Sunday, January 26, 2014

One Year and Older and Wiser Too! Happy Birthday to Melissa!

Hey! I'm 20 years old now! That's so weird- but to answer the poparrazi- no I don't feel different. (also, the keys on this computer are unusually sticky, so I have a feeling that typos will be abundant)

My birthday happened como asì-
-Woke up.
-Went to my Pensionistas- to find that for the first time in the mission, at a special request from me, she made us pancakes! They were so good, and we ate them with jam. Delicioso.
-We went to the office, to finish up the video that we were going to present at Lìderazgo the follow day. And, since the conference was the next day, we were the only ones at the office. So it was kind of boring. But then there was this civil protest parade thing outside of the office building. So that was different.
-We went to the mission home, and ate some delicious leftovers. Hna Zobrist had wanted to go to Avelino (this big huge shopping place) for awhile, and asked us to take her. So then we went, and I found a red dress that I liked, and some cool pink Peruvian pants. So I bought them. It was really fun, and nice of her to take us.
-Went back to our area and worked as usual.
-The power went out in almost all of Arequipa around 6 PM. And it was raining.
-We had to go back to our room, because its not safe when the streetlights are out.... but then we left our room at 7:30 to go to a family night at my pensionistas. It wasn't optional.
- We had a lesson at their house (given by Andy, the 6 year old), and then they all went around and said nice things to me, and then played a game. They invited Hna LIlian, who lives in the same house as us, Hno Hugo-our ward mission leader, and Junior- our recent convert. I felt so loved and special, and was surrounded by fantastic people.
-They sang happy birthday to me, and then when I blew out the candle- Junior poured flour ALL over me!! Then, they told me that it was tradition to have me bite the cake- And then they shoved my face in it!! It was awesome.

Overall, a pretty good birthday!! I thought about you all that day, how you would be making me breakfast in bed and silly signs if you had the chance, but I really was happy. Its the only birthday I'll have in the mission, and my pensionista and her family really went the extra mile to make me have a special day- and that meant more to m than any present they could have given.

Tuesday, was leadership in the mission home, and it was great! We talked a lot about faith, which was great, after having Elder Grow com here. It helped me look at missionary work differently, and what I need to do to allow faith to be the biggest element involved when it comes to goal making. I got a lot out of it, and was so happy to be involved. We gave a presentation on Emergency Preparedness, and I made this video that started out saying "Like Frodo, we all have a mission to complete. And to complete such an important mission, we need to know what we should do in case of emergencies." and then it was followed by clips of Lego Lord of the Rings, and the corresponding emergencies that we could have here. It was so funny, and now a tons of people want the video. We also passed out chocolate, and when the terrorism part came on, we had people shoot fake arrows from the loft above. It was a great presentation.

We have some awesome people set to be baptized this month. A is progressing so much, and he understands our Spanish so well, and is one of the funniest people Ive met out here. He has a walking problem and some speech impediments, but its only because his spirit is so awesome, that Heavenly Father had to even it out somehow.

We are going to have a wedding on the 14th of February! L and N. They have been in this cycle of getting together and breaking up for years, but have finally found the glue that will keep them together, and that is the Gospel of Christ! She got baptized last May, when they were separated, and then these past two weeks N has been taking the discussions, and he wants to help his little family survive the challenges of this life, and is so willing to change.

E, is a 16 year old girl, who lives with N and L and watches their kids during the day, and who has been taking the discussions as well, during the afternoon, is making some amazing changes as well, and we know that shes getting more and more prepared everyday.

That's the amazing part about a mission- being able to see people change their lives through the application of the Atonement, and seeing the spirit touch their hearts and give them desires to repent and enter into the gate. Its an incredible journey that everyone goes through, and I feel privileged to be able to be a small part of it. I wouldn't give this up for anything, and am so glad that I'm here, and not at home (this week included), because I know that this is the absolute best thing I could be doing.

I bought a pan flute today, taking my first steps towards completing my New Years goal. Its harder than it looks. I have some instructions, but do you think you could look up how to play it and send me what you find?

Grandma and Grandpa Leavitt are home!!! Give them both big ol´ brazos for me, will you? I am so proud to have them as my grandparents. Making the decision to go on a mission was a little easier to make when I looked at the examples that both of my grandparents were giving me.

