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, May 27, 2013

Chlotilde Meets Her Match

After a few weeks of chilliness, Buenos Aires decided to give us another little bit of autumn, so we're warm and content sitting in the little internet cafe. :) It's been a wonderful week in Padua, I've learned alot of lessons, and I'm super excited to go into this next week with alot of faith and diligence to apply the things I've learned!  That would be one thing that I'm learning on the mission, is that we're ALWAYS learning. And that we WILL be learning up until the very last day of our lives!  I feel like I understand alot more than I did at the beginning of the mission, and yet I continue to learn something new every day.  If the mission really is a little microcosm of life, then I imagine that even the wisest oldest person on earth is still learning. In some ways it's really humbling because you think to yourself, "Man, HOW long have I been a missionary? Shouldn't I be a perfect missionary by now?"  But of course we all know the answer to that question. :) We'll never reach perfection in this life, and it's exciting to always be improving and growing.  

The week was full of amazing moments.  On Thursday we went to Clotilde's with our district leader Elder Viana and his companion Elder Yoder, and wow was it an experience.  Elder Viana likes to come to our area to meet our investigators, and it's the closest we can get to divisions where we can learn from other missionaries.  He is an incredible leader and missionary and I learn SO much from him and his example of being a bold, fearless agent of repentance.  But to be honest, I was a little nervous about having Elder Viana and Clotilde in the same room, because if Elder Viana is bold and confident, he's met his match in Clotilde.  SUCH a classy, peaceful lady but has that undeniable "history professor" air about her. Like I've mentioned, Clotilde's big hold up is the Apostasy because she just can't find the evidence in history to support such a bold claim, that Christ's church literally was not on the earth for 1800 years.  So I somewhat nervously set up this appointment with Clotilde, asked her if it was okay that we brought our leaders with us to the lesson, and put my trust in Heavenly Father that everything was going to work out okay. 

Not only did it work out, but it was an amazing experience for everyone involved!  At the beginning of the lesson, I sat and watched in horror as Elder Yoder (from the US) and Elder Viana (from Uruguay), both VERY prepared and very knowledgable missionaries sat across from Clotilde and handed her the doctrine of the apostasy with all the authority of James Talmage himself.  Clotilde would make a rebuttle to something they said, and they would open the Bible and teach tell her with just as much confidence that she was wrong. I never knew what it meant to be bold until I watched those two teach, and I thought to myself, "Well, there goes our golden investigator.  We've lost her for sure. There's no way she's letting us back after this!" But as the lesson progressed, I was amazed at what I saw. Instead of getting offended or closing up, Clotilde got really excited about the discussion and began asking questions, expressing doubts, and when we walked out of that kitchen that night, we left Clotilde very pensive and thoughtful and very OPEN. What I had thought was going to be straight up "Bible Bashing" 
was really just bold declarations of truth, and when we declare the truth, the Spirit has a chance to testify.  Those Elders had the Spirit and every word that came out of their mouths was guided by the Spirit, so instead of causing contention, it created peace and everyone was "edified together." Seriously an incredible lesson for me.  

We had a ward temple trip this Saturday, and we got to go with Clotilde and familia Villasenor to have a lesson in the gardens and teach about the temple while the members were inside.  Clotilde told us that she was going to come with a lot of questions for Heavenly Father, and we promised her that if there's one place in the world where she would receive the answers, it's the temple. Then she actually invited a friend to come too!  It was beautiful. She left very thoughtful and said that she feel's the answer is close. All those prayers going up from Highland, Utah are being heard! :)

Saturday was a big holiday here in Argentina, kind of like our 4th of July, so the Hermana's brought little blue and white pins to the temple trip to pin onto everyone's jackets and everyone in Argentina was supposed to eat a traditional May 2th food called locro, a super hearty beef and chicken stew. We didn't manage to fit in the locro, but the 9th of June is another day of independence for them, so I'm told we'll get another chance to eat Locro.  

