Monday, August 30, 2010


Family and Friends,

Sorry for the generic email but need to let you all know where we are and what is going on. We arrived safely from Cotonou into Salt Lake City, Utah last Thursday. Friday we had our first appointment with Dr. Fernley on Marv's knee. The bottom line is that after extensive x-rays and examinations the outlook is a total new knee replacement. The current prosthetic has apparantly been displaced causing the knee to not function correctly and the excalating pain and reduction in mobility. The knee is not alligned. Also, there is some concern about ligament damage and nerve damage. Monday we go for a three phase bone scan which should provide further information. Tuesday we will meet again with the Doctor and go over what needs to be done, how it will be done, when it will be done and where it will be done. We are currently staying at an Airport hotel in Salt Lake. Monday we ill move into President and Sister Garff's home in Midway Utah until some decision are made, they have also given us the use of one of their vehicles. We are overwhelmed at the moment, saddened that this is NOT going to be a "quick fix". We have been released a missionaries and do not, (at this time) see it being over within the 30 day period the Church requires for us to receive a re-assignment back into the field. We are however, encouraged that finally Marv will be able to get his knee fixed and receive some reflief from the 24/7 pain he has been enduring for the last few months. We cannot respond to your emails as we are not able to receive or reply until we get a computer. If you recall our laptop was destroyed in Cotonou and we bought a new computer but it was a desktop and we had to leave it behind. Bear with us...there is hope on the horizon. We would like to return to Arizona and home as soon as possible to begin the recovery process...that is our goal. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We hear and feel them and we love the Lord and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being missionaries....WE WILL BE BACK again at some time we promise.

Sue Leavitt

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Hello again Family and Friends,

Well, the long anticipated regime changes at the Cove have been announced and we're very pleased with the new leaders. Elder and Sister Fenn have been called to be the new Directors (perfect), Elder Jim Emling our good friend from Boulder City has been called to be the new Facilities Supervisor and he and Sister Emling, who will be a Trek Scheduler, will be Polar Bears. The rest of the Polar Bears will be the Pankhurst's, the Posts, the Flunkeys, the Rhodes and the Michelson's. Elder Bagley has been called to be the Director at the Willie Site.

I have been setting forms for sidewalks and a patio around the pavilion at Missionary Village. The additions to the Pavilion and the Humanitarian Center are coming along nicely. As the visitors slow down we will be able to utilize more missionaries these projects and hopefully finish them before the majority leave in October.

We are expecting our son Glen and his family to come in tomorrow, and can hardly wait to see them.

Sister Leavitt has been rushing around preparing for their visit so she will not be adding to this email, but will be back online next week.

I would like to thank all those who sent me B-day wishes this week as I hit the big 68. When you start getting old sometimes it's not fun to be reminded, but it is great to be remembered, so thank you all. For those of you who forgot or didn't know, it's August 24, so write it down! The truth is, that it's celebration enough to have all of you as FAMILY AND FRIENDS!

Love Elder Leavitt

Monday, August 23, 2010



Isnt it just such a great day today? what wonderful blessings have you received today? How did you do with your challenge? I also completed the challenge this week. last night we were sharing a message with an inactive member. He is pretty cool. He is 22 and has a lot of potential in the church. I just think he kinda slacked off on doing the things he needs to be doing but any way. We shared the story of Alma the younger with him. The part about repentance and how good it made him feel. It is in Alma 36 of the book of Mormon if you would like to read it. It is one of my favorites. This story i think really shows how much we can get from the gospel. I mean look at what happened to alma. he repented and was able to feel more joy than
he could really describe. thats pretty awesome.

So this week was really great for me. We had a Mission Training Meeting this week. It was the first one that we have ever had. They have to teach us a lot of new material or more like review and make sure we are using a lot of old things. It is just Kind of proof to me that this work is run by god. He knows what His children need to hear and feel in order to come back to him. Then on saturday while we were at home eating lunch the A.P.s showed up. They are the Assistants to the President of the mission. They told the house mates that i had that they were moving now. It was kinda sad. I have had 4 elders in my apartment for most of my mission and now we are back to two. It is really quiet now. plus i don't have any body else that speaks English in my house now. Kind of a bummer but now i will have to speak some more tagalog. I Also found out this morning that i will be getting a new companion on Thursday. It is kinda cool but can be a little nerve wracking at the same time. You never know who you are going to get. I will be sad about my current companion though we have gotten along really well. we really only fought about him not eating vegetables. but that wasn't really serious. well i will let you know how my new companion is next week.

Love Elder Leavitt

Sunday, August 22, 2010

OUT OF AFRICA Aug 15th - 21st 2010

Attached is our journal from the week past...we hope this finds each of you, our family and friends in good spirits. Remember we love you and we love our work here.

Dad, Mom, Grandma,Grandpa, Marv,Sue

Elder and Sister Leavitt


Dear Journal,

Our (albeit cheesy) clever title this week comes from the fact that yesterday (Saturday August 21st) we participated and completed our All Africa West Humanitarian project entitled HELPING HANDS. The word for hands in French is “mains” and we attracted a lot of attention….now you know the rest of the story.

Here is our week, past.

Week of July August 15-21, 2010

We attended church again in Akpakpa as we have designated the month of August to concentrate our training with them. We are so grateful that we have found them a new building as each week their congregation grows and grows and, by the time Sacrament Meeting is over they are spilling out the doors. Following the services we headed home to spend the remainder of our day preparing for our very busy week.

With a list as long as our arms we headed out early to get all accomplished. Tomorrow we leave early, early, in the morning to drive to Togo to meet up with Elder and Sister Herr and help drive back the Ayekoue’s and Sitati’s. We made the rounds of bill paying, bank, post office and even picked up a package for Elder Halterman from the Airport Postal facility without incident (miracle). Shopping at Erevan for last minute supplies was also achieved. Back at the apartment we spent the remainder of the day catching up on paperwork and projects that needed our attention. Grateful that we were able to accomplish all items on our list we decided an early night would be wise. As Elder Leavitt was walking towards the bedroom his knee locked on him causing excruciating pain. Sister Leavitt helped into the bedroom and into bed. We elevated the leg and he asked her to push gently down on the painful area. A loud cracking sound ensued and painful screams from Elder Leavitt, but then thankfully the knee was working again. We are anxious that this is the second time an incident such as this has occurred and feel strongly that we need to now address it with our area authorities.

