Hello Family and Friends, and Happy Birthday tomorrow to my beautiful wife.
Sorry we missed a week, but we thought maybe you needed a rest from our ramblings.
Actually we have been so busy that I just couldn't muster up the energy to sit at the computer and ramble. I tried to get my sweetheart to do the email, but she said that she didn't want to change the format this late in the game. I have had a ton to do to get ready for the trekkers and try to finish up a number of projects before we became too busy to work on them. I've had to take charge of pouring a slab for the pavilion expansion. Six of us old missionaries poured nearly 19 cubic yards in one day without stopping for a break or lunch. We could have used more help, because all of us barely had the energy to get home. Only three of us had ever been involved in any concrete work and only one of us (me) to any extent. Well, we gotter done, but it was not quite up to what I considered professional standards. When I told my supervisor what I thought of the job, he just pointed out some of the other concrete on the place, and I felt a little better. We decided our work was definitely up to senior missionary standards.
Last Wednesday we hiked up to the top of Rocky Ridge again. As I have mentioned before, Rocky Ridge is the highest point on the Mormon Trail at 7300 ft. From the Sweetwater River it is a 700 ft elevation change in 2 1/2 miles. A tough pull for old folks, but a small indication of what the handcart pioneers went through as they hiked and pulled handcarts for 15 miles (27 hours) in a blizzard. Thirteen pioneers died from that ordeal.
The last few days I have been grading and grooming roads and trails in preparation for the onslaught. Yesterday we had 2 to 3 dozen young volunteers along with a number of adults from Casper who came out and helped me groom the trail from Handcart Parking up to the top of the Cove, a distance of about a mile, all up hill. They did a fantastic job and really saved me tons of work. It's so inspiring to see how the people (especially teenagers) of this area take such great pride in this Historic Site and want to do all they can to keep it functioning and well maintained.
Today we were blessed to have President Scott Lorimer of Riverton, Wyoming speak to us again. He is the person who was probably the most instrumental in the church acquiring these historical sites. He is so interesting that I could listen to him for hours and not be bored, and that's saying something for me, because I can doze off at a fireworks display.
This week our good friends the Bevans from Canada should be arriving for their 12 week service and we are very excited. We had gotten very close to them last summer as they were our next door neighbors and Elder Bevans and I worked together quite a bit.
Well, we miss our family and friends and eagerly look forward to hearing from all of you. By the way, for those of you who haven't figured it out, we don't have a clue how to use Facebook, so those of you who do, you're wasting your time trying to communicate with us on any of those fancy web-sites. We can barely use email. If they weren't endangered we would probably still be using carrier pigeons.
Your loving father, father-in-law, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend, (get the hint) Elder Leavitt
Well, other than the weather, things have been great here. We've had a couple of nice days but mostly it's been cold and windy. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day when we went over Rocky Ridge, but still colder than it was last year. I'm attaching a picture of the Boulder City contingent (the Imlay's, Emlings & Leavitt's) at the top of Rocky Ridge. One of the aspects of this trip I enjoyed the most was the drive to Rocky Ridge. This year we kind of paralleled the National Historic Trail which is the trek that the kids will take getting to Rocky Ridge. Last year we drove on a fairly well-maintained dirt road. Anyway, despite the fact that it was a little "hair-raising" in spots because of mud bogs and steep inclines, it was a thrill for me to see the actual trail and to see where the trekkers will go. I schedule that activity but have never seen the trail before. For those of you who know, I picked up about 20 blue agate rocks on Rocky Ridge so I'm hoping that some of these rock hounds around here will polish me up a rock so I can make a necklace with one of these beautiful stones.
As Elder Leavitt said, one of the highlights of our year is getting to hear President Lorimer and his wife. He is such an amazing guy but so humble about all that he has accomplished for the handcart pioneer sites. He said today that he and his wife are having all the missionaries over for dinner in the fall - they live in Riverton, Wy, so we are already anticipating that.
Well, we are anxious to see Ross and Susan Johnson who will be here in about 10 days -- can't believe it's so close as it seems we've been waiting a long time to see them. We will have a ton of trekkers while they are staying with us, so we may take them square dancing with us :) We have some other fun things planned as well -- it will be wonderful to see them.
We are really enjoying the new missionaries -- they have adapted so quickly to the routines and are falling in love w/ the pioneers, just like we all did. There are some incredible people with amazing talents.
