Monday, June 20, 2011

Don't Know What to Say

Monday, June 20, 2011 0
What can be said more than I have already said over the past two years? There are so many things that I'm grateful for, so many things that I have learned, and there are so many things that I have experienced that have brought every emotion possible. I can't believe that this day finally has come. It feels so surreal. I'm so thankful that I didn't let up till today and even tonight we are going to be working because I would definitely be regretting it right now.

We have seen a lot of blessings come from our work. Sister Montgomery came to church! We had an amazing lesson with her about the Book of Mormon and Church attendance. We helped her realize the importance of both and how we can receive so many blessings from being obedient all of the time, not just part of the time. I have definitely learned that on my mission. Being obedient all of the time is a lot easier compared to part. That, by itself, is a great blessing because one isn't stressing about the consequences of the actions that one might take. She came to church and she loved it. I'm so thankful that the spirit was felt in the sacrament meeting at the Pacific Palisades Ward so that she could feel, see and hear for herself that these things are true. Conrad had his farewell for his mission this week and it was awesome to see how the Lord blesses the family of the missionary immediately. Their family has had greater hope than in times past and it is amazing to see their spirits, than in recent times. He gave a talk that was on happiness and how we, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, can find happiness despite the many other things that the world has to offer that make us "happy." It was a really good talk and I'm so excited to see how his testimony is when he gets home. I know that he will learn and grow from the many experiences that he will have in Russia. Kasey also came to church, well in Las Vegas. So we are excited for her. Should be baptized this weekend or the upcoming one.

"Fear not, little flock, the kingdom is yours until I come. Behold, I come quickly. Even so. Amen." (Doctrine & Covenants 35:27)

Elder Leavell

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Have Learned

Monday, June 13, 2011 0
Hello Hello. Second to last week writing you all. I'm sure you're tired of listening to me by now. Well you can't. Anyways I can't believe that this whole experience is almost over and that life will soon begin. It's a weird feeling. Think bitter sweet puts justice to the way I feel. I hope that all of you are doing well and that you are seeing changes in your life to come closer to our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. There is nothing that is more important that we can do than to come closer to them, for they are extremely waiting for us to follow and obey. There are so many things that I have learned and I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn so many things. I can't even begin to really understand what is in store for me but I do know that I have been blessed and that the blessings will continue to come. Kasey is going to get baptized on the 25th so I'm super excited for that.

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to share my testimony, along with all the departing missionaries, at the Departing Missionary Fireside. It was so surreal because it didn't even feel like I was going home even though it was about me going home. Haha. It was so cool seeing everyone that I had worked with before, there was many people that were there that I knew so it was a great experience saying hello and talking with all of them again. I don't have my camera but you will all soon have the pictures in hand. While I was there it caused me to think on everything that I have experienced on my mission and everything that I have learned. What made things worse is that we had to condense all of that into 3 to 5 minutes. I had no idea what to say but since I have the opportunity to share all that I thought of with more time I'm going to make a list that somewhat summarizes everything even though there is nothing that could do so. I wish I could just say "I didn't know anything, but now I know something." Here it goes:

I have learned to rely on the Lord in a greater way.
That consistency is key in everything, for that is the only difference between us and the Savior, He has and was consistently choosing the right.
The scriptures are key to understanding the things that our Heavenly Father wants us to do.
The Book of Mormon is true, along with the Bible.
I have learned to cook a lot more than I already knew how.
I have learned how to be patient in Los Angeles traffic.
I have learned to teach by the spirit in a greater way.
I have seen the hand of the Lord in everyone, I know that He is extremely mindful of all His children.
I have learned that baptism is essential to receiving greater blessings that are in store for us.
I have learned that all of us has the same potential, eternal life with our Heavenly Father.
The Lord puts people in our path to answer our prayers.
I have learned to bear the name of the Savior, literally and spiritually.
The temple is a place of refuge.
I have learned that almost all blessings are predicated on our obedience to His commandments.
I have gained a stronger testimony that there are living prophets and apostles on the earth today.
I have learned that the message of the Restoration is a hidden treasure to many because they know not where to find it.
I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the message that we share with the world is that we can see them too.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord answers prayers when we have the intent to follow what He says.
I have learned to bargain shop.
I have learned that we sometimes have to give up what is good for things that are better.
There is only one way to be together with our families forever and that is through the temple.
I have learned to not apologize for what we believe for these things are true.
There are many things in this world that are not meant to be understood.
One of the greatest things that I have learned is to forget myself and go to work.
Faith is a verb, its what you do.
One cannot offer a one cent prayer and expect a million dollar answer.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who were already following in His example.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who did not know His example.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who are struggling with addiction.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who are burdened with sin.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who have lost a loved one.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who have seen it change the lives of their peers.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who see nothing more to life than surviving.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who are seeking peace in this life.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who are young.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who are old.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who at first were not humble to ask if there is more to what they already believe.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who hate and despise us.
I have seen the gospel change the lives of many who we don't even know we have made an impact with.
I have learned that it doesn't matter what the cost is the help someone come to the gospel for that is what the Savior would do.
I have learned to knock doors.
I have learned to be rejected.
To find energy for the day when there is none left.
To wake up at 6:30AM and go to bed at 10:30PM.
That there is nothing more important than our relationship with our Father in Heaven.
I have learned to love everyone I see.
"Whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth."
The true enemy of best is good.
That the difference between us and all other churches is that this is the true and living church.
To sustain my leaders.
To be a leader.
I have learned that one must change oneself first to change others.
I have learned to listen to the spirit and obey.
General Conference is a six month guide until the following General Conference.
We were, we are, and will be.
I have learned to love others despite their attitude towards the things that we believe.
We, as missionaries, are representatives of the Lord, Jesus Christ and are the light that cannot be hod.
To not be ashamed of who we are.
To be quietly dignified.
I have learned to plan every minute of the day.
I have learned to come up with 15 minute talks on the spot.
Being faithful to the gospel is not easy.
All the mission rules have a reason behind them, not to confine us. This applies to the commandments of the Lord.
Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven.
The Priesthood, or the authority that we bear, is true.
I have learned to sow.
I have learned that it is greater to give than to receive in a deeper sense.
Everyone is a missionary.
Our Heavenly Father has a plan for us and we determine the outcome.
We are meant to be in complete families with children.
Repentance is so worth it.
The Holy Ghost is my pal.
The things of the world don't measure up to the things of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
You are who you think you are.
Desires determine our potential.
I have learned to rely on others and not do it all myself.
That this is the work of the Lord.
The Lord is preparing on a daily basis people who are ready to receive the restored gospel.
I have seen that there is power in fasting.
I have gained a testimony that the California Los Angeles Mission is the mission that our Heavenly Father wanted me to serve in.
I have learned that we don't always get what we want.
Complaining is for losers.
You can't judge the church if you are not willing to give it a full try with real intent.
That there are ministering angels round about us.
Consistently reading the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, will never take us away from the Savior.
The Atonement is real.
To go through countless meetings that one has been through many times.
To attend two wards on each Sabbath for 10 hours.
Be more patient.
Be more humble.
Be more charitable.
Be more diligent.
Be more hopeful.
Be more virtuous.
Be more knowledgeable.
Be more obedient.
Whatever we do as missionaries is not us but it is the Lord's doing.
Out of the many things that I have learned there is one that I'm extremely thankful for and that is that this faith is true. That anyone who follows after the example of the Savior or this faith, for they are the same, will come closer to their Creator.

I'm going to continue making a list and have more for you next week. I love you all so much. I also love the people here so much too. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to serve a mission for the Lord. Words cannot explain how much I have learned, seen, and heard but I do know that the things that I know to be true are true because I have prayed and received an answer from the the Master himself.

Elder Leavell

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm a Mormon

Monday, June 6, 2011 1
Hello Hello. This week flew by. I can't believe that I have less than two weeks. AHHH! There are so many things flying through my head but I'm thankful that I'm able to focus on the work of the Lord. I know that there is no greater work and I really don't know what I'm going to do after because I have come to love this work so much. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to serve. There have been so many miracles that I have seen during these last few weeks. It's insane. I don't want to leave that is for sure. AHHH! Haha.

