Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reunion Fun

I was at reunion this year but was too busy cooking and cleaning up to take any pictures. (Our family was in charge of lunch). So since I didn't take any pictures I am putting some links from other family members posts about reunion here. Just click the link and it will take you there.

http://kayceeandrobbywyatt.blogspot.com/2009/06/leavitt-family-reunion.html Thanks Kaycee

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Hi to all our special and beautiful friends and family,

Another great and interesting week here on the high plains of Wyoming. One day we have a special experience working in the Cove talking to the hundreds of wonderful young people dressed in the pioneer attire and being able to tell them all about the pioneers who passed this way, the next day we are assigned to cleaning the many restrooms located throughout the site, then the next day sister Leavitt is working in the office and I am running a motor grader smoothing out the many pot holes in all of the roads caused by all the rain. All in all, the whole place is running like a fine tuned machine even though the leadership is probably pulling their hair out because half of us old folks are borderline senile, and the other half are hard of hearing, and they have me on both counts, but we just keep plugging along as if we had better sense.

On the serious side, we did have one missionary who had to be flown by helicopter into Casper for a heart problem. While he was here he kept passing out and they couldn't figure out what was causing it. As it turned out one of the trek groups visiting at the time had a Cardiologist with them as well as a cardiac nurse, so he was in good hands. After many tests and being monitored it was discovered that he needed a pacemaker and he will be back with us in a few days. Fortunately we had all purchased Flight for Life insurance for the nominal rate of $15 per person, per year when we first arrived, so his transportation was free, and Medicare is paying for the pacemaker. Praise the Lord!

On our day off we drove up to Lander and visited a place called the Sinks State Park. It is located at the base of the Wind River Mountains, which is one of the premier mountain ranges in the US. It has 53 peaks over 12,000 ft. and six of the largest glaciers in the Rocky Mountains. Anyway, the sinks is a place where a raging river called Popo Agai (pronounced po-posha) suddenly disappears into the side of a mountain and then reappears about a quarter of a mile downstream coming out of the mountain on the opposite side of the canyon. It doesn't just go underground and straight down the canyon because dye tests have shown that the water which should only take a few minutes to go that distance takes over 2 hours to reappear. It must do some serious roaming around. An amazing sight!

Also Saturday night I was privileged to attend the National Collegiate Rodeo Finals held every year in Casper. What a thrilling experience to see these talented young people compete. One of the Cowgirls who won a national championship in one event was from our own UNLV. The event was held in a beautiful indoor arena, and was as good as any rodeo I have ever seen, and I've seen a bunch, including the National Finals held in Las Vegas. (Sister Leavitt was helping to prepare cookie platters for Father's Day so was unable to attend.) The grandson of one of the couples serving here (The Whites) was a participant -- he also is a former Missionary. He really appreciated all of the Missionaries who were there cheering him on.

While they are camped here, the trek groups get to participate in square dancing. The missionaries get the opportunity to teach them the dances and to call for them and we have had the opportunity to help. Sister Leavitt has helped teach them the dances and I have been able to call some of the dances. Its quite a sight to see several hundred trekkers all square dancing at one time. The kids seem to love it.

Thanks to Lynn and Starr for their first email. Lynn, you're one of my hero's and Starr, you're the best.

Thanks to our wonderful kids who take care of our needs at home and stay in touch.

Tommy, Connor, Garrett, Olivia, Parker, Rory, Wyatt, Preston, Delaney, and Isabella, Grandpa and Grandma miss you and love you.

Love you all, Elder Leavitt

Hi everyone -- it has been quite a week. I know the women out there will be interested to know we had a Flowbee (I've been spelling it incorrectly) Extravaganza. We started out w/ Charlie cutting one woman's hair -- it turned out really cute, so another one lined up. Then, a Missionary who actually is a hair stylist, started trimming a few people's hair. Before the night was over, 9 women and 3 men got their hair cut. All in all, we had about 35 Missionaries there. It was a blast -- we plan to do it again in about 6 weeks when everyone needs their hair cut again. One of the ladies who had her hair cut with the Flowbee compared it to shearing a sheep -- I laughed so hard but decided that was a very good description of what it is like !

