Monday, May 2, 2011

Flash from The Past

Monday, May 2, 2011
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 LDS.org 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


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