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