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!)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Note from Mom--Just catching up. Kind of fun to see Elise's command of English slipping a bit; does this mean she's thinking in Espanol?

Hi dearest family!

Wow, it feels like I was just barely writing you less than a day ago, and here we are on another Monday.  Crazy how fast the time flies, sometimes it makes me sick when I realize how fast this precious time is whizzing by.  But at the same time, this week has been jam-packed with teaching, walking, meeting new people, and work work work!  

In the last email I mentioned really rapidly that we are working more with some youth right now, which I absolutely love.  And oh my goodness, do we have some amazing youth.   About three weeks ago, we had the greatest blessing of meeting Rosario and Jesus.  They are brother and sister, Rosario 16 and Jesus.  They moved here from Argentina about 2 years ago and are the most adorable tiny people on the planet.  The first time we met Rosi, she talked with us for a while and then said, “Hmmm, I think I would like to be a missionary someday.” And we were like, “Um YES!”  We had a lesson with her and when we talked about baptism she said, ever so calmly and matter-of-factly, “I think baptism would be really good for me.  I have this feeling inside that this is going to a really good year.”  She is incredibly mature and lady like which makes a funny little contrast because she literally looks like she is about ten.  (I’ll have to send pics next time.)  Then we met her brother Jesus, a little more rebellious, but absolutely adorable and super open to our message.  It’s been a roller coaster of lesson after lesson ever since, and after every single lesson, Hermana Castillo and I walk down the street, look at each other with the biggest grins, and the only thing we can say is, “Oh. My. Gosh.” They are just absolutely amazing, and every single lesson there are moments where my heart is about to burst with joy as I watch them grasp hold of a g√≥spel principle. 

For example, after watching the Joseph Smith movie with Rosi, we asked her how she felt about Joseph´s Smith’s experience, and she said, very matter-of-factly once again, “Oh I know it’s true.  I don’t know how, but I felt this weird feeling in my heart during the movie when God and Jesus appeared.  I know it’s true.”  It’s a wonderful contrast teaching both her and Jesus in the same  lesson because they are very different.  Jesus talked a bunch with missionaries back in Peru about four years ago (it was a requirement to go to church if you wanted to play in the church soccer games), and he’s a lot more questioning and wary than Rosi who just embraces everything.  But he reads the Book of Mormon every night and says a prayer every time before reading with a real intent to know, which I admire so much.  Our daily 8:00 lessons with Rosi and Jesus and a member from the ward in their tiny little kitchen are the greatest highlight of my life, and I thank Heavenly Father in every prayer for the blessing of teaching these two incredible people.  They are going to be baptized on Nov. 17!  Oh and in case you're wondering why we haven't taught the mom, she works super long hours, so we have yet to meet her, but this Thursday is the day and we're super excited!  And I forgot to mention that Rosi went to a Super Saturday activity and brought her friend with her; she's a better member missionary than us members!  :)

So needless to say, between my heaven sent companion and dearest Rosi and Jesus, I am in love with Peruvians.  And Argentines of course. :)

Mom, you asked me about the members and ward, and holy cow.  They are incredibly supportive of missionary work and us missionaries. It's something that the San Justo ward is famous for, taking care of their missionaries. We never go day without lunch with the members (even if they don't have time to eat with us they make us come to their house to pick up a "vianda" which is just a huge packed up lunch that we take back to our apartment to eat.)  There are a ton of less-actives in the ward, which is a shame, but I was a personal witness back in Washington to the miracles that missionaries can work with less- active members, and I'm excited to get to work with them.  So every Sunday we have about 80 people in Sacrament Meeting, and it's like a tight little family. Seriously, I never imagined feeling this close to the members in any ward other than my own.  

