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, July 29, 2013

Learning and Growing

It has been a beautiful springy week here in 9 de Julio and another week of learning and growing so much.  

It was a challenging and incredible transfer where I learned to really rely on Heavenly Father and His ability to turn my weaknesses into strengths.  I will never be able to forget the counsel from "Elder" Williamson to Dan that Dan then in turn shared in her talk before leaving for the mission.  "Repent every day."  Such a simple little piece of counsel, but something that has really helped me to humble myself and become a better missionary and person than I ever could be without Jesus Christ.  Those moments in the morning and night when I talk with Heavenly Father about what I could have done better in the day and how I'm going to improve, asking for His help and guidance have strengthened me as I then go out and ACT.  

This week we have been blessed to find some really incredible people here in 9 de Julio.  One of them is Cintia.  She's from Paraguay and lives with her husband and two kids, Jacki who is 12 and Ezequiel who is 9.  The husband is never home because he works out in the campo days at a time, so we don't know him. But Cintia has such a good, open heart to learning more about the gospel. One of the challenges is that she and her husband aren't married and her husband never got divorced from his first marriage.  But it has been incredible to see how the Spirit works on people's hearts when they hear messages of pure truth.  In our first lesson, we taught Cintia about the 5 steps we take to follow Christ and invited her to be baptized.  She accepted and expressed how she feels like this is going to bless her life.  So in the next lesson, we didn't hesitate in teaching her the law of chastity.  I've seen that I've grown to become a much bolder missionary, and it was so refreshing and powerful to teach this commandment boldly and lovingly and invite her to keep it.  I realized that when we do things out of love, it doesn't matter how bold we are because the person will feel our love, without a doubt.  That was the case with Cintia.  Instead of getting scared off, she wanted to do things even better, and is working towards keeping this commandment.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

In the Right Moment at the Right Time

To sum up the week, freeeeeeezing cold, but so beautiful and full of incredible experiences.  I pile on as many layers of leggings and tights as possible and never take off my coat or gloves.  And a few days ago, I learned that cold air can give you a "sunburn!" Painful experience, but the members take care of their "rubia" (blondie) and gave me creams for my face and taught me how to wrap my face in a scarf so that it doesn't happen again. 

Besides the cold, we are super happy and seeing alot of miracles here! The other day, we went to visit a referral from a member. We had to walk about an hour to get to the little neighborhood that is semi out in the campo, and when we finally made it to her doorstep, she proved to be the first and only not-so-friendly person in 9 de Julio and shut the door in our face.  As we walked away from the door rejected and a little bit miffed that we had walked an hour just to have the door shut in our face, I looked around at the beautiful little neighborhood and said, "Hermana Sanchez, there's someonehere in this neighborhood that we need to find.  Heavenly Father brought us here for a reason, and we're going to stay here and work until we figure out why!" So we started knocking doors. We met some really nice people, but everyone was "busy" or "heading out the door," and it seemed like we had hit the neighborhood in the worst moment.  

But we kept knocking and knocking, until we walked past a house with big sliding glass doors.  There was a woman inside sitting at her dining room table, and I smiled and waved to her from the street.  She immediatly jumped up, ran out of the room, and the next thing we knew, she was hurrying out her front door towards us. As she walked up to us, she smiled, said "hello," and then just stood there.  I was waiting to see if she had something to say, maybe had talked with missionaries before or thought we were someone else, but no. She just stood there and smiled, as if she was just waiting to listen to our message and go the baptismal font that very moment!  So we introduced ourselves, told her that we share a message about Jesus Christ and how we can live with our families forever, and she immediatly let us in.  

As we started talking with her, she told us about her life. 40 years old, lives with her husband and little 5 year old girl, trying to stop smoking, looking for a job to support her husband, and recently coming out of a deep depression that she went through after the death of her sister.  We hear about alot of crazy things as missionaries, so this was nothing dramatic. But what caught my attention was when she said, "I've gone to a lot of churches and tried alot of things, but none of those things have helped me heal completely."  Mariela is definitly one of those who Heavenly Father has been preparing for a long time.  We taught the Restoration, and when we showed her the picture of Jesus conferring the priesthood upon his disciples and explained the authority of the priesthood, her eyes lit up and she said, "THAT'S what I'm looking for! The church with the authority from God!"  Words to make a missionary's heart sing!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The First Prayer

We've really been "thrusting in our sickle with all our might" this week, and by Sunday night, we walked into the pensh absolutely exhausted from head to toe, but it's weird how GOOD that always feels to me.  But a weekly P day was definitely an inspired decision by the brethren. :)

