Hermana Leavitt's Adress

Argentina Pouch:
Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission
50 E. North Temple
PO Box 30150
Salt Lake city, UT 84130-0150

Hermana Elise Leavitt
Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission
Ballesteros 1076
1706 Haedo
Buenos Aires
(Check buenosaireswest.blogspot.com for specifics on packages; it's a little tricky!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring at the MTC

So life here is amazing.  Spring is here and I love it so much because my Hna. Andreason and I spend as much time outside as possible: personal study, language study.  It's the best.  Outside of class, I've been pretty busy with choir practices for General Conference and memorizing music.  Oh and speaking of that, we're singing in the Saturday afternoon session, I'll be wearing a turquoise shirt, and knowing me I'll probably be on the back row. :)  I am so excited for this opportunity and just for General Conference in general when we get to listen to a prophet's voice!  I'm also really busy with this piano accompanying thing! At every MTC devotional and fireside on Tuesdays and Sundays there's a special musical number and missionaries audition to perform for the numbers.  Lately I've been having a lot of singers who need an accompanist, so it can be kind of overwhelming but once again, Heavenly Father blesses me to be able to play without much practice so it all works out!  And plus I LOVE that my life is just filled with music!  It's such a blessing. 

Learning the language has been going really well. Our district continues to have "Speak Your Language" days, and we're all getting better and better!  The other day we had TRC (which is different from when we teach our two normal investigators, Elias and Arturo.  TRC is when you just go once a week and teach volunteers who aren't acting as anyone else.  They're just themselves, nice little BYU Mormons. But of course, you teach in Spanish, usually to returned missionaries.)  Anyways, Hna. Andreason and I were so blessed because we got to teach two girls FROM Buenos Aires! When we first walked in, we had some introductions, and I just assumed they were two girls from Utah attending BYU.  They both looked completely American/ European, tall TALL, slender, beautiful girls.  But then they found out where we were going on our mission, they got really excited.  I assumed they had served their missions in Buenos Aires, but then they repeated themselves in Spanish, and I was like, "Oh my gosh!  You're FROM there!"  They were so helpful with our Spanish, and it was crazy to hear a real Argentine accent.  Unlike anything I've ever heard in my life.  I'm so so excited to get to Argentina so I can meet more wonderful people like them, beautiful people inside and out.

I am learning so much about teaching here, and how important it is to have the Spirit.  But I also learned a really wonderful thing about what that really means, "having the Spirit."  It's easy to get a little overwhelmed here becuase you hear day in and day out, "TEACH BY THE SPIRIT, TEACH BY THE SPIRIT." And some times you want to yell out, "What does that even mean?!"  And then you hear all these stories about how these two missionaries were teaching and the Spirit just hit them like lightning and told them to share this story or make this invitation.  And you think to yourself, "Why hasn't that happened to me?" I was really struggling with this the other day when one of the ZRTs (they're like wandering teachers who just go around and help all of the missionaries in one zone with their teaching and Spanish.  That's another thing I love about the MTC, there are SO many people here to help you learn and grow.  They definitely don't hold back on employees here, missionaries are blessed with so many wonderful resources because this work is so important.) 

Anyways, he sat down to see how things were going, and I told him my concerns that I wasn't having these huge, intense moments where the Spirit was like slapping me in the face.  He sat for a long time thinking, and then he gave me the most beautiful advice.  He said, "Hermana Leavitt, the Spirit very rarely works that way.  You hear those stories because they're rare.  Do you think you have you felt the Spirit before?" I responded of course. He asked me what it felt like, and I said I felt peaceful and happy. Then he taught me. "Well, if that's what the Spirit feels like, then what's happening when you feel peaceful and happy during a lesson? Because I'm sure you've felt that way at times during your lessons."  And thus I learned that the Spirit truly does speak with a still, small voice, I just need to practice recognizing that voice when it comes.  I think if we all did that, we would realize that Heavenly Father sends us His spirit to teach us and comfort us much more often than we ever realize.  That was ONE of the many lessons I learned this week. :)

Anyways, I'm really out of time, so I've got to run.  But I love you all so SO much and I'm so grateful for your support!  I love being a missionary for Jesus Christ more than anything in the world! Love you!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beautiful, Simple Truths

Well life here at the CCM (MTC) is amazing as usual. There is going to be an MTC choir at General Conference and I GET TO SING IN THE CHOIR!! I'm so incredibly excited it's not even funny. 

I never realized how truly wonderful and simple the doctrines are and how intricately interwoven they are with each other.  "Preach My Gospel" is the most amazing resource in the world, and it is quite literally modern-day scripture.  Every Latter-day Saint should read that book to gain more insight into this Gospel.  I've learned that the truly great teachers and gospel scholars in the church are the ones who are able to teach the things that we believe SIMPLY because the Gospel of Jesus Christ truly is simple, but sometimes we let ourselves complicate it.  I think it's so fascinating that here at the training center for the Lord's missionaries we learn about the things that we've been learning since we were Sunbeams in Primary.  Not deep, confusing doctrine, but beautiful, simple TRUTH.  It's the most thrilling adventure in the world. 

