Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Drum Roll

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 0
I think that I forgot to mention that transfers were going to be happening this week but it's ok because I ended up staying for another one. But I will not be here for another one. Rumor has it that everyone who has been called ASL is going back BUT the Arcadia mission is in need of one of us so one or two of the ASL missionaries that are here might be switching missions to train and to start up a program.We shall see, everyone is putting money on me because I've been out the longest but it's all up in the air. It would be cool I guess to switch missions. When all is said and done it's whatever and not important until it happens because we, as missionaries are just tools,and I'm glad I have no say because I don't know what is best. Anyways I hope that you are all doing well, my beloved friends an family,which leads me to a question? What is everyone doing for vacation? I promise I won't be jealous at all... ;)

Anyways this week has been an eventful week with normal first week meetings, which means not a lot was accomplished. That's nothing new though.Plus we were asked to switch apartments due to the "cholo"incident and because it has bed bugs now. Not cool. So we spent most of Wednesday moving and getting situated because we had youth splits starting the next night. So on Thursday night we started our 24 hour youth splits with Bryan Camacho and Michael de Los Santos and it was interesting to say the least. At DDM Michael gave a the opening prayer and Bryan gave the spiritual thought that I helped him prepare haha.Don't blame him we didn't tell him in advance but that's OK, as missionaries we hardly get any warning. After DDM we went off to work,Elder Richins stayed in the car with Michael while I walked the streets of Wilmington with Bryan. I don't think I have ever noticed that Wilmington is pretty ghetto. There were drug deals and people smoking, etc. like is was nothing. Haha. I decided to go through the area book and go through some names that hadn't been visited in awhile and we found a older man with tons of potential. His name is Robert,he had been taught by the Sister missionaries before and when we came in I guess he fell in the cracks. He even said he was curious why the Sisters had stopped coming. We taught him the Restoration again since he had forgotten it and I think it was one of the best lessons of the day, if not the best. He was almost crying and said that if it was true that he would have to follow and get baptized. I think that was the first time that has ever happened to me. The only problem is that he said is probably going to Mexico, for I don't know how long, and he said he just got involved with another church, so we will see what happens with that. The rest of the day we tried to visit people that ended up not being and/or now willing to open the door, so we decided to street contact. Probably not the best idea, considering that everyone here that is on the streets is either drunk, mentally handicap, or homeless. Luckily we didn't do that for too long since we had dinner, that was delicious by the way. THEN, of course, something has to go wrong on splits, especially with the youth of the ward. We were just chilling in our apartment right before bed when we heard some little cats meowing like crazy down below and they were doing that for about an hour, little did we know that it wasn't down below but right in front of our door. It was crazy. Two little kittens, who we later named Emma ans Meow, right in front of our door and it was almost 10:30. Freak! So we took them in for a little when we realized that we literally didn't have any food. All our cupboards are empty and it got us pretty down. So we gave them some of our milk and some animal crackers and they seemed to like it. We ended up keeping them for a night, which was awesome but they kept crying. Obviously we couldn't keep them so the next morning we took them to the shelter and that was that. Interesting way to introduce the youth of the ward to the mission huh? Thought so. Then the following day we went to the Pioneer Day Stake Activity for the Torrance and Palos Verdes Stake. It was so awesome there was jumpers and free food. A missionaries dream and the best part about it is that we got permission to go! Even better! So all of Saturday we were getting to know the members more and meeting everyone so that was nice, since it was a relaxed atmosphere.