Ward Council: absolutely hilarious.  These ward councils could not possibly be any more different than those in the Highland 23rd ward.  The bishop sits at the front of the room with all of us facing him, and for about the first 2 minutes there is order in the room until the hullabaloo breaks loose. And for the next hour and a half it's everyone talking at once (in VERY loud, Argentine Spanish) people standing up and yelling, and Hna. Castillo and I just sit in the back and chuckle.  They all love each other a ton, they're just super expressive and a little unruly. :)

Well, I've gotta run now, but I hope that all continues to go well in wonderful Highland, Utah.  I love hearing about the fallish things going on there, while spring is most definitely settling in here. It's a heavy, sticky warmth that I've never quite felt before, but we'll survive.  :)  I love you all so much, and I pray for you many times every day!  This work makes me happy beyond belief, even though there are a lot of tired moments, I love being a missionary for Jesus Christ.  He is guiding and directing His work through a living prophet so that people in Peru and Africa and Washington and Argentina alike can have the incredible joy of His Gospel and the hope that it brings. Til next Monday!

Love, Hermana Leavitt

Monday, October 15, 2012

Baptisms and Besos

Hi Dearest Family!

Thank you so much for your emails, I loved reading about all the fun things going on in Southern Utah and Michigan. It has been an amazing week here in San Justo for a trillion reasons.  Reason number one being the baptism of our two dear little abuelas!  It was truly amazing to watch them step down into the font and come out again as fresh and clean as newborn babies.  Pretty cool stuff.  I was especially happy about Amalia because we have been working with her for six hard weeks, trying to help her answer the overarching question, “Why do I have to baptized again?”  And it was the most amazing moment when I asked her the day before her baptism, “Amalia, if someone were to ask you why you were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what would you say?” My heart sang when I heard her response. “Obviously because it’s Jesus Christ’s church.”  How simple and beautiful is that?  Amalia loves the Book of Mormon and she loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and she is going to be a fantastic strength to this little San Justo ward. 

Also on Sunday we had one of the most incredible experiences that I have had on the mission so far.  One of our investigators, Analia, is the wife of a less-active young R.M. in the ward.  His parents are incredibly strong members, but he is a little crazy and I’ve always been a little scared of him because he’s big and tough and kinda rebellious.  Anyways we invited Ana and Manuel (the rebellious member husband) to church on Saturday, and then on Sunday they actually came!  For the Gospel Principles class we decided to change things up a little and  watched the Restoration video of Joseph Smith’s first vision.  In the class was just Amalia, Analia and Manuel, our ward mission leader Efrain, and our Stake High councilman who is the most incredible member missionary.  We watched the video, and as I sat there, I felt the Spirit enter into the room more powerfully than I ever have when watching this movie.  As the movie ended, I think we all felt it and we asked Amalia to share her experience of how she knows that this is true.  In one beautiful, humble sentence, the soon-to-be-member said, “It’s something I just felt inside.” Then it turned into a mini testimony meeting as we asked Efrain and Hermano Cordero to share their conversion experiences. Efrain was a rebellious tattoo artist when he found the Gospel, and Hno. Cordero was a hard core atheist.  Their testimonies were powerful and the Spirit was just penetrating .

Then we turned to Manuel and asked him to share his testimony.  I have to admit that I was a little nervous he might ruin the Spirit that was there, but it was exactly the opposite.  Manuel began to testify of how he knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth.  He talked of the power of repentance and his renewed desire to return to the church.  And then with tears in his eyes, he turned to his wife and said, “This gospel means everything to me, and it is going to bless the life of our little family more than anything else.  I know that we can be a family forever, and my most fervent prayer is that your giant heart can accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I want you to feel what I have felt as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.” This big, scary man just broke down and sobbed, and if the Spirit had been strong before in that tiny little room, now it practically knocked us off our feet. I’m so excited to teach Analia more.  There’s a lot to work through before she can get baptized, mainly marriage stuff and legal papers, but I’m so excited for them to one day be an eternal family.

In other news, we had transfers this past week, and I shouted for joy when I heard over the telephone that Hna. Castillo and I are staying together in San Justo! We had a little adventure on Wednesday when Hna. Castillo went to brush her hair and then broke down in tears to discover giant bald patches.  We called President and he had us go to a dermatologist outside the mission in Buenos Aires central.  So we packed a little lunch of crackers and fruit and got to take a taxi to travel about an hour into the capitol city.  It was exciting for us little missionaries, and all is well with Hna. Castillo’s hair.  They said it was due to extreme stress at one point in the past two months, to which I responded that I arrived to Argentina and she got me as her companion exactly a month and a half ago.   J We like to joke about it with everyone because we’re like the happiest companionship on earth, and she is NEVER stressed.  Who knows, the mission does crazy things to you.

