Monday, June 24, 2013

Nothing Kills the Spirit Like Elvis

My mouth hurts from smiling so much this week!  haha!  I don't know if that's a sign that I find myself smiling even when we're just walking and nobody is around.  :)

I didn't get to listen to the Mission President Meeting on Sunday because we were driving back from Apache so we could get to Elgin on time to visit some members.  I didn't know that all the missionaries are going over to the Marriott Center.  That's a decently long walk.  But hey, that would be so nice to get out of the MTC.  I hear it's like a prison.  Oh wait, I was just there and sometimes I felt like I was in prison!!!  Haha  I LOVED it there and wouldn't trade that experience for anything!

Your story about the "spiritual glasses" is so true.  I've learned that we need to look with an eternal view on life instead of getting bugged about the little things in our lives.  Another thing is that in the war chapters of the Book of Mormon, the Nephites would bring a small portion of their armies to "draw" the Lamanites out of their strongholds.  Then while the whole Lamanite Army would be chasing after this small army the rest of the Nephites would take over the Lamanites strongholds.  Basically - don't chase after the little things.  Don't ever leave your "stronghold" - because that's when the devil will take over!

In church yesterday, Brother Harrison gave a talk about why we need to come to church.  He compared it to a football game.  This had my attention!  While the huddle is sometimes overlooked in football games - it's VERY important.  That's why we need to pause for a second, regroup, and go out and try to execute the next play.  So church is the huddle that we need each week to where we gather, regroup, and slow down for a second before we go back into life (the game).  I thought that was awesome.  Church really does help!  Thank you for forcing me to go to church - I realize how important is it now!  :)

I was excited to hear about Zack's mission call.  He's going to be a solid missionary in Mexico.  It's amazing to me how fast time really does go by - I've been out 4 months aleady.  In no time, I'm going to be sitting by the pool with you drinking a Coke!  I couldn't believe it when I woke up this morning and realized it was MONDAY again!  haha

This has been an amzing week.  We tried our best to work as hard as possible but I have to start out with some bad news.  Cindy is getting knee surgery on Tuesday so her baptism will have to be pushed back a week since her knee can't get wet.  Something cool about her is that she already wants people to hear about the gospel.  We've given her a bunch of Books of Mormon so she can write her testimony in them and give them to people.  It's pretty cool and I'm excited for her.

In other bad news, President Taylor leaves this week.  I'm sad to see him go - but I guess I might have the record since I will probably have 4 different mission presidents . . .

Monday:  We had Zone P-day in Lawton.  One of the Zone Leaders - Elder George knows Megan Smith!  They wen't to college together and he's an awesome guy - I think he's coming to Darko this week.  At the training we talked about miracles and our foundation.  We learned that some missionaries get worn out, comfortable and lazy with missionary work so we talked about what we can do to keep the fire burning. 

Tuesday:  We dug a grave.  A lady in ward's dog died.  His name was Spartacus, 18 years old and 175 pounds.  She was just so sad. 

We had a bunch of appointments drop so we spent a lot of the day walking around waiting for an appointment later that we had.  But when we were on our way over there, they texted and said they couldn't meet.  So we decided to go over and check on Jim and Jens. On the way we came across this group of people - 6 or 7 of them that all had a beer and cigarette in hand.  There was this one guy who was so drunk that he was cross-eyed.  His name is Frank and he wanted us to say like 50 prayers with him.  I got to talking to another guy named Randall about the Book of Mormon and he grabbed my shoulder and told me that I needed to say a prayer for him.  So I stood up, took his arm and walked him over to a chair so he wouldn't fall over.  He began to tell me how he just hadn't felt right since he denied saying a prayer with us (which happened about 2 weeks ago) and wanted to say that prayer with us now.  So we said a prayer with them and then Randall asked me about our beliefs.  I don't know what it is, but everyone that wants to bash us or question our beliefs always wants to talk to me.  No joke, it's happened like 6 times this week! 