As far as investigators we are slowly picking up our game again. We aren't tracting too much but that is mainly for one reason-members. Thanks to the wonderful members we have gotten a bunch of referrals and thanks to the English missionaries, we are also receiving referrals like crazy. One of the investigators that seems most promising is a member referral named Otto or Alex. We can't decide what his name is so we call him by both since he can't seem to make his mind either. Anyways he is an 18 year old guy who so happens to be a friend of the Chacons. He has been going to church for awhile but we are finally getting a chance to talk to him. We taught him a solid lesson on prophet that he seemed to like, especially because he just learned about them during church. We left him a pamphlet and told him to pray.From then he has been a little stubborn with the praying thing but we didn't hear about that until we met him at his house, without his lady friend. I guess he isn't that into her but she is, so it makes it awkward for him, plus he likes to play hard to get with her. Haha. Yesterday we had the opportunity to go to his house and teach him there. He had a lot of great questions, which lead us into lessons 3 (gospel of Jesus Christ), where we mainly focused on faith because he mentioned that he felt awkward with praying to the man upstairs. Elder Richins then started talking to him about Jonah. I thought it was a little weird but I went with it. We made it into a more modern story,with modern objects like saying the wicked city he was asked to go to was Watts, etc. He enjoyed it and so did we, you got to make teaching fun since you do it every day, every hour, and every minute for two years. After some answering of questions and concerns he finally said that he would pray and that he would do the best that he could, which we all know that within itself is enough. He reminds me of me a little because he wasn't all that into religion until now but I know that as he continues reading the Book of Mormon and keeps trying to pray, with the intent of wanting to know that he will receive an answer, I know that because I know that I have received mine. Moving on, we are also teaching another family-the Morales. No they are not related to Horiel Morales from South Bay Zone, but they are a part member family that lives right next door to the Camachos. We have been teaching them on and off because they showed signs of interest, but then they would hide them, but now they are way legit. We had a good lesson with them yesterday and talked to them about the Restoration, sort of reviewing what they learned at church this past Sunday and from when we had a FHE with them at the Camachos. The wife wasn't there but the husband and the daughter were there and I know they felt the spirit. They really enjoyed church and said that it was really similar to the one that they had been raised and that they had seen the change in their son, who was baptized awhile ago, and they thought should check what it was all about. When we talked about the prophet Joseph Smith and explained the First Vision, they were all laughing but as soon as we shared his experience, it got silent and the spirit came in, stronger than I think I have felt it before, at least while we explained his experience. We commited them to pray to find out if it's true and to read Alma 32, chapter on faith, and they said yes. The amazing part about this is that on Thursday when we have our next lesson with them, our mission president, President Baker, will be there with us. How cool is that? I have never done that before, so I'm way nervous but way excited for it. I know that he is going to bring a special spirit for that lesson, I hope and pray that the entire family will be there for it. I think that is it for our investigators, at least are most solid ones. OH last week Nancy got baptized! She was the deaf lady that was dating the Samoan guy but left and so she left. Remember? Well she got baptized last week finally. I'm so excited for her since she was extremely prepared and now she finally went through with it.

Any who...I just got out of the temple, so that is why I didn't email on Monday. Sorry Mom for not telling you about that. I never remember until the following week and then it's too late to tell you. Since I haven't put up pictures in awhile here are some for all of you. ENJOY!
Holy Moly I finally found it!
The Andrades

Everyone meet Emma.
Love you all. Till next week.
Elder Leavell

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hard Weeks are Hard

Sunday, July 18, 2010 0
Hello family and friends, it's another pday so I get the chance to write you all. This week we haven't seen any success, once again we didn't have any baptisms this transfer and worst yet, we didn't have anyone come to church. These past couple weeks have been really challenging and sometimes it's gotten the best of me but I'm still trucking I guess. Can't lie I saw it coming because we were see great success and I think I got a little confidant in what I was doing, so I'm thankful for the trials that have been set before me because it has given me the opportunity to reflect and change what I have been doing. It's still a bummer though haha ;) I hope you are all doing well and that you are having a great summer.