Other random things from the week? Like a month ago Fransisco (the little old husband of Gladys) invited us to his birthday party which finally happened on Saturday.  It was the most legit Argentine party ever and also the most stressful experience of my life as about 20 dear abuelos tried to greet us with a kiss on the cheek (everyone greets everyone with a kiss on the cheek here. Even the men greet each other that way) As missionaries we obviously can’t kiss men, but it is such a fixed custom and soooo extremely hard to avoid because sometimes they just pounce before you know what’s happening. So I’ve unavoidably sinned a few times in the past months, but usually we’re pretty good at sticking out a stiff arm to shake their hands.  This birthday party was just unusually difficult and awkward.

We also had the police called on us a few days ago as we were tracting around.  We clapped on this one house and this nice looking lady came out to talk. She wasn’t interested, so we politely told her that she’s always invited to the chapel on Sundays and started to walk away.  Then I don’t know what happened but she suddenly turned into the devil, called us back and started accusing us of investigating her neighborhood so that we could rob them all.  Then she picked up her phone and started calling the police! I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry, so I obviously started laughing since I always laugh in the worst moments. She started yelling at us as Hna. Castillo just pulled me away from the house, and of course no policemen came investigating or anything of the sort, but it was exciting all the same. 

Anyways, that’s a crazy slosh of some of our moments in the mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  It’s wonderful and exhausting and I love being a missionary! I love you all, and I hope your week is amazing in the fallish world up north. 

Hermana Leavitt

Monday, October 8, 2012

Miracles in Buenos Aires and Washington!

Buenas Dias a la Mejor Familia en Todo el Mundo!

Wow, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your emails.  I loved reading about Mom's crazy adventures getting to Michigan (the things Grandma is willing to do to see her little Emma-boo!), the cozy, fallish life in Michigan, the hooligans back in Highland cooking huge breakfasts and going to Chinese restaurants (just kidding guys), and feeling of your love and your incredible spirit. I honestly and sincerely have the best family in the whole entire world.  
Life is wonderful here in Buenos Aires, and I continue to learn every day about how to be a better missionary. How about Conference eh?!! I loved reading about what you guys gained from it, and I gained many of the same things! (even though it was a tiny bit hard for me to get all of the details in Spanish) Mom, that talk about the Sacrament and how we can receive revelation about our challenges and problems in life was like an aha moment for me too! My personal fave was Elder Uchtdorf's.  You don't want to regret that you didn't choose to be happy in the moment! And the missionary age!! Holy cow, I was shocked, but all I can say is WOOHOOOO!! From a missionary´s point of view, I agree with President Monson that some of these young missionaries are absolutely incredible, little spiritual packs of dynamite. :) So I'm sure the whole world has been asking Cam, but dude! What do you think about all this? Are you thinking of leaving in the summer? And yes Dan, I'm so excited for the younger age for girls too! Maybe a little jealous that I didn't get to leave when I was 19. ;) Except not really because I've come to learn in these past few months that everything happens according to Heavenly Father's plan, and there are thousands of reasons why I am here in this moment RIGHT NOW.
One evidence of this was a letter that I received from my dearest friend, Manuel!  Do you remember Manuel? He was the one back in Washington who called us on the phone one day and asked us to bring him a Book of Mormon. He soaked up the Gospel of Jesus Christ with every fiber of his soul, and is now one of the most faithful members, home teachers, and priesthood holders in Spokane Washington, actually in the world!  In part of his letter he said (translated from Spanish :)  "Hermana I never imagined that being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be such a beautiful thing.. . I continue reading the Book of Mormon to learn more of Gospel and the more I read Hermana, the happier I feel because I learn something new for my life. I hope that you find many people like me who need to hear this message, and I thank my Heavenly Father every day that he placed you and Hermana Ruiz in my path. I'm still learning more about the Gospel, and it fills me with happiness."  Oh how I love and admire this faithful man!  He truly is an example of the thousands of Heavenly Father's precious children who have humble hearts and hungry spirits, ready to receive the light that the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers. He told me that his foot is completely miraculously healed now, he has gone back to work, and will be working to earn enough to go back to be with his family in Mexico. I cried with happiness.  :)
And here in San Justo, we saw another miracle!  After weeks of praying and maybe a few tears of frustration on our part, Amalia has made the decision to be baptized!  One morning we went to visit her, and the conversation started heading in the direction it always does.  She was frustrated because she felt like she hadn't felt the answer in her heart and was receiving alot of pressure from family and friends against the church.  As we sat in the lesson, I was praying as usual that Heavenly Father would guide this lesson, and we started taking an unexpected route, talking about the nature of Satan and how he operates.  I know, I know, it sounds kind of morbid and dark.  But in that moment, it proved to be just what Amalia needed.  We talked step by step with her about her feelings when she read the Book of Mormon, and she testified boldly that she knew it was true.  And then we talked about all the things that were telling her not to be baptized.  Did they feel good? Was she happy when she had those thoughts? It was as though a light switched on in her head , and she asked, "when can I be baptized?"  And then she got mad when she found out that she couldn't be baptized this Saturday because of General Conference!  For the love!  Hahah, needless to say we were some pretty happy missionaries, and she is going to be baptized this weekend along with the little Grandma Cocentino who is the "member slash non-member" of the ward.  I can't wait to send you pictures of the little grandma baptism. :)  
Well fam, the hour flew by.  But I love you all more than all the facturas in Buenos Aires!  Have an amazing week!

