Monday, March 29, 2010

Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration

Monday, March 29, 2010 0
So out of all the weeks that I have been out on the mission this has by far been one of the best one. We are seeing success almost everyday and so many things are happening in our area, it's ridiculous. SO...I better get writing huh?

Alright so for reason our area has been the "if you haven't gotten a flat tire on your mission then be prepared for many" area. On Wednesday I got ANOTHER flat tire, which puts me at 4 flats in the past week. Then what made things worse was that my companion got a flat the very next day! What the freak? Our zone leaders even made the joke that our area is cursed haha. Any who...on Wednesday I got my flat on the way back from a referral Maria (I'll get to her in a minute), which so happened to be on the other side of our area AND right before our dinner appointment. But once again the Lord provided and took care of His missionaries. After walking for about an hour and a half we finally were getting to the bike shop when the Robert's pulled up and said "another flat? haha come eat with us when you get done. we will be at Bruddahs." So, of course, we ate with them and then got my bike fixed haha. Samoans are awesome. Alright back to Maria. Maria, as I said, was a referral we received that was in her late 70s or 80s. Strong Catholic and just a typical Latin grandma. But there was something different about her and we didn't notice until she did it a couple of times. As we were talking she asked where we are from, we had already met her but we assumed she had forgotten. 5 minutes later she asked us again, 5 minutes after that she asked us again but she caught herself. Then she asked us the same question again and that is when we noticed that she wasn't all there. Haha. All I can say is that she will be an interesting lady to teach. So that was that for the day.

The next few days went normal and Friday for some reason was a little different. Our district leader, Elder Sung, is a new district leader and during ZDM his training...well...didn't really hit the spot. I felt so bad and was trying to help but he kept digging himself in a bigger hole. Oh well. I guess you win some and you loose some. The rest of the day we tracted and visited members. And once again the Lord blessed us. During our lesson with the Masuda family we decided to teach Skip about the atonement. The spirit was so strong during the lesson, I think it was one of the best lessons Elder Isaacson and I have taught together. After the lessons we tracted and on the last door, we found our miracle. I have always heard these stories from other missionaries but never had one for my own. It's truly amazing to see how the Lord really has His hand in the work. When we knocked on the last door of the street we ran into a man from Thailand, named Mike. What makes it interesting is that Mike had been taught by some missionaries before and he said they changed his life. I'm so happy that the Lord is really blessing us for all the hard work that we are putting forth.

Sunday made the whole week even better. Karl, Tony, and Skip all went to church and it was so AWESOME! Karl almost didn't make it but at the last moment he walked into the church and I was so happy! Then Tony, finally, committed to being baptized on the 11th. Gosh this week has been amazing!

For my spiritual thought, I thought I'd share an experience that we had on Saturday. On Saturday we got the opportunity to take Karl and the rest of the family up to the Information Center at the Mission Home. The interesting part was that for me and for them it would be the first time that we would watch the Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration movie. The movie was about Joseph Smith and his life, along side the life of the early pioneers of the church. During the movie the spirit was sooooo strong you could almost touch it and I don't think that I will ever forget this experience. I just want to share with you my testimony of the divinity of this Church. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Church of Jesus Christ. Through all the trials, hardships, beatings, mobs, you name it, Joseph could have denied his cause and all would have ceased. Just as in the Biblical and early Christian revolutions, the early members would have most certainly benefited by such denial but they all continued on. Whether we are of the same faith or not, none can deny the events that happened to this Prophet, a true servant of the Lord, were ones of trying faith, exceeding pain and suffering, or in other words were a refiner's fire. I know with absolute assurance that he was what he claimed to be, a Prophet. I also know that The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ does fulfill it's promise. I know that "those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah." I know that to be true because it has become known to me. It has become a fact that all these things are true and as I study it only increases the testimony I have of this church.

I want you all to know that I love you and I miss you. But this is my calling. My refuge at this time and I know that with sacrifice the blessings of Heaven will come forth. May the Lord bless you and I hope you all have a great week.

Elder Leavell

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Transfers

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 0
Hola,

So I might have mentioned that transfers were this past week and that I would find out this Wednesday where I was going, well...I'm staying in Gardena for another one. No surprise there but thought I would let you know, BUT there was a little change. Elder Isaacson will be my new companion. He is from some Podunk town in Utah so it will certainly be an interesting transfer.

Sorry I didn't get to email yesterday our zone leaders forgot to tell us until the day before that we were going to do some temple service yesterday. I'm so exhausted now haha. We had to tear out A LOT of carpet and the lockers, which by the way were heavier than me (yes we weighed them), while my companion was folding laundry. Some how that makes sense.

