I've just read and responded to President's letter where he tried his best to prepare us for this tsunami of new missionaries and straight up craziness that his rolling our way. (Elder Cook described it as such when he came to visit us, and we've been using that term in the mission ever since.) He wrote a special letter to all the sister missionaries, calling us to a higher level of faithfulness and diligence in such a wonderfully President Carter-ish way. Well, first he described in hefty detail all of the challenges that are coming our way with 19 of us sister missionaries who will be receiving 57 new sister missionaries in the next three months. And then he said, "The Lord has chosen you at this time, in this place, to be missionaries of strength, confidence, intellect, and spiritual power. . . .both the Lord and I know that you can do this, and you can do it well. It is your time to stand up and be valiant in your calling."Wow, I'm feeling a little bit humbled and, to be honest, a little bit nervous. But if there's one thing I've learned in this service its that we truly can "do all things" in Christ. I know that He is going to continue turning my weaknesses to strengths (one of those being flexibility!) as I put all my trust in Him and move forward with faith!Now for the work in Padua! Well, we're preparing the baptismal service for three of our little friends who we've been teaching. Juli and the two adorable twin boys, Adrian and Ezequiel. (Have I told you about them?) Their mom is an inactive member, but the older sister is super active, and when we went to visit her one day, we met the twins and absolutely fell in love. :) I'll have to send pictures next time, but they are two of the most beautiful, cheekiest, most charming little gentlemen I've ever met. They're ten years old, and when we talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ with them and their mom, they said they wanted to be baptized! So we've been teaching them for about three weeks, they've been coming to church, and we're been able to help strengthen the family at the same time. It's been a huge blessing teaching those two.
Hermana Leavitt's Adress
HERMANA LEAVITT'S ADDRESS
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
(Check buenosaireswest.blogspot.com for specifics on packages; it's a little tricky!)
Monday, June 17, 2013
Monday, June 10, 2013
It has been an amazing week here in Padua and a week where I learned just how much I love Padua! On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had divisions, so I went to Aldo Bonsi to be with Hermana Castillo (seriously! don't know how President allowed it but he did!) and Hermana Carrillo stayed in Padua so that she could learn the area better. The division was great, and we had some good times, my little Peruana and I. But I think the greatest blessing was being able to return to our dear little scruffy pensh and the tree-lined steets and come to the realization that I adore Padua and missed it so much! After thinking that I could never love a place and people as much as I love San Justo, this was a great realization for me. :)
This week, we have been working alot with a beautiful family named the Familia Iglesias. Well, we've actually been working with them for about a month. They are a mom and a dad with 5 CRAZY little girls and 1 baby boy. The two oldest daughters are both members but have their records in a different ward where they were baptized, so the hermana's before us discovered them by accident. The mom, Monica, is absolutely wonderful, and wants really badly to get baptized, but she and her husband aren't married, so that's a road block. The third daughter, Julie, is the one who is going to get baptized in a few weeks (I sent pictures with her I think.) and she is such a character! She has the attention span of a little puppy, but is so earnest and adorable that we miraculously keep coming back (despite little 4 year old Nicole who tugs on my hair with grimy hands, 6 year old Morena who yells over us in the lesson, giving us a minute by minute recap of her day at school, and muddy puppies that jump on my lap). Lessons are always an adventure and we always leave exhausted, but I love that family with all my heart. They live in humble circumstances, but are so incredibly good, and we are praying and praying that Monica and her husband, Marcelo, can get the marriage papers going so that she can get baptized! They didn't really see the need, but all the talks in Sacrament this Sunday were about living the Law of Chastity, and after the meeting, Monica went up to the bishop and told him that she was going to start the paper work this week! Marcelo approves and loves the church too, but works such long hours that I still have never seen him.
The other day we went from a lesson with familia Iglesias in their tiny, very humble home to contact an old investigator who lived on the other side of town in practically a mansion. As we sat in her beautiful home and talked with her, she told us of her woes with her divorce and her life of drifting in and out of relationships with different men, despite the things that the missionaries had taught her about the Law of Chastity. It was so interesting to go from the polar opposite in the Iglesias happy home where they struggle to buy bread and diapers but are accepting and beginning to apply the principles of the gospel, to this mansion where the very nice but very very sad woman didn't want to accept the gospel and whose life right now is very cold and empty. How grateful I am for the Gospel of Jesus Christ that brings happy moments to our everyday existence and greater perspective of the beautiful things to come.
