Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas...oh and Happy New Year

Monday, December 27, 2010 0
MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR...well not yet the New Years part. But we can celebrate right now since I wont be on the computer that day. Anyways I hope that the Christmas spirit was with all of you this fine weekend. It was great to be in the service of the Lord while celebrating the greatest event that has happened on this planet. I'm so thankful for His life and sacrifice so that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. There is no greater gift that we can give than the gift of gratitude that we can show both of them in our prayers and in our actions. I'm just really thankful to be living during this time of the year. It was amazing to see everyone on Christmas Eve and Christmas having a smile on their face and everything was a little slower. We all need to smile, always, and to take a break once in awhile.

During this Christmas season I haven't really taken much thought to the normal things that many ponder about during this time. Such as: presents, shopping, dinner, and so on. It has been an interesting Christmas this year, where it seems like it's another day on the mission. Now I know some may say well that is a wrong mindset but as I have been reading the scriptures and pondering as to why, I'm thankful. Thankful to finally be in a position to be truly converted, in a sense, to the Lord and His work. To me everyday is Christmas, especially those days when people come closer to their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through baptism, a saving ordinance. We read in the book of 3 Nephi of how converted these people were, so converted in fact that the Savior, himself, said, "So great faith have I never seen among all the Jews; wherefore I could not show unto them so great miracles, because of their unbelief. Verily I say unto you, there are none of them that have seen so great things as ye have seen; neither have they heard so great thing as ye have heard." (3 Nephi 19:35-36). I have been so blessed on my mission and I'm thankful for each and every blessing that I have received, especially that of increase of faith. In the case of the Nephites they had such great faith that the Savior showed himself unto them, just as He did with the people of Israel. How great it is to know that He is the same with everyone and that He gives everyone the same opportunity to receive a witness of His divinity. In the last days, as Isaiah described, the church will be established and one of the counseling scriptures from Isaiah 54 says, "Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth..." As missionaries on the streets every day it is sometimes difficult to put of those who persist to mock but I know that they will receive their reward. How great the atonement is to all, both the righteous and those who have yet received that Heavenly gift. There is no greater power, nor feeling, than that of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

At the Christmas mission conference.

Christmas Eve dinner.

Making fire. Awesome.

Sister Parra and me.

Elder Hancock. The greatest Senior Missionary ever.

As far as everyone else, Walter and Cathalina are now official members of the Church. I had the opportunity to confirm them and do all that jazz. Other than that no one else is really progressing. Our area is really dead. We had to drop everyone since they were not progressing anywhere, so with a little bit of faith and patience I know that the Lord will provide us with more people that are ready to hear this everlasting gospel. I'm nervous though, not going to lie, since we will have to keep busy the entire day and can't tract. Come of find out that tracting is a blessing and I regret not taking advantage of it earlier. But luckily the works always goes on and never ceases so pray for us to find new people, somehow! But on Christmas, we went to the Millets and enjoyed Christmas with all the other ASL missionaries. It was great. We ate a lot, probably too much but that is ok. We made some blankets for the homeless children in the community as our community service project, too a long time but hey, it's Christmas.

I hope that you all have a safe and wonderful new year. Till next week.

Elder Leavell

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rain or Shine

Monday, December 20, 2010 0
Well it's raining over here and I mean raining. It's been raining for the last couple days. We almost died come down from the mission home but everything is fine don't worry. It's amazing to witness the power of singing and prayer when in times of danger. I started singing (since my companion can't) and everything calmed down and I felt like everything would be ok. I love this gospel so much and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Despite the rain we have been so blessed and I think that this Christmas has been the greatest Christmas that I have ever had. I think that I have realized even more that this isn't about me but about you! There is great joy in serving and I don't think when the time gets closer that I will want to give this up.

On Tuesday Walter and Cathalina asked us to go to the court to get their marriage license. First off I didn't know you needed one to get married, so they found it very comical that I didn't know. After awhile I found it pretty comical but until then I was like, hey come on how should I know that? Haha. It took a long time so we were there talking and resolving some concerns that they had. On Wednesday we took Walter and Cathalina to the Visitor's Center where we heard the Calderons perform a concert. It was great. They did two languages at the same time, Spanish and ASL (they had an interpreter). After the concert we took a bunch of Christmas pictures next to all the lights and Nativity scene. It was awesome. It was like being a little kid in a candy store. Then the funniest thing happened, Annabel will kill me in a couple of years when she reads this, if she does, but hopefully by then she will find it comical. As we were taking pictures all of the sudden Annabel said she had to go to the bathroom and unfortunately the bathroom isn't that close to where we were. Yes, you can make the assumption and yes you are right. She didn't make it and what made things worse is that it wasn't number 1 but number 2. So that made everything very interesting but luckily it was a perfect time (if there could ever be such) since we had to leave. Haha Cathalina was a little mad at the situation but you can't get, just laugh at the things that happen to us in our daily lives. Yet again I wasn't the one who had to change her so who am I? On Friday I went on splits with Elder Cordy and we had a good time getting reacquainted. We finally contacted Juan Puentas, but we caught him at an awkward time. He was going to his son's funeral so we said hello and gave our condolences. But I think that the best part of the day was tracting. My goodness was it good to go out tracting and what made it better was that it was raining. Since we are in a car all day it was good to be outside and talk to people. Don't take talking for granted, it is a wonderful blessing. The people might have thought that I was a little over barring but it was totally out of excitement, I promise. But I think I will have to give the gold star to the weekend not the week days this week. We had to the wonderful opportunity to go to Walter and Cathalina's wedding. It was my first wedding on the mission so it made everything better. I'm so proud of them. The wedding was at Walter's aunts house and it was outside. It was pouring when we got their and we were a little worried but they had an awning and a blue tarp in the back. It was quaint. It was awesome I don't think that I could say anything else. Here are some pictures.