Next week, we are going to Chivay, this back country tiny town, to check out the medical situation, and as well to spend the night, and then get up way early, go to Colca canyon, and see the almost extinct Andean condors. (Perk number 13284092632982763 of being in the office) So I don't know when I'll get on next week, maybe the day before. Anyways, it should be an awesome time.

I love you all dearly, and hope that things are well back in Zion. Keep me in your prayers, and I'll keep you in mine. :)

Hna Leavitt

It's Thundering Outside

Hey, it´s thundering outside. Anyways-

Looks like its going to be a short one this time folks- as its one of those "slow internet days" that so often plagues missionaries in Perù. A brief summary-

-Elder C. Scott Grow is amazing, and we´re so blessed that he´s over our mission. He did a great job of talking to the members, and to us as missionaries, and we really got the feeling  and "caught to wave" that the Lord is hastening His work, and that we need to also hasten ours. It was so good. Made me think a lot about the faith that I have, and I realized that I have to sit back and think..... "when I pray, do I really believe that my prayers can make a difference?" and, although I'm sorry to say it, the answer wasn't one befitting of someone that has been raised in the church, so all this week, Ive been praying with " real intent" not only praying because I know God exists, but praying because I know that when I pray- my faith in Him allows Him to work miracles in my life. Faith really does precede miracles- and the very minute that I decided to develop my faith- miracles started happening. J just fell into our lap and is getting baptize on the 26th, A changed his habits and will probably be the week after that- N and L have decided to get married on the 10th, and F and L are on their way to marriage as well. I can see the difference, not only in our area, but in myself, when I really do put my faith in HIM. I cant believe that its taken me this long to trust Him so implicitly, but better late than never, right?

-I got the sweetest Christmas Card from Emily Olsen! Tell her thank you for me, will you? It was so nice of her. And also please send a shout out of thanks to Bryan and Audrey, for the awesome, unexpected Christmas package, that had Christmas sweets and a water bottle from all these pictures of the Leavitt reunion! Its so cool, and is now clipped to my bag.

WE ARE GETTING A NEW NURSE IN MAY! That means I only have to wing it until she gets her, then Ill train her, and then, although I do love office work, I don't want to be there my whole mission- and president said for my last little bit hell send me to all the cool, huge areas outside of the city, with only fields and fields, or he´ll send me to Ilo the ocean city. All I know is, the future nurse better not get married before she gets here.

Alright, sorry its not too long or detailed, but I hope you know that I love you all, and will be thinking about you lots on my birthday. They crack eggs on your head and pour flour on you. So that will be fun.

I'll put the email I sent to Rachel (who is lucky enough to give the ward a report on my mission) on here, to give it some more meat- I love you all so much!!

"...wait... you seriously have to talk about me on Sunday? Whaaaat? When did they start doing that?! That's weird. Cant they just wait for me to get back? Hahaha, no, that's fine, Ill answer your questions as best as my limited time allows me to do-

A funny story that has happened......... ah, I cant focus, im in this internet cafe and these kids are playing this virtual game and screaming at each other and its bugging me. Yeah, okay, something funny...... one time, I was sitting on this bus next to this little boy. His mom was the person who takes the money and screams out the open bus door where the bus is going, and his dad was the driver. So I was just sitting there next to him, when I saw him looking at me out of the corner of his eye. So I looked at him, and then he would look away, and then he looked at me and I would look away, and then he tapped me on the shoulder and said "Hey. You're different. You don't look like the rest of us." And I told him " I know, its weird, huh?" and then he said " are you from space?" and I said " Yep." And then I just waited for his reaction, but then he pretended to fall asleep- then he woke up, and then he tapped his mom and gave her some invisible money, and said "Baja Chile" which means "Stop at Chile" and I said "Poque estas bajando en Chile?" (why are you getting off at Chile?) and he said " To get away from you, because my mom always says that there´s no more space in Chile, and that's why we moved to Arequipa." His face was so serious and the whole thing was so cute that I laughed so hard I started crying, and so did his dad, and his mom, who had been listening to the whole thing. Then when I tried to pay- she wouldn't let me, because she said I had given her something to laugh about for 10 years.

Favorite experience so far? Ahh- so many to choose from! I would say... inviting Junior to be baptized. I was so nervous, and we had already invited him earlier in the lesson, and he said no, but I could just feel the spirit so strongly after the prayer was over to just say "Hey, wait a minute" and then I bore my testimony with as much power and Spanish as I could muster, and then I put the baptism date, the 22nd of December, for him to accept. And there was like a minute of pure silence, and my heart was beating so fast, and you could feel the spirit so strong- and then he accepted!