I also forgot to mention that I was released from being the Relief Society President and called to be 1st counselor in the Primary -- I was totally shocked. Other than play the piano, I haven't done anything in Primary and usually 2nd year missionaries don't serve in Presidencies. However, I'm grateful for the experience -- today was the first day we've had Primary age kids --and it was lots of fun. We build handcarts out of crispy treats, eat home-made bread, sing songs, and play -- Primary is the place to be :) Also, I'm excited because when my grandkids come this summer, I'll get to be with them in Primary :) Yea !!
Sorry we're late again, but it has been another busy and schizophrenic weather week. The first of the week we had several snow storms, then the weather warmed up to about 70 degrees by the end of the week. In spite of the weather changes we have the floor for the Pavilion expansion ready to pour and we have had a great fireside with Andrew Olson, the author of the "very best book" detailing the Martin and Willie Handcart Pioneers entitled the "The Price we Paid".
Yesterday we took a bus tour along the immigration trail from Casper to Martin's Cove with members of CES (Church Educational System) who gave us some great insight into the pioneers. While on this tour I also discovered that I am never too old to learn something new! One of our stops on the CES tour was Bessemer Bend, the location where the first rescue team found the Martin Company on October 28th,1856 -- starving and freezing in 12" snow. Bessemer Bend is next to the North Platte River about 8 miles from where Casper is now located. While at Bessemer Bend, we were told the story of Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson, a well-known pioneer lady (there is a painting of her in the Trek Center) who lost her husband at that location and was left with 3 small children to fend for. While Elizabeth's story (which I have heard many times) was being read, they mentioned a sister, Mary Horrocks Leavitt as also being a member of the Martin Company. Well, when my wife brought this to my attention, naturally, my ears quickly perked up as I was sure that none of our ancestors were with any of the Handcart Companies. As soon as I got the chance, I asked the CES people about her and was told they didn't know where the name came from, but advised me of where I could go on the church web-site to find out about any immigrant in any company. I could hardly wait to get home and check it out. By going to LDS.org, and clicking on "church history" and then looking at the very bottom of the page I could see the small word "pioneers", and then by clicking on that word a page about immigration companies came up and all I had to do is type in a persons name and it would let you know if that person was in any of the handcart or wagon train companies between 1846 and 1868, and any additional information. To make a long story shorter, I discovered that Mary Horrocks, sister to Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson, married a man named Nathaniel Leavitt after she arrived in Salt Lake. Who was Nathaniel Leavitt? With some research I discovered that Nathaniel Leavitt came west on the same wagon train as our great-great grandmother Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt, and turned out to be her nephew. His father, also named Nathaniel and was the brother of Jeremiah Leavitt our great-great grandfather, who died on the plains. Nathaniel Sr died in Michigan in 1830, when Nathaniel was about 6 years old, so Nathaniel Jr, who about 26 during his immigration west, must have been closely attached to our family. After their marriage,in the Endowment House in the spring of 1857, Nathaniel and Mary spent their most lives living in Ogden, Utah and raised a large family. So what I learned, in my old age is that by marriage, we have a connection with one of the handcart pioneers, which to me is exciting. I also learned that there are more Leavitt's in this country than there are NORMAL PEOPLE. And I love them all!
May the Lord bless all of our family and friends that you may all be healthy and prosperous.
Love Elder Leavitt
Hi everyone !
We were excited to find the connection to Mary Horrocks Leavitt -- I would ask my Boulder City friends to let Jill Stewart know as Jill is a direct descendant of Elizabeth Horrocks Jackson. Jill and I have talked several times about Elizabeth, so I think she'll be excited as well to find that we have a connection to her.
Two of our favorite experiences last year, and again this year have been the bus tour which follows the Immigration Trail from Casper to Martin's Cove and the fireside with Andrew Olsen -- to have them both in one week has been incredible. Andrew Olsen gave an entirely different talk than he did last year -- this time he focused on the rescuers who risked their lives to save the Willie & Martin Handcart Companies. It was very informative and helped us understand the great sacrifice these men made to save the handcart pioneers. Many of the rescuers were Missionaries who had just returned from their Missions and left again, after having been home just a few weeks, to rescue the pioneers.
Today, we went over to the Willie Center to tour their Visitor's Center and to do the Woman's Pull on the National Historic Trail. The weather again was a factor. It was raining like crazy today, and so I wondered how we cope on the Woman's Pull with the roads so wet and muddy. However, we were able to pull our handcarts without too much trouble despite the conditions. One of our new sister missionaries has a glorious voice -- she sings like an angel-- and she sang "Come, Come Ye Saints" before our pull. It was a memorable and emotional experience for me as I thought of the handcart pioneers on the exact same trail I was on, pulling their handcarts in ice and snow, while starving and freezing, but having the grit, determination, faith and courage to make that perilous journey.