Then the very next day it topped everything off with a cherry on top, it was their baptism! This is why I think that this is the very best Christmas that I have had ever. It was great to witness and perform the baptism, Juan Sr. baptized Cathalina. It was great. I'm so happy right now it's not even funny. For reals.

I hope that you all have a safe and wonderful Christmas. May the Lord bless you all with great joy and peace. Remember why we celebrate this wonderful season and you will be blessed. Living the gospel is more important than learning it. I know that to be very true. We must live what we teach. I hope that you all look to the Savior and have a wonderful Christmas. Oh thanks Mom and Dad for the hugge box that you sent. I haven't opened it yet, but I'm way excited. Love you and miss you all.

Elder Leavell

Monday, December 13, 2010

We Be Ballin & Recycling

Monday, December 13, 2010 0
Another great opportunity all of you have to listen, well read, what I have to say. It's awesome huh? Haha. Anyways enough with the gloating, this week has been a good week for the most part but I think I'm even more excited for the week to come. There are going to be some many firsts this next week, so stay tuned till next week. Hope you are all doing well and that you are all enjoying life. Remember to smile, always.

Walter and Cathalina are doing great still. They are still on to get married on the 18th and baptized the next day, the 19th. We are all really excited for them and are hoping that everything goes smoothly that they can really enjoy a new life, per say at the commence of a new year. It is pretty noticeable that they are really nervous trying to get everything ready for this upcoming weekend, so we are trying to help as best as we can but we can only do so much. But I think the greatest news about them is not really about them but about their daughter, Janelle. She is almost 1 1/2 and so being away from mom during the rest of church hasn't been the easiest for her, but that finally changed this last Sunday. Noted, she did cry for about 15 minutes when her Mom dropped her off at the Nursery but it stopped, maybe she was just tired by then haha. Either way she started to enjoy it and then Mom and Dad stopped by the Nursery and once again she started crying. Luckily it was almost time to go by then but it was a great step forward for the little one. She does cry a lot, I must say. Oh and some other news. We have been collecting water bottles, cans, and glass bottles, over the past few months hoping to make some money for the wedding of Walter and Cathalina. We stuffed the trunk of our car, proud like no other only to be disappointed. We though for sure we would get at least $20 and we didn't even get half of it. Just $8. Haha. It was a first for me, never done that before. But I have to make one comment- To all of you who do that for a living, props, don't know how you do it haha. Seriously. Apart from that we don't really have any new investigators. It's really hard trying to find new investigators in the ASL program but I know that if we remain diligent and faithful that the Lord will supply us with more blessings and we will be more able to receive those blessings since we will be even more on the same page as Him. It has been a little difficult just driving around all day compared when I was on my bike and busy all day, every day. Makes me wish I hadn't taken that opportunity for granted and even more I never would have thought that I would love to go back on my bike. That is for sure. Jesus and Gilberto came to church again. Gilberto left right before we could talk with him, it was strange. Jesus is doing great. We took him to the Visitor's Center on Saturday. It was an adventure trying to find him, took about 30 minutes walking through The Grove which is a shopping center since there is about 5 Starbucks in a 1 mile square radius. Rediculous. The Visitor's Center went great. There were a ton of people there. Probably around 500 to 600 and there was a great feeling there. One of peace and love for one another. I had to interpret for Jesus and Elder Tritsch and we were there for about 3 hours. My head was hurting so bad after, it was hard for me to think. It was funny because everyone was staring at me since I had be infront and right next to Sisters translating but it was a really good experience for me, it showed me that I'm not that incapable anymore. Thanks to Elder Tritsch being deaf, it has put me in a position to sign and really practice. I'm very thankful for him. We haven't been able to get a hold of Juan Puentas after the funeral. We are pretty worried for him, especially since this is the second death in his family and he is a gangster. He has come a long way and the last thing that we need to happen is that he goes to the same place where his wife is, jail. I can't imagine how hard that would be to lose a child but I do know that we can receive healing through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Kearon, Of the Seventy, said it best, "Not one of you has thrown away your last chance. You can change, you can come back, you can claim mercy. Come unto the only One who can heal, and you will find peace." I know that the atonement is real and that it can heal. I have seen and have felt the mercy and peace one finds after feeling a weight upon ones shoulders. It's awful and so not worth it. Satan has the knack to make sin look good but it is baloney. It is just like the scriptures say-hallow, burdensome, evil, brings chains upon us, and any other word like it. I have seen more and more how Heavenly Father looks at me when I make a mistake and veer off the path. It is so disappointing. Every time I think of making a mistake and even more when I make a mistake I think of the sorrow and sadness and especially the guilt that I have caused others to feel. It is terribly. I wish I could be like the Lamanites, from the Book of Mormon, who were converted by Alma and resist evil to the point that they had disposition to do no evil and "they buried their weapons of war" even when the Lamanites came to destroy them because of their faith. That is my wish for everyone, as it is my wish to become the same as they were, for they were truly Christ-like.

