Hola My Dearest Familia!
Oh happy day that I have a keyboard with an exclamation point! That literally was torture last time. Well, there are a thousand things to tell you all, and last week´s letter was an absolute disaster. So I´ll try and make it more organized this time!
Okay, well first I want to tell you about the amazing people we are teaching right now. But before that, I need to tell you about ARGENTINES in general, so you can kind of picture the kind of people that I get to eat with, mingle with, and live with every day of my life. So Argentines. They are the most charming, fascinating group of people in the world. Physically, you can´t describe them because Argentina is just like the U.S. in that it´s an absolute melting pot. Well I take that back. Almost EVERYONE is shorter than me, so I definitely stand out, plus my hair is pretty unusual. So there are lot´s of American looking people, lots of darker-skinned people, and the one thing they have in common is that they´re all delightfully flamboyant. They are all kind of theatrical in the way they talk and tell stories (So you can see why the little story teller in me just absolutely adores these people.) and all of them have VERY loud voices. If you were here listening to them talk, you would think that you´re listening to Italians because their voices go up and down just like the Italians in the movies. Buenos Aires really is like the South American version of some big European country. Everyone is very proud to be Argentine, but at the same time, they´re not America-haters. In fact, all of the youth, while they make fun of my Castillano and my American accent, totally love the American culture and think I´m somehow cool. Little do they know. :)
Anyways, that doesn´t even come close to doing them justice, but I hope you´ll get a better sense throughout my next hundred letters. So right now, we are teaching the most amazing woman named Amalia. Amalia is 82 years old and moves around like she´s 25. She´s absolutely determined not to grow old, and is somehow succeeding. Hermana Castillo and her last companion found Amalia a week before I arrived as she was walking home with her groceries (everyone here walks) and offered to help her. We´ve been teaching her ever since, and it´s as if Amalia has been waiting all her life to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. She LOVES the Book of Mormon and just pours over it every night. She soaks up the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it was a special moment when we started teaching about the Plan of Salvation and before we could even get started, she asked, "Where´s my husband right now?" As representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, we were able to testify to her that her husband is in the Spirit world right now and will have the opportunity to accept the same Gospel that she is accepting right now. The Holy Ghost bore testimony to her that what we were saying was true, and she said, "I feel so happy right now. I feel the truth in my heart. I can´t explain it, but I feel it in my heart." Amalia is going to be baptized on the 29th of September and I´m so excited for her.
We have been blessed to be led to many more people who are willing to listen to our message. Well, I should restate that. MANY people are willing to listen to us because that´s just how the people are. They are kind and loving and would love to have two nice girls come in for some matte. ( I probably have to turn down matte 5 times a day) But not everyone is willing to make commitments, and so we keep walking, keep teaching, and keep inviting. This past week we have had probably 4 or 5 lessons with families where the parents are living together but aren´t married. So I can already see that that´s going to be a challenge in helping people prepare for baptism. The thing is that it´s just not seen as bad here. It´s totally normal. Anyways, Amalia is really the only investigator right now who is progressing towards baptism.
The work here is so fun and SOOOOO different from the work back in Spokane. And I had always imagined it as something like Dan´s mission in Paraguay. But it really couldn´t be more different. At least where I´m working right now. Oh I never told you! My area is called San Justo and we are within the greater region of Ramos Mejia (so relatively close to the mission office which is a bonus!) And we are in a city. Not a city as in "Highland is a city" but a city as in I kind of feel like I´m in New York. Except it´s like 20 thousand times better because everybody´s friendly and nice! I told you, I was BORN for this place! The driving is absolutely insane, and even though tons of people walk, the streets are always packed with cars and non-stop honking. Everyone travels by colectivo (I'll get to THAT subject in a second) and then walks. So remember how I like crowds? Well every day is like a dream come true for me because there´s always crowds! For example, right now outside the open door (it´s getting warm now, hooray!) there´s just a huge crowd of people walking down the street, shopping in all the little stores (all the shopping here is done in specific stores for specific items. For example, we would buy our meat at a butchers, our bread in a panaderia, our fruit in a fruteria, our vegetables in a vegaduria and so forth. It´s so charming and so different!)
For a missionay, this atmosphere is totally different from what I´m used to. In Washington it was a happy day to find 10 people in the street to talk to. Here, there is no way on this earth that we could talk to everyone on the street. But we still try, and it is so fun! We invite everyone to come to church and here our message. So instead of 10 people each day, we end up talking to like 60 or 70. It´s a totally different life here, but I love it and I most of all love being a MISSIONARY in Buenos Aires. I really can´t believe it, it seems to good to be true.
I love the gospel of Jesus Christ because it gives me hope and it brings hope to these beautiful people around me. And with this hope, no matter what trials come our way, we can smile. The restored Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us reason to SMILE!
I love you all so very much and I´m so grateful for your love and support!
Love, Hermana Leavitt
I was going to make a list of the ten things I love most about being a missionary in Argentina but alas, the time is almost up. So I´m just going to have to do 1 each week, :) So for this week . . .
What I love about Argentina: THE MEMBERS
I really can´t describe to you how amazing these people are. But I´ll just let you know that I am beyond taken care of. We never go a day without eating a huge lunch at a member´s home, and they´re usually other members complaining that they didn´t get on the list this week. My first week, I didn´t have a pillow in the apartment and we went to this member family home and the dad was like, "Sister Leavitt, do you have a pillow? I make pillows for a living." It was like a miracle, and when I told him no, he ran into the back room and brought out a beautiful, fluffy, packaged pillow! This family is far from rich, and I felt bad taking it, but these people delight in giving and sharing. It´s a part of their culture. He wouldn´t take no for an answer. One woman in our ward insists on washing and IRONING our clothes. Basically, they are the kindest, most giving people on the planet who really understand the second great commandment. Love your neighbor. I love these members so much it´s almost bringing tears to my eyes thinking about it. So Mom, you can rest easy at night knowing that dear Argentine moms who are just like you are taking good care of your daughter. :)
Preview for next week . . . What I love about Argentina: The colectivos!