Monday, October 25, 2010

Lady from Switzerland

Monday, October 25, 2010 0
Greetings from the city of Los Angeles! How are you all doing? Hope life has been just splendid and not as eventful as our past week has been. Amazing how things turn out in the mission field. I'm pretty sure I won't have the same experiences that I will have here, granted I know that I will do my very best not to live in the Los Angeles County, but, in general, things here are out of the ordinary.

Where do I begin...well as you all know I'm in the ASL program again and that means teaching deaf people. That is not so, in my case. I have been blessed with the wonderful opportunity to have an additional calling, within my calling, and that is to teach in Spanish. It's awesome. Since many of the deaf live with their families who are hearing, the branch has the responsibility to care for them as well, and being in Los Angeles the likelihood of having them be Latin is about 99.9% haha. It makes an interesting chemistry between my companion and I because I don't end up signing with the deaf, but instead I talk with the family members and help them come closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. It has been taking some time to be getting used to, and it is still a work in progress, because we both feel the burden since I can't help him a lot and he can't either, but I know that the Lord will bless us with the ability to create a system where we can be patient and willing to serve the Lord with everything we have. Interestingly enough, five out the seven progressing investigators that we have are hearing, so I feel for Elder Tritsch since he doesn't know what is going on. Pray for him that he may gain that addition strength to endure. Alright, as far as the investigators go I would like to first start off with this guy we found trying to contact this deaf lady, Lilia. His name is Noe and is from El Salvador. He is way legit and it was interesting how we found him. As we were trying to contact the deaf lady, who ended not being home, this kid started talking with us saying that he was a member but hadn't gone to church in awhile. As we were talking, Noe showed up and the kid told us that he was the husband of Lilia's cousin so maybe he could help us contact them because we heard the tv. We asked him to help us out, so he went through the back way and got a hold of them. We talked to Lilia's husband and found out that she wasn't home, so we left. As we were leaving, I felt really strongly that I had to go back and talk with Noe. It was weird, but I knew that I had to. We talked to him and set up a return appointment for the next week. Next week came around and he opened up, and started talking about everything that he believed and everything that he had gone through, it was cool, said that he was a prankster back in the day but when he found the gopsel he changed. We walked around to a restaurant and got a drink (never done that before) and started talking about the church and it was a really good lesson. We left him a Restoration pamphlet and Book of Mormon, he called us a couple days ago saying "I have been reading and I like it." I told him that he needed to pray because that is the only way that we can know that this is true and the only way that we can follow what our Heavenly Father wants, otherwise, we won't make it in the long run. Something simple when all the sudden he said "I haven't been baptized, I probably should do that huh?" That took me back but I told him that he first needed his answer and we would go from there. I'm so excited for him. Hopefully he will do whatever is necessary, only thing is that he works on Sunday. The other investigators we have are members of the Guzman family. It's Juan Sr.'s daughter, Cathalina, and her boyfriend, Walter, that have baptismal dates for the 28th. They came to church this past Sunday and it was cool to see them there. They were absorbing everything and luckily we have the privalege to teach them now, since the Zone Leaders gave them to us since I speak spanish. We haven't had a lesson with them yet but they are investigators of ours, so I'm excited for their progress. Other than that there aren't a lot of people. For some reason we haven't been able to contact anyone and it really has been a major bummer. None of the deaf people are ever home when they are usually always home. Goodness. Sometimes I wish agency wasn't a part of the picture but thank God for it! It's alright, it how we learn and progress. It's still a bummer sometimes. Haha.

Now you are all probably wondering about the title that I put and how it pertains to anything in missionary work. Well here is your answer. We were visiting a recent convert, Vitaly, in West Hollywood and couldn't go home for dinner since it was heck of far way so we ate at Chipotle. Thanks Mom & Dad. Well as we were leaving the parking lot, waiting to for the security, this lady in a Mini Cooper ran into us! Not only did she do that but she still was putting the medal to the pedal and moving our car towards the other car. Luckily, we didn't (we were about an inch away from the other car) but now the whole back of the car is messed up. She ended up being from Switzerland, here visiting, but she looked like she had one too many plastic surgeries. To imagine her face, put your hands on the side of your face and pull. Yeah that bad. It was rediculous. Freak. I was pretty mad. Never been in an accident on my mission and I promised myself I wouldn't! Luckily no one was hurt, except for my pride, maybe.

