trying to think of people who lived in the area so that we could at least find one person but no one lived near him. We got there and he wasn't home but his aunt, Nancy, was home and said that Juan had gone to the store but would be back shortly. But for deaf people that means a long time. At that point, we had nothing else to do but try and see if the Nancy would be willing to hear our message. This is were the blessing comes in. I told her, "¿SeƱora ha eschucado del evangelio de Jesuchristo?" so in english "Mam, have you heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ?" And to my amazement she said, "no but my sister has heard it and I would like to hear it too." She continued to express that she knows her church is wrong, but needs to have that feeling that this Church is true. I bore my testimony and I shared Joseph Smith's first vision and we all knew that the spirit was there. The spirit was so strong and you could see in her eyes that she knew it. After that lesson, we were discussing and we noticed that if our day had gone any differently we would have missed the opportunity to meet her. Had we taught another lesson, had we given up and called it a day, we would have missed her.

And that is how life works, as well. We may not see the light at the end of the tunnel, we may think we are doing everything right and aren't seeing any success, but the Lord is fulfilling his word that he said in D&C 4-the field is white already to harvest. I know that if we can withstand our trials until the end that we will see and receive those blessings that are instore for us. If only it were that easy-to see those blessings instantly but it's not that easy. As I have been reading the Book of Mormon, I have noticed that mostly all of the people received their blessings instantly but most end up becoming prideful and later turn away from the Lord. Look at Laman & Lemuel, they received the promise of the promised land, they saw angels, they felt the power of God, but yet they still seemed to not have that faith to endure a short trial of being in the wilderness. I know this Church is true, I know that if we apply the teachings of the scriptures that our trials will be lightened. I know it because I have seen and experienced those blessings, despite all the trials and hardships I've gone through. All we have to do is trust the Lord with everything and then we got it made.

I love you all and miss you tons! I hope that you have a wonderful thanksgiving holiday and remember to look for those blessings that the Lord has given you, and then give thanks for them! But most of all remember to be happy! Take care.

Elder Leavell
P.S. Next week my pday is on wednesday, so email me before then!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Phew...

Monday, November 16, 2009 0
So transfers were this week and...I got transferred out of the ASL program. It's all good I know that our President is an inspired man and knows what he is doing. I can't wait for the new adventures that this new transfer will bring...Haha just kidding. I'm still in the ASL program but we are in a threesome. Our new addition is Elder Lingam from Provo, UT. Great Elder, little shy but President said that he has confidence in me that I will take that away from him haha. I don't know what he was supposed to mean by that ;) But this week we got NOTHING done. All we had were meetings and more meetings, so I felt like the biggest bucket in the world. Bucket means to do nothing and to do what a bucket does which is to sit around and carry things, which in the case of missionary work is weight. Luckily this week we had excuses because normally bucketing normally doesn't end well, especially with the President.

At the beginning of the week we visited the Maravilla family again and we tried to help them get ready for baptism that was supposed to be this coming week. But, as always, something came up. The court decided that it would be a good idea to council and mentor the kids, which it is a good idea, and try to help them to stop rebelling against their parents. The problem with this is that they come over during Church hours. LAME! Dang court people, always getting in the way haha. But really it's a good thing because we can only do so much as missionaries and the court has more influence and power over them -because they have to do it. Anyways the court people will be going over there for about 2 months, so that puts them off till January. But for the past week I haven't been feeling well, and I have been trying to make it through me being sick but it got the better of me and I had to stay home on Sister Blackburn's orders. I got this sweet tiger pillow, well it's like a kids bed but I still think it's pretty sweet. Haha but my companion decided to close it while I was sleeping, somehow I didn't wake up, maybe it's because of the Nyquil. Either way that pillow is amazing and that ended our day early.
Wednesday we were at the mission home all day picking up our new missionary and we went tracting, YAY! I haven't really done that ever before and it was awesome. We went to Beverly Hills and obviously they have maids there and during the day the owners are not there. Unfortunately, Elder Lingam doesn't speak spanish so all he had to do was knock and say "Hi we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we have a wonderful message about you," and about two seconds later the woman would say "No hablo ingles." Hahaha so we told him to look pretty as me and Elder Cordy spoke spanish. It was a wonderful experience and it made me have a desire to go into the other program, so that I can have those wonderful experiences of that part of missionary work. It truely testified to me that the spirit is with us because we only talk to those people for about 10 minutes each and we have to say something that impact the rest of their lives, so without the spirit we are nothing. We don't know what to say and we don't know what's going through their lives and I'm truely grateful to have that gift and to have that inspiriation to help those people come closer to Christ. Anyways we were at the mission home the rest of the day and went through a lot of meetings to help us prepare to train Elder Lingam. That day we got home at 9:45, which isn't our fault just that LA traffic isn't the nicest when you are in a hurry haha. Oh well, hopefully Elder Lingam likes us and I hope that he enjoys his time here in the best mission in the world.
The rest of the week was meetings and more meetings because Elder Cordy is now a district leader so we were either at the mission home or at the church the whole day. So that pretty much summarizes our week...meetings. But one exciting thing that happened is that we went to the deaf expo...ha not there was only like 30 people there and it really wasn't worth our time. But we did meet with some people who work for Sorenson, the VP service. The said that they were waiting for our call and we said that we were waiting for their call, but we got everything resolved and we are finally going to get a VP! I'm so excited partially becuase we can talk to more people but because it will help us become more like a Preach my Gospel missionary, since we are asked to visit our investigators and make daily contact everyday but our investigators are pretty seperated and it wouldn't be effective if we just go to one area of the city and not going to the others. So I'm excited for that.
But once again I have to flake on the spiritual thought so I'm sorry again. I didn't have much personal study this week because of all the meetings. Promise next week. But I do want to leave you with a challenge. Our Mission President, President Blackburn asked us to read the Book of Mormon and the New Testament by Christmas. Now I know this sounds like a big challenge but all of you have more time. I only get an hour a day. So I challenge you to do that, to strengthen your testimony of Christ and to read His word. I want to hear of all of you who do that, so I will be expecting letters from all of you.
Ok I have to go and I love & miss you all so very much. I know this Church is true and most of all I love the work. There is nothing greater than this. Hope you are all doing well and hope to hear from you soon! Love you!
Elder Leavell