After having been out on the trail, the Willie Missionaries put on an outstanding program for us -- it was wonderful and funny. We heard cowboy poetry, beautiful music and a very funny comedic routine. Their version of their blue grass band played and we had so much fun singing along w/ all our favorite songs.
It's been very busy in the office -- we have a new secretary that helps out a couple of days a week. Yesterday was so hectic I came home with my stomach in knots. I had so much work piled up from having been out of the office for the CES tour and then my computer wouldn't work. I had to call Salt Lake to get it fixed and it was late afternoon before they had the problems figured out. I ended up going back to the office for the evening to get some of my work done. I will still have a huge pile tomorrow after having been gone today. Trek season starts this weekend, as we have 3 treks coming in from Canada, but it begins in earnest the weekend of June 10, 11 & 12 so the trek leaders are calling in to "tweak" their treks. But, we're also booking treks into 2011 & 2012. Busy, busy.
A new Relief Society President has been called and a new pianist for Sacrament meeting -- thank heavens ! I will be getting a new assignment, I'm sure, so I'll let you know about that next week.
I'm attaching a picture that was taken of us at Bessemer Bend.
A bit behind this week but have been very, very busy. Hope this finds you all well and happy...we certainly are doing great. We miss and love you all...thanks for your emails and support. Love and miss our children and grandchildren most of all.
Til next week, we continue to be
Dad,Mom,Grandpa,Grandma, Marv Sue
Elder and Sister Leavitt
Sunday, May 2, 2010
We awoke today under very cloudy skies and to the sound of rain falling. We realized that we had received quite a bit of rain in the night as the streets were flooded. In all the branches today they will show two sessions (their choice) of General Conference, and we are grateful that we have received the DVD’s in both English and French to fill the need. Because Sacrament will not be passed and, due to the fact that we have seen all sessions of the conference, I decided that today I would like to stay in the apartment and get some rest as I am feeling quite worn out. Elder Leavitt wanted to attend the Gbedjromede Branch to make sure the newly baptized (as of yesterday) men from that branch were confirmed and received the priesthood. The Branch President did not want to take care of this but wait a week and Elder Leavitt advised him not to do so. So, Elder Leavitt left and I stayed home. By the end of the day I felt much more rested and Elder Leavitt was able to witness the confirmations and ordinations so it was a good day. We read our scriptures and watched some CES Firesides which we really enjoyed. Towards the end of the day Precious came to stay the night with us as tomorrow, very early we are headed for the village of Azove to deliver food supplies to the Village of Hope Orphanage as donated by our grandson Evan for his Eagle Scout project. We had a nice dinner together, and went to bed early.
Monday May 3, 2010
Well this will be a big day for our grandson Evan, the Village of Hope Orphanage and a very full day for Elder and Sister Leavitt, Elders Dagroue and Kouassi and Precious. We packed a picnic lunch and headed out the door by 6:30am. We were in hopes that the rain did not present muddy impassable roads for us and the drive over would be smooth. It takes about two and a half to three hours to get to the village and we had promised David (the owner) that we would try to be there around 9:00am. The ride over was spectacular as the recent rains had washed everything so fresh and clean and made the vistas quite beautiful. We had documented earlier what a beautiful and interesting drive this was and today was no exception. We were highly entertained by Elder Kousassi who seems to have acquired a harmonica and is in the process of learning how to play it and proceeded to go through the hymn book starting at hymn number one. About hymn number twelve Sister Leavitt could not take any more and asked if anyone minded if she inserted a church CD of songs…there was a resounding…NOT AT ALL. The plan for today is that Sister Leavitt will stay at the Village of Hope orphanage/school and David will accompany the missionaries and Precious into the markets to purchase the supplies. Evan has raised approximately $1,117.62 and (with our input) has given us directions as to how to execute the project and what to purchase. David of the orphanage wants all the money to go to food as they do not currently have enough to feed the children. The $1,177.62 converts to approximately 500,000cfa (Grandpa and Grandma added some to round it off) and that will go a long way towards food supplies. Elder Leavitt will drive to the market but then hide as his big white face will only increase the pricing and hamper the negotiations. So with all plans in place we approached the orphanage right on time. David wanted Precious and the missionaries to see the facility. It was just as humble and meager as we remembered it. We could hear the children in their classrooms singing and participating and that was a good sign. We were thankful for Evan, and that we had chosen to come this day as we saw the two women cooking their one meal. Having run totally out of rice their meal was beans, cooked vines harvested by the children out of the surrounding fields of cassava and a soup to pour over it. While Elder Leavitt and company left for round one of the purchasing process Sister Leavitt camped out under a mango tree and was entertained by a little two year old who was fascinated by her white hands. After about two