It's been a pretty normal week here at the Cove. I have been hauling gravel to the Cherry Creek Campground all week and probably would have competed the job in three or four days, but on Saturday I had a flat on the dump truck, so getting it repaired will probably set me back a few days. The weather has been pretty mild (with the exception of the wind) for most of the week. We were supposed to get a snow storm on Saturday and Sunday but it didn't materialize. It looks like Utah and Colorado got the brunt of the storm. From the weather reports it looks like California, Nevada and Arizona have been inundated with rain. I guess we are lucky to be residing in a state that has such a temperate climate, Ha, Ha. At church today we had a member of the Casper Stake High Council speak to us, as well as four teenagers who had previously taken treks. The youth told us about their experiences and how the trek had such a positive effect on their lives and had given them a better appreciation of their pioneer ancestors. The High Counselor talked about his mission experience in England. He told about one of his experiences when he and his companion befriended an older couple who belonged to the Church of England, even though this couple had no desire to hear about our religion, they really enjoyed visiting with the missionaries whenever they would stop by. Their neighbors and church friends warned them to stay away from the Mormons, but they continued to have them over. To make a long story short the man who was totally blind finally felt the spirit and wanted to find out more about the Book of Mormon. Because he obviously could not read the missionaries provided him with the book on tapes. Sadly, the High Counselor was transferred to another area before he could know the end of the story. But, as missionaries we are very familiar with the Holy Spirit and how it can change hearts and improve lives. We see it everyday during the trek season and feel It's presence in all that we do. I can personally testify of this feeling from past experience! Before the the Lord intervened and the Holy Spirit touched my heart, my life was in total chaos. Since I accepted the Lord as my Savior and have tried to live by his gospel, my life has just continually gotten better. It's gives me a great feeling of peace to know "where I came from, why I'm here, and where I am going from here". I know through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that my sins can be forgiven and that I can move forward with hands and heart washed clean by His atoning sacrifice. Sorry to preach, but I feel great about the Plan of Salvation, and the fact that all mankind, no matter what our religious beliefs might be, we will all be resurrected and live again. And more importantly, the blessing that families faithfully living the true gospel of Jesus Christ, are given the opportunity to be sealed together forever. I can't think of a better message than that.
We love you all, Elder Leavitt
Hi everyone -- a beautiful message from Elder Leavitt.
I have a couple of things to report this week. Last Monday, which was the Martin Luther King holiday, we had a Young Single Adult Ward from Riverton, Wyoming come to visit. I was assigned to the Visitor's Center so I have the privilege of telling these wonderful young people the story of the Martin Handcart Company. It was a very special experience for me. Then, most of them hiked to the Cove -- it was a very cold, blustery day so it took some grit to do it, but they did. On Wednesday evenings, the women here get together to make items for humanitarian purposes. Currently, we are making dolls. I have discovered I can stuff dolls, so I'm attaching a picture of me stuffing dolls (the Bevans will love my sweatshirt) and another picture of the interior of the Humanitarian Center with some of the other women who are living here this winter. A cute story -- my sisters have been so good to call me and if you know the "Rowland Girls" -- we can talk ! My sister Kathy called the other night and we ran the battery down on our land-based phone so I got on my cell phone until that battery went dead :) We talked for a grand total of 2 1/2 hours !! We enjoyed the company of Mo and Barbara Campbell, my brother-in-law and his wife, who stopped by to see us as they were traveling from Sheridan to California to celebrate Mo's 80th birthday. It was great to see them and I'm grateful that they were able to dodge the awful weather between Wyoming and CA. That's it for this week -- thanks, everyone for staying in touch.
WHERE IS A WALMART WHEN YOU NEED ONE? Sunday, January 17, 2010 Beginning our week in Togo we awoke to our lovely screechy bird (oh no…now there are two of them), so I will rephrase…our lovely SCREECHY BIRDS. It is apparent why they picked our back yard to camp out as they have an abundant of mangos and papayas to gorge themselves on. In fact the original bird is now so fat we cannot scare it to fly over the fence…it is no longer able to obtain lift off. Anyway, they are our wake up calls. We got ready and headed off to worship in the Tokoin Branch. There was a lovely cool breeze coming through so we decided to sit outside in the open air which also affords us the opportunity to shake hands with all those attending, our favorite thing to do. As the service started we found ourselves surrounded by little ones who found us very amusing. They were quite naughty however and Elder Leavitt had to give them a lesson on being reverent and folding their arms, they eventually got it. Following the service we met with the Zone Leaders for a few minutes and then we headed off to Hedzranowae to pay the missionaries their soutien. We found out that they are still using their air conditioning and that did not bode well with my husband, as they had been told most emphatically not to due to the outrageous cost of electricity. We then stopped by the Souzza Netime Branch to see the missionaries and also pay them their soutien. We reminded all of them today that Tuesday we would be by their apartments early to inspect and for them to be ready. They are excited as the prize is quite nice this time around. Once we were done we headed back to the house to relax for the remainder of the day. We found the temperatures very comfortable today so we took a nap and then got caught up on our scripture study. Marv has committed to read the Book of Mormon, backwards and is really enjoying it. I am reading the Book of Mormon in English and French simultaneously and finding it interesting and hard. Before we retired for the day we called to check on Elder Fontaine and his Diarrhea…all is well so I guess my gesturing in the Pharmacy produced some good medicine. Monday January 18, 2010 First order of the day is to get the mail and supplies delivered to the missionaries’ apartments. This is their “P” day and they have a sports activity and want to get an early start. (Elder Leavitt and I have now been in the mission field over three months and have never once had a full, uninterrupted “P” day and really don’t ever expect to have one on this mission). Then onto the bank and make sure we have money in the account and then get some cash. While Marv did the banking thing, I walked next door (sort of) to the Ramco Supermarche (different one) to check it out and get some supplies. The store was big and nice and I was basically the only person