Elder Brandon Leslie

Elder Brandon Leslie

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week #20

Okay I have hardly any time to write anything because Pday is almost over. We had a zone activity at the stake center in Tapachula with pizza, soccer, basketball, frisbee. It was nice to toss the old disc around a bit. We had 3 people come to church but we shouldve had more. Hopefully Raquel will get baptized but we will have to see. Family problems.
Love you all 
Elder Leslie

Week #19

This week we baptized a man who had been attending church for about 6 years. Many missionaries have asked him to get baptized and I guess he was ready for us. We talked with him about his doubts and turns out he just didn´t understand the law of tithing and he didn´t want to give talks because his eyes are bad. We sorted those problems out and now he has the Holy Ghost as a constant companion in his life. It was great because two of his younger children are already baptized. At the baptism we had about 10 investigators show up too! At church the next day we about 7 investigators. This Saturday we are going to have 2 baptisms! A girl and her younger brother (Raquel and Luis). There are brothers too but they still need to go to church and the parents need to get married. It´s very rare to find two people living together who are married here.
I´m doing well. We don´t really get breaks so I´m working pretty hard. We are working with the members more and this really speeds up the work.   I don´t have too much to say this week and next week I will send pictures.
Elder Leslie

Week #18

All is well here in Tuxtla Chico. I´m still working hard and doing my best to give  it all to the Lord. This time is his and I strive everyday to conform to his set  pattern of living (rules and all). It is humbling to know that he trusts me ( a 19 year old kid) to do His work and through the process change into a 21 year old man. I am grateful for the experiences I am having and I can´t really say that I look back with regrets. In the moment, yes this work is hard. Of course, it is. We get up at 6:30 sharp, literally work all day, and go to bed at 10:30 sharp ( meanwhile obeying specific rules that include extreme limitations to music and other entertainment). The now is still tough but the yesterday is growth manifested in making now a little easier. I am stronger every new day to bear the various burdens that come my way. I say all this because yes, this first month in Mexico was pretty tough, but here am now. I can understand and communicate with the people here. Can I communicate and  understand perfectly? No, and at times I need a bit of help, but for the most part I can do what I have been called to do and it´s all because of the work I have already put in.
This week there wasn´t a whole lot of success but we  continue on searching for those people who really want the truth and joy in their life and are willing to do something about it. On Friday we had our last lesson with a girl named Monica. During the lesson she kept referencing scriptures from the Bible that I¨m pretty sure don´t actually exist and was hung up on the Trinity as one being. God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three seperate beings working for the same purpose: our eternal happiness. She wasn´t getting it and after too many scriptures and way too talking we asked her (not the first time) if she had prayed about it. No, of course not. She said she wanted to know which church was true but when we asked her if she would attend church this Sunday she said she couldn´t because she was going to attend this other church. There wasn´t any logic and she was confusing. So, at the end we asked her if she would close with a prayer. She kept saying no and that one of us should. We persisted and so did she. Not praying in front of us means that she definintely is praying to know the truth for herself when we aren´t with her. I finally was moved by the spirit to bear my testimony. I felt power of my testimony fill my sould as stood as a witness for truth. It was a special experience for me. These feelings, however, were not mutual and she feel anything (so she told us). We then left her house and do not have plans to come back. Afterwards, I felt like I had done all that I was required and that I could do. She chose to ``reject this glad message´´ and her choice of rejection is beyond me.
We press on and continue working.
I did get to celebrate the New Years though! I woke up at 12 to an insane amount of fireworks, looked at my clock, said happy new years to myself, and dozed back to sleep. Yeah 2011! hahaha
Take care everyone and Happy New Years!
Elder Leslie
IMG_0076 Taken from a border city called Talisman. You are looking at me (of course) and Guatemala
IMG_0077 A sign welcoming you to the state of chiapas in mexico

IMG_0080 Elder Craynor and I at the members house where we do laundry and study on P-days.