Any who...this past week has been a long one but a lot of things have happened in our area. Skip and Tony both have baptismal dates for the upcoming weeks so I'm super excited for that. What tops it off even more is that Tony came to church this past Sunday. That was one of the best feelings, to see the fruits of my labor, that I've had on my mission. Skip was going to come to church because he didn't want us to come over and wake him up but he then got upset with his wife so he decided not to go. LAME! We will be talking to him this Friday about that one. For some reason people here have a big problem coming to church. For example, the English ward that we go to has about 700 members and about 80 to 100 of them are considered "active." But with the less actives that we are working with they are making progress as well! The Ayosos came to church, except it was only the mom and the dad. Karl was also going to come but he was sick with the stomach flu. It really seems to me that he is becoming more and more interested and actually applying the things that we have to teach the family. He will soon get baptized, he just doesn't know it yet. Concerning the Roberts, Domi left to Texas so we went to her goodbye party on Saturday. At the party I don't think that it had hit their parents that she was leaving because they were their normal selves, jolly. Haha. So that pretty much summarizes the work that is going on here.

Well I got to go. Miss ya a bunch.

Elder Leavell

Monday, March 15, 2010

Missionary work...exhausting

Monday, March 15, 2010 0
Phew another week down and the last one of the transfer. How are you all doing? It was great to hear from all of you and I want to give a shout out to my Aunt Debie "Thanks for the card and everything. I will write you back when I get sometime!"

Alright, I just want to start off by saying the mission is so legit, every week may seem the same, but every time there is something even more legit that happens. The week, overall, went like every other week, starting off slow then working really hard to the end, but it's all good. At the beginning of the week we decided to get most of tracting hours out of the way, so when Thursday came around we only tracted when an appointment went through. Tracting went really well and we found a lot of new people, as usual. Once again there were some amazing experiences, so I will share those with you.

(1) On Friday, I received a notice that I had received a package but that it couldn't be delivered and so UPS took it back. So at first I blew it off and gave the note to my district leader and as he continued reading the note he told me it said that if I didn't pick it up on the 12th of March, and it so happened to be on that day, that it would be returned to the sender. So I was like what do I do? I don't know who sent it to me and of course, the number that they gave me, just gave me the information that was on the paper, so we raced up to the UPS place and waited in line. As we were waiting there was a lady being helped who was upset because no one knew where her package was. This is where it gets comical. The UPS guy was trying to tell her that the package was at the other UPS place now because she waited too long and that it was over in Santa Monica, right next to the "big brown building." The guy continued trying to describe it but the lady didn't seem to grasp what he was describing. Finally, we stepped in and said "it's right next to the mormon temple" and the lady said "oh...OH...no i don't want to go there, bring it back here." People these days huh? If she only knew what the temple did.

(2) This past sunday we had a wannabe stake conference and it was amazing! Elder Costa, of the Presidency of the Seventy, came down with Elder Hales and so everyone down here was freaking out that there were going to be some major changes to the stake. In all reality they just came to explain the roles of the leaders of the church, or something like that, that the Church just revised and then talk about the role of the family. I learned so much from that meeting...oh wait no I didn't...I had a better experience haha. Let me explain. A couple of days ago some of the missionaries told me that I should call the stake president to see if he needed help translating and so I did but no answer. When Sunday came around and the meeting was about to begin, they came up to me and asked me to translate. At first I was like "could you ask anyone else?" but then I felt bad because I'm out here to serve not just learn. I think that that was the best decision EVER because now I can say I was the voice of Elder Costa and I translated for a General Authority. How many other missionaries can say that? Not many. Haha. Anyways, after that I was so brain dead that I had a hard time talking, it was way funny.

For my spiritual thought I want to share a quote with you by John Groberg, he said, "Sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes He calms his child." As we know, and as I have said countless times, times are extremely tough right now, whether through finances, with our families, friends, love ones passing, the upcoming week or even day, technology, work, fashions, elections, etc. We have all these influences, these concerns, that go through our minds at a million miles an hour and what for? As missionaries we have many concerns we worry about miles, the upcoming day, our family, friends, love ones, investigators coming to church, bikes working, our leaders and many more, but in all honesty we have little to no influence on all of these things. The Lord has set boundries for a reason, not to take our agency away -for we know that is an eternal gift- but so that we can reach our full potential. When I see all the crisis, such as in Haiti and now Chile, I see the Lord trying to prepare us for His arrival, I see Him preparing us to become more like Him, and I see Him most of all helping us learn more of the everlasting gospel. The quote made by John Groberg explains much about life, when stormy ways come our way the Lord calms them by giving us peace, but we learn from the first apostles that the storm is not calmed until we ask Him, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" Furthermore, we learn that the reason the storm is calmed because we learn how to overcome it. In the case of the Savior, the apostles said "What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" I know that all these obstacles are for our good and that we have a promise from the Lord, He said:

"13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."