in there. As I perused the aisles there was some lovely music playing, mostly hymns that we sing but sung by an African choir and I just love their voices. My mind went immediately to the fact that you would NEVER find yourself walking through say Safeway or Albertsons listening to hymns…it would be offensive to most people. I found myself humming and singing along…loved it. I also got all happy when I glanced down on the laundry soap aisle and found a bottle of Tide with Bleach liquid…WOW. I picked it up and then saw it was 11,500cfa ($23.00) so I put it back down…NO WAL-MART PRICING HERE. Suddenly I heard a loud voice say “hey Sue” and realized my husband had caught up with me. We finished up our shopping and then headed over to see my friend from the Tokoin Branch who sits under a Mango tree with her little vegetable stand in order to buy tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and six pineapples for tomorrow. Shortly after coming back President Dieudonne called to say that the Landlady’s daughter of the new Be Apartment had been refused to cash the check we had given her for the rent. Elder Leavitt was livid and asked President Dieudonne to get the particulars. It seemed she had presented the check and HER bank was skeptical as to how she got that much money so they refused to cash it after stamping the check numerous times all over the front and the back. She then took it to our bank to get it cashed and they refused to cash it because it was covered in too many stamps. Then the man at our branch (the one Marv had the run in with) said if Marv would issue a new check and she would bring it right over he would cash it for her. She came to the house and Marv wrote a new check. President Dieudonne and Marv both talked to the manager who said he was there and would wait for her…so away she went. Side Note: We received a call yesterday (Friday 21st) from President Dieudonne stating that the Landlady’s daughter left our house and went directly to the bank as requested (maybe 10 minutes away) to find out that the manager had left for training and the person in charge refused to cash the check because it did not have a correct RID number. We have no idea what that is and neither does our accounting department in Accra. Now when we go back to Togo next Wednesday we start this mess all over again. Back to the journal. Following this we decided to have some lunch and then take some down time. We are buried in paperwork here and I have taken on a project to go through every draw and cupboard in this house and get rid of the mounds upon mounds of paperwork left by various couples that currently has nothing to do with anything. My goal (should a new couple come to work in Togo) is to present them with an orderly efficient environment, but that remains to be seen. We finished up our day with a lovely dinner at a new restaurant in our neighborhood called Lotus (Vietnamese)…it was delicious. One final entry for today. When Marv was visiting with President Dieudonne today, after the lady had left he asked him why he had not disconnected the air conditioner in the Hedzranowae Apartment, he said he had told them they were not to use it ever again and knew they would honor that request. Marv advised that they were still using it and what should we do. He paused, became very thoughtful and then his face brightened and he exclaimed loudly…”I WILL REMOVE THEIR REMOTES”. I thought that was so funny and it made me laugh. Tuesday January 19, 2010 Woke up early as we need to get out and inspect the apartments early and let the missionaries get on with their day. We started with Hedzranowae. The missionaries were surprised we called so early (why we do not know as we had told them). When we got there their apartment was very clean and organized but they were a mess, sleepy, grumpy, bad attitudes, and a great deal of whining mostly over not being able to use the air conditioner. We had taken two fresh pineapples with us and did a presentation on how to say “welcome” in many languages, but then stated that our favorite was Hawaiian and “Aloha”. So we taught the new West Africans how to say “Aloha” and presented them each with a pineapple, symbol of hospitality…they loved it. We also took time to sit with them and hear their complaints and needs, took pictures and then we left. We felt sad because their apartment was really nice and clean but their attitudes were bad and they were not even dressed and ready. Next stop, Tokoin and what a difference. They had swept, mopped, and polished. They were ready and smiling all dressed in their white shirts and ties and they even had lovely music playing. Again we did our pineapple thing and again they loved it. We met with them, heard their thoughts, took pictures and noted things they needed. Then last stop, New Be Apartment. Again, beautiful and clean, all missionaries dressed and ready to go, great spirit, it was a pleasure to be there. Pineapple presentation again well received by the new missionaries and old ones too. On the way back we decided that it was going to be a tough call as to who would achieve “FIRST PLACE”. When we got done it was the new Be Apartment with Tokoin only ½ point away. Hedzranowae had it all together except themselves. Be outdid Tokoin because it was evident that they had listened to our last Zone Conference message about working as a team and treating each other as a family. They had been planning and setting goals as well as sharing and keeping their environment clean. Tokoin missed that part, but had made significant improvement over last time so they got a second place prize. Be Apartment received 2,500cfa each and a date for Ice Cream when the Leavitt’s return to Togo next week. Accra called and asked Elder Leavitt if he would price a Toyota Corolla in Togo to see if it was easier to just purchase the vehicle locally, instead of transporting from Ghana. They never take into consideration that neither one of us speaks enough French to negotiate, but we went over to the CFAO Motors anyway hopeful that somebody will speak English. Now when you go anywhere here there is ALWAYS a uniformed person who directs you where to park, which is a nice feature except they always make you park in tight spots eliminating an easy exit out of your vehicle. When you are newly arrived you are obedient and do as you are told, but when you have been here a while you park wherever you want to making them mad but now we don’t care. Well we parked in an undesignated area outside the dealership grounds and caused an uproar. Once inside we had a devil of a time finding someone who spoke English but finally a man showed up and then took us outside, walked us through a large service area, out the other side, through an open field and locked gate into another compound, then through another locked gate into a yard full of dirty filthy cars that had just been offloaded from a ship (we think). Finally he looked around and then pointed to a Toyota Corolla covered in filth and muck and said…when do you want it. Well, we said we did not think we did as it was not an automatic and we honestly could not tell the color, year or anything else for that matter. He shrugged his shoulders and said “au revoir” and walked away. I laughed and said to Marv, compare this experience with home and what you go through if you even look sideways at a lot, they are all