Week #17

Started the week off a little bit sick, but with faith I was able to get up and get going when I needed to. I´m still doing well here in Tuxtla Chico and working hard.
It didn´t really feel  a whole lot like Christmas though. Christmas Eve we were walking to an appointment and I looked around and it felt like the 5th or 6th of December because there weren´t a whole lot of decorations up. Some people put decorations up, but not much. Also, it doesn´t seem like any gives gifts here either, different. The most different part about it here is that Christmas Eve is celebrated with fireworks all throughout the night. It felt like the 4th of July.
We started Christmas Eve off by cleaning the baptismal font because it was pretty dirty ( not sure why) and we wanted to make sure it was presentable for investigators. The rest of the day was good though because we were able to share stories of Jesus´ birth in Matthew, Luke, and 1 Nephi 11:13-21. I´m not sure exactly why that night I just felt extremely happy and knew that for this christmas I could bring joy into peoples lives as a missionary. I missed my family´s usual hot dog´s and Christmas caroling around the piano with my mom happily playing away... but I felt really happy and full of joy that night. I was full of the spirit. :-)
We  had a member invite us in for a bit so we talked with her and her mom then shared scriptures. At about 9:30pm we ate a members house but couldn´t stay long because we had to get home before 10 (which didn´t quite happen but close). Before going to bed that night I layed out some gifts I got from my family package so that I could wake up to a mini-christmas. Christmas Day was great of course to be able to call home and hear familiar voices and a familiar language lol. Like I said, it didn´t really feel like the Christmas I know but it was good. I know that this is where I´m supposed to be, eventhough I did miss home a bit. I guess that just means I love my family. :-D
Thanks for all the prayers and support!
Elder Leslie
IMG_0046  My zone
IMG_0051  A full christmas tree like that is rare here.
IMG_0054  ¿santa?
IMG_0057  ``A zepplin!´´´
IMG_0061  TO: companion  FROM: Sister Leslie
IMG_0062  Sweet Stalking!

IMG_0074  The phone call!

Week #16

Well it turns out that I´m still here in Tuxtla Chico. However, I have a new companion, Elder Craynor. He is obedient and seems to work hard so this is good. Also, he is a district leader and has about 16 months in the mission. We will probably be companions for a transfer or two here in Tuxtla Chico but who know who will go first. Tuxtla Chico could be my area for a at least a few months. I like it here. It´s humid and hot, but the people here are more humble than those in the bigger city, especially since there are some jungle areas where people live very humbly.
The Valdez Family that we are teaching have baptismal dates but the parents still need to get married and I think they need to go back to Guatemala to do it. They are great though! I have high hopes for them, but their kids can still get baptized and I think they will next month. Their oldest child, Raquel, definitely is going to get baptized the 3rd of January because she has a lot of faith and at church yesterday she seemed to fit right in with the other young women.  
It´s hard work to be a missionary because there never is time for a break. We work 24/7 spreading the truth and finding those people ready and who have desires have the truth in their lives. Sometimes it´s hard though because many people really don´t want to hear it. One lady was busy so we asked when we could come back. She kept saying ``o whenever´´ and we kept saying ``is there specific day and time that you would be available´´. This went on for a bit and we finally just asked ``do you want to talk with us or not?´´ lol. She said something like o sure ya but another day again so we said goodbye without a specific appoint because I don´t think she wanted it. Some people just don´t want to know the truth and the truth is... you gotta want it.

Well, I forgot to look in my journal to see if there was anything else I should tell you all but for know that´s about it. We will press on and continue doing the Lord´s work. I am definitely only here doing this because I know our message is true and I know the power it has to change lives. That is... only if because accept it and use their own power to choose true eternal happiness. Joy that is not sugar coated or short lasting. Our message has always been true, is true as I speak it, and will forever be true. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, but more importanly for me... He is my Savior. Because of him I can be clean and return to Our Heavenly Father´s presence.
Most Sincerely,
Elder Leslie
PS I ate a Washington apple today at Sister Lochi Coutiño´s house! Red Delicious!
IMG_0008 is the Church here in Tuxtla Chico
IMG_0009 ``goodbye shortlived companion´´
IMG_0021 a highway
IMG_0028 Elder Craynor cleaning
IMG_0029 Planning Session w/ strawberries from some kid on the street
IMG_0031 where the study happens

