Monday, May 24, 2010

Door Approach Change: Do You Live in My Area?

Monday, May 24, 2010 0
HELLO FAMILY & FRIENDS how are all of you doing? Not a lot of things have happened over the past few days since the last time I emailed you was Wednesday but none the less there are a couple of updates with our investigators and things that are happening in our area. But first off I want to say to all of you thanks for all the mail, now Mom and Dad I got the BIG box so don't worry too much, it got here. But I haven't opened it yet and it is so hard not to! I'm trying to see if I can wait and test my patience but the more and more I look at it, the more and more tempting it is. Ahh. Doubt I will make it but we will see how long I last haha.

Anyways back to the mission haha...ummm...things have been a little rough around over here and there is one reason for that: we can't find people in our area. It's literally INSANE! But let me first talk about the other day I went on splits. Since splits are 12 to 12 now, things started out a little awkward and late, which is the downside of having them that way. But when we finally got things going, they went great. Elder Thiriot is from England and way chill. Turns out we have a friend in common, Elder Hansen or in other normal terms Spencer Hansen. It was soo funny because as we were talking he said that he had a friend from Vegas when he was up in the dorms at BYU. I said "really? who?" then he started saying his name "Spencer..." and then I finished the name by saying "Hansen?" haha it was funny seeing his reaction but it was way cool that everyone is connected one way or another. When I was with Elder Thiriot we didn't get much done because no one was home and all the people that he had appointments with fell threw. Bummer. But of course while I'm on splits things changed up. The Zone Leaders called us and asked if we could go on splits even though we were already on splits and once again I went with Elder Gardner, "The black chocolate." I think I'm starting to get used to being flopped all over the place and going with it, sad, but I know that it will be handy in the future. Anyways while I was with Elder Gardner all his appointments fell threw (hope that is the right one) and so we started tracting around where the appointment was. While we were tracting we decided to walk in a random apartment building that the gate was opening because a car was coming through. It was funny because all Elder Gardner said to me is there and I walked through and then let him in the front door. Haha. Oh well got to talk to everyone because this message is soo important. When we finally started knocking most of the people didn't want to talk, "busy" they said, but then finally one of them did. We started talking about the Book of Mormon and how with that book we can come to a greater understand of why things happened in the Bible and therefore coming closer to our Heavenly Father. He accepted it but didn't accept it. He said it would be great to have and great to read, he just felt that he needed to concentrate on the Bible because he already feels overwhelmed. We tried explaining that it would help his studies but no luck there. I think that that was the best lesson that I had taught in awhile and I think that it was the only lesson I taught that day in general. I'm slacking huh? Then after trying all that Elder Gardner had to wait for his real companion that was in an interview for someone who was getting baptized this past Sunday. That took forever but it didn't feel like it because everyone was there waiting. Elder Gishie and Elder Brantley, who were on splits, Elder Thiriot and the two of us were all there waiting. It's always fun to have other missionaries around.

OK back to my area. It's ridiculous. Because our area is so small we walk everywhere now, which is good but at the same time everyone that we come in contact with is OUTSIDE OF OUR AREA! Literally! Yesterday we were walking to a members home and we ran into a person that was interested in bringing people from his work because he was a member. Turns out he lives outside of our area. Then we went to another members home that we recently found and the boyfriend who is always there lives outside our area. Even Tracy and the fam live outside of our area. Shh. Nah they know and everything is good. It's just way frustrating because everyone is outside of our area and we don't know why. We are going to ask our mission president if our purpose, like us two, can change to instead of baptizing to finding people so that other people can baptize haha.