over you. For the remainder of the day we worked on our individual projects. We did receive an invitation from the American Embassy in Togo to attend a reception next week and work with them on a security council, the date of the event is Wednesday evening. We will have to come back one day earlier than planned but we feel this is important. Wednesday January 20, 2010 Woke up early to head home, packed and ready to go we made final stops at each apartment to check one last time on the missionaries before heading back to Benin. Our drive was under very, very dusty dirty skies…Hammaton is in full force now. You get lovely cool breezes but the dust in the air is horrendous. On our way into Benin Precious called to say that Pierre had been at the apartment the day before to have the air conditioner serviced and had painted our bedroom for a surprise…OH NO! She was concerned about the smell but we told her we would deal with it. We basically decided to head straight for the house and were hopeful for a nice quiet cool environment, but not to be. Once inside half of our apartment was without power to include the water pump downstairs and, the newly serviced air conditioner is blowing lovely hot air. My husband never gets discouraged but he sank down in a chair and looked at me and basically said…is it too much to ask that maybe just one thing goes right? We called Pierre and he promised to come over with an electrician, I commenced to unpack and Marv tackled the paperwork which needs to be addressed. He is concerned that we are getting low on money in the bank accounts in Togo and Benin and Accra assures us that all deposits have been made, but this is not reflected on the bank statements so…Elder Leavitt is going to commence an audit from day one we arrived. He hates working out of two separate bank accounts and finds it both difficult and frustrating. Pierre showed up just as the air conditioner commenced to work, we found that the power outage in half of the apartment had been caused by a surge which had blown all the lights and, the water pump switch had to be replaced…so after two hours all was well. The bedroom looked nice albeit a bit smelly. Finally we are alone and all is working and organized..we fixed some soup for dinner and then went to bed early. Thursday January 21, 2010 We rose early to go to the apartments and deliver packages, supplies and mail that had arrived in Togo. We also need to get to the bank and Marv needs to obtain his PIN number so he can check his Benin accounts on line and last but not least we need food and supplies. Pierre announced to us yesterday that the seasons have now changed. Meaning, Hammaton, dust and cooler temperatures are here, when you awake in the morning you would swear that you were under cloudy rainy skies but it is dust, dust, dust. We now have Elder Golden’s schedule for his Mission Tour commencing in Togo on February 1st and it is a doozy…hope we can keep up. We also have to get the Benin visas going for Elders Bertoch, Starita and Geisler. This and anything else that gets thrown at us needs to be attended to. When we arrived at the bank we went to obtain our PIN number to be told we needed to go to another area. We arrived there to be told that they did not know anything about it. We were finally given a young man who was so out of his element and so totally lost as to what to do it was painful to watch. We finally just left our names, phone number and email and told him when he was ready to call us and we would come back. He assured us that all would be complete tomorrow…as we write this…NOTHING! We headed back home as Precious needs to meet with us as well as Geoffrey from Menotin Branch. Geoffrey wanted Elder Leavitt to help as the Menotin Branch has not received any of their LUBA for the last six months. Just got into the house and of course the power went off and stayed off for about two hours. Meetings over, we decided to take a nap….these naps save us these days as this dusty environment is taking its toll. The remainder of the day was a series of phone calls, emails and work but within the confines of our (for the most part) air conditioned apartment it was not bad. Friday January 22, 2010 We had not really planned to go anywhere today but my husband has decided that he wants to have all the missionaries over to our apartment on Saturday after the baptism so, away we go to get the fixings to do sloppy joes. President Ayekoue also called to advise that he does not want to stay at the Benin Marina and wants reservations for himself and the Goldens at the Novotel Hotel, so we stopped there to make the necessary arrangements. Then on to Eravan for the ingredients, stop at the boulangerie, produce stand and then home. While in Eravan Marv got excited when he found a 10 pack of his razors for his Gillette Turbo until he saw the price…$58.00 NO WALMART PRICING HERE EITHER. Again, we walk in and the power goes off…(I am starting to wonder if I am responsible for this outage). We unpacked and basically just felt tired and lazy. Elder Leavitt did decide to finish his audit and found upon completion that the reason we are always low on funds is that four checks had not been approved and funded totaling about 5m cfa, and that three adjustments needed to be made totaling 2.2m cfa. This should all be resolved by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. We got the sloppy joe mix done and it came out very delicious, and my contribution JELLO, Americans love it…West Africans hate it…”TOO WIGGLY”. Towards the end of the afternoon when we were feeling relatively smug with ourselves that life was looking up, Sister Bailey sends us an email that a Sister Johnson from Accra was looking for us to advise that she is accompanying the Goldens from Accra and needs help with a project she is doing in Togo and Benin compiling the history of the Church in those two areas. We did get the call, I was very up front with her…SORRY BUT NO I cannot make arrangements to ferry her around Togo, set-up appointments for her, find early church members, statistics, places where early church services were held, oldest living members of the church and on, and on, and on. Lovely lady but she needs to know we have no time, we are in the middle of a Mission Tour when she comes, and the biggest problem of all WE DON’T SPEAK FRENCH. My husband also posed the biggest question of all, how is she getting from Togo to Benin, we have one vehicle and with Elder and Sister Leavitt, Elder and Sister Golden and President Ayekoue that just about maxes us out in room. Elder Leavitt’s suggestion was that maybe she schedule this visit when it is not in conjunction with a mission tour and we would be able to make all these arrangements in Benin and Togo and take here anywhere she wanted to go…but she would not hear of that….it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Saturday, January, 23, 2010 Basically our day has been….woke up went and bought bread for the sloppy joe’s, quick stop at the market for other supplies, produce market for veggies then home. Cereal and juice for breakfast, Sister Leavitt made Banana Nut Bread, Elder Leavitt continued with his audit and now we relax until time for the baptism and the missionaries…life is good, we are tired but today we are NOT GOING TO PUSH IT…famous last words…day is not over yet! Now we will tell you “the rest of the