Hermana Leavitt

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Change of Heart

Hi my wonderful family!

I already told mom in my email to her, but I was so happy to open up my email this morning and see letters from everyone in my family! You guys are the best!

It has been an absolutely incredible week here in San Justo, and there's so much to tell.  First of all, I've had a change of heart. It's the greatest thing that's happened to me, and I feel as though I've come to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ so much more this week in an incredible way.  I'll be completely honest with you, the first few weeks of my time here in Buenos Aires were the hardest time in my life, mostly because those weeks seemed to high light every single weakness within me and some weaknesses that I didn't even know I had! But this week, I learned about the power of faith as we trust in the Atonement of our Savior to change our weaknesses into strengths and help us accomplish things that we couldn't do on our own.  I learned about this at the amazing conference we had that was especially for the hermanas, and something that one hermana said completely changed my mission and my life. I'll get to that later.  

Right now, we have more investigators than we know what to do with and it's the greatest blessing!  Amalia is continuing to progress even though we had to move her baptismal date to October 13th because her nasty neighbor told her that she was going to "the bad place" if she joined the "Mormon religion" so her mind was filled with doubts and we've been working with Heavenly Father to help her receive her answer about what's really true.  She prays and reads without fail, but she's struggling to recognize the quiet, subtle voice of the Spirit that testifies to her.  I've never prayed so hard in my life as I have in those lessons with Amalia that I can say the right thing and be the mouthpiece for Heavenly Father. It's  alot of pressure and many times I leave from those lessons just wanting to cry to let out all that pressure!

We have been so blessed this week to find FAMILIES to teach, every missionary's dream, and we are praying with all our heart that they progress.  I had a cool experience Friday morning when we were walking along getting ready to do some tracting.  That morning I hadn't been the most obedient with the schedule. I think I started personal study a few minutes late because I was flossing or something and then during language study I tried to do my laundry and study at the same time (we do alot of our laundry by hand) and it didn't really work.  Needless to say I felt bad that whole morning with a lesson and street contacting, and I didn't know why I felt bad.  Then I realized that I hadn't been obedient and I needed to repent to get the Spirit! So I stopped Hna Castillo in the street, told her I needed to pray, and just bowed my head to say a little prayer asking for forgiveness and promising to be better.  When I lifted my head I felt a lot better, and with smiles on our faces we said, "Okay let's go knock." Well I guess I should say "clap" since we mostly have to clap at houses with fences in front.  So we went to the first house, clapped, and out came a nice looking younger lady and greeted us with a beso!  That does NOT usually happen, and we were super surprised.  But then she explained that 3 north american boys who didn't speak castillano very well had been by about 15 days earlier to share a quick message.  They were 3 elders from the Argentine MTC who were out doing some tracting.  She invited us in, we met her family, she and her husband are MARRIED (which never happens either) and we've begun teaching them! Oh the miracle of repentance. :)  I think Heavenly Father just wanted to make a point with me by blessing us with a miracle after I repented. 

