Elder Brandon Leslie

Elder Brandon Leslie

Monday, November 22, 2010

¡Estoy en Mexico!

¡After almost twelve weeks in the MTC I have finally received my visa, travel plans, and landed here in Tuxtla GutiĆ©rrez! I´m safe and taking it all in. I just wanted to e-mail all you and let you know that I´ve flown south for the winter...and a couple years. I´ll write more later but President Velasco told us to write home tonight after our flight. O, and also we had some delicious Dominos for dinner!

I´m doing great! talk to you more later!

Elder Leslie

Week #10

Lately I have been extremely busy with studying and trying to meet my Book of Mormon reading goal. To finish by next Wednesday I need to continue reading 40 pages a day. I started reading a couple Sundays ago, so if I can finish by Wednesday I will have completed my goal in two-and-a-half weeks. Sometimes it's pretty tough because there are lots of words, mainly new verbs, that I've never seen before.  I haven't really had much time for writing letters back because I'm always struggling to meet my daily required pages (sorry, I still love all your news!). I'm learning a lot and definitely stretching myself though.
This Sunday we were honored to hear from Sheri Dew. I'd heard her name before but I didn't realize that she was such a big deal in the church and the world. Apparently she is CEO of Deseret Books. She gave an amazing talk and she was surprising logical. I didn't take too many notes but there were three things that she said we need to always remember because The Opposition, Satan, will try to make us forget. (1) Our identity. We are sons and daughters of God. (2) Jesus Christ. He is our Savior and the atonement can cleanse, heal, comfort, and strengthen us. (3) Personal Revelation. We can receive our own answers through prayer and scripture study.   
Last night we were even more honored and priviledged to hear from Elder David A. Bednar. This makes for our fourth apostle in a row. His approach a bit different than the previous apostles because he presented an idea that will change my framework for learning. He presented to us that there are Doctrines, Principles, and Applications. We must always preach the Doctrines and Principles. Doctrines answer "why" questions, principles answer "what" questions, and applications answer "how" questions. We can never change "how" we approach life if we continue to only improve "how" if we never know why. I have many more notes but only 30 minutes to email here in the MTC.
Thanks for all your support!
Love Elder Leslie 

Week #9

Dear Family and Friends,
Well, Monday was the day that I was supposed to leave for Mexico and looks like I'm still here. Three guys from our class left for Bolivia Tuesday morning early. I spent 9 weeks with them all day every day and it's a bit sad to see them go but not really because I'm excited for them to get to Bolivia. Mexico is having visa problems so have to stay here in the MTC longer. All I've heard is that we might have something like 2 weeks to go. No one really knows for sure and we keep asking the travel office every week to see if they have any new information.
Because I'm still here I had the opportunity to hear from M. Russell Ballard last night during our Tuesday night devotional. He gave an excellent talk on learning how to become "Master Communicators". We need to learn to communicate our message effectively. Our message is simple and we don't need to complicate it. He told us at the beginning that he had the opportunity to meet with a man that will soon take over Warren Buffets job as head of Birkshire-Hathaway (I think that's right, I can't remember his name. only that he is taking Warren Buffets job). Anyway Elder Ballard only had 30 minutes with him and the first 25 minutes were more about business with the church and the last 5 thsi man asked Elder about the church. Point is, Elder Ballard said he needed to be able to communicate effectively in those 5 minutes.
Recently I have been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon in Spanish/English. I read as much as I can in Spanish and then glance over at the English scriptures to look up words I don't know. Every free minute I have I spend it reading. I'm doing my best to use my time efficiently. I'm understanding a fair amount of Spanish but there are many words that I've never seen and it's different because the scriptures us "vosotros" which is an uncommon way to conjugate verbs. I started reading on Sunday from the beginning and now I'm at 2 Nephi 24.
That is all I have for this week. Thanks for all the support!
Love Elder Leslie

