Monday, February 24, 2014


The topic of this email is my motto for the next 5 months.

Hey- I got a transfer! I'm in Corire. Look it up on Google Maps. It is SO HOT HERE. Like, I am sitting here, sweating in a computer lab, and I can already feel my clothes sticking to me. We are out in the BOONIES. I mean there's, a main town and everything, but this will be 3 transfers of "roughing it" President has the idea in his mind that in 6 months, we can have a stake here, so we need to look for potential priesthood leaders to baptize. It was tough to say goodbye to Hna Pug, but I will see her in a week because.... Im going back into Arequipa for leadership training, because I am a Sister Training Leader!! I have no idea what that means, but HR will help me out.

I am out of my first area! Its crazy to think that I am really somewhere else. I am in Corires. I am serious about the heat. I think I am going to melt in my chair. I probably  just need water. So, my last few days:

-On Saturday, we ended up NOT having a baptism (Anotnio... why?!?!) but that is okay, because they are getting back in March, so they will get baptized then and I will get pictures from the Hermanas there. A little disappointing, but that is how life can be sometimes. We went over to the mission home, and watched "Frozen" with Hna Zobrist and President, as our last Pday together. I love that movie so much!!! "Do you wanna build a snowman?" The music is fantastic, although I can only remember a one line from each of the songs. Maybe someone can send me the lyrics. :) Then, that night we had a little family home evening with our pensionista, which ended up being really great. We had a testimony meeting, and then a little talent show, and I only cried a little.

-Sunday, we went to go get our investigators, and they almost all fell through to come to church. Dang it! Just come to church!! But it turned out to be a very   spiritual meeting, and I was invited to share my testimony, because the night before my zone leader called to say that I had transfers, to Corires, all the way out in Siguas, and that I had to leave Monday in the morning. So that was fun.... actually, goodbyes really never are that great, and I was glad that we had to leave that afternoon to go work as a zone in Tiabaya. Then we had to go to the mission home so I could pick up these shoes to bring to an elder out here, and  then we headed back to the Mesa families house for dinner, and to my great surprise, there were 40+ people there to say goodbye to me! The meza familia had put up balloons, and invited all of the ward, and I think more people showed up to that than to sacrament meeting that morning. There were faithful members, new converts, even a few less actives, and it was just so.... touching. I'm not sure how it happened, but I entered into the hearts of these people, and them into mine. They all went around and said nice things to me, and all had cards made, and chocolates, and the bishops daughters sang "I want to  be a missionary now". then we ate cake, took pictures, and then I had to say something. As you can imagine, I was just overcome with emotion, love, and support from this little ward in Perù, and I struggled for words at first, but then ended up somehow being able to say what I wanted to say, that the best way to remember me, is to do something to help the people that we have baptized and rescued. Angel, Leidy, Daniel, Wilson, Jesus, Lizbet, Anotnio, Elena, Sayuri, The Mota Family, Vanesa, and William all need them right now. They need friends, and that's what I want to see when I come back in a year, more than anything else. It was incredible. I felt like Kolipoki, from the other side of heaven, as they sang "Hasta ver, hasta ver, hartó ver  nos con el rey, hasta ver, hasta ver, para siempre Dios este con voz." It was so nice. So nice! I have some sweet pictures I will have to send next week, because the computer wont let me do it here.
Then, that night, we went back, and I had to pack all my stuff. I have so much stuff, and that's after I went through to all and threw some stuff away. Oh well. I did it pretty fast, since I had been kind of packing all week, and I actually think that sometime around mid March, you should be expecting a package from me filled with fun and cool things. HP is doing me a solid and taking it home for me. I gave her money and everything to send it, but when you get it, send her a big old thanks from me, will you? I hope you like what it all has. We went to bed at a good time, despite a crazy party outside thrown by the police department.

-This morning, I got to say goodbye to Hna Luci, and Aleida, and then Hno. Humberto took me and HP to the terminal to get on the bus. That morning I had been pretty okay with the whole thing, til Andy told Pug and I to switch name tags, and I asked "why?" and he said "so you don't have to leave." No lies, there were waterworks on both sides when he said that- but he came with us to the terminal, and we got to do our hand shake one last time.

-Hna Robinson, my awesome new companion who is from the LDS colonies in Mexico, (SHE IS AWESOME), and I got on a bus, and headed out to our area. Its nice. Its nice and hot. so hot. I actually might end email time early, because its so hot. I just want to go into our room and lay on the floor. Our room is nice though. We will be eating at the same place as the elders do, and after the two bugs i discovered in my food, I have decided to not look at what I eat, just shovel it in and go with it. It will be a challenge, to open an area as backwoodsy (actually, I wish we had woods) as this, but I am looking forward to it. I am also looking forward to being a STL as well, even though I have no idea how to do it.