We decided to leave for Togo around 7:30am and all night long the rains have been coming down so, the roads are wet and very muddy. The knee is behaving itself today, albeit the pain is now a constant companion for Elder Leavitt. As we drove out of town we hit a giant traffic jam which held us up for a good 45 minutes. Our border crossings were uneventful and quick but we got drenched in the process and that was not fun. By the time we hit Lome, Togo it was close to 11:30am (Togo time). We decided to grab some food at Festival de Glace as Elder Leavitt needs to take some medicine and not on an empty stomach. The restaurant was empty. When the rains come down, the people disappear. It was raining very hard and the roads were flooded. After our meal we decided to head for the Supermarche Ramco downtown but the roads were so very bad we had to turn around and went to the one near the Ecobank. We were able to find just about all we were looking for that we cannot get in Cotonou. It was then about one hour away from the Togo Conference conclusion and so we headed to the Be Apartment where it was taking place. We arrived on a break (which was a good thing) so that we were not a disturbance. The missionaries were glad to see us, and we them.
Elder and Sister Herr, President and Sister Ayekoue and Elder and Sister Sitati were in attendance and Elder Sitati was just getting ready to give the final remarks of the conference. We are meeting the Sitati’s for the first time and quite honestly Elder Sitati was so much younger looking than I imagined. They are from Kenya, and he is a member of the First Quorum of Seventy and the Second Counselor in the Africa West Area Presidency. He is very tall and a quiet soft spoken man. Sister Sitati is just about the most humble sister I have ever met and a joy to sit and visit with. Both are converts to the church and share their wonderful conversion story and bear individual testimonies that are very spiritual. As they concluded the conference the spirit was very strong. We greeted them as well as President and Sister Ayekoue and then, with Elder and Sister Herr, left to return back to Togo. The Ayekoue’s and Sitati’s stayed to interview missionaries and will drive later. Sister Herr had packed us a lunch to eat along the way and we were enjoying their company when, just minutes from the Togo/Benin border Sister Herr remembered she did not have either her or Elder Herr’s passports. We quickly pulled over and called Blaise who found them in the house, he then jumped on a moto to head to meet us halfway and brought us the passports. Back we go again this time making it into Cotonou just after dark. We unloaded everything from the truck and headed up to settle in for the night. Today we made the decision to make Doctor Maughan aware of the escalating problems with Elder Leavitt’s knee…it was not a decision made in haste and took the entire ride over to Togo to come to the conclusion that things are getting worse and the pain is becoming unmanageable. We also made Doctor Maughan aware that we had an opportunity of being with our Mission President for the next two days and a member of the Africa West Presidency to discuss the matter. The decision was made to take this to the next level and see what has to be done. Doctor Maughan assured us that we are doing the right thing and it is time to take action.

We woke very early to get ready for today. We start the conference at 8:00am and go til 1:30pm so it will be a long day for all. We are anxious to hear from President and Sister Ayekoue and Elder and Sister Sitati. The missionaries are excited too. The conference started on time but….Sister Ayekoue did not come as she was sick. Sister Herr acknowledged that she did come to the Togo Conference but spent most of the day asleep on one of the missionary’s beds. We were well taught by President Ayekoue however and Sister Sitati. Then the Leavitt’s and Herr’s were asked to contribute their testimonies and a spiritual thought, which of course we did. Elder Sitati taught us well, (between 2-3 hours). He has a wonderful way of involving you in his teaching and urges and encourages participation. All too soon it was over. President and Elder Sitati then started missionary interviews and we all sat and visited. Then Elder Sitati requested an interview with us. We took this opportunity to make him and President aware of our problem and the fact that we were in dialog with Doctor Maughan who has stated that his recommendation to the Africa West Area Presidency was that we return to the U.S. for evaluation and treatment. He is not recommending that anything be done in West Africa. He has further received communication from an Orthopedic Specialist from Salt Lake who feels, (given the description of what is happening), that the tibia which houses the prosthetic knee is fractured and is causing the pain and allowing the prosthetic to move.  Elder Sitati was not aware of the attack/robbery to Elder Leavitt that took place on March 30th of this year which has resulted in causing these problems and was very concerned. He said he would call Dr. Maughan this evening and President Cardon to get further direction. He counseled us to look forward, to be thankful for all we have done to this date…he thanked us for our diligence and service and for our faith in trying to hold it together and finish our assignment here. He said it was time to take care of the problem and of us, he said the Lord will take care of the people we have come to love so much. We left feeling humbled and thankful for his counsel and this lovely man. That evening Elder and Sister Sitati conducted a Fireside for all new converts and investigators which was very well attended. President Ayekoue shared some thoughts. Again, Sister Ayekoue did not come. After the Fireside we were invited to go back to the hotel for dinner with the Ayekoue’s and Sitati’s. We asked that we be excused, we have so much to decide and contemplate and wanted to talk with each other and work things out…they understood. Elder and Sister Herr dropped us off at the apartment and went to dinner. We learned after they returned later that the dinner was one event Sister Ayekoue did show up for. Sorry if this sounds bad but it is our journal and an outlet for feelings and we both feel that she has seriously let her missionaries down this time.

Today everyone leaves. We went to the hotel to say goodbye to the Sitati’s and Ayekoue’s. They were very gracious and shared their love for our missionaries and members alike. Elder Sitati reported to us that in conversation with President Cardon he was in total agreement that we are to return home and get the evaluation and treatment needed for Elder Leavitt, as soon as possible. However, he will not release us as missionaries but wants to keep us as “active”. They are so very concerned about the lack of seniors coming forth to serve (less than 3000 currently serving in the field) and need us (if possible) to return to the field of service. So, we will come home, get the knee taken care of and receive another assignment to finish. We do not know where that will be; President Ayekoue said he and the missionaries will pray us back into West Africa. We were overjoyed with this news…we are not ready to NOT be missionaries…we love the service and YES the blessings we receive. So even with a crippled painful knee, surgery, therapy and whatever, we will wear our badges, remain missionaries and when ready…GO BACK TO WORK IN THE FIELD…HOORAY! After the goodbye’s we had breakfast with the Herr’s and (as we do so well) talked and talked. They will carry the torch for us while we are gone…cannot possibly think of a better couple. They are more than ready…more than capable and more than willing…THEY ARE A TRUE BLESSING TO US. For the remainder of the day, the Herr’s drove back to Togo and we drove around Cotonou and took care of our business then…back to the apartment for some rest.

First stop the bank then the post office and then back to the apartment. We have more rain today and cool temperatures. Elder Leavitt worked on his working fund and had a meeting with Elder Cloward and Elder Gnohohi on our leaving. We organized our minds and made plans so that when the time comes to leave we are leaving with everything in order. We also took this day to come to grips with our situation and mentally prepare our minds for the changes it will bring. Our evaluation and surgery will take place in Salt Lake and physical therapy/healing in Mesa, Arizona. We have Sister Casey living in our home and she has agreed to vacate by October 1st, what a blessing she is. We also sold our vehicles and have no car to drive when we get home so that has to be worked out…so many things, so many emotions.

Well today is the ALL AFRICA HELPING HANDS SERVICE DAY. Cotonou has decided to clean a median strip about 50’ wide running from a roundabout in Gbedjromede to another roundabout (about ½ mile long). As is always the case it is full of trash, weeds etc., well you name it, it is there. We showed up at the Gbedjromede Chapel at 8:30am and our lovely missionaries were there…then members started to show up in droves armed with rakes, brooms, hoes, trash bags, baskets…we had it all. We started about 9:00am and worked until 12:30pm non-stop. When we started it was a filthy mess, when we finished a clean, trash/weed free beautiful addition to any neighborhood. We had local dignitaries come to cheer us on and the mayor even sent a large garbage truck to receive the results of our efforts (I am pretty sure we filled the whole thing). We laughed, took pictures, and just plain had a great time. Elder Leavitt tried to participate but ended up cheering us on out of the window of his truck. We could not have had a better project or have expected a better execution of the project. I have attached a picture of the group at the conclusion. We attracted a lot of attention, (especially Sister Leavitt with the children) so we took this opportunity to stand at the concluding roundabout and sing “How Firm a Foundation”…our audience loved it. The day continued on as we took everyone back to the Gbedjromede Chapel for drinks and hot dogs. That afternoon at 3pm we had a great baptism with six people being baptized. Elder Halterman and two local members did the baptisms…what a great day this has been. With a trip to take Elder Cruz and his apartment elders back to Menotin, we finally hit the apartment at 5pm thankful for a fulfilling day, answers to prayers, and the blessing of serving with some really great missionaries.

PS: With not knowing what will happen this week…this may be our last journal entry for a while. Do not worry, we will make it through and return back to missionary work…we thank you all for your love and friendship.

