Monday, November 25, 2013

Storms & Conferences

We're at the crappy cyber this week so I won't be able to send pictures today.  Next week we'll go to the good one and I'll send some.

Last Monday night a big story came through Villa Angela and it was seriously like F5 quality.  The storm completely flooded our apartment and we stayed up until 3 trying to salvage all of our stuff and get the inch of water out of our pench.  Oh, and to top it off - whenever it thunders here the city kills the power.  So we did all of this with that little flashlight that Ty gave me.  That little thing is seriously a life saver.  But hey, we're alive and all is well.

On Tuesday we went to work and right as we stepped outside our gate we noticed that every single road in Villa Angela was under water.  So we went for a swim all day and got rejected all day.  We waded in water up to our knees for the first half mile or so before we finally got to some dry groud.  We seriously tried all day to find people all day but everyone would just say, "Oh, it's too wet today. or Maybe another day."  By 8:00 we were pretty frustrated.  We were tired, wet, cold and not having any success.  So we sat down and had one of those "Why is this so hard" conversations.  Then we remembered that we needed to pay our electric bill so we ran down to the place and they said that we had to wait until tomorrow.  It was just our luck that day, we even got rejected by the electric company!  So we decided to just sit on the curb and just say hi to people for a minute.  A few people passed by and this this one boy said hi to us.  We said what's up and didn't think too much of it.  About a minute later he came running back and sat and talked with us for a few minutes.  He told us how he wanted to learn about the church and that he wanted to change his life.  It was awesome!  I guess blessings do come after a little patience . . .

Wednesday wasn't my favorite day of the week.  I'd rather walk in a foot of water than mud.  The day after is always a strictly mud day since most of the water has been dried up.  So we walked in mud all day - actually we slipped and waddled in mud all day!  We also had a few lessons and it was a lot of fun!  We didn't have much choice, so we just made it fun!

Thursday we got up at 4 and jumped on a bus to Saenz Pena.  We had a multi zone conference and it was awesome!  President Heyman is a boss!  He talked to us about a lot of things I've been thinking about lately.  Such as "What would Jesus do? Say? Think?"  I know it's a quote from Transformers . . . but if we stop and think about the literal meaning of the quote, it's very profound.  How would Jesus teach people about the Restoration of the Gospel?

Friday was our last day to work for the week, so we got to work!  We spent a lot of time visiting the best people in Villa Angela!  We saw the Monzon family and talked with them about prayer - they're just the best. 

Saturday we took off for Seanz Pena for the District Conference.  We got there early so Humphries and I walked over to ChangoMas! (It's pretty much the Argentina version of Walmart.)  We bought some food and I got some peanut butter!  I was a little disappointed because it tastes nothing like the stuff we get in the states.  haha!

That night at the conference, President spoke on 3 things:
1.  Attending the temple and how important that is.
2.  How strengthening our testimony of the Book of Mormon will strengthen us.
3.  He then quoted President Hinkley and asked "What's the difference between the temple and the chapel?"  The Answer:  One dedicatory prayer.  Think about that.

He later told a story about two Elders from his mission that had 8 people lined up to be baptized!  So the Sunday before they fasted that the Lord would help them make this a spiritual experience for the people that were going to be baptized.  They did that and spent all day on Friday cleaning the font and that night realized that they didn't have enough baptismal clothes for 8 people!  So they spent all morning on Saturday running around to the other chapels trying to find clothes for all of them.  Then about an hour before the baptism they remembered that they had forgotten to fill the font!!!  They were the only ones with keys to chapel so they busted back to start filling it so they wouldn't have to delay the baptisms too much but when they opened the doors the font was already full.  President Heyman testified that this is the Lord's work, and He wants it done."

Sunday was just a good day.  We got a chance to sit down with President and have an interview.  We chatted for a few minutes and he told me some very insightful things about my role in this mission and our purpose as missionaries. 

I hope that Dad can share with his missionaries that the people who are baptized will have a chance to make it to the Kingdom of God.  But the people who have never been baptized by the CORRECT authority DON'T have a chance. 

President talked again at the conference and so did his wife.  It was very spiritual because a year ago today, Sister Heyman was just learning to walk again.  And I think that my life as a missionary an be hard sometimes?

That's about it for the week!  We spent a lot of time on busses and with the other Elders.  President Heyman is a good guy.

Have a good week!
I love you all!
La paz sea el viaje!!!!

Elder Harris

Monday, November 18, 2013

Maria's Baptism & Finding People to Teach

Hi Mom!