Okay, its hot, I love you, thank you for all the emails!!! Still no packages, but I think things will take awhile to get to me out here anyways, so I just won't worry about the delay. The vision for this area is to become a stake. So lets go build a stake!!

Love you,

Hermana Leavitt

A Day of Faith

This week has been a great one. Kind of sad and emotional, but in all honesty, more great than anything else.

We started it off with a FHE at our Bishops house this past Monday. It went great, we ate and talked, and our Bishop seemed like he had something to say, but he just wasn't saying it, so then it was time for us to go, and he said " Hermanas, just a minute, before you leave, I have something to say." At which point he started to get really emotional, and actually started to cry. We think it all stemmed from this huge conference that all the Stakes in Arequipa had last Sunday, and in my interview with President I told him all about the progress in our ward, and how we put a baptism goal with our ward council, and we are going to complete it, and I guess at the conference, President actually had him stand up and be recognized for all his efforts, and for our little ward, and our bishop, who has got so much on his plate, I think this was a pretty big deal for everyone. Anyways, so he got emotional, and then went on to pour our his heartfelt thanks to us, for all the work that we have done. That was all the payment I will ever need for spending my time in this ward, and it was so unexpected. Then his wife started crying, and his 7 year old (who reminds me sooo much of another little girl who started crying when I left home) just burst into tears, and when we left their home, I just looked at my companion and said "Dang. This is going to be harder than I thought."

So we have been kind of saying our goodbyes and stuff, but it hasn't been too emotional. But tonight is our last FHE with my pensionistas family and that's a goodbye that I am dreading. Especially to say goodbye to Andy. Shoot, he was my first friend on my mission, and we played so much together! I wonder what that's like for him, to get all attached to the missionaries, and then have them leave. He is only 5, but he really is my little buddy.

 I will let you all know how that went on MONDAY, because that will become my regular PDay again. But I dont' know what time, because thats the day of transfers, and it might take me awhile to get to my new area. If I stay in Arequipa, it will be at 10, but if not, it will be later in the day (which will give you some more time to wake up.)

Hey- Pray for Antonio and Jose, will you? Three days before their baptism, they just disappeared. We hope that he is just avoiding his ex wife, and he will show up today, but we have been hearing so many different things about where he is from so many different people that we really don't know what to believe. We went by once on Thursday, three times yesterday (morning, afternoon, and night) and we went once before internet, and then we are going again when we finish here. Its just a test, a  test to see how we react. And so far, we are doing pretty good about not losing hope or getting discourages or anything like that, we just keep praying for him to come back, or to get a spiritual impression to come back, and we keep going back to his house with the expectation that he will be there. He will be there! But pray for us and them, will you? Thanks. :)

So last Saturday Sayuri and Vanesa were baptized. Things went alright, Vanesa and all her family were there right on time, and so was Sayuri... but her dad wasn't. He is the only member of her family that was going to come,  but the hour started to pass and he still didn't show up. You could just tell that Sayuri{s little heart was breaking, and she was on the verge of tears. We waited and stalled as long as we could, and then we went outside to take pictures, and then we called her dad, and he kept saying he was on his way, but then 20 minutes would pass- Finally a member just jumped in his car and went to look for him, and he finally came!!

Then, those two cute little girls were baptized- Vanesa went down and up fine, but Sayuri was a struggle. She had told us before that she didn't like to put her head under the water, but we just kind of assumed that she would be fine with 1 second. We assumed wrong. A priest in our ward was baptizing her, and he would say the ordinance, and then just kind of put her halfway in the water, and she would immediately come up, just scared out of her mind. She tried it twice, and still wasn't submerged, and then she almost started to think that she couldn't do it, so we close the font doors, and Hermana Pug and I went up there and comforted and coached her through it. I don't think I have ever prayed more fervently in my life- on my hands and knees at the top of a baptismal font, getting soaked, coaching this little girl through her baptism. We finally got her to practice bending her knees and kind of sitting down in the water instead of just going straight back and up, and she finally was baptized. Then we went into the bathroom, and hugged her, and told her how brave she was, and how proud we were of her, and how much stronger she will be for conquering her fears, and why it is so important for us to be submerged completely. She seemed to understand, but still, we were so worried that when she looked back on her baptism, she would remember it as something terrible, but we have visited her so much this week, and she is so happy!