hours the truck returned loaded to the hilt with rice, beans, salt, and a huge basket of dried fish. David had hoped that we would have enough money to buy the fish as the children just love it. They grind the fish up and add it to just about everything and it gives them a lot of nutrition in their food. The next round started right by the orphanage as negotiations began for garri (a flour like substance made from the yam). Precious took the lead and it became very intense but ended up yielding two giant sacks at a good price. David called over two of the older orphans and they brought a cart and started hauling over to the house. Then the truck left again for round two. Sister Leavitt again stayed and this time was entertained by some of the orphans who came and literally lay on top of the fish basket. When she asked one of the women what they were doing she replied “they are smelling the fish…they love it”. Sister Leavitt thought it smelled absolutely awful but then, Sister Leavitt has never been hungry. Some of the older orphans came back to their home from secondary school and each one, as they passed us three women sitting under the tree “greeted” us with a “bonjour and a bow”, very respectful. Eventually the truck returned again this time bringing salt, sugar, tomato paste, onions, pepper and other spices. The day’s purchases yielded the following:
100 Pounds of Dried Fish
130 Pounds of Beans
800 Pounds of Thai Rice
500 Pounds of Garri
5-Cases of Large Cans Tomato Paste
200 Pounds Sugar
13 Gallons Cooking Oil
9 Pounds Salt
160 Large Onions
Various Assorted Spices
The supplies will provide food for the children for approximately two months allowing them three meals per day. Suffice it to say David and the children were beyond grateful. They held up a sign saying “Merci Beaucoup Evan” and one little girl (my favorite) held his picture so tightly we could not get here to let it go.
Precious and the missionaries loved every minute of it and we all left the Village feeling very blessed and so grateful for Evan who enabled us to do this. Our drive back was uneventful with one stop along the way to eat our picnic lunch. One funny thing was that as we pulled into what we thought was a vacant lot to eat our lunch; all of a sudden two men came out. One proceeded to take the picnic cooler away from Elder Dagrou supposedly to carry it for him (but we actually were not going anywhere) and then it became a tugging match between Elder Dagrou and the man with the cooler. Elder Dagrou won due in large part to the fact that he was starving. We arrived back into Cotonou in good time and dropped everyone off with many thanks for their help and support. We all agreed that it was a most wonderful worthwhile day.
Tuesday May 4, 2010
Today we must get our regular business done having spent yesterday at the orphanage and so we did. For the most part our power in Cotonou has been good but, today it was off for a five hour period which did not make us happy.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Basically a repeat of yesterday except the power behaved. We need to keep on top of things as we have a busy weekend coming up with Zone Conferences. Paid bills, banked, post office and basically stayed focused.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
We will prepare all that we need today for Zone Conference as President arrives tonight. We need to come up with a fun activity on the Book of Mormon (and we did). We have had very cloudy skies so the rainy season is most definitely making an appearance and we are loving the fresh air. We paid more bills and did some grocery shopping…good day.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Up early and out to the hotel to pick up President. Sister Leavitt had not had a good night due to stomach problems. We arrived at the Gbedjromede Branch building in good time and started to set up for conference. The missionaries arrived promptly and we were so proud of them. The conference was great and our activity was very well received. We also acknowledged birthdays with ties which the missionaries loved. We ate our Zone Conference lunch at (where else) the Festival de Glace and then had President take us back to the apartment as he will start missionary interviews and keep the truck. We did receive word from him at lunch that we will be expected to teach and train tomorrow at the Menotin Branch Conference (that was a surprise) so we were glad to get home to prepare. We were absolutely exhausted but remarked what a great day it had been so we hit the bed very early for some much needed rest.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Slept in (oh what luxury) then we both started to prepare for the Menotin Branch conference. President will pick us up around 1:30pm; we will train from 2-4pm and then attend the adult session of the conference from 4pm-6pm. The day was hectic but the training went very well on both our parts. We anguished over how much these members DO NOT KNOW, and how inadequate we feel with no language skills. President is thrilled that we do as much as we do, but we wish we could do so much more. Elder Leavitt had 12 brethren (including two investigators) and Sister Leavitt had five sisters. During the combined adult session all of a sudden we were announced as speakers so we spoke, there is always a surprise at every turn. Following the conference session we waited for President to meet with members and take care of business and then we took and dropped him off at his hotel. We headed home extremely tired but feeling good about our day. We ate cereal for dinner, then packed as we will leave tomorrow for Togo after Menotin’s Branch Conference, to start Zone Conferences there, then went to bed.