Now for something that I found interesting while I was reading the scriptures. As LDS we believe that the fall of Adam and Eve was a blessing. Before I thought that it was only a Book of Mormon doctrine but in my studies of the Old Testament that I'm now doing I realized something that I hadn't before, the Bible supports that belief. In the book of Genesis, chapters 1 to 3, it talks about the creation and the fall and as we all know the tree of knowledge of good and evil was a bad tree to eat. I want to take some time looking at that. In the Book of Mormon it says that the reason why it was a blessing is because Adam and Eve were innocent and therefore couldn't have kids, not because that they couldn't but they didn't know how. Genesis 2:25 says: "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." Now this doesn't necessarily say that they were innocent but as we continue reading we find more pieces of the puzzle. Genesis 3:1-7 says:"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." When Adam and Eve were in the garden they were naked, not "as the gods" knowing good and evil. Even God himself said "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil..." This proves in a sense that they lacked knowledge, at a degree. God knew that we would fall. He is the Almighty, Alpha and Omega, the fall was part of the plan, I know it because He is all-knowing and without that knowledge He wouldn't be God since that knowledge would be above Him. I thought that that was very interesting because it shows us what our potential is. I love this gospel soo much.

Alright I love you all. Till next week.

Elder Leavell

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Same Old, Same Old

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 1
What's been up my family and friends? This week has been an alright week. Nothing too special but I can't complain. All I know is that I can't wait for the end of this month (I'll get to that later on) because it's going to be the literal best Sunday EVER!

In general, as I said, this week has not been too much different than any other week. We tracted and then we tracted some more. We walked and then we walked some more. Haha but life is still good, amazingly enough. So I know you might be thinking shouldn't I be way excited, way happy because I had a baptism...well it didn't happen :( Let me explain. So...this last week was supposed to be the baptism of Tracy, Dalton, and Alysha, but we had to cancel it for one reason-Alysha. She said she wasn't ready to be restricted and to ACTUALLY live the commandments, even though that is what here other youth group is trying to tell her. Funny thing is that when she was talking to her mom about it, Tracy said she said "well it's not that they have more rules, it's that they actually follow them..." Haha awesome. But overall this transfer has been a bit frustrating because we have worked so hard to find and when we find they accept baptismal dates and then everything that goes in between goes wako. Now that I think about it I don't think any of our investigators have actually hit their original baptismal date. One thing is for sure, it's teaching me how to be patient. Anyways back to "the Fam," they accepted another baptismal date for the 30th and this time they seemed more enthusiastic about it. Which you know what that means, I'm going to have a baptism on my birthday! WOO HOO! How cool is that? Yeah I know, cool. Haha. Just playin. Moving on, Lucinda has been out of town for about two weeks now so we haven't been able to get a hold of here and prepare her to be baptized. Ummm...everyone else has been dropped I think. BUT I do bare some good news, we found a part member family in our area. You don't find those every day but it is definitely good when you do. I went on splits the other day with Elder Hetchler, can't remember, and while we were street contacting to the area we were going to tract we ran into a member. I thought he was joking because usually when they say that it is because they don't want to talk but that is the worst answer you can give to a missionary since we love members. Any who, yesterday we decided to go back to this supposed member's house and it turns out that he wasn't lying. There are 3 members in the home and the boyfriend and the parents of the sister of the member we ran into are not members. So we are definitely go to jump on that and hopefully we will get a baptism out of that.

Last week Friday we had Zone Conference and this one was just like the one before, except we got news of a lot of changes that were going to take place in the upcoming transfers. I'll list the changes (1) there will be no more nightly calls to check if we are in and safe, (2) splits will be changed in schedule, so instead of 9PM to 9PM they will be from 12PM to 12PM, and (3) this is the big change, the languages are going to be split up differently now. Instead of it being bilingual mission the Church decided that it is going to turn into a English-Spanish mission. For me that won't really matter because I will most likely end up in ASL again but if not, President said that all the native Spanish speakers will go to the Spanish program, but that doesn't leave to the possibility that I could go to the English program. Everyone is freaking out, especially my companion, because he wants to be in the Spanish program. All I know is that it shouldn't matter either way because the Lord will put us wherever He needs us and we need to be satisfied with that, after all we are on the Lord's errand not doing Him a favor. I did learn some things from Zone Conference. I learned a lot about the importance of Motherhood and their guiding roles. Sister Blackburn talked about how mothers led the Stripling Warriors in the Book of Mormon and how "motherhood is another word for sacrifice" (I believe David O. McKay said that). To me it didn't make much sense because I can't apply it too well but I applied it as best I could. Here is my interpretation: service is another word for sacrifice. As missionaries we have the wonderful opportunity to serve 24/7. Yes it gets redundant and annoying but that means we are making a sacrifice that will benefit us in the long run.

