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, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wow, it was soooo good to see your beautiful faces and hear your voices and basically BE with you for those 40 short little minutes on Christmas.  Thanks for making it an incredible experience for me and for being the best family in the world.  I loved feeling of your love and joking and laughing with you as though I was there for a little while.  And on a random more shallow note,  you are all SUPER beautiful people. For hours Hermana Castillo couldn't stop talking about how beautiful my Mom and sister are, how handsome and charming my dad is ( oh Tim!), and how HANDSOME and manly my little bro is.  ;) But seriously, thanks for letting me share my experiences with you and especially for letting me share my testimony.  It was a phone call I'll never forget.
As far as life goes here in San Justo, it's pretty great.  The only thing that's not so great is the little feeling that constantly gnaws at my stomach knowing that every day is one day less that Hermana Castillo and I have together. On Thursday, we had our weekly planning and the usual companionship inventory, and when we got to the part where we talk about eachother's strengths, we started bawling like little babies.  It's been three amazing transfers together, and now we'll see what new adventure Heavenly Father has in store for both of us! When I remind myself that this mission isn't about me and that I'm out here to find and teach Heavenly Father's wonderful children in Argentina, I'm happy and excited again. 
Christmas Day was absolutely wonderful for many reasons in addition to talking with my beautiful fam.  The day before in the Christmas devotional, President had asked us to make Christmas a sacred day and spend our time doing what Jesus would want us to be doing.  We really took that to heart and spent the entire day from morning to night (apart from talking to you) going to as many houses of members and investigators as possible singing Christmas carols at their doorstep and then going in to share a quick spiritual message about Christ.  And we were completely surprised by the effect that those little visits had.  Time after time, the members or investigators would come to the door and just cry as they listened to our little Christmas hymn.  We felt the "Spirit of Christmas" just bursting from our hearts as we went from house to house, and I felt that I was truly representing Jesus Christ on His special day.  It was truly a sacred day for us. 
We have been blessed to find lots of wonderful people to teach this week, the challenge is still just getting them to church so that they can progress towards baptism. And I have a renewed desire to teach FAMILIES again, so we're going to be focusing on finding and teaching families.  I'll let you know how it goes. 
Everyone here has been in a sweaty frenzy buying fireworks and food for New Year's, and yep, it looks like we'll have another HOT Monday night with triple the fireworks that we saw on Christmas Eve from what I've heard.  I love the busy hustle, colectivos crammed with people, familes all getting together.  That's one thing I love about Argentina, the crazy amount of people that get together as families, and the obsession with families. It reminds me of us crazy Leavitt's.  :) And it creates a great environment to teach about the plan that Heavenly Father has for families through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.     

Well, gotta run, but love you all sooooo much.  Talk to ya next week!


Hermana Leavitt

Monday, December 17, 2012

Santa Comes to Buenos AiresToo!

. . .  And he's been leaving us little miracles every day!  

Okay, we all know that Heavenly Father is the one sending the miracles, but this week has been such a blessing where we have seen little miracles and had a ton of fun. I lie on top of my sheets at night, sweating from the heat but grinning to myself because Heavenly Father answered our prayers yet again throughout the day, proving that He knows and loves His children.  Just a list of some of the wonderful little moments that we had this week:

1.  After deciding that we need to vary our contacting methods, we determined that every time we were on a colectivo we would have a real conversation with someone and set up an appointment to visit them. For some reason, both of us have this weird morbid fear of talking with people on the colectivo even though we talk comfortably with them in any other setting.  But on Tuesday, we got on our first colectivo of the week, Hna. Castillo gave me a little wink nodding to an open seat by a lady fanning herself, I took a breath and sat down next to her. "Man it's hot!" Was the only thing I could think of to say to start talking with her, but Heavenly Father helped me with the rest, and we ended up having a wonderful conversation for the five minute colectivo ride, I took down her address, and sent the elders in her area to go visit her.  Not sure why I shared that little story, but I guess it was the first miracle of the week that Heavenly Father helped me overcome my weird fear of talking on colectivos.  

2.  On Friday, we were walking along humming Christmas carols (Hermana Castillo taught me the cutest little Peruvian Christmas song that we'll sing for you on Skype) when a car pulled up next to us and this chubby jolly man inside said,  "Hey, are you the Mormons?" "Yep we sure are!"  "So what do I do if I want to learn about your church? Can I go to church, or can you guys come to my house? What do I need to do?"  It was one of those moments where you're thinking, "Is this really happening? People told me about things like this, but what in the world?!" We were beyond happy and set up an appointment to go visit him the next day.  We went and had a lesson with him and his name is Angel.  He's a little bit of a baby seeing as he's 53 and lives with his parents, but we got to teach all of them and they're a cute little fam, even though they're super Catholic and super set in their ways.  And then I found out that Luis, Angel's 85 year old dad, used to be a piano professor in Germany but can't play any more because his hands tremble.  So after they "coaxed" me into playing for them (NO ONE has pianos here and I'm always itching to play), Luis was our best friend.  I don't know if they're in a place to progress as investigators, but we'll see. :)

3.  We finally found Ailen (our 16 year old investigator who's mom has cancer and we had an AMAZING first lesson with her about eternal families).  We would stop by all the time and she was never there, but we finally found her home and she is excited to work towards baptism in January.  The only thing is waking her up and getting her to church on Sunday. :) Oh how the Argentines love their sleep.  I never imagined how 9:00 church would be the greatest stumbling block in opening the door to salvation! It serioulsy is the hardest thing that we struggle with, but I'm determined to help my dear folk of San Justo find a way to wake up on Sunday morning. 