Sunday was the baptism, and it was so beautiful!  It was amazing to see Fabian's dad go up and bear his testimony, timid and quiet but burning with a freshly renewed testimony.  After years of inactivity, that family has made so many changes and are steadily working towards being sealed together in the temple!  

I love this work and I love you all so much.  Have a beautiful week!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lessons From Fabian

It has been a wonderful week in Padua, with a few highlights in between that I want to tell you about.  This Sunday is the baptism of little Fabian, and he is soooo excited, it's the cutest thing ever!  We pass by about every other day to teach him more, and he and his little sis Valentina now wait at the window for us to walk up to gate, and a clamor of shouts and squeals sound from inside the house.  The other day we taught the Restoration and watched the movie of the First Vision.  I watch that movie all the time, but there are certain times when it just hits me how amazing and real it is.  This was one of those times, and as the movie ended, there was a tangible spirit in the room.  Even the little 2 year old twins were silent.  I looked at Fabian and asked him, "How do you feel right now?" He paused and looked up the ceiling as he always does before he answers a question, and then said very slowly, "I feel . . . I feel the way I think I'll feel when I go to heaven." It was one of those incredibly beautiful moments that make the mission what it is.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Good Things Ahead

I gave you a litte update on Andres and Clotilde.  We have a lesson with Andres tomorrow, it's been a while since he was on vacation.  But I'm excited to put into practice all these things I've learned and have been sharing with you about being bold and letting people know what's up.  We'll see how it goes!  I didn't let you know yesterday about a little boy that we just started teaching whose parents are members and are just starting to come back to church after years of inactivity.  They are the most adorable little Peruana famliy, and I'm so excited to teach little kids again!  Time to pull out the games and plan of salvation map again!  Actually, I just recently used the plan of salvation map with Andres and Gabi after telling them that they were getting way too deep and way too off track and needed to learn the basics that our little four year olds learn in primary.  I told them to stop talking, look at the pictures, and pay attention to their feelings. And for the first time since teaching them, they sat and really listened as we talked, and the spirit rushed into the room. Amazing how everything comes into focus when we go back to the basics. The beautiful, simple basics.
Anways, I'm happy and loving life here in Padua.  President just implemented some new goals for the mission and for each companionship to help us work better with the members, and I have gained a huge testimony of following his counsel, yet again!  In zone conference, he gave us a training on how to work with the members, and I have to admit, I sat back and was a little bit like, "yeah, yeah we've been told this a million times." But then when I went out and actually DID what President counseled us, following his directions exactly in our visits with the members, I saw miracles happen!  The members are AMAZING here in Padua, and it's as though they caught this new vision and excitement for missionary work this week. They have been giving us references, and I'm so excited to start teaching the friends and family of the the members.

The brand new little apartment next to ours is still empty and sad, waiting for the promised hermanas. It is going to be absolute CRAZINESS when all of these little visa waiters get here.  Like I told you, the number of new missionaries will outweigh the experienced missionaries.  But it's going to be such an exciting time for the mission and sooo much fun! We're also really excited because Elder Cook is coming to speak to all of the missionaries in Buenos Aires.  Good things ahead, in Buenos Aires and in Highland, Utah.  :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Amazing Week in Padua

It's a beautiful afternoon here in Padua.  One of those days where everything just goes right, when you have a spring in your step, when everyone on the busy streets is happily licking away at ice cream cones, when the Spanish just rolls off your tongue without any stuttering. :) Those are always great days.  

We just got done with a zone activity where we watched 17 Miracles and ate empandas. Wow, that movie sure is a tear jerker, I'm still trying to get back into the real world as I write this email.  So amazing what those faithful saints did just to follow the will of the Lord, and it's so incredibly inspiring to see how the Lord blessed them for their faith.  It made sassy Argentines and sore backs seem like nothin.  I know that with faith in the Lord we can do all things and see miraculous things in our lives and in the lives of others!