story”. When it was time to go to the baptism I, Sister Leavitt just had to listen to my body and say…not today. So, Elder Leavitt said he would run over (it was close) and check to make sure all was ok. I stayed and read some of my scriptures and then got ready for the missionaries. When Elder Leavitt returned he said it was a small baptism of 2 from Menotin but nice. We then readied for our 12 missionaries who soon arrived. We had prepared a HUGE pot of sloppy joe sauce, bought 12 baguettes (bread) fixed buttered corn, had chips and dip and for dessert, jello, with whipped cream, homemade banana nut bread and sliced fresh pineapples (two). When they left the only thing standing was a top from one of the pineapples everything was gone, gone, gone. I guessed they liked it. Now we are getting ready to call it a day…it was a good one. Marv’s Weekly Observations: I would never have believed that I would have been able to understand as much of the spoken and written French and still not have one iota of ability to communicate back to them in French. It is like I am living a one sided life with the ability to understand but not to communicate. Sue’s Weekly Observations: I loved the music in the Supermarche so much that I went and found the manager (who thankfully spoke good English) and asked him if he sold it. He told me no, but that he had bought from a vendor just down the street and then offered to go down and buy one for me. I was really touched by that. As I go up and down the little streets I see all kinds of small shops (actually shacks) that provide a small income for the owner. They range anywhere from hairdressers, to food vendors, to selling recharge cards for your cell phone. But the ones I love are the tailors and especially the seamstress who spends untold hours creating lovely things from the amazing African fabric available here. I am fascinated as I watch them iron the project in progress…they use an iron with a removable bottom and place hot charcoal in it in order get a hot press. Til next week…Elder & Sister Leavitt Le Couple.
This week I take back what I said about Global Warming. All week we have experienced balmy daytime temps mostly in the low 40's. Who knows about next week? This week I experienced a little bout with bronchitis due to helping the other missionaries who have been working on the remodel. They were installing insulation, and in such an enclosed area with all the fiberglass and dust I guess my tender little lungs rebelled. But as soon as I got back out into the clear Wyoming air and took a few drugs I was back in business. I found that grading roads and making gravel suits my lungs much better. I had another interesting experience, this week, while grading the road out to the gravel pit. The road runs past a fenced-in hay stack which the ranch uses to supplement the cattle's feed. While I was grading along, oblivious to anything around me, (probably singing to myself) the ranch manager pulled along side me and motioned for me to stop. He pointed out the 800 head of cattle which had lined up along the fence by the entrance road thinking that I was getting hay for them. He pointed out that he had been trying to graze off the feed in that area and I was hindering the process by drawing all their attention to me. He asked me to quit until tomorrow when he would move the cattle into the field where I was working. The next day when I went out to finish grading the road I was, with in a few minutes, surrounded by all 800 head. They again, thought I was there to feed them. I was determined to finish my grading job, so I just put the motor grader in first gear and kept going. It was only as I was about bump them with the graders big front tires, would the cattle then part like a sea of horns and fur. They kept me totally surrounded until I was completely finished. It turned into a tough job considering I couldn't see the road ahead of me, which is something you really need to be able to do with a grader. I think I made the road a little wider than it needed to be! Oh well, that's life in Wyoming, the cowboy state. This mission is not all work of course, we have had some great spiritual experiences, i.e.; our church service, our family home evenings, and our scripture studies. I have been studying in the Book of Mormon and I have truly come to believe that this Book along with the Bible is the greatest witness of God and Jesus Christ I have ever read. It is the keystone of our religion and my faith hangs on the teachings contained in that book. We believe it was translated from ancient records by divine inspiration. I'm not saying this to try to convert anyone, but rather invite all of our family and friends, who have not had the opportunity to read it, to to take the opportunity do so. We think it will give you a better understanding of who we are, and why we are enthusiastically willing to sacrifice 18 months out of our daily lives (especially our retirement years) for our belief. The Book of Mormon makes for very interesting reading and is highly recommended by this old cow-bumper. We love you all and pray for your welfare daily and ask for your prayers for us. It's my belief that the Lord usually answers an individuals prayers through another person.
Hi everyone -- in reading Elder Leavitt's report, I was wishing he had had a camera when he was grading the road with all the cows surrounding him. That would have been quite a picture ! As mentioned, our days become pretty routine, so when another couple asked us to go to Thermopolis with them (because of a change in the schedule, we got the same day off -- that rarely happens), we jumped at the chance. When Sister Stastny asked me about going, I asked her why they were going there and she said " we just want to point our car in a different direction"! I laughed my head off as it is so true. Even our days off get to be routine -- jump in the car, drive to Casper and run errands. Anyway, I had been to "Thermop" -- as the locals call it-- years ago when my younger sister lived there, but I didn't remember anything about it. Just south of Thermop is a gorgeous canyon one drives through to get to town -- it is described as one of the prettiest drives in Wyoming and it just might be. It was spectacular! Thermop is a small town of 6000 and its main claim to fame is their hot springs. However, we chose to go to a dinosaur museum that was built in the early 90's. I was really impressed with it -- for a small town they had a large display and it was very well done. I'm attaching a picture I took in the Wind River Canyon and one of Charlie in the dinosaur museum. Still busy booking treks -- the computer that crashed is up and running again, so we're back on track. As Elder Leavitt states, our testimonies continue to grow and strengthen -- every day is a blessing. We love the people we are serving with and we are grateful for the spiritual experiences that we have on a daily basis. As much as we miss our family and friends, I know we will miss being here when it's time to go home. I try not to take any day for granted. When I look out my window and see Devil's Gate (a famous landmark along the Immigration Trail) I try to remind myself to enjoy it as next year at this time, I'll be doing something far different. Well, enough -- we love all of you and thank you for the emails that keep us connected with the outside world.
