Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's Clean Up Time!


I got an email this week saying that they are still working on my Visa.  It also said that I would be leaving as soon as it came - so keep praying, please!  With all the variables that I've seen and the fishy answers I've been getting, I thought for sure that my Visa was here.  So this past week I got a bunch of pictures with people and said good-bye to everyone.

Elder Beach and Hermana Stone (both left the MTC the same day as me) are both in Argentina now.  Beach emailed me and told me that it's amazing.  So I guess I'll just keep waiting here in Anadarko.

Today is transfer day - so we're going to be driving up to the city in a few hours to drop off Elder Curry.  Yes - Elder Curry is leaving and I'm super sad to see him go.  :(  I seriously love E. Curry!  So Nelson and I will be running Anadarko and another missionary named Elder Trip.  Nobody from the district knows who he is - so I guess we'll find out!  When Elder Curry told us he started to cry.  Not a good day for all of us - we're so sad to see him go.  I really wish we could just all stay together and run this town - but it is the Lord's work and he needs Curry somewhere else.

So as for the tornado - there were several towns that go hit.  Even though most of the damage was in Moore - we've been working in a town called New Castle.  It's about 30 miles from here and we worked up there all day on Friday and Saturday.  We threw trees, picked up metal, found people's things (I found a taxadermy deer head!), and just tearing apart what was left of people's houses.  E. Curry and I tore apart an entire half of a house!  It was awesome!  The support to help get things cleaned up is incredible.  I got one of those Mormon Helping Hands T-Shirts and it was incredible to see all the different faiths helping each other to clean up the mess.  There were probably 500-1000 people there on Saturday.  We did WORK!!!

During the past two weeks we have been breaking records in Anadarko!  The old record for member present lessons was 5 with an avereage of 1 per week.  These past two weeks we've had 10, then 8.  We have 3 solid baptismal dates - all single sisters and about 15 solid investigators.  There's still a lot of work to do here.

There is this lady here named Cindy.  She has some serious medical problems and I gave her a blessing a couple of weeks ago.  I feel like that when we talk to her that she often times teaches us more about faith.  She has so much faith in Christ - it's remarkable.  Plus she loves the Book of Mormon and comes to church each week.  There is this great lady who pick her up and brings her.

We had a solid week and I learned a very valuable lesson.  We had dinner one night at this family's home.  They are in line to get a divorce and it was probably one of the most awkward dinners I've ever been to.  The husband was very disrespectful to his wife and it was very frustrating.  I learned that I don't ever want to be that way to a woman.  I don't want to EVER be looked at like this guy.  I'm so thankful for you and dad.  I love you guys!!

Tell Carson to email me from the MTC!  I love that kid.  I'm sure that his farewell talk was amazing!

Love and miss you!  :)
Keep the Faith!

Your Favorite Missionary,
-Elder Harris

Monday, May 20, 2013

Another email from President Taylor (7:30 pm)

Dear Parents:  All of our missionaries serving in the Moore, Oklahoma area are safe.  The City of Moore, Oklahoma located just south of OKC sustained heavy damage and loss of life today asa powerful tornado cut its way across the city about 3:15 pm CT.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the people who have lost so much today.  Again, all the missionaries serving in the affected areas are safe.  The rest of the missionaries checked in safe earlier today.  We are blessed again today.

In the coming days our missionaries will be called upon to help with the clean up from this devastating storm.  We are asking the missionaries who do not have learther gloves to buy some in the next couple of days.  We are also asking those who can afford to buy boots to do so.  These boots will help prevent foot injuries from nails that could be sustained during the clean up.  There will be some ability in the future to reimburse missionaries for boot purchases.  As future storms occur, I will keep you updated (provided we have power).  If you don't hear from me by email after the storms clear following a tornado outbreak, call the Missionary Department.  I will have notified the Missionary Department by phone and confirmed the safety of our missionaries.  Thank you for you prayers and for your wonderful sons and daughter.