First things first.  Braeden has a beard now?  What's up lumberjack!  DOPE.

To answer some of your questions:

*For Christmas please send me more taco seasoning packets.  If you could send a bunch of those that would be chill.  I also want peanut butter, Nutella, sunflower seeds and CafĂ© Rio.  I also need another watch - something with a calculator on it would be great.  I could also use some easy recipies that I could cook with beef.

*What have I been eating?  Well I eat a lot of guiso.  It's like noodles, some type of meat (generally beef) and oil for sauce.  We have it about every time we eat with members.  At first I didn't like it very much, but I just eat a ton of it because they call me gordito.  Apparently calling people fat isn't an insult here!  :)

*We use pesos.  I'm actually pulling about $85 for this week from my card because we're going to San Pena and I don't want to get stranded with no cash.

*The work is good!  People are too nice to say no to us so we usually teach the first lesson a ton!  As for how solid people are, it's usually pretty easy to tell the next time that we go to visit if they like us or not.  A lot of people here can't read, so it's hard to have people find a testimony of a book that they can't even read.  Haha!  So we just pray a lot and invite everyone to pray.

*The branch here is pretty solid.  There's an ex district president who lives in our branch and he's legit.  He knows how the church is supposed to work and keeps this branch going.

*Tell Kenzie that if she gets a boyfriend that I'm gonna kill him!  :)

So let's get started on this week:

Monday:  We had another super lax p day.  We just take naps during the siesta and it's nice just to relax a bit.  Later we had a meeting with all of the leaders about the work of salvation.  Long story short, they got to talking about some other random stuff and I didn't understand.  The room was hot and like always - I fell asleep.  I tell people that I'm praying.  :)  Then we went to check in with Maria and make sure that she had learned everything and was ready for her baptism.

Tuesday:  We had a lesson with Rosa and then we went to see the Monzon family.  When we were walking away this girl on a moto slapped me on the butt!  At first I thought it was Humphries - but I just laughed and let it be.  Then when we got to the Monzon's house, one of the girls came up a kissed me!  We were just sitting there talking about something spiritual and BAM!  I probably should admit that she's 9 and it was one of those "hello" kisses that the Argentines give everyone on the cheek but it still freaked me out.  I don't know how to tell her not to do that so I just shook her hand and said "Hola" and she joined in the lesson.

Wednesday and Thursday:  This week the mission had a goal for every companionship to find 16 new people to teach.  So Humphries and I went HAM on finding people and we got 19 this week!

Friday:  We had to pick up the Zone Leaders up from the terminal bright and early so they could come and do Maria's baptismal interview.  While E. Humphries and Taylor went out to do the interview I got to go on splits with E. Deniston.  We went to work and met this girl and her little 4 year old daughter who recently broke her elbow.  We had a awesome lesson with them and then went and taught a part member family all before lunch!

After lunch, we got to clean the baptismal font because it was DIRTY!  When we opened up the doors, there was like 3 feet of brown muck in the tub.  We spent a solid 2 hours scrubbing, trying to get it clean.  It wasn't "mom approved" but it was definitely missionary approved. 

Saturday:  We had Maria's baptism!  It was awesome!  Now we're going to work on getting her mom baptized.  E. Humphries got to baptize her and it was just a great experience.

Sunday:  We had church, did studies, and then spent the rest of the night walking.  The people we planned to visit weren't available and so we decided to go see Maria and congratulate her on the baptism, but it's like a 40 minute walk to her house so we had to hurry and didn't stay long.  On the way we decided that we would try to find one family to teach.  We have this little family and I cried while bearing my testimony.  It was terrible.  The little kids were all just looking at me trying to understand what I'm saying and wondering why I'm crying but the spirit was just so strong!  I seriously don't want to be remembered as the Elder who cried a lot . . .

Well, I didn't have as many crazy stories week but I'm pretty excited about the baptism and all the new people that we found to teach!

I love you guys!

Keep the Faith!
La paz sea el viaje!

Elder Harris

Monday, November 11, 2013

It's All Gibberish

This week has been good!  I don't know if I'm having culture shock but I have experienced some things that I've NEVER experienced before!  I hope you get a good laugh out it.  :)  We email from a local cyber (like a gaming facility) for about an hour.  Loading pictures are really slow so I don't know how many I will send. 

My companion is seriously hilarious!  All we do is joke around with each other.  He is pretty trunky, but we still work hard and he only says trunky things at night which helps!  haha

To answer your question about Villa Angela - well, we only have about 25 people that come to church and they're mostly women.  The living conditions are generally ok.  The people that live in our area pretty much only have dirt floors and sometimes they don't have roofs on their homes.  It's considered the "dangerous" part but don't worry I'm bigger than pretty much everyone.  And I'm not intimidated by a bunch of 13 year old boys who like to shoot rocks at us with their wrist rockets! 