We were able to find Clotilde after two weeks of crazy medical appointments. I don't think I've ever mentioned to you that Clotilde has pretty serious health problems, cancer being one of them. But we had an AMAZING lesson with her and, as always, are inching ever closer to the light bulb moment.
Monday, June 3, 2013
Wow, such a good week and such a good day, I can hardly wait to tell you all the news! This has really been full of so many of those moments that just make me think, "I am so HAPPY to be a missionary!" And to be here in Argentina, at this time, in this area, with this companion, it all just seems too good to be true. So here's a little glimpse into a few of those beautiful missionary moments I had this week.
Slipping through the mud: On Tuesday, we had appointments set up for every single hour of the day, which is a dream come true for me. It makes nightly planning sooo much easier. And I don't know what happened that day, but nearly every single one of our appointments fell through, and we spent a day walking from one appointment to another and clapping our hands, only to find blank, quiet houses. We seriously walked more than I've ever walked in one day, and at 8:00 at night, we were absolutely exhausted as we made our way to our last appointment, hoping with all our might that they would be there so we could sit down. We were in the area that has dirt roads, this street didn't have street lights, and it had rained the night before. It was pitch dark, and we somehow managed to get ourselves into mud up to our calves, and I lost one of my shoes to the suction of the thick mud. We just laughed and laughed, and in that moment when I was so tired and filthy and could have been so distraught, I was just overcome with the joy of being a missionary where I get to have these kind of funny little experiences. Plus in our day of a lot of walking we talked to alot of wonderful people in the street who I have high hopes for.
Riding in a train full of missionaries: On Wednesday, we had a special conference with all the missionaries in the central offices to listen to Elder Cook! And one of my favorite moments (besides listening to an apostle of course) came as we traveled to Ramos Mejia. We went in train, and as Hermana Carrillo and I boarded, we spotted black name tags and clean cut heads in the other train cars. We went to be with the Elders, and at every stop, more missionaries would get on the train, and people would look at us kind of weird. I don't know why, but it just filled me with joy to be with so many missionaries, riding along in the crowded train.
Leading a chorus of 400 in our missionary anthem: Elder Cooks talk was amazing. He taught us about the power of OUR faith to help our investigators progress. I'll talk more about that later. But then after his talk, we sang "Called to Serve" and President motioned me last minute to direct the hymn. So I hopped up, but had no idea what a spiritual experience it would be! I looked out at 400 something missionaries, all with bright smiles and singing with all their hearts, and the strains of that familiar song just pierced me to the core. In Castillano, the chorus ends with something like "God will give us courage, let us fight in the celestial cause," and as I looked out at that army of God's servants singing those words, I KNEW that we are truly engaged in a celestial cause.
Hermana Carrillo's Miracle on the homefront: I've told you a little about Hermana Carillo's story, but quick recap is: Mom and Dad have been struggling with separations and reuniting and then separating again ever since she was little. When her mom and she and her brother got baptized, they had just left their dad in Bolivia I think for the third time, and were determined to never go back. But Hna. Carrillo's missionaries promised her when they were teaching her that if she got baptized, she would be able to have an eternal family. And thirteen-year-old Herman Carrillo thought to herself, "Uhuh, sure. You don't know my family." Her dad came to Argentina a week before she left for her mission, and he was a changed man. Then she got the news in February that her mom and dad had gotten married! Many missionaries have been working with her dad, and in recent weeks, it seems like he's getting really close but struggling to stop smoking and keep other commitments.
SO. . . Hermana Carrillo lives in the Buenos Aires South mission, and we had this conferece with Elder Cook with the Buenos Aires South mission. Weeks before the conference, we kept saying, "What if you see the missionaries who are teaching your dad?" and that was one of her greatest hopes. But it turned out that they were super rigid in getting us in and out of the chapel, and when the meeting ended and President excused the South mission, we were sad that we hadn't seen them. Then randomly, three Elders came running up to the front, whispered something to President, and then came running up to Hna. Carrillo. "Hermana Carrillo? We're teaching your dad, and he's getting baptized in two weeks!" Hermana started crying, I teared up a little, and as they talked about his progress and I looked at Hermana Carrillo's face, I saw something that is hard to describe. The Spirit that filled that little circle was undeniable, and it was an experience I'll never forget.
And NOW, Hna Carrillo just got the email from her mom saying that the baptismal interview is confirmed and that President called to talk to the dad and tell them that Hna Carrillo is going to be able to go the baptism! I don't know if I'll be going, but either way I don't care. It's just been the most amazing thing to see the promise to missionaries fulfilled, that as they serve with all their might and strength, not only the people in their areas will be blessed, but those at home as well. :)