President Taylor

Tornadoes in Oklahoma! (11:00 am)

(This letter came Monday morning at 11 am - long before the tornado hit Moore, OK.  I think he's about 30ish miles from there)

Hi Mom, I'm alive!  :)

I've got some big news for you!  Elder Beach, my MTC companion, got his VISA!!  He's leaving for Argentina today and told me that he's traveling alone.  I might be leaving soon too - because my missionary portal changed from OKC mission to the ARG RES mission sometime during this week.  Maybe when transfers come on the 29th I'll be going?

The tornados never did touch down here in Anadarko, but we did have some hail and crazy lightening/thunder/wind storms the last couple of nights.  It's really strange because in the early afternoon it's literally like 100 degrees - humid as can be - then around 6 or 7 a cold front will roll in and slap us in the face.  That's when the rain, hail, and crazy winds come in.  They say that the hotter it is and then how much the temperature drops - that's how bad the storm will be.  If you think that Utah has crazy weather?  Oklahoma is bi-polar!

We had a storm on Saturday night, a tiny one last night, and we're supposed to get another one tonight.  I doubt it will be that bad because it seems like most of the storms have been on the east side of OKC and I'm on the west side.  Did you see about that entire city that got mauled?  Some of the tornadoes are crazy!  I've heard that Anadarko usually doesn't get "HIT" because apparently we're in enough of a valley that the tornadoes just go over us.  But there was that one storm a couple of weeks ago that took the roof off the house.  :)

I really wish you could just see the weather here.   These lightening storms are just incredible.  The entire sky lights up with what I call a spider web of lightening.  The sky is this dark, pinkish, bright color.  It's hard to explain - it's just really beautiful though.  I'll try to snap a pic for you so you can put it on Insta.  :)

If you could send me those recipies, some pictures and hmmm . . . some of your cake?  Haha!  I'm honestly pretty good.  We have a weird money system here so I'll probably just use my Visa for now it that's ok.  I also withdrew an extra $20 from Wal-mart earlier today - thus the largish transaction.  We're gonna cut back on eating out.  We ate out a TON last week . . . you would love the biscuits they cook here.  SO GOOD.

So I have a couple of questions:  Did Nick Emery already leave for his mission?  Where are Stout and Toolson going?  Tell Anderson and Bailey congrats for me - they'll do great!  :).  I'm also so sad about my LAX boys - tough loss.  I hope that Fjeldsted didn't have any injuries this season??

We really had a blessed week here in Anadarko.  I'm talking about doubling records here.  Yeah, this trio is killing it!  We saw a lot of miracles this week.

Last Monday, we played some ball, had some food, and played some more ball.  Remember we got that trophy to take up there with us?  Well we had some teams lined up bu then some kids droped and didn't want to play so we ended up playing speed for the trophy.  A kid from anothe district won it, but when we played 5 v 5 - my team won.  We even beat Curry, Peterson and Traasdahl (3 of the 10 best players in the mission).  Pretty soon my name will be up there in the 10 best - mark my words!  haha

E Curry and I were talking about the word diligence.  The dictionary sums it up perfectly - "persistent and energetic application to a task."  So if we're being persistent and energetic while doing the work - it gonna be great!  So I'm trying to be the most diligent missionary possible.

On Tuesday we visited a less active member.  He reminds me a lot of Grandma Ray.  So was telling us how he had been praying for us to come and visit him today.   We had decided the night before that we were going to go out and visit him.  We really feel like the Lord directed us to him.  One of his grandsons were in a car accident and he's been going through a hard time.  Plus he's trying to quit smoking so we're going to help him take care of that.  On Sunday he told us that he really want to get to the temple to recieve his endowments.  So we're setting a goal for him to get to the temple by August or so.  We also visited this super old Indian man who only has like 4 or 5 teeth.  He lost his wife and few years ago and is having a really hard time.  He reminds me a lot of Brother Adams and just loves it when people come to visit him - so we're going to go back and "visit" him again this week. 