We had a few lessons with Matias and Maru this week, and all kinds of road blocks have come up with Argentine paper work that is going to move us back a little bit with the wedding and baptism.  But those lessons have been full of some of INCREDIBLE experiences that makes all the work and stressing worth it, and it doesn't matter when they get baptized, it's just such a blessing to see them progress and their faith grow.  The other day we had a lesson on the Word of Wisdom, and it's going to be another long journey in helping Maru stop smoking.  But the most beautiful thing happend after teaching the lesson.  We invited Matias to say the closing prayer (something he has really been scared of and really struggls with), but this time he looked scared for only a moment, but then squared his shoulders, looked us in the eye and said, "SI." 

We all got down on our knees, and after a long pause to gather his thoughts, Matias started to pray.  He followed the primary steps just as we had taught him and has a very simple, "country boy" vocabulary, but as he prayed, the most beautiful spirit filled the room.  He thanked Heavenly Father for his wife and children, and then asked Him to bless his wife with this goal to stop smoking. He asked Him to help them both on this new path that they have started, and it was apparent that this man, this husband and father, was praying with all the sincerity of his heart, He was really talking with his loving Heavenly Father and putting all of his trust and confidence in Him.  The mission is full of incredible miracles, sometimes big and sometimes small, but that experience of kneeling on the cold, hard ground listening to Matias' simple prayer is something I will never forget. I love them so much. 

Hermana Sanchez and I are so happy together, and it always seems so unfair to me that I have to part with the companions that I come to love so much.  Being companions with Hermana Sanchez has taught me that patience, HUMILITY, and real sincere love can make any two people the best of friends, even those who are completely, absolutely opposite in every way. :)  We talk and laugh as we walk what seems like thousands of miles every day, set goals to work better with the members, practice to improve our teaching, and just become BETTER together in every aspect.  It has been such a fulfilling experience "training" her even though she really is the one teaching me.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Miracle on a Bus

I'm writing you on Sunday because we had to come into the offices AGAIN for a training meeting for all the trainers that we're going to have tomorrow.  President was out in campo today, and rather than have us take a bus at 1:00 AM, he offered to take us back with him today and have us stay the night in Ramos Mejia to be here for the meeting tomorrow.  And then we won't have time to write letters tomorrow, so he told us to write right now.  But no worries, I'll still get to go tomorrow to print off your letters!
We had THEE coolest experience this morning.  We had to get on a bus to meet President in another little town in campo, and in the morning we had prayed that  Heavenly Father would let us have teaching experiences today despite the fact that we would be traveling all day.  So we went to one hour of church and then boarded the micro.  As we sat there all cozy in the empty bus, a little grandma came up the stairs and sat down across the aisle from me.  I smiled and said hi and asked her where she was going.  She got up from her seat by the window to move closer, and as the bus pulled out, we started chatting. I asked her about her life, and she cheerily talked about a seemingly perfect life with husband and grandkids, but mentioned that she was on her way to another city to play bingo and "escape" for a while.  The more we talked, the more she opened up, and it became clear that her life is in reality very dark and dreary right now with a husband that ran away with a young girl two years ago, a little grandson that is slowly dying, and personal health problems. I told her that we share a message of hope and asked her if we could say a prayer and share a scripture with her.  During the whole message, tears streamed down her face, and when we got off the bus, we set up an appointment to go see her this week.  Miracles every day.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Another Day in Paradise

It has been an AMAZING first complete week here in 9 de Julio, and I am really truly happy.  In my letters that I've written to President in these past weeks, I've talked about how I feel like I'm finally really "getting it" and fulfilling my purpose as a missionary.  I feel Heavenly Father's presence here in 9 de Julio, and I feel Him guiding us and supporting us in every moment. 

Well, I'm actually not in 9 de Julio right now.  We had to go to capital to take care of some Visa issues for both me and Hermana Sanchez, and it has been a wonderful little adventure. We slept for two hours last night and then got up at 12:30 to board a charter bus to take a 5 hour ride to the offices.  Hermana Castillo and her comp boarded the same charter bus half way through the trip, and then I got to go to capital with the MTC crew and do some catching up.  Finally, I saw my dear Hermana Carrillo at the offices and saw pictures of our darlings that got baptized last week in Padua and of the baptism of her dad that she got to go to!! So many beautiful things happening in all parts of the world.  So now Hermana Castillo and I and our "hijas" (when you're training a new missionary they call her your daughter) are here in Ramos waiting to board a bus that will take us back to campo. :)