What have I learned that I didn't know before my mission? Like half of the Gospel, is what I feel like sometimes.... but something specific.... I learned from Jesus the Christ (the book) so much! Like that Christ came to the Americas 6 weeks after he died. Somehow I always had it in my head that he came sooner. I also have learned more about the healing nature of the Atonement. Its not just for sins, but for injustices as well.

My testimony of missionary work... well, I don't have too much time, but something that I have been learning from the recent visits of general authorities, and counsel from my president, and the direction that the church is taking, is that we are all involved in the work of salvation. Its not just missionary work or member work, its really everyone working together to save Children of God. And we can see that the Lord truly is hastening His work. The Second coming is closer with every passing day, and there's not a better time in the history of the world, to be involved in the work of Salvation, and to be a full time participant in that is one of the greatest blessings that I have ever received.

And those are your questions- good luck! Don't make me out to be too good of a person or missionary alright? I'm far from perfect and still have so much to work on. But I know that you'll do me justice. :)

Love ya big baby!"
Hna Leavitt

Me and Hna Pug at the office. That's right- workin´girls.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Paintballing with my Zone

I just sent massive emails to my parents, so this family one will be shorter, my apologies.

Some updates:

-I went paintballing with my zone and got shot 5 times. I got shot in the head, the neck, the shoulder, the chest, and the leg. And there are all marks to show for it. But it was fun. I think I got shot so much because I hate hiding and was running around. That will do it.

- I got an email from a teacher in the CCM, Ill just copy and paste what he sent

"Mire lo que encontré por curioso. Usted sale en un video!! No me diga que no es usted, porque es imposible que alguien se confunda! 1 minuto con 26 segundos. Que gracioso haha Bueno le escribía directamente a usted para que los demás no lo vean, sino probablemente se reirían. haha. En fin, espero esté muy bien! He visto hace poco a Hna. Moe en el templo, le manda saludos! Cuídese!"

Which basically translates into " Hey--- you´re in a YouTube video!!" Hahaha, isn't that crazy- that my CCM teacher recognized me from the "She´s Going on a Mission" video and then emailed me about it? I thought it was so funny. Who would have thought?

-I made a few Mission logos, that we might put on these bags.

-I'm working on this huge sister conference for all the sisters in the mission, and I'm having a blast, and I think that its going to awesome. I am 110% my mother´s daughter.

-The rainy season is starting here, and all the rain stuff that I was sent with is finally starting to be put to good use! A little too much use, and we´re only in the first week of a three month rainy season. Nice Clark.Real nice.

-I got a Christmas Card from the Halls, and a package full of Christmas letters from the BEST ward in the whole wide world!!! Send them my thanks, will you? That was so nice of them, and it meant so much to me! I also got some from the YSA ward! They´re great.

-My birthday is in 10 days. I will be 20. I don't know how I feel about that.

-Hey, it´s Mel´s (my old roommate) birthday on the 14th, tell Chelsea to tell her Happy Birthday for me, will you? And tell her late happy birthday. And also be in communication with her and find out what their living situation will be for them next year. Usually people start setting things up about halfway through spring semester.

- I love you all so much, and hope you have a great January!

-Hmmmm.... am I missing something? It seems to me like an adorable little girl might have a birthday on the 16th.... but I can´t remember what her name is...... oh yeah- Happpy Happpy Happpy Happy Birthday Allison!!!!! I can´t believe that you're going to be 9 years old!!!!! You´re are so cute, and I love you so much! I wish that I could send you something for your birthday, but don´t worry, Ill get you something extra special for next year. Give Bella a hug and a kiss for me!!

Here's a picture of me paintballing.

Love you all!

Hna Leavitt

Mission Logo made by Melissa

New Year Resolutions

You'll have to forgive me if this email isn't quite as long as the previous one- because, much to my surprise, I opened my email inbox to discover that I had FORTY emails filled with pictures from my adventurous little family in the Dominican Republic, and it took me an hour to go through them. You all look like you're having so much fun!!! That's so special that you got to share that with some of the other cousins and with grandma and grandpa. And I'm not even that jealous. Well, maybe I am a little. Or a lot. But that's okay, because I should learn how to develop more Christlike attributes while I'm out here, and getting over jealousy of an awesome family vacation is all part of the process.