So here's a funny story - at least I thought it was funny.  So the other day, I heard this Indian guy say - "We're going to have to sit Indian style today."  I don't know why, but I just lost it!  E Curry thought that it was hilarious too!  Ok, one more funny story.  So there's this girl and her name is DeeDee and she has a lazy eye. So she told us this story about how one day she was in class and her teacher told everyone to shake their heads side to side really fast.  He told them that while they do this, with eyes will stay in the same place and if they don't then they have brain damage.  So she raised her hand and asked him is she had brain damage.  I thought is was about the funniest story I've ever heard. haha

On Wednesday, we helped Sister Mumford with her ceiling.  She is remodeling her house and we helped put this cardboard stuff on the roof.  She measureed it wrong, so we had to move some of the ceiling beams to make it fit.  It took us about 2 hours to get one piece up . . .

Thursday we had weekly planning - which means companion inventory.  That's about all I'm going to say, but it did take us about an hour and a half to resolve a couple of issues. 

On Friday we had district meeting in Blanchard.  Nelson and I went on exchanges with Tuttle.  Then during out district meeting I talked a little bit about diligence and to be the companion that you wish you could have.  I then talked about how important it is to keep your reputation because it can be destroyed so quickly. 

On Saturday I got my hair cut and then we carried this water filter out of a storm shelter.  It weighed like 500 lbs.  No joke.  Later that night we had dinner with Sister Mumford.  She cooked us some cow tongue.  Yummy.  It was alright - not awful - but definately not my favorite.  :)

We also met some kids while we were walking back home and they were talking smack on us.  So we figured we had 10 minutes so we balled them up!  We won 3 games in a row.  Can't stop the boys in white shirts and ties!  haha

On Sunday at church we had branch council.  We, the missionaries, asked about one of the families here.  One of them responded that they were a hornets nest and that we shouldn't get involved with them.  So Curry responds back and says, 'Aren't we a church of forgiveness?  Of repentance?  Don't you think that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins and wrong doings so that we could forgive these people?"  I thought that was pretty good and something that we all need to do.  To learn to forgive people, no matter how serious the sin or wrong that they committed.  Nobody is too fat away from the gospel for Christ, so why should it matter to us?

I've got to sun.  I love it here, but I'll keep you updated on the Visa situation!

Love you!  Keep the faith.

-Elder Harris

From the Mission President (7:30 am)

Dear Parents:  As you may know, yesterday we experienced severe storms including several large tornadoes in our mission area.  All of the missionaries are safe.  Damage occured in localized areas.  While two of the larger tornadoes caused substatial damage in the Carney and North Shawnee communites, we are grateful that most of the tonadoes touched down in more remote, unpopulated areas.

While severe storms can occur in any month of the year in Oklahoma and Texas, May is the month when the most tornadoes have occurred historically.  We havea system of alerting the missionaries of approaching storms.  This system includes texts and telephone warnings well in advance of the storms and updates as the storms continue.  Each companionship is to have a local weather contact with whom they communicate about local weather conditions in the event of severe storms.  Our missionaries have been given written materials and periodic zone conference instruction informing them of what to do in the event of severe weather.  We also have a communication system which we use to confirm the safety and location of our missionaries in the event of severe weather.

We are grateful for the Lord's protection of His missionaries.  We are also grateful for your prayers.  You have wonderful sons and daughters and you should be very proud of them  We love them and aer priviledged to serve with them.

When we experience tornado outbreaks in the future (and we expect more today) we will keep you updated once the storms pass and we confirm the safety of all our missionaries.

Warm Regards,

President Taylor

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day and More . . .

It was super good to talk to you guys yesterday!  I hope that you don't think that I'm out here having too much fun because I really am being obedient, working hard, and seeing miracles because of it.  Sometimes I feel like when I talk about Anadarko that it's such a sad place, but it's really not that terrible.  The people here just need some help and that's why we're here - to help clean up some of this mess and this upcoming week we're going to get out there and get to work again!