We gave her and Vaney the D&C DVD set, and when we came to visit Sayuri- she told us that she had already watched all of Disc 2! So she is doing great, and the Young Womens even had a little party for her last Sunday. She really does need a strong woman in her life, because she doesn't live with her mom, and I know that she can find that in the church. We just got a new YW president that I think will be that for her.

And-- I think that's about it for this week! It has been kind of tough to say goodbye, but I'm looking forward with faith and anticipation, and I am so grateful for the experiences that I have had here, and I know that the ward will help our new members. What a blessing, to be able to get to know such beautiful people like these.

I love you all, and hope that you have a great week. I will talk to you Monday! (*cough*Feel free to write me between now and then*cough*DadZachHannahRachelAbbyAllieChaseJaime)

Hermana Leavitt

Vanessa and her family

Sayuri and her dad
Sayuri and Vanessa

Hermana Pug, & myself with the Bishop's family

Birthday celebration with my zone

Saturday, February 15, 2014

¡Felìz Dia de Amistad!

Happy 15th of February! The day after Valentine`s Day. I hope that your VDay was great- from the pictures I saw, it looked delicious and fun. :) We didn't celebrate too much, I just wore pink, and we watched "Legacy" in the morning, which is the most romantic movie we can watch, and then Hna Zobrist brought some delicious cupcakes to the office. I ate so many. The best one was a "Banana Split" that had cream and chocolate and a banana chip on top, and it was a banana cupcake with custard and jelly inside. The lady that Hna Zobrist bought them from said she learned everything she knows from YouTube, so I decided that I'm not going back to USU, I'm just going to watch YouTube videos for my formal education instead. Its cheaper. :) We also had a lesson with Sayuri, the 12 year old girl who is getting baptized today, and we brought all these papers and stickers and made valentines for her family. And, our pensionista each got us a rose. Annd.... I think that was about everything! I still don't have my package yet, but that's okay, it just means that I get to extend my celebrations.

But, hands down, the best part of Valentine´s Day is when Antonio José and José Antonio passed their baptismal interviews and got even more set with the 22nd as their baptismal date. :) Yes!!! We are really going to do it! We are going to have six baptisms in the month of February, the same amount that our ward had alllll last year. And I know it really wasn't things that we did, but rather the Lord allowing us to act as instruments in His hands. Faith really does proceed miracles, and this really is a miracle. And instead of just putting goals for the month based on the people that we had at the time, we really prayed to find out how many people the Lord had prepared for us, and put the number, with faith that the people we had would work out, and that we would find even more people as the month went on. And, of the 3 people that have baptismal dates at the beginning of the month, only 2 of them are of the 6 that will be baptized by the time that February is over. Its such a  testimony to me that if we allow room for faith, that the Lord will allow us to perform miracles.

So, tonight at 5, Sayuri and Vanesa will be baptized! Sayuri is 12, and Vanesa 14. Hmm... can you think of two girls that I love that are just around those ages as well? Yep- I will be thinking about you a lot today Rachel and Abby!! Its been awesome, the week before this one, Elena was baptized, and shes almost 17, and then one of my first baptisms, was Leidy who has 10 years. And then Jesus and Daniel, who are 22. And Anotonio, who is 43. Haha, does anyone see a pattern here? I'm baptizing the Peruvian versions of my family!!! I'm just short of a 40 year old woman to match up with mom. (Don't worry, Ill find her.) But it really is a special experience, to be able to relate these people with you all. It makes me love them even more, like they really are my own family. I'm so excited for these two young women to take this amazing step in their lives, and be the first in their families to make covenants with their Heavenly Father. I know that with time, the families will follow. They will!

Andy likes to throw water on us a lot now, because one time we had a water fight. And now, since we have to go down these stairs and through the garage to go out the front door, and they have a balcony up top, when we leave, he runs and grabs his water gun and waits for us to walk out and then shoots us. Its so cute. I love that little kid so much. I know for sure that I'm getting a transfer, and I think we are all just trying not to think about it too much until it happens. I don't want to think about saying goodbye to Hermana Pug and getting used to a new companion all over again either. But, its been kind of good to know beforehand that I'm going, I get to tie up all my loose ends, get all the contact information from my converts, and I get to tell the members to keep going with this incredible progress. And I get to pack all during the week, and attempt to get rid of stuff from my way too heavy suitcases. Change is hard, but its good. I'm going to print off pictures today, so I can give them away during the week. Ive been here for so long that I have a lot of pictures with the members, and I thought that would be a good recuerdo. :)