4.  We had the most glorious ward party on Friday night, despite being VERY different from our cozy little Highland 23rd ward parties.  They cleared out all the chairs from the Sacrament hall which serves as cultural hall as well, set up long tables (leaving plenty of space for dancing) and cranked up the music to welcome everyone in.  We got there at 8:00 because that's what time it started, but Argentines aren't exactly noted for their punctuality.  So you can imagine what it's like for MORMON Argentines. :)  At 9:30 we said the opening prayer (our bishop got permission from President Carter to let us stay out until 10:00 that night) and everyone broke out their personal tuppers of rice salads, noodle salads, and whole giant chickens, Bishop walked around the tables tossing big chunks of fresh bread to everyone, and we just went at it, having a good old time, everyone sharing food.  We left before the dancing began, but found out that the party lasted until 1:00 in the morning.  The best part? Three different members brought friends to the party and brought them to US to introduce them and set up a time to come visit them.  The wonderful San Justo ward is really catching the spirit of missonary work and getting excited about sharing the gospel with the friends.  And for us a missionaries there is nothing more precious than a member referral.  It was like Christmas morning meeting those three friends.  

In other news, I'm sooo excited because President has set up a wonderful Christmas Eve day for us.  At 5:00 in the morning we will head out in colectivos to go to the temple!!!! I have been dying to go, and the Buenos Aires Temple is so gorgeous and freshly done over.  Then we have lunch as a mission (it's a miracle to see the whole mission together) and the special musical program that our little musical group has been preparing for weeks.  We had practice again today in the morning, and Hna. Carter has put together some IMPRESSIVE presentations.  Maybe not QUITE like the MoTab Christmas Concert, but still pretty special. I'm beyond excited. Then we get to talk on Sunday!! Woohooo!

Well fam, I hope you have a glorious, cozy, happy week before Christmas. Eat some layer bars and snowball cookies for me, and don't forget to give Sash and Tia something for Christmas.  How blessed we are to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, the real reason for celebrating this special time.  Love you all!


Hermana Leavitt

Monday, December 10, 2012

Merry Christmas from Hot, Happy Argentina

Merry Christmas!

It sounds like life is busy and happy celebrating the Christmas season at home! Life is busy and happy here in San Justo too, and it's been a good week where I have learned a ton.  After a rush of teaching and preparing baptisms for Jesus and Berta, it was as though the work kind of came to a screeching halt, and Hermana Castillo and I were left looking around asking, "Sooo, what's next?"  We have been finding many people to teach, but finding them for the return appointment and helping them progress towards baptism has been more of a challenge.
But we haven't lost the faith that Heavenly Father is preparing souls in San Justo who are ready to learn of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  On the contrary, last night we were able to talk through many things that we need to improve in order to be the kind of missionaries that He needs us to be.  I'm excited that we've started this new week, and we're determined to work the pavement off the streets of San Justo until we find those who are waiting for us.  
Sorry that the letter is short this week, it will be better next week!  I love you all so much and am so grateful for my incredible family and the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we all are so blessed to have.
Hermana Leavitt

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sometimes He lets us wait

Happy December Leavitt Fam!

Yes it gets hotter with every day as it gets colder there in Highland, but we listen to Josh Groban and MoTab Christmas, and I feel the Christmas spirit just as strongly.  Perhaps even more than before in my past Christmas'! It sounds like everyone is happy and well even with crazy Costco and Madrigal Feasts and gigs and such.  Hermana Castillo and I have set a goal to only talk about family and home and our past lives on P Days, so today we've been excitedly telling each other about all our Christmas traditions. 

SPEAKING OF . . . oh my goodness mom and dad, you blew me out of the water with the Christmas packages.  Cutest story about that.  I had told Hermana Castillo that my mom would most definitely send her a stocking for Christmas, and she was so excited about opening a stocking on Christmas. Last Tuesday, we went to district meeting in the offices, and afterwards we went to the mail room to pick up letters.  Elder Dorius handed me my two packages, and then said, "And Hna. Catillo, these are for you."  When he handed her the two big brown packages with "Companera de Hermana Leavitt," her mouth just dropped open.  "Oh. . . my. . . gosh.  Oh. . .my . . .gosh. Para mi? (for me?) Para MI? (For ME?) Noooooo. . . voy a llorar. Voy a llorar. (I'm going to cry. I'm going to cry.)"  She really was on the brink of tears.  Her family won't be able to send her anything for Christmas. So mom, thank for all of your thought and care and kindness and for making my companion so happy.  She's like my perfect little angel companion, and I was so happy to see her so happy.  All week she's been saying, "Oh Dehna (that's how she pronounces your name) Oh Dehna, I love you with all my heart."  