INTERNAL ERRORS? Sunday, January 10, 2010 We headed this morning over to our Menotin Branch in Cotonou to worship with them. The Menotin Branch building is fairly new, and when leased this Branch was very small. However, the missionaries have more than doubled the attendance in size and, even though we have a three year lease on this building it already cannot hold the amount of people who attend. We changed our seats three times to accommodate members arriving late and, after the sacrament was passed having moved once more to basically the outside of the building, decided to move on to another Branch to finish the day. We are concerned with four new missionaries coming into this area just how this building will cope…nice dilemma though as it is wonderful to see the growth in this area. We headed over to the Gbedjromede building and visited with some of the members there and also the missionaries. Once done, we headed back to our apartment. Normally we treat ourselves to pancakes on Sunday but today Elder Leavitt chose French toast and it was a good choice, quite delicious as the bread we had was just right. Some much needed down time and we ended up the day with the same comment that it had been a very good day indeed. Monday, January 11, 2010 This will be a challenging week for us. We are embarking on transfers and we will have four missionaries leaving us (unfortunately one already gone as of yesterday, but not a good release), and we will have eight new missionaries coming in, four into Cotonou and four into Lome. We needed to make sure that we were up to speed with the bank and post office and that towards the end of the day we picked up the passports for Elders Jerman and Teti from the Cote d’Ivorie Consulate. We had received a phone call yesterday afternoon from DHL to inform us that we had a document in their office and when could they deliver it today (that is a first). Anxious of have the DHL problems solved and hopeful that perhaps this “document” brought some kind of resolve, we informed them we would pick the document up ourselves. So after the post office and bank the first priority was a visit to DHL. When we went in (Elder Leavitt accompanied me this time) we were greeted by an agent we did not know who produced the “document” which unfortunately had nothing to do with our issue. Sister Leavitt then asked if Natasha was in the office, she was, and was called downstairs. We asked her if our account was still cancelled and she informed us both that it was. She then said that they had received a great deal of emails from DHL Global and other DHL entities within the U.S. regarding the problem. Sister Leavitt then proceeded to inform her that this was just the beginning, the cancellation of the account was not known to the Church, the Church was a large customer of DHL and it was a very serious matter. She then said, well the account is not actually cancelled it is just not available for use (frozen in other words). Sister Leavitt said that she needed to obtain information on how, who and when this action took place. She said it stemmed from two shipments brought into the office by us in December that, when delivered, were not signed for by the recipient which resulted in DHL being liable for the payment (this was all new information). Then, she basically spilled the beans and said that their Financial Officer upstairs in the Cotonou Office had taken the action to freeze the account. Elder Leavitt then asked how much money was owed; she said they could not tell as the waybills were not available. Well the explanations kept getting more and more bizarre by the minute. Then the final irony. Natasha asked if I had any shipments for today. Of course we did we still have the shipments from last week they refused to accept. She said why didn’t she accept them with the billing number and then we would see who on the other end was refusing to sign! We were dumbstruck but hey, if they will take them…we gave them. We both left the office shaking our heads but at least with our mail on its way. When we arrived at the apartment Sister Leavitt immediately sent off emails to all involved documenting this strange incident. It was not long before emails starting coming back from the Church Offices in Accra sent to everyone demanding to know who was refusing to sign for received mail from the Leavitt’s in Benin resulting in this mess. Finally the phone rang….it was Natasha from DHL….”Sister Leavitt” she said, I have reported to our Financial Officer the seriousness of the freezing of your account and the problems it has caused…he has looked into the matter and we find that it is….an INTERNAL ERROR. All has been restored your account is good and you can now start bringing back to us your mail”. Marv just stood and laughed and laughed what a bunch of baloney. We finished up our day with a stop at the grocery store and a visit to the Consulate, but we were only able to receive Elder Jerman’s passport as Elder Teti has to pick his up in person tomorrow. Tuesday, January 12, 2010 Today we left for Togo to pick up the three missionaries transferring back here. We left again in the dark with an early start. We enjoy actually being on the road at this time as it enables us to exit Benin without being caught in the horrendous traffic. The drive over was smooth sailing and we documented some of our sights enroute for our weekly observations detailed at the end of our journal. Arrived in Lome around 10am and caught up with Blaise. We unloaded our stuff and met with Blaise to go over things that needed to be addressed. We then headed for the bank as Elder Leavitt needs to obtain some cash to pay soutien this coming week in Togo and reimburse Blaise and President Dieudonne for work done on the old Be Apartment. On the way in my husband asked me to call the missionaries in the new Be Apartment to see how they were enjoying their environment. Elder Cruz had only one comment to make, “its too hot”. When I reported this to Marv he said…something is going on and I think it has to do with the missionaries in the Hedzranowae Apartment. Now they are the ONLY missionaries in the entire mission with an apartment that has air conditioning but which, are not allowed to use it as it is way too costly and, for the most part because apartments here do not normally have air conditioning. They have complained and been told by President “no”, you have fans and you do not need the air conditioning and nobody else has it. When we got to our apartment and Blaise presented Marv with the electricity bills he had paid this week the Hedzranowae apartment electricity was through the roof and way over the mission budget. BINGO, they are using the air and bragging about it, and Blaise confirmed it. My husband was not a happy camper. We then headed to the bank and Marv verified that deposits had been made and cashed a check. He was then approached by a bank employee and asked to please go upstairs as there was a serious problem with the account. He met with an account manager who was very rude and demanded why Elder Leavitt never answered his phone as they had tried to contact him numerous times. He asked which phone number, and they verified that they had been calling the house phone in Lome. He explained we had been in Cotonou all week and just arrived and nobody is in the house when we