Elise is coming home this Saturday!
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, September 9, 2013
Easily one of the most glorious weeks of my life, along with a wave of different emotions as this incredible, sacred chapter in my life comes to a close. I suprised myself by not crying all week, and then I got into the email, started reading Mom's email, and oh boy, I think for the first time it's started sinking in. The tears are definitely flowing. :)
But don't worry about me dear fam. Heavenly Father truly protects and cares for His missionaries up until the very last moment, and He hasn't abandoned me once. At this moment, the two feelings that fill my heart to overflowing are gratitude and happiness, as I explained in my letter to President.
It has been an incredibly fullfilling week. I honestly cannot fully describe my gratitude to you and to my Heavenly Father for having sent me here to Moron 1, because it has been one of the most sacred, rewarding experiences I have ever had. As I have told you many times in my letters, I came to Moron 1 with a very strong impression that there were many people waiting for us here, and we prayed every morning and night that we would be guided to them. As we worked as a true team with the members, Heavenly Father answered our prayers and guided us to people who were waiting for the healing power of the the Atonement.
One of the most obvious examples of one of those people is Alberto, our dear friend who got baptized this past Saturday. After 30 years of prayers on the part of his daughter and family who are members, he had become a "forgotten investigator" who was just waiting to be found by us. By crazy circumstances that I know were not coincidence, we met and began teaching Alberto. It wasn't an easy process, and he hard-headedly refused to take that step of baptism, regardless of knowing that it is what Heavenly Father required of him. As I told you last week, the converting power of the Holy Ghost was able to take effect in Alberto's heart when we focused in on his Savior and the Atonement. It was evidence to me that Heavenly Father truly knows His children and knows exactly what they need. Alberto is an incredibly devoted and worthy convert, and it was a very special experience watching him get baptized and confirmed. My heart was so full of joy, that I felt like it was going to burst! And I know that we can only access that kind of real, uncontainable joy when we are doing the work of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
If there are two words that could describe how I feel right now, it would be grateful and happy. So incredibly grateful for the sacred opportunity to be a missionary, to be a tool in the hands of Heavenly Father to help Him reach out in love to His precious children. I will forever remember the counsel that you gave me in an interview when you told me that in order to feel the influence of the Spirit more in lessons, I had to forget myself look at the person sitting in front of me as the Savior looks at them, to love them the way He would love them, and to have trust in Him that He would put into my mind and heart the things that he wanted that person to hear and feel. I have never forgotten that, and in the many lessons that followed have tried to apply that. It changed my mission, changed the way I felt about these incredible people here, and I honestly believe that it played a role in helping some of those people get baptized.
Hermana Neira is ready and excited for whatever may come her way. I almost jumped for joy the other day when she looked at me and said, "Hermana, what you said is true. Obedience brings success, but exact obedience brings miracles. We've seen miracles this transfer." She has truly learned those first 3 basic principles well, and I'm so excited to see what great things she and her new companion do here in Moron.
Thank you so much for everything President.
I took the easy way out in sending you that because I spent all my email time sending baptismal forms and have no time. But I would rather be sending baptismal forms my last P day than anything else. :)
To wrap things up, I wanted to share something that I learned this week in my personal study. I was reading in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah 18 when the people of Alma all get baptized and learn about the gospel as they hide away in secret forests by beautiful streams. In describing those places, the river where they were baptized, the forest where they learned of the gospel, it says,
". . . how beautiful they are in the eyes of those who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer."
I thought about the hundreds of scruffy little homes I have entered into to teach the gospel, the dirty streets I have walked, talking with people and inviting everyone to listen to my message, the chapels where I have joyfully watched investigators walk into church as well as come out of the changing room dressed in white. And I reallized just why those simple, seemingly uninteresting places are so very sacred to me. Because it was in this place and with these incredible people that I truly came to know that Jesus Christ is my Redeemer and theirs and that He loves us infinitely.
I love this gospel, I love being a missionary, and I love working alongside the greatest friend and example in the world, Jesus Christ.
I can't wait to see you all! Try not to attract TOO much attention in the airport. :) Love you all sooooo very much!
All the love in the world,
Monday, September 2, 2013
So to start things off, I have to introduce you to . . . . Alberto. Alberto is 88 years old, and despite his years is still a very tall handsome Argentine. :) He has worked in almost every occupation imaginable, starting in a bakery when he was 7 years old. He takes complete care of himself, has a perfect, clean little house and garden outside with lemon trees and Jasmine bushes that he cares for. He spends his time reading and cooking up amazing concoctions that he insists on feeding us. He's something straight out of a fairytale movie. Alberto is the most loving, kind hearted man I think I have ever met, and in the very first moment that we met him, loved us as his own daughters and opened up his heart to us. He has known the church for more than thirty years but still isn't a member. He's read the Book of Mormon many times, as well as Jesus the Christ, institute manuals, and any other LDS literature he can get his hands on. He has a better understanding of our doctrine than alot of us members! So you may be wondering, "So why isn't he a member!" Here's his story.
We met Alberto one day when we went to buy some juice and were sitting down to take a rest on a warm afternoon about two weeks ago. He was with his daughter who is a very active member of the church from a different ward, and when she saw us she got all excited and stopped to talk with us. Her daughter, Alberto's granddaughter is serving a mission in Rosario. We met Alberto, wrote down his address and went to visit him a few days later. From that moment on, we loved Alberto with all our hearts. We had lesson after lesson, always with the same question, "So Alberto, why haven't you gotten baptized?" He showed us all his books, including his Book of Mormon from 1975 that his daughter gave him when she got baptized. It had the most beautiful dedication inside, the daughter pleading with her father to read the book and pray to know if it's true.
We came to lessons with different members, all of whom loved Alberto just as much but all left just as befuddled as us. From the very start, we were very bold with Alberto, teaching him the doctrine of baptism and the importance, and inviting him over and over again to stop playing around and make this decision once and for all to get baptized! Finally, we discovered that Alberto was just being lazy and was waiting for his daughter to baptize him when he had passed away! But we all know that someone who KNOWS the truth in this life and chooses not to act upon it is going to have a rough time repenting in the next life.
About a week ago, we were thinking and praying alot about Alberto. We studied and thought some more, and decided that we needed to stop beating him over the head with baptism, and focus instead on the only One who could really help Alberto have a change of heart, Jesus Christ. We felt very strongly that we needed to have a lesson on the Atonement. We went to Alberto's house on Friday without a member and had a lesson outside in the warm sun (spring is here!) In the very first moment of that lesson, there was a different spirit. It had changed from pressure and frustration with Alberto to complete love for this man and concern for his salvation.
We had one of the most beautiful lessons I think I've ever had, and at the end, invited Alberto to be baptized. But this time it was different. This time it was an invitation to show his love for his Savior and faithfully follow His example. It was the essence of everything we do and work for as missionaries. It was inviting others to come unto Christ.
Alberto's eyes filled with tears and he smiled and said, "I know I need to be baptized." Alberto is going to be baptized this Saturday. After the lesson, we were eating apple pie and he said, "You two have managed to do what my daughter has been trying to do for 30 years." I believe that every person has their moment when Jesus Christ reaches out in infinite, patient love and calls out to them to follow Him. And it was one of the most sacred experiences of my life being able to participate in that moment with Alberto. In that moment, I felt a tiny portion of the love that Jesus feels for Alberto, and even that tiny portion was almost overwhelming.
I love this work so very much and I love seeing the power of Jesus Christ's love and Atonement work miracles in so many lives here!