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, April 29, 2013

People of Padua

It has been another wonderful week here in beautiful Padua, and I've got alot of updates on all the wonderful/crazy/hilarious people that we are teaching right now.  We're still going strong here with beautiful warm weather and just dreading the moment when the freezing wet winds will come our way but hey, just like Mom always says, the church will still be true. :)  And we'll just push through the rainy months and keep working with all our might to find Heavenly Father's children here in Padua who desperately need the gospel. 
So update number one, Andres.  He is soooo cool and so going to get baptized. :)  Okay, so he's got a while to go, but honestly this guy is the best.  I think I told you last time about all his credentials as a Bible scholar and what not.  So we had a lesson about prophets and the apostasy, and it was really hard for him to take it all in. For him, to hear someone tell him that the authority of God was taken from the earth and that the men who tutored him all his life don't possess that authority kind of rubs the wrong way.  Plus, he has this idea that the church is just another U.S. institution sticking it's nose in other countries' business where they're not really needed or wanted.  
And yet, through all these doubts and theories of his, he is miraculously progressing!  Two young girls that are WAY less educated than him sit across from him and say in very simple Spanish yet VERY directly, "Andres, we know these things are true.  Tonight, will you read this chapter of the Book of Mormon, and pray to ask God if it's true?"  He sits there for a moment, thinking, and then just says, "Si" with a smile that says "Man, how did they do that? Why did I just agree to that?" But he's keeping his committments, reading and praying, and that's the important thing, because the minute that we start to ACT for ourselves is the minute that we start receiving answers and developing our own testimony.  I have a feeling it's going to be a long journey with Andres, but I am so excited to see how Heavenly Father answers his prayers.
Clotilde. . .  she is so wonderful, and yes Mom, you guys would be BEST friends! You are so similar in a lot of little ways.  One being your meticulously clean homes that are always warm and smell nice like flowers or warm spices. That's a tad bit unusual for Argentines. :) Clotilde is sooo ridiculously close to baptism, it's not even funny.  Teaching her, I've learned alot about patience and ALOT about "teaching people, not lessons," a principle we learn in the MTC.  My black and white approach to life just doesn't work in teaching Clotilde, and as we've changed our approach and thought about whatClotilde needs instead of how we want to teach, we've seen miracles. We go piece by piece, answering each of her doubts with love and testimony, and I've seen her heart open even more and the lights go on. Keep praying for Clotilde. :)
The other day we were walking along in the "cheto" part of town (cheto is the Argetine word for ritsy) when a man pulled over and yelled from his car in English,  "Hey! Are you guys Mormon?! Are you American?!" We smiled and called back in the affirmative, and he pulled over to a side street to jump out of the car and shake our hands. He had the weirdest New York/Latin accent, and we learned that he spent the first 18 years of his life in Florida with his Argentine parents, but lives here now. And he is obsessed with the U.S. and the beach.  His name is Gabriel (when he's in Argentina. His "American name" is Joseph) and he is SUCH a character! Long story short, we've started teaching him, he came to church on Sunday and really liked, so we're going to keep teaching. It's kind of like teaching a 9 year old boy, but we'll see what happens!
The future elders are awesome.  Well, we've actually only been able to teach one of them alot, his name is Matias.  He's 17 years old, and he's just an adorable, shy litte basketball jock who wants to learn more about Jesus.  We teach him outside because his parents are never home, but we met the mom and she's super nice, so we're going to try teaching her as well.  Neither of his parents are very religious, but Mati started going to a little Evangelical church by himself when he was about nine. He's quiet and shy, exactly the way I imagine Cam being around two sister missionaries, :) but he lights up when we talk about simple principles like prayer and being able to talk with Heavenly Father.  He's super busy with basketball, so our next goal is helping him get to church. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Autumn Days

It has been a glorious week here in Padua with warm, autumn days, crunchy leaves and soooo many incredible people that we have taught and met.  

