Monday, January 10, 2011

Jolly January

Monday, January 10, 2011
How goes it friends and family? I think that this week has been one of the most eventful weeks in my mission, some good events related to missionary work but some are just me being myself: slow. I'm extremely grateful once to be serving in the area that I am in. It truly is one of the greatest tender mercies that I have seen on my mission. There are so many people that are, per say, "heroes" since their countenances have been made whole through living the gospel of Jesus Christ. They all are examples to me and I know they are examples to all those around them. I wish you all could meet these people but I know that there are people all over the world, members and non-members, who are as close Christ-like that any human can obtain. I only wish I could be such an example as they are. Over the last couple days I have had some really "slow" moments and my companion, Elder Hodell, has done well at rubbing it in. Haha. Before I get into the slow moments that I have had over the last week I want to share an experience that we had as a zone during Fundamentals training this last Friday. Elder Thiriot was giving a training on our purpose as missionaries and it was really good, the spirit could be felt, the normal missionary meeting. All of the sudden we see a hand, then another hand, then two more hands, coming through the curtain. We all freaked out and didn't know what to think. It ended up being two Sister missionaries who needed some keys and the whole building was locked so they had to go through the window. It was way freaky. The spirit died but it was ok, it was a little comic relief. Ok, onto me. The other day I thought that I saw a car with a Christmas tree standing vertical on top while driving. Naturally, I told my companion to look, he did and responded that he didn't see anything, but I told him to look again. Same response. I then responded once more, "How do you not see the Christmas tree that is standing vertical on the top of..." As I was going to finish the sentence we go the green light and the cars began to move. I then noticed I had a "slow" moment. There was a great big pine tree positioned perfectly behind us that made it appear that it was a Christmas tree on top of the car. It was a humbling experience. This is only the beginning of my experiences that have brought more humility in my life. On Wednesday, we had a service activity at a Senior home. We wheelchaired some Senior Citizens to the Santa Monica Farmers Market, which was only a block away. I met this guy named Bob, he was the only one with an electric wheelchair, it was sick. Apparently, as a zone, we go and do service for them so it was cool to see how many look forward to our visits (if only that happened with everyone). Bob was way cool, we talked a lot and had a good time just looking around, since he didn't want anything. On our way back he sped up his wheelchair to get across the crosswalk and then I slowed it down for him when we go to the sidewalk. Then the craziest and most embarrassing moment happened. I turned around for one second and then BOOM. I turned around and he hit the building that was on the corner. He ended up breaking his wheelchair and it was really embarrassing since I looked like a bad care taker. Luckily it was the wrong leg rest for the chair so he was getting a new one the very next day but still not cool. The final embarrassing experience was on Sunday. We were getting back home to get numbers from the Sisters for the week. We stopped the car three blocks from our house since some Sisters had called early. We were talking and then all of the sudden the car died. Out of all the things that could have happened to us it was that. Our battery died and we had to push the car for over a block since we were in the middle of the alley way and the cars couldn't get by. These two guys drove by and told us that one of us needed to be on the side with the window open. TOO BAD THAT THE WINDOWS ARE BATTERY OPERATED. They were totally smoking weed and we could smell it like crazy when they drove by. Got to love Los Angeles and all the people that smoke like crazy.

Onto some more serious notes. On Tuesday, we were going to have a lesson with Mike but he ended up cancelling due to some schooling challenges so we rescheduled for the next day. The lesson went great with him. Matt Boulsog, from the UCLA Student Ward, came with us and he was a great help for us during the lesson. As we were getting to know him we noticed that he didn't really believe that we have a loving Heavenly Father that is willing to do, literally, anything and everything for us during this mortal existence. He said that he had a clue that there was a God since science can't prove everything, creating a limit. It was really cool to see how his faith grew during the lesson, whether he felt it or not, and we are very hopeful for him. He wants to get baptized (kept asking during the lesson about how to join the church) but I felt like there was something strange so we asked him how he ended up meeting with us. It truly was inspired to ask such a question, if we hadn't we would have committed him to baptism and never known that it might be for the wrong reason. Mike has had a difficult life, partially because of the choices he has made. He got a really good job at an early age but noticed that he had been secluding himself from everyone and noticed that his friends were slipping away. That is why he came here to Los Angeles: for a new scene. He knew some members of the church before but didn't really think much about it but ended up going to the Visitor's Center because he wanted to see if he could meet some new friends. He said that is the reason why he wanted to come. Luckily we were able to discuss that our Heavenly Father expects a commitment out of us when we make that covenant of baptism but that the Church is there as a support. He has a lot of self confidence problems and so he wants something that can sustain him through all the trials of life. It really is a miracle that he decided to go to the Visitor's Center because he said it was just out of mere chance that he picked to go to this church. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ will give him that confidence because it gives us all confidence and hope for better things that are not seen. We look at trials in a new way, since we know that they are for refinement, which is ultimately for our own good. Mike came to church this last Sunday and he seemed to really enjoy it. On Sunday we had a baptism. Carlos finally got baptized. It was awesome. I could only stay for half of it because I had to go to the UCLA Student Ward but it was awesome to feel the spirit that way again. Elder Correa, Karen-sita (played the guitar), and I sung Teach Me to Walk in the Light. During the baptism it was awesome. The spirit was totally there. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to witness the baptism of another child of our Heavenly Father. I know that His joy exceeds ours since we don't fully comprehend the love and the total importance that it has on our lives. There are so many blessings that we would be without the gospel of Jesus Christ and there are so many things that we will receive after we follow in the foot steps of our Savior Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate Teacher and Master of all. I'm so grateful to be a member and to be able to partake of the sacrament weekly and to renew my baptismal covenant and to be made clean. I have taken it for granted a lot and after learning some more about it during priesthood two Sundays ago, I hope I will be able to maintain a drive to "always remember Him" so that I "can have His spirt to be with" me. It's crazy to see how slow I am sometimes. I wish that I would have known all the things I know now so that I would be able to avoid all the horrific things that the world has to offer. I have come to know more and more that the only way is the gospel way, which has been paved by our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Maybe I'm too hard on myself but it is true, I wish I would have known better or should have said lived better. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and I hope that I will be able to maintain the drive and motivation to keep enduring to the end. I know it will be hard but it is so worth it in the long run, since there really is no other way.

I read this quote the other day that I really enjoyed. It's from President Erying, it says: "We cannot see the future with precision, but we can know what the Lord intends and what it will take [for] each of us to qualify personally to participate.” Thought that was a very wise remark and that it is definitely true in our lives. I hope that you all have a wonderful week full of tender mercies of the Lord. It truly is the greatest blessing to serve a mission for the Lord, I'm so grateful for this adventure, despite the downs that happen. I love you all and miss you too. I'll send some pictures next week: forgot the cable :)

Elder Leavell

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