Week #15

Tuesday, I went with two other Elders to spend the night and go on splits, but that only lasted for about 2 hours until President Velasco called their phone and said that I would be going to Tuxtla Gutiérrez with three other Elders to get our Mexican green cards. So I spent six hours on wednesday traveling, got there, sat around for a while, ate Dominos, got our pictures taken at a little store in the city, came back and went contacting. Tuxtla Gutiérrez is the perfect temperature right now, especially at night. Contacting was great because we found two people very prepared to hear our message, however I don´t get to keep teaching them because it´s not my area. That has happened a bit lately. I go on splits and only see investigators once. It´s allright though, I just go wherever the Lord needs.  The next morning we signed for our green cards and then took another 6 hour bus ride from 2pm-8pm.
Saturday we had a conference with three zones and a general authority came (Elder Benjamin de Hoyos). President & Sister Velasco and Elder & Sister Hoyos gave wonderful talks... or atleast they seemed like they were pretty great. I´m not quite sure because my spanish vocabulary and ears are still improving so I probably only understood about 30% of it. However, I was still able to take some great notes because Elder & Sister Hoyos used a white board and because I was prompted by the spirit to write some things down. My Spanish really isn´t terrible, but it´s still hard to understand people when they talk at full speed and not at full clarity. For the most part, I can understand what is going on during lessons and am able to add my scriptures, experiences, and testimony.
I set a good goal of learning at least 5 new words a day so this will help out a lot. Before I didn´t really have a measureable goal of vocab learning and now I have a very realistic and attainable manner of ensuring that I grow each day in my Spanish.
Transfers were supposed to be this monday but for some reason the President moved all transfers to next week. I seem to be all over the place my first month here so don´t worry ... I´m in a new area. haha Saturday afternoon (at the conference) President Velasco said I would be staying with Elder Valdez in Tuxtla Chico (a little city outside of Tapachula). His companion went to Tuxtla Gutiérrez that same wednesday with us but went there for good, one-way. So I´ll be here for at least the next week but who knows. I seriously doubt I´ll be here any longer because we are both greenies basically. I actually have more time as a missionary than him because he entered the Mexican MTC in October. However, he´s been out in the field a bit longer and is mexican... so he speaks pretty good spanish.
Together we met with a family they had been teaching and the whole family said they are going to get baptized! The live very humbly in the junlge part of our area. The parents need to get married first but we are helping with half the cost. The already understand that it´s bad to live together without being married. (pretty much everyone here doesn´t think the same).
Lots of contacting, teaching, and struggling to understand but it´s going well and I´m doing my best to give my whole heart to the Lord. Until next week.
Elder Leslie

Week #14

Sooo, I´m writing this in an internet/cream shop combo place and I thought you all should know that I´m partaking of a delicious Coca-Cola & Vanilla Ice Cream Float. Apparently it´s called the Tapachula. lol I´m in Tapachula right now but on Saturday I find out where I go next. I doubt I´ll stay here but who knows. Either way I´m definitely getting a new companion so that´s gonna be a change.
This week we contacted a bunch of people, but mainly we just taught a lot of lessons. We can´t change anyone´s life for them but we can present them with the truth and hopefully the want it bad enough to do something about it. I have seen some people say ¨o sorry I couldn´t make it to church I was doing... (insert lame excuse here). If someone wants something bad enough they will find a way to get it. This church is probably one of the only places where our efforts really count. As in, here we are ¨graded¨ on our efforts. In school, your efforts and hardwork are not important in terms of determining your test scores and grade in the class. (Raw talent or lack thereof are also factors...and cheating too lol).
No baptisms or anything but I feel like we are helping a few certain people on their path toward returning to God.  Nothing too spectacular to report because I´m still having trouble understanding the spanish. However, the people down here speak like ¨rednecks¨ is what one mexican told me, so that is part of the difficulty. My spanish ears are slowly coming along, but for now I just smile big all the time and bear second witness. I´m doing all I can. :-)  Some food is absolutely delicious like some amazing mole enchiladas this sunday.... and some food from members is just kinda like ¨thanks...¨ like the chicken with vegetables.  I know that regardless the members are giving their best to the missionaries so I put it down and smile. Usually though, the smiles come easily because it´s usually pretty tasty.
Well that´s about all I have for this week.