Anyways we are going to have a baptism this week! Kasey from the UCLA Ward is going to be getting baptized this coming week and so we are excited for her. It has been a great blessing in my life to be able to teach her at the end of my mission. She, whether she knows it or not, has been an answer to my prayers to see if I have become better than what I was before. This past week has been a roller coaster with her. At the beginning of the week she finally told us that she knows that the church is true and has known for awhile. She said that she has come closer to her Heavenly Father through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ even though she was totally against it at first. It's amazing what attitude can do to someone. It can change people's lives and it can enable our Heavenly Father to change our lives. The true test for her came when she told her parents that she was going to be baptized in the church. She, along with many others, has family that isn't supportive of her decision, in fact, is extremely against it and said that they didn't want to speak to her. I'm so thankful for her faith to follow the example of Jesus Christ and for her courage to confront adversity to fulfill her decision. I know that I have seen the blessings come into my life that we teach as missionaries. The Book of Mormon puts it in clearer terms than I can give: "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.) Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah." I know that on my mission I have gained a stronger witness that the Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ through my diligent study of all canonized scripture. I know that through the Holy Ghost that I have received this witness because it is the same way that I have come to know that the Bible and Jesus Christ lives. Through all the experiences I have seen on my mission I have also come to know more of our Savior, Jesus Christ. That He lives. That He is. Through His atonement we all can be saved no matter what we can do. There was one experience that has shown me more of who He is. On Wednesday when we took Kasey to the Visitor Center we had the wonderful priviledge of helping her see more of the prophet Joseph Smith. As we were walking into the Visitor Center there was a teenager who walked away as we came up to the doors. We said hello, he responded but didn't show any interest at all. As we walked in I felt a feeling that is all to familiar, a feeling that I have felt several times on my mission prompting me to go speak to this young man. Something that I have learned when I get these feelings is to answer the call, no matter what. We left Kasey with two members from the ward to watch the movie as we went out to talk with the young man. I'm so thankful that I responded to the call. He ended up not being a member and at first he didn't want to talk to us. It ended had taken the missionary discussions but stopped because he felt like it wasn't for him. His grandpa, who is his guardian, works in the temple every week and he told us that every time he comes back there is always something different about him. His grandma isn't a member, Jewish if I remember correctly, has been a wonderful example of the good in the world. She supports him 100% even though she does not uphold the same beliefs. We continued having a normal conversation and that is when the subject of how I came to know the church. Nothing really came out of the conversation, he didn't seem to have gained a stronger testimony of the church because of our conversation but I do know that because of my willingness to answer to the promptings of the spirit, Heavenly Father was able to touch him with the spirit. There is no way that this church could move forward with the divine spirit from our Heavenly Father. We, as missionaries, would not be guided to the people who have been prepared to receive this gospel. That Joseph Smith was His prophet chosen for these latter days to serve the Master and establish a church that is from the heavens above. Kasey along with millions have felt the reassurance that following the example of the Savior is the straight and narrow. I know that Kasey despite all her difficulties with her family will be blessed beyond belief, not with knowledge that the world says that we claim, but with a greater hope to know that through the atonement of the Savior, Redeemer, Exemplar, the Almighty we can live to return to live with our Heavenly Father and our families. I'm so excited for her that she has come to know that this is something that our Heavenly Father wants for her, instead of us telling her that it is. It is a true miracle that I have been able to teach her because we, along with many, have gone through the same circumstances and am able to be a living example that the blessings are true.

I'm so thankful to be able to have this close of an interaction with the spirit. There are so many things that have been shown to me of the love and dedication that our Heavenly Father has for all of us. I'm grateful that He never gives up. The worth of souls is greater than we can imagine in the eyes of God. He loves all of us and is extremely mindful of us. He leaves the 99 to go after the 1. He wants what is best for us and I'm thankful for the opportunity to be His servant and spread the blessings that He has for the world here in Los Angeles. There has been no greater joy than helping others come unto Christ. I know that this work is divine. The tender mercies of the Lord are shown to us as missionaries daily and I'm grateful. I hope all of you are searching for those, instead of looking at ways of improving others. To change the world we must master ourselves.

Hope all is well. See you soon.
Elder Leavell

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Week to Remember

Monday, May 30, 2011 0
Well I hope that everything is going well with all of you. This week has been amazing. There have been so many cool things that have happened over the past week it's crazy! I'm so thankful to be on my mission and am thankful that these last weeks have been memorable. I don't think that I will ever forget these experiences. I hope that the Lord is blessing all of you equally.

Kasey is doing well. She got her answer this last week. It is awesome. She also came to see Elder Anderson and she shook his hand so it's for sure that she is going to get baptized. Those are the only real updates that I have. We got a lot of people to come to hear Elder Anderson so that was good.

I will always remember from my mission. One of the things that I will always remember happened on Sunday and I hope that you all can feel the spirit that I felt through this email. Yesterday we had the amazing privilege to have Elder Neil L. Anderson come to our ward and share with us his testimony. His son moved into the ward a couple of moths ago and he wanted to come and visit. It was amazing. He acted like nothing important was going on and that it was a normal day. As always we stand next to the door greeting everyone who is coming in and when he came in he acted just like everyone else. He talked to my companion and I for a couple of minutes saying, "we thank you for your service," and "if President Monson were here he would have thanked you personally for your service." He then, while his son talked about me, wrapped his arm around me and that he thanked me for the service I have offered. I will never forget that. His spirit is so strong and because of it, it is almost as if the spirit were telling me what the Savior would have me know. I have gained a stronger testimony of the necessity and the validity that the Lord Jesus Christ calls, in our days, living apostles to be his chosen servants. There is no question that Elder Anderson is one of those men that has been called and set apart to bear that special witness that He lives and that He is. It was a great privilege and tender mercy from the Lord for me. I know that this gospel is true and that there is no greater thing that I could ever want. His wife opened the sacrament meeting by speaking of her testimony of her husband. It was amazing to listen to her perspective. She brought the spirit into the meeting with ease and set up the stage for her husband perfectly. She told of an experience while she was raising her children with humble means and how grateful she is that she knows how important these men are. She said that when her all her children were able to read that she and her husband decided to read a talk from the prophet and apostles in the General Conference Ensign for Family Home Evening for several weeks. Like any good mother she decided to make copies of the articles for every child of hers and went to the copy center and started to make copies. She finally finished and went to the register to be surprised that it would be $50 for all the copies. She said she started crying and debated if it really worth having the words of the living apostles in her home. Thinking about this she concluded that yes it was. It was more important than anything else that she could give her children and she thanked her Heavenly Father for the means that the church is able, to now, offer the Ensign for $1.50 with all the talks from General Conference. She then bore her testimony that she knows that the apostles of today are chosen and that she has been an eye witness of the validity of these chosen men. The spirit came into the room so strong. No wonder the Lord calls both to the calling when they are called. Elder Anderson spoke of faith in the Savior of the world. He started by saying to all the members of the church by stating that "we share faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." He said that out of all the things that we could learn and do in this world there is one thing that we cannot do enough and that is think or speak enough about Christ. Speaking of us he shared the story of the Nephites when they were diligently waiting for the sign that Samuel the Lamanite had promised of the birth of the Savior. He shared what is found in 3 Nephi 1:8 that they prayed "that their faith had not be in vain." He paused and then said boldly, "Brothers and Sisters your faith will not be in vain." He then went on to describe some of the miracles that the Savior performed while here on the earth and all the things that he taught us when he was here. There was one that I really liked that he explained. He spoke of Jairus and how that can compare to our lives. When Jairus came to the Savior and Jesus followed him to help his faith was high. In fact, as high that it could be with the knowledge that he had. But as always there is always a trial of our faith and that came when they arrived to the place where his daughter was and the servants told that she was dead. Obviously Jairus' heart sank and his faith was no where to be found in comparison to where his faith was previously. Then some of the most calming words in all ofscripture arose when Jesus said, "Be not afraid, only believe." Elder Anderson compared that to us when we walk with the Savior so close that when the first instant of trial comes our way that he give up and our faith dwindles once more. He then shared a scripture found in the book of Acts 4:20, "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" and another one found in 2 Nephi 25:26, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." After sharing these scriptures and speaking of the importance of remembering the Savior he told us something that surprised me a lot. He said that even him and all members of the church cannot think, pray, and/or talk of him enough. Pondering about that throughout the rest of the day I was thinking about the sacrament and part of the sacramental prayer that we say is that we may always remember him that we may have his spirit to be with us. It is very clear that even the people who profess to be the most spiritual being have still plenty of improvement and I'm grateful that we as members of His church have known that progression during this life is part of the plan that our Heavenly Father has established. There is no way to come to know him than by doing everything that he asks us to do and practice and I'm grateful that we have a clear understanding that faith without works is dead, as the famous scripture says, but faith with works brings about life eternal because we come to know him be word and by action. Speaking of these scriptures, Elder Anderson commented that "we need to make no apology for the unseen because they are true. He lives! He is ever so mindful of all of us." He continued, "As evil grows on the earth there will be an added gift of revelation and the Holy Ghost to those that keep the commandments." Then some of the best lines that he explained, "faith is not a feeling, it is a decision, or choice, to follow." How perfect is that?! Here's another one: "The Book of Mormon will become a stronger anchor in the coming years. You will never loose your faith in Christ if you continually read the Book of Mormon." As a missionary and a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ I know that this principle is true. The Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ and I know with complete certainty that anyone who reads of it's pages with real intent will come to know that his Savior lives. There is great power in that Book and combined with the spirit it "is [the] most powerful resource in conversion" to the Savior. If all of you who are not members of this church could stand in my shoes for one day I promise you that you would recognize that these principles are true and you all would notice, even more, how mindful our Father in Heaven is. It is amazing to me to see how the church started with a handful of members at the beginnings of it's development and now there is very few people in this world who don't know a member of this church and I know it is because we share faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is because of this faith that we are blessed and are able to go about doing the good that we do everyday. I know that for that is my motivation to continue on sharing this message with everyone, despite those who do not agree, and it is because I know that He lives and that his message is a message of hope that he wants everyone to receive. Elder Scott perfectly explained this point by stating, "An axiom we all understand is that you get what you pay for. That is true for spiritual matters as well. You get what you pay for in obedience, in faith in Jesus Christ, in diligent application of the truths you learn." Many people think that the Lord will come down with a sign professing to all in a tumultuous form before we take action. Never in the scriptures have I seen that occur. It is always after they took the initiative to follow the example of the Savior that the person has come to the realization of the blessings that are in store. Elder Anderson suggested that all of us should write down all the things we truthfully believe and to seek improvement on the things that we don't. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to interact with an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ up close and personal for a good amount of time. It is amazing to witness that these men are nothing out of the ordinary, in fact the only difference is that they have been called to be an apostle of the Almighty, to be His special witness that He is. He concluded the sacrament meeting with an apostolic blessing that I will remember and hope to continually apply to the rest of my life:

