Monday, August 31, 2009


Hi again family and friends,

Well another week has passed and we are now officially Polar Bears, the name for those who are asked to stay the winter at Martin's Cove. It was announced in church today who would stay for the winter and what positions would be assigned for next year. I was called again to be over roads and trails and in charge of heavy equipment. I'm going to have to learn how to plow snow, lot's of snow. Sister Leavitt has been called to schedule the trek groups, a big job, and of course, work again in the office. I can't say I am excited about staying because I have not experienced severe winters and don't know how my body will react. But at least we have a warm place to live, plenty to eat, and warm clothes to wear,unlike the Martin Company which suffered unimaginable hardships caused by sub-zero temperatures, starvation and inadequate clothing, not to mention walking 10 to 20 miles a day on a wet, slippery, muddy or snow covered trails. So I guess I should count my blessings. Which have been many!

On the afternoon before and on our day off we traveled up to Devil's Tower, the first National Monument in the US. What a spectacular site! The pictures and movies I have seen (Close Encounters) do not do it justice, you have to be there in person to really appreciate it's majesty. We saw rock climbers, which looked like ants trying to scale it's sides, but the ones we saw weren't making much progress. From our vantage point it appeared to be impossible though we know it's been done.

We were saddened to hear to the passing of our good friend Karolyn Stewart. She was a great, talented and fun lady and will be missed by all that knew her. We would like to send our sympathies to her family.

I would like to express my love and affection to all my brothers and sisters and their families, you are the best. Would someone let me know how my beautiful sister Irene is doing, and also my friend and brother-in-law Bill Conger. Our family means allot to us, and we pray for them daily. We also want our friends to know that we pray for them daily.

Today we had a 60 year old man speak to us about his on-going one man handcart trek from Iowa City to Salt Lake City to honor his great-great grandmother who in 1856 as a widow pulled her own handcart along with six children, (the oldest being 12) He believed she was the first known handcart to arrive in the Salt Lake valley. Because she arrived one day ahead of all the other handcarts in her company no one was expecting her, so he didn't feel she received her deserved recognition. This man felt it his duty to honor her accomplishment with this trek expected to take 4 months. When he arrived at the Cove, though he started in great shape, he had lost 40 lbs. I love my ancestors, but that's a little over the top for me.

Well, family and friends until next week, adios.

To my kids, daughters-in-laws and grandkids, along with my wife you are the lights of my life. May the Lord watch over you until we're together again.

Love Elder Leavitt

Hi everyone -- I've attached a picture of us that was taken at the base of Devil's Tower. We really had a fun day !

I don't have much to add this week -- I promised you a shorter email this week after the very lengthy one we sent last time. I just want to add my voice to Charlie's about the sadness we feel about the passing of Karolyn -- she was a good friend for many years.

I have been thinking today of the irony of my being a person who hates cold weather and am very computer challenged and I'll be spending the winter in WYOMING on a computer -- the Lord does have a sense of humor !

Already the trees in Wyoming are tinged with a hint of gold -- autumn is right around the corner.

Love and miss you all,


Monday, August 24, 2009


Hi to all our great and supportive family and friends,

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me! Well another year has come and gone and today I've hit the big 67. This has been a great year with the exception of missing our children, grandchildren, family and friends for these last few months.

The biggest news is that we have been asked to extend our mission for 12 months! This is something I would not have even considered last spring. But, because the Lord has blessed us so much, and because our Leaders have really made Sister Leavitt and I feel that we are a valuable part of keeping this operation running smoothly through the winter and into the next trek season, we feel we would not be showing gratitude for all those blessings we have received if we turned down the opportunity. We have had mixed feelings about staying, not only due to the severe winters found here on the high plains of Wyoming, but because we miss our family so much and also miss the close association with our many friends. But, on the other hand, we feel that we need to honor our commitment to share whatever talents we have to help fulfill the mission of this historical site, which is to educate the public about the pioneers (which were not only Mormon, but also Oregon, California, and Pony Express) and to try to give some valuable experience to the thousands of young people who come here to trek. We also feel with this extra service maybe we will be in a better position to to ask the Lord to bless our family and friends and those who are in need of His blessings. Which we all are!

