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
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