We also started teaching our neighbors who for some reason after 15 years of living next to missionaries have NEVER talked with the missionaries! Crazy.  So we knocked on their door one day, set up an FHE, made brownies and taught them how to pray as a family! They are super Catholic and not super open right now, but they'll get there. :)  

The greatest miracle of the week is Luis and Anna.  Last week we clapped on their home and Anna came out to talk with us. She was super nice and we set up a return appointment when her husband would be home.  When we came back for the appointment, they were actually THERE (which doesn´t happen very often either!) and we got to know them and talked a little bit about our message.  I felt good with them right from the start, they are just so down do earth and there is a tangible feeling of love in that home.  They have one little 4 year old boy named Alejandro.  We set up an FHE with them and when we went back last night for FHE we were super nervous becuase we knew we needed to invite them to be baptized but were scared about their reaction.  It's funny how with the legit investigators you're nervous about inviting them and then with the crazy people you just come out and invite them to be baptized.  But we talked about the love that Heavenly Father has for their beautiful family, and even though they knew nothing about Joseph Smith, we invited them to be baptized.  They accepted the invitation and the Spirit just rushed into the room.  I couldn´t even talk I was so happy, and Hna Castillo and I walked home on air last night.  

I don't have time to write about the Hermanas Conference that changed my life, so here's my letter to President that talks about it:

"Dear President,
I am beyond excited to write you today because I have learned so much in the Hnas Conference, and it has really changed the way I’m serving in the mission and the way I’m living as a person. I think the thing that really got to me was something that Hna. Pullan said. “It’s not about the numbers and frantically running around on Sunday night thinking,” I still need two investigators to reach the standard!” It’s thinking,” I have faith in the Lord’s promise that He has prepared people in my area to receive the gospel and I just need to do my part.” That to me was one of the most profound things that I have heard on my mission and ever since then, my attitude has been different.  Now I see our goals as something other than just numbers.  Those goals are hearts and souls that are ready to receive the gospel and that need the light and saving ordinances of the Gospel. 

After the conference, Hna. Castillo and I had an amazing talk about everything we wanted to change, and we have seen the incredible results of our faith and our trust in the Lord as WE PUT MORE EFFOR T IN ON OUR SIDE OF THE PROMISE.  We found three amazing families to teach this week, one of which is absolutely completely ready for the Gospel and have a baptismal date for the 27th of October.  Luis and Anna are their names, and in our lesson with them last night when we invited them to be baptized, a spirit of love and light filled the room, the Spirit of God, and I think it was one of the happiest moments I have experienced on the mission. Ever since Thursday, in every lesson, every planning moment, every moment that we’re walking along the street, I find myself saying little prayers and asking the same question, “What do you want from us right now Heavenly Father? What do we need to be doing to fulfill our end of the deal?” And yesterday at 5:00 at night when we still only had 3 investigators with a baptismal date, it was like, “No worries.  President has told us that he knows we can have 5 fechas, and he is a representative of the Lord, so there must be two more people in San Justo right now who are ready to commit to prepare for baptism.  Okay Heavenly Father, where are they?” And Hna. Castillo and I both knew that Luis and Anna would commit to be baptized, so we went into that lesson with faith and confidence.  Seriously, that one comment from Hna. Pullan changed everything! I love being a part of the Lord’s glorious work that is moving forward, and I’m so grateful for the things that I learned from you and the other amazing missionaries this week.  Thank you!
With love, Hna. Leavitt"

Heavenly Father loves these people so much and He really is using us as His tools to help them find happiness right now through the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and live as eternal families!  I can't wait for that day when Luis and Anna are sealed together as a family in the Buenos Aires Temple!

I love you all so much, and I love being a missionary!


Hermana Leavitt