There are a ton of dogs here but most of them have been beaten their whole lives (which is so sad) so they usually don't give us much trouble.  Every once in awhile we find an angry dog, but you just have to yell at it to go away, stomp your foot, or pick up a rock and it will run off.

Here's some pics of my home.  Sometimes the power goes out or our water doesn't work (like this morning) so we just rough it until it comes back on.  We shower with our flip flops on and without a shower curtain.  We don't have a microwave but we do have an air conditioner at night so we only sweat about 90% of the time so I can't complain too much!  Our kitchen, bedroom and bathroom are about as bid as my bedroom back home.

I still don't understand much of the language but I'm trying my best.  They speak complete gibberish sometimes and I don't understand a single word.  Church is especially difficult to stay awake.  It's hot, I don't understand anything and then BAM.  I'm out.  Two weeks in a row now.  Trust me, the branch loves me. 

The member have fed us 4 times and usually we eat some type of pasta smothered in oil with some type of meat.  We haven't eaten anything too weird yet.  They cook all their meat with the bones in it which is so weird to me so I'm always picking away the bones.  We also had pizza once and trust me if definitely wasn't Dominos!  haha

Fruit here is dirt cheap so we eat a bunch of fruit.  The juice here is LEGIT and we drink lots of Coke too because it's cheaper than water.  Literally 1/2 the price. 

So for this week:

Monday:  P-day was super chill.  We cooked up some tacos and then spent the rest of the day talking, listening to music and reading our scriptures.  It was pretty laid back.  We also did our laundry and then hung it out to dry.  Luckily our neighbors own a washing machine!

Tuesday:  We had district meeting with the hermanas.  Then we went for a walk and found a bunch of people to teach.  While trying to be guided by the spirit we decided to pick up 2 rocks, choose a side, and say a prayer for where we should go during siesta (worst time ever).  When we ended our prayer we pretty much played spin the bottle on where to go.  Both of our rocks landed in the same direction so we, like Lehi, took that as revelation from the Lord and went that way.

We ended up finding like 8 new investigators.

Later that night we met this lady who had recently broken her foot and has 11 children.  I don't know what it is, but this woman has something special about her.  She knows that I don't understand a word she says, but she has this spirit about her that I can't describe.  I keep thinking about her and just can't put my finger on what it is but we'll see how things turn out.

There is another lady named Norma that I met and her two children that are just the best.  They fed us dinner last night and I was in shock about how much of a sacrifice it must have been to feel us.  I'll tell you more about them later.

I'm going to jump to Friday:  We got an unexpected call that saying that we had to go to Las Brenas for a baptismal interview so we jumped on a collective and went with the Zone Leaders.  I went with Elder Taylor for the day and oh my gosh, it was the BEST EXCHANGE EVER!  He's just one of those guys that has 110% energy 120% of the time.  He's just the happiest guy ever - no joke!  So while we were out, we sat down to teach this guy that was a referral.  He had is wife or daughter with him, I'm not sure which, and she was holding a baby.  You know, it was pretty natural - but for some reason I started thinking about Mason Smith's letter a few months ago about how women just breast feed in public.  Not a minute later I was like "AH NO WAY!  She's not gonna . . . "  I thought wrong.  No joke, she just pulled her boob right out and let the baby go to town.  And yes, Elder Taylor and I were just sitting there like keep the spirit, keep the spirit . . . ! 

We worked our tails off that night and taught like 5 families before we went back to their pench.  It was super legit by the way and I walked in to use the bathroom and I noticed that there was 2 toilets.  So I asked him, "Why do you have 2 toilets in here?"  He told me it was a beday (I didn't know what it was, how to use it or how to spell it!)  Apparently he didn't either because he twisted a knob and got shot in the face with water by the beday!!!  Oh my goodness, we didn't stop laughing for like 20 minutes!!

Another weird thing about Argentina is that they LOVE American music.  They don't understand a word, but they LOVE it  Who knows . . . .

So another good story.  When we were leaving Las Brenas the next morning we got on this bus and there wasn't enough seats so we had to stand.  It wasn't a big deal, but long story short, I was looking out one of the window and saw this lady who was holding a baby.  I started thinking and hoping that she wasn't going to feed that kid and yup!  It happened again!!!  I think there is a conspiracy where they all think "Look!  There's an American!  Time to breast feed?"  I hope I get used to this soon. 