As I look back at the week we didn't do much. Because Elder Carroll got hurt, we were asked to take some of his appointments so that his area wouldn't completely die. Problem is now some of the people are really attached to us and don't want to have hem back. For example, the Andrade family. Recently in the area of Wilmington there have been many golden children baptisms, meaning that the children were the ones ready but the parents didn't get baptized. The only problem with going ahead with the baptism is that they go less active really fast unless the parents are showing support to the kids and/or members are going over there constantly to show support to them as well, of which none usually happens. The Andrade family is way nice, they are from Honduras and have two kids that got baptized, Daniel, 14, and Mayeli, 11. The parents have been taught a bunch so when we went over there we only talked with the kids because the parents didn't want to come out. As we got talking the kids said that they had been going to a different church because they were all confused and they had some friends that said that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was bad. So they stopped going for about a year until we came over. Plus they said they didn't have any formal clothes for church and the other church was casual dress. We then had a sort of a questions and answers time to resolve all the questions that they had about the church but they still didn't want to go to church so we said we would go over again the next day since we were already running late. That night I couldn't sleep thinking about them and thinking that there was something more to the picture that they were not telling us, I didn't know why at the moment but I felt something was up. The next day we went over and Mayeli wasn't there so we were talking with Daniel when Elder Richins got a call from someone that he had to take so I stayed with Daniel for a little. We got talking about his family and that's when it all came out. About a year ago, his dad got in trouble with the law and went to jail not knowing that one time was his final straw, he ended up frying deported to Honduras and never talked to him again. He is a stud though. He kept his tears in but you could tell that they were about to come out. He said that that is when his "step-dad" came in. Luckily he has been treating them like their own but he said they stopped going to church because they were angry and didn't want to do anything they didn't want to do. Plus, they are in a financial pinch so they don't have much and they are too embarrassed to go to church because they have no formal clothes and because they haven't been in forever. Man I was a wreck right there, I can't imagine what that must feel like having a dad one day and then the next he is gone, after all, he is pretty much dead to them because they can't get a hold of him. Gosh these situations really make you think of all the blessings you have. After Elser Richins came in the daughter came in and I told them that I had a surprise for them but they needed to come with us. We called a member to pick us all up and we took them to the mall and I told them go buy some church clothes. They didn't believe me so I had to help them pick it out and I took them to one of my favorite stores H&M. They were so happy and the cool thong was so was I. We got REALLY behind on our schedule but it was worth it. And what made it all the better was two things: (1) they came to church and (2) Daniel told me thanks for being his older brother. Charity never faileth that is for sure.

I also went on splits this last friday with Elder Apo who is from Samoa. Turns out that we know someone in common, Nick Bigler. I don't know him but I know that he is from our stake and that has got to count for something, right? It was fun going on splits with him, especially, because their area touches the beach. Naturally, we went there. haha. It was way cool, we did service most of the day and I got to ride a broken bike and somehow I managed to get back in one piece. Then another interesting thing that happened is that we walked into a church building that I had never been in before and I was looking at the missionary wall and I found someone I know. Marc Oslund from my BYU ward. It was pretty cool seeing his pictures. The funny part was that I remembered that he was from California but I had no idea that his family lives within my mission boundries. So I got permission to go visit them after email. It was an interesting day that day.

Alright enough with the sappy moment, now onto the funny stories. So this week we got threatened with our lives right outside our apartment by these two cholos, no worries it was taken care of give me a minute to explain, and we didn't think too much of it because that always happens to us but that was until we found out they live either right next or in our apartment complex. At first we were pretty freaked out because, well that is a little scary but that all changed Sunday morning. At about 3 in the morning we heard some people screaming and yelling at each other saying "I don't give a ****" and so on, rather colorful words, and it woke us up. NOT COOL. Anyways we woke up to see what was happening and that's when a huge fight started happening. The started throwing fist and the one guy that was getting wailed on landed on the car and the car alarm started going off. So, of course, we stayed and watched because it was pointless to try and sleep but it eventually started getting worse. A couple cars came with some more cholos and the one guy that was getting wailed on was saying "chill out man, chill out" and I think that mad the other people even more mad for some reason, so they all ganged up on him and were kicking him and punching him while he was on the ground. The girlfriends were all freaking out and crying, trying to make everything stop but it didn't change anything, they only got hit. Just shows that alcohol only makes problems because they were all drinking before the fight happened. Eventually, some of the people left and the guy was still on the ground, so we called the cops and two firetrucks came instead and the cop came later. It was so weird having them there because obviously they couldn't do anything. PLUS when I was calling 911 the operator asked me to go down there to ask if the guy was ok, and I said "heck no I don't want to get in the middle of this that is why I'm calling you." Silly LAPD. Eventually the cops came with an ambulance and they took the guy away but the other people that live under us got cited, so hopefully things will quiet down a little. They are way annoying. Moving on a little things in our apartment got a little worse, I got bed bugs and boy they are way nasty. I woke up the other morning with like 20 bug bites, 6 on my left foot and 5 on the other. It's sort of hard to walk because some of them are on the bottom of my foot but I'm still moving along haha. We might have to leave our apartment to get it bombed by the experts and what not. I heard that a couple of other missionaries had to stay in their car for 3 days while they were fixing the apartment up. That would be pretty cool. Haha.