Andy and Camilla playing a pan flute

My Pensionista & I

 I got to have an interview with President yesterday, because our Zone didn't get them awhile back, and also because this is probably going to be my last week in the office. It was so great, I got to tell him about all the progress Ive seen in the ward and in myself over the past 8 months. He is a really big advocate of self confidence, and because he believes in all of us so much, I feel that our mission has gained so much more confidence. In ourselves and in other missionaries, and in the members. When I shared with him how our ward was changed, he was so genuinely happy for me, and when I shared with him how much I  had changed, he was literally overjoyed. That's what is really important to him. The baptisms and the rescues, and the success of the mission all have their place. but the ultimate concern for him is personal conversion of his missionaries. And, if a missionary is acting against the rules and standards, he doesn't just dismiss them as bad people, he sits down with them and finds out what is making them act that way. He says that a lack of self confidence if most often the biggest culprit. He said to help his children learn this attribute, he would go up behind them when they were getting ready in the morning and say "Whew! I cant WAIT for tomorrow!" and then his children would ask "Why is that Dad?" and he would say "Because I get better looking every day!" Hahaha, kind of silly, but I love it. I love my mission president so much, and have learned an incredible amount of things from him and his wife. They both lead so well, because they lead with love.

Uhm... well, this is turning into a whopper of an email, I think in part because you're still all sleeping and not emailing me.

Oh yeah- I sent a bunch of pictures of Volleyball. That was last PDay. Our ward wanted us to play so bad, because they wanted to win the stake tournament, so we helped them out. It was so much fun to play with them. It was kind of a big deal to a lot of the sisters, and sometimes things got a little heated, but I was there to diffuse the tension and shout "No entiendo NADA!" Or "I don't understand ANYTHING!"
We won the tournament.... and now I'm 100% positive that they will make a rule that says that missionaries cant play. Oh well, fun while it lasted. :) They gave me my jersey afterwards too!

I never thought I'd be playing volleyball for Relief Society in Peru.
Do I look sun burnt? Because I am.

Okay, I think Ill send this off now, because you all woke up and are emailing me now.

I love you all so much, and think about you lots. But not too much. The appropriate amount. :) Hope you all have a great week!!


Hermana Leavitt

A bull staring down a car in my area

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Best P-Day Ever!

Today is shaping up to be one of the best P-Days ever on my mission. We had two baptisms this morning!! E and A finally sealed the deal and entered into the waters of baptism. It was beautiful!

We went last night and got the chapel all ready. And getting it " all ready" included cleaning the font and the baptismal room and the whiteboards and the hallways. I love Peru, but it seems like every time we go into the Capilla, there is a mess. I think that principle of "make a mess, clean it up" needs to be reinforced. Anyways, we cleaned it all up, wrote all fancy on the whiteboards, and then blew up all these Purple and blue  balloons and stuck them everywhere.

Today, we went by and visited A at around 8, just to make sure that he would be there at 9, and he was waiting on top of his roof, waiting for us! He is the best. We´ve been seeing him a ton around town this week, and every time we see him we say hi, and he¨ll say " hermanas....... que mas?" which is like saying "sisters..... what else?" He is such an awesome guy. We found out the other day that he has 5 kids, and is separated from his wife, and had an accident a few years ago that gave him a speech impediment and a limp. He needs this Gospel so bad, and honestly, our ward needs him too!

Then, we went and got E, who lives with Hna Liz. We had plans to get her at 8:20 and get there at 8:30, but this is Peru, and she had to help get the kids ready, so we ended up getting taking a taxi and getting there at 8:45, and to our surprise- the church wasn't open, like the bishop said it would be. So, we did a little more waiting, and then at 8:55 the bishop came and opened it. So we went inside and helped get her all ready (you'll notice in the pictures that she has her jeans on underneath her baptism dress.... we just said "whatever floats your boat!" and went with it).

 And then, just like we KNEW he would- A was there at 9, on the dot. So he got all ready and dressed. And then (ahh,  this part drives me NUTS) we had to wait about half an hour for the other members to show up. And we told them all 8:30! That needs to be fixed in our ward, but I don't know how. Anyways, then we left and took pictures, and then, saddest thing ever, Hna Liz had work, so she had to go, and couldn't see Elena, who is like a daughter to her, get baptized. If only we would have started at 9. Oh well, there's no use crying over late members.