16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.
So be of good comfort my dear friends and know that all these are for our good. Count on the promise that the Lord has made to us, "[that He] will deliver [us] out of bondage" but all we have to do is ask for help and prepare ourselves, by evaluating the things we have influence over and control them with haste. I love you all, you are all my brothers and sisters, and I can't wait to be able to see you face to face once again. But I know this is the place I need to be and that will not change. Best wishes. Take Care.

Elder Leavell

Monday, March 8, 2010

And we followed the Sprit

Monday, March 8, 2010 0
What's up everyone? How have you all been? Hope all is goind well whereever you are at. Sod down over here in LA things are going well, especially because we found some new investigators! Sadly it wasn't with my companion but he will get to know them soon enough.

This past week went by really slow at the beginning of the week again. My companion is super trunky and all he thinks about is that he is going home soon. They are the worst because you have to drag them all over the place and hope they don't get distracted by something that reminds them of home. Oh well. At least the work is still moving. Anyways when wednesday rolled around we finally decided to go to this Samoan's homethat lives in our area, the Roberts. They are less active, well inactive, and we were given their name as referral to go visit. We knocked on the door and they were really surprised to see us but as we shared our message of tithing thet became even more surprised. Come to find out the Roberts can't come to church because they are both working 2 jobs just to manage. It's really sad but they made a commitment, at the beginning of the year, to pay their tithing every week. The interesting part was that the day we came was the first week that they hadn't paid their tithing since the beginning of the year. How sick is that?! We promised them that if they would prepare themselves to follow every other commandment that they would both find new jobs that pay better and would allow them to have sunday off. So hopefully they will keep their end of the deal.

Alright the other great thing that happened was when I went on splits with my zone leader, Elder Gardner. He's black and from Alabama, so you can assume all the stereotypes are true because they are. Haha we have a joke that has become his theme, "there is only a loud and louder when he talks." Love it. After planning and waking up, we decided to make some cookies for breakfast (yeah I know it's healthy) and guess what happened? I burned myself. So what did I do? I put oil and salt on the burn just like my mom did when it happened to her, I guess it's some mexican cure, but it didn't do anything since I still have a nasty scar! (Mom I tried applying something that you taught me so take comfort in that). Funny thingwas we didn't have any salt so I knocked on the neighbor's door and she looked at me weird when I told her to sprinkle some on my burn. Haha. Then come to find out, in asian culture when someone asks for salt that means you peed your pants or wet the bed. Haha, so now the neighbor thinks I have a problem. Oh well I tried and taht is what counts. After the small crisis we went to starbucks to wait for a referral that didn't end up coming. Lame. Another funny thing, Elder Gardner is allergic to coffee so even going inside would make him sick. Anyways the rest of the day we went tracting and surprisingly it went by really fast. Almost every door someone answered. Now this is where two people we came across made it funny. We knocked into this lady, Laura, who from the first moment we talked to her she was excited to talk to us and said "are you mormons? Oh I know your church is true." What the freak? No one says that, literally. I may have gotten a little too excited but she left for two seconds and that's when the gardner came and I started sneezing from the cut grass. I then made a joke saying that it was interesting being allergic to grass and yet playing on it every day of my life. As we were laughing Laura came back and thought we were laughing at her and then for some reason blamed everything on me saying that I'm not humble but my companion is. We were both really confused and perplexed but luckily we explained everything and she calmed down (we are meeting her this coming week). Then a couple doors later came the "Jewtholic." Now let me explain. His name is David, he is 55, has a mom who is catholic and a dad who is Jewish, and is a tad bit confused (more than a tad actually). The thing with this guy was that he was raised with both beliefs, stayed in a catholic home and learned everything catholic but yet went to Hebrew school during the day. He said one time he had a christmas tree with nativity scene and a monorah at the same time. Of course this guy would be confused. As we started figuring out who he was we noticed that he was very pesamistic about life and was wondering why we were here. After explaining over and over again he ended up answering his own questions, which was the amazing part. Sadly he said he wouldn't pray about everything we taught him BUT we left him with a commitment to write down all the things he was grateful for. I'm so excited to meet with him again and hopefuilly his family will be there too.