Like I said before my week hasn't been the greatest, had some cool experiences, but none the less it's been hard. Carrying the area by yourself is not fun but hopefully I will be able to get some work done in the up coming transfer. I heard this poem the other day that helped me, it says:
What God Has Promised by Annie Johnson Flint

God hath not promised
Skies always blue
Flower-strewn pathways
All our lives through.

God hath not promised
Sun without rain
Joy without sorrow
Peace without pain.

But God hath promise
Strength for the day
Rest for the labor
Light for the way;

Grace for the trials
Help from above
Unfailing sympathy
Undying love.
I know that sometimes things get tough but I also know that is the only way we learn. Plus God wouldn't put us through something that wasn't for our good. I know that it is hard to see that sometimes, but I know if we start believing not just accepting things will go way better because our perspective will change. I love you so much and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to serve as a missionary. It's hard but worth it. Church is true.

Elder Leavell

Oh my pday might be switching to tuesday soon because all of Los Angeles County Libraries are closed on Mondays now to save money, so just a heads up, it's nothing for sure yet.

Oh another note, Sister Ludwig, I talked with Drew today, he was on at the same time as me. Seems like he is doing very well! It was legit talking with him.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Sunday, July 11, 2010 0
When you think that there is nothing more that can go wrong, you might want to reconsider what you are thinking. The reason I say this is because, literally, EVERYTHING that could have gone wrong did. At least Spain won the world cup!!!! The game was so freaking awesome!!!! I think that is what has kept me sane through this whole mess of a week. Any who...I honestly hope that everything went well for all of you and that you are all safe, healthy, and happy. I have learned a lot this week, despite the chaos that has gone around here. The quote that says "whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" is soo true. The good news is that we are safe and healthy, that is such a blessing that I never really appreciated before.

So onto all the "chisme" of the mission, where do I begin. I will start with what came most recently. Elder Carroll last night got in a huge bike accident and had to be rushed to the emergency room. A neighbor, I might add a drunk African American lady, called an ambulance as she was sitting on her porch and saw the entire thing. Crazy huh? Elder Hoggan called and told us that we had to go pick up because the ambulance people didn't quite understand the whole idea of companionships because they said family only can go in the ambulance. After all, our companions are our family for, at least, 6 weeks. Anyways he was left stranded there waiting for a supposed cop that was supposed to come, so he was all alone waiting in the middle of Wilmington. So we rushed over to the hospital and I tried to frantically call the mission president and his wife and after an hour of calling they finally answered. At first they didn't understand the situation (but that is probably because they were in shock) but they finally got organize and headed to the hospital. Elder Carroll is pretty banged up, the front windshield is all smashed, as well as the hood, and unfortunately he doesn't remember anything that has happened in the last 4 weeks. Also, his face is pretty messed up BUT he released late last night, if it wasn't early morning. Please pray for him and his family that he will be able to continue his mission after this whole ordeal is situated. Now if that wasn't enough bad/interesting news, the Santoyo family dropped on Saturday after we had an awesome lesson with them about the commandments the night before. It was so awesome because we talked about their baptism that was coming up and the mom and the kids were all excited and were asking all the questions like "Do we have to buy white clothes? Am I ready? Do I have to do anything before then? Oh my gosh let me get a pen I have to put this on my calender!" I was in CVS trying to copy some pictures for Tracy and the fam when the husband called and said "Thanks so much for everything that you have done for me and my family, but I talked to my family and we decided that we don't want to continues with any of this. We thank you for the invitation
and I thank you for the effort that put of me but I'm not interested, I actually have been avoiding you and since I'm the head of the house what I say goes." Whoa. I definitely didn't see that one coming. They were all doing so well, except for the husband, of course. We were both depressed and frustrated at the situation because they were the only people that had baptismal dates within the transfer. I think that once again the Lord is really trying to teach me something about His timing and also, that this is His work not ours. After all, if it is our work and our timing, the mission wouldn't be too difficult and we wouldn't really learn anything from it. Hopefully we will be able to settle things in the coming weeks, but we as missionaries are not going to go there anymore to not cause a bigger problem with the husband. The Bishop and the Relief Society President said that they would stop by and try to figure things out with them, but it's all up to the Lord what happens with them. It's really frustrating though, not going to lie.