Spanish is coming along marvelously! Yesterday our district had "HSI" Day ("Hable Su Idioma" or "Speak Your Language") where we only speak Spanish for the whole day.  We all wear these cute little tags that we made, under our nametags and we spend the day as Spanish speakers!  It's extremely hard but surprisingly REALLY fun, especially since everything is ten times funnier in Spanish.  Even the lamest joke is hilarious, so we had a really good time. It's really exciting when you start saying certain things without even thinking about it in English beforehand.  Don't get me wrong, most of the time I have to think really hard before I can say something in Spanish, but I love learning new words and grammar rules every day and using them in my conversations. I truly feel Heavenly Father's loving hand helping me learn both Spanish and the Gospel better than I ever possibly could on my own! 

That's been my favorite part about being here.  Is basically having Him with me all the time.  I can't count the number of conversations I have with my Heavenly Father in a given day about everything that's going own.  I've come to realize that I need His help so very much, but as long as I'm worthy and I ask, He's there with me.  So I just ask all day every day and He's always here.  It's a pretty neat deal! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Love Being a Missionary!

Okay, so to start, this week has been incredible.  Full of SO much learning and alot of growing.  To begin with, something very exciting happened.  I told you last time about an investigator that we have been teaching since our second day in the MTC.  His name is Samuel (said in a Spanish accent) and he is so great.  We have been teaching him every day and have really come to love him as we've grown together, learning about Jesus Christ and how we can all come unto him.  It's crazy how attached you get to these investigators even though you know they're just MTC employees.  I used to mock the other missionaries in my first few days when they would talk about their investigators as though they were real people.  But now I understand.  You really start to see them as precious children of God that they are and you find yourself constantly thinking about them and how you can help them more or what they need to hear in this particular lesson that will bless their life specifically.

ANYWAY, we taught Samuel for about two weeks, and then my teacher told us that we wouldn't be able to teach him anymore.  I was so sad because I felt like we were really getting somewhere with Samuel (even in our broken Spanish.)  My teacher also had told us the very first day that we actually have two teachers, but we wouldn't meet our other teacher until about two weeks into our time here.  . We stopped teaching Samuel, and the next day were anxiously waiting in our classroom to meet our second teacher, Hermano Howard, when who walked in? SAMUEL!! It was the craziest thing to see him in Sunday clothes and see him as a regular MTC teacher because to me he is and will always be Samuel.  I almost cried when he walked in, and my class laughed at me the entire first week that Hermano Howard taught us because I COULD NOT stop calling him Samuel.  It was like I had given all my heart to this little investigator and now he came to class every day as my teacher!  It was freaky and weirded me out for a while, but now I'm getting used to seeing him as Hermano Howard and not as Samuel. 

In other news, I love Spanish . . . so very much.  I never realized what a beautiful language it is, especially Castillano (pronounced kas-tee-shawn-o).  It is the "accent" that the Argentines have, and all the returned missionaries who served in any Spanish speaking country other than Argentina make fun of the accent mercilessly, but it is literally the most beautiful thing ever.  I love it so much and I love speaking it.  My Branch President who served in Argentina calls is the Spanish of the gods. Haha! We get made fun of but we speak Castillano all the time because that's how the Argentines speak and we're going to be Argentine very soon. Makes sense right?  My favorite thing is praying in Spanish.  It has such a reverent, respectful feeling to it, and I get chills every time I say a prayer in Spanish, which is VERY often. So Spanish is great. 

Another thing I love about being here is the music.  No one here is too cool to sing, especially when there's 2,000 other strapping missionaries around you during devotionals singing with all their hearts.  Singing "Called to Serve" in that setting is one of my favorite things ever, and then you always hear people singing hymns in their mission language all across campus.  It's wonderful.  My very first day at the MTC, we went to an orientation and the opening song was "We'll Bring the World His Truth."  But I was completely taken off guard when were singing and instead of the singing the line, "and we will be the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth!" the entire huge group of missionaries sang at the top of their powerful voices, "We are as the Army of Helaman,  We have been taught in our youth.  And WE ARE NOW the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth!!!" I got chills all over and was never more proud to be a representative of Jesus Christ as we are all moving out across this big earth to bring the simple, beautiful truths of His gospel to our brothers and sisters.  It truly is a magnificent work, and it's hard not to be happy when you are engaged in such a way every waking hour of your existence. 