"As you study the words of Christ, as you think of Him, desire to be His disciple, you will have greater clarity in your faith, happiness in life, confirming sureness in His existence."

It is my prayer that this may be true in all of our lives. That we may receive the greater reward of having the Holy Ghost with us always and that we may be able to respond to it's call, Bo matter what it is. I'm thankful for this gospel. I'm thankful for this sacred opportunity to interact personally with an apostle of our Savior. I have gained astronger testimony that these are men called of God, not because they re better than us but because the Lord has a work for them to do.

Hope all is well. Love you all.
Elder Leavell

Monday, May 23, 2011

There Is Just Not Enough Time

Monday, May 23, 2011 0
I can't believe that I have less than a month now. I have been trying really hard not to think about it and continue working my hardest but I think it is starting to hit me. Doesn't help that my companion rubs it in sometimes. For example, there is a Dodgers billboard next to the temple (and we are always there) that says "It's time for going home" Elder Hough pointed it out to me when the Zone Leaders and us were driving home from soccer and everyone laughed. Haha. All in good fun for sure. This week was a great week. There is not enough time. We are starting to build the area back up with investigators that really want to investigate the church so we are extremely grateful that the Lord has blessed us with people that have been prepared. Throughout my mission I have really gained a testimony of how mindful our Heavenly Father is of all His children. There are countless miracles that He performs on their behalf, most of which go unnoticed. I wish that everyone would have the opportunity to stand in our shoes just for one day because I know they would notice that this is His work and they would notice the deep love that He has for everyone. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to serve as His missionary, His representative here in Los Angeles. So the best news of the week is that we have a baptismal date! I'm so excited! It's been awhile since the area has seen one but we are extremely hopeful that we will have at least one baptism at the end of this transfer. Kasey set a baptismal date of the 19th of June and it's amazing to see how different she is. It definitely wasn't us but it was the Lord who worked with her personally that has made this mighty change. We had a wonderful lesson with her after dinner with them and it was awesome to see how the spirit was working with her. We asked her straight up what we be holding her back from doing the things that the Lord would have her do and she started crying. So we left the restaurant and went to the temple, so it would be a more private setting, and she told us everything. She said that she was first, scared for her salvation because she wants to first make sure that this is the right thing, have that gut feeling that what she is doing is right, second, her family because they are strong Lutherans, and third, scared of what people would say because she is dating Scott who is a member of the church. What is amazing to me is to see her courage to continue with this. She said that if she felt that this was, without a shadow of doubt, the truth that she would do whatever it takes to follow it because it would be from the Lord. I'm so glad that she has been humbled by the Lord to at least listen to what the Lord has to offer. Of course, the decision will be hers and we don't have anything to do with it. All we do is invite others to live the principles of the restored gospel and to pray if these things are true. We are really excited for her and are excited to see how much her faith grows in the coming weeks.

Kasey reminds me of something that I learned at the Santa Monica Stake Conference that we had this past weekend. One of the counselors of the Stake Presidency spoke of when Nephi built the boat and how burdensome his brothers were when he told them that he was commanded of the Lord. He said that when we read of the account of Nephi that he saw the ship a little differently, he saw the ship as how the Lord was building up the people of God and as a way to provide them with a stronger faith in him. He then read 1 Nephi 18:1-4 as follows: "And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work...of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work (with the people). Now I, Nephi, did not work the (people) after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the (people) after the manner of men; but I did build (them) after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men. And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things. And it came to pass that after I had finished..., according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord." He continued to relay a message of how the Lord gives up daily experiences that we can choose to obey or not but that if we obey to the humble commands of the Lord we will be blessed to be an example to others. He said notice how after they finished according to the way the Lord wanted them to finish that the brothers of Nephi saw that it was good and did humble themselves. He continued, notice how Nephi went to the mount, which we know to be the temple, "oft" and how he prayed "oft" and the Lord showed him "great things" that pertained to the building up of the ship, or in our case the people. He continued to share a story of how he went with the Young Men in his ward to San Clemente Island for a Scouting trip and he found how the Lord provides means to build up the kingdom. He said he was a Bishop at the time and while they were on the island all the Bishops went out to examine the grounds to figure out where they were going to live. While looking for a spot to camp they found a building with two men from the Army sitting next to building smoking and he didn't say directly, but implied that they were drinking as well. He found a pay phone and decided to call his wife to tell her that they were fine and all is well. the pay phone didn't work and they had found a place to camp so they all started walking back to where the Young Men were. While they were leaving one of the men asked who they were with and he responded. After some curious questions, the man said that he would talk him up the hill to another pay phone so he could call. He kept insisting to take him but he didn't feel comfortable going with them. reluctantly he got in the car and they were on their way. The same man asked him what church he was with and he said from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He paused. He then asked another question, what is your role in the Church? He responded a Bishop. He paused again. They finally got up to the top of the hill and the guy took him inside and asked if he talk with him privately. He agreed to discover that this man from the military was a member of the Church who had lost his way for a very long time. He relayed to him that that morning he had prayed one of the most fervent prayers that he every gave asking Heavenly Father if He would send a Bishop to him so that he could receive counsel to know what actions he should take to change. Tears began to come down and he they had a wonderful conversation discussing and counseling on how he could do better. After the conversation they parted ways and he never heard from him but he was thankful that he knew the ways that our Heavenly Father has established to build up His children. He said that when we read the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, we will receive the promise that Nephi received and will be able to be a light in this world that cannot be hid, an example that everyone will see that the "workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine" and many will humble themselves before the Lord to come to accept this restored gospel.

Some unfortunate news. One of the Sisters got diagnosed with cancer again. She kicked it (think that is the term) a couple of months ago but it has come back. If you could all keep her in your prayers that would be great. She is an amazing sister and is a great example to many. In the time that I have been here she has strengthened my faith and has helped me look for the positives in life. Anyways, we are making some good progress with AnneMarie, she will probably be coming to church this next week so that is exciting news. Also the Brands said they would be coming in the coming weeks. I'm so excited. Unfortunately, Ruth asked us not come by for another month because she is really pregnant and she is always really tired. The ward said that they would continue stopping by and sending emails etc. The ward is awesome.

Well I hope all of you are doing great and are seeing the choicest blessings. I love you all.
Elder Leavell

Monday, May 16, 2011

Couldn't Ask for Anything More

Monday, May 16, 2011 0
This time during transfers I was worried like no other. I didn't want to leave Malibu and I was praying, wishing, and doing everything I could so that the Lord would side with me on this one. Haha. I'm so happy and thankful that he sided with me and gave me what I wanted. Malibu till the end! WOO HOO! Anyways there was a change. I got a new companion, Elder Hough, and I'll have the opportunity to greenie break him. It's a little different being with a companion so young since the last few have been just as old as I am. I still can't believe that I have about a month left. I don't ever want to leave, there is nothing that I would rather be doing. There is not enough time on this mission. I feel like I still have a ton to do. I hope that all of you are doing well.