The young people who come here leave their materialistic environment and through the handcart experience and their exposure to nature become better acquainted with themselves and what they can accomplish while gaining a better respect for those pioneers who through great sacrifices settled the West. I can't help but remember my own ancestors who crossed these plains on this great immigration highway and suffered tremendous hardships and death (I believe death of a loved one only means they've gone ahead to help prepare for our arrival) of loved ones on their way to help settle Southern Utah, and Southern Nevada. Everyday we are privileged to walk on this same historic trail, and tell the pioneer's stories.

Last week we had a surprise visit from our cousins Marv and Sue Leavitt those special people we told you are preparing to leave on their second mission to Africa. It really meant allot to us that they took time out of their busy schedule to come all the way up here to visit with us. They are the best!

Though our mission will be extended until Oct. 2010, we will be home for the month of October to get our affairs in order and say goodbye in person to our family and friends. I know the time will pass quickly and our love for all of you will only increase. Remember any and all of you are invited to visit us anytime and we'll try to make it worth your time. Just let us know by email in advance so we don't miss you. We really appreciate those of you who have taken the time to email or send letters and keep us up to date on what's happening in your lives. A special thanks to all of you who sent birthday greetings, you really make me feel loved.

Love, Elder Leavitt

Well, Elder Leavitt has given you our big news -- we really resisted staying through the winter, but our Directors were persistent and after praying about it, decided we better stay. We may be singing a different tune in January :)

Other news -- some Missionaries who served here in 2003 & 2004 came by for a visit and brought all of us home grown corn and tomatoes -- so delicious !! For several evenings we had tomatoes and corn on the cob for dinner. Made me think back to Education Week when we did that every night with Ross and Susan Johnson when we were "camped" in the parking lot of the Smith Field House on the BYU campus. So much fun.

We had a wonderful fireside this week with Kevin McNiven. He is a "real" cowboy and sings "real" country western. He has a rendition of a song entitled "It's Wyoming" which our little blue grass band at Martin's Cove plays every week. Well, it has become a sentimental favorite of all of us and we all know the words. It was quite a treat to hear Kevin sing it. He also is well known in the movie circles for being able to provide trained horses and horse teams that can pull wagons, etc. so we found it very interesting to hear about the movies he has worked on, including "Far and Away" with Tom Cruise. He's also an expert yodeler -- what cowboy isn't ?!? :) We really enjoyed the evening and were fascinated by the many stories he told.

A very sad day this past week is that the Simmons, who lived across the street from us in Missionary Village, received that devastating news that their 31 year old daughter was just diagnosed with very advanced cancer. What makes this situation even more poignant is that she and her husband just had a baby after years of trying. Their baby is just 8 months old. The Simmons had to leave to immediately to help their daughter and to assist w/ the child care while their daughter is going through treatments. Please remember this family in your prayers.

On the lighter side, Elder Leavitt cut my hair again -- this is the third time. It really is a great cut -- it's shorter than it's been and I just love it. He's had many men and women ask him to cut their hair -- had another request tonight. It is amazing to watch the process -- he can cut my hair in about 10 minutes and it's a professional looking job. We need to get a picture so you can see for yourself.

That's about it -- we've had a very spiritual Sunday. We have had visitors this week from Salt Lake checking the scripts we tell for historical accuracy. One of these gentlemen, Elder Backman, is a General Authority in the Church. Today he told us a remarkable story about a man from Bulgaria who joined the Church. They found him in Washington D.C. when they were looking for someone who talked Bulgarian to become a Mission President in Bulgaria. Little did they know how few people did. However, they discovered this man who was in a High Council in Washington D.C. who could speak Bulgarian. His conversion story was a miracle.

He was working in Bulgaria, which at that time was a communist country, as a dental assistant along with 7 other people it the same office. The government decided to send only 1 person from their office to Algiers for 3 years to work there. (I'm not sure why the gov't wanted to do this.) Anyway, all 7 people wanted to go so they decided to draw straws to determine who got to go. There were 6 slips with "no" on them and one with "yes" -- they were all put into a hat and each man had to draw one out. Well, when this man won the first drawing -- the other men in the office were upset and wanted to draw again because this particular gentlemen has the least amount of tenure in the office. So they drew again --- and again --- and again -- and again until they had drawn 6 times . Each time this same man drew the "yes". Finally, on the seventh drawing, they decided that he would be the last one to draw the slip out of the hat -- you guessed it -- he got the "yes" slip again. Even these communistic men voiced that only God could make this happen so they finally decided the man could go to Algiers.