Moving on from the bad news, we still have some investigators. Victoria is still hanging in there. We have been working with her for awhile but she hasn't gone anywhere, so we might have to drop her. I hate dropping people, have I ever said that before? The Sisters found a really awesome family, Marta, who has a 4 kids and a husband. We taught her and her daughter the first discussion and talked about the importance of prophets, and they both really liked it. We left them with a baptismal date for August 1st and to not repeat history, like with the Santoyo Family, we are not going to work with them unless the husband goes somewhere with the family as well. They seem ready to me, at least. They had been taught before but had never gone to church, and as a manner of fact haven't gone to church, in general, in a really long time. We received them as a referral from a member that had talked with the wife at a dentist appointment and I guess that she said that she wouldn't mind having the missionaries over again. Even though, we have had some disappointments during this past week, we have seen,once again, that the Lord is providing and helping us along the way. Hopefully, they will progress and be able to enter the waters of baptism and enjoy the blessings of going to the temple, and be sealed to their family for time and all eternity. I'm so thankful for the gospel and for the knowledge of why we go through hard things, because to me that gives me confidence that, at least, it is supposed to happen and second, that it is for our own good. Another interesting story that happened this week, was that I had to give two talks this last Sunday. Apparently, I have been thought of a lot and am in high regards with people. It's a little strange. So on Thursday I got a call from one of the members of the high council and they said, "Elder Leavell", "yes", "We have been think a lot about you and we decided to pick you to speak at the Carson Ward this Sunday." First off, I'm not in that ward and, second, the Carson ward is an English ward, so it's not even in the language that I'm called to serve in. Then Saturday night I get a phone call from Bishop Madrid, our Ward Mission Leader, saying that he was thinking of me and he wanted me to take his spot and talk in the Harbor 3rd Ward. So I had to do one in English and one in Spanish.

So here is the one that I wrote in English:

A wise person once wrote:

"Master, where shall I work today?
My love flowed warm and free.
He pointed out a tiny spot.
And said, tend that for me.

I answered quickly, oh no, not there.
Not any one could see
No matter how well my work was done;
Not that little spot for me.

When He spoke He was not stern,
But He answered me tenderly,
Little one, search that heart of thine;
Are you working for them or for me?
Nazareth was just a little place.
And so was Galilee.

As a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we do such everyday-not because we have to but because we have been called to tend this part of the vineyard and have been found ready to love the people, just as the Savior. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to serve, to serve with love because I know that this gospel changes lives and I know it because I'm the product of this work.

As many raised in the gospel, the thought of becoming a missionary is a long term goal, a golden treasure, or, in other words, the highest honor. I, on the other hand, never thought of becoming a white shirted nerd but when I came to know and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ the thought of being a missionary was natural. I first encountered the missionaries after the STRONG encouragement of some member friends that wagered me that I could not be Mormon for a week. I took that wager and went to seminary (even though it was WAY early in he morning and even past the fact I was struggling going to school), tried my best to adjust my language, my weekend habits, and went to church for all 3 extraneous hours. Not going to lie, I didn't feel much different than what I was doing at the baptist I was going to with my parents. I didn't feel much different because I left that week at that and didn't think much about it. That was until I decided to meet with the missionaries and hear what they had to say. I don't remember what they told me, I don't remember what trey showed me but from them on it changed my life. To confirm this belief my parents asked me to meet with their pastor and boy was I scared because all I knew about the church was some boy prayed and saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Before I met with him I prayed more fervently than I had ever before, most likely, to know if what I heard was true and I asked him to give me a sign if it was, a sign of knowledge. I testify to you that I received such knowledge. When the pastor started to ask me about baptism and where it said it was required in the Bible, I was shown, and I was shown every time I was asked a question. I got baptized a year later, when I was 18. Two years later I'm here on a mission being a white shirted, changed guy, having served a year already. Yes it has not been easy to get to this point but neither was it for the Savior, all He said was that it is worth it.