This week has been a week of interesting experiences. From blessings to celebrities (sort of). I'll first start off with Wednesday. Got off to a good start on Wednesday and made a few contacts with some less actives that we haven't been able to get a hold of. Brother Hunt is now back on the radar, he fell away from us for a little but we wouldn't let him off the hook that easy haha. He is doing well. Been really busy with all the construction projects that his company is working on but we have an appointment with him tomorrow so we will see how he is doing. After that we went to go visit Ruth. She is doing well. I wish I could know exactly what is holding her back from doing the things that she needs to be doing, that "magic lesson" that helps motivate her to come to church but I have the feeling that it will never come because she hasn't been made humble yet. We watched the talk from President Uchtdorf "Of Things That Matter Most." She liked it and enjoyed thinking of things that would help her put her priorities straight. She acts like a Mormon, it's funny. Anyways after that we were asked to give a blessing to someone who was going to die at the UCLA hospital along with the family members. It was an awkward message. Never given a blessing to someone who was going to die that day so I was getting pretty nervous on the way there. Felt terrible. Traffic was like no other. Either way it was bad going on the freeway and going on Sunset. When we got there the nurses asked us who we were there to visit and when we told them they said that we should call the people that called us. We were a little confused but did as they told us but as we were leaving the curtain partially opened in the room and we caught a glimpse and there was a white sheet over the person. We got there too late. I wish there was something that we could have done, somehow gotten there before she had passed. The family members had left. So we called the office where we got the message to go give a blessing and the sisters said, "Oh sorry. They called about 5 minutes ago and told us that they had passed away." I feel terrible. I hope that the family has received some comfort through reading the scriptures or have received help in some other way. I wish there was something that I could do. Anyways this last week we had the opportunity to meet with the Brands and they are doing great. They are Jewish converts of about 15 years and they have been less active for the more part of those years. The husband is a very intellectual guy and likes to feel that he is doing everything to obtain a "release" as he says or in our terms spiritual confidence. There are so many things that could be taught throughout that lesson but I love the opportunity to listen to the spirit. Because he likes to over analyze things and has somewhat of a distorted idea of who God is and how the plan of salvation works, it forces us, especially me, to practice listening and waiting during to lesson to have the spirit guide. It is awesome. There is no way that answering all his questions with the principles of the gospel would help him come closer because he always seems to have an answer for everything. But what we have done, is wait, thinking of what we are going to say, and respond with another question that teaches a principle. I'm so thankful that the spirit is always with us so that we can listen to it's promptings so that we can help further the work of the Lord. There is nothing better than for the spirit to teach while the children of our Heavenly Father study, ponder, and pray about the gospel that he has established here on the earth. I know that our Heavenly Father has set up a way for us to receive spiritual truth through various means because He knows that there are various means that the adversary uses on us daily. I'm so thankful for prophets,for the scriptures, and more importantly the spirit because there is no way that I would be able to discern what is right and what is wrong the way that I do without those ways of communication with my Father in Heaven. On Friday we were asked to go to the UCLA hospital to give another blessing to a person who was in the ICU. I was a little more nervous because that is where the last person was when she passed away. We got there and thankfully the person was still alive. Never thought I would ever say that haha. The only thing was that there was tubes and screens all over him and so I was a little nervous to give the blessing. But we did it anyway. The nurses said that it would be fine. Right when we got done the nurse at the front desk said that the daughter had called and so the nurse inside the room so we asked her if we could talk with her after she got done. We didn't talk with her but the nurse told us that apparently we were not supposed to do it. The nurse said that it was probably the other sibling none the less it made things a little awkward. Enough with the downers haha. We had an awesome miracle happen to us this week! Casey Brown came back and she is prepared! She came to a Friday Forum at the UCLA Institute where Kurby from all the Mormon movies. She enjoyed it and it was awesome to see her. We talked for about half an hour and she seemed to be more open. Didn't think of anything because I didn't push the gospel subject. After we gave the second blessing (the one with all the tubes) we walked back and saw them walking out of the store. We invited her to the baptism that would be happening in the ward on Saturday and she said, "Oh yeah. I had already planned on going to that." To get her to come to a baptism a couple of months ago would have been trying to drag a cat into the water. I was so surprised and excited that she would be going to the baptism. At the baptism, Megan gave her testimony (the person who was getting baptized) after she got baptized and it was perfect. She told everyone that it wasn't until she let her walls down and humbled herself that that was when she received her answer. She told all the missionaries that were there sorry for being a hard investigator, jokingly of course, and sorry for bashing with them and giving them a hard of time. She laughed. She said that she was so happy that she made the decision to do the things that the missionaries had always asked her to do but with a sincere heart. Scott told us on Sunday, when Casey came to church, that she came to talk with Megan because he said that she felt like Megan was talking directly to her. I'm so thankful that the Lord is preparing people for us on a daily basis. I'm so thankful that he provides and taht we don't have to worry. I know that this is his work, the saving of all the children of our Heavenly Father. There is no question that this is his work. If only you could be in the same shoes as one of us you would notice that it is not us convincing but it is as Joseph Smith once said, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”

I love you all and am so thankful for all of you. Hope all is well. I will see you all soon enough! Stop counting! Haha.

Elder Leavell

The Vargas family. lived with them in downtown.
Tru (one of Brother Anderson's kids)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blessing after Blessing even Mothers

Monday, May 9, 2011 0
This past week has been amazing. We have been extremely blessed, more than we can even handle. Thank you so much for your prayers on our behalf for the work of the Lord. We have received about 20 referrrals over the past two weeks and that is more than quadruple of the number that the area has seen in many months. It is awesome to see how the Lord has blessed us through our diligent efforts to expand His loving hand towards the children of our Father in Heaven. I can't believe how blessed we have are. We had the opportunity to teach Jason again. He is doing better from what we can observe. It is amazing to see how the Lord blesses His children through their obedience. As he has read his scriptures and been more diligent in his prayers it never gets old to see how countenances change. It's amazing to see how the light can come to those who are truly seeking it. If only you could be in my shoes for a day. If only anyone could be in my shoes for a day. I know if anyone has gone about doing His work will know and will be able to bear witness that this is the work of the Lord. There is no way that this couldn't be for it bears good and Satan could not do things. I know it and I'm so thankful that God knows it too. Anyways we had the wonderful opportunity to go to two FHEs with the UCLA Ward. They were both really awesome and really spiritual. We went to the Institute for one on Monday and have tried to continue to build trust with them. Then for the second one it was with the entire ward. It was awesome. Had a great lesson by Bishop Davis and had some fun games. We got two referrals from them so it was great. We then visited some Chinese referrals at Pepperdine and one of them accepted a baptismal date. This week has been great!

Out of the many lessons that I have learned from my Mom, there is one in particular that I'm extremely thankful for, to always keep my promises. I cannot remember a specific moment where my Mom taught me this great and powerful lesson but I do know that I was taught to do such. As I was thinking about this I thought about all the Mothers that are sharing the experience of sharing their child with the world and how difficult it is for many. This lead me to think of a Mother in the scriptures who has shown the world the importance of keeping promises no matter what. We learn from the Old Testament of a woman named Hannah, a righteous woman who sought after one thing in her life: to have a son, a son who she could teach to change the world. As the years went by, after relentless prayers still being barren she found herself at the bottom where no person could be found, without a child and without hope for the thing that she desired most. In her humble state she falls to her knees, shedding tears of sorrow to offer her last petition in the tabernacle of the Lord. Feeling all to familiar she changes her plea to compromise that would change the history of the world. She covenants that if her Father in Heaven would grant her the one wish of a baby boy she would give him up to the very service she was partaking of. As she offered this solemn covenants with her loving Father a priest in the tabernacle, hearing her petition, was guided to her. He didn't know what for, he didn't know who he needed to speak to but he answered the call, the call to act. Continuing her prayer, the man Eli asks her what prayer she was uttering. She answered, "I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit... But have poured out my soul before the Lord." Discerning the intent of this worthy patron the Father in the Heavens answered her prayers through Eli, who said, "Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him." Her countenance changed with the new hope in life she traveled home to her dear husband who supported her plea for all these years. Time would tell if she would remember the Lord. The time came for her to conceive the pearl of great price, must rejoicing was offered on her behalf, preparations made for the new arrival, hoping the next minute would be the last minute of waiting. Overall they were grateful for the tender mercy that the had granted. At last the child was born. The preparations were set in place, the family gathered to discover this baby boy who would be named in the heavens as Samuel, for the Lord had remembered her prayer. Once again much celebration and rejoicing occurred bringing great joy to the new Mother and Father. The moral of the story could be patience is the greatest virtue of them all, humility to the will of the Lord brings life's choicest blessings, or even that prayer is the answer to all of our trials that may be set before us, but that would be short of the lesson that the Master would have us learn. Through those first blissful months of being a new Mother our Heavenly Father was waiting to see if she would answer the covenant that they made to bring this prophesied child into being. The months moved on, as if the were dragged on and on for her son and even those who watched the baby boy grow up, but for Hannah these months were nothing but the blink of an eye. Samuel came to the age of entering into the service of the Lord, he was accountable, but more importantly Hannah became accountable. Would she rise up and fulfill her covenant? Would she give up her dear child to the service of the Lord? Would she even remember? This valiant woman did. Hannah not only gave up her son to the humble service, but went above and beyond by taking him by herself, with three bullocks, flour, and a bottle of wine to the house of the Lord. She went up to Eli giving him the offering and her beloved child. No complaints, no regrets knowing that this was her humble duty to the Lord on High. May I express my gratitude to all the women in this world who do this very act when giving up their child to the service of the Lord. I applaud all of you who through your examples you have taught your children to follow the example of Jesus Christ through righteous doings and obedience to the commandments that He has set and because of this your children have followed after you. There are many kinds of righteous women in this beautiful world but there are none greater than those who make and keep their covenants that they have made with our Heavenly Father. I'm so thankful for all the Mothers who without regret or complaint, suppress their feelings of yearning to see their child, their tears that they cry every night, the empty hole that is in their heart and encourage their young man to be valiant representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ because they know this is their sacred duty and they know this is how they can aide in this work for it is already difficult enough. On this Mother's Day I'm extremely thankful to all these Mother's, who like Hannah, magnify their calling in life to be a Mother and raise their children to be sons and daughters of the Most High God, of which is no greater call and I'm thankful for Mother's who despite their displeasure of the plan of God teach their children to do likewise. You are amazing. You are the "regenerating force in the lives of God's children" as Elder Matthew Cowley once stated. My hope and desire is that all of you continue to do such. Continue obeying the covenants that you have made with your Father in Heaven to sustain the work of the Lord, for all of you, believers or not, are called to this great work. You make more of an impact than you can imagine and I pray that it is an impact that leads to good.