And campo.  Wow, I think I am hopelessly in love with 9 de Julio.  I don't remember what I could tell you last time, but here's a nice little summary of this little paradise on earth. 
The Branch: It's tiny and adorable as can be.  We don't have a chapel, so we meet in a beautiful old house that they have made into a nice little church. About 15 to 20 people come to church every Sunday, so we've started to work like crazy on reactivating as we continue finding and teaching investigators. Yesterday was what we can expect from a typical Sunday.  We teach the youth Sunday class, I play the tiny little keyboard, then get up to give a talk.  It's so small and completely different than anything I've ever experienced, but the members that come are INCREDIBLE and adore the new hermanas so much they make me blush. :)  There haven't been hermanas in 9 de Julio in 20 years.  Our Branch president is wonderful and takes such good care of us, and I already feel like it's my sweet little family. 
The People of 9 de Julio: I think I described them a little bit last time, but basically the kindest, classiest folk I've ever known.  I've never read Mom's "Mitford" books, but I imagine that these people are alot like that.  Of course, not every person is an absolute angel, but we really have not received anything close to an unkind word (or a loud catcall or whistle which truly is incredible).  Because of that, we haven't had any problem finding more people to teach, and there is nothing happier than a missionary that is contstantly teaching.  Plus it's a huge blessing that Hermana Sanchez gets to practice alot. 
Nobody here locks their bikes or motorcycles.  They all just share this common feeling of trust and respect, and it is truly a beautiful thing.  

The Apartment :) Is in one word, BEAUTIFUL.  As the secretary Elders in the offices put it, without a doubt THEE nicest aparment in the mission. Pictures say more than words, so I'll send photos next week.  :)

Hermana Sanchez.  She is an absolute doll.  Basically came pretrained to the mish, plus her Chilean confidence makes her a very involved, very "I know what I want" powerhouse.  Definitely a contrast to my more laidback approach, but with wonderful communication, alot of openly demonstrating my love and appreciation, we've been able to slowly find a balance and see miracles in our short time together.  Hermana Sanchez is beautiful, very prim and proper, and says the word "precious" and the phrase "oh, but how DELICIOUS" in reference to everything.  Just like a princess out of the movies! 
Our Investigators!  Well, we are currently teaching an AMAZING couple named Matias and Mariela (but we call her Maru). They have three little boys and we had two lessons with them last week and then they made the effort to pay for a taxi to come to an FHE on Friday night and then on Sunday, we were praying and praying that they would make it, and right before Sacrament, in they came.  They are super young and wonderfully simple, kind people.  They appear a little rough from outward appearance with piercings and things, but they are really just GOOD wonderful people.  Matias works in construction all day to support his little family, and Maru stays at home with the kids.  The only issue is that they aren't married, but they have all the desires in the world because now they understand that it's necessary to be able to get baptized. We're hoping and praying to help plan a wedding AND a baptism this transfer!

Speaking of, my little heart is sad at the thought that I most likely will only be here in this blessed place for one transfer.  Then, as President informed me, it's off to training and opening a new area all over again! But all is well, I know that Heavenly Father has everything in control and He is going to use me for good everywhere I go. :)
This week truly has been beautiful as I have felt that perfect obedience and complete faith in the Lord has really brought forth miracles and made the mission a sacred experience.  One night we were in the dark looking for the address of a member, so I decided to go knock on a door to ask where we were.  A sweet woman answered the door and said that she had some friends in the city who were Mormons. Her name is Analia.  So we set up an appoinment to come back and teach her, and in the lesson we learned that she is really disillusioned by her experiences in Catholic and Evangelical churches and has been looking for a way to "build her faith in Christ."  We were able to look at her, smile, and say, "We can help you do that!" 
It's incredible how much you learn when you're the one that's supposed to be doing the teaching.  I learn SO MUCH from Hermana Sanchez every day, and it is such a blessing to be with her.  This week, she reminded me of the importance of listening, a skill that I had lost in a desperate attempt to keep all my Argentine investigators from talking for three hours straight.  This week, as I have relearned to listen and NOT think about how I'm going to cut them off or what I'm going to say, we've been able to teach to their needs, testify of the Savior, and feel the very REAL presence of the spirit in our lessons that everyone notes and feels. 
Basically, I'm happy and still ever-growing, and I love working alongside Heavenly Father and Jesus in this beautiful place!  I love you all so very much and hope you have a wonderful we