The attached picture was taken at the conclusion of our service project and just as we had finished singing our song…what a great bunch.
Elder and Sister Leavitt

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Dear Family and Friends,

This has been a fun week with the visit of some of our children and grandchildren, Chris, Leanna and Connor, Garrett, Olivia, and Wyatt. In addition, Sandy Marshall, Leanna's mother accompanied them and we really appreciated the opportunity to spend time with her. We also had a visit from their friends Lee and Stacey Atkins and their 8 kids who are now living in Craig, Colorado. We had a great time showing them around the area as well as taking them on a trek up to Martin's Cove. We were a little concerned about going up into the Cove with a large group of sometimes rowdy kids, the oldest two being 12 and the youngest being 3 months, but I was so proud of how they recognized the spiritual nature of the trek up into the Cove and that they were all very reverent and respectful. Even the missionaries stationed up at the top of the Cove commented on how reverent they acted. Of course, the rest of their time here it was like herding cats. But, when you love the cats it's a loving and fulfilling experience.

While they were here one of their goals was to see Oscar the trail dog. We were a little concerned he wouldn't be around as it's the end of the trek season, but to our amazement, when they arrived at the apartment there was Oscar laying on our porch. That "amazing dog" always seems to know where he's wanted or needed.

Well, the kids all left today and it's going to be a big let down, but, we'll get back to work and try to stay busy to keep from missing them too much. It was so much fun getting all the hugs and attention -- even the Atkins kids were hugging us and calling us grandpa and grandma. One of my highlights of their visit was getting all dressed up in my leathers and doing my impression of the frontiersman and pioneer Ephraim Hanks and watching their wide eyes as I got into the part. After my performance, they all made me feel like I was a folk hero. Ephraim has such an interesting and colorful story that it's hard not to pay attention. We also got the opportunity to see Connor pass the sacrament for our first time since he became a Deacon and we were really impressed at how seriously he took his participation in this sacred ordinance.

This week the 12 week missionaries leave for home as things start winding down for the season and we have only another month and a half before finishing our mission here. It will certainly be a time of mixed feelings as we have had such a great experience and such wonderful associations with the other missionaries. We have truly made some life-long friends. But, we will be excited to spend more time with our family and friends at home; i.e., canasta & golf with the Johnsons, golf with Al and Jo, lunch with Mark at the Cup, and reuniting with the ward members. Something tells me we won't be bored. I will probably be estranged from Sister Leavitt for a while as she catches up on all her lunches, dinners and shopping with her family and friends, But from time to time I'll meet her for a tee time or at bedtime. I try to warn people not to make friends with her because they will never get rid of her. I guess I shouldn't complain because that outgoing personality is the reason I was able to stay friends and keep dating her until the time she thought she was going to lose me as a friend so she married me. All kidding aside, what a great companion!

We love you all,

Elder Leavitt

Hi everyone -- As Elder Leavitt said, we had a wonderful visit with our family. We were blessed w/ gorgeous weather so we were able to do all that we had planned. The kids enjoyed the Interpretive Center in Casper, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and, I think, were blown away by how beautiful Wyoming is. We actually explored part of the country that Elder Leavitt and I hadn't seen before near Lander. It required going over some dirt roads but we saw some high mountain lakes and breath-taking scenery. But the highlight of the visit was our trek to the Cove. The kids loved the experience and as Charlie said, despite their young ages, appreciated the significance of what happened here. It was also so special for me to have Wyatt, Olivia and Garrett in Primary. They were so cute and smart and gave such good answers that some of the other teachers thought I had been coaching them :) Grandma was so proud !

I know all of you identify with us when we tell you what a incredible experience it was for us to be able to share Martin's Cove with our family. We had many "tender mercies" while they were here -- one of them being able to visit with Jolene Allphin -- the author of "Tell My Story, Too". We had the unexpected honor of hearing her tell her experience of attending the Testimony meeting of the Ward whose bus burned down on their way here to trek. She related one miraculous story after another. I told Leanna, that it's hard to believe, but these spiritual moments happen all the time up here.

The kids were just great -- they had so much fun playing in the campground behind their trailer and exploring the prairie. They also got to see Grandpa Leavitt kill a rattlesnake. Just before we started our trek, Lee Atkins spotted a rattlesnake in the parking lot. Charlie ran and got a snake-catcher and soon the snake was disposed of. I didn't get any pictures of it as my camera was by the handcart and I didn't want to leave and miss the action so I'm counting on getting copies of the pictures Olivia took. It was quite an exciting start of our trek.

The Monday after our family left, Charlie started feeling a little punk and had a severe headache. We were worried about it as he just recently has developed high blood pressure. His asthma was also acting up and he was very congested. We had had a dr. appointment set up for him because of his blood pressure so when he went in the dr. gave his a thorough exam and sent him for a bunch of tests. To make a long story short -- he had pneumonia, again. He had it last year at this same time. We have decided that something is in bloom at this time of year that he is highly allergic to. After giving him some strong antibiotics, he is feeling much better.

All of us here are anticipating the call of our new Director and of the Polar Bears for this next year. Elder Freeman told us that Elder Estes will be here on Monday to make the announcement so we're all excited about that. We'll have the news in our next email.

This weekend we are having a "grill-off" with one of the Casper Wards and next week Glen, Becky and girls will be here. We can't wait to see them and hope the weather continues to cooperate so they can see Wyoming at its finest.

We had our annual talent show as a send-off to the 10-week missionaries. In a word -- it was fabulous. We have so many missionaries w/ so much talent -- much of it being comedic talent. We laughed our heads off. Sister McAtee wrote a little ditty that several of us sang at the conclusion of the program -- the lyrics were really clever and funny but I also think everyone was touched. We saw many tears after our performance. It's very hard to say good-bye to our friends whom we have come to love so much.

The attached picture was taken by the Red Butte area in Lander -- one of my favorite spots in Wyoming.

Happy Trails for now.....
Sister Leavitt

Sunday, August 15, 2010

OUT OF AFRICA Aug 8th - 14th 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

Dr. Maughan our Africa West Afrea Doctor in Accra, Ghana calls us the "Energizer Bunny Missionaries" and this week we wore out our batteries thats for sure. Here is our report.

Our love continues to grow for our children and grandchildren and our friendship and thanks continue to come forth to you are friends...thanks for your support.

Dad,Mom,Grandpa,Grandma, Marv,Sue

Elder and Sister Leavitt.

PS: I will be posting more pictures today on so take a few moments to peek into our world.


Dear Journal,

Where oh where has this week gone? We have most certainly put some mileage on our old bones (and truck) to accomplish our tasks this week. We have also had many experiences to test our fortitude.

Week of July August 7-14, 2010

We began our week attending Akpakpa Branch for the final session of their Branch Conference. It was very well attended and the spirit was so strong. Sister Leavitt was thrilled beyond thrilled when the Primary children got up and sang their song “I Know That My Savior Loves Me”. The members of the branch were very enthusiastic with how well the conference had gone and how much they had learned from the teachings and training given. We felt good. Following the meeting we then headed over to Menotin to take care of some business, then home for a quiet rest of the day and, preparations for a busy coming week.