I would like to end with an experience that I was blessed to witness, for I know that it was truly a miracle. We couldn't get into this apartment complex where a member lives and we really needed to get a hold of him, so we decided to pray. Never really done that because well, yeah don't know I guess I was stupid but I know that there is no excuse now. We prayed, outside the door, that someone would come to help open the door for us so we could contact the member and as we were saying (signing) "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" a man walked up to the door and let us in. I was really in shock, don't know why, but now looking back I'm so very thankful for my Heavenly Father and everything that he has given me to know that this is the Church, the Church that is His and that he blesses us through our obedience to the commandments and are willingness to serve. I'm so thankful that He answers prayers and that He has taken the responsibility to do so and given everything else to His son Jesus Christ to tend to, so that he can focus on our prayers. It truly is a tender mercy of His. I know that it is true and that it works, I know we will get an answer either way. I love it.

I love you all and wish the greatest amount of blessings upon all of you. May the Lord bless you with gratitude for everything you have, I know that it is the greatest virtue of them all. Love and miss you.

Elder Leavell

Monday, October 18, 2010

Another Round

Monday, October 18, 2010 0
How are all of you doing on this marvelous evening? It's been great hearing from all of you, well from some of you. I think that my mailbox has been a little empty. So if you could fill it up for me that would be great! Anyways things have been going great, you are probably wondering where I got transferred to so I'll let you know where I went with a's somewhere that I have been before...I have a big area...and a's the ASL program. Haha that was fun. Yeah I'm back and my new companion is Elder Tritch. He is from Las Vegas, well Henderson, so not really and he is deaf. It's been quiet over the past few days and I'm not going to lie, I'm not quite used to it but I'm sure I will over time by going insane haha. That is what Elder Franco told me, and the District Leader has told me that too, that Elder Franco was going insane and having weird experiences like talking to himself. Gosh I hope that doesn't happen to me haha. Elder Tritch is pretty cool so I can't complain.

Anyways moving onto some other things. My last day in the area was a really "bucket" meaning lazy, unproductive, and whatever the words that go along with those lines. It was like that because I wanted to go say goodbye to all of the families that I was really close with and so that took up the entire day. It was way fun. I wish that all days could be like that, but if that happened the work wouldn't go anywhere and we would only be visitng them because there wouldn't be any new members haha. So this weekly email is going to be a little different. I'm going to put up some pictures and then talk about them for a little. Hope that is ok.
Bishop Alvarez and his family. One of the most centered families, even with all the chaos.
Anthony Martinez. Solid convert. Enough said.

The Morales family. Love them. They are going to do great.

The Diaz family.

The Camachos. Crazy! They are all about the parties. For reals. If there
But I think that the most amazing experience that I think I will ever have on my mission, happened on Friday. I had the opportunity to go to the Visitor Center Dedication with the Morales family. OH MY GOSH! Elder Nelson came down to dedicate the building and it was awesome. I had to translate for Elder Tritch but it was all good, I wasn't too distracted because I could still feel the spirit like no other, it was WAY strong there. Reverend Jackson came to represent the City of Los Angeles and he was an interesting speaker, to say the least. The other cool thing was that some Monks came and some Islamic people came, not to sound racist here (that is not what I mean by what I'm going to day) but their clothing was the only way that I could tell. When Elder Nelson was dedicating the Visitor Center, as I said, the spirit was so strong, it was nuts. His prayer was amazing and you could just tell he was one that had authority from our Heavenly Father. In other words, you could just tell and feel that he is an apostle of the Lord. Afterwards, he stayed for awhile and was talking with everyone, so naturally I went up. I shook his hand AND took a picture with him! Yeah you know you are jealous! If not, well don't know what to tell you. It was a great experience, one that I will never forget. It only solidified my testimony, even more, that this church is the Church of Jesus Christ and that I'm doing the right thing.