So this week has been really good for the most part but the most amazing part was noticing how the spirit guided us and how the Lord truely has a hand in this work. Both while tracting and with the Roberts we were lead to them by Spirit. With tracting we planned to go somewhere else by Elder Gardner's bike broke down so we had to go somewhere closer. With the Roberts we had planned to visit them last week but ran out of time. I'm just truely thankful for being worthy to be here so that I could be guided by the spirit. I know without it the mission would be impossible. The church is true, otherwise, the Lord wouldn't have blessed us and I know he is. I love and miss all of you but I'm finally having the time of my life and I don't want to leave. It's scary to think that today, I'm a third of the way done. Time goes by so fast here. Hope you have a great week. Love and miss ya!

Elder Leavell

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sickness a blessing from God

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 0
So can i get a WOO HOO??!! Alright thanks. I'm so happy to say that I've overcome my sickness that I have had for the past few weeks! And you know what that means...I get to work at 100% again...YAY! Gosh I don't want to get sick ever again it sucks having to stay home for long periods of time but as I look back this sickness has been a blessing because I have learned so much and I got the opportunity to reevaluate some things.

Alright this past week, at least at the beginning, went by really slow because I was sick and even during zone conference, so that was a major bummer. Even though I felt I was going to die during zone conference it was awesome and it truely testified to me once again that our leaders are inspired by our Savior, Jesus Christ. The main theme for our zone conference was building ourselves so that our character reflects our countenance. The two main talks that I want to talk about are from the President and his wife.

Sister Blackburn talked abou character and if there were three words that could summarize her definition of character they would be: honesty, honor, and integrity. She continued to explain that character and obidience go hand in hand because the true test of both doesn't come when people are watching but when we are alone. To me, when that was mentioned, I thought of the 13th Article of Faith, which says:
"We believe in being honest,
true,
chaste,
benevolent,
virtuous,
and in doing goodto all men...
if there is anything
virtuous,
lovely,
or of good report or
praiseworthy,
we seek after these things."
There is nothing greater than a person who actually does it and we know that through the example of Jesus Christ we gain motivation to do such things. Obviously it's not easy but it's certainly worth it in the long run. Then, Sister Blackburn being a mother gave us a visual example with candy (she knows how to capture our attention really well haha). In her visual aid she had two easter bunny and she proceeded cutting them, one was hollow and one was solid, then she asked is this hollow bunny worth anything when you could have a solid one to eat? How true is that? I mean what worth would it have been if Lehi and his family ate of the tree of life and the fruit were hollow? Laman and Lemuel, still wouldn't have chosen the right way, but they wouldn't have faced the disappointment of a hollow prize: fruit without the substance. She then said we need to do the right things for the right reasons not just because we have no other option in fear of getting caught. I know she was talking to us, as missionaries, but I also know that she was talking to everyone, even normal members of the church.
Then it was President's turn and he talked about the atonement. He started by reading a scripture in Doctrine & Covenants 76, which says:
"40 And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us— 41 That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; 42 That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him;"
He said that is our purpose as missionaries. Without Him we would have nothing and with Him we are everything. Jesus Christ died on the cross for all of man kind because there was no other way due to the inmeasureable amount of love he had and has for us; therefore, giving him no option in doing it or not. That is perfect love. So great was His love that all of His decisions and options have Him one option: to help us in our quest for perfection.
So after the uplifting zone conference the next two days went by extremely fast, We got a lot done and found some new people to teach. But this past Sunday I faced the fear of all fears of missionary work: interpreting for Church. haha. Turns out it's not an advantage being a native in both languages because you end up interpreting, whether you like it or not haha. Just playing it was honor but it was funny seeing how fast the other missionaries disappeared when the Stake President asked one of us to interpret for the ward conference (those jerks). Great experience even though I felt bad for the ones that were listening to me.
In general this past week, with zone conference and interpreting at church, was a really good week. Although it's not easy I know that in the long run I will never regret this decision because every day I come to know more and more that the Church is true. I love and miss you all and hope you have a great week!
Elder Leavell

Monday, March 1, 2010

Buenas Dias

Monday, March 1, 2010 0
¿Hola como estan? haha alright i'm done.

Anyways this is going to be a short email because I don't have too much time, once again (but of course that is a common theme in missionary work - not enough time) but I will send a letter to my mom and she will put it up. This week has been great, we had zone conference and that was really good. I learned a lot and, of course, I got to see some of the other missionaries that I used to work with. There was not of work done because I'm still sick, on ther hand, I'm getting better! YAY! It's been rough having to stay home and do nothing for countless days. So once again sorry this is so short, I'll write everyone soon. I love and miss you all. May you always maintain the faith that you already have, even if you haven't realized yet.

Elder Leavell
 
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