Monday, February 28, 2011

Check Yourself before You Wreck Yourself

Monday, February 28, 2011 0
Dang there are many things that I'm grateful for this week. There are so many things that have happened this week and it has gone by so fast. I think it's because my comp is going home that the weeks are going by faster and faster and I don't like that. I really don't want my mission to end. It is definitely the best experience in the world and there is nothing that can compare to it. I hope that all of you are having a wonderful time and that you are all enjoying yourselves. There are many blessings in store for all of you as long as you are obedient to the commandments of our Heavenly Father.

Well we had our Zone Conference this last week and it seems like forever that we had one but that is OK. This one was not that much different and there wasn't much that was "new" but it was a good meeting none the less. After the Zone Conference we went to the Sanchez to have dinner and we had the wonderful opportunity to teach Chino. He is way cool. It was interesting to see that he was a lot more open and talkative compared on Sunday where I just interpreted for him and wouldn't say much. We had the opportunity to teach him about the Restoration and how important prophets were in our daily lives. It was surprising to notice how little he knew about prophets and basic gospel principles and stories but it was nice being able to continue to help him by using a picture book (some of the skills from the ASL program that I learned) to explain things in a way that he could understand. We got the whole store about him. He was born here and his parents ended up getting divorced when he was 3 months old because his father was not doing much to support the family, so his mother left for Guatemala to live with her parents and Chino. He said that he never met his Dad but that it hasn't affected him at all since he never knew what it felt like to live with a Dad. Whether or not that is true, I can imagine that there are many things that I could see how that could affect a person. In The Family: A Proclamation to the World we learn of the importance of the family and how crucial and vital are the parental roles of the Father and the Mother. In the Proclamation we learn Fathers "are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families." It continues by stating: "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners." One without the other does not work. While mothers can fulfill the role of the father I cannot imagine the repercussions of not having a father in the home. I'm so grateful for both of my parents and for there righteous upraising and I know that both were necessary and fulfilled certain roles. On Wednesday we ran into the Sanchez while driving on Pacific Coast Highway and met for a couple minutes. Then on Thursday we had the opportunity to take them to the Visitor Center to watch the Joseph Smith movie and he loved it. He said that it made a lot of the things he was confused about, clear and it showed him, through his feelings, that what we believe is true. He also said that he felt chills throughout the movie. I love how the spirit can show the children of our Heavenly Father the principles of the gospel are true and virtuous. I know that when we earnestly seek with a pure heart that we can uncover the mysteries of our Heavenly Father and can be reassured that what we are doing is right. Also, this week we received a referral from the Visitor Center of a Cedric Pan so we went and met with him this week. He is from China and is probably going back (that is the bad news). But he is truly interested in learning more about the Church. He said that growing up in China that all the things were bias and that Christianity didn't exist there. He said that he didn't even know who Jesus Christ was before he came here to the United States from school at UCLA. He ran into some people from a Christian group and came to know Jesus Christ and from what we could observe was following in His footsteps as best as he could. He then met some members of the Church and saw there example and became curious as to what we believed. That is where we met him. Throughout the lesson he was explaining some of the things that he had learned from his christian friends about the church and asked us if we could resolve some of those, most of which were misconceptions of the church. We answered him as best we could and started talking about Joseph Smith and how he became a servant of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He loved it. He was sad that he was probably going to go back to China because he wanted to learn more and do whatever he could to observe the commandments that have been set forth. We assured him that we would do everything we could to help him and we counseled him to pray to know if moving to China was the right thing for him, since he was worried that it wasn't the right decision. I pray and hope that he will be given some more time to learn more of the message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many things in life that we can miss but this one is one that we cannot miss if we are given the opportunity to listen and apply its teachings. I'm so grateful that I was humble enough to listen to the message and test it out to find out that this is something of great worth, especially in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

It was Elder Hodells birthday this last Saturday and it was a wonderful opportunity to see some people that we hadn't seen in awhile because we could use that excuse, per say, to visit them (so we thought). No one was really home and we had planned to be with the Sanchez for most of the day and that fell through. I felt so bad because he was so excited to be with them and it didn't happen until the end of the day. But we took advantage of some time, since we were stuck in Malibu and visited all the people we could visit, to take some pictures. After driving around all day we finally got to meet up with the Sanchez and we ended up meeting at the Hunters home. It was great ad well worth the "suffering" of not having anything to do for an hour or two. We had a ton of fun playing some games and making Elder Hodell have some embarrassing moments. Haha. If only all of you could have been there to enjoy the fun. I will download some pictures, maybe videos if I can so that at least you can enjoy some of the things we enjoyed.