As we were leaving, I shook everyone's hand and when I shook Frank's hand, he told me to pray for him and then he pulled me into this like hug thing.  He had my hand in his right hand and his left hand was on my head - so I put my hand on the back of his head and said a little prayer for him.  I gave him a picture so that we would remember that we stopped by.  Just another day in Dodge . . .

Wednesday:  We had Christmas!  The mission came and gave us some new furniture!  E Tripp got a completely new bed so I took his old box springs and mattress and stacked them up with mine so now I havea SUPER BED! haha  I literally have to jump just to get on top of it, but it's alright!

We drove up to Elgin to find some work for the Sisters who are coming at the end of the transfer.  While we were walking this guy rolled up in this super sick black car from the 50's.  He's the husband of a member so we kicked it at their place for a minute and he showed us his cars.

Thursday:  We did our weekly planning, visited a member that just moved in, and visited Cindy.  She is doing amazing and has some friends that she would like to introduce us to!

Friday:  We did exchanges.  So E Hoopes from Chickasha came to Darko with Nelson and me.  We talked to a guy named Allen for about an hour and tried to help him come back to church.  We had a member come with us for about 4 hours and we met a bunch of people.  We even taught a lesson to a lady who was sitting in her truck.

We have another new investigator named Chawntae who has met the missionaries before but says that she is now ready to hear the word.  She's awesome.  We also got dropped by Mona.  But we're not gving up yet - she found out that her mom passed away this week so we're going to go back and teach her the Plan of Salvation.

We ended up at another house where I shared 3 Nephi 20:21 (I think) where it talks about Christ setting an example for us that we need to follow.  I compared it to being a parent and told her and all of her friends very bluntly that if you want your kids to have a better life and not get mixed up in worldly things (drinking/drugs etc) then they need to step it up and set a better example for them.  If your kids see you drinking and doing other things that aren't good then how can you expect your children to think it's not okay!??!?!?!  I walked away a little frustrated.

Saturday:  We had two funerals.  The first one was for a lady who had downs syndrome and aparently loved Elvis.  So tis Elvis impersonator came and sang at her funeral.  Nothing kills the spirit like Elvis.  :)  Brother Sullivan gave this amazing talk and then Elvis sang the closing son and yup . . . no comment.


We then drove up to Fort Cobb with Sister Wright to get her a new fridge.  We moved it in and then went back to another funeral.  Debra Cocker was there! (Uncle Charles' sister-in-law)

That night we met up with a full family of investigators.  We are helping them see Christ in their lives.  They are truly amazing and I can feel a lot of potential in them!

Sunday: We did a lot of driving and had a lesson with Cindy and 2 of her friends.  We taught them about the Restoration and it was strangely powerful to see how strong Cindy's testimony is of the gospel simply because of how much happiness it's brought her.

We also went to one of our investigator's homes and had to cast out evil spirits.  They have been seeing a lot of cracy things happen so we got that taken care of.  The feeling of the evil spirts leaving was remarkable!

I'm sorry, I've gotta run but don't worry about me.  I'm safe, having fun, and I really love this work!  I'm going to be super sad to leave Darko :(  I've had some amazing experience and built some good relationships here.  But I guess all I can do it enjoy the time I have here until I'm called to go to Argentina.

Have an awesome week.  Keep the Faith and remember that no matter where I am that I love you!

-Elder Harris

P.S. - Thank you always teaching me manners.  It's a lot easier to learn when you're young!  :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

No Visa Yet


Happy?  You KNOW I'm ALWAYS happy!  :) :)  Especially after all the great news that you just told me!  :)  I also got the package that you sent and I LOVE the shirt and the watch!  They're amazing.

My district only has 5 Elders in it and we are part of the Lawton Zone.  We are driving up to Lawton today for Zone P-day!  We also just got news that we will be adding 2 additional Elders in Elgin - a city that goes to our branch!  It will be so awesome to have some help there since it's 20 miles from Anadarko and it's hard for us to get up there very often.  The good news is that we just have SO MUCH WORK in Anadarko that we never have time to leave!  We are planning on going on up to Elgin this week though and knocking all day to find some work for the new missionaries who will be coming in. 