Clotilde continues to progress and continues to blow me away with her understanding and her amazing questions.  She came to church yesterday, sat down in Gospel Principles, and took careful notes in her manual (which, may I remind you, she's read all the way through).  After the class, which was about priesthood authority, she went up to the teacher and began asking him question after question.  But the thing I love about Clotilde is that she never tries to argue or "bash."  She just wants to understand. She is so, so close to baptism.  Just waiting for that confirmation to tip the scale between confirmations and doubts. We are praying in every moment that she will receive "the answer" and that we as her missionaries will know what to teach and what to do.  

Solange and Silvia are sadly not progressing very well.  We just passed too many days without being able to have contanct with them, and I think sneaky little Satan takes that time to implant little lies like, "I don't have enough time for this."  I still love them so much, and we haven't given up completely, but it's going to take some time to get back in their home and reinfuse the spirit into their lives.  

This week, we met the coolest guy named Andres.  Mixture between Cam and Zach Meinzer, if you can try to imagine that. Mostly just because he's trendy, LOVES photography, and LOVES triathalons! We met him when we were down in some obscure corner of our area where we never go, but we went to contact a referral that ended up being a fake address. So we decided to knock a few doors, and the first door we knocked on was Andres.  He's kind of a Peter Pan.  Middle-aged, single man that has this awesome job doing modern architecture and pursuing all the hobbies in the world, but still hasn't felt the fulfilling joy that families and the gospel bring.  He served a mission for his Evangelist church as a kid and knows the Bible frontwards and backwards, but there's something about him that's just looking for "more." To be honest, we've only taught him once, so I might be getting you all excited for nothing. But I have a good feeling about it so we'll see!

We've seem to hit a new trend of teaching young men, or future Elders, as we like to say.  I love teaching youth because they're just so frank and open, just like young Joseph Smith.  I'll get you the update on them next time.

I am loving being here in Padua, and loving more than ever being a missionary.  It's funny how every transfer brings challenges that are SO different from the last, but every challenge is like it's custom-prepared to help me change my weaknesses to strengths. Heavenly Father is so involved in this work and is preparing wonderful things for very special people in Padua.  I love this gospel with all my heart, and I know that it is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Patience and Answered Prayers

How is everyone in springy Utah??  It sounds like you're all doing great.  Conference was definitely an amazing time to recharge and get pumped to continue in the Lord's work!  Although I have to admit that I was downright exhausted last night after two solid days of charging around helping our investigators get to conference and then thinking during all the talks, "What is Jose thinking/feeling right now?" or "Is Clotilde going to receive the answer that she's been praying for for months?" It puts a different spin on General Conference when you're in the shoes of your investigators, listening to the words of a living day prophet for the first time in your life. 

As I told President in my letter this morning, this week has without a doubt been one of the most challenging and one of the most fulfilling weeks of my mission! Isn't it funny how those two often go together? I came into Padua just in time to witness a wonderful baptism, but then as often is the case in missionary work, it was like, "Soooo, now what?" We had pretty much zero progressing investigators (meaning that they're working towards baptism) and after leaving an abundance of investigators and support in San Justo, I felt a little overwhelmed starting from ground zero.  But we got to work. And worked . . . and worked . . . and worked.  We went to visit old investigators that were in the area book, visited members, talked to absolutely everyone in the streets, in colectivos, in the stores, and tried to stay worthy and open to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.  And boy, did Heavenly Father come through.  I know that Heavenly Father hears our prayers and always, always answers, even though we sometimes have to wait. The waiting part is what I learned about this week.  I had to pass through some rough moments, kneeling by my bed at night crying because I was just so tired and didn't know if He was even listening, but I never should have doubed that He was there.He loves us so very much. It's just that sometimes has to let us press through the chill of adversity so that we can really rejoice in the warmth of the blessings. 