Elder Leavell

Monday, May 2, 2011

Flash from The Past

Monday, May 2, 2011 0
This week has been great. It is definitely not going to be the same when I get home. I can't imagine my life right now without these awesome experiences that I'm having at least on a weekly basis. There are so many things that I'm grateful for and there are so many things that I have learned. I don't know why I'm talking as if I were leaving tomorrow but still it is something that I have thought about a lot recently. I hope that all of you are doing well and are enjoying the same kind of weather we have been having over here. It's been about 80 everyday and there hasn't been a cloud in the sky. It's awesome. We are definitely spoiled in this mission.

Since I had the opportunity to talk with all of you on Wednesday there hasn't been a that has happened. We had a lot of meetings over this last week and so we didn't have the normal amount of time that we have in our area, since to get into our area it always is a daunting task because of traffic. But one of the meetings in specific was one that I probably will never forget. Elder L. Tom Perry came to our mission to speak to us and the Arcadia mission. I don't know what I was more excited for, whether it was to hear the counsel of an Apostle or it was to see one of my friends that was in the Arcadia mission. It ended up that I was super excited for both and I was so happy afterwards. Elder Stanford, from BYU is in the Arcaida mission and the cool things was that we always joked that we would see each other one of these days on our mission because we are so close of each other. Anyways Elder Clayton and Elder Perry came to speak to us and it was awesome. It was more of a pep talk now that I think of it. Elder Clayton spoke of how language study was something that we should always be working on even if we are native in the language (someone must have heard your prayers Mom). He counseled us that if we do our language study everyday we will be able to feel of the spirit more and we will become a better instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father. I'm excited to study a little more in Spanish since I'm not in a Spanish area. Onto the part that was my favorite: Elder Perry. He told of some amazing stories that he was heard and some experiences that he has had but they all had one thing in common: they spoke of becoming. There is one experiences that I would like to share with you. He said that when he was a missionary like us that he didn't have all the MTC training or preparation that we receive when we go on our mission, in fact, back in the day they had a house, where the Church Offices are, where all the missionaries would come for 5 days and receive training to be a missionary. He said, chuckling, that wasn't a very effective way so the Church changed the process of how we got trained. After the 5 days of training they were flown to their designated areas and started the work right away. No orientation, no dinner with the President, nothing. He said that when he got paired up with his companion that he was excited to be with a missionary full of experience, full of wisdom on how to help the people. He got the exact opposite. His trainer was 3 weeks into his mission. He laughed. They went to get some dry cleaning done and pick up some groceries and afterwords went straight to work. As they found the area that they want to knock doors in, they came upon their first door. Elder Perry asked, "what do we do now?" His trainer responded, "I don't know. I have never done this before." We all started laughing, he did too. He said that there has been much change to how missionary work is done but he said one thing has not and that is the message of what we are to become. It's awesome to see how simple to gospel is. That through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we can come to know through study, prayer, and church attendance, the fruit that He has to offer. He also shared the story of Martin Harris. It was awesome to hear that it from his perspective. He said that his Dad always took all the kids for the day one day of the week on a spiritual excursion where one time he went to a graveyard and found the headstone of Martin Harris. His Dad asked the graveyard worker to come over and tell his kids a story. It ended up being that of Martin Harris. I wish I could get you all the story but I'm sure it's on under Martin Harris. It's awesome. I'm so thankful that I'm a part of this Church. I think every week as I have been diligent in reading and praying about everything I have gained a stronger testimony of the things we believe. There is no way to explain how I know but I do know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah. Granted, there are many other churches that bring good into the world and bring light to all but I feel awful because they are missing out.

The one lesson that I would like to share with you that I found amazing was the one we had with Sister Montgomery. She is a nonmember who is married to a member who is coming back to the Church. She grew up in the United Church of Christ, at least that is what it is called now, and has a strong testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ. We talked for awhile trying to get to know her and what she believes and she told of us of something that reminded me of the Articles of Faith. She said that she wished she knew exactly what her church believes. It was a great blessing to be able to provide that for what we believe. We went over it with her and she loved it. She said that she wished every church had that. We then talked her about prophets and how that was the dividing line between us and her and explained that we believe that He literally speaks still through a prophet just as in times of old. That lead into the Book of Mormon. She said that she hadn't read it before but had seen her husband pick it up recently more often. We commited her to read the Book of Mormon and we have a follow up lesson with her this coming week. It was a miracle to find her and have her prepared to listen to what the Lord has to offer.

We also had the privilege of helping with the Mormon Helping Hands activity that the stakes here in Los Angeles planned. We planted a palm tree for it and it was good work out haha. We had the worst place to dig a hole. There were huge pieces of rock that we had to dig around and then pull out. We were the last ones to plant the palm tree and we felt like we were retarded haha. That was until everyone saw everything that we pulled out of the hole. It was a good time being in our yellow shirts. It was awesome to see about 200 yellow shirts along the beach planting trees and palms along the board walk. I know it will make a difference in the community and make the place look better. Plus it was awesome to see how people would stop and look at what we were doing. I think some of them came and joined us, not sure though. We got done in about 2 hours and I think as a whole we planted about 100 plants. This is an on going effort that is going on in Santa Monica but there were projects done by the members all over Los Angeles so there thousands of members doing work around the community. Got to love the church. There are so many things that I'm thankful for and that is one of them. The Church definitely encourages planned forms of service. There are countless reasons why but I think that the most important one is that the Lord would do it and we are His disciples. I love you all and am thankful for all of you. I hope all is well and hope to hear from you soon. Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are mothers. You make a greater impact on the world than you imagine. I know that if it wasn't for my Mom who raised me the way she did that I would not be here on a mission. So thanks for everything that you have done, everything that you are doing, and everything that you will do for those whom you serve. You're the best!

Elder Leavell

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy Easter

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 0
I'm so thankful to be on a mission. We just got done with the temple today and it was one of the best sessions that I have been in. Don't know what was the difference because it is the same but it has made me so thankful for all the things that I have been blessed with. There was this old little lady in a wheel chair and to see her struggle lifting her arm (had to lift it up with her other arm) was something that I don't think I will forget. It's cool how the Lord answers our prayers and how he usually answers them through others so that it can cause many to strive for charity to fulfill the needs of His children. There is nothing like a tender mercy from the Lord. I'm so thankful that, we as missionaries, can be those tender mercy messengers to the world wherever we are serving. I hope that you all are striving to do the same and look for the opportunities to serve another person. When we look at others the way that our Heavenly Father does, everything changes and it makes the world look a lot better. I hope all of you are doing well and are safe and sound.

