Tuesday, August 26, 2014


My district: the elders are (from the left Elder Anderson, Sandberg, Cummens, Stam, Walker, Johnson, other Johnson, Miller, Nickelson, and me.  the hermanas are Johnson and Jones.
August 19, 2014
            Today was p-day and it was pretty bad actually.  I would have rather been in class.  We got our letters today and I was grateful for Mom’s note.  When the others were playing volleyball, I was working out and doing pushups.  The elders started making fun of me and you can imagine my reaction…yeah, I got pretty pissed off. I eventually just stopped working out and tried to cool off.  It wasn’t much fun.  But other than that, I am getting along all right and figuring everything out.

August 20, 2014
            I loved today. Class was awesome! It was a relief to me to get back to work after a painfully awkward p-day. My companion and I learned 44 verbs today.  The lesson with our “investigator” went crazy well.  I understood 99% of what he said and was able to joke around with him a little bit.

August 21, 2014
            Nothing too great happened today.  Let me tell you about one of our first teachrs, Hermano Martinez.  He is the best teacher ever!  He does taekwondo and we hit it off well!  His enthusiasm is part of the reason why I don’t have any home sickness.  He taught me to love the mission and work my butt off in the first lesson.

August 22, 2014
            So today was ridiculously slow and LONG.  Our first investigator became a night teacher for us and our day teacher is our new investigator.  I have learned a total of 110 new verbs and it is getting pretty tough to remember them all.  Elder M. is going home to resolve some personal issues.  Late last night we put sticky notes in the jacket pocket he left in the room.  I left a long note in his pocket to encourage him.

August 23, 2014
            Today was very similar to yesterday (I think that it is my new normal).  It rained harder than I have ever seen it rain in my life.  It was so bad that there were rivers flowing in the streets.  It was pretty fun to see the missionaries running through puddles for fun. 
            Before I left, I promised the stake president that I would speak only in Spanish when the day came for me to enter the MTC.  But the problem is that my companero doesn’t understand and his focus is on bookwork, not practicing speaking.  It makes it hard to talk to him when he can’t, or won’t speak.  I love the Spanish language and I get along super well with all the Central and South Americans.  I am super excited to be serving a mission in a South American country.  

August 24, 2014
            This was my second Sunday.  I played “How Great Thou Art” medley in sacrament meeting. I played well and really felt the spirit as I played.  I am starting to get frustrated with the fact that no one else wants to speak the language.

August 25, 2014
            Today I had a problem.  I lost my temper when Elder S. decided that he was going to make fun of me (again) for how I was doing my pushups. Really…this must be what high school is like.  It is just stupid and it got me going.  So I flipped my lid a bit and pushed him to the ground with my foot, and got in his face a bit, and told him to stop mocking me.  Well, he claimed that he hit his head on the floor…I ended up leaving the room to calm down.  I said a prayer, which really helped me, and just as I closed my prayer, Elder S.’s companion, Elder W. came out and talked with me. He said that he understood my frustration and my reaction and that was helpful for me to hear.  I realize that feeling angry feels awful and I hate it! It is hard to remember that in the moment, but I am going to try harder to control my temper.

 August 26, 2014
So here I am at another P-day and it is looking to be as slow and awkward as the last one. I am used to things moving at a much faster pace and having a very full schedule.  I have decided that I am not very good with being with people 24/7, probably because I am used to doing things on my own all of the time. 
I took a few pictures of the MOUNTAINS here.  They are huge (they are at least 3000 feet), but they still call them hills.  One of those (the clear picture) is MAYBE half the size of the other hills so yeah they’re pretty huge. The food is very good here and overall I consider myself to be very lucky to be here in the Mexican CCM.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

First Week in the CCM

My travel experience:
While I was on my way over to the LAX airport, I had the opportunity to share the restoration with a lady on the plane.  It was really intimidating but she seemed like she was genuinely interested in reading the Book of Mormon. I kind of kicked myself for not having one with me, but I was able to give her “Our Search for Happiness.”  She seemed like she was really interested in taking the missionary discussions and was blown away by the fact that missionaries would come to your house if you called them.