We will make this branch more united too.  I can't believe how much fun this is - being a missionary!  And I'm totally fine spending the next 3 months or more here until my visa comes. The heat is coming - but the heat is coming in Argentina too this I guess that means that I only have 1 winter and 3 summers to look forward to. Yipee!  I also took all my pants to the dry cleaners, but like everything else around here, they don't accept credit cards.  Tight.

It was also great to talk to Ty.  It was awesome!  :)  When he answered he was like "who is this?"  So I said, "Your best friend."  Haha - he didn't know it was me.  :)  But it was great to talk to him.  It sounds like he had an awesome time in Spain, Africa and Portugal.  Man, tell that kid to count his blessings.

Today we're driving to Duncan to play some basketball for zone p-day.  While we were walking on Main Street in Anadarko we found this little trophy shop.  We had them make us a "1st Place Duncan Zone" trophy for us.  We're going to take is up to the tournament today and the winners each time can take it home.  (It's coming to Anadarko!  haha)

This past week just flew by.  I saw a ton of dogs, had some nice dinners, did some service and preached the gospel!

Last Monday we helped build that roof for that family that lost theirs.  They eneded up running out of money before the project was complete but the guy told us that once he had the funds he was going to call us to come back and help out.  I just feel so bad for them.  I found out that the mom and 4 kids were IN THE HOUSE when the roof came off!  Could you even imagine that?

That night we continued my birthday celebration with Tracy and Haley.  I totally kicked trash at pin the tail on the donkey!  :)

Tuesday we had little success.

Wednesday - I got sick.  And like always it was a one day killer.  But I did as President Butler said and just kept working through it.  It was HOT outside that day and it literally felt like 100 with the humidity.  The good news is that we sweat and sweat and sweat and even though I'm up 10 pounds, I'm sure it will be gone soon!  We visited with a bunch of less actives since all of our investigators bailed.

At mutual that night we had a HUGE storm.  It flooded the streets on the way home and we had about quarter sized hail! 

Thursday was Zone Conference in Lawton.  President and Sister Taylor taught us about the gathering of Isreal and the Holy Ghost.  They were SO good.  I do have some questions for dad though:

1.  From who did Lehi get his priesthood?
2.  When was the preisthood lost? Or when did we go into an Apostacy from the time between Moses to Christ?  (Mainly Book of Mormon) Like with Nephi in 3 Nephi - did he have the fullness of the priesthood?  Or . . . the reason I ask is because the priesthood was restored by prophets in 7 dispensations.  Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Christ, and Joseph Smith.  All of the other apostosies (time wise) make sense - except Moses to Christ because we have the Book of Mormon.  Any input is appreciated.

We had dinner that night at the Kleinkol's.  They're the ones I was telling you about that have 11 dogs, 15 cats and a ferret named Crazy Horse.  They are huge ZZ Top fans and even went to a concert the other night!  They're like grandma and grandpa's age - so tight! haha

Friday was the best day of the week (besides Sunday of course).  I went on exchanges - Elder Young came to Anadarko and worked with Nelson and me.  He only has about 3 weeks left of his mission and he's so sad to leave.  He's a spiritual giant compared to Nelson and me.  We helped Sister Mumford fix up her car and had dinner at Sister Blanchard's house.  Her husband died a few years ago and since then she's had many spiritual experiences where she has felt his presence in the room  It's insane to me how thin the veil really is.

After dinner we met with some investigators.  When we walked into their home, I didn't know what we were going to teach, so I said a quiet prayer that we would know what we should teach them.  The husband mentioned that they had read Ether 12 that we assigned them.  I had forgotten about that and so we re-read it with them and talked a lot about faith that night.

The wife has been sick for the past couple of months and on Thursday night she received a blessing from one of the members of the branch.  Brother Decker told her that she had to have faith that she would be healed.  She told him that she would.  Later she told us that she felt this feeling that night that she had only felt one other time in her life.  The feeling was like a big warm hug.  We  explained to her that she was feeling the spirit.  She also told us that she felt better and then expressed how difficult the scriptures are for her to understand.  Elder Nelson shared an experience with her on faith and I remembered and experience that I had in the MTC learning Spanish.  I told her that like me, she would have to practice every day in learning the "Language of the Scriptures".  I had to practive each day reading the scriptures in Spanish.  And although I can't read them perfectly, over time it's been a lot easier.  She promised the Book of Mormon and her husband did too!