I also get to play the piano a lot, which makes me so happy.  One of my roommates, my dear Hermana Cahoon has the voice of an angel (like she will literally be famous one day) and wanted to try out for a musical number.  They have musical numbers at every big devotional and fireside, but it's very competitive.  Anyways, she asked me to accompany her, and we just tried out a few days ago and we are going to be performing at a devotional in April!  I'm really excited because all of the missionaries in the whole MTC will get to hear her sing.  After we performed, the lady that judged us (who is the MTC President's wife and a concert pianist) asked me to be one of the four MTC accompanists!  So I am now an official MTC accompanist!  I'm very excited about it and the Lord has definitely been blessing me with an ability to sight-read and play that is not my own.  It's crazy how He qualifies us for the work we are called to do. 

Anyways, that's all I have time for today.  I love you all so very much and I am so happy to be doing the Lord's work.  Jesus Christ lives, He loves us more than we can ever understand, and this is His true church upon the earth today.  I know this with all my heart and I love being a missionary!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Life at the MTC!

Well life here at the MTC is fantastic as always.  And I'm not just saying that so that you guys don't worry about me or anything.  It really is a fantastic place for anyone to live.  The very first days that I was here I noticed that everyone here just rocks at life.  We all do the things that we tell ourselves we should be doing in normal life. We run every day, write in our journals every day, study the scriptures every day, get eight hours of sleep every day.  It's just the best.  And it's not because we're like all amazing people who rock at life, but the MTC just expects that of you and is a place where you can be that way.  Anyways, you asked what my schedule is like every day, what a normal day would be like, so I'll tell you!

I wake up at 6:20, get ready, and we head downstairs to our classroom for daily planning.  I made that sound like it's no big deal, but it's quite a big deal for me. I'm still working on getting used to this time limit thing, not having nearly as much time to do little things as I'm used to.  I've even had to learn how to floss faster!  So I'm always in a rush in the mornings, but I'm getting better. :)  We plan, then we go to breakfast.  Oh and I never told you about the famous MTC food, (or infamous depending on who you talk to.)  It's really not that bad, I just eat cereal and wraps for every meal. :)  We always eat as a giant zone and it's so much fun (a zone is like 4 or 5 districts, and they become like your family. They're also your ward.)  I absolutely love our zone for so many reasons.  First, our branch presidency (which is the 3 men and their wives who are over our zone) have VERY high expectations, especially concerning obedience.  You learn in coming to the MTC that many missionaries aren't as obedient as you think they are.  Really it's shocking sometimes.  But that does NOT fly with our branch presidency, so our zone definitely stands out as the obedient group.  And consequently, we are blessed to be the most united, tight-knit group.  I seriously love all of the elders in our zone SO much (me and my three roommates are the only sisters in the entire zone.)  Anyways, so after breakfast, we usually have gym. Oh my goodness, gym.  It is definitely one of my favorite things ever, and that is NOTHING compared to how much the elders love gym.  It is the cutest thing in the world to see 40 boys running to the gym 10 minutes before their gym time even starts, but they just want to get every minute of it.  I usually run and then go down and play volleyball with our zone.  It is so fun and such a good stress relief.  And we are really blessed to have wonderful, nice facilities to use.  We really are spoiled here.  After gym we might have language study, or class depending on the day.  Then it's lunch, more class, more personal study or language study, dinner, more class, and then bed at 10:30!  I realize that it sounds kind of boring, but it is actually so fun and the day is over before you realize it. 

Sundays are absolutely INCREDIBLE.  We get to go on a walk to the temple, relax a little, go to choir practice (which is so fun and uplifting) and then there's always a fireside with a really cool speaker.  Except this past Sunday? Funniest thing ever.  Alex Boye came to do the fireside, and I was basically shaking my head in embarrassment the whole time.  He's literally insane, but the elders LOVED it and there were definitely some inspiring parts.  Tuesdays are fantastic also because 1) It's p day and 2) there is a fantastic devotional (and choir practice) on Tuesday nights.  Our first Tuesday in the MTC, guess who came to speak to us.  ELDER HOLLAND!! It was the most exciting thing in the world as 2,200 missionaries suddenly stood when he entered the room during our opening hymn.  He gave THE most powerful talk as he stood at the pulpit practically shaking with the intensity of what he was saying.  I was blown away. 

OK, so I felt really silly because I started telling you what I love about the MTC, and I never even got to the good stuff!  You probably think I'm this shallow hermana just partying up at the MTC.  But seriously, one of my favorite things has been teaching.  The third day we were at the MTC, we got our first investigator, Samuel (said in a Spanish accent.)  He only speaks Spanish, so it was very intimidating to teach him in a language that we barely know.  But the more we taught him, the better it got, and my companion and I are really learning to teach as a team.  I absolutely LOVE Samuel with all my heart, and it was so exciting to see him accept the gospel into his life.  We now have two more investigators, Arturo and Elias, and so all of our study time and language time are geared towards meeting their needs in lessons.  It is literally incredible how even though we speak terrible Spanish Heavenly Father's spirit is in every lesson and we come away SO uplifted.