Transfers don't come up again until July 10th - and I have NO idea if I will be here or not.  Our new Mission President (Walkenhorst) is coming sometime around June 29th - the same day as Cindy's baptism and my 4 month mark!  HOLY CRAP!  I feel like I just left!!  But knowing Karma - I'll probably fly out to Argentina on the 29th and miss everything . . . .

So no Visa yet.  E. Beach says that a huge group is coming in 7 weeks - so who knows.  :)

As for this week:

Monday:  We had two FHE's with the Wright Family and the Poolaw Family.  We played the "Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down" choices lesson, re-taught the plan of salvation lesson and then played some wiffle ball.  Solid Monday.  :)

Tuesday:  We went and taught a new investigator.  We met her right after she got off the phone where she found out that her mom has stage 4 cancer.  I think that she's pretty prepared to hear the message of the gospel. 

Later that day we tried a new referral from the city.  We knocked on the door and found an entire family.  We taught them about the restoration and it was phenomenal!  They were so receptive and prepared it was unbeliveable!

Sister Poolaw offered to feed us breakfast that morning and had dropped off some food for us.  Later that afternoon we were trying to think of something nice we could do for her - she called us.  She ran out of gas and needed some help.  So we went over and picked her up and took her home so that she could take care of her kids, then we went and got some gas for her and got her car back to her.  She was so grateful.  We also were able to teach Jesus and Vico - they're awesome and so patient with me while we work our way through teaching them in Spanish.  :)

Our friend Justina got a job!  Miracles happen with the people that are around the missionaries!  :)  So kick it with the missionaries and you'll be alright!

Thursday:  We did our weekly planning and walked around in the heat - it was HOT!  We ran into an investigator that Curry and Butterfield found a couple months back and we're going to be teaching him now.  We saw Joey and played some ball with him and his brothers.

Later that night, we saw Jesus and Vico again.  I taught them the Plan of Salvation in Spanish and yes, it's difficult - even though they thought it was amazing.  I even invited them to be baptized in Spanish.  They want to learn more and be "better people" before they commit to be baptized - so we wait! 

Friday:  I went up to Chickasha on an exchange!  It was cool.  We had district meeting up there and then I kicked it with E. Lowe.  I got to sing Karaoke with some old people, walked 4 miles in the heat, got a sweet pic on Utah Street and we found some potentials.  It was a solid day in Chickasha!

Saturday:  Super slow day.  We drove back from Chickasha, got a hair cut and went to a birthday party.  We met a ton of people at the party and hopefully we run into a couple of them in the next few days.  Funny story - while we were there we saw this guy who we had prayed with in the past to helpe him find a job - and guess who got a job?  HE DID!  :)  Prayer works, right?  :)

Sunday:  We had an awesome day at church.  One of our counselors spoke and did an amazing job!  I loved it.  He talked a lot about being happy and how we need to discipline to HELP our kids.  Nothing more.  SO MOM!  Thank you for always being strict with me.  Thank you for giving me this work ethic I've learned over time and for every time that you've had to hold your ground when I got fired up.  I'm sorry and I love you!  You're the best mom ever!  You and dad have raised an amazing family and I'm happy that I get to be out in the mission field representing OUR FAMILY!  :)

Keep the Faith!

Love you!
-Elder Harris

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Week of Little Miracles

I've had an amazing week.  Full of undeniable miracles, humbling experiences and snakes.  Yes, I said snakes.  :)  (Notice the snake hanging on the fence!)