We left the apartment early, early today as we have a list a mile long of things to be accomplished. One of our must do’s is to get some credit for the Akpakpa building electricity (pre-pay) meter. We went to our usual spot only to find out they could not take our money as their computers had been down for over a week. We were told of an alternate spot but we will have to hunt to find it. We then hit all of our other places on our list finishing up at the Leader Price Supermarche. Sister Leavitt is excited that she has found a source for DVD movies in English and the young man is from Ghana and she can communicate with him.
Elder Leavitt has put in a request for a Bourne Identity movie…not only did she find one, but three + 7 other high adventure movies ALL ON ONE DVD. We are positive they are all copied and we know that is not right…but it is actually our only alternative. We were also told by the same man that the place we needed to pre-pay the electricity was right across the street…so this was a two for one, stop. Our next must do is to find a clinic for one of our missionaries to go and have some lab tests done. We decided to enquire at a large Pharmacy and, the man drew us a map which proved to be less than helpful. We criss-crossed back and forth trying to locate where we thought this clinic would be, to no avail. In desperation we called Precious to see if she knew of it, but the name was not familiar however she knew of a clinic that the other senior couples had always used. We decided that we would have her go with us tomorrow and see if this clinic could perform the tests. By the time we arrived home it was way after 3pm and we were dead on our feet.

We arose today at 6am for surprise missionary apartment inspections. Our first call was Menotin. We gave them a five minute warning and when we arrived they were up, dressed and ready. It was quite an impressive site; they had even dressed alike, all wearing bright pink ties. Their apartment was spotless, attitudes great and their song wonderful. Everyone should start their day like this. Next stop, Gbedjromede…same scenario, it was a pleasure being with them. Then on to Akpakpa and another repeat. We remarked what a difference this was from when we started these inspections, finding surly missionaries half dressed, dirty environments, disorganization in every direction. Now they are focused, alert and just plain on the ball. We gave them a spiritual thought about being of one heart and mind in all things and a motivational poster to remind them. We also drew a chart of how as teams with a combined focus (in this instance Jesus Christ), even though they are divided by culture, personality, etc., working towards that goal brings them closer. We urged them to be smart in all things, work, health, play, etc., then Sister Leavitt told them she had brought them a pill to take every day to help them do this, and proceeded to give them all a box of Smarties (candy similar to M&M’s)…they loved it. We said our goobyes and wondered how on earth we were going to pick a winner. We decided we would stop for a late breakfast/early lunch and focus on the rest of our day and try to come up with a winning apartment. We stopped at Festival de Glace in Akpakpa and had a really nice lunch, it was quiet which gave us some time to sit and think…we finally picked Menotin because they excelled in all areas…good for them. We then went to retrieve Precious from our apartment and have her show us where this clinic she knows of is. One look and we said “NO-WAY”. We did however get directions to the clinic we are looking for and finally after a series of twists and turns, found it. Precious and I went in to make an appointment and ensure that they could do all the tests. It was fun trying to communicate but with Precious by my side it was accomplished. We then took Precious home. Our next item is to go and pick up Madame Vierin and take her and the revised contract as agreed upon, to her lawyer. While they went into the lawyer’s office I sat outside and waited. It was not long before I heard heated raised voices coming out the door and my husband was loudly exclaiming “no, no, no”. It would seem that although Madame Vierin was in agreement with the minor changes the lawyer was not and was being very obstinate and rude. The end result was my husband walked out with me in tow. As we headed for the truck he stated that without the communication skills he was out of his league and could not deal with it anymore. President Gbedjangni just has got to step up and fight for what he wants for his building…somehow he felt relived and exonerated by his decision…it is OVER, he said. We then remembered Madame Vierin and Sister Leavitt had to climb the numerous flights of stairs to retrieve her from the office to take her home. She talked ninety miles an hour to us all the way in her local language as well as French so much so we had to stop and get Elder Halterman to interpret…it seems she just wanted to make sure we were actually taking her home. After this ordeal we were both so utterly exhausted…we went home to call it a day. We did have Precious call President Gbedjangni to tell him that the contract had fallen apart, then Madam Vierin called Precious to say she wanted another meeting, then President Gbedjangni said another meeting was set for 1:30pm on Thursday and he would attend, with us. With confusion at every turn we wonder is this thing on or off…we just don’t know.
Today we feed our Gbedjromede missionaries for lunch in our apartment. We fixed the same menu as before, chicken spaghetti, salad, etc., etc. They arrived promptly at 12:00noon and so did 11 boxes of supplies via DHL. So while Elder Leavitt and the missionaries were blessing the food and getting started…Sister Leavitt was in the receiving zone, checking in 11 boxes of Book of Mormons. The lunch was a huge success and we thoroughly enjoyed these wonderful young men. We love doing this by apartment as it allows us to visit and get to know the missionaries so much more intimately than when they are all together. When they were done they left with food to take home and were thrilled. We cleaned up and decided that we needed some down time, took a nice nap and relaxed for the remainder of the day. Marv enjoyed his Bourne Ultimatum movie and we both still are amazed at how many full length feature movies you can actually get on one DVD…AMAZING.
We took our missionary and dropped him and his companion off at the clinic for his lab tests. We then went to the bank, post office and paid a phone bill. This was funny as the bill said we owed 70,000cfa. When we tried to pay it the girl kept saying “no” and pushing the money back. Finally a man came out and said we only owed 1,645cfa. When Sister Leavitt asked why the bill said we owed 70,000cfa on the “amount to be paid” line…he said it was a mistake. We pray he is right and the phone does not get disconnected. A few more stops and then we headed home to wait for our meeting at 1:30pm with the lawyer. We then went to pick up President Gbedjangni in the most horrendous rain storm which came in so quickly and violently it was frightening. He said he wanted to follow us in his car (which left us wondering why we had to come and pick him up). As we travelled over to the lawyer’s office we hit the worst of all traffic jams on a round point. You literally could not move with everything coming at you from moto’s to giant trucks to cars…you name it. Somehow Elder Leavitt slowly threaded that Toyota through and we came out unscathed. We parked in front of the lawyers building and just as we were about to enter President turned to us and asked Elder Leavitt if he had called for an appointment. We just stood there dumbfounded. Precious had called him two days ago and was told that HE had got us the appointment. Elder Leavitt looked totally worn out, he quietly looked at President and said, you said you had secured the appointment, I cannot communicate with these people, there is no point in climbing those stairs, for I guarantee nobody is there, we may as well leave. President verified that nobody was in the office and then assured us he could contact the lawyer and this time, get an appointment for Friday. Then Sister Leavitt said that we would see him tonight at the Public Affairs meeting at 7pm. He said he would be there at 7pm, not 8pm which is usually when he shows up. We took ourselves home, confused and dazed at this whole process but did share a laugh, just because. We had a quick bowl of soup and at 7pm headed over to the chapel for the 7pm meeting. At 7:30pm nobody had showed, finally Brother Missigbeto came and announced that they had changed the time of the meeting to 8pm at the request of President Gbedjangni who could not make it at 7pm, but they were sorry nobody had remembered to call us. TODAY WE GIVE UP!

We will not have a definitive schedule today but we will need to get on the ball and do some shopping…which we did. Mostly we bought the supplies needed for the missionaries, brooms, pots, rags, etc. and got them delivered. We ended up after much shopping at our Chinese Restaurant for lunch, very good. As we were leaving the restaurant we got a call from Precious to say that President Gbedjangni was in the lawyer’s office with Madame Vierin, the contract was signed and they needed the deposit money (1,250,000cfa-cash). Thank goodness Elder Leavitt had anticipated this and gone to the bank. We ran home to get the money and headed to the office. My husband’s motivation…today maybe, just maybe this will be FINI! When we got to the office President was waiting and Elder Leavitt whose knee was very bad today, opted to stay in the truck and let Sister Leavitt do the leg work. All signatures in place, money counted and copies made she walks out and announces IT IS OVER! We then went to see Precious in her shop to get more copies made. Then we picked up our missionary to take him back to get his test results from the clinic so Sister Leavitt can scan and send them to Dr. Maughan in Accra, Ghana. It ran like a well oiled machine….all done.