On Tuesday I went with Elder Thiriot on splits and it was an awesome time talking with him again about the times we have served together. Granted we see each other every day but it was a little different when we were together for the day. We had an awesome lesson with the Odians and it was a different lesson. That morning she called me and asked if we could go on a hike and talk on the way up and down. It was funny because I didn't know what to say since I didn't even know if we could do that but I told her we would think about it. When we got there, she was all ready and her kids were all dressed up ready to go on the hike so we went up part of the hill that was behind her house and talked about the things that she believed and why she believed what she believed. It was a good conversation I think that ended up being pretty effective since it made a comfortable environment for her. It was cool to hear some of her beliefs. I have noticed here in Malibu that most of the people who don't go to church still have some sort of spirituality and try to be at peace at oneself, which usually ends up being somewhere in nature. She seemed to have a lot of answers to the questions that we asked her but one of them stumped her. She said that the purpose of her life was to be at peace and be a good person. We then asked why? what would be the point of that if it doesn't go anywhere? She thought about it for awhile and she that is something that I have never thought about. We then went on to explain some of the teachings that the Savior taught when he was over in Israel saying that of all the things that he taught he taught two things that we should remember: first, how we should be as a person and second, he taught us why we should be like Him. After talking about those things she was a ton more humble and willing to commit to have us over to teach her and her family what we know to be true because she feels that it would be extremely important for them to be involved in a religious organization. I'm so thankful that we were able to ask questions that inspire thought and that we were lead by the spirit to discern and to ask questions that would cause her to change her view on what we do and why we do it. I can't think of any better way to teach than by the spirit, for there is none. Later that day we had a good time trying to contact some less actives that are in the area and it was great to see some of the area that I haven't seen in awhile. We had dinner with the Andersons that night and it went great. They made us Paella (sorry Mom & Dad I don't know how to spell it) and it was awesome. You could tell that she put in a lot of time and effort to prepare that meal for us. There house is so cool. It's on the beach and so we got to see the beach AND the water up front and personal. Didn't touch it but we almost could which was awesome. But beside them being able to afford a house like that it was awesome to see how humble they were and how devoted they were to their family. I can't seem to get beside the fact that almost all of them are so humble. They would do anything for anyone. It is awesome. Sister Anderson is from Las Vegas and knows a bunch of people for the stake so it was good to talk about them. Their kids were awesome too. I forgot my camera but I put up some pictures next week. Splits day was an awesome day. We did our weekly service at the Retirement home and I had the opportunity to push a lady named Lorane. She is famous amongst the missionaries because she is super nice and fun to be around, plus she buys you a pastry whether you like it or not. Haha. Even the people know at the pastry stand that if we don't accept her gift that she gets mad haha. It was really delicious if I might add. Anyways it is always a pleasure to push them and to talk with them. It's cool to see the peoples reaction too. It's either, what are you doing? or wow. On Saturday we had the opportunity to see Josh Eastland's baptism, one of the Eastland kids. I think that is one of the best parts that is outside of the temple. It's so awesome to see how children, despite their young age, are humble and filled with the spirit to choose what is right. The best part is seeing how excited they are. Even the kids who aren't old enough almost jumped in the font with Josh haha. It was awesome. They had a little luncheon afterwards at their home and it was good to talk to some of the members of the ward and meet some new people who aren't members of the Church. Then Easter Sunday. It was awesome. I'm so thankful that we get to go to two wards every Sunday. It was awesome to feel of the spirit, especially on this Easter Sunday. At the Pacific Palisades Ward the Andersons gave talks and they were awesome. Plus the Primary sang a couple of songs and once again the spirit rushes into the room. Works like a charm. Recently, I have been writing down some quotes that I really like from what people say. It helps me focus more. Anyways Brother Anderson had a good one, hopefully I can give some background otherwise it probably won't make too much sense. He told of a time when he went down to Haiti with a medical team to help those who couldn't afford medical care. He said that it was an experience that he would never forget even though he said that he had been witnessing similar circumstances on a daily basis. He said after a long day of work trying to help everyone, they began to drive home, exhausted and while they were driving they saw a man pushing a wheelbarrow with a little girl inside. They stopped the car and saw that the little girl had been hurt. So they all got out and drove them back the long distance to the hospital. He said that the little girl had been hurt by a brick that fell on her arm and crushed the bone. Fortunately they were able to save her life, despite the loss of blood but they were not able to save the arm. Then the experience that he will never forget. Brother Anderson went to talk with the Father of the girl and he said that the Father said, "If I could only take her pain away." Brother Anderson in his talk explained that happened to our Heavenly Father when His only Begotten was suffering the atonement for all of us. He further explained that God wasn't able to take the pain away from His Son but he was able to take the pain away from us, just as the girl couldn't save her arm and we should take great hope in that. I definitely won't forget that story. The best part about it is that in the UCLA Ward we also had a great line that came from Brother Lattin, he said, "The message of the resurrection is the message of the restoration. That He lives and still speaks to us today." Both of those lines go hand in hand. I know that Jesus Christ suffered for our sins and that our Heavenly Father called Him to bare that burden for us. I'm so thankful that we know that we can return to live with them through the Savior's atoning sacrifice, that we can be made whole, having a perfected body that can last the eternities. There is great joy to be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. That because of the restoration we know for a fact that we will all be resurrected and that the pain is taken away from us. The only thing that we need to do is be humble and follow the Savior in His footsteps. They are not ours but they are His. I'm so thankful that we as His representatives are able to carry this glad message to everyone and were able to share the Easter message with many and it is always amazing to see how the light of Christ comes into them to witness to them that these things are true.

Out of all the things that in the world, there is one thing that I hold most dear and that is my testimony that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live so much so that they talk to us just as they did in times past. That they appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith in the grove and professed to him the things that they would have us do. I know that as we are humble and earnestly seek Him that we will find Him. That is the purpose of the message of the restoration. It is another witness that He lives. I'm so thankful that I was able and humble enough to receive it and now I'm so thankful that I'm able to share the same gift that I have received with all. As I invite all the people I come in contact here in Los Angeles to read the Book of Mormon, I do so with all of you. May you pray for a humble heart and contrite spirit to listen to the promptings of the spirit and, in turn, pray to know that these things are true. I know they are and I'm thankful that I know they are. I love you all and wish you the best. May the Lord bless you and guide all of you in the way that He would wish to have you follow. I hope that you all had a wonderful Easter and had a great time visiting with family and friends.

Elder Leavell

Oh and Elder Hodell came back to visit. He is here for another week. I didn't know how to react haha. He came over to the Kellers for Easter dinner with us. It was awesome getting to know his family and seeing him again.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beach Pictures

Monday, April 18, 2011 0

Stories Galour

Hello hello. It's been a week with a bunch of crazy events that have happened one day after the next. What's even more crazy is how another week has flown by. The weeks are getting faster and faster every time. I hope all of you are doing well and are enjoying what you are doing. It's great being here on the mission and serving others, there is truly no other thing that brings this much joy even though it is a lot of work. I'm glad that I decided to go on a mission and help others come unto Christ and help them build a relationship with Him to increase their joy.

We met a new family this last week, the Odians. They are a part member family that have been taught for awhile and have gone through a bunch of missionaries. Turns out that the husband is the member and has always been less active, the wife said "jack" but less active sounds better, more hopeful I would say. They like the church but because the wife nor the kids have grown up as a church-going people they have never felt or had the desire to go to Church. We had a nice conversation trying to get to know them and it was good seeing how the gospel has blessed them with a light that they probably don't see. They love tennis and the outdoors so Malibu is perfect for them haha. Anyways we talked about prayer and how that is the driving force that leads the members to do what they do. They liked the idea of receiving an answer through their prayer and said to come back the following week. Way excited to teach them and see their faith grow. Hopefully they will progress and be able to partake of all the blessings of the gospel and see their lives change. There is really nothing greater than being obedient and, in turn, being blessed. The funny thing is that you would think that is the opposite but it totally is not. Love the scripture that takes about the first being last and the last being first. And to the society today that seems to be contrary. But it is so true. Being selfless, as a missionary, has brought more joy into my life despite I do nothing for me. It is the best cure for anything. I wish I could have discovered that at the beginning of my mission when most missionaries struggle because they are out of the norm. But I'm glad I have noticed it now. We also visited with Ruth and had a good time with her. We had a good lesson on how agency is based upon knowledge. Related it to the gospel in the sense that one of these days she is going to have to teach her children the same things that the church stands for and hopefully it wouldn't be too late for her. Don't know how she felt about the lesson but I know that it made her think about how she wants to raise her children and who she wants them to become. I'm so thankful for my parents and having them take me to church those countless times that I didn't want to go. There are true principles in gospel living and those principles are only founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ. After all He is the only perfect person to walk to earth, I know of that because I know that as I have strived to follow His footsteps that it has brought forth many blessings that are good. There are so many good things in the world we just got to know where to find them. Chino also came back this last week. So it was good meeting with him on Sunday. Oh and I almost forgot that we met up with the Aldens this last week. It is always fun to meet up with them. They are those kind of people who are down to earth and help you relax somehow. Brother Alden told us a story about fireworks when he was younger. He said that when we was younger he shot off some bottle rockets with his friends up in the air, not really thinking about the consequences of doing that. Now the consequence in this case is definitely not one that you would expect in any case haha. He said that there were bats in his city and one time he shot one up in the air and the bat swooped down and caught it thinking that it was a bug. Of course, the bottle rocket blew up and the bat came spiraling down dead. I think that this is one of those stories that you have to hear but it was funny haha. He invited us to share that story with someone and relate it to the gospel. Haven't had the chance to but I'm determined. There are so many things that can relate to the gospel in that story. If any of you have any ideas let me know I would love to hear them!