We didn't get a chance this week to do any tornado clean up.  We're about an hours drive from New Castle so they don't send us up there very often.  We've actually been proselyting ALL WEEK!  Things with Cindy are going really well - she is sooo prepared.  She had to leave church early this Sunday because her kidneys are failing her.  Her mom still doesn't want her to be baptized, and WILL NOT attend her baptismal service.  I think that her mom truly wants her to be unhappy.  I don't really understand it, but hopefully over time her heart will be softened.  Last week we taught her about the Word of Wisdom and she hasn't smoked for 3 weeks now.  So on Tuesday when we went to visit her, her apartment smelled like smoke!  Then on Thursday, we went back to visit her and I straight up asked her why her apartment smelled like smoke.  She told us that the maid who comes in to help her smokes and only speaks Spanish.  So I taught Cindy how to say "don't smoke" in Spanish.  :)  Instead, she make sure that the maid was looking at her when she threw her ashtray away.  Then she started shaking her head like "no no no no".  :)  She's so funny!  Plus, she thinks I'm an absolute riot.  Everything I say she thinks is hilarious!  Am I really that funny?  Or is it just a gift?  :)

She's still planning on being baptized on the 29th.  We've taught her every lesson and now she needs to just keep building her testimony.  I've actually thought a lot about what you said about getting my Visa and leaving just before the baptism - I'm going to be SO sad to leave Darko.  I love so many people here!!

So President Butler huh?  That's awesome.  Looks like he will be releasing me from my mission in 20 months!  I have now had 4 Fast and Testimony meetings on my mission mom!  The time is FLYING by.  I have been thinking about how fast time does go here.  It feels like I just got to Darko a week ago, and it's been 8? 

It sounds like all of you are having an awesome time at home and on vacations!  But I'm on vacation serving the Lord!  I really do love talking about the gospel with people.  Especially because it's been such an amazing guide for me in my life.  So mom!  Thank you for always forcing me to go to church!  Even when I faked sick.  :)

Have fun by the pool too - and just so you know, I have seen a fat lady sitting in a pool, smoking a cigarette - just like we did in Nauvoo.  BEST MOMENT EVER!  haha

We've had a ton of miracles this week.  I don't even know where to begin . . .

Last Monday we found a new investigator.  Her name is Karren and she is this super sweet black lady who LOVES her Bible.  She is super receptive and I just love her!  She wants us to come back and again to visit her.  She thinks that the whole Restoration was very interesting . . . and logically possible.  :)  We also visited Jim and Jen again.  Man, they just make me so sad but I still love them and we're going to go back and pray with them and help them in any way possible.

Tuesday we had miracle timing.  We walked down across the east side of town to visit one of our investigators but he wasn't home.  So we walked around the loop, talked to a couple of people and as we were heading back up the street, he pulled up at the exact same time!  So we went into his home and shared a short message. :)  I LOVE the miracles of timing!

Wednesday was the BEST!  We went ove to visit our Spanish investigators and since I'm the only one who knows Spanish I do most of the talking.  While we were walking up to their door, I'm praying that I can speak the language.  Then I knocked and this girl came to the door - and she was STUNNING!  I was completely surprised because I expected Vico to answer the door.  I wasn't sure if I should say hi in Spanish or English - so I blurted out this weird Spanish-English-baffling bafoon thing.  One of those moments when you really just don't know what to say, you know?  I seriously felt like I was back in the 7th grade and I'd never talked to a girl before.  Thankfully she finally said hi.  Then Vico came to the door and we talked a bit, said a prayer and left.  But it was just the best.  We laughed all the way home.  :)

After a meeting at the church, we were headed home and E. Tripp decided we should get a soda.  So we stopped by the gas station and ran into Robert.  He's a buddy of ours and he walks around Anadarko all day and just knows everyone.  He told us that he just got kicked out of his house and hadn't eaten in a few days so we bought him a piece of chicken and a slice of bread.  He kept thanking us over and over again.  Miracle?  I'd say yes!