August 15, 2014
I LOVE THE CCM (mtc en español)  this place has been an amazing blessing for me.  I've gotten along pretty darn well con mi compañero y aprendo mas de la idioma then I thought I would by now. I have been writing in my journal every day and I've been working really hard to understand the language.  I think overall my district is learning the language much faster then most districts do!  THE CCM IS LIKE PARADISE!!!!!  I love speaking in Spanish.  Mis companeros don’t like it too much porque no aprendido. I am loving everything about it and I'm closer to mi padre celestial.  I have been blessed in a way that I never imagined I would be.  I love the work and all I want to do is study the language and get into the field and teach.

August 16, 2014
            This training center is the best thing to ever happen to me.  Every day gets better and better. I love having the spirit with me all day long.  I really understand the saying, “no desire to do evil.”  It is strangely interesting that I actually want to spend all my time praying, studying, singing, studying, praying, and studying some more.  Of course there is a little eating and sleeping in there too. I have never had the desire to study any subject with as much fervor as the Spanish language.
            I am eternally grateful for my decision to serve and be here at this time. The best part of this week was last night when Hermano Martinez bore his testimony and I felt an overwhelming assurance that Dad will be just fine during my mission.

August 17, 2014
            This was a great Sunday!  I know I sound like one of “those missionaries” already, but that is because I feel like one.  I had a cool prompting in priesthood meeting today.  One of the elders is really struggling and I felt that I should write him a note to encourage him.  I hope that it helped him.  In a fireside today we learned about specific prayers and I decided that me and my companion were going to pray for help in speaking only in Spanish to each other so that we could be prepared to teach a lesson in Spanish.  It is going to be really difficult, but I think it will be fun too.
I was told the the B stood for baptism...but I don't believe it.

August 18, 2014
            Today was interesting.  I had a lot of weird Levi moments today.  I lost my temper a tiny bit with the zone leader who has decided that he is the authority on which rules matter and which one don’t.  He’s decided that exact obedience means obeying exactly the rules he wants to obey and ignoring ones like lights out at 10:30.   Garrison you were right that it is kinda tough for me to take advice from people like this. Today he got ticked off when me and some other elders were studying verbs and quizzing each other.  He stomped out of the room leaving his companion behind.  He won’t sing with the group at all and then he says he feel like he is left out. I am not sure how to handle this kind of situation. 
Elder Walker
Elder Sandberg
August 19, 2014
            Today is my first P-day and the only day that we are allowed to take pictures which is too bad.  I tried to get a little variety so that you could see what it is like for me here. 
I tried to get this picture of the living conditions outside of the CCM...quite a contrast.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A sentimental surprise

Levi and I were working on packing his bags and cleaning out his room when I came across his little baby shoes.  Imagine the emotions I experienced as I held those little black shoes in one hand and his brand new missionary shoes in the other.  This really happened...and was not staged.  I set those two shoes on his dresser and took a picture to capture the moment.  No words can describe how I feel right now. 
How did this happen so quickly? 

First moments as a missionary...

Two families, each waiting to set apart the third missionary from their family. Tanner Hardy and Levi have known each other for the past 10 years.  They played piano in the same studio for many of those years.  It was a privilege to share this experience with the Hardy family. 
Hardy men, Stake President, Colvin men.
What's left of the Colvin clan. 
I love this young man.
We had the unique opportunity to share this special event with a wonderful family in our stake who share many of our same life experiences.  The Hardy family moved to Spokane shortly after we did with their 5, almost 6, children. There three oldest were the same ages as Taylor, Garrison, and Levi.  We have many fond memories of their wonderful and talented kids so it was really a pleasure to be able to share the moment with Tanner who will be leaving for his mission to Bulgaria Sofia Mission on the same day as Levi leaves for Chile, Santiago South Mission. Each young man participated in the other's setting apart.  The blessings given by President Larson were unique and specific to the needs of each young man.  After he was set apart, Elder L. Colvin seemed very calm and happy.