Some of the things mom said made me laugh- like about the trash, and the traffic, and the living conditions of some of the people, and about how the market opened up your eyes, and, although Peru is different from the DR- just imagine similar conditions here, and brace yourself for when ya´ll come, because that's more or less what its like here. Just be prepared.

Well, New Years was this past Wednesday, and the people here have some cool traditions and some weird ones. Ive already decided that I'm going to do an American Christmas with my future family, and then go ALL PERUVIAN for new years. a few traditions:
-You wear all yellow (and I mean all yellow, like people were selling yellow underwear in the street) all day on New Years Eve, to have good luck the next year. Or you can wear red, for love. Or green for money. And the yellow isn't just a mellow yellow, but like, a blinding yellow that hurts your eyes.
-There are more fireworks than at Christmas, and people ignore fire safety more than any other day of the year.
-They make these huge stuffed dolls (like they sew jeans together and stuff them with cotton) and then they hang them out of their windows, and it looks like all these people are falling out of windows during the day, and then at night, they put them out in the middle of the street and burn them. I'm not sure why.
- People take their suitcases, and then run through the main square, which signifies that they're hoping to travel all year long.
-You  peel three potatoes. One all the way, one halfway, and one you just leave alone. Then you put them in something and turn off the lights and then pick one. I think if you get the unskinned one, you are supposed to have a lot of luck that year.
-They have 12 grapes, for 12 months, and you go around, eating one by one, and make a wish for that corresponding month.

There's a whole bunch more, but Ill stop there. Pretty cool, huh? I'm doing them all when I'm back.

Ive been kind of getting over a stomach bug for the past month, and so I was feeling really tired, so on NYE we went to bed at 10:30, then woke up at 11:50 to go up to the roof to see the fireworks. There were no chairs or anything to sit on, so we sat in this sink. I was so tired that I don't think I said anything the whole time. Then all these people were hugging on the rooftops next to us, and Hna Pug was like " Do you want a hug?" and I said "No. I want to go to bed." (Tell that to Kelsi- think shell really get a kick out of it. Really, anyone who knows what I'm like when I'm tired will understand. Then, the next day we went to the office, and all of Arqp was like a Ghost Town. They all have really big meals at 12 and stay up really late, so I think the whole country was sleeping. Traffic was really calm. Then, after we worked in the office,Pres y Hna invited us over to the mission home, where we ate like kings, and played a ton of games with them and all the office elders. It was so much fun, and a great bonding time as an office.

This year, so the first time in my life, I'm going to make resolutions that I'm actually going to work on and complete during this next year! I have 10, here they are:
1)Improve my Spanish so I sound as Peruvian as possible
2) Read the Book of Mormon, D&C, Pearl of Great Price, and the New Testament in Spanish, and then start in Quechua
3)Write my family and Chase a physical letter at least once a month
4) Use up at least half of all the camera memory I have
5) Write in my journal at least 5 times a week
6)Don't use any heat products on my hair (exceptions- special occasions, like Elder C. Scott Grow, who is visiting us next week, but I can only use heat once a week, and I have to use a heat protectant when I do)
7)Learn how to play the pan flute
8)End on good terms with all my companions
9)Return with honor from serving a full time mission
10)Go to Machu Picchu

And, there you are. I wrote down in my journal how I plan on completing with these goals, but I'm pretty satisfied with them, and I know that they are doable. If you have any more ideas, or would like to tell me what your resolutions are, then send me an email. I have a ton for 2015 too, because I got on a resolution kick, and its a list full of things like- get married, take a family name to the temple, etc, etc, But I think Ill just send you my 2014 ones for now, so I don't get too trunkie.

Hey, can you send out some thank yous for me? I got a package from Sister Peters, on behalf of Jerome 1st ward RS, and it was so great and appreciated! I also got a Christmas card from the Halls and from Stacy Boer. Tell them thanks will you?

Well, my adventurous travelers, its time for me to head out, but I hope you know how much I love you. You're all the best in the west. And the east. and the north. I love you all so much!!!

Hna Leavitt

Christmas in Peru

First of all-

It was so fantastic to see all of you on Skype! You all look great, healthy, beautiful, and it was such a blessing to be able to talk to you for that hour. I'm sorry that I was so emotional, but hey, for a girl who has not cried yet over being homesick, I thought I did pretty good! I'm sorry you had to stress for half an hour to wait for me to get on, but it was all worth the heartache in the end, right?