Thursday was awesome but nothing really to report and Friday was my very first "DROP".  Yup, some investigators dropped us.  When they told us, I almost started to cry.  I've been crying a lot this week.  I can't decide if it's allergies or the Spirit (haha), but I just want these people to be happy.  So this is a funny story - We walked around the fence to this apartment complex and saw this girl who was a former investigator.  When she saw us, she freaked out and ran away.  Literally, ran away.  So we decided to walk on the other side of the building so that we wouldn't bug her - turns out she ran the ENTIRE WAY AROUND THE BUILDING to avoid us . . . HAHAHAHAHA.  So when she ran into us again - she turned around and ran the other way.  HAHAHAHAHA

Later that night we decided that we'd go see Lloyd.  On the way over there we ran into some investigators that we hadn't seen in about a month.  We chatted with them for about an hour.  They shared their struggles with us and she was just an emotional wreck.  She kept saying that all she wanted was a sign from God that He loves her.  So I kindly pointed out that 3 representatives of Jesus Christ were sitting right in front of her.   I then cried again while telling her why we were there and that our sole purpose was to help her be happy.  We ended up giving her a blessing and she asked me to give it to her.  What was so weird was that the thought to cast out the adversary kept coming to my mind - so I finally said it and after I said it, the entire atmosphere of the room changed.  The whole house just lifted and became brighter - they both could feel it.

On Saturday, I taught my first full lesson in Spanish.  It was really cook to speak Spanish! 

Sunday!!!  :)  The best day of the week!  We had 3 investigators at church and 17 less actives!! :) :) :)  It was fast and testimony meeting and I was just in the best mood!  Cindy, Edwin and Fawn all came to church!  Yes, we had to pick them all up, but whatever works.  Edwin thought that it was the best day ever and accepted a baptismal date for July 13th.  The whole Poolaw family and Jaime came to church too!  I got up to speak and shared 1 Nephi 2:20

"And inasmuch as ye keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands."

Change the word "land" to whatever it is that you desire.  :)  You should try it. 

After church we went by to check on Cindy since she left early and took a video that Natalia had for her and it was perfect.  It was Sister Reeves?  I think from Conference on difficult times.  It was powerful!

Ok, one more funny story from yesterday.  So we visited Lloyd and afterwards we saw these two guys sitting outside drinking like everyone does here on Sunday afternoons.  I walked up to them to give them a picture of Christ you know?  So I offered it to one of the guys and he just stared at me - real angry like - so I just figured that he didn't want the picture so I said, "Have a good day" and as I started walking off he shouted out to me:

Dude:  Hey, are you from Utah?
Me:  Uhhh, ya.
Dude:  You have a gun?
Me:  No.
Dude:  Do you have a car?
Me:  Yes.
Dude:  Why don't you get in your car and go back to Utah!

I just laughed and told him to have a good day.  Alcohol . . . . hahahahahaha

Honestly, it's just been an amzaing week!  I actually got to teach Tracy about the Restoration and why the Book of Mormon is so important last night.  She's been a member for 10 years now and still doesn't know that much about the church.  I'm going to teach her all I can while I'm here.   I'm going to be really sad when I have to leave my Okey-Mom, she really is the sweetest lady and just wants to be happy. 

Gotta run!  I love and miss you!  Have fun out by the pool every day!  Try not to get wet!  :)

Love you!
-Elder Harris

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Another Day, Another Tornado!

Hey Mom.  I'm still breathing.  haha

I have had some really bad allergies here, but they seem to be dying down now.  I'm not sure what I'm allergic to, but it's alright.  :)

This week was a very exciting one.  Yes, you heard right - a tornado did hit about 15 miles from here.  What's funny is that we were out walking around about 20 minutes before it hit.  It was slightly raining so we didn't really mind it - but we started running back to our house when it started DUMPING rain on us.  When we got to the house, a few of the neighbors came over and wanted to use our storm shelter.  We actually have two.  One in the front yard and another one in the back which is underneath the house.  The storm shelter can fit about 8 people in it. We had 6 people and 2 dogs in there comfortably.  It's just a metal door with stairs going down to a little cement room. Not too exciting :)  So we sat on the porch and watched the rain fall for a while - then once the hail came we got down into the shelter.  The tornado warning sirens started going off just as we were getting situated down there so we just stayed for a bit.  Thankfully, Anadarko was untouched.  :)

Am I ever scared of the tornados?!? Mom! I ain't never scrrd! It's just fun being in the action of it. The way I look at it - it just makes for some really good stories for my homecoming talk! :) The Lord has my back - plus kickin' it in the storm shelter is always fun! hahaI spend most of my time just being a normal missionary.  We did go do some clean up service on Saturday but other groups have been working in their service clothes the whole week - especially those in the city since they don't have any power.