This week has been . . . an incredible experience.  I really learned the value of exercising faith in Heavenly Father and trusting that, while He may not always answer right away, He will ALWAYS answer. Hence the title of my email. This week was definitely one of the most challenging weeks I've had, with rejection I had not yet experienced, and a lack of success that Hermana Castillo and I are definitely not used to.  To make it a little easier I'm going to give you the low down through my letter to President.  I copied the idea of Sister Peterson (Ali) and put my additional commentary in bold:

Hi President!

Thanks so much for your encouraging words in the Sol.  I too know that success in the Lord's work is possible because, well . . . it's the Lord's work! How could it not be successful? He is in charge and He has souls ready to accept us, I have ESPECIALLY learned that this past week.  Hermana Castillo and I started out the week really excited to work super hard and complete all of our key indicators before Saturday because we knew that we would have the Capilla Abierta all afternoon and night on Saturday.  The "Capilla Abierta" was a program that a senior missionary couple brought to South America.  It's an opportunity for the members to bring their friends and family to the church in a non-Sunday setting to feel the spirit of the chapel, fellowship with members, and learn about the Gospel. The way they've set up the program, it pulls on all of the most beautiful, simple principles of the Gospel and presents it in a really understandable way. It's super professional and impressive with beautiful displays and a mini Christus statue that they bring to the chapel and everything. Our ward, the San Justo ward, was luckily chosen by President Carter to host the event. So for weeks the ward has been preparing, cleaning, and we've been inviting like crazy. It ended up being a huge success and really pulled our ward together in the spirit of missionary work.  Anyways, back to earlier in the week.   But we soon discovered that Heavenly Father had different plans for us.  We walked and walked, talked with everyone, scheduled CPVs, set up lessons with members to accompany us, and time after time, we got rejected, appointments fell through, and for the first few days, we came walking into the pencion with absolutely nothing to show for our exhausted bodies and tired minds. Seriously, I don't know what happened to our dear people of San Justo this week, but we felt like we were in a different country with the way the people acted.  Usually a "rejection" is something like this: "Hi! We'd like to invite you to our church services! We're missionaries from the Church . . ."  interrupted with "No my love, I'm busy and can't listen right now. Next time for sure." or "No dearest, but keep doing what you're doing.  You're both beautiful!" and we move on our way.  But this week we had real door slams, yelling to get off their property, cruel jokes, etc.  (if a missionary in Russia read this right now, they'd probably roll their eyes and say, "Oh please, that's nothing."  But for US it was a shock. The amazing this is that Heavenly Father really strengthened us, and I felt the pure love of my Savior every time that I remembered that he had already suffered the same little sting of that rejection for me.  

But the cool thing is, the feeling of discouragement never settled in to cloud our vision.  Every personal and companionship study in the morning was a joyful experience, and we set out every day with a smile and faith in our hearts.  And in the night when we had faced yet another day of rejection and had taught barely one measely little lesson, we said to ourselves, "Heavenly Father is going to answer our prayers.  We've been working hard and we're being obedient, and He is going to come through."  Miraculously, in the afternoon when it's often easier to get discouraged in the heat, we had smiles and were filled with this energy.  

On Friday, we began to see the fruits of our diligence,  and Heavenly Father led us to the door of an incredible young woman who is so prepared for the Gospel and who accepted a baptismal date.  Her name is Ailen and she is amazing.  She is 15 years old, her mom is suffering from cancer right now, and Ailen is really looking for peace in her life.  We shared a little of the Plan of Salvation with her and invited her to be baptized.  She accepted without hestitation. That night we randomly discovered a PILE of antiguo investigators registros in a hidden closet, and made plans to walk and work until we found the people who the Lord had prepared.  And we found them! 

The Capilla Abierta was absolutely wonderful, and even though it lacked people at certain hours, the members really felt the spirit of it and we received 42 wonderful referrals from them! (I think it also has to do with the fact that Elder Dressler and Perroti are capos and really made them think.)  We're excited to contact those referalls of oro and teach with members!  

The week was topped off with the beautiful baptism of Berta, being led to more people to teach and helping people prepare for baptism on the 29 and the 5 of January. Sunday, we walked and walked and it was crazy how none of OUR set plans worked out, but we practically bumped into the the people who Heavenly Father had prepared.  I learned from this week that Heavenly Father really does listen to our prayers, that He ALWAYS keeps His promises, and that sometimes we just have to have a little patience and continue to show our faith and diligence before we see the results.  I love being a part of this work and seeing the miracles that Heavenly Father provides every single day! 

Love, Hermana Leavitt

Well, that's the story of the week. It was truly a wonderful experience.  I came to learn a little more of the reality of Jesus Christ's Atonement as I suffered a teensy tiny smidgen of what He suffered when the people He loved rejected Him. Never once did I feel alone in the work, and Heavenly Father provided the miracles AFTER we provided the faith.  

Well fam, gotta run.  But I love you so much, and I hope you enjoy this wonderful Christmasy week!