Our plans didn't work out on Saturday, like always, but it was still an awesome day.  We met with a couple of people that have some family problems to work out.  It's a good thing that they have the Atonement and some good looking missionaries to solve the issues!  haha 

After lunch we did some tracting and met with a few of our investigators.  While we were walking, we started cleaning up some more of the branches that had fallen in the storm on Wednesday and because of it, I think we might just have 4 more potentials!

We walked passed this one guy on the st side of town who told us "I don't want nothing to do with ya'll, just keep on walking."  So we did - but we saw that a branch had fallen on the gate and a few more branches were laying around the yard of one of our investigators who lives across the street from him.  So we went over and cleaned it up and put all the branches in a big pile.  As we were walking away, that same guy called out to us and asked us if we wanted a Pepsi.  Of course we're not going to say no to a Pepsi!  He ended up telling us how much he appreciates how we help people out all day and don't expect anything in return.  He thought that sharing a Pepsi with us was the least that he could do.  Such a good guy.  We're going to go help him out another time.

We made Tracy a Mother's Day card since she is our Okey-Mom.  She absolutely loved it and we always seem to talk about miracles with her.  I told her the story that day about dad's leg and they couldn't believe it.  I love how powerful the gospel and the power of testimony is!

On Sunday we went to church and one of our investigators showed up!  We were so excited!  We had lunch at the Bateman's and then we got to call you!  Later that night we took that food box that we got at church to Charlie.  We didn't leave a note or anything, but hopefully he can see how many miracles are happening in his life.  Is not, I'm going to point them out to him!!

I love you!

-Elder Harris

Monday, May 6, 2013

Birthday Week!

Just to let you know, I did get the package that you sent on Saturday.  Thank you so much!  It's kinda funny because you and Grandma Hill BOTH sent me a purple tie and work gloves.  So I gave a pair to Curry and Nelson.  We're going to build a roof in about an hour for that family who lost theirs - so we appreciate it.  I'm also planning on taking my companions to lunch or dinner to celebrate my birthday sometime this week so expect a transaction.  :)

As for you guys, HOLY COW!  You are the most blessed family ever!  Braeden't prom date is stunning and Ty's girl is too.  The waterfall looks amazing and I love that the boys are swimming every night.  That just sounds like a party.  :)

As for Mother's Day next Sunday, I will be calling around 1:30 - 4:00 your time.  It's up in the air right now, but could you please invite Carson to come over so I can talk to him for a minute too?  Also, will Tyler and Easton be home from Spain by Sunday? 

On my birthday, I was called to be the new priesthood piano player!  I know, but the guy who was doing it only knew how to play one song and they were singing that same song every week.  I can manage to plunk out 2 or 3 songs so I guess we'll have some new songs to sing for a while.  I also got to pass the sacrament and we even had 108 people at church!  It's a new record!  wussssuuuuupppp.  In all honesty, we did have a baptism and a baby blessing so we did have 30 visitors and some less actives - but still.

Brother Heer sent that picture to you from his house.  We actually got fed twice on my birthday.  First by the Bateman's and then by the Heer's.  He texted us after we left and said that you texted him back.  So I appreciated that!  I was also wearing the tie you sent me.  Surprise!  I love it!  It's so fresh.

Last P-day we were out of miles and stayed in Anadarko. We only have 1100 miles per month for our car and it's really not enough because most of our branch lives in Elgin about 15 miles away so we use up those miles pretty quick.  But we still played some basketball and had a good day. 