are gone. He then got a tongue lashing about not providing pertinent information to the bank. The account manager told my husband that we were seriously overdrawn. He said that was impossible he had just verified the account balance and cashed a substantial check. The account manager demanded the return the money…my husband demanded the account manager produce a statement of deposits/withdrawals on the account, which he did. As the account manager sat clutching and reading it, my husband asked for his own copy and, after going over it pointed out a serious error on the part of the bank. The manager then quickly got on the phone, and after a series of “oui, oui, oui’s”, hung up and told my husband he was free to go and could keep the money it had been an “INTERNAL ERROR”. All this time (about 45 minutes) Sister Leavitt had been sitting outside in the truck waiting and wondering what was going on. Back to the house and President Deiudonne came over and met with Marv. We then took some down time to relax as the day was catching up with us and we hit the road again early tomorrow. We had dinner later that evening at our Pizza place..just salads as it was way too hot to eat. Then back to the apartment and Brother Gastion came and fixed our computer so we can use our Skype. We were able to Skype our daughter Julie which was nice and then Marv got caught up with his Brother and others while I packed up for tomorrow. Wednesday, January 13, 2010 Our plan was to pick up Elders Starita, Bertoch and Geisler and be on the road back to Benin by 8am Lome time (9am Cotonou time) and we made it. We so enjoyed our day with these three good missionaries who are transferring to Cotonou. It was a treat to have three American missionaries and we could all communicate in English. They loved the ride over, took loads of pictures as we drove through the villages and over the lakes and through the countryside…so much more to see than the big city of Lome they are so used to. We arrived in good time and decided we had better buy them some lunch before depositing them into their new apartments. As we headed for the restaurant the road we needed seemed to be blocked off except for one lane. Elder Leavitt decided that maybe there had been an accident so he slowed down and followed the traffic in front. Up ahead we could see maybe 2-300 yellow vested moto drivers lined on each side of the road and a large truck pulled over, we thought maybe a demonstration of some kind but it was not to be. When we threaded our way through we passed a dead body of a young girl who must have been hit and killed by the truck…this scene is becoming all too common lately we are afraid. All three will get new companions arriving on Friday from Cote d’Ivorie. Marv has worked long and hard with Pierre in Cotonou readying the apartments for the new arrivals. Two apartments will go from two missionaries to four namely Akpakpa and Gbedjromede making our full compliment in Cotonou now 12 missionaries instead of 8. We had a lovely lunch with them and then took them to their new homes. They are excited for the change and anxious to get started. Back to our apartment and unload. Precious had been the day before and the apartment was nice and fresh and clean. It had been a long day and we were so ready for some down time and bed. Thursday, January 14, 2010 Today we need to step it up a notch and finish readying the apartments for the arrivals tomorrow and the new missionaries and, the departures of those going out. With Pierre in tow we made the rounds buying fans, pillows, eating utensils etc. We also needed to get to the bank and post office as we will not have time tomorrow. Then we made the rounds delivering all that we had bought and checking that the new beds were in place along with bedding and mosquito nets. Had lunch and a quick stop at Eravan for supplies. Then back to the apartment unload. For the remainder of the day, some down time and bed. As a side note, Elder Teti finally got his passport and entry visa today…hooray! Friday, January 15, 2010 Today we deposit Elders Jerman, Teti and Kpangi at the airport. Elder Teti and Kpangi have finished their missions (2 years) and have been exemplary missionaries. Elder Jerman will finish out his mission in Cote d’Ivorie having served in both Togo and Benin and is an outstanding missionary. We got them to the airport in good time and sent them in to check in. Elder Leavitt asked that I go in with them to make sure they got through the security check point with no incidents. It was not quite open but they were some of the first in line. As I stood with them telling them goodbye I could feel eyes on me. I looked around and saw three Catholic nuns sitting off to the side, one white and two West African. The white nun smiled and nodded so I went over to greet her. “Bonjour” I said and she greeted me back, I detected an English accent and told her I was British, from Manchester, so was she. She introduced me to her two novices. I told them this was my second mission to West Africa having served in Nigeria. The one novice broke into a huge smile claiming she was Nigerian. I hugged her and said I had served in Enugu…she was from Enugu. What a sight we were all hugging and laughing having so much in common. Sister Angela serves with the Sister of the Poor just outside of Calavi (where the orphanage is we are working with) and they run an old people’s home…we made a date to go out and see her, Marv and I. Marv said “oh no, here we go again…Sue has found yet another cause to get us involved with” and…YES WE HAVE. Confident our missionaries were on their way we left with a promise to check back later. We then decided to see if we could find a hospital Marv had heard about and ironically a restaurant that had been recommended to us. We finally did, then we headed to the post office for one more check and then back to the airport to see our three missionaries disappear through the security into the gate area. Now back to the apartment with a couple of stops. The rest of the day (until our new missionaries arrive), is ours to do with whatever we want. Heavenly Father blessed us with a lovely rain shower and, as I happily went outside on our balcony to witness the lovely cool rain I was rewarded with a sight from the compound across the street of two men hacking the heck out of a dead goat…NICE! We made some real headway with paperwork etc and it was good. Then it was time to head for the airport to pick up our four new missionaries….Elders N’Dri, Andon, Tshibaru and Yapo…all West African. The plane landed on time and we got them loaded and deposited into their new apartments with their new companions. Back home, and time for dinner and an early night for tomorrow we hit the road to Togo to meet our new missionaries there. Saturday, January 16, 2010 Normally this would be a “P” day for us but it never seems to materialize. We left Cotonou around 7:30am and headed back towards Lome. One stop at the Menotin apartment to deposit some mail and supplies brought in from the Mission Office by the new missionaries. Our arrival in Lome was greeted by a phone call from Elder Fontaine (French) who said he needed to be taken to the hospital as he was ill. Not being able to understand just what was wrong I had one of our American missionaries call him to get the full story. It