Marv’s Weekly Observations:
Oh how the French love to smoke their cigarettes. There is no such thing as “no smoking” here in public area most especially restaurants. It would be nice to be in a nice restaurant, eating your meal without cigarette smoke becoming a part of your menu.
Sue’s Weekly Observations:
Some of you donated money to Evan’s project may we take this opportunity to say “thank you”. Please know that you did a wonderful thing and you made a difference. We hope you enjoy the “Merci Beaucoup” picture.
This has been a busy week, but a lot of fun, training the new missionaries. We remember last year when we arrived that we were very apprehensive about what would lie ahead of us. There weren't many veteran missionaries last year so we couldn't receive the intensive training that we were able to give the new missionaries this year. I really feel they have appreciated it, because they have expressed their sincere thanks for our help, and how much more at ease they have felt after receiving it. I know I personally received zero training in the beginning because they were desperate to have a sprinkling system installed and so I was immediately asked to take on that project. But, I gradually learned the ropes and the rest is history. The last few days of this week I have been down with some kind of bug and so I have been out of commission, so to speak. Hopefully I will be back in shape for next week because we have a lot to accomplish. We love you all and appreciate your love and interest in our mission and our welfare. May the Lord be with all of you is our constant prayer.
Hi everyone -- this will probably be our shortest email ever as we just wrote to you a few days ago.
I remember that I told you that snow was predicted for the day we were taking our new missionaries out on post to train them -- well, we woke up to snow so it was a very cold day to be out all day. I think between trekking in the high winds the day or so before transporting the missionaries around is what has Elder Leavitt sick. He's feeling a little better today, so hopefully he'll be back to normal before long.
Not much else to report -- we're becoming more acquainted with the new missionaries and are really enjoying that. We have more exciting things planned this week but it may have to be postponed because of rainy/snowy weather. I remember last year being cold in the Spring, but this year seems to be even colder.
Our love and prayers to you all,
P.S. Sister Freeman reported today that Kaylee (her granddaughter) was allowed to leave the hospital to be home for Mother's Day. She'll have to go back, but this was a very positive step. Thank you to those of you who are praying for her.
well this week has been pretty sweet. I did something i have been dreading since the day i found out i had to do this in tagalog. I OYM ed. which means i just talked to some one then invited them to hear a message. It stands for Opening Your Mouth. This was the first time i have done it with assitance of my companion. I just found an old lady who was in her yard and walked up to her and started talking. I nearly peed my pants but i did it. It was pretty good. although she didnt want to hear our message. she invited us to her church though. Iglesia ni cristo. If you get a chance to hear about them it is an interesting story. their founder is a convert to the church. any ways i wont go into a lot of detail. Me and my companion have been working really hard on trying to find new investigators lately. If you know anybody that might be interested in hearing about the church and you see the missionaries tell them. It saves us a lot of energy. This area is a harder one for baptisms. Mostly because there are a lot of inactive members here. so we teach our less active members. I have probably told you all of this before so i will tell you something fun. This morning for our p day activity we went out to a river. It was way cool. and it was a way far drive. We went as a zone. we couldnt swim since that isnt allowed but we got our feet wet and watched some kids jump in. I think all of us were pretty jealous. I know i was. But it was still really pretty. I didnt get a lot of pictures but i will send them on down the line. OH another cool experience. we were trying to find someone to teach earlier this week. and we stopped by some less active members house to teach to them but they werent home. So we were just about to walk away when i felt something say we needed to try another member that lived really close to that area. they werent home either but while we were there i saw a young woman. and something told me we needed to talk to her. we waited to see if the member was home for about another minute and lost sight of her. We then went and talked to this one older lady. she said she was busy at the moment but told us to try her daughters house. it was about 10 feet from where we were standing. so we tried there and there was this girl that i had seen earlier. She let us in. We were able to teach her and her husband. They had a new baby and we talked about how families can be together forever. it was a great lesson. well i think there might some big things in store for that family. i will be really excited to see what happens. well my challenge for the week is simple read alma 7:11-13 then ask yourselves what christ did for you. then ask why. If you dont have a book of mormon then there is one online at lds.org well i hope all of you are well. loooooove Elder Leavitt