While working in Algiers, he applied for permission for him and his family to be able to emigrate to France. Through another series of miracles, his entire family was able to move to France and they were able to legally leave Bulgaria, which was still communistic at that time. While in France, the Missionaries were lead to him and he and his family joined the Church. They later moved to the United States where he ended up working in Washington D.C. It was here that he met up with the Church leaders who wanted to send him to Bulgaria when that country was finally opened up to the Missionaries. What a story.

Well, I'm sure you're all cross-eyed from reading this lengthy email, so next week we'll try and make it shorter.

We love and miss you all and pray for you daily.

Love, Sister Leavitt AKA Peggy

Friday, August 14, 2009


Hi Family and Friends,

Marv and I just returned from a month in England and when we got home our mission call was waiting for us. We have been called to serve in the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission as member and leader support missionaries. We report tothe MTC (Missionary Training Center) on October 12, 2009. Our term of service is for 18 months. We are thrilled and delighted to once again have the opportunity to serve the amazing people in West Africa.

Marv and Sue Leavitt

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Dear Family and Friends,

Here we are already at the downhill side of the trek season, the trekkers are coming less frequently now and so our responsibilities are getting to be a little less. We're still getting allot of family groups and people who see the highway signs and come in to check us out. We have even some bikers who have been coming to and leaving Sturgis, the big motorcycle rally up in the Black Hills.

And the spiritual experiences seem to continue. For example one of the sisters walked into the woodshop the other day with a fly swatter to swat a few flies and left the door open. As she was talking to a couple of the Elders a humming bird few in through the door and landed on her fly swatter, and just sat there. She then decided take it outside because she thought maybe it was disoriented, but when she got it outside it continued to sit on the fly swatter and even let some of the men pet it. It stayed there long enough for her to get her camera and take a picture of it. After a while it just flew away. It seems to be the same with all the animals here, they don't seem to have much fear of the people.

Friday we had a group of Mennonites come to visit. There were about 8 charming ladies from Pennsylvania in their white bonnets and black dresses with white collars, I really think they enjoyed their visit. Its amazing to see the diversity of people who visit this sacred place and are touched by the Cove story and the trail on which hundreds of thousands of pioneers passed on their way to settling the west.

On Saturday we were invited to an open house at the Pathfinder Ranch. Its a 250,000 acre ranch which is our next door neighbor. I think its owned by a couple of Texas oil men. They fed us breakfast, lunch, and a big steak dinner. All day long they had events going, including a rodeo, horse show, and all kinds of competitive events for kids. Then that night they gave out awards to the winners as well as raffled off all kinds of prizes including tack and saddles. Great time! They must have spent a fortune. .

Some of the missionaries who are just here for 12 weeks are leaving this week and its sad to see them go, we have developed such close friendships with all of the missionaries and have really grown to love and appreciate the good people they are.

Oscar the trek dog is still going out with the few groups that are coming in, though I think he is about worn down from all the work. He will probably be glad to get back to his ranch and rest for the winter. For Sister Leavitt and I it has been a great summer and we hate to see it end.

Love Elder Leavitt

It's my turn and it's several days after Charlie started this email. One update is that Oscar has returned home for the summer. His owner called the office on Tuesday and said that he ate a big dinner, had a long drink of water and went to sleep. I know he must be exhausted from the hundreds of miles he trekked w/ the kids this summer.

We went to the Wyoming State Fair in Douglas on Wednesday with some other missionary couples. It doesn't really compare to the Clark County Fair but it was fun and we saw some interesting things. The most interesting to me was the live stock and the judging. I was amazed at the vocabulary of the judges and the many ways they could describe a sheep -- mostly in terms of how it would taste on a plate ! Also, I never turn down a chance to have a little funnel cake :) And, I bought a cute cowboy hat -- Charlie says he finally has his cowgirl !

Another choice experience this week was hearing the story of one of our missionaries here. When he was in his 20's, he was stationed in Alaska in the Air Force. He and 2 other men, one of whom was a bush pilot, crashed in a remote area of Alaska when they were flying a small plane. It was in April, but of course, it was freezing cold and none of them had any survival gear -- amazing, but true. He talked about how with his jaw broken in 2 places, his scalp torn back, and with broken ribs he survived in the wilds of Alaska. I won't go into a lengthy explanation of all they went through, but it took 3 days for them to be rescued and his feet were frozen. He wanted us to hear his description of what it was like to suffer from this terrible frost bite and the subsequent extreme pain he experienced for years after to help us understand what the pioneers went through. As he said, when they arrived in Utah, their problems weren't over. Most of them probably suffered pain for rest of their lives.