Week #8

Dear Family and Friends,
I'm doing great! I'm still studying a lot and working hard. My spanish is improving daily. I look back to my first day here at the MTC and the improvement is very noticable. I can pray, bear testimony, and have decent conversation.
On Friday, I got a letter from my old roommate Elder Kyle Brown! Right now he is in Montpellier, France and he is doing great. His letter said only good things about the work there. He is loving the fresh bread. He is a brilliant man and a great friend so I take to heart all advice and things he says. One great thing he said in his letter was: "One of the greatest feelings in this world is to come home exhausted at night, knowing that you really worked." Kyle is a hard worker so I can tell you all that these are not just words. I know that he is working hard and that I am also doing my best to never give up. Sometimes it can be discourgeing to so I'm going to do my best on my mission because it seems like we can always do better when we look back. However, I know that if I never give up and work hard everyday that I will be a successful missionary and have no regrets.
I think I big part of working hard and being successful. We rarely see the results of our efforts immediately. Especially if the goal we are striving to achieve is worthwhile, then it will take time and much effort from our part. That is why I believe in and am working for, consistency. We may pray a lot for something but never see the answer until much time and many prayers have passed. However, I believe that the littlest efforts consistently will make the biggest difference eventually. There is always hope when we are doing the Lord's will. Never give up.
Yesterday, I had a unique, special, and surreal experience. For our Tuesday night devotional we were priveledged to hear from Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He gave a wonderful talk on how to the the Spirit in our lives and it was different because he wanted some people to get up and read some passages from a microphone in the audience. I felt prompted to get up and read one in front of the entire MTC and Elder Scott. I did and after I read it I forgot everything I had just read (who wouldn't), and then an apostle of God asked me what humilitly means to me. I responded, it means putting the will of God before our own. Wow my heart was beating hard.
Thanks for all your support and care!
Elder Leslie

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week #7

Dear Family and Friends,
I'm doing well and working hard. This MTC is experience is monotonous because we only see the same classroom, soccer field, cafeteria, and buildings all day but I am learning lots of new things and I have no place to feel "stuck" in here, especially after hearing about what was going on in Chile with those 33 miners in that collapsed mine for months. It truely is a miracle that they are alive.
This week I have learned that our message needs to change people. It's nice to sit down with someone and talk about God, to share a scripture, and feel good, but that can't be it. What we say needs to really affect the people we meet. I need to talk about Christ in such a way that they are motivated to change themselves for the better. We can all talk about how great it is to eat healthy, but if we never actually do it then all that talk is wasted breath. (Breath that should've been spent in the gym haha). 
Over the past couple weeks we have had the opportunity to teach "latino" Elders (apparently "native" refers to indians in some spanish speaking countries). It is a great experience to practice listening to their speed and to get used to the fact that some mumble just like us. Also, we met an Elder from Villahermosa and he said that in mexico they will usually leave off "S"s from their words. Especially with "pues" they will just say "pue". So that was good practice. It was exciting to teach  Elder Diaz from Lima Peru because he told us that he had only been a convert for 3 years. He also said that the Elder who baptized spoke terrible spanish, if any, but that it didn't matter because he had felt the power in his words and efforts to communicate. Years later that same Elder picked him up in the airport for his mission and they spoke really fast and clearly. 
On Sunday we watched this really great movie called the Testaments that I think I had seen before but didn't remember much. It was about the Book of Mormon stories in 3rd Nephi when Christ came to the Americas. I liked it a lot! 
On Monday we had the opportunity to help Senor missionaries move their luggage up to their rooms. One of the couples was going on their 6th mission! wow! Thats pretty crazy. One the couples from Missouri had a bumper sticker in their window that read "Pray for Obama" I was confused at first because they were from Missouri and Mormon. But then I read on and it said "Psalms 109:8, Let his days be few; and let another take his office"   HAHA we all laughed so hard and loved it!   
Elder Russel M. Neslson came and talked to us last night at the devotional! It was powerful and a very inspired talk. My favorite part was the scripture he shared in Doctrine and Covenants 136:32 It is important to be humble to learn.
Love you all! Thanks for all the support and prayers!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Week #6 - message from Brandon

Dear Family and Friends,
Sometimes it's hard to remember what happened this week because they all seem to blend together. We have such a routine life that all the days feel like one. I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, just hard to remember experiences. Because of this scheduled out life I am getting a lot of studying done and am learning spanish and doctrine faster than i ever could in my life. This week we are teaching the Restoration in Spanish again and it will go even better than on Saturday. On Saturday my companion and I taught in the "TRC", basically just an assessed teach, and we did very well. Our spanish was pretty good but more importantly we cared for the "investigator" and wanted our message to help his life. One thing that our teacher, Hermano Scoville (Brother Himmer's nephew, pretty crazy) told us was that instead of trying to prove that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book through scriptures like John 10:16 we should try to help investigators through it. Find scriptures in the Book of Mormon that will improve their lives and help people get through trials. 
Well that's pretty much it for now. I'm still studying well and trying to use time efficiently because I know that I am on the Lord's clock and I won't be clocking out for 2 years. Talk to you next week!
Elder Leslie