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hmm...was that a miracle?

Monday, November 9, 2009 0
Transfers are this wednesday...so hopefully nothing too dramatic will happen. The good thing about the ASL program is that not much can happen, so you know what will happen for at least two transfers. BUT transfers are still transfers so anything can happen.

Anyways this week we had a lot more meetings and a lot of lessons, which was a great thing. Tuesday we went to go visit David Turner, my first baptism, and as usual we had a great time teaching him. Elder Cordy was teaching and I noticed the his VP -video phone- was ringing so I answered and it so happened that to be some really good friends of mine, the San Diego Elders. At first we were confused but I guess David Turner knew Elder Peterson who is Elder Carlson's companion now. So it was great getting to talk with them for a little and it was also great getting to see and talk with my first companion. They don't have as much work but they seem to be making great progress on making their branch bigger, even though it's about 8 constant members going :) That same day we had a meeting with our Branch President and our Mission President concerning the future of the program. It was INTENSE but a great meeting! But our boundries now are cut unfortunately. We don't cover the Long Beach and/or the Arcadia Missions because according to Salt Lake records those are not the boundry lines for the Branch. So we are stuck in a little dilema...we can't go visit those other less active families and our investigators who we have been concentrating on for this last transfer. Luckily we got some good news from President concerning that and that is that the Church is going to get some video phones and that we will get to use them when they are finally installed in the Church, so hopefully they will get here soon! Our mission president had some really high expectations for us because eventually I will be the oldest missionary in the program, since Elder Cordy will be transferred out in February. He said (1) plan more effectively, WHY? (2) To find more work because he can't put more missionaries in a program that doesn't have work, HOW? (3) and to be exactly obidient so that we can receive those blessings of more people to teach. He didn't say the reasons behind it but he said it in that order and after thinking about it the reasons came to my mind. It's amazing to have such a leader that so insync with the Lord and who is an inspired man. He is such a great person, who is flawless in my eyes as well as Elder Pace from the Seventy when he came for last zone conference. I'm truely honored and blessed to have President Blackburn as my mission president.

After the meeting we went straight home to go to bed since it was about 9:20pm when it ended. Wednesday morning we had to wake up really early and be at the mission home at 7 to do service at the temple. I had the marvelous opportunity to do yard work that includes cutting, gathering, carrying, digging, and raking. I was so exhausted by the end of it, well correction, everyone who was outside was exhausted that it felt like it was the end of the day when in fact it was only 2:30pm :) Missionary work freaking sucks...hahaha no I love it. I love having that exhausted feeling and knowing that you are doing the Lord's work, there is really no greater feeling. Something funny was the Elder Cordy was inside dusting of all things! Gosh that got me frustrated haha no. I just told him that he had to cook me dinner :D That night we went to eat with David Spencer when Mission President called and told us some more things about the ASL program. I was a little freaked out then but that's because I thought I was going to go to the hearing program...I mean the spanish/english program since this is a Bilingual mission but I will address that later in the email.