As far as the ASL program, I'm a little overwhelmed. It's changed a lot since I was last in the program but I'm thankful for the opportunity to serve wherever the President needs me. It's a wonderful blessing. Everyone is joking around here saying that I need to learn Korean so that I can go to any program in the mission haha. PSYCH! We have a lot of work but what I have learned from the times that I have "flushed" an area is that I can't take everyone in at the same time, otherwise, I'll end up loosing everyone. It was interesting still seeing all the people that I knew in the Gardena Ward. It was a little bad because they kept walking into the sacrament meeting and so I had to walk out and talk with all of them. All, in all, it was a great to see all of them. The program is growing so that is good but the work is still the same: driving all day, that's a bummer sometimes.

I love you all. Send me some letters. That would be great. Hope that you are all doing well and are enjoying what you are doing. That is key. Take care and hope to hear from you soon.
Elder Leavell

Monday, October 11, 2010

Never Look Back

Monday, October 11, 2010 0
The wonders of the mission never cease to surprise me. I can't believe that another transfer has gone by and that I'm that much closer to the end of my mission. Everyone is rubbing in how much time I don't have left and well...I still have 8 months left, members are always funny haha. Anyways hope that you all have enjoyed this past week and have found hidden blessings in your lives. I have done that and it has helped me get through some of the difficult times that occur on the mission.

The week started off a little slow, didn't have much to do because everyone that we had visited had been visited often last week. We did some tracting and found a guy named Carlos. He seemed to be promising when we first met him. He likes Joel Osteen a lot, says that he watches him on TV more than he goes to church. We set up an appointment with him for the following day to do some service for him, he ended up not being there. It was WAY discouraging because that summarizes Pen Zone and it really has been really hard to get anything going in my area. Luckily, we had some good appointments the rest of the day with the Camachos and the Morales. The Camachos are always the same, rowdy and wild. It's fun to be with them because y make it feel like I'm at home even though I'm not. Then the Morales are the same. Home. It's so great to see how much they have progressed as a family. I guess from what Moro had told me, Gerardo has been helping around the house a lot and has been motivating his wife to get baptized. It's really amazing to see how the gospel does change lives and it impacts people in such a way that it is almost instantaneous. Last Sunday, I forgot to mention, he said that it was all because the example of his son and how he changed his life for the better and didn't end up like his cousins who are now cholos and doing drugs everyday. I'm so proud of him and I hope that they know that I love them all so much and I'm very grateful to see that example, it really has helped me remember what I'm here for. Funny story/amazing story: on Sunday, of course, was the confirmation of Gerardo, he came in a suit for the very first time and was looking like any of the other members (everyone was saying afterwards, that they confused him for someone who was a leader in the church haha how sick is that?). He sat down and you could tell he was way nervous but he did just fine. I told him, after he asked what he had to do, was to sit down and listen-listen to the spirit and listen to the words of the confirmation. The funny thing was that I didn't think that I was going to do and after some debate on the stand the Bishop told me that he couldn't and that I was going to do it. I was so scared! I had never confirmed someone into the church and I didn't remember all the words that I had to say but the coolest thing happened. Literally, the words were put in my mouth. I think that it was the first time that I have ever experienced that, at least me noticing. I'm so thankful for my Heavenly Father for blessing me with that blessing, I know that I hadn't covered anything of the manner and I knew I couldn't do it without his help. Gosh, it's amazing to see the gospel in action, even though we are not always worthy, feel worthy, to be a representative of Jesus Christ. I'm truly in aww still and am so happy. Anyways, the rest of the week we helped with homework. Think I did two English essays, of which were college level, and apparently the professors loved them. So I'm pretty proud of myself. Then I did some math homework with the Andrades. Boy do I need some help with that when I get home. Haha. I tried and I couldn't get it. I feel bad for the Andrades. Their parents don't really care what's happening with them. All they are interested in is having other people take care of their kids and helping them manage. Daniel is failing two classes and I got mad at him like a parent would so I told him to tell his parents and he did. His parents said "too bad." People these days really need to step up their game. I can't believe that people would be able to get away with that. It really frustrates me when I find people like that. Some other service that we did was for this band teacher that we got a referral for. He is disabled so he can't really get around a lot. So we cleaned his house. It was pretty bad. Really bad. We almost threw up. But all in a normal mission day huh?

Well sorry for the short email. I got to get going to do normal pday stuff. I'll see if I can add some things later on. Alright take care. Love you all. Church is true!