As a pre-disclosure, I'm OK, everything is OK and so there is nothing to worry about. On Tuesday we went to the Odian's house, a part member family that the Bishop asked us to go visit. On our way there we saw two horses walk out of a driveway and we kept looking to see if there was someone following them. Turns out that there was no one home and the horses got loose. Dad I think they were quarter horses but I could be wrong, you probably would have liked to see them. Anyways since a bunch of members over here in Malibu have some horses I knew that two horses by themselves is not a good thing so we called some members that lived down the street and they literally dropped everything (he was on the phone for a job interview) and came to help us with the horses. Funny thing was that by the time they had gotten there, which couldn't have been more than 3 minutes, 3 or 4 cars pulled up asking us who's horses they were and if everything was OK. Luckily we saw what driveway they came from and got them put back to where they belong. The cool thing was that they were really tame and with my "horse training" that I learned from the members I approached them calmly and got something to tie around their neck and they were perfectly fine with it. Feel a great sense of accomplishment if I saw so myself. Haha. Of course this would only happen in Malibu but I still feel blessed for the opportunity to serve in various way on my mission. Alright the other thing was pretty scary, not really, just something that you don't necessarily want to happen, especially when you want to go home because you are tired. As we were driving down our road to get to our apartment we saw a bunch of cop cars blocking the way with their cars and tap and it so happened to be in front of our apartment. We tried to go the back way and still they had it blocked off so we were stranded trying to figure out what we were going to do for the night. Turns out that in the apartment right next to us (this is everything that the neighbours have told us; didn't want to know too much but they told us none the less), an ex-boyfriend of a girl who recently moved in got way mad because she had a new boyfriend in a new apartment. He got mad and started attacking the girl with a knife. The boyfriend ran off to go and try to get some help but the neighbour beat him to it. She called the police and the police came over and shot him since he didn't put the weapon down. Sad story. We don't really know what happened to the girl, we think that she is in the hospital and so yeah. Bummer. They eventually let us into our apartments, probably because they figured out who we were and weren't going to do anything that would do any harm to the crime scene. None the less, it was an eventful night with a lot of noise and lights the entire night. No worries everything is OK. I don't live in the ghetto actually, every member that knows where we live think that is a good area to live in. Just a freak event in the area.

Well sorry for the short email. Always busy. Hope all is well. Love you so much and miss you too. Peace

Elder Leavell

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Let The Magic Begin

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 0
Hello hello everyone. It's been a great week over here in the Boo. Transfers were the other day and I'm staying in Malibu for another transfer so it should be another great transfer. There are so many things that I'm excited for and this weekend was one of those things that I can't wait for. General Conference was great! I learned so much from everyone who spoke and the messages were amazing and very applicable to the times we live in now. Service is one of the main things that they focused on and how true is the principle of service in the healing process of loss and distress. I hope that you all enjoyed conference as much as I did and if you didn't have the opportunity to hear it I would highly recommend that you watch it. There is no better counsel that we can receive and we are so very blessed to be able to hear it.

There were some interesting things that happened this week and the cool thing is that they aren't very common. Because Elder Hodell went home this last week I didn't have a companion, so I had the opportunity to stay at the mission home all day with Elder Kenny. It was funny because every time I left to go do something I told Elder Hodell "well it was fun" and then I saw him again later on in the day. Probably did that about 5 times so it was nice. It was also nice being with all the missionaries that were going home and seeing how very close the same will happen to me. I can't believe that I have 11 weeks left! That is crazy. I for sure don't want to go home yet and I am not looking forward to it. None the less it was a good experience seeing how the mission has changed them from when I first met them. Being at the mission home also made me notice one thing: work is a pleasure. Since I didn't have anything to do and sat there all day it made me realize how blessed I am to work out in the field and not be stuck in an office. Haha. I remember at the beginning of my mission I was praying to be put in the office so that I wouldn't be out in the field in the rain, heat, and all those hard things; which aren't really hard at all. We hung out at the Visitor Center most of the day and as people walked I wanted to give them a tour and talk to them. The Sisters said that I could never get a referral from them and/or they would think that I was awkward or something I don't know so I took the challenge of giving a tour with the hope of getting a referral from someone. That is where the magic of being an Elder comes in. This family came in, trying to spend some time before going into a session at the temple one of which had served a mission. The mom didn't really want to talk, was more interested in the video clips that were all over the place, but the daughter and I got talking about her mission and all the cool experiences that she had over in Thailand. It was cool seeing how the mission blessed her life and the lives of all the people that she served. After awhile, after asking some questions to the mom, the mom started getting in on the conversation and seemed to be having a good time. At this point all the Sisters were laughing as they watched me work my magic and so I was a little more determined to show them that Elders can work in the Visitor Center. The amazing thing was that I got a referral. After sharing some experiences that I have had out in the field and explaining to them how important it was for the recent converts to receive the gospel they gave me a referral for one of their neighbours. I was so happy to know that the spirit guided the conversation in such a way that it would compel someone to take a huge leap of faith with a friendship of theirs and to express their love for them by giving the missionaries a referral. Whether or not the people would accept the missionaries is another story but I know that because of the effort they showed, in giving a referral, they will be blessed. So I was a Elder Visitor Center missionary for the day and it ended up being a cool day. The next day Elder Wilcox came in as my new companion. He is from Florida and is pretty different from Elder Hodell but I have hopes that it will still be a good transfer. Anyways we didn't get too much done during the week because of meetings and preparations for the zone but it was still a good week. We visited Ruth and had a great lesson with her about the baptismal covenant. We went over it with her and explained the promises that she made at baptism. It was amazing to see how her countenance began to glow as we explained the promises that she made would bring her certain blessings. It was almost as if she had seen the light at the end of the tunnel but I don't think that she took it that way. As we invited her to watch General Conference she gave the usual response that she would try. After the lesson it made me think of how personal revelation works, or in other words how we receive answers to our prayers. Over my mission I have learned that we must do everything that we can, meaning studying, praying, fasting, the usual church answers and make the decision. THEN we ask if that is OK with the intent of following through with the decision we have made. It is so hard for me because I hate thinking that what I might do is wrong and worrying if it will affect someone else but that is how the Lord works. I've thought about most of the recent converts that I have seen on my mission have come because they made the decision to be baptized and after they make the decision they receive the wonderful confirmation from our Heavenly Father. It was certainly the case with me. The main dilemma with this is that it relinquishes control and puts us in a vulnerable place where most are not comfortable but it also puts us in a position where we can receive the most blessings. We also had the opportunity to talk with some less actives that we hadn't been able to contact so we are hopeful that we will be able to find some new people to teach.

The General Conference was amazing. It never ceases to surprise me how inspired they are in giving counsel for our times. Despite a lot of people going through some difficult times the message of service is the perfect remedy for that. I have found that to be true on my mission. When we get down that there are not a lot of people to teach or we go through some difficult times in our persoanl life, the more we work/give service the weight of the burdens becomes light. This is something that the Savior taught, he said: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt.11:28-30) Needless to say this is pretty difficult to do because it doesn't sound logical but the rewards are better than we can ever imagine. Anyways it's funny how much we look ofrward to conference and then how fast it goes by. There were so many rad quotes from the conference, here are some that I remember:

-"Often answers come, not as we are on our knees, but as we are on our feet." President Uctdorf
-"We testify to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that God not only lives, but that He speaks. That for our time and in our day the counsel you have heard [in General Conference] is under the direction of the Holy Spirit - the will of the Lord, the word of the Lord, the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation." "If we teach by the Spirit...and you listen by the Spirit, someone of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal little prophetic epistle just to you." Elder Holland
-"One cannot give a crust to the Lord with out receiving a loaf in return." President Erying

Conference is awsome. Can't wait for the next one in 6 months! Too bad I won't be on my mission for that one but I know that either way there is needed guidance to be received during these special weekends. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to watch this last General Conference and am thankful that the Church is doing so much to help the people where there is much suffering. I know that I couldn't do it on my own but that is the cool thing, the Church Welfare Program is a force of 14 million aiding those who are in need of comfort.

I hope that you all have a wonderful week and that you seek after opportunities to help others. There will be blessings on both sides when we do. Hope all is well.