Well, the days are getting shorter and I don't feel like we've even had summer yet. We have had only 2 days in the 90's so it's been a very mild summer - even by Wyoming standards. We have been enjoying many evenings out by the campfire visiting with our friends -- I will miss these days when our Mission is over.

Our love and prayers are with you all,

Peggy (Sister Leavitt)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Hello Everyone, Well we've had a long week this last week! We served as campground hosts at Jackson Campground located about about seven miles from Martin's Cove out on the prairie. Camp hosts stay at the site from about 7 am until about 9:30 pm every day while the trekkers are there. Our responsibility is to see to any needs they might have and see that they obey the rules of the camp, like where to set up and which restrooms they can use, what their schedules are, where they can park their support vehicles, etc. It was a great experience. While there, we had two separate groups from Utah. One from Lehi,and one from Cedar City. The one from Lehi had only about 55 people,but the one from Cedar City had over 300. They were extremely organized as you can imagine they must be with that many kids. Its an amazing sight to see that many young people dressed in pioneer attire strung out on the original pioneer trail for about a half mile pulling handcarts and singing pioneer songs. By the time they finish their trek they march over 30 miles. Within 30 minutes of arriving in camp they had all their tents up and began fixing their meals. It took a 48 ft semi-tractor trailer to handle the food and tents for the large group. What a beautiful, spiritual and well behaved bunch of young people. The smaller group had a special needs girl who wanted so badly to see Oscar the trek dog, but had not seen him on their trek out to the campground. Their trek leader ask about him and told us of her desire. We had to tell him that Oscar chooses the group he treks with, not the other way around and that he was probably at the other campground. We did tell him that Oscar usually gravitates toward the younger or special needs individuals. Later that evening out of nowhere came Oscar running into their camp and went right up to that special little girl. Her wishes were granted! Its uncanny how he knows where he is wanted. He had to have traveled several miles from the campground just to visit this group. Sister Leavitt will probably tell you about his photo op. While we were out there our Mission Leader Elder Freeman brought out the grader. He decided to take advantage of the fact that I was assigned there all week as he wanted about 5 acres of additional area graded to enlarge the Campground. His only directions were to make it level, remove the brush and leave the grass. Not a simple request, but my motto is GIT-R-DONE. CONGRATULATIONS TO MARV AND SUE LEAVITT ON YOUR SECOND MISSION TO AFRICA, YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING. THE WHOLE FAMILY LOVES, RESPECTS AND APPRECIATES YOU. OUR PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU! The only other thing I would like to say is that young people like wemet this week gives me hope for the future of our country.
We love and miss you all, ElderLeavitt

Well, being campground hosts was the best. The long hours had us sleep deprived but we loved it. It gave us an amazing experience getting to interact w/ the kids and their leaders. We got to eat meals with them and talk with them about their thoughts and feelings with respect to their trekking experience. What a spiritual experience. I even went out on the trail to be with the kids when theyre enacted the Woman's Pull -- if you remember, that's when the women( in this case, young women) pull their handcarts up and over a steep hill without the help of the men. This is to honor all the women who lost their husbands along the trail-- some of them even started out as single women or single mothers. Iwas so moved by the experience --and I know the girls can translate this experience into their lives. They are going to face difficult challenges, and each group of girls, and there were many, made it over the hill without help. (Help was available by their leaders ifthey requested it, but none of them did) I also have to tell an Oscar story. After he left the group that Charlie mentioned, he hooked up w/the Cedar City group and they too were thrilled to be singled out by Oscar. After we had closed downour camp and were finally heading home, we noticed that the Cedar City group was back at the Homestead, and were eating lunch before they headed home. I told Charlie I wanted to stop and get a picture. They invited us to have lunch after which the group had decided to take a group picture by the fort before they left so it was a perfect opportunity for me. It was quite a deal to get the kids and leaders all positioned for their picture, but we finally did. As I, and others, were just getting out cameras ready to take the picture, believe it or not, Oscar came out of the staging area and walked in front of the group and posed for the picture !! No one could've made that happen in a million years. Anyway, it was so fun having him there and the kids were beside themselves having him in their picture, which we willattach. I am also attaching a picture of Charlie riding in our campground cart which I nicknamed the Limo. Well, enough for this week -- the trekking season will soon be overas school will be starting so things will really slow down here,as least that's what we're told. As always, we love you all and think about and pray for you daily.
Love, Sister Leavitt