I remember a story given to us during a General Conference session, it said:
"In 1968 a marathon runner by the name of John Stephen Akhwari represented Tanzania in an international competition. 'A little over an hour after [the winner] had crossed the finish line, John Stephen Akhwari...approached the stadium, the last man to complete the journey. [Though he was suffering from fatigue, leg cramps, dehydration, and disorientation,] a voice called from within to go on, and so he went on. Afterwards, it was written, "Today we have seen a young African runner who symbolizes the finest in human spirit, a performance that gives meaning to the word courage. For some the only reward is a personal one. [There are no medals, only] the knowledge that they finished what they set out to do." When asked why he would complete a race he could never win, Akhwari replied, "My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; my country sent me to finish the race." He knew who he was-an athlete representing the country of Tanzania. He knew his purpose-to finish the race. He knew that he had to endure to the finish, so that he could honorably return home to Tanzania." Elder Hales continued, "Our mission in life is much the same. We were not sent by Father in Heaven just to be born. We were sent to endure and return to Him with honor...We learn to endure to the end by learning to finish out current responsibilities, and we simply continue doing it all of our lives. We cannot expect to learn endurance in our later years if we have developed the habit of quitting when things get difficult now."

The same can be applied to missionary work. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are not only asked to endure but, also, help those that stand in need of comfort and mourn with those that mourn. That's our baptismal covenant, brothers and sisters. We, as members, have the benefit to be a little ahead, in some circumstances, in our race to our Heavenly Father because we have the gospel, BUT there are many that are without. I have seen that as a missionary, I'm not only running through my own personal trials but, also, running back to help those that are facing trials of their own. Yes, it's exhausting; yes, we become weak; yes, we get injured; and yes, we are sometimes damaged, but yet, we still go out and walk the streets of Los Angeles because we love the people. We have all heard the scriptures, "(45)And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (46)Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail— (47)But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." But wouldn't it be great to apply and live it? When we develop a natural love for everyone, we are able to carry the burdens of others and the reason is because of charity. The reason why these scriptures are so famous is because the Savior did just that. He showed and did everything with charity. We are also asked to do the same, and the wonderful blessing is that we can also reach the same potential as Him—meaning that we can also carry things that we could not possibly carry on our own. Additional strength is a promised blessing when we do these things.

I challenge all of you to take a leap of faith, a leap to better serve others, to magnify and take advantage of our baptismal covenant. I know that we will be blessed for our service, when we do so with charity, not because we want the blessings and not because we have to. I know no better way to do this, than the way Harry Ward Beecher showed us, he said:

"If you want your neighbor to see what Christ's spirit will do for [them], let [them] see what it has done for you."

I know that this Church is true and that everything that the church professes is true. I know that we will receive additional strength to carry the burdens of others, and I know this because I'm currently and will do this during my mission. Take the leap of faith and you will be blessed.

I love you all and hope you have a great week.

Elder Leavell

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 0
Well it's another pday and that means that you get to hear from me,what a joy right? Yeah I know it's pretty legit too. Haha. Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July, it was a first for me this go around because I was on the mission and holidays in the mission are always different. We didn't do much BUT I did get some sick pictures of the city all lit up from the roof of our apartment. So that was pretty cool I guess.

The rest of the week wasn't as enjoyable, it was pretty much the same as last week just without zone conference even though we had even more missionary meetings because we got a new mission president! Here comes a story. So on Tuesday we had set up a member present with Brother Torres at 10:30am with Victoria. Elder Richins and I were so excited for it because the member volunteered himself to come with us since he took her home. Of course something doesn't go the way we want them to. Our lovely APs called us the night before to tell me to give the opening prayer at a surprise "Get to meet the President" meeting and that I needed to be there early, he said "so around 10." Yeah I know it's during the lesson and so we freaked out because we bailed on her because of another surprise meeting that we had and the worst part was that she doesn't have a phone! So the morning before the meeting we were frantically calling the member trying to see if he could go there by himself with his wife because we couldn't go. He didn't answer but we left a message and hoped for the best. Turns out he didn't show up either since he called us that he got called into work. FREAK! I was so bummed that no one could make and we stood her up again. So right after that meeting we were thinking to head over to make amends but then our Zone Leaders decided that we should have another meeting with all the leaders in the zone. FREAK! That took us to about 5pm and by that time we had a lot of set appointments that we had to go to so we didn't even get to see Victoria that day. We felt so bad that the next day we went over there to try and make amends an set up another appointment but she said she didn't think it was a good idea since the last two times we didn't come but she said to call her the day of and she'll try to be home. I was almost balling and we know that isn't a good sight. FREAK! She was so ready and everything, it just shows that the adversary is working hard against this work. Anyways the Sisters told us to make her the best brownies we can make and hope for the best. So that is what we did but we didn't realize that we didn't have a pan until after we had mixed it and after some quick thinking we put it in a soup pot and stuck it in the over. Turns out brownies don't really poof up and it turned into some really thin brownies so we cut them into circles to make brownie cookies. They did turn out to be delicious by the way. After that whole ordeal we went over to her house and gave them to her and she really liked them and told us that we shouldn't feel sorry anymore because things happen. She didn't end up going to church this past Sunday because she had to go get paid from the other church since she had made some vests for them but she said she'll come this next week.