Later ee met with our investigator and she told us that she wants to be baptized so that was awesome.  We also met some kids playing ball in the street.  One of them, Nick, is a freshman right now and he was asking us what we do as missionaries because he wants to serve a mission.  We told him and I loved his response "Talking about Jesus Christ with people for 2 years sounds pretty good to me!"  I just love him.

We had more celebrating this week!  Tuesday was Elder Curry's year mark.  He's been telling us how fast it goes by and it really does.  We ended up mowing the lawn for someone for our service and it took 3 hours!  By the picture, you can tell why it took so long.

We also met 2 new investigators and taught them about the restoration.  They had some interesting questions and comments like, "How can you sell miracles for $50? and "I don't know what it is, but every church I visit just doesn't feel right."  So if we can catch her this week we're going to invite her to be baptized.  She works a ton and her husband used to be the "Chase Hansen" of Anadarko.  Unfortunately, he got mixed up with the wrong crowd, stole a car, ran it off the road and as a result lost his leg.  He has a sweet prosthetic but uses crutches everywhere he goes.  The wife has had a really hard year because she lost both of her parents, broke her back and her leg.  So we're just trying to figure out the best way to help them and keep their spirits up.

On Wednesday we went to the "New Missionary" meeting up in the city and I got a new bike!  I really just found a bunch of parts  in the shed and put a bike together.  It's still small, but it works a lot better.  The gears are pretty worn down so sometimes the chain gets stuck of falls off the track, but I push through it. 

Thursday I was pretty upset because my bike wouldn't work and it took me all day just to keep it going to get back to Anadarko.  We had 10 appointments and everyone of them fell through.  It was freezing - the humidity here sucks.  The cold goes right through you.  By that night I was pretty ticked off and we went over to a member's house and were talking to them and sharing some scriptures.  I found this one in the bible - it was in Peter.  I don't remember exactly which one it was now, but it descibed the things that had happened to me that day and furthering the gospel.  It just got me to thinking that even though it sucks and my bike is broken and all these other things might be happening that I'm still here spreading the good news of the gospel!  So I decided that I should be happy and tried to be as positive as I could.

On Friday we did exchanges after our district meeting with the Zone Leaders.  Zerkle came with Nelson and me to Anadarko.  We visited Sister Spencer at her house.  Her nephew was over and he told us that he was gay and didn't believe in Jesus Christ.  It made me sad.  Sister Spencer is the one with the heart problem and apparently she also has diabetes.  I guess the other night her diabetes shot up to 500?  Some rediculous near death number so we gave her a blessing.  We heard on Saturday night that it went even higher and she had to go to the emergency room.

Funny story.  So we were out tracting and some car drives up to us and asks us if we're Jehovah's Witness or Mormons.  So we say Mormons and they drive off.    We were talking to this homeless man named Robert.  He's about 60 and from Jamaica.  He just walks around here all day no matter the weather.  So bout 10 minutes later they "find" us again and ask us if we want weed, alcohol, or women?  We said no thank you as politely as we can and then asked them if they would like a picture of Jesus Christ.  Surprisingly, they all took one!  The kid that was sitting shotgun was stoned out of his mind and probably younger than McKenzie.  It seriously just makes me so sad that these kids have nothing better to do and have such negative influences in their lives.

We were at McDonald's the other day and saw the news about that plane crashing and that soccer player punching the ref in the face and killing him, and a bunch of other stuff.  WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH THE WORLD?!?!?  Seriouly, it's so messed up.

It's crazy how we're viewed as missionaries when we say that we don't do this or we don't do that.  People just laugh at us - I don't get it.  Which gets me to thinking about this little girl who bore her testimony on Sunday.  She said, "When everyone is choosing the wrong, that's when we need to choose the right."  She's 5!!!  And already understands that concept.  If only people were brave enough to stand up to their friends - but I know that's one of the hardest things to do.  I guess I'm just feeling sad about all these people here.

No news yet on the visa.  I was talking to a kid who has a cousin who is also supposed to go to Argentina.  He's been in Mississippi for 4 months now, so I might be here longer than expected!  :)

Love you! 
-Elder Harris