Our days are pretty much the same.  I start off by doing push ups on a blanket since our floor is pretty nasty.  We study, go eat lunch with a member or cook for ourselves and then we walk 5-10 miles visiting with people.  It's generally pretty hot and I sweat a lot.  I just have a big smile on my face so that the kids don't throw rocks at me.  I try to say HOLA to everyone I see and some people are caught off guard but it's alright.

Elder Humphries and I have picked up a new hobby of skipping rocks.  There is this little pond we walk past a few times throughout the day so we stop and have a little competition each day and I'm undefeated.  No biggie.

Love you guys!
Keep the Faith

Elder Harris

Monday, November 4, 2013

Argentina. Week One.

For starters . . . Argentina is different.  I'm not in Oklahoma any more!  haha  Nothing too weird, just different.  But I'm safe and I'm eating as much as a normal Argentine does.  I think I'll survive!

My new companion is Elder Humphries.  He's from California and on his last transfer.  We have 6 total missionaries in Villa Angela - 4 Sisters and 2 Elders.  President told us that the mission should be up to about 250 missionaries by December.

The area is cool and we walk everywhere.  Having a car in OK was the biggest blessing.  It's a challenge to carry food 10 blocks to the pension!  (apartment)  We have a branch here that has about 25-30 active members and they all just laugh at me! haha

As for the past two weeks, Oklahoma was full of a lot of good-byes and packing.  I got a new companion for a few days named Elder Larson.  He is honestly one of my favorite comps and I only served with him for 4 days!  Coolest kid ever.

On Monday morning, President Walkenhorst picked me up from my apartment and we drove down to the office and then to the airport.  I flew to Atlanta alone and met up with a bunch of guys from high school.  We took the red-eye to Buenos Aires and I didn't sleep all that well.  The next morning we met the President of the Buenos Aries North Mission who put us on a bus and took us to the church office building and then on a tour of BA. All I can say is that is was beautiful!

We sat around the office for the rest of the day until our flight to Resistencia at 8:00 p.m.  We went to the airport and sat around some more before we got to Resistencia at 10:45 that night.  We stayed in a hotel in the down town area and then had a big meeting the next morning about the mission.  After waiting in the bus terminal all day, I took a bus to Villa Angela where Elder Humphries and Elder Creer were waiting for me.  We walked to the pench and crashed only to wake up at 3 the next morning to get Elder Creer to the bus terminal . . .

Basically, I didn't sleep all week.

Thursday we went to work and everything was a complete daze to me!  I didn't understand a work anyone said and I just walked around with a huge smile on my face.  We taught a lesson to some random guy and met a little girl who is going to be baptized on the 16th!

Friday it rained.  And by rain - I mean DUMPED and we worked in it ALL DAY.  We got to a point where walking through knee high water wasn't even a big deal and we just let it happen.  Haha!  We pretty much got denied at every house until we met this lady.  So we sat in her chairs and left a little puddle behind.  :)

On Saturday we worked again and went out with one of the youth named Leo.  We pretty much walked around all day and didn't even try a house!  So my step count for the week is pretty high!

Sunday we went to church and I passed out in Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School and Priesthood.  It was hot and I didn't understand a word.  I kinda felt like I was 15 at Priesthood Session with dad again because - WHAM - I was asleep.  After church we did our studies and went to work!!!

A couple of funny things about Argentina:  They have something called siesta.  Pretty much everything closes at 12 until about 5.  And nobody works.  The streets are deserted and tracting is impossible because everyone is asleep! 

All they do is drink Mate.  I saw these little girls - maybe 6 years old - drinking Mate together out of a gallon size thermos.  It was hilarious!  People even try to drink it while they ride their motos!!  Another funny thing - motos.  Every has motos . . . haha!

Also we don't have a microwave and we do have showers!  However, our shower doesn't have a curtain.  So when we shower, the water gets all over the bathroom floor so we have to wipe it up!  Doesn't make sense to me. 

They also don't believe in spicy food.  I'm a little ticked about this, but the food is way good otherwise.  We had this thing call milanesa and it's like chicken nuggest on steroids!  WAY GOOD.  They don't sell peanut butter in Villa Angela and sliced bread is terribly expensive.

Schools are only in session for about 2-3 days a week and they only have class from 9-12 then it's siesta time and then I think they might go back from 2-5?

All the girls hit on us - they tell us how beautiful our eyes are.

That's all I can think of right now!  I'm alive!

I love you!
Keep the Faith!
Elder Harris