The trekkers have arrived in force -- in total, we had about 2000 kids here last week. One of the Stakes was from Henderson and Elder Leavitt and I knew a few of them. We were hoping our nephew (Ron Leavitt) was with the group, but he wasn't. However, one of my former Institute teachers was among them -- Brother Rassmusen. It was fun to see him.

It really is a sight to see 200 kids dressed in pioneer clothing pushing and pulling hand carts traveling on all the trails around here. Some days your role is like being a traffic cop so they groups don't run into each other and have a traffic jam of handcarts :)

One last story -- my First Counselor in the Relief Society Presidency is named Sister Fenn. We were talking yesterday and in conversation she mentioned that her husband served his Mission in Argentina. Bruce Alder, who was my boss at the Children's Home and instrumental in introducing me into the Church, served a Mission in Argentina so I told her that. She about fainted ! She said he was one of Elder Fenn's companions in Argentina ! We couldn't wait to tell Elder Fenn --he also almost fainted and said that Bruce was his "best" companion and was so excited to hear news about him and his family. Needless to say, I emailed Bruce and he agreed that Elder Fenn was also his best companion and sent a couple of great pictures of Elder Fenn in native clothing. Can't wait to show The Fenn's. The two of them are already making plans to get reconnected. Another "tender mercy" of our Lord.

Again, we thank all of you for your emails and letters. We Missionaries always love to hear news from home and from our friends from all over the country.

Have a great week !


Sister Leavitt

Monday, June 15, 2009


Howdy Folks,

This week has been very interesting, when we weren't having rain we were having hail. Needless to say this has been a week that the cowboys pray for. The grass gets greener, the cows get fatter and so the cowgirls are able to get a higher limit on their credit cards. Seriously though, we have had a series of thunderstorms to equal any I have ever witnessed. Its knocked out the power a number of times and night before last one large bolt hit our transformer about 100 feet away. That certainly got our attention as well as took out our power for about 12 hours. That's when you really appreciate the beauty of a self-contained RV. But even then, the wells don't pump, the laundry facilities shut down, and the neighbors get cranky, and most sadly, the poor trekkers get soaked. We were supposed to assist them with square dancing the other night, but the rain soaked trekkers, 7 or 8 hundred of them wouldn't come out of their tents. Thank goodness, its just not my idea of special evening to be dancing around in the mud and the rain.

As trail manager I have had to repair a number of wash-outs. To some this was a crisis, but to a dirt guy (or should I say dirty guy) this was just another days work. Its been fun coming out of retirement. Anyway, after a few hours with a good tractor, and drag, we have them all up and running again, and if I might add, better than before.

Its amazing to see how many people want to come and have the pioneer experience even in bad weather. Its inspiring to see young couples with small children pulling them in handcarts even when its raining. I guess when you've made the effort to get all the way out here, you don't want to miss the opportunity. We even see many senior citizen defying the elements to in some small way experience what the pioneers experienced as a daily routine.

The other night we had a very special experience as two of the sisters of Marjorie Pay Hinckley, the wife of our late Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, came by to tour the Cove and speak to us. These two lovely ladies are in their eighties, but are sharp as a tack. Besides giving us a very interesting history of their family which crossed the plains on this trail with the Hunt Wagon Train, they showed us the actual grave marker of of one of their relatives, a new born baby who died in 1856 on the trail somewhere near the Cove. It was constructed from what appeared to be a thick board from a wagon side, and appeared to be engraved by burning into the wood using some sort of hot rod or poker. It had a heart engraved at the top, and the words " Our baby Edith Gobel Born Sept 31 1856 Died Nov 4 1856". November 4, 1856 is the same date the Martin Handcart Company was taken into the Cove for protection from the elements. The miracle is that it was ever found, as they only came across this artifact last year. It was found in the mountains by a hunter and has been authenticated by experts. The baby is the sister to one of the featured pioneers in our Cove stories, Mary Gobel Pay the grandmother of Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley. How this special marker survived 154 years intact is any ones guess, and then to be found by someone who was willing to research the name and deliver it to one of the babies descendants is a miracle of epic proportions.