Well sorry this is a short email, I'm running out of time and I gotta go. I love and miss you all. I know I say that all the time but I do mean it. Dad take care of Mom, Mom take care of Dad. I don't know how you will do that because you both just went through surgery but do it :) Best wishes, till next week.

Elder Leavell

Monday, May 10, 2010

Our All Knowing Heavenly Father

Monday, May 10, 2010 0
Thanks sooo much for all the emails and mail that you all have sent me! You don't know how much it means to me, I'll make it up to all of you somehow. Promise...haha. Anyways this last week has been another amazing week. Ahhh! It's so amazing to see how many blessings are literally POURING from Heaven on us, even though we are most certainly not worthy of them.

Any who this week started out really really well. We started with 17 investigators, of which 4 of them we have dropped and a couple of them will need to start moving soon, otherwise, we will have to drop themas well. Bummer. I hate dropping people, it's the worst feeling ever but I know that it is needed and worthwhile in the end. Sadly Ivan and Isabel were some of the people we dropped. They said they didn't like church because it doesn't have the same feeling as the Catholic church; therefore, they concluded that they didn't want to go back.But here is the catch...she still remembers the feeling that she got when we first started with them and she remembers how she told us that she loved church and the messages that were presented. To me they were almost inspired. I guess from what my companion told me, the sacrament talks were on pride and anger, which for them is prefect because,well, Ivan has a problem. I think that she is too scared of what the things to come will bring, even though she doesn't want to admit it.So after talking for her, for a little, we talked about Lehi's vision,more specifically, the four groups that are explained in the Book of Mormon. She understood it really well and so we left her with a question, which one are you? It hit her like a rock and said she would give church another shot. Unfortunately they didn't come and so things will be stopped with them. Sad day. This leafs me to the next person we dropped, Earny. So we found this guy at the grocery store on Monday and he changed his mind on being interested since we last tracted his house. He is interested now. Whoo Hoo! So we thought. We proceeded to teach him, of course, about the Restoration and it was sooo awesome because all the questions he asked could be answered with the Restoration. "Why are there so many churches?" "How can I know Joseph Smith is a true prophet?" "How can I know that God really does love me?" Sick huh? We asked him to be baptized on June 6th and he agreed. BUT THEN we visited him later on in the week and guess what happened?!He backed off the whole idea of being baptized because he is not church guy and doesn't want to change even knowing that he was breaking one of the commandments. Oh well guess he wasn't prepared for us after all. Tony is also going to be dropped because he also didn't come to church and to be honest we should have dropped him awhile ago.I guess since we saw so much potential in him we didn't want to let it go but hopefully he will realize what he is missing out on and do the things he needs to do in the near future.

As far as our "good" investigators, Tracy, Dalton, and Alysha are doing the best. They are in all reality are the most solid investigators we have. They can't wait to be baptized and the best part about it was that they said they knew it was true. On Thursday we talked about the movie with them and discussed the things that they loved about it and the things they learned. The kids liked it but Tracy had something more she wanted to say. She said, "Those people must have had great faith to follow Joseph Smith despite loosing their family, their homes, their lives, everything. I don't think I could have done that. And Joseph Smith...I guess it has to be...that man lost 4 of his children and suffered a lot. What great faith." After she said that I asked her what she was going to say after I guess it has to be... She replied, "It has to be true." No more needs to be said, all I know is that I can't wait for her baptism! Another one of our promising investigators is Lucinda. No-she didn't get baptized this past Sunday but she is still moving along. She went out of town for a week for a funeral, so we couldn't complain. The funny thing is that every time she leaves we are sooo scared for her because we don't know if that she will come back alive. I mean she is 81 years old, shies close to the other side haha. Hopefully she will come back safely so that we can teach and baptize her.