This morning, VERY early, we all loaded up to take Levi to the airport.  All went well even though were were 1.5 pounds over weight with one of his bags.  Unfortunately, his plane sat on the tarmac for 1.5 hours which meant that he missed his connection in Phoenix.  The airlines re-routed him to LAX this afternoon after a 3 hours layover, where he will sit for another 5-6 hours before he gets on his Air Mexico flight.  We have no idea what will happen with his bags.  But SLC travel office assures me that he will be met by someone from the MTC at midnight.  I guess that I will find out tomorrow if he makes it.
Elder Colvin is excited that this day has finally come!

Mom helps him one last time.
He is just so hugable!
The hardest goodbye ever said. Kyle is wearing his "aloha" shirt as it is also his final day at work.
We are so proud of this brave young man.

The Bro hug.
It will be four years before these two brothers meet again.
5:30 Wednesday morning at the Spokane airport! Weirdly crowded.

One last look back.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Elder Colvin farewell

Knowing God

            John 17:3 reads  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

As I have prepared for my mission, I have studied the “Preach my Gospel” manual.  There are 5 lessons contained in the handbook that outline the basic knowledge of the gospel needed to join the church. All of the principles taught are important and give us a better understanding of who we are and why we are here, but one reflects the purpose of eternal life as state by John in the verse I just read.  The whole purpose of life eternal is to KNOW the only true god.  So who is this one and true god and what is he like?  In the first lesson given to investigators, the first truth that is taught helps us learn just that.

God is our Heavenly Father. We are His children. He has a body of flesh and bone that is glorified and perfected. He loves us. He weeps with us when we suffer and rejoices when we do what is right.

First things first. God is our Heavenly Father.  This alone can be a difficult concept for some to wrap their minds around.  Many people believe that he is merely our creator and us his creations.  The reality of the situation is much more mind-boggling and significant.  God is literally the father of our spirits.  Not only is god our father, but he is a perfect and loving father.  Many people think that simply believing in God is enough to bring salvation, but Bruce R MacConkie counseled differently in a 1971 talk titled how to worship. He said.

“A knowledge of the truth is essential to true worship. We must learn that God is our Father and that he is an exalted and perfected personage in whose image we are created”

He goes on to tell us that if we worship the true and living God, in spirit and in truth, then God Almighty will pour out his spirit upon us.  In order to obtain salvation we have to understand who our father is so we can properly acknowledge and worship him.

Realizing that God is our father spiritually brings us to the next part of this principle.  We are his children.  Why is this realization so important? As a child of God, we have divine potential that cannot be denied.  Our Father in Heaven wants to bless us with all that he has.  And we should desire to receive it.  My dad explained this to me with these words.  “As a father there is nothing you want more then to give your children all that you can so you can see them succeed.”  This applies to our Father in Heaven as well.  God wants to pour out his blessing upon us and give us all that is his, including the kingdom of heaven.

The next part of the lesson says. He has a body of flesh and bone that is glorified and perfected.  God is the father of our spirits, but before we came to earth, there was no way that we could be like God, because we did not have bodies to call our own.  God gave us all the opportunity to come to earth to obtain a physical body like the one he has.  This life is a time for us to grow in our knowledge of him so that after we dies, our bodies may become glorified and perfected just like God’s body.  In order to do that, we must grow as close to him as we can in this life.  That means obeying his commandments, gaining a testimony of the truth, and helping others learn of their own divine potential.

In Alma 34:32, alma teaches us the purpose of this life.
For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

            I haven’t yet been to university, but I like to think of this life as a celestial college.  We’ve all worked our way into this college to further our spiritual and eternal development.  Graduating in this college means being able to take the next step so that we can live with God again.  We all chose to be here of our own free will, and we have been given different talents and abilities to help us “graduate” in this life.  God, as our father, wants to help us get through college and succeed.  In order to receive his assistance, however, we must ask for it.  I don’t know about you or your parents, but I know that my parents probably wouldn’t be all too happy with paying my way in college if I was just screwing around!  Heavenly Father is no different.  He needs to know that we seriously desire to graduate.  If we aren’t trying at all, then we aren’t able to receive all the blessings that he is willing to pour out on us.  If, on the other hand, we decide to work hard, then he is willing to bless us immensely.  This does not mean that we won’t get the occasional sub-par grade, or take an extremely challenging course, but it does mean that we are still able to pass in this life.  There is no flunking out in this college of life.  We are here to stay, for better or for worse, until the end.  If we want to be rewarded in the next life we have to work hard.  If we decide to mess around or slack off, there will be consequences in the future.