A GREAT DAY! We attended the baptism of Freeman and Alicia a wonderful couple from Cameroon. He is a Doctor and she a Teacher. They have a lovely baby boy named Brian. Elder Cloward and Elder Gnohohi have been teaching them and they are the kind of couple we need, to grow the church here in Benin. The baptism was wonderful and the spirit very strong. Following the baptism we headed home for today is Elder Leavitt’s birthday and we want nothing to do but relax, spoil ourselves and watch a movie or two…sprinkled with a good long nap. Ten minutes into this plan our bell rang and downstairs was Pierre with another person. The other person turned out to be Arnold Odonker from Accra who is here to conduct a meeting with the Branch Presidents and Financial Clerks. We love and remember Arnold from Nigeria. He wanted to visit with us and we were happy to see him. He also asked if he could stay with us, which he did. Our day turned around on us and our thoughts turned to accommodating Arnold which involved finding a safe place for him to park his car overnight (on the street is not safe). We had a nice dinner and visit with him following his meeting, and then we called it a day.

Til next week….Elder and Sister Leavitt

Le Couple

Monday, August 9, 2010

Howdy Family and Friends,

Well, this week was a little quieter than the last few. We still had a lot of trekkers, but not the onslaught as in weeks past. There are still plenty of projects that need to be accomplished before we all head home, but now we'll have quite a few more bodies to help with the physical work. The Humanitarian Center needs to be finished up on the inside, but they have really done a great job of matching the outside up with the existing building. The Pavilion expansion also needs to be finished up on the inside. I, personally, want to finish working on the baptismal area of the Sweetwater River, now that the water has receded, so that it will a little easier to get the kids in and out. We wouldn't want any of the newest members of the church washing down the river. Most of the projects on my (bucket) list are now completed, so I'm pretty well relaxed.

We're all anxiously awaiting to find out who the next Polar Bears will be and who the new leaders are. Hopefully we'll know in the next few weeks, ( Maybe)

Saturday this year's Polar Bears and a few other received an invitation to go the 2nd annual Pathfinder Days at the Pathfinder Ranch located just a few miles east of the Cove. They really put on a great show with a multi-event rodeo which includes events for all ages. They also had everything you could possibly want to eat or drink all day long. With a wonderful Rib Eye Steak Fry at night. They also had a great Country/Western band. Every person, young or old who won an event, whether it be egg tossing or calf roping won a beautiful silver Pathfinder buckle. They also raffled off beautiful saddles, a western Colt 45, and a 500 dollar gift certificate, with all proceeds to benefit the local 4H program. The owners of the ranch must spend a fortune every year to put on this event for all the local ranches, and their cowboys and cowgirls. The youngest competitors looked to be about 4 years old, but they were tough little cowpokes. We really appreciated the opportunity to attend.

Our good friend Maria Heaton from Boulder City was here to see us and we had a great visit. We took her up to Thermopolis to see the Dinosaur Museum and she also attend the Pathfinder Days with us.

This next week our some of our children and grandchildren, Chris and Leanna and kids, will be coming up and we can hardly wait. The hardest thing about serving is missing our family.

We love you all, and will see some of you soon!

Elder Leavitt

Howdy from me as well,

Maria said that when we were at the Pathfinder's Days that she had never seen so many "real" cowboys in one place before :) The cowboys in Wyoming are the real deal -- that's for sure.

I just received a call from Maria and her flight has been delayed 3 hours -- I wish I was with her at the airport so we could visit and the time would fly by (pardon the pun) because when we're talking we lose all track of time. It really makes me feel bad that she is stuck at the airport as she missed our band practice tonight that was especially fun. We all got to pick our favorite songs so we did lots of new ones and it was great.

Tomorrow night we get to attend a concert by Kevin McNiven -- another real cowboy who lives in Lander and sings amazing "western" music. We have one of his CD's that we play every time we go to Casper. It features his rendition of "Wyoming -- it's Home Sweet Home to me", has become like a national anthem to me. I don't think any of the Missionaries can listen to it after they leave and not tear up as we really come to love Wyoming after having lived here.

Not much else to report this week -- I had a very special and spiritual experience w/ Maria up at the Cove. Our friends, the Emlings were on post up there, so we loved hearing them tell the pioneer stories. We also met a couple who were dating -- both recovering from recent divorces. It was wonderful to see how both of them were able to gain strength from the example of the pioneers to face the challenges they have ahead of them. These valiant and courageous pioneers continue to change lives.

Our love and prayers to you all,

Sister Leavitt

P.S. Attaching a picture of Maria and Charlie at the dinosaur museum.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

OUT OF AFRICA Aug 1st - 7th 2010


Dear Journal,
We have had quite a diverse week, to say the least. We also have experienced a myriad of emotions, to say the least. We have most definitely felt the hand of the Lord this week….to say the least.

Week of July August 1-7, 2010

We have assignments today at Menotin Branch, Marv will teach Elder’s Quorum with Elder Cruz as his translator and Sister Leavitt will work with the Primary for the last hour. We are finding that by concentrating on one branch consistently for a whole month our training is more effective. The downside is that when it is time to move on and attend another branch, the one we leave gets upset. The fast and testimony meeting was well attended and some very sweet and sincere testimonies were given…the spirit was very strong. The highlight of the meeting was the blessing of two babies by the priesthood. Elder Leavitt’s training is bearing fruit, we do believe this is the first time since coming here that we have seen a baby blessed. Babies are born all the time, but they are never blessed. This point was made by Elder Leavitt more than once in training and they even practiced how to do it with a hymn book…by golly I do believe our branch members are listening. Primary was another story…it was very chaotic and disorganized. All Sister Leavitt’s labors in providing tools for effective teaching seemed to have been ignored. So, we did a sharing time and then had a fun singing time. The President and 1st Counselor commented that they had never seen the children have so much fun and could I come every week and do the same. Well you can imagine the answer was a “no” with the explanation that I was there to train and provide the tools, but they must rise up and do what they are called to do. Hopefully at some point all this will take root and sprout up. We were both quite tired as we headed back to the apartment and planned to have a really nice nap. As we entered into our street we could hear the loudest thumping noise. Today is Independence Day for Benin, celebrating their 50 years of independence from France. The apartment next to ours was having a celebration with a DJ and speakers the size of the Eiffel Tower. It was so loud the building was shaking….this went on until 9:00pm that night. As we lay in bed exhausted from the constant noise and thumping, the noise finally stopped. We both dared not take a breath for fear it would start up again…but it did not.