I hope that all of you have enjoyed this last week. I know that there are many things that we can be scared of, because they are unknown or unpredictable, but I know that when we follow the counsel from our Heavenly Father to obey His commandments there is greate safety for us. There is a quote I read that we heard during the UCLA ward that I thought was pretty comical but a true principle of the gospel, it says "check yourself before you wreck yourself." Whether or not we have the same quote to remember to follow the example of the Savior or to do what is right, we have one thing in common and that is we have a common goal and that is to become like our Savior, even Jesus Christ. I love this work, it has certainly helped me become the person that I have wanted to become. I have learned that the words of Elder Scott are true where he says "We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day. Righteous character is a precious manifestation of what you are becoming. Righteous character is more valuable than any material object you own, any knowledge you have gained through study, or any goals you have attained no matter how well lauded by mankind." I love my Savior more than anything and I love that He has established His example through His gospel so that we may return to live with our Heavenly Father and our families forever.

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

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Field is White Already to Harvest

Monday, February 21, 2011 0
Dang I probably say this every time but I can't believe that another week has gone by. The mission is going by way too fast and I certainly don't like it too much. There are so many things that I want to accomplish before the end of my mission and it feels like there isn't enough time. If only I could wish for more time. That would be the dream. I hope that all of you have had a wonderful week this week. It's crazy hearing about people coming back home. Can't believe it.

Anyways I always seem to forget to mention transfers the week before but we had them last week and my companion made me so nervous! Man, he was all worried that he was going to get moved to another area for his last area and was way bummed about it. I tried to keep it cool and not think about it too much. But the Tuesday before the tension was so high until Elder Hodell found the transfer paper in the Zone Leader's apartment right below us. It was great to hear that I would be staying in the area for another transfer. This area is the For sure. All the members are amazing and right now we are being so blessed because the Lord is literally placing people in our path that are interested in learning about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We had 4 investigators come to church this last week and it was amazing. There is really no greater feeling than that of being blessed with the opportunity to teach people something that is so dear to us. I know that through our efforts that the Lord can truly bless His children by helping them come closer unto Him. I have learned so much about the gospel this past week and just as the scriptures say I have a greater desire to share because of the understanding that I have received. I want to first talk about a girl named Kasey Brown. She is Scott Carlston's girlfriend, who is from the UCLA Student Ward. Ends up that lived in Vegas and went to Palo for two years until she moved over here to California where she met Scott. They are both older now, of course, but they both have solid testimonies in Jesus Christ and it's amazing. She comes from a Lutheran home where she has gained a testimony of the Bible and Jesus Christ. After the first lesson we had with her we were a little nervous because of the way she asked some questions on faith and works so we studied like crazy trying to figure out how faith and works fit into the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm so thankful for that opportunity because it has given me a clearer understanding of how one without the other isn't something that could help us come closer to our Heavenly Father. No, we don't keep tally of how many "good works" we do during the week but because of our faith we seek after things that are of "good report." As we returned the next week to have a lesson with her we were prepared but obviously the spirit had some other plans. Her attitude about the Church was completely different and the questions she asked were not attacking but were out of curiosity. It was great to see how the Lord blesses us and it working on His children, always. We bore testimony that there were prophets on the earth and that they are His mouthpiece. The spirit was so strong during that lesson and I know she felt it. She paused and went into some serious pondering. It was awesome. We committed her to read the Book of Mormon again, since she hadn't read, and she seemed more willing to read the words of the prophets in the ancient Americas. I'm so excited for her because I know the blessings are at her fingertips right now.