Phew, that was a longer story than I thought it was, but now onto the new mission president, which I know is what you all want to hear. His name is President Baker and, of course, his wife's name is Sister Baker. They are from Riverton, Utah and let me add one more thing, he is very different than President Blackburn. First impression was how did he know my name? Haha. I'm not going to lie, I'm going to miss President Blackburn, I learned sooo much from him, in the sense of how I need to be as a person. Yeah, he made us do things that we didn't want to do BUT they were necessary. I don't think I would be the same missionary if he hadn't been my mission president. I'm very hopeful that the new mission president will also teach me things that I also need to learn to become a better person. His wife is very nice lady, doesn't talk much but I'm sure that is because she is scared out her mind right now and is overwhelmed with information. At least I would be. Haha. I know they will do great, so keep them in your prayers they need them.

Alright back to the Santoyo Family, they are doing great. I have no complaints with them. I'm so excited for them and I can't wait to see their baptism. The husband came to church this last week and he also managed to find a SUV that could fit all of them. He said that he felt a little embarrassed for asking for a ride last time so he didn't want to come. I don't think he liked it too much since it was a little boring and the teachers were freaking out that they had an investigator come into their class. Guess they haven't had many of those in recent times. We did let them know that they were coming, so we will have to do some work with them so that they feel more prepared and are confident in what they are doing. The mom, Gabby is still doing great. It's so awesome. She is ALWAYS shacking her head as if she is agreeing with everything that is being said. The kids like if a lot too. From what we have heard with the mom, the kids have had some bad experiences with church and so they don't like it anymore but she is so happy that they like it now. Of course, it might not be because of the doctrine yet but I'm sure as they keep continuing coming to church that they will increase their testimony. Which reminds me, we were talking to Vanesa and Jonathon about prayer and the importance of prayer. We taught them lesson one, so on the restoration, and told them that they needed to pray and they did! A couple days later we went over and asked them how it went and they said they felt very happy like they never felt before and they said they know it's true. How cool is that? That a 11 and 9 year old can also gain a testimony the same way us old folks do. I don't think the husband will be ready for the 18th because he always cancels appointments that he makes with us but we will continue trying. If he shows progression we will postpone the baptism but if he continues to flake then we will baptize the mom and the kids and wait for the husband to turn around. The cool thing is that he knows he needs to change but doesn't want to stop his family from waiting. We are really praying for them that they can all get baptized at the same time because it will do wonders for all of them, especially the husband since he has a drinking problem.

WELL yesterday we had a HUGE soccer tournament as a mission and it was way sick. We had a whole soccer field to ourselves, so we played small games. I think I was more excited to see everyone than to actually play but that doesn't mean I didn't play. It was fun going back to my roots and playing and sweating and then the best part of getting sore. I miss that feeling. President Baker and his wife came as well so that was cool. On 4th of July it was way cool, we watch "Journey of Faith" as a zone and then we went home and watched all the fireworks. The entire city was lite up and fireworks were going off like crazy. A big mortar went off and tipped over and hit a house and now the house is burnt haha sucks for them. It was really funny actually.

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July and I hope that you all counted all the blessings you have from living in this wonderful country. Yes it's not perfect but we are way better off than many. I love you all and hope all is well.

Elder Leavell
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