Today was the day when you realize that you have a full day of mostly just running from one place to another. At home we would enjoy this kind of a day, stopping for lunch, enjoying the different destinations our errands take us to. But here it is very wearing as you continually fight the horrific traffic conditions and, when you get to your destination, finding a place to park, and when you do it is invariably on the opposite side of the road to the place you need to be and you have to walk across dodging moto traffic, and almost getting hit various times…not fun. But, that is what we do so we set out. One “must do” place was the Leader Price Supermarche to get the finished lease for the Akpakpa building to President Desiree for his information. Well Elder Leavitt had to double park and I had to walk it in to the President’s office. He immediately took it and started crossing everything out he did not like and saying he wanted to meet with Madam Vierin and the Lawyer. I made him go outside and explain to Elder Leavitt why he was upset with a lease that met all the specifications agreed on, and met the total approval of Accra. We found Elder Leavitt and the two of them conversed. I could tell my husband was not happy with President Desiree and I was not happy either. He is a good man but he is not experienced in these kinds of things and was targeting in on things that had no on sequence. We told him if he was going to upset everything at this point he was in total charge and had to take responsibility and run the risk of losing the building altogether. Elder Leavitt also reminded him that we have given notice to the current Landlord that we would not be re-leasing. He said he knew the lawyer and would set up a meeting with Madame Vierin and explain to her…we shall see now where this goes. Marv is weary of this, he has accomplished so much with no language skills and now to have this Branch President step in at the last minute is almost too much. We headed back to the house and decided to get our calendars set up for August and September. It was while we were doing this that we realized that, even though we had notified President Ayekoue two months ago that he had scheduled an Akpakpa Branch Conference for this coming weekend…we had heard nothing from him. Elder Leavitt then called Precious (it is her Branch) to see if they were planning on a conference this coming weekend…oh yes she advised they had made numerous announcements on Sunday about it. Marv then called President Ayekoue and sure enough he had forgotten all about it…he said he was not able to come and would give the assignment to President Dieudonne Attiogbe and have him take care of it. Our President is not a big one for attention to detail. We could not help but wonder what would have happened if we had not thought to check up on it?

Got an early morning call that missionaries were out of cooking gas. Also Precious is starting back today to clean the apartment and I need to have a talk with her to go over our discussions in that area. Marv left and went and got gas and I waited for Precious. All accomplished and while Precious does her thing Elder and Sister Leavitt headed out to take care of personal business. I knew that the lease was weighing heavily on my husband, he looks so tired and worn down. We talked and talked while he drove, we are at a loss as to what to do. He asked my opinion, I felt very strongly that we should not have involved President Desiree as he does not seem to be a businessman and does not comprehend the lease. We decided a change of scenery might help and drove to Port Nouvou (about 30 minutes out of Cotonou). Port Nouvou is actually the capital city of Benin and once we were there we were blown away with how different it was from Cotonou and yet so close. The streets were practically empty of moto traffic and very well maintained. It was a treat driving around the town…definitely somewhere we will visit again when we have more time. We were also able to make some decisions regarding the lease. Marv will attend the meeting set up for tomorrow morning at 8am with Madame Vierin and take Elder Cloward to interpret and hopefully at the conclusion we will have a good resolution that makes everyone happy.

Elder Cloward came over and he and Elder Leavitt left in good time to attend the meeting with Madame Vierin and President Gbedjangni. Just as they were leaving he asked me to call President Gbedjangni to make sure he was on his way. He answered his phone but seemed confused and said Madame Vierin was not at her house and we would have to reschedule. I called Elder Leavitt and gave him the news…he was not happy. He and Elder Cloward then went to the bank and accomplished a few other things. When they returned both Marv and I realized that in all honesty President had forgotten to set the appointment and not called until the last minute. This seems to be the normal way of a West African man. After some back and forth another meeting was set for 3pm tomorrow. afternoon. Our air conditioner in the living room had also decided to not work so we called Pierre to come and check it out. Speaking of Pierre he is busy making us props for a Mighty Change and has produced a spectacular Liahonna..what a treasure he is. The rest of our day brought a myriad of emotions from frustration with our President Ayekoue and his lack of communication to joy from members who continually amaze us in their faithful service. We heard from Elder and Sister Herr that President Attiogbe would be in Cotonou on Friday and we invited him to stay with us…which he willingly accepted. At the ninth hour Marv got the idea to ask President Attiogbe to come in tomorrow so he could attend the meeting with him and Madame Vierin. They work together very well, have accomplished many lease negotiations in Togo when we served there, and Marv feels comfortable with him. He was very gracious and said he would be here tomorrow afternoon in time for the 3pm meeting.

Spent the bulk of the day preparing some thoughts for the Branch Conference as we will both be training. Also Sister Leavitt ransacked the house and found items that will work for the Mighty Change in the costume department…more to come on that. We had a nice morning and then prepared for the arrival of President Attiogbe. As the clock crept closer to 3pm there was no sign of him. We had Precious call President Gbedjangni to ask Madame Vierin if we would come at 4pm instead of 3pm…he said he was not aware of a meeting at 3pm today….we give up! We called Precious back to see if she could get us a meeting with Madame Vierin at 4:30pm, which she did. Dieudonne actually arrived at 3:30pm which gave he and Marv time to go over the original lease, line by line. We headed over to the new building to see if we could find Madame Vierin…she was in her house and gladly received us. We produced the original lease (not the one President Desiree marked up) and went over it in detail. She was pleased with it and accepted the minor changes Elder Leavitt and Dieudonne had made. She was very receptive to Dieudonne and they got on well. This was a very good decision! The final plan is to get with her on Monday or Tuesday with the lawyer, get it finalized and signed and then we are done with it for good, and we hope this happens. We just had time to run home and for Sister Leavitt to make some soup and omelets and then the three of us rushed over to the Gbedjromede chapel to attend the Public Affairs meeting to go over the progress on Helping Hands (8/21) and Mighty Change (8/28). President Gbedjangni the Chairman of these events was a no-show, and no other Branch President were there. Brother Missigbeto took 30 mins to advise us that at his meeting in Accra last week he was told that the Public Affairs has no responsibility for the Mighty Change. No projects have been selected for the Helping Hands and the Mighty Change is at a standstill. Elder Leavitt made his feelings known and President Dieudonne also expressed his sentiments and compared our progress with Togo, who seem to be doing much better. Sister Leavitt basically advised them that this was our 5th meeting on these projects and we have not moved one inch towards anything…(this did not go over well). They are hung up why they should not do this or that, and who will pay for this or that…everyone wants to be a Chief, nobody wants to be the Indian. Then Sister Leavitt got out her bag and produced her costume suggestions and things picked up from there…they loved her ideas and samples. She even came up with armbands for Helaman’s Warriors made out of toilet paper rolls. We were so weary when it was over…the three of us dragged ourselves home and went to bed.

Today we will call it a “play day”. It has been about 2 years since Dieudonne was here and he just wanted to ride around with us and see what was new. We took him as we visited the post office, bank etc. Then Sister Leavitt took him into Erevan and he absolutely loved it and walked around with her with his eyes big as could be. We then had a late lunch/early dinner at Festival de Glace and headed back to the apartment to ready ourselves for tomorrow and the Akpakpa Branch Conference.

We started off the day with a baptism…two were baptized one from Akpakpa and one from Menotin. It was a sweet baptism but not without another frustration. It was supposed to start at 10am, at 10:30am we still had not started even though everyone was there. I found my husband and enquired why he was not happy. It seems the Gbedjromede Branch President was refusing to allow the missionaries to use Gbedjromede’s baptism clothing…he said that the individual branches involved should provide their own. We only have one baptismal font and it is at the Gbedjromede building. Elder Leavitt quickly got it straightened out with a note to address this at some future date with all three Branch Presidents, when will this nonsense cease to end…don’t know. Following the baptism some of the missionaries came back to the apartment to see Dieudonne…they love him so much. Then it was time to head for Akpakpa for the training meeting. It was to start at 2pm but actually started at 2:30pm due to late arrivals. My session was to have the Relief Society President give part of the training but she was not there as she had travelled, so Dieudonne said a few words and then turned it over to me. I trained for 1-1/2 hours on “Rise to your Call”, lessons learned from the women of the bible and how to organize in your respective auxiliary. I had around 25 people in attendance a mix of adults and young women and Precious was by my side to translate. It went very well and I had great participation and response. Elder Leavitt trained on ordinances and had around 12-14. He was pleased with his participation too. We then went into the Adult session from 4-6pm and Marv and I both participated. At the end of the day we felt it had been very worthwhile and were pleased with the comments made by the members. We then headed for our Chinese Restaurant along with Dieudonne and with Elder Cloward and Gnohohi in tow (Elder Cloward had been translating all afternoon for Elder Leavitt). We enjoyed a really good dinner and also enjoyed each others’ company.