I had another "Elder Leavell's stupid moments" again this week and I thought I would share it with you. During the lesson with Kasey we were talking about a dozen different topics at the beginning so we could get to know her more. She is an awesome person I might add. Anyways the topic of Scott's mission came up and he mentioned how in his mission the missionaries would sometimes ride horses and visit the Indian reservations about 15 years ago, but when he was there they had a car. He said jokingly that he wished he would have been there at that time. So the genius that I am came out and said "haha those Indians when they saw your car were probably like 'oooooo carrs'" You can laugh right now if you want, we all did. It was funny because my companion, Scott, and Kasey stopped and looked at me dumbfounded. To this day I don't know what got into me. That is by far the dumbest comment that I have made. It was a good comic relief I guess haha.

Going back to how the area is going, I have some good news and bad news. Carlos went back to Guatemala this last Sunday. It stinks. He was way cool and I hope that we will get to see him again one day. That's the bad news. But the good news is that Carlos switched places with this kid Jonathon, his best friend since they were little kids. It's a little weird because he literally switched places but he is a way tight kid. He is a US resident and was actually illegally in Guatemala, so the complete opposite of how it normally is but it works. He had to come back to the United States to keep his residency since he is 18 and hasn't lived in the country for almost his entire life. Doesn't speak a lick of English but I interpreted for him during church and everything turned out great. It's great to have another Latin to work with so that I can work on my spanish. I noticed that it has dropped a little but when I got back in my game I was all good. We are excited to teach him and to have him enter the waters of baptism. He reminds me of how I used to be so the gospel will do wonders for him. He will do great. He is another blessing that I have seen because he came out of no where. Willis came to church again but then left after sacrament meeting so we will try and get him to stay for all 3 next time. Some other good news is that we got to meet with Annmarie again. We caught her at home again and gave her a Book of Mormon. She was so excited to have one again so she could read it. We invited her to pray and during her pray it was very evident that she has had a change of heart and is willing to put herself in a position with more focus on the Church. She is an awesome lady and with her energy she could help the ward a lot. Ruth is also doing great. She has been reading the Book of Mormon still so she is showing signs that her heart has changed as well. Gosh I can't believe how blessed we are right now. I don't deserve it but I'm thankful to be a tool in His hands that He may bless His children. I can't wait to see these people get closer and closer to their Heavenly Father through living the gospel standards. There is no other way to have eternal happiness. I know that to be true.

I love you all and wish you well. Till next week. Over and out.
Elder Leavell

Monday, February 14, 2011

MIracle, after Miracle

Monday, February 14, 2011 0
So I think that this is the first area that I don't want to leave. Not saying that the other areas were bad or anything of the sort but for reals, I don't want to leave this area and I'm hoping that my companion and I will stay another transfer in the area. We finally have things rolling over here and everything is working out great. We have been extremely blessed this week with many miracles and I'm thankful for all of them, even the minor ones. There is a true correlation between obedience and blessings and I know that I will learn that more and more through out my life. I hope that all of you have been doing all you can to prepare to receive all those blessings that I know our Heavenly Father is waiting to give to us, the blessings are innumerable.