was reported back that he had a headache and diarrhea. Elder Leavitt said we don’t need to take him to the hospital for that lets just stop at the pharmacy and get some medication. NOW PICTURE THIS. Here am I in the Pharmacy trying to convey to the pharmacist that I have a missionary with diarrhea. She is so not understanding me. I gesture lower extremities and discomfort…she gestures back a vomiting motion. No, I say and make a low flushing motion with my arms. Oh, she said and crouches down and makes a loud exploding noise with my mouth. “Oui” I say…that’s it. She produces some medication which thankfully has English directions which I can read. We take all to Elder Fontaine with directions for use and say we will check on him later. Then we go back to the apartment and have a nice light lunch of cheese, avocado, tomato, and cucumbers with a lovely whole wheat bread. The next item on our agenda….NAP. Marv’s Weekly Observations: - It never ceases to amaze me as we go down the street to see a human being acting as a mule. These men are pulling a four wheel trailer loaded with everything from lumber to petrol and they pull them hour after hour to deliver their goods. This, on highways in the midst of the horrendous traffic. - In my life I have been exposed to driving almost everything imaginable from a two wheel scooter to an eighteen wheeler to a D-9 Cat, and I thought I had seen it all and experienced driving at its worst. - But I have to say the only thing that I fear could cause me to leave this mission early would be to have a nervous breakdown while trying to traverse these highways with the tens of thousands of motorcycles and cars and not one intelligent driver amongst them. There are NO RULES, THERE ARE NO COURTESIES and if you do not start moving the minute everyone else deems that it is time to move…brace yourself for the blasting of the horns. Sue’s Weekly Observations: - As we travel early in the mornings to Togo and pass through the little villages, one of my most favorite sights is seeing the children marching to school in their brown uniforms all carrying a African broom, which consists of dried grass bundled together at one end. They then enter their school yard and immediately place one hand behind their back and stoop over and commence to sweep frantically until the dirt is smooth and litter free. - On one trip over to Lome Marv took a different way into the city which took us behind the Port area where many, many trucks gather waiting for the containers to be off-loaded from the ships. Along this road are many, many stalls providing cooked food for the truck drivers. I saw 6 women gathered around a large hollowed out wooden container that stands about 2-1/2 feet high. With large wooden mallets with long handles raised high above their heads they commenced to pound the yam within the container to bring it to the consistency of cream of wheat (pounded yam or foo-foo). The rhythm they had was almost like a choreographed ballet as they swung in unison and sang…it was AMAZING! Til next week….Elder & Sister Leavitt Le Couple
wow this was a crazy week. On tuesday i went on companion exchanges and had to go into concepcion. I met a little girl who was five and spoke only english even though she is from here. she is really good at english too. the next day my temporary companion and i went to our district meeting where i thought i would be able to return home but of course i was suprised by the news that i was doing exchanges with the zone leaders that day. Yay! I love surprises. and of course i had only brought enough clothes for one day. luckily my real companion had brought clothes for me. so thursday i finally got to go home. it felt fantastic to be in my own bed again. then saturday we had my first baptism. which was just crazy. everything kinda fell apart and we had to try to glue it back together again. first we were supposed to have one of the ward members baptized as well as our three converts but the bishop hadnt interviewed him yet. and then we found out that the bishop isnt coming. so he wasnt baptized. then we didnt have any baptisimal clothes for the two little girls that were being baptized. so we had to find some clothes for them. then the office couple for our mission decided to show up cause they go to baptisms on saturdays. But we did get the padilla family baptized and confirmed this week and i am super excited for them. and with all this we still managed to have a really good week teaching and got sister neneng ochoa to commit to be baptized. Her daughter paula is the one that approached us to have us teach her if i told you about her. if not she approached us to have us teach her because she wanted to know about our church and who we were. well the good work is continuing here. i am loving life here. we did a service project this week and ill have to get you some pictures. we dug a hole for a bathroom. all we had was a pry bar to break up the dirt and a nearly rusted through shovel. really the shovel had holes in it. it was a great time though. i guess when you are in the service of your fellow man you are only in the service of your god right? he is definitely blessing me in this work. i am even starting to get better at tagalog. i surprised myself several times this week with how much i was able to say in our teaching and then again in just normal conversation. but with god anything is possible so i can do this. love you all.
This has been another busy work week here at the Cove. Sister Leavitt has been booking treks like crazy for 2012, and I have been busy getting the wood shop ready for next season. In the last month or so the missionaries have painted the ceiling, walls, floors, and all the shelves in the wood shop. We have reorganized all the tools, and supplies, so as to make it a lot more user friendly. We have also set it up so that vacuums can be attached to all the machines which will allow it to be kept much cleaner and have less sawdust flying around. Now if we can train the missionaries to clean up after themselves, it might stay that way. Its amazing how much brighter it looks with all the new paint. The ceiling had gotten so dusty that it looked like it was painted brown.
Elder Freeman and I have also built another Bench for the Martin Cabin and are raising up two of the benches up to make it easier for adults to sit on them. I am also currently working on an entrance arch for Prairie Park with the name on top so it can easily be recognized. We are also in the planning stages to expand the Humanitarian Center and also add some restrooms on the end of the expansion to accommodate the Center and also the Chapel. With some extra money we were given in our budget we have purchased a lot of new tools and equipment. Some that I requested, (that I wish we had last year) were a portable cut-off saw, a slope laser and a magnetic underground locator, (which will locate buried metal and electrical lines.) But, at least we have them to use for this year.
The cold weather has not been nearly as hard to take as I had imagined it would, that's even considering we had one night this week at -37 or -41 degrees with the wind chill. We haven't had much snow so far, and what we have had blows by so fast it ends up in Casper. For you missionaries sweltering in the heat down in the Yuma area, eat your hearts out!