The attached pictures hopefully will give you a bird’s eye view of our driving conditions around Cotonou.

Til next week…..Elder and Sister Leavitt

Le Couple

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Hello again to all our family and friends,

The last couple of weeks has been like a Tidal Wave of trekkers. This wave has been building to a crescendo all summer and finally hit. But, one more week and the tide will go back out and calm water will arrive. I'm sure it will be like a gigantic let down as all the pioneer activity has been very exhilarating. To see these beautiful young people dressed in their pioneer outfits, pulling their handcarts, trekking out on the trails, doing the river crossings, the woman's pull up the steep inclines, the square dancing, and their spiritual meetings puts you on a spiritual high that is impossible to describe. It's wonderful to see a small sampling of the many virtuous, wholesome young people there are in the world.

I have also been kept busy putting the finishing touches on the assigned list of improvements I would like to finish before our release date which is coming fast. (Sept. 28.) The last major job on my list is placing gravel on parts of the road and parking areas of Jackson Campground which when it rains become very slick and easy to get stuck in. I was fortunate (blessed) to locate a gravel source across the river about a half a mile away and a sturdy old bridge to haul across. I have been very fortunate while serving here because our leadership has pretty much given me free rein to use my experience to accomplish the jobs they've wanted done.

One of the things we are going to miss most about this mission is the missionaries. We have made such wonderful friends and had so much fun associating with them. We hope our friendships will last a life time.

We're very excited to have some of our family members coming this month. We can't wait to show them around. We have had the opportunity to meet many of our extended Leavitt family from all over the country, most of whom we would have probably never met otherwise. It was only our Leavitt name tags that introduced us.

We love all of you and appreciate your love and support.

Elder Leavitt

Hi everyone -- One of the highlights for me during the last two weeks was hearing from a great-great granddaughter of Joseph and Emma Smith. Although she had this great heritage, she didn't really understand or appreciate it because she was raised in a family that literally despised the Mormon Church. She had been lied to her whole life and didn't realize that Joseph Smith had founded a true and living Church. Because she was studying her family history, she was referred to a Mormon Church to do the necessary genealogy research. This was the beginning of her finding out about her Grandparents and her relationship to them.

Needless to say, she was amazed and overwhelmed. She began to research the Church in earnest and ended up being baptized. It really was a miracle as she had to overcome so many ingrained prejudices to be able learn about the Church with an open mind. Her message was so compelling because what she talked about was healing the rifts in families and in relationships. Because of her up-bringing, she was raised in fear, hate and anger. But, she has been able to turn it around and has been able to bless thousands of lives with her testimony of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and his ability to heal broken lives and families.

Her mantra is "Let go, embrace Christ and move on" -- something we can all benefit from.

On our "P" day this past week we went to Saratoga with some Missionary friends. Had a wonderful time. Saratoga is another quaint, little Wyoming town that had a main street with many fun stores. We also visited Encampment which is another very small Wyoming town (Population 59 !) that has a unique display of many buildings that they have acquired over the years, that show what a Wyoming town looked like in the 1900's. The thing I enjoyed the most was a 2-story outhouse -- necessary because of the accumulation of snow in the winter. Finally we drove over the Snowy Range, down into Laramie, where I graduated from College. Snowy Range was gorgeous and I was amazed it was about 50 miles from Laramie but I never visited it when I was in college.

As Elder Leavitt said, the last couple of weeks have been almost frantic, we've been so busy with trekkers. But I have to say our Missionaries have done an incredible job and we can end this trek season feeling good about the work we have done this summer. We have had wonderful evaluations from the trek groups so we know we have accomplished our goal of helping these kids feel of the Spirit of our Lord and helping them to know they can do difficult things.

Although it's a couple of weeks late, wanted to attach a picture of Elder Leavitt on half of the paved road. He worked so hard on it, it's something that he can look back on and know he made a significant contribution here. In the background is Devil's Gate.

Well, the bed is calling to me -- really tired this week. Hope I can get rested up now that we're almost through with the trek season.

Our love and prayers to all of you,

Sister Leavitt aka Peggy

CAMERON - My week. A story from the mission field.

Last monday we had a cool FHE at a members house. I learned my companion is actually a pretty good actor cause at one point he pretened to cry. then On tuesday He was sick so i was stuck at home all day. That was really tough and i was looking forward to zone conference the next day and getting to work again. So the next morning we had Zone conference. I learned there that i was having an exchange with the district leader that day. After we had to go to my house to pick up some extra clothes which is like an hour drive then back to Tarlac which is another Hour then to his area which was about half an hour. By the time we got to his area it was nearly 7. And raining cats, frogs, and dogs. we didnt get much done there. so the next day i got to go back to my area and i really wanted to work. but My companion was still sick. then he was sick on friday too. Those were some of the longest days ever. BUt i did get to work on saturday. tHat was really great. I didnt realize how thankful i was to leave the house everyday. When there is nothing to do at our house it can be pretty boring. So then yesterday was church. Our chruch time changed, Its a long story why but the attendance was pretty low because of that. then we got invited to a members house later that night for a party and we were going to share a message. so that was pretty fun but i was fasting so all the food they offered me was kinda depressing. then we went home and i got to sleep. for p day this morning we went to a park and played dodge ball. then we went to the mall and i bought stuff to make my birthday sweet. I also bought some filipino fighting sticks. OUCH!!!! me and the other american in my house both have padded sticks but it still hurts to get hit. I have a huge bruise on my arm. so that was pretty much my week in short. I hope you enjoyed It

Love you

Elder Leavitt

Sunday, August 1, 2010

OUT OF AFRICA JULY 25-31, 2010


Dear Journal,

This has been quite a week for Elder and Sister Leavitt. We anticipated it being full and busy but we found it to be more than that. We have seen changes in the Benin Zone, not only with our missionary compliment but changes in our branches as well. We are committed to bring about more changes and hope that as the coming week evolves we will have accomplished more by the end of it. Here is our report for the week past.

Week of July 25 – 31, 2010

We planned to attend the Akpakpa Branch for Sacrament today and then immediately following take Elder Yao and hit the road to Lome, Togo. We realized as the meeting commenced that the branch was upset with the changes in their missionaries. President is pulling all four of their missionaries at one time. Elders Bertoch and Yapo have been a successful companionship and have done some great work for this branch and are loved by the members. Elders Yao and Geisler, likewise…such a hard working team and, again, made many contacts and brought changes into the branch. They were each, in turn, asked to come and bear their testimonies and it was a very spiritual and emotional meeting. Following it was hard to get away as everyone wanted their pictures taken with Elder Yao and, it was a tender goodbye between he and his companion Elder Geisler. As these missionaries work and live together they form a bond and become very close…that is what makes them so successful. The ride over was uneventful and it was good to be out in the country again and see the familiar sights on the way. We pulled into Lome in good time and immediately took Elder Yao to get him something to eat.
We then headed for the Tokoin building to meet up with Elder and Sister Herr who were attending the Be-Kpota meeting. We stayed with them through the meetings and Sister Herr and I attended Relief Society which was conducted not in French but the local dialect…very interesting. The Herr’s then took Elder Yao to his new apartment and companions in Hedzranowae. Elder and Sister Leavitt drove over to the Herr’s home and let ourselves in, unpacked and got comfy. We had a lovely dinner with Elder and Sister Herr and got caught up on the news from Lome and shared the news from Cotonou. We were more than ready for bed and a good night’s rest…tomorrow we head back to Cotonou with missionaries going to Benin and we have an early start planned. Elder Leavitt: Elder Yao who is normally an extremely talkative animated young man was very sedate and quiet as we took him to Togo. You could tell he was missing his companions and members of his branch, already.