This week has definitely been a week of miracles. At church this week in the Pacific Palisades ward we had a walk in and apparently that hasn't happened in a very long time and the guy, Willis, seems to be pretty interested. In my opinion that was the greatest miracle that I have seen occur while my time here in the area. I have never had that experience before and I hope that he continues to have that same desire that he showed us when we meet with him tomorrow. We are both way excited. Going in a little bit more of chronological order, on Tuesday we had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Jennifer and see their horses do their thing. It was pretty cool. They have a sand arena nearby and so we took them over there and the craziest thing happened. The rolled over like dogs. Didn't know that horses did that haha. It was pretty rad. Not going to lie. But it doesn't end there. On our way back Brother Routledge tried to slow the cars down and he noticed one that was going to whip right past them and so he threw his crop (think that is what it's called) and the driver got mad. He drove back and started yelling at him, even though he didn't hit the car, and then threw a bag at the horse while he was on it. Naturally the horse flipped out and he almost fell off. Then the driver zipped past them and didn't notice that it was a dead end so he came back and Brother Routledge tried to stop the car and the one guy ran into to him, then drove off. It was crazy. The cops found the guy the other day and let's just say it isn't going to go too well with him. Epic fail. Anyways the next day I went on splits with Elder Thiriot, crazy how things change on the mission. He is our zone leader and I don't think that I have mentioned before but he lives in the apartment right under us. We had a good day and met with a ton of people that are normally pretty hard to contact. We met with Chantel and had a great lesson at the Visitor's Center. Spirit is always very strong in that building, just have to have the real intent to find it. After that we went to stop by Ruth who is was another miracle that we had during the week. Ruth is an awesome lady. She has 3 boys and a kid on the way and her husband is working a lot so he is hardly home, none the less she keeps it all together. Her husband isn't a member and Ruth hasn't been to church in about 9 years, ever since she moved over to the Palisades. She has admitted that she never really had a strong testimony of the church, ergo, not very active. The week before we had invited her to read the Book of Mormon, the Joseph Smith history section at the front so she could have a better understanding of all that. She hadn't read it sadly. But it was a great opportunity for us to teach the importance of why we read the scriptures and what the blessings are from doing them. The coolest thing happened during the lesson. As we were reading the Introduction to the Book of Mormon, one of her boys asked something and she asked him what he expected to happen and that lead us to asked her what she was expecting to get from reading the Book of Mormon. She thought about it and responded that she hoped to have a stronger testimony of Jesus Christ. We had the biggest smile on our faces since we had just gotten to the last two paragraphs and her hope was one of the promises that those two paragraphs gave. We read it and her face changed to an ecstatic face and she then promised that she would read them and told us to come back on Friday. We failed on that end because we forgot about DDM that was at 3 this week since the Sisters were in the Visitor Center for the morning shift but we went by Saturday and she had the biggest smile. She told us that she had read 3 Nephi 11 and she was happy that she did. We didn't get too much time to talk to her but she was happy. It was awesome. The other miracle that happened during the week was how we got to meet Annemarie Brown, who is a less active in the ward. She is another awesome, interesting lady. She trains German Shepards for a living, tutors a kid that is getting ready for med school and random kids in the area, and she is training her granddaughter who is preparing for the Olympic Horseback riding. How crazy is that? She said that the Olympic Horseback riding President called her and told her that she had to do it because he believed that she would win it even though she was only 16. The crazier part is that her horse is $3.5 million. Didn't know they got that expensive. Speaking of expensive things, she has 3 German Shepards that each cost about $20,000 but they are troopers. She is world renown for training those kinds of dogs since she can train them to do anything-police dogs, army, search and rescue, you name it. She told us of a story of a lady, that had epilepsy, who went to the store and came back and no one was home. That is when she dropped and had an attack and the only being that was there was her dog. She told the dog phone and the dog couldn't find it but somehow connected that she had gone to the store so its probably in the car. The dog managed to get in the car somehow, went to the purse, took out the phone, and brought it back to the lady and saved her life. That must have been nuts. After talking for awhile we noticed that her schedule was a mess and it was a miracle that we met with her because it was a needle in the hay stack. It was awesome.

I'm so thankful to be in the area. I am so happy doing what I'm doing and I hope that all of you enjoy the same. The gospel is true. It brings blessings in our lives that we cannot explain but are true. I love you all and miss you too. Till next week. Over and out.

Elder Leavell

the dog horses

went on a hike today.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Flashes from the Past

Monday, February 7, 2011 0
Dang...I can't believe that another week has flown by, seriously it's scary how fast time is flying by right now and that means less and less time that I have on the mission. No bueno. I think the more time that has gone by it has made me more grateful for the time that I've had to serve others, but that also means the desire to stay has also increased. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to serve, there is truly no other place that I would rather be. This week has been crazy with seeing people that I hadn't seen in awhile and it was great to see them all again. I hope that all of you are enjoying whatever all of you are doing and that you are happy. We are so very blessed to be living in these times where the gospel of Jesus Christ is among us where we can receive blessings that go into the eternities.