A little bit more about Christmas-

So I told you about the Fireworks, but I just cant get over how awesome it was at 12 on Christmas eve! I'm so happy that our zone got permission to be out until then (but we had to be with one family, we couldn't go house hopping or anything like that) because it seriously made me love this country more than I already did. I LOVE PERU! They know how to celebrate. I'm going to ask Pres if I can put that video took up on DropBox for you all to pull off, but be aware, it has me laughing, and saying " wow!" like every 3 seconds, and at one point I think I'm screaming. Anyways, Ill work on getting that up. It makes me want you all to be here next Christmas to witness it for yourselves. Its just awesome.

-I opened my presents at midnight! Hey- it wasn't because i was impatient, it was because we were in Peru, and that's what they do. And thank you so much for everything that you sent! It is all so useful and perfect and I am really appreciative of it all! Thank you so much for all the gifts for everyday, and all the handouts that were just so cute and fun! I took a picture of the fully armed tree that I will have to send. But, I did save two presents for the morning, the one that had my stocking, and the one that said "open me last" and so I did..... and geez. What an emotional gift! I couldn't believe  I had the "Ill love you Forever" book in my hands, that alone was enough to start the tears flowing, and imagine my surprise when I heard that you had recorded your voices reading it to me! ¡Que emoción! I don't know how long I cried after that. But it took me awhile to get a hold of myself. I loved it.... but I put it into my suitcase and might take it out in February if I think I'm emotionally stable enough. Thanks so much!!
Melissa and her companion opened up treat, a challenge and an ornament to put on their homemade tree the whole month of December.

-After I Skyped you all, we had lunch at the mission home, and President made these pork ribs that were just "finger lickin´ good" and then we popped popcorn, hung out, and then we went and and caroled with a bunch of other missionaries at the Plaza de Armas. It was a GREAT Christmas!!

Here is a picture of me and some of my best friends out here when we went caroling at the plaza. This was the same night that Elder McPherson recognized me from the "Shes going on a mission" music video and made my day!
-Oh wait, Before Christmas, on the 22nd, at 8 am.- we had as baptism!!! Hermano JJ entered into the waters of Baptism and showed his family, himself, and his Father and Heaven just how much he wanted to change to be able to return home. It was great, we got there early, and the day before we made banana and apple bread at the mission home that was just a HIT with all the members. We really wanted him to feel special, so we made programs and everything, and it actually went really well! I think part of that had to do with the fact that there were only two children there, and they weren't being too crazy. You could feel the Spirit so strong, during the testimonies, during the ordenanza, and afterwards, when we were all singing. And the great part was- his family came! And I know that they felt the spirit, and I hope that sparks some interest for them in the future. I just want them to all be together forever so bad, and I wish that they lived in our area so we could visit them, but we will just have to hope and pray that they will want to know more, from this great and amazing change that they've seen in their son. He seriously has changed so much! Hes so happy and genuine and he is getting the Aaronic Priesthood this next week, and I know, I KNOW, that if he keeps doing these things that our Heavenly Father has outlined for him to do, I know that he will be happy, and a great asset to the church. I love this work that we are all engaged in so much. It really is the work of salvation for our brothers and sisters, and when we can see someone come to see the truth of the Gospel of Christ, we see them change, we see how their souls have hunger, and we see what they do about it. Change really comes when we understand claramente what our purpose here is on Earth, and how the Gospel of Christ helps us accomplish that purpose better than anything else. Its because these truths and teachings are eternal, just like our souls, so it makes sense that the thing that brings the very everlasting pats of ourselves lasting joy is also complete and everlasting. I love it all so much!

-Also, the other day, we had a lesson with him about the priesthood, and we accidentally showed him the video about how it took until the 1970´s for African Americans to receive it....... whoops! We thought it was something else! How{s that for a deep topic after baptism? We covered it alright by saying "Yeah... well.... look how important the priesthood is, and how happy these people were when they received it. Anyways...." I'm thinking we should teach Polygamy next week and the Law of Consecration after that, just to really lay it on thick. :)

I hope you are having fun in the DR- pick me up some cool stuff, stay safe, learn Spanish.

Brazos y Besos,

Hna Leavitt