By this point you have probably forgotten where and how this talk started, so I would like to remind you of the statement in Preach my Gospel, which reads

God is our Heavenly Father. We are His children. He has a body of flesh and bone that is glorified and perfected. He loves us. He weeps with us when we suffer and rejoices when we do what is right.

I’ve talked about the first half but the second half of this is equally important in understanding the nature of God. God loves us. He weeps with us when we suffer and rejoices when we do what is right.  I used to have an extremely difficult time comprehending the extent of this love that god has for us.  The more that I grow in the gospel and the more time I spend near my savior, the more I feel of His love for me.  I know that as a mere 18-year-old child, I really can’t even begin to understand the depth of love God feels for us.  I can, however have an idea of what God is willing to do for us.  My love for my family is the most compelling love I have ever felt, and I don’t think there is anything I wouldn’t do for them.  If that is the depth of my mortal and flawed love, what must be the depth of my Father in Heaven’s love for me in his immortal and perfect state.

I came to this realization rather recently.  He cares so much for us that it causes him to suffer when we suffer and rejoice when we succeed.  I had no idea what weeping at our suffering truly meant until very recently.  I know it is a cliché thing to do, but I looked up the definition of weeping.  Weeping is to express grief, sorrow, or any overwhelming emotion by shedding tears.  True weeping is something that doesn’t happen that often.  There is a difference in being emotional and tearing up, and weeping.  I didn’t know that!  I always thought that when God wept for us when we suffered it meant he was crying with us in our frustration.  The truth is much more astonishing.
When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I got a taste of what it means to truly weep.  Before my father was diagnosed, he had been in a lot of back pain due to some fractured vertebrae.  He, being the macho man he is, had decided that his broken back was only some pulled muscles and he suffered in silence until my mom finally managed to convince him to go to the doctor.  They discovered his condition and told Sawyer and I that night.  I have NEVER been so devastated in my life.  As some of you may know, I am a very sentimental and emotional person.  My dad has always been a strong and solid rock in my life and suddenly that had changed.  My future no longer seemed certain and I felt lost.  For the first time in my life, I wept.  There was a depth of sorrow and grief that I didn’t even know existed until that point.  I wanted to take my dad’s pain away from him.  I felt powerless and insignificant.  There is no way to express the feelings that I felt at seeing my father in pain.  I’ve heard that there is no greater love then the love of a parent for their child, yet I felt this inexpicable grief at my dad’s situation and it made me think.  If I could care for my father this much, he must care for me even more!
God is the father of all of our spirits, he loves us to an extent that none of us can comprehend.  He hates to see us suffer.  The grief and anguish he feels when we do suffer causes him to weep.  I wish that I had the power to comfort, heal, or help my father in his time of need, but I did not.  God has the power to comfort and heal us in our trials and he has the love for us to help.  Many of my friends have asked me why I want to serve a mission.  Now that I have a true testimony of Gods love for us all, how could I not serve a mission?  Once you have felt the love that our Father in Heaven has for us, the first thing you want is for others to feel it.  The first time I really and truly felt of Gods love for me, I was overwhelmed with a warmth and joy that I had never felt before.

My dad explained missionary work to my brother and sister in this way.  He told them that our purpose as missionaries was not to get people to convert to the LDS faith, but rather our purpose is to bring others unto Christ.  For the next two years I will have the privilege of serving the Chilean people in the Santiago South mission.  Ever since I received my call, I have had this feeling that I belong there.  There are people in Santiago that need me to go there and teach them the truth and it’s my responsibility to be there to teach them.  I know that the gospel blesses lives and that it is the goal of my mission to bless lives.  I cannot imagine a life without the knowledge of our Father in Heaven that I have been given. I have a testimony that He is a living and loving God and that we matter to Him.  I have a testimony about His son Jesus Christ who is our Savior and Redeemer.  I know that we can be forgiven through the power of the Atonement and that same power can comfort us and heal us in times of suffering and hardship.  I am so grateful for my Savior.