For my spiritual side of the email I wanted to talk about something that I have discovered in my personal study. The other day I was reading in Isaiah 29, which is also in the Book of Mormon. As I was reading the chapters it didn't make much sense, of course, but luckily I have a book to help me out a little (haha more like a lot). Anyways I want to share with you three verses that say: "But behold, I prophesy unto you concerning the last days; concerning the days when the Lord God shall bring these things forth unto the children of men. After my seed and the seed of my brethren shall have dwindled in unbelief, and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea, after the Lord God shall have camped against them round about, and shall have laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them; and after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written, and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not be forgotten. For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust." Never before has a prophecy been more truly fulfilled. Joseph Smith found the sacred history "out of the ground" with the guidance of the angel Moroni. This is the voice of the ancient people, the ancient prophets of America and in a sense it speaks to us "out of the ground" and their voice is "low out of the dust." But the amazing part is how our Heavenly Father is all knowing and His work is perfect and we know this is speaking about the Book of Mormon because it fulfills the prophesy that a familiar spirit is left when we read the words it contains. Orson Pratt once asked "In what manner could a nation, after they were brought down and destroyed, "speak out of the ground?" Could their dead bodies or their dust, or their ashes speak? Verily, no: they can only speak by their writings or their books that they wrote while living. Their voice, speech or words, can only "speak out of the ground," or "whisper out of the dust" by their books or writings being discovered."

I love you all and I can't wait to hear from you all next week.
Elder Leavell

Here are some pictures :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sabbath Day Worship like Never Before

Monday, May 3, 2010 0
Hello everyone, this week has also been another awesome week for us. We have found some new people and the people we have been working with are doing great. Of course, we have hit some bumps along the way but I know that if we put all our trust in our Heavenly Father that He will provide a way for us to accomplish everything that we need to do as His servants.

So I think I may have mentioned that transfers were this past week and I'm staying for one more, at least, in Gardena. It wasn't too surprising because our area is booming and they usually don't make changes when that happens, so I'm way pumped. I would have definitely been bummed if I got transferred. Really bummed. Anways...haha...Monday turned out to be an eventful day because of one thing-lack of communication. Since we didn't get a chance to get a hold of the dinner calender lady in our English ward we planned on not having dinner and going to the Ayoso's home for a big FHE with the Roberts because we assumed that there was no dinner planned out for us. Wrong. As we were with the Masudas people were calling like crazy so I finally had to answer the phone because, normally, that means it's an emergency. Wrong again. Turned out that the Sister planned out dinner for us with another family at 7:30, which happened to be right, smack, down the middle of the FHE we had planned. For some reason that always happens but something I have learned on the mission is to just roll with it. Eventually everything worked out, dinner was delicious and we had a great FHE. I just left Elder Isaacson to teach the whole haha...oh well.

