Monday, January 27, 2014

The Week of No Sleep


What up?!?  I'm glad that you and dad are enjoying a little bit on sunshine.  I don't know what the deal is, but it's been raining a lot here lately.  About 2-3 times a week.  It's crazy because it goes from super hot to super cold and rainy back to super hot!  It's completely bi-polar . . .

You wouldn't believe how crazy the last 3 weeks have been.  I haven't had much time to do anything but serve.  I'm honestly so busy from 7 am to 11 pm every day.  I get up and have so many personal things to et done in the morning since I never have time.  So we're living and I'm as happy as I've ever been!

The district is going great!  We're all getting along really well and having success - which makes it even better.  Like I told dad, and maybe I'm not being the right type of leader, but I haven't taught a district meeting yet on "how to commit someone to read or one of the lessons" - I have been focusing more on the boys.  On how they can be better people for the rest of their lives, not just as missionaries.  I'm honestly realizing now more than ever that the mission experience is a very short time and if we're not learning life lessons here then what's the point?  So I've been focusing more on the boys and helping them to before more converted to Jesus Christ - which in return is helping me become more converted to the Savior as well.

And a little bit of happy news for you - Today is my 11 month mark.  Can you believe 11 months have gone by so quickly?!?

As for the package, yes the spices were in there but I'm not going to lie - I'm a little bummed about the Nutella.

As for my birthday - if you could try to send some peanut butter and Nutella again - I'd love that.  I'm also going to need some type of sweater (that's what the other missionaries are telling me).  Also, not to sound like a fatty - but could you send more American candy?  Like Snickers and M&M's?  The candy here is so expensive and it's not that good - plus the Latino missionaries LOVE it!  I also need mechanical pencils please.  Oh, and ties!  Not silk - I need ones that can get wet.  I going to start giving away my ties to each of my companions.  :)

So about my muddy clothes last week - we have a pump and hoses and I spayed the clothes until they became somewhat white-ish - they're not perfect, but they're better than they were.  I threw them into this washing machine type thing that we have and they came out ok.

We also saw a horse this week that has something seriously wrong with his leg.  Show the picture to dad and tell me what is wrong with him!

Buyno che!

This week, like always, was crazy.
I think I might call it the Week of No Sleep.

So last Sunday night at 2 a.m. our collectivo went to Resistencia - but we missed it.  So we fought our way with a cumbi (it's like a short bus) and taxis to get to Resistencia.  We got to Consejo too late and then our collectivo left Resistencia at 8 and we didn't get back to Ibaretta until 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning.  We didn't sleep but a couple of hours and then got up and went to Zone Conference.  I helped give the training and it went great!  Right after, I went on divisions with E. Lastres (from Peru) in Pirane while E. Haselton and E. Zivic came to Fontana.  While in Pirane, I did a baptismal interview and then helped find a few more families to teach.

Wednesday I got a phone call from E. Zivic telling we that we were going to have a baptism this Saturday in the Colonia Bartolome de las Casas.  I couldn't believe it!  Wednesday night at 10:30 our collectivo went back to Fontana so I didn't sleep much that night either.  Thursday and Friday we went back  to Bartolome to teach our investigator, Carlos, all the lessons that he needed to know before his baptism.  The Zone Leaders came late in the afternoon on Friday and did the interview.  We were set!

On Saturday we went up there to fill the font and since their water pump in broken, Zivic and I carried our pump, 2 hoses and an extension cord to fill the font.  Did I mention that the water tank is 15 feet underground?  It's like a huge cement box with a little opening on the top . . .

To use our pump we have to siphon the water first or the pump doesn't work.  So we tried FOREVER to siphon this water from 15 feet below - but we had gravity working against us.  So I thought like dad and we put both hoses on the pump and I went to the baptismal font and tried to siphon the water the entire way!  And guess what!  IT WORKED!!!  It was a little miracle.

The baptism was super spiritual.  Carlos was super prepared and bore his testimony of how he received his answer and also that he made a promise to God that he would keep learning about God from His church