And then- they were baptized. It was so special. I cant even describe it. Then afterwards, they got to share their testimonies- and A looked at us and said "Thank you so much for everything. I feel... free. I feel free." And E is super shy, so she didn't want to talk about it in front of everyone, but as we walked home with her, she just kept saying how happy she was.

Now is the tough part, where we make the transition from us to the ward, where we get to put trust in the leaders here to visit these people, and to have friends other than us. It can be rough, or smooth as butter, and you wanna know what it all depends on? WARD COUNCIL. Its all true what they say, consejo de barrio is key in retaining new members.

Later today is a Relief Society volleyball tourney at the stake! And guess who gets to go because its P Day and also because we'll be playing with investigators? THIS GIRL. I'm pretty excited about the whole thing- I ll let you know how it goes next week.

Alright, I think I'll end this letter now, and since this has been a day filled with the spirit- I think I'll end by saying that I know that this is true. Its all true. What I'm doing here, the way these people are changing their lives, and the peace that comes through the atonement of Jesus Christ is all real. Its all real and beautiful, and we have it, because we have a loving Father in Heaven who loves us, and who has a goal for us to return to Him. And were not supposed  to go back alone, we need to do our part to bring back our family and our friends. As many children of God as we can. I know that if you look for ways to help our Heavenly Father with this divine work that He has, He will bless your life in more ways than you thought possible.

I love you all so much!!!
Have a great week!

Hermana Leavitt

Monday, February 3, 2014

A trip to Chivay!

This last week- we got to go to Chivay. Chivay is this little town nestled in this valley like 3 hours away from Arequipa. It is OLD. Like, pre-Incan old. That's so old. Its such a neat  little town- its high in elevation, and kinds chilly there. They just recently built a new town square there, with this water fountain that lights up and plays cool Peruvian music. Its such a cool combination of the old and the new. Tons of tourists stay there for one night on their way to Colca Canyon to see these almost extinct Condors, so they have a lot of foreigners just breezing through town all the time. There are 4 missionaries there, and have helped branch attendance jump from 7 to 25. They used to go to church in this old DiscoTek, but it was so big and cold that the Church had to look for this new location- and they found it in this old restaurant that's on top of this hill. Its such a neat building. Its kind of funny, there's this bar, that you just KNOW used to hold liquor behind the counter, but now its all filled with pamphlets and Books of Mormon. We got there on Friday night, strolled through the town, looked at some of the shops, and then ate dinner at our "purposefully rustic" hotel, the Casa Andia. I ate this peppered Alpaca steak that was amazing, with this creamed sweet potato that was just awesome. Then the next day we got up at 5:20 to get ready and eat breakfast and go see the Condors! Its about an hour drive to get to the "Cruz de Condor" and when we got there, it was so foggy that you couldn't see anything. But, we were patient, and then we finally saw those Condors! Its like a different world up there. The canyon is so deep and the view is so beautiful- I fell in love with it all. And even though its the hardest area in the mission, and you're kind of cut off from the world- I have been begging President to put Hermanas there.... and one Hermana specifically named Hermana Leavitt. I think he's considering it. I think, apart for my selfish reasons of wanting to go, we really could make a difference, and help build up the church here, seeing as how there is never anyone to run the primary and Relief Society and Young Womens- and I think that would be right up my alley. :)

It was an awesome trip, and I'm go grateful to Pres and Hna Zobrist for taking us. I have no idea how we got so lucky! It really came at a great time for me- considering all the FUN STUFF happening back home. It was such a blessing to be able to see more of this beautiful country. I loved it. Can we go there when you come to pick me up? It's worth the drive.

I hope you're all doing great- I'm doing better. I love you all so much!! (Also, I was baptized 12 years ago yesterday. Crazy, huh?) Note from Melissa's mom: Allie was also baptized a year ago yesterday!

This is a picture of  Vicuñas. They are a rare type of Alpaca, that we saw on the way up. I think they were lucky that Grandpa Palmer wasn't there, or they would have been toast.

Shaggy Llamas

Vicunas Crossing the road

Melissa and Hermana Pug at some green fields in Chivay
A scary witch made out of rocks. With the fog it made her even more scary!

Modern statue in Chivay

Water feature in Chivay (Notice the Peruvian flag in the background)
Where we stayed - it was such a fun place!
This is an old church in Chivay, with a good view of the giant cross cut into the mountain above it.

Old church
A view into the canyon
A view into the canyon with some fog
Me, dangling my feet into the super deep canyon

President and his daughter Carly (she is visiting for about a month) waiting for the mist to roll out so we could spot some condors.
Me, in all my cold weather gear, reppin' USU!


Hermana Leavitt