As the week went on we visited more less active families and the Maravilla family, who is our most solid family for now. The husband still has problems working out Sundays to go to church because of his work. It's really sad to see that the problems that everyone has to go through but I know that it's worth it. We had a lesson with them about faith and keeping the sabbath day holy. While we were teaching I felt compelled to leave them a blessing, a blessing that if Juan Sr. keeps asking his boss for Sunday off that his boss' heart will soften and say yes, and if not that if he makes the sacrifice to quit his job to go to church, that he will find another one. The spirit was so strong in that meeting it was amazing. I know that they felt it and it gave them more confidence to do the things necessary to enter the waters of baptism as a family. Juan Jr. on the other hand is still struggling. He never wants to go to church so we tried to get a hold of him this week but he was never home.

Something really amazing happened this week though that showed us that we were being worthly enough to receive those blessings that our President promised us. A couple weeks ago we received a referral from Temple Square in Salt Lake, which NEVER happens. So we went over there and she wasn't home. We tried 2 more times after that, at different times of the day, and still nothing. After 3 attempts and still nothing we decided that we couldn't make the drive all the way to down town just for here since she is the only one in that area. We had splits again on friday, I was with Neil and Elder Cordy had splits with Tony Venegas. After ZDM we went to go pick him up and when we got there he was getting his VP installed. The lady working for Sorenson then asked us if we were LDS and obviously we said yes haha. What shocked us at the time was that she said I want a Book of Mormon...hmmmm...the only reason why people ask for one is that they are either Anti or they are doing it as a joke...so we were like ok...haha. No, Elder Cordy asked her where she lived and she gave us the cross streets which were exactly the same ones for Rochelle Kim, the referral. How sick is that?! We were left in silence after that, it was my first miracle that has happened on the mission, well no everything that we do works through miracles, but this one was very impactful for me because it was that obvious. After that miracle of ours, I went with Neil to visit the Maravilla family where I gave her the same blessing so that she could help her husband decide what he needed to do. We would have visited more people but Neil got us stuck in traffic so that took up like an hour and a half haha :) LA is amazing sometimes! But luckily Elder Cordy and I now know when to go on each highway so taht we can avoid traffic and be as effective as we can since we have lots of ground to cover.

I regret to say that this week I don't have a spiritual thought this week. I hope that the miracle is suffice. I know that this work is what I need to be doing and it's not easy, but with the spirit anything is possible. As you can tell our mission is blessed, as well as everyone elses because we have and are still acquiring the fruits of the spirit as it says in Galations. This is the Lord's work. I love you and miss you all! Best wishes! :)

Elder Leavell

Monday, November 2, 2009

:) November 2, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009 0
Dear Family & Friends, 

     So things here this week were pretty crazy and I think you could sum up everything with one line...wait you're a pot dealer? Haha Oh LA and it's wonderful traits. It never ceases to amaze me and/or surprise me. Anyways this week was good other than that interesting news. Lots of meetings of course but all in preparation for transfers which are in a short 10 days!

     Once again the interesting stuff happens after I email all of you so this week was no different. Elder Cordy and I went to go visit the Maravilla Family and that's when everything went crazy. I decided to talk to Juan, who has been having lots of issues lately while Elder Cordy talked with the mom. As always he was depressed and stuborn so I had to open up before he did, but to my surprise he started to open up as well. He then started saying over and over, I need to change, so I kept asking change what? He said, "Stop smoking pot..." Uh....haha. So I tried to help him start coming to church and help motivate him to do that because he felt that it wasn't going to help. So I think I started to annoy him and he started to get angry with me and he said to stop caring because he is a lost cause. Well I wasn't about to give up on him and of course I wasn't going to stop caring. I don't know why I decided to say this but I felt like I needed to say that if he didn't change fast that his parents were going to kick him out...and they were thinking about it...and that he would be stuck with no money or no home. He then said to "shut the 'freak' up" except without the freak :) He continued, "I don't need my parents money I make my own money, how they 'freak' do you think I buy all the things I have, not with my parents money because they are dead poor but because I'm a pot dealer, you want some?" And this is where the line comes in, wait you're a pot dealer? Awww the experiences of the mission. I then left that meeting concerned and confused as to what to do. But I knew something had to be done before things got worse. And that is how the day ended, sucks huh?