Elder Leslie

Week #13

To whom this may concern: 
¡This is my first my preparation day in mexico! My preparation days are on Mondays and so far I have eaten breakfast, washed clothes, and will be eating lunch in a bit. We are are a ¨ciber café¨ place writing emails but we spent the morning at a members house washing clothes because they have a washer...sorta. lol
Since wednesday we have had a zone conference, taught lots of lessons, and contacted lots of people. People are really nice here. I would say at least half of them let us in after we tell them we are representatives of Jesus Christ and a message we have for them. I haven´t ever been harshly rejected or been spoken to rudely. Usually people will just say they are busy and that we can come back another time. People are very receptive and seem to like us down here in Tapachula.
On friday Elder Steele and I went to Tuxtla Chico (a smaller town near Tapachula) and did sorta traded companions with an Elder Valdez we is currently serving there. ¡He was a pretty great guy and his spanish is excellent! (He´s mexican) We only spent a night there but it was pretty awesome because we got to go visit a couple who lives in the jungle. It was beautiful...especially because after the lesson the sun was setting and orange skies were peeking through the trees and brush. O, it was marvelous.
Yesterday we brought a 16 year old girl named Sindy to church and even a friend of hers (and her friend´s mom) came too. She said she would get baptized in a couple weeks but I´m not so sure about her. I just feel like we are walking on glass. She is very nice and receptive but I´m just not so sure. We´ll see.
Church was great. The sacrament meeting consisted of us 4 Elders giving talks. Elders Steele & Cisneros are the zone leaders and Elder Jensen and I are new and are tagging along with them for a few weeks because we got here in the middle of a transfer (due to visa trouble). Us four also sang a hymn for the congregation. I thought it sounded pretty good... if you ask me. For my like 5 minute talk I talked about three things satan works hard on us to forget and shared some scriptures to go along with them. I suggest pondering and studying these for yourself. 1. Our identity as sons and daughters of God. (Moses 1:12-13) 2. Jesus Christ and his Atonement for us (many great scriptures but I shared Alma 7:11-13).  3. Personal Revelation (1 Nephi 19:23 starting from where it says ¨like¨ or ¨apply¨  & Doctrine and Convenants 8:2-3 ending where it says spirit of revelation)
My Spanish is coming along and I talk to people okay, but it´s hard for me to understand them. I still need to train my Spanish ears and it doesn´t help that they mumble and leave out their ¨s¨s.  Like instead of ¨mismo¨ they say mi´mo.
I love you all and thanks for all the prayers and support! Talk to you next week!

Week #12 - IN MEXICO

¡After almost twelve weeks in the MTC I have finally received my visa, travel plans, and landed here in Tuxtla Gutiérrez! 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 #11

Well everybody, I'm still here. I am currently now part of a tripanionship because my companion and most of our district/class left. We are the only three left,  from our once class of twelve. The five Elders (including my companion) left on Monday for Villahermosa Mexico because they got their visas and I'm still here waiting. Last night we had to move our stuff to another classroom because today twelve new elders are coming in and kicking us out. haha
However, because I'm still here I had the privilegde of hearing Elder Kevin W. Pearson. He is an amazing speaker! I was really excited when I found out he was going to be speaking to us last night because he used to be the Tacoma, Washington Mission President and so I've heard him speak a few times before. I never knew he was a Harvard Business graduate and former CEO of some company, but it definitely fits. I took lots of frantic notes because it was full of insight and clearly delivered. One quote from him that really spoke to me was " You get what you focus on consistently. What do you focus on?" I have always found this to be true.  One other thing he said that I really took to heart was "The more I become a disciple of Christ and leave behind who I was, the more I reach my divine potential and become who I really am."  If I consistently focus on who I was (only Brandon C. Leslie from Gig Harbor, Washington who attends BYU) then how can I be a disciple of Christ who is 100% dedicated to obedience and service these two years. To become more than I was I need to consistently focus on how to become more like our perfect example, Jesus Christ. I have a finite knowledge and capability to love and God has an infinite sum of power. However, one added to any infinite sum is still an infinite sum. Therefor, with his power it is possible to do all things. (Luke 1:37). The hard part sometimes is finding his will.   One last thing Elder Pearson said was "Mortality introduces amnesia." Think about it.
Thanks for all you do family and friends! Keep praying because it definitely works!
Elder Leslie