He loves us so very much. It's just that sometimes has to let us press through the chill of adversity so that we can really rejoice in the warmth of the blessings.One of our coolest experiences came on Sunday, after a week of craziness. On Sunday morning, our prayers were answered and Heavenly Father rewarded us for our patience. One of the many appointments that we had made during the week actually came through, and not only that, but it was a lesson with a mom and a daughter who's husband had died just one month ago. We were able to share the hope and light of the gospel with them, invite them to be baptized, and commit them to coming to hear the words of the prophet that afternoon. When I called the daughter in the afternoon to confirm the plans, she answered the phone with an energy that was completely opposite to the timid, depressive girl we had talked to in the morning. She said, "Hermana! I don't know what's going on, but I feel so good! I could eat a real meal for the first time in a month, and I had energy to clean the house." After a month of searching in psychologists' offices and persciptions for the cure that she so needed, the gospel of Jesus Christ brought her the remedy that her broken spirit really needed. They came to conference, loved it, and are  preparing for baptism.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Goodbyes and Hellos

Padua is a lot more countryish than San Justo (definitely doesn't qualify as "campo" by any means, but alot more dirt roads and grassy areas than in San Justo.) And my favorite part is the ginormous, beautiful parks where all the little boys come to play soccer and all the families know each other (and the missionaries.) I discovered that having a WalMart was a rare blessing that exists in only one area in the whole mission, so that'll be a change as well, but I'll survive. :)  The ward is really great.  A lot more experienced and "aged" than dear little San Justo who was always struggling to catch the signal from Salt Lake and follow the manual.  That being said, the ward here doesn't "need" the missionaries quite as much as San Justo needs us, and we all like to be needed, so that was kind of a sad little change.  San Justo was my second family, but just like Mom said, I know that I will come to love these people here just as much.  On the bright side,  the wonderful hermanas here are just as faithful about giving the missionaries lunch. :)

I  was blessed to come into the area just as they had two baptisms!  Carlos, a young, cheeky guy who the hermanas found on the street and Estella, a 50 year-old mom gone fashion diva both got baptized on Saturday and it was beautiful to see how Heavenly Father is working and bringing this beautiful gospel to His children in ALL parts of His vineyard. I know he has many precious souls prepared in the beautiful streets of Padua for Hermana Johnson and I to teach.

Oh my goodness! I forgot to tell you about Hermana Johnson!  Wow, she is soooo wonderful.  Tiny, blonde little mouse who told me that she was super shy for a good part of her mission but has come such a long way and is a little firecracker now.  This is her last transfer in the mission, but it is going to be one to remember! To describe her I would say: humble and kind, amazing cook (so much for learning to cook on the mission.  All my companions do it for me!), and she loves Anne of Green Gables.  Heavenly Father puts kindred spirits together on the mission too. 

So that's the new area, full of exciting new possibilities and tons to learn I'm sure.  

I had the best "farewell" from San Justo that any missionary has ever experienced, without doubt.  I already knew that I would be leaving San Justo because Pres told me in my interview.  And I wanted to keep it quiet, but my blessed Hermana Bird told everyone we talked to, so I shed a lot of tears, shook alot of hands, and gave alot of besos on Sunday after the baptism.  My little heart ached all Sunday, but at least I felt that I had been able to say goodbye to alot of my dear ones.  But then Hermano Efrain kept insisting and insisting that we have a lesson with Marco on Tuesday night before I left on Wednesday morning.  We told him that we had to keep mission rules and couldn't just have a party and he kept saying, "yeah yeah yeah, I understand. Let's just have one last lesson like we always had."  So Tuesday night, we went to the chapel for our usual lessons with Marco.  We waited outside with Efrain, and then Marco walked in the gate with a ton of bags and we were like, "what's going on?"  Efrain told us to follow him, and we went inside to the Relief Society room where members and investigators were all waiting to surprise us!  The bishopric was setting up mounds of food, and everyone was coming up to give me besos and gifts!  I was so overwhelmed, so embarrassed, but at the same time ridiculously happy.  Hermano Efrain had organized the whole thing on Facebook, and my dear familia Velazquez was even there, with all of my favorite hermanas and members!  It was a little over the top, with speeches by Marco and Diego, Bishop and Hermano Cordero, but it was all very sweet and something that my little heart very much appreciated.  I love those people with all my heart and will never forget them!  Being a missionary is the greatest thing in the world.