     Tuesday we went to do service for this lady who is in my district leaders area and first off we didn't have anything to expect move things from one side of the yard to another. It was a little retarded but we decided to cut the grass and weeds because they were really long and that's when we found Bob. This is Bob everyone. I guess we disturbed his home so he tried to attack us but we had to hide it from the lady because she is a hippy, no bad conotation there, but I know she wouldn't have like that we trapped Bob in a bucket haha. He eventually got out so everything was settled. We drove a lot that day because people were calling us, telling us that we had to meet with them because it was an emergancy. That's one goal that I have for the branch is to not rely so much on the missionaries but also on their home teachers and visiting teachers and their leaders. I mean I love helping but if it's taking time away from our investigators, that's not productive and it's not helping the Lord's work. It's sad because they don't have HT or VT so I trying to establish and emphasize the importance of them, but one problem is that there aren't very many active members, and many of those active members are not really willing to do extra things for the church. So that will be something that we are trying to fix and I'm thankful for the cooperation of our Branch President.

     Wednesday we had zone conference and that was a blast. I got to see Elder Halls, who is one of my good friends from BYU. It was great seeing him again, I was so excited to see that he was in one of the zones that was in our zone conference. It was a good zone conference and I think that I could say that it was focusing on the importance on planning and obidience. I know those are things that are always talked about, in the MTC they pretty much engrave it in your head until you are dead but I think that I have come to appreciate those more. It's tough sometimes, especially being in LA, because we have some many distractions since it's the center of the entertainment industry. I have seen so many events, for example, the premiere of the Michael Jackson movie, I was there visiting a referral and she lives right across from the Nokia theatre. It would be so easy to just lay back and wait for people to come into our path but that's not how it works out here. We have to work our tails off just to get our investigators interested, and our less actives to come to church just once. But that's why it's important to be obidient. Otherwise we wouldn't have that extra strength to help the people we are helping. So yeah there is my two cents haha. I'm glad that I have the opportunity to improve the lives of others and in turn myself with the power of the Spirit.

     Something that our Branch President has tried to enforce to get the members more active is going on splits with the missionaries. So today was the first day. Elder Cordy went with our Ward Mission Leader and I went with the Relief Society President and her wife. I went to go visit the Maravillas again. Juan was there and he continued saying that he wanted to change. I prayed with him and gave him this blessing that if he would make the first few steps toward change, which is going to church and reading the scriptures, that the addiction to weed that he has would go away. So we will see how that goes. But it was great to see that the members had a good time and I know they will be more willing now to come on splits with us when we ask them again in the future. The next, so friday, we went on splits again but this time with RMs. One of them is in our branch and the other is a good friend of my MTC teacher. Neil went on a spanish speaking mission but found a desire to learn sign language, so now he is fluent. How cool is that? But it was great seeing that it is possible to become fluent even if you are not deaf. We got a lot of work done so it was a great help going on splits because that means we can go meet more people in one day. But we saw something really really funny. Well I don't know if people would find this funny but I did. It just was a test of society of who would get more money, a black homeless man and a white homeless man. As missionaries we can't give money so we chilled back and wait to see what happened. Background about this area is that it isn't a nice area. So we assumed that the black man would get more money. But luckily they both got the exact same money from what we could see people were giving them. So at least society isn't totally lost. Sorry if you are offended but I thought that it was interesting to see how society would react to this.
This week I got lazy with the spiritual thought. So I'm just going to quote something out of a book that I have been reading. It's the Doctrinal Insights to the Book of Mormon. It's a great book it gives talks from general authorities on pretty much every scripture. But I thought of the missionary purpose, which is to bring people unto Christ. I know sometimes we forget that and we are worried about baptisms but that is not the important part. It's if people are coming closer to Christ with our message. This quote has to do with the Great and Abominable Church that it talks about in 1 Nephi. Stephen E. Robinson said, concerning this, "Individual orientation to the Church of the Lamb or to the great and abominable church is not only by membership but by loyalty. Just as there are those on the records of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints who belong to the great and abominable church by virtue of their loyalty to Satan and his life-style (2 Nephi 10:16), so there are members of other churches who will eventually belong to the Lamb by virtue of their loyalty to him and to his life-style, which will lead to their accpeting the saving ordinances. The distinction is based on who has your heart, not on who has your records." I thought that was so insightful because I know as missionaries we seek for quantitative progress records. But it made me think that we have temples for a reason. To save those who haven't accepted the gospel. We do those ordinacnes for the dead in the temples so that someday they can come to accept it. Now this doesn't mean we can be lazy and not preach the gospel but I know when we get discouraged that we have no quantitative reports that if we can answer saying yes to did we do everything we could to bring people closer to Christ? then we can say we have fought a good fight and the Lord will say, I'm pleased with you my son. So yeah that quote gave me more perspective in what I'm doing as a missionary and it gave me more confidence that I'm doing what I'm suppossed to be doing even if we aren't have the numbers we want.
     Again, I love you all and I love hearing from all of you and I miss you all as well. I hope everything is going well with all of you! Take Care!

Elder Leavell
 
◄Design by Pocket Distributed by Deluxe Templates