Speaking of miraculous things, we have had a pretty amazing week.  It's been tough in some ways seeing as it's Hermana Johnson's last week in the mission, which is a crazy roller coaster emotional experience for any missionary.  Lots of goodbyes, lots of tears, lots walks down the memory lanes of the mission with her. :)  She is such an amazing companion and I'm gonna miss her a ton.  We've had some tough experiences but even more wonderful experiences in our one little transfer together, and when two people experience such highs and such lows together, they're bound to be friends for life. :)  It's the beautiful thing about companions.         

This week, we had a miracle with a wonderful lady named Irma. We stopped by the house of a lady who was a street contact, and she told us that she didn't have time to listen to us and that she wasn't really interested, but that her mom, Irma, was going through a really hard time because the grandma (Irma's mom) had just passed away, and the daughter thought that it would be really good if we could go visit her.  She gave us Irma's address and we went on our way.  As we turned the corner, a little old lady walked past us and we said hi to her like we do to everyone.  She slowed down and looked at us, we slowed down and looked at her, and it was one of those freaky moments where our intuition (aka the Holy Ghost) knows better than we do.  "Excuse me," said Hna. Johnson. "Is your name Irma?"  Talk about creepy! Haha jk, it was actually a really cool experience, and as we explained who we were, Irma began to tell us her experience, and she broke down and cried right there on the street corner.  We set up an appointment to go talk with her a few days later.  When we went, we taught about repentance and the gift of Jesus Christ's Atonement (Irma's anguish over her mom isn't that she won't see her again.  It's that she believes she didn't care for her the way she should have while she was in her last years, and she has feelings of overwhelming guilt.) It was so wonderful to be able to testify to her about the peace and relief from guilt that the Atonement of Christ brings to our hearts.  Irma came to church on Sunday, and is now preparing for baptism in May!

The other Padua folk are still doing great.  Well, Gabriel isn't progressing very much, but we are still teaching Andres in all his intellectual confusing-ness, Clotilde with her slow but steady race towards the finish line, and Matias has been crazy with basketball tournaments, so we haven't been able to teach him this week.  

Hna. Johnson and I have talked about how this transfer has been a little bit of the refiners fire for us, mostly because we feel that we are constantly doing our best to learn and improve, contstantly trying to trust in the Lord and do this work with all our hearts, and helping our investigators progress towards baptism is proving to be a real challenge!  But I know He has great things in store for these people and for me, and I have learned some lessons this transfer that have really changed me.  I would say the greatest lesson has been that of humility. :) 

This week I have also learned alot about the power that Jesus Christ has to turn our weaknesses into strengths.  One of my greatest weaknesses on the mission I would say has been a lack of boldness in my teaching.  As we help these wonderful people begin the process of repentance, we are expected to be devastated when they don't complete with commitments and call them to repentance.  But too often I sit down at the table, ask the question, "So were you able to read in the Book of Mormon?" receive a negative, and tend to say something like, "It's okay, buddy! Just try harder next time!" Okay it's not quite like that, but I'm definitely trying to become a bolder, more loving teacher, who corrects my investigators and calls them to action because I love them. 

As I've worked on it this week, I've seen that investigators react in the opposite way that I feared they would react.  Instead of getting mad and telling us to never come back, they are eager to do better and do these small simple things that are going go bring them so much happiness.  

Mom asked about a typical P Day, so here it is. :)  Wake up, clean the apartment, make our usual banana pancake breakfast while the other showers, do our usual morning studies, read letters and open packages!, head out into the busy morning (wearing our proselyting clothes and name tags just like any other day), typically go to the cyber to email, go to the little market to buy milk and flour and jam (the new staples of my pancake diet), go to different little shops to get things done (the watch shop to fix my watch, the meat shop to buy milanesa to make for lunch, the fruit and veggie shop, the office supplies shop). I think I told you in one of my very first emails that my favorite thing about Argentina is all it's little shops! Then we usually head back home, I do more cleaning :), we write letters and so on.  Not terribly exciting to be honest!