I want you all to know that I love being a missionary, I love sharing the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ with all those who live in the city of Los Angeles. We are "the angels" sent from our Heavenly Father to bring about His work "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" and all who hearken unto the message that we bear will receive blessings, even blessings that go into the eternities. I love the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon. I know that they both testify of the divinity of the Savior, our all, and they witness unto us that He is the Christ. They have much power to bring the lives of others unto Christ, even us as missionaries. I know that there is a living prophet on the earth today. He is chosen by God to be a type of mouthpiece for the Almighty, another way that we, His children, may communicate and receive guidance for our lives. They witness of the divine as well. I know it for I have heard it. There is no greater joy that I have received than knowing, not only believing, that the atonement is real. His mercy and grace make us whole, when we exercise faith unto repentance and by diligently obeying the commandments to the best of our abilities. Our Heavenly Father has promised and bestowed much upon our individual heads to grant us all the gifts to walk through this mortal life and all we must do is look unto Him, just as the Jews did with the golden serpent. It truly is that simple, we must not be fooled to think that more is required.

I love you all, friends, family, and all those who may read this. I miss you all as well and hope nothing but the best for you. May the Lord guide you and remember to smile everyday and look at the glass half full not half empty. Till next week.

Elder Leavell

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gratitude is a Thankful Attitude

Monday, December 6, 2010 0
Howdy there everyone? How has life been treating you? I hope that all you, whoever you may be who read this, are doing well and that you are seeing that the Lord is blessing all of you and will always bless you. This week we I have seen the Lord bless everyone we come in contact with and has allowed us to help those come closer unto Him through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Since transfers had happened it has been a little difficult for me to get acquainted with the people in our area, especially since we had barely done it last transfer. But we have managed to find a few more investigators and it has been great. Walter and Cathalina are doing awesome right now. They have FINALLY committed to get married on the 18th and baptized on the 19th. It was be sick! I'm so excited for them. We had the opportunity to have a FHE with them, along with the Calderons, and it went great. We had a lesson of family unity and it was great to see how even the married couple of many years struggled with some of the questions that should be known amongst each other. Here are the questions we asked them (see if you can get them all right):

Your companions:
  1. Favorite color?
  2. Birthday? Day, Month, Year
  3. Favorite food?
  4. Favorite kind of music?
  5. Most embarassing moment?
  6. Favorite sport?
  7. Pet peeve?
  8. Geekiest thing ever done?
  9. Nasty habbit?
  10. Favorite season?
  11. Favorite basketball team?
  12. Foundest childhood memory?
  13. Biggest goal in life?
  14. Thing they cherish most?
  15. If could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  16. Favorite sport?
  17. If could have anything (material), what would it be?
  18. Favorite kind of shoes?
  19. Favorite clothing store?
  20. Favorite grocery store?

The funny thing was that it created some debate and some contention but after talking it through it really proved to each couple that there is much work to do. We later played eating a brownie with no hands. It was hilarious and the best part is that I got it on video! Haha. They are doing great. A little overwhelmed right now since they have to plan a wedding but I know that they will be able to do it and it will be great. Now onto some more serious news. We went over to Juan Puentas house, an investigator that has been investigating for awhile now, and their house was packed when we pulled up. We walked up and everyone was wearing black, but that is how they are normally dressed, but it was for an actual reason this time. Juan's son got shot twice the day before. It was such a surprise to us. We had no idea what to say other than "sorry" and "I know that he is in a better place." I'm so thankful for the plan of salvation that has been revealed by our Heavenly Father and that everyone will get a fair opportunity to accpet or deny the gospel. There are so many things to worry about in this world and I'm so thankful that that doesn't have to be one of them. Of course, we have all encountered this event that happens to all of us but it really hits home when its someone that you knew from before.

Sorry this is short. Didn't have a lot of time this week. Hope all is well.

Elder Leavell

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