Week #5 - message from Brandon

Dear Family,
I've never paid so much attention to general conference before and taken so many notes. The whole thing was great and I especially liked everything President Monson and Elder Uchtdorf had to say. Also, the first talk about missonary work during the priesthood session was great! I am exctited for the November Ensign and Liahona to come out so I can read my favorite talks again in English and Spanish!
This week our class is preparing to teach about The Restoration in Spanish. This will be our first time teaching in Spanish so I'm studying a lot to prepare and tomorrow we have a "zone teach" which means my companion and I need to be ready to teach it tomorrow. We typically have a few "zone teaches" and then on Saturday we teach in the "TRC" (not sure what it stands for) and we are evaluated by our teacher. The TRC is exciting because we teach volunteer "investigators" instead of just missionaries all the time.  To prepare, I am studying out this little red book we have that has lots spanish phrases about all aspects of missionary work, in my case i'm studying the Restoration lesson, and I am also reading through the Preach My Gospel book in spanish.
I can't remember if I mentioned this last time but my companion and I memorized Joseph Smith's first vision in Spanish last week, so this week we made a goal to memorize Doctrine and Covenants 4, the chapter on missionary work. It's fairly long but as of now I almost have the first 4 verses memorized. I'm still just studying and eating. Although 5 days a week we have gym for about 50 minutes so I usually play basketball.
Well that's all I got for now so I'll talk to you all next week. Thanks for all the support and prayers.
Elder Leslie

Week #3 message from Elder Brandon Leslie

To whom it may concern,
Well I don't really have much to say because that's who I am and also because not much has changed from last week. Our schedule is the same pretty much from week 2 - week 8 and this makes time go by really fast. I think the routine of waking up at 6:30, studying, breakfast, studying, lunch, studying, gym, studying, and going to bed at 10:30 is helping time to sail (i use that verb for uncle jay) by. Also, time is sort of irrevelant because I have no where else to be but here.
Besides that, I'm learning the 2 lesson right now which is the plan of salvation. (already have taught the 1st lesson, Restoration, a bunch). We still haven't taught in spanish yet but I'm sure that challenge will come soon. As a district (12 guys in our class) we set a goal to speak only spanish from 6:30am until lunch on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Most importantly, I'm learning more that how to teach the lessons. I'm learning how to teach the people and meet their needs with my knowledge and by the confirming witness of the Sprirt.
Hope everyone is doing well!
Elder Leslie

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Week #4- Still at the Provo MTC

Thanks for all the letters and packages! I don't have much to say back, but it's nice to hear about what's going on with the family. It's nice to know that I don't have to worry about any septic tank issues while I'm away in Mexico. lol  And on a more delicious note, the scones souded pretty good and it sounds like andrew had fun at the fair.
I don't really have much to report here. Our schedule hasn't changed; I'm still studying, going to gym, and eating. I guess the only difference is now my district is playing basketball because the gym just opened up. During class, devotionals, and talks though; it's hard for me to stay awake most of the time. Anyone who knows me, knows that I fall asleep really easy so this 6:30am-10:30pm schedule is a challenge for me. Hopefully, I can get used to it and be more alert but as for now I'm dozing off alot. This is just something I accept as part of who I am, I'm too tired to do anything about it. lol
This week we are still going over the Plan of Salvation Lesson and I can't remember if I told you all this yet but I'm trying to read my Spanish Book of Mormon with my English one right above it when I get stuck or don't know a word. I'm glancing at my English scriptures a lot but each day I read more I am noticing that I understand more words and phrases each day.
Thanks for all the support!
Elder Leslie
P.S. If you plan to send me a package can you put a sweatshirt in there because it's going to get colder in Provo. Sometimes we pick up "sack breakfast" in the morning so we don't have to put on church clothes yet and those mornings can be cold. As far as treats go, I don't really need any but you can send if you want.