Elder Leavell

Oh and Johnathan went to the Conference Center in Salt Lake so we are excited to see how he liked it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Give Ear

Monday, March 28, 2011 0
Over this last transfer there are many things that I have learned about things that I want to do with my life, things about life, and things that help me have a better life. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to serve as a missionary for the Lord, there are so many blessings that I have seen come into my life and the lives of others. I know that it isn't possible to serve for more time but if I could I would make the sacrifice of doing so, even with all the difficult times that are encompassed in this missionary experience. I hope that all of you are looking at life in such a way that the positive is brought forth and when the difficult times come that all of you dig deeper into the basics that we have already applied in our lives: prayer, scripture study, and church attendance. There are so many blessings in store to those who are willing to obey and serve the Lord and I hope someday I will be humble enough to do everything that He asks us to do. Not much has happened this week since my companion is going home. He wanted to spend time with the people that he liked to most and it was a wonderful time getting to know the members more and getting to serve them. We had the wonderful opportunity to help the Kellers with the baptism of their oldest son, Grant. If there was anyone who is more outgoing than anyone it would be him. He prepared and gave a talk at his own baptism and it was very well done. The spirit was strong throughout the baptism and it was amazing to see how, despite being young in life and young in the gospel, the gospel can change lives and mold them for the better. It reminded me of my baptism and how I know that through the priesthood power that has been restored to the earth again, we have the ability to perform a baptism under God's name. I have been thinking a lot about that and thinking how great of a responsibility is to honor the priesthood and to obey the commandments that we may bless the lives of others. Also, it has made me think of how important it is to know that the priesthood power is true. This reminded me of a story that I read in the New Testament, as I am reading the entire thing before my mission ends. The story is of Jesus Christ as he is casting out the unclean spirits from lost souls. At this point in time Jesus wasn't very well liked by the Pharisees because of all the things that he had preached by none the less their amazement at the miracles that they had performed pushed their hatred aside. But on one occurrence this wasn't so. As he cast out the unclean spirit they asked themselves,"Is not this the son of David?" In other words they doubted where this power came from. Then it was the Pharisees time to doubt, said they, "This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils." And this is one lesson of how I know that the priesthood power that is in this Church is true. Jesus taught, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." (Matt. 12:24-30). Yes it is a manner of faith but I know, because I have prayed, that this church is the church of God, and I know that I have received an answer that it is true. Because this faith stands for good, whether people would admit it or not, it cannot be of the devil, for that would go against the very purpose of his being. Just as Jesus stated, I state that the devil cannot be against itself. Over this last transfer I have come to know in greater degree that the things of God are not necessarily understood by us, especially through the scriptures. But I do know that when we pray and seek after the things that are righteous, which seeking to know if the priesthood power is true would be one of them, that God will tell us if it is true or not. I know, not just believe, that He is a Being of mercy, of grace, and of knowledge far beyond our own, which would make Him by default the irrefutable Master that guides us all. It is a great leap of faith to gather ones things and go on a limb after something that you cannot explain how you know is true but you know without a shadow of a doubt it is true, but I know that with that faith can bring mighty miracles into the lives as many. That is why there is no greater calling than that of serving as a missionary for the Lord. Seeing people's lives cahnge for the greater, or in better terms, for good; brings no greater joy and I'm so thankful to partake of this Heavenly gift. I have only glimpsed to happiness that I know our Heavenly Father feels for His children when they come unto Him and obey His commandments. As missionaries we stand as witnesses that truth is the daughter of time, just as Gamaliel, a Pharisee said unto the council, "Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." (Acts 5:34-39). As far as people who we are teaching, they are doing well. Ruth is still reading her scriptures and her kids are still energetic as always. Got to play with some bouncy balls with them haha. She has such a great spirit and I know that one day she will come back to church. Hopefully in my time as a missionary. There is also some great news with Annemarie Brown. We went to go visit her and it was an amazing lesson. When we knocked on the door the coolest thing happend, she said, "I have been thinking about you." Right before we got there she was going through all the hymns that she knew for about 2 hours and was thinking about how important the gospel has been in her life. She said that she hadn't read much of the Book of Mormon but was doing a lot with the hymns. It was so awesome to see her light up when she was talking about the hymns and all the things that she remembered. But it doesn't end there. Right before the prayer we invited her to church and she said that she would try her best to this Sunday (didn't make it this Sunday) to make it but she didn't know if it would work with her schedule. The miracle was that she was seriously considering coming. She promised us that next month, seeing that General Conference is next weekend, she would rearrange her schedule so she could come to church. It was great to see the power of the gospel in action. From not wanting to go to now wanting to go. It's awesome! Chino is doing alright. Hasn't been reading but I think after the lesson we had on Sunday with him, he will hopefully read. Sort of had to crack the whip but it is good for him since he doesn't do anything. Brother Beck was out of town this week and so we didn't get the chance to meet with him. We should be meeting up with him on Tuesday. Well I hope that all of you are doing well and are enjoying what you are doing as much as I am. Miss and love you all. Elder Leavell

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reflecting on the Past

Monday, March 21, 2011 0
Another week in the Boo doesn't get any better. I can't believe that somehow I was privileged to come to this area with all these awesome members. It makes me grateful for members and for the opportunity to work with them. I don't know how the early missionaries did it back in the day when there was no one: they were the members. Glad to be living in times where we are not the only ones, there is always a member to support us in any time of need. I hope that all of you are doing well.

Since my companion is going home in the next week and a half it has caused me to think about my mission and things that I have witnessed be accomplished. But something that I have been thinking about a lot is my testimony in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There was a talk given in the Pacific Palisades ward talking about the importance of the Book of Mormon and its central role being Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Over my mission I have read through its pages and prayed to know that it is true and without a doubt it has been a constant, yes. In the talk he mentioned that out of the 6607 verses, 3925 mention Christ. That is about 25% more than the New Testament or, in other words, every 1.7 verses mentions Christ. Now I'm not trying to compare or hinder the power that the Bible has, because I know that it is holy writ, but it amazes me how many think that the Book of Mormon is something about Joseph Smith or someone else, other than our Savior, Jesus Christ. I'm so thankful for being humble enough to read, ponder, and pray of its pages for that is the only way that we can know that these things are true. But more importantly I'm thankful for the guidance that we have received to study everything out and then to ask the Master through prayer. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founds itself on the Savior and by so doing, founds itself on the revelations that we, and our leaders, receive from Him, not solely from His Holy Writ. It's a wonderful message that we as His messengers bare: the Almighty still speaks just as He did in days of old through His scriptures and His spirit. I know of no other Church that teaches, prophesies, and conveys both of these ways of communication with our Father in Heaven who despite having creations without measure still desires to speak with us. Later on during Priesthood one of the brethren, Brother Brazier, spoke of one of the return missionaries that gave a class and bore his testimony of the scriptures. He said that as the return missionary gave the lesson he stopped and spoke of a specific chapter that to him conveyed the divinity of the Book of Mormon. He said, "I promise you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that when you read the seventh chapter in the Book of Mormon and pray to know that its precepts are true that you will feel the spirit every single time." Even when Brother Brazier spoke of that testimony that brother had you could feel the power and the spirit backing every word that he said. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. If anyone wants to learn more about Christ I invite and encourage all of you to read the Book of Mormon and the New Testament and focus on the feelings that you have when reading of its pages. Elder Holland once said of the Book of Mormon, "Love. Healing. Help. Hope. The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times—including the end of times. That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair. That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins, and that is the message with which it ends, calling all to 'come unto Christ, and be perfected in him' (Moroni 10:32)." This is our message, this is our foundation, that the Lord Jesus Christ pleads with us to come unto Him through faith in things that we cannot understand or see but are true so that "All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue [faithfully]."

This week we didn't get a lot of progress with anyone. Ruth wasn't home, even though we tried several times by her house, so we hope and pray that she is continuing to read her scriptures so that one of these days, which will occur soon, she will come back to Church. Chino hasn't been reading at all. We met with him about 4 times this week and had lessons about reading and he still hasn't read. I don't know what happened but I hope that he feels the spirit so that he can come closer unto Christ. He was doing so well. Its not like he is busy because he doesn't do anything all day, so I don't know what's up with that. We did find a new investigator! His name is Silvio. I don't know if I mentioned him before but last fast and testimony meeting he went up to the pulpit and bore his testimony on the example of his roommate who is a member. I have never seen anyone who isn't a member do that but he has guts. Anyways we met with him last Monday and it went great. He doesn't know if he believes in God all the way but he knows that there is someone there. He said that he went to a Catholic and Christian school growing up and has family in all different directions but that he has talked with the missionaries over in Holland with his mom. He is way cool and way funny. So we are hopeful for him. It was a cool experience because he gave some reasons why he hadn't prayed in a long time but as we talked with him he said that he would try. But it wasn't a "I mean it try." Then we went through the steps of prayer, which aren't really steps but whatever and he said "well I already knew those..." Haha he shouldn't have said that. Haha. We then asked him to give a kneeling prayer and he said "uhh..." but that is when the member and us got on our knees and bowed our heads. He then prayed. It was awesome. It was a great prayer if I say so myself. It's great seeing miracles on the mission. There is no place that I would rather be. For reals. I'm so scared to go back home. Luckily I don't have too much time to think about all that stuff. I hope that all of you are doing great. Keep doing what you are doing and choose the right and everything will be ok. I know that blessings do occur more frequently when we are obedient to the commandments of our Heavenly Father.

One last experience this week. We got a call from the Visitor Center to go give a blessing at the Veteran's Hospital and we met the Shaws. They are way cool. The husband has leukemia but surprisingly he is doing just fine, even with the chemotherapy. They said that the nurses were checking up on him very frequently because he isn't reacting to it at all. He was over in Vietnam and interacted with agent orange but has stayed dormant for almost 40 years, when usually it gives problems to people when they are in their 40s, he is in his 60s and hasn't been affected. He believes that it is because his obedience to the Word of Wisdom. I would have to agree. I know that when the Lord commands us to do something that we should do it and not worry about why, but do it. Even if you don't believe in the teachings of the Church, do it anyway and I promise you that you will see blessings like you wouldn't believe.

I love you all and miss you too. Over and out.

Elder Leavell
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