Don't let watching the weather on TV drive you insane.  A lot of people here don't know how to do any BUT watch the weather.  If anything does happen, I have a cell phone with me at all times and we stay in constant contact with the mission president.  The Lord's got my back!

There are a lot of really sad things that have been happening lately.  We hear all the stories from the families that have lost their houses.  So so sad.  On Saturday we finally drove up and helped in Moore and Norman.  I have a few pictures and a funny story about the Warren Theatre.  So apparently during the tornado they paused all the movies and told everyone to go in the hallways.  Then they just returned to their movie after the tornado had passed.  So ya, when they walked out of the movie, their car was gone - but hey!  Nobody was hurt!  :)  So I guess the moral of the story is:  If you're in a tornado - go see a movie!  haha

It seems like LP baseball drama is non-stop.  No big surprise.  I just think that life would be so much easier for everyone if we would all just follow the commandments.  :)

E. Tripp is the man!  He's from Bountiful and went to Viewmont.  He's super funny and the 3 of us get along.  He's been out for 5 months today - so we pretty much have 3 super young missionaries taking care of Anadarko.  He's also the DL. 

We've just seen a TON of miracles this week.  It all started last Monday when we said good-bye to everyone with Elder Curry.  We drove up to the city on Tuesday and picked up E Tripp then brought him back and introduced him to some people in town.  We also met about 6 potentials.

We were rained in part of the day on Wednesday.  The storm has been coming in and out for what seems like forever.  The best part about Wednesday was we met a man named Jim.  We were actually walking the streets and just felt like we needed to turn left.  So we did and ran into this guy.  He's about 60 years old and has a huge beard and really long hair.  He was drunk and told us that he was a sinner and that we needed to come over.  So we were talking to him as he was limping back to his house with his cane.  We followed him through this alleyway to his little shack that he actually does live in.  He told us that he'd been out all night looking for some girls but couldn't find any.  Then he told us that he had a couple of girls waiting for him at home.

We weren't too sure about this whole thing since he told us that they were hookers.  But we went in and there was this lady sitting on the couch.  No joke - she was like 50 years old and weighed no more than 70 pounds.  I've never seen a lady so thin in my whole life.  We started talking to her - just small talk about who we were, where we're from, what we're doing here.  I got around to talking to her about the plan of salvation - all the while E Nelson is rebuking Jim - but that's another story.  We originally planned on just going in and saying a prayer with them but this lady and I sat and cried together for about 30 minutes.  She has lost her husband and her mother within 3 years - so I explained to her how she will be able to see them again.  Those two really made an impact on us.  We are all just so grateful that we have parents that love us, a family to turn to when things are hard.  We found out that Jim has 5 daughters - all with different mamas.  Gotta love the side effects of alcohol.  There should be a warning on the bottle that says:  "Caution:  Might bring you into a situation that you will one day regret . . . . "

On Thursday we met this girl named Chawntae.  She had previously been taking the discussions, but didn't belive the Joseph Smith story.  So we had to explain it to her again and help her understand the authority.  She told us to come back and that she wanted to read the Book of Mormon.

We also met with Cindy three times this week!  She even came to church!  We invited her to get baptized on May 23rd and we hope that she will be baptized within this transfer.  She told us that she has already received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true and has already read 15 chapters and can't wait for the day of her baptism!  The craziest thing that she told us is that after our lesson on the restoration she heard something tell her that she needed to quit smoking - that it was poisoning her body.  She even told us that she hasn't smoked since!

If I had to hand out an award for "Golden Investigator" it would definately go to her.  She just loves the gospel so much and has already seen the healing power of Christ.  Her only problem is that her mom who lives a couple doors away HATES US.  :)  It just more of a reason to love her.

Thank you so much for all of your love and support.  I appreciate it!

Love you!!
-Elder Harris