Elder Leavell

The Delgado Family. Awesome family.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spiritually Nourished

Monday, October 4, 2010 0
Ahhhh another preparation day to update all of you on the most wonderful week I have had, what a privilege this is for all of you haha. But really. This week has been, if I say so myself, especially the weekend because it was GENERAL CONFERENCE! Hopefully all of you had the opportunity to see conference, it was great and hopefully all of you are doing well and are enjoying life.

I want to take a moment and shout out: HAPPY BIRTHDAY DREW! Hope it's the best one yet.

Alright now back to business, our area is slowly picking up speed and our teaching pool is getting bigger. As we have been going through the ward directory and trying to establish contact with all the members in our area, we came across a family (I probably mentioned them last week but oh well). We finally were able to meet with them and they are great! They remind me so much of you Mom and Dad, it's crazy. We were there for about 2 hours getting to know them and waiting since they wanted to stuff us. I'm gaining weight by the way. We were talking with them, enjoying a normal conversation and then they switched the topic to the church. Usually that doesn't happen even though they know why we are there. Turns out that the wife and the kids are not members and the interesting part is that they are both adopted like me. The daughter is struggling a bit with the idea that she is adopted and the Mom was so happy to know that I was too, she said, "I know someone would come along and you are no coincidence." Unfortunately, the daughter wasn't there but hopefully in the coming week we will have the opportunity to talk and get to know each other. Back to when church came up. The wife is Catholic but is a bit concerned about how much the church has changed since she was a little girl. She told us (this blew our minds by the way) that the Catholic church is now discouraging infant baptisms and is doing baptism by immersion, that they are also discouraging "rosar"-ing, forgot the word in English, but are teaching the members to pray like us, as Christians, also, they are having Bible Studies and telling members to have scripture study everyday just like us, and finally, they are making every youth thing, like first communion etc, like Personal Progress and Duty to God. It's was really weird because as they were describing everything it was almost as if it were our church...thought that was interesting. Anyways she said she was concerned because of all of this but was really happy to see her husband go from less active and now is starting to open up the scriptures. We invited them to come to General Conference and they said they would go and were excited to hear what the leaders had to say. Sadly they didn't come. The other person that we have established contact with is Otto. Yes, that is a familiar name, he was investigating the church a couple of months ago and we finally got a hold of him. He is doing well. We ended up talking with him for awhile and he said that his main concern with the church isn't a concern, but is himself. He said that because he isn't a religious person he doesn't want to do anything. We told him that he should go to the singles ward to try to meet people his age, he said he would. The cool thing is that the Chacon's have been talking with his parents and in the near future we will be able to talk to them and see where things go. They seem like a really nice family. Apparently, Otto's mom likes me a lot because she thinks that I'm a serious goof like she is. Haha the funny thing is that I haven't even talked to her once, just said hello haha.

That is everything about the area, Conference was great though. Gerardo Jr. came along with us for most of them. He fell asleep but, at least, his is showing an example to his peers and his parents. His Dad came for the Priesthood session and unfortunately he fell asleep too. What makes things worse is that his mom never went to any of them! Freak. People these days are very interesting, they want something but then do nothing about it. The main things that I took from conference were (1) follow the prophet because he is the mouthpiece of our Lord and Master and won't lead us astray, (2) be better, (3) be thankful for everything, but don't inhale it (President Uchtdorf), (4) being 100% obedient is easier than 98%, and (5) never look back. It was a different feeling during conference this time around. I loved how President Uchtdorf talked about a tree and then said "now you are all probably wondering how this has to deal with a plan...let me explain" haha. That was classic. I'm glad that our leaders know to be actual people. It makes it more personal and for me, makes me feel like I could obtain the same. I'm so thankful that we have a living prophet today that speaks to God face to face. It is a wonderful blessing especially with all these confusing and misguiding ideas of what we should believe and not believe. I know that everything can be answered through prayer and that I have prayed to know if it is true and I know I received such an answer. I know Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet that he is lead by the Savior Jesus Christ and that the 12 apostles are helpers for the cause of the Lord. Even if we are not members we can take things from the things that were spoken at this last conference and apply them in our lives and we will become better for they are true words.

I love you all and I'm hopeful for the future. I know that it will bring many blessings for all of us. May the Lord be with you family and friends, as well as all who read this. Till next week.

Elder Leavell
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