Yesterday the re-enactment of the Pony Express took place at the cove. This is a National Assoc. of Pony Express Riders which every year rides the trail that the original Pony Express took which goes right through Martins Cove. Tonight several of the express riders who had finished their portion of the trail entertained us with songs and music. One of the daughters is a concert violinist and could she ever play.

Well enough information from me, so I'll turn the computer over to my beautiful companion.

Love Elder Leavitt

Hi everyone,

As Elder Leavitt has said, this has been quite a week, with the weather being a big part of it. So far, the last few days have been better w/ little rain but with the usual wind. Today we hit a high of 68 -- it felt wonderful !

I don't think we have told you about Oscar -- he's a huge white dog who lives at a ranch 10 miles from Missionary Village. Every summer he shows up to accompany the trekkers. However, he stayed here with us "old folks" for a couple of days. What a neat dog! He is so big, but very gentle. I was told he was 10 years old so I was thinking that maybe he had lost a little bit of his "get up and go" but I saw him chase a truck through our Village and he took off like a bullet. I was also told that he was a picky eater, but I gave him some of a hamburger casserole I made and he had two helpings :)

I'd like to share another spiritual experience we had this week. One of the Sister Missionaries was scheduled to help one of the trek groups with the Woman's Pull -- this is when the women pull the handcarts over a hill by themselves without the help of men. This is done to honor all the single women who had to pull handcarts alone over those 1300 miles and to impress upon the young women how much strength, physically and spiritually, they do have. As part of that, a Sister Missionary always prepares a little talk about one of the women pioneers who was at Martin's Cove and tries to make that pioneer's story relevant to the young women of today.

The Missionary prepared a story about the family of her great grandmother who was a "babe in arms" while at Martin's Cove When she was getting set up to give the talk, another woman from the trek group approached her and said that she had prepared a talk about one of the pioneer women who had greatly impressed her. She said that she had studied about her for months and had gotten very close to her. The pioneer woman she had chosen lost her husband and some children on the trail, but when in Martin's Cove, still had 4 small daughters. So when she started speaking - you guessed it - the pioneer woman she had selected was the mother of this Missionaries great grandmother. This is not a coincidence but a tender mercy of our Lord who allowed these two women who had come to love and admire the same pioneer family to find each other.

I twisted Elder Leavitt's arm and he very reluctantly agreed to give a haircut demonstration with the flu-bee. One of the sister Missionaries volunteered to let him cut her hair -- she wears her hair real short, so it should turn out cute. My hair still looks good and everyone is so impressed that Charlie cut it. If nothing else, it should be a fun get-together :)

As usual,Elder Leavitt has done a great job of summarizing the week, so I'll sign off for now. Keep those emails and letters coming. We love hearing from all of you.

With love,

Sister Leavitt

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Dear Family and Friends,

Well, as you have probably guessed by now we have been having e-mail troubles. It has been very difficult at best to receive, but impossible at this time to send. The biggest challenge for us to overcome has been that our computer aquired a virus and had to be competely restored. This meant we lost all our documents. (If any of you have copies of our previous emails, would you please save them for us as we lost them with all the computer problems.) We are going to have our son Kelley get on our computer on Saturday and see if he can get our e-mail going again.