The alarm clock went off all too early (5am) but we really need to get on the road and get the missionaries to Benin as we have five of them who need paperwork started for an entry visa into Cote d’Ivorie. We picked up Elder Ghisquiere and Elder Cruz first and then stopped and got Elder Kakou. It was good to see our Lome missionaries again and we told them how much we missed being with them but how glad we are for Elder and Sister Herr. We made really good time over to Benin and even made a side trip to Ouidah for Elder Ghisquiere. The whole time we worked with him in Cotonou he always wanted to visit Ouidah, we realized that this was his absolute last chance and so we made a quick ride through and he really appreciated it. Elder Cruz loved it too and even went and held a snake or two. Once in Benin we took and fed them as they were starving and then dropped them off at their respective apartments. The missionaries were glad to see them and old acquaintances were renewed once again. Finally back at our apartment we were ready to unload and even had a huge delivery from DHL to contend with. It seemed as though we only had time to catch our breath and we had to head out again for our appointment at the Cote d’Ivorie Consulate to get the paperwork in process for Elders Ghisquiere, Bertoch, Starita, Geisler, and Tshibasu. This entails pictures, passports, letters of invitation, copies of passports, copies of flight itineraries and forms to be filled out…it took about two hours total and then we took and delivered them all back to their apartments again. By the time we were all done it was going on 8:00pm before we were able to sit down and have a bowl of cereal and relax. Elder Leavitt: We are excited at the opportunity to have with us again Elder Cruz and his companion Elder Kakou. We knew we were going to be able to work with Elder Cruz since his last area of labor will be Cote d’Ivorie and we have the only Consulate here in Benin for that country and he will need a visa before entering. Sister Leavitt: Our DHL delivery today consisted of the August Liahonas for our missionaries. We laughed as we did not receive the May Liahonna until June, the June was not delivered until the end of July with the July issue. I guess we are making progress getting August actually before August. YEAH!

Today will be a day of getting our regular work done, we were both still very tired from our past few days and decided to take it easy. We also need to get paperwork to Precious today for the visa for Elder Cruz. To say it was a stressful day was an understatement and it more than took a toll on Elder and Sister Leavitt and their usual very amiable relationship. We realize we are missionaries but we are also human beings. I could tell that my husband was in pain with his leg today and I was not handling the environment at all well.
When we got to the apartment it was time for a meeting and re-commitment to honor each other’s private battles and be more sensitive, forgiving and most of all tolerant of each other and of those we interact with. Missionaries MOST DEFINITELY do have bad days, and today was a BAD DAY. Enough said!

Sister Leavitt needs this day to clean the apartment and get laundry caught up. Elder Leavitt needs this day to get caught up on email messages, working funds, couples exchange, and problem solving for projects he is working on for the individual branches. Sister Leavitt cleaned windows, cupboards, shelves, floors etc. Elder Leavitt made spreadsheets, balanced working funds and made a huge dent in a mound of project paperwork. By the end of the day, exhausted but fulfilled, we both felt really good.

Today we ran more errands and then took Elders Starita and Tshibasu to lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. We wanted to have some alone time with these two as they will leave us on Friday. We have found them to be such hard working missionaries and we are so sorry to see them go…they will be missed greatly in the Menotin Branch. Elder Starita loved his food but Elder Tshibasu (even though he said the Chinese food was good), he said it was not “very good”. This was his first time tasting Chinese food…Elder Tshibasu is from the D.R. Congo. Following lunch we took them home and then headed to our apartment. At 5:00pm we had an appointment with the lawyer to pick up our rental agreement for the new Akpakpa building. When we got there they acted surprised to see us. Elder Leavitt reminded them that they had told us to come. We sat and waited until finally someone called us in.
Bottom line they had not prepared the contract and things got a little confusing. Elder Leavitt usually has Pierre with him but today he was in Ghana so not available. It was a circus trying to communicate to this man who claimed he understood and spoke English. Then the landlady Madame Vierin showed up…someone had called her, so it got even more confusing. Finally we got a contract and ended up taking Madame Vierin, another lady and Tina (the daughter) back to their home. We then hurried over to our appointment at the Gbedjromede chapel for the Public Affairs meeting to discuss the plans for the Helping Hands service project and the “Mighty Change”. Last week we had left the meeting with some definite assignments which were to be reported on this week. Well as confusing as the meeting with the lawyer was…this was more so. They had not listened, they had not done their assignments, we have not moved along with anything one bit (in fact I think we have moved backwards in some areas)…very frustrating. Finally we called it a day and went home to our apartment and YES, another bowl of cereal for dinner. Elder Leavitt: Sister Leavitt seems to feel like we may have taken a step backwards with the Mighty Change however, I think we have taken a step forward unfortunately it is three months too late…we shall see. Sister Leavitt: While sitting in the lawyer’s office another couple came in obviously for an appointment. The lady seemed to be sick with a bad cough so I offered her a cough drop. All of a sudden she came and sat beside me and started to produce out of her handbag pictures of herself taken after some kind of a horrible attack. Her head was all bleeding and beat up, with blood streaming down her face and the back of her head. I did not know what to say…she told me she was attacked by her 44 year old brother.

Today we say goodbye to our six missionaries…this is very hard for us we have grown very attached to these young men…each and every one of them an outstanding missionary. We are proud to have worked and served with them, we will miss them greatly. We got them all to the airport and into the check-in line. We said our goodbyes and wished them luck with their new assignments in Abidjan. Elders Ghisquiere, Starita, Bertoch, Geisler, Tshibasu and Yapo will be great no matter where they serve. I told Sister Bailey they were getting the “cream of the crop”…she agreed. Following the airport we headed to pay phone bills, check mail, then to the Novatel Hotel to make reservations for President Ayekou and Elder Sitati who will be coming in August for a mission tour. Over to DHL to send mail to Accra then back to the airport to check to see if the missionaries were through and at the gate (they were) and check on the status of the flight leaving so we can communicate to Abidjan for their picking them up. We then went into Eravan to do some shopping and treated ourselves to some chocolate croissants. Then we drove over to the Leader Price Supermarche to meet with President Desiree on the lease. One last stop before home, a quick visit to the new apartment to see the progress being made there. Finally we got home and unloaded and decided a quick lunch and then a nap, was in order. The remainder of the day was relaxing until 9:30pm when Elder Leavitt and Elder Cloward headed back to the airport to pick up the four new missionaries coming in. The plane landed on time and they were able to deliver them to their new apartments. We finally got into bed at 1:00am. Elder Leavitt: As we drove away from the airport after watching our missionaries pass out almost every Book of Mormon Sister Leavitt had given them with a challenge to share them with a stranger on their journey.
We looked at each other and found that we both had tears streaming down our faces.

Today we have made a firm pledge to stay in this apartment and do nothing…I am pleased to say we have remained (for the most part) loyal to that pledge and have not gone anywhere, and only done small things as we have wanted to do them.

Til next week….Elder and Sister Leavitt
Le Couple