Monday, March 7, 2011

Week Full of Surprises

Monday, March 7, 2011
Where do I begin? There are so many interesting things that have happened it's crazy. Normally they happen every once in awhile but I think that something crazy happened every day this week; I like it, keeps things interesting. I hope that all of you are having a great week and I hope to hear from you soon. Crazy to think that Cameron is back, I remember when he got his call. Nuts. Glad to hear that he is well and served well. I'm sure he knows Spanish better than I do. I'll probably be the one asking him how to say things in Spanish from now on.

I want to first start off with something that happened to us on Sunday. After the Pacific Palisades Ward we went off to the UCLA Ward on Pacific Coast Highway and for some reason there is always traffic. Anyways as we were stuck in traffic, waiting, all of the sudden a green car flies past us, probably going around 60, in the divider lane. The person almost hit another car that was turning but everything seemed to be OK. As we pulled up to the second light, Elder Hodell said that he thought he saw smoke but I blew it off because there is a lot of fog there during that time of the day because the ocean water is getting hotter. Never hot. We started driving again and got stuck because all of the cars were switching over to our lane. Elder Hodell made the joke that it was probably that guy who flew past us. He ended up being right. The car was flipped over and he hit 3 other cars and there was parts of the cars everywhere. It was crazy. The weird thing was that we didn't hear it when we were so close. It didn't seem that anyone got hurt but it was still crazy to see how crazy things can get over here. Moving on Monday we had dinner with some members from the UCLA Ward, the Aldens. They are some of the coolest members that I have met on my mission. Let me first start off with a story that goes along with meeting up with them. For Elder Hodells birthday, most of the Elders in the Zone (which are few) and us went to Fatburger and tried the XXXL Burger challenge because my companion is a health nerd. Its cool with me because I have gotten in better shape and am moving forward instead of backwards. Anyways we all did it and finished it. By the end of the burger it started getting gross, despite it being way good, probably because it was a 2 pound burger. We finished none the less but we did not want to eat the rest of the day. Going back to the Aldens, my companion had the bright idea to jynx us by saying "I bet you that the Aldens are going to make us burgers." I wish that he wasn't right at that time. I think for the first time in my entire mission I didn't want to eat something that the members had prepared for us. Luckily they were vegi burgers but still it took a lot to eat it. As we were talking Sister Alden mentioned that her Mom lives over in the Palisades but that she was inactive and so we probably didn't know her. Turns out that she is the daughter of one of the less actives that we have been trying to contact. She was excited, just as we were because her Mom had mentioned that she wanted to go back to Church since her trip to Taiwan. Then as we started talking they mentioned that they were in a band, that in my opinion is a pretty good band. Their band name is Flying Paper Figures. Look them up on YouTube and watch their music video, way tight. So it turned out to be a good dinner and I'm grateful that we got to meet them. We met up with Cedric again this last week and sadly he is for sure going back to China. He said that he read everything that we gave him and was excited to learn more. We talked about the Book of Mormon and answered a bunch of his questions, he is so cool. It's too bad that he is moving because he would have been a great addition to the UCLA Ward. When we finished the lesson we ran to the mission home and got him a Book of Mormon in Chinese and ran back to give it to him. I jumped out of the car to give to him and right when I handed it to him, he opened it and started reading. Gosh dangit I wish he wasn't moving. The next day I had the opportunity to go on splits with Elder Muir and also took Elder Uribe with me. It was definitely a different experience, not my favorite but it goes with the job description. Haha. We visited Ruth that day and she was a little turned off by the two new guys but we had a good, short lesson on Captain Moroni. She is still reading her scriptures and said that she had been praying, so it's only a manner of time that she will be coming back to Church. We are both praying really hard for that day to come soon. She is such an amazing lady and her kids are way cool. The husband is shy but I know that when he meets some members that he will be more than OK because there are a lot of members who do the same thing that he does. Alright, now for Chino/Jonathan. He hasn't really progressed that much. He is still interested but he is having some minor bumps in the road, especially with prayer. I think that we have found some of the consequences of the families divorce. He hasn't really said it but it is obvious when we talked about how we have a loving Heavenly Father. I feel for the kid, since he hasn't ever had a Father figure in his life, and now we are trying to help him have a spiritual one. It won't be easy for him but I know that he has enough faith to pray to know that he is there. He is such a humble kid willing to listen and to do the things that the Lord has commanded us. There is also another fear that he has and that is commitment, probably a side affect of the divorce as well. This part he did mention. He said that he is scared to pray because he knows when he receives an answer that he will have to follow through and do the things that he asks. It's a little comical because since he already knows that he needs to do them, he is now accountable for the things that he isn't doing. He ended up going to the Spanish ward this Sunday, so hopefully he enjoyed it over there. We are debating on giving him to the missionaries who cover our area in Spanish since he doesn't speak much English but since his family goes to the English one, and aren't planning on switching, it makes things a little difficult. It's really amazing to see how the Lord prepares His children to receive the gospel that He has established here on the earth. Of course, He didn't say that it would be easy, but He said that it would be worth it. There are so many blessings in store for everyone that is willing to accept the things that the Lord asks of us but we got to do something about it, can't wait and expect Him to give it to us because that would interrupt our agency. I have learned and witnessed that so much on my mission.

The other person that I want to talk about is Alan Beck. He has been investigating the Church for about 5 years now and been going more consistently than some of the members. I probably have mentioned him before but it still surprises me that he has had callings. Haha. It's crazy. He is way solid and I can't believe he hasn't gotten baptized. We had dinner with them yesterday and it was great. He made us some great steak and we helped him move some things in the house. Before we left we decided to talk about something that I had been reading about in the scriptures: simplicity. It all started because I read the scripture in 1 Nephi 17 where it talks about Moses and the gold serpant and how the Isrealites didn't look etc. Anyways we talked about how simple the gospel, obey and receive. Of course, obey is where the test lies but the concept is easy. Plus we have the atonement which makes up for everything that we mess up on and repent. He expressed some concerns about how he didn't feel that he was ready but as we continued to discuss how important it was for him and his family, he finally commited to pray about a date! We are so excited for him. The whole ward will be so excited for him, we just can't tell anyone. I know that this will the best decision that he will ever make. I'm so thankful that I was able to share some experiences that I had, as well as my companion, that helped him get to the point where he is right now.

I hope that all of you remember that the Lord is always on our side and that He loves us, as well as our Heavenly Father. There is no greater knowledge that needs to be known expect for that. I love you all and hope to hear from you soon. Till next week.
Elder Leavell


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