The Freemans talked in church today and they were very inspirational. Sister Freeman talked about our mission goals, which are Faith, Obedience, Sacrifice and Charity. Elder Freeman referenced a talk given by J. Rueben Clark Jr. given in 1947 about the pioneers crossing the plains titled the Last Wagon.
We sure miss all of you, especially our beautiful grandchildren, and hope that some of you can come to visit us over the next year. We look forward to the return of our veteran and new missionaries this year and are excited about all the fun and spiritual experiences we'll have together.
A special thanks goes out to our daughter-in- law Becky for making a book of all our emails. To Jo Clow for sending us that great video of the BYU football team honoring the Air Force Cadets before their game. And all of you for keeping in touch with your emails. Some of them are amazing! To our grandkids, thanks for your cards and letters, especially for your hand drawn pictures, they are priceless.
Love you all, Elder Leavitt
Hi everyone -- I've started keeping a daily journal to help me remember what goes on day-to-day. Our days fall into a routine so it's easy to forget what happened during the week when we sit down to write our weekly email.
First of all I want to apologize to those who email us and we don't respond -- the problem is that our computer only works intermittently. I've had to resort to snail mail in a couple of instances as I just couldn't get the computer to work when I had the time to sit down and email someone. Speaking of computers, one of the trek-scheduling computers "crashed" this week and had to be sent to Salt Lake to be rebuilt. (We've been booking so many treks we burned up the computer :) Seriously, it somehow got a virus and just crashed.) So, being down one computer (until it gets fixed) will keep me busy in other areas than in the office.
Elder Leavitt mentioned the low temp we had -- it didn't last long, but it was kind of exciting to see the thermometer that low.
Another thing I must mention - especially to Missionaries who have been here -- most of us ladies shop at the same clothing store in Casper -- as is has fairly fashionable clothes that are suitable for Missionaries. Well, it was bound to happen -- Sister Hardy and I showed up the other day wearing the exact same outfit -- I now call it our uniform :) Of course, we all ran for our cameras, so I have attached that picture.
I echo Charlie's remarks about Elder and Sister Freeman's talks -- they were so inspirational and have us fired up to get going for the new trek season.
Well we all made it into the New year, and here at the Cove we can look back at a very exciting and special 2009. Last year we came to this Mission not really knowing what to expect. We knew it was a service mission and we would be helping thousands of young people to have a pioneer experience. But, we had no idea what a rewarding and spiritual experience it would be for us. To be able to watch the hordes of young people come from all over the country, dressed in pioneer attire, descend on the Cove, and then to observe them out on the trails pulling handcarts is a sight that brought us an indescribable thrill. To see them in their campgrounds, pitching their tents, cooking their meals, singing songs, dancing, and in general having a great, fun and wholesome experience is something we will never forget. This experience gave us hope for the future and a thrill in our hearts. We were also apprehensive about spending the winter in the high plains of Wyoming. But so far it has been a fun and rewarding experience. Although it's been colder than I have ever experienced in the past, it's been much easier to deal with than my imagination lead me to believe it would. Actually this past week has been much warmer than expected with most days above freezing, in fact most of our snow here at the Cove has melted. It's probably the calm before the storm, but we'll take what we are given and make the best of it.
Today in Church I had the opportunity to teach a lesson on looking forward in the New Year. I took my material from an article in the January Ensign by Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The lesson, which I feel was directed at me, talked about putting your past mistakes in the past and as the Apostle Paul told the Philippians, "place them on the dung heap of history" and then move forward. It gave me a lot of relief because I have had a tendency to beat myself up over my past. The Lord is not nearly as interested in our past as He is in our present and where we go in the future. That is all I'm going to say on that subject. ( if anyone would like to read the whole lesson, let me know and I'll email it to you)
I would like to thank our dozens of friends and relatives who stay in touch and have sent us Christmas cards, pictures and letters. You really make us feel loved.
I would like to send our love and congratulations to my Aunt Ila on her 90th birthday. You are such a grand and elect lady and we all love and appreciate the great example that you are to the whole Leavitt family. This beautiful aunt is truly a family treasure, out of her 14 brothers and sisters, she is one of the few still living.
We would like to express our love and admiration to our oldest grandson Tommy who is in the Marines and just recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. You are always in our thoughts and prayers!
We would like to congratulate our grandson Conner on your up-coming 12th birthday. You are such a wonderful young man, and a great source of pride for your grandparents.
May all of our family and friends have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, we send all of you our love and prayers.
Hi Everyone -- I'm delighted that Elder Leavitt is back to his old form and that he hasn't been day dreaming this week :)
I can't agree more with what he said. As we look back over the year, we feel so blessed to have spent most of our year here -- in fact, it's hard to believe we have been here this long as the time has gone so quickly.
We celebrated New Years Eve in style by having a Wii bowling tournament. We now have two Wii systems here and they were set up in the Gathering Room. Sister Stastny had the high score at 214 with Sister Bolton right on her heels. I managed to bowl a 201 -- in fact I beat Elder Leavitt on every game we bowled together but who is keeping track?? :) We also played some other games and a couple of folks spent the evening putting a 500-piece puzzle together. Anyway, it was great fun and it was nice to sleep in on New Year's Day.
As we expected, the phone started ringing like crazy on January 2 with folks wanting to book treks for 2012 -- in fact, I booked 4 Stake treks in one day and I don't know how many Sister Hardy booked. So from here on out, we will be very busy in the office not only booking treks but also getting ready for the new Missionaries who will be arriving in April.
Our love and best wishes to you all in the New Year,
Dear Family and Friends, We know some of you are wondering where we went...we had a major computer crash on Christmas Eve and lost everything...hopefully we are now back in business. We will try to get caught up this coming week. Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.Elder & Sister Leavitt