As far as our investigators are going, all of them are doing well except for Ivan and Isabel. Tracy, Dalton, and Alisha all went to a baptism this last Tuesday and they all loved it until they heard about the baptism by fire. Haha. Tracy said that Alisha's eyes almost burst out of her head because she was so scared. I sat right next to Dalton and he was trippin too. Good times. We joked that we were going to put them both in the even and eat them haha. They are so solid. Karl is doing great but now he is slacking because of all the blessings he has received. Remind you of the pride cycle in the Book of Mormon? Well it does to me. Good grief, I thought we learned that lesson from them. Since he has been blessed with 2 jobs he doesn't come to church anymore, doesn't help around the house, all he does is sleep. So Elder Isaacson and I are going to have to smack some sense into him and get Him into gear. Now for Ivan and Isabel. This almost makes me cry. As we were weekly planning we were debating on what we should do with Ivan and Isabel and the Lord answered our prayers with a phone call. Isabel was crying on the phone and telling us that we can't come over anymore but didn't want to tell us why. As we worked things out and calmed her down she explained everything that had happened when we stopped by and taught Ivan. During our lesson with Ivan we taught the importance of the gospel and enduring to the end. The spirit was sooo strong and i know he felt it because his countenance changed while we were there-he seemed interested now. After not being able to get a hold of her we left and that is when things got crazy. (At this point in the phone call she started crying again) She continued and said that she wasn't feeling well and because she had to go to work shortly after we arrived she decided to seep it off. Apparently after we left Ivan got irate and almost hit her because she didn't come out. Sadly this hasn't been the first time he has done that. She continued to tell us that he is on drugs and an alcoholic and he gets mad all the time. That was her reasoning for dropping us. She didn't want to add the drama, she didn't want him angry at her anymore, she wanted to give up. As I was talking to her I felt a mere portion of what the Savior has felt and will feel for us. It hurt me to hear everything that she had to go through but as we explained to her that our trials are for own good, we grow from them and if we endure well by trusting in our Heavenly Father, all will turn out well. Gosh I wish things could all be better for our investigators.

This past Sunday, on the other hand has really shown me and given me a stronger testimony of fasting. Church was sooo awesome. Fast and Testimony meetings are always some of the strongest meetings in the church. But something special also happened, Mahea's baby was blessed yesterday and guess who did it? Brother Ayoso! That family has come such a long way it's amazing. I'm sooo happy that he got the opportunity to bless the baby but, more importantly, I'm excited that he has made the changes in his life to able to take part in such a special blessing. After sacrament meeting we raced over to the Spanish ward (we left Tracy and her family with some other missionaries-felt bad about that one) because Tony and Annelia and her family were going to come to church! That meant we had 7 people at Church! Annelia and her little 10 year old daughter came for the first time and the mom loved it. The little girl (can't remember her name...oops) was almost crying on the other hand. She didn't want to go to primary with the other kids and almost started crying when the other kids were excited to see her and wanted her to come with them. Her Mom said she was nervous because she didn't know what to expect since they are going to switch Churches and go to this one...wait was that commitment? It was so awesome to her the mom say that. To make the story short the little girl promised me she would go to primary next week. I promised her she would love it :) THEN, when church had finally ended for us, we went up to the temple with Tracy and her kids and watched the Joseph Smith movie. Once again the spirit was sooo strong. But after the movie we decided to take them on a temple walk, something we hadn't done before with our other investigators. Dalton, of course, was running all over the place, since he always hyper, but as I wad walking with Tracy and Alysha we got talking about the importance of a temple and the blessings we can receive from it and all that jazz. But I think that the best part of all of Sunday was when Elder Hetchler, my new District Leader, and I were going back to our apartment. We ran into this lady and asked her how she was doing (the usual). She said "Bad." We both stopped and talked to her and she explained to us why she was having a bad day. She told us "I just found out I got rapped 4 months ago." I didn't know what to say to that other than that our Heavenly Father loves us and cares for us sooo much that He is there for us when we allow Him to do so. We continued talking and asked her if she had heard of the Book of Mormon but that she had to go to the bathroom at McDonalds. We then realized that we didn't have any because we didn't have our backpacks, so we raced up to our apartment and ran to McDonalds trying to catch up to her. As we waited and waited she finally came out, best feeling ever. We then taught her and proceeded to teach her of the importance of the Book of Mormon. The spirit was sooo strong even though EVERYONE was starring at us and it was sooo LOUD in there. It truly taught me to always be prepared and to not worry about what everyone else thinks or says. It really is that important.

I love you all and miss you even more. MOM I can't wait to talk to you in a couple of days. Seriously, I'm so excited. DAD take care of Mom like you always do. Alright well hope to hear from you soon and HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY. Till next week.

Elder Leavell
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