The biggest news that I want to share with all of you is that we had the opportunity to see the Blackburns last Friday. I was so excited. We were with the Zone Leaders and they said that I was like a little kid at the candy store. Haha. I probably was. But for reals it was awesome to get to see them again. They are people that I look up to as parents. They look the same, just a little more refreshed (probably well rested) but they still have the same spirit. It was awesome. President Blackburn when he saw me and my companion gave us a HUGE hug and we spent some time catching up. Sister Blackburn wanted to give us hugs too but she didn't. Gosh I miss them so much, even though they were hard on us, they helped us become what we are today: more humble servants of the Lord. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to serve under them. They are the best and I would guess that every missionary would say that about every Mission President but I don't care, the Blackburns are the best. Can't wait to see them after the mission. Anyways on Monday we had dinner with the Hunters and then had FHE with them. It was great. I think that was the first FHE that I have had that was good and not disorganized. You could tell that all the kids were used to it and that they had been doing it for a long time. It was awesome to see that they looked forward to it instead of how I have always seen it, dragging the kids to participate. Oh well. After that we got a call from Bonnie Hiriade saying that she needed to move again. She has moved 3 times in the past month but she is going to back to Sacramento to take care of her mom. It was sort of odd because it was a spur of the moment decision, she had literally decided that morning. But she is a widow so that means we have to do it, at least in my book. I'm not sure if I mentioned Jennifer last week but she is one of our investigators that is somewhat progressing. She is on probation till the end of the year but she said that she could probably end it sooner since she didn't serve a full parole either. She is this real alternative lady who had some drug problems in the past but I think that she hit a time in her life where it finally hit her what she needed to be doing, which lead her to the gospel. It awesome teaching her since she absorbs it like a sponge and tries to apply it that same day. Looking at her you might not thinking that she would be so willing to do anything gospel related but she is just awesome. The only things that I could say are "problems" are, of course, her probation and her smoking and coffee issues. She is trying really hard and said that she has made a ton of progress in getting off of those things so that is good progress, at least. These members she lives with got her some product "Smoke Away" I think and they said that the husband used it and by day 3 he was off of smoking and had no cravings. So the only thing is getting her to commit to using it and we are shooting for Tuesday because that is her Anniversary of being sober from drugs and alcohol. We should be having a party for that so that will be cool. We have high hopes for her. After we dropped by Jennifer's place we went over into the canyon and visited this lady Susan Swenson. Now, a little side note, she is pretty famous in the mission for talking centuries and at first I didn't believe it but were they right. We were there for almost 3 hours and 1 1/2 she was talking. We tried getting out but she said "You didn't give me at least 3 hours...the other missionaries always planned for that." Now we know why. She is this sweet widow that lives in the middle of no where and recently she has had some surgeries so we got to go over there. She has chickens and they are about to have little chicks so that makes it a lot better. Hopefully they will hatch soon. Funny story she said that last year she had some chicks but the hawks ate them haha. Too bad. But I think the more interesting fact is that she has a HUGE dog. Think it's a great palmeranian but it is the size of a pony I think. For reals. It's big. So this week we also had the opportunity to go to the retirement home and wheel the older people around. Got the worst guy. Now I don't like to judge but this guy was crude like no other. I'm not going to quote anything that he says because it's not cool. What made things worse is that we went to the Farmer's Market and he was taking things to eat, saying it was samples. Haha. You should have seen some of the faces that they were giving. Priceless. Finally had to take him back because it was getting bad but an experience none the less. Haha. On Saturday we went to go visit some of the UCLA Ward members thinking most of them would be home since they didn't have class. It was great. We met a couple rad couples like the Cordons, Richs and the Marianos. and two of them are going to give us some referrals! They were all way nice and willing to help out. Something to mention about the Marianos is that they know the Toolsons. It was so cool talking with them about some good friends of mine. Apparently they grew up together so it was epic. We didn't have anyone at church that we had planned on going but we had a little miracle happen during church. The Aldens, from the UCLA Ward, brought a friend that they had mentioned to us to church. It was so rad. So thankful for the tender mercies that our Heavenly Father gives us on a daily basis. Sebastian is big into music and so am I. So I think we will get along. Excited to have another investigator at the UCLA Ward. That ward is sick.

Well I got to go. Talked a little too much. Hope all is well. Love and miss all of you. Till next week.

Elder Leavell

Elder Buzelli is going home.

Everyone meet Dickins

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