On the brighter side ,everything at Martin's Cove is going well. The sprinklers are about ready to fire up, the on-slaught of trekkers is beginning to arrive and hopefully we be able to learn all the pioneer stories before we are assigned to the different posts, which are;

THE VISITORS CENTER, where we tell about the Sun family, and their history. It was from the Sun family that the Church aquired 112,000 acres, which was only a 10% portion of their ranch. It’s a working cattle ranch on which the Visitor's Center and all the support buildings sit. This ranch, which was the largest in Wyoming at one time, was started in 1872 by Tom Sun. Without this purchase, members of the Church and the many other visitors would not have access to Martin's Cove. This Cove is to members of the Church and relatives of the pioneers, a very hallowed spot. Naturally we are grateful to the Sun family for realizing this, and agreeing to sell to the Church the desired property +. Members of the Sun family come to the Visitors Center quite often and bring their friends to view the history of their family which has been preserved by the Church. One of my favorite Sun family heirlooms is a rifle presented to Tom Sun by his good friend, Buffalo Bill Cody. The Visitor's Center also provides a detailed history of the Willie and Martin handcart companies.

VEIL BRIDGE, provide visitors with a look from the present to the past. It was built by the people of Riverton, Wyoming to assure that no one would ever have to cross through the freezing waters of the Sweet Water River again.

HANDCART PARKING, a place for trekkers to park their handcart while they take the two mile hike up into the Cove.

DAN JONES COVE, named after one of the rescuers, is a place to stop, rest and hear the history of the Cove before entering that sacred location.

MARTINS COVE, one of the most sacred of all pioneer history sites, where many pioneers lost their lives from exposure to the below zero temperatures.

THE STATUES, of the four young rescuers, who along with others, spent most of the day in the freezing waters of the SweetWater to carry the sick and starving members of the Martin handcart company across the river so they might reach the relative shelter of the Cove.

HANDCART BRIDGE, where trekkers can safely cross back across the river and continue on their trek to their assigned campgrounds. Other posts can be, the Blacksmith shop, the Office, the Trek Center, and other sites that deal with maintence, and upkeep.

Today 6-4-09 the Cove had about 500 visitors, mostly teenagers wanting to have the handcart experience. Sister Leavitt and I missed the rush because it was our day off, but we don't feel cheated because, in the days ahead there are as many as 2000 visitors per day schdeduled.

Spring has arrived in Wyoming. The hills and valleys are a beautiful emerald green and the animals are everywhere. Today we saw a mother antelope with triplet babies. Sister Leavitt will be mailing out a close-up picture of a new born baby antelope as soon as our e-mail gets fixed. Being here is truly a millenial experience.

A shout out to Steve Leavitt (Benny) thanks for the e-mail, and congratulations to his son Cameron on his mission call to the Phillipines.

Last week we had a great visit with (Granger) cousins Pete, Judy and her husband Glade. Its so great to spend time with family and friends.

We also celebrated Sister Leavitts birthday this week. (May 31) She just gets more beautiful with age and will probably look even better after I cut her hair for the first time this week. She'll probably let you know how it turns out.

We also had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to climb to the top of Rocky Ridge. This is one of the highest points on the pioneer trail, 7300 ft. and was the most difficult climb the handcart companies had to endure. (Its exactly as the name implies) We hiked up to the top from about half way up and even without the agony of pulling handcarts we still had a difficult time. We couldn't imagine how these poor starving pioneers made it. Many didn't!

We love and miss all of you, especially our beautiful grandchildren.

Elder Leavitt

HI everyone -- it's been so long since we were able to send an email, I can't remember what we've told you and what we haven't. We are in Casper, so are going to send this out here so hopefully you will receive it. Thank you, Kelley, for helping us get connected to the outside world again.

For all the women out there, my haircut turned out great ! I received many compliments on it. In fact, Charlie did such a good job I thought I might have him give a demonstration to all the people who are interested in learning how to use a Flo-bee :)

I continue to be the "grunt" in the Office -- I usually work there 3 or 4 days a week. Actually, it's been a good experience and I feel like I'm in the hub of the activity and decision-making at Martin's Cove. It has afforded me many opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise.

Besides the antelope, I have now seen 3 snakes -- none of them rattlers. Even so, they are pretty scarey looking.

I think I'll sign off for now, and I will hope and pray that next week we will be able to email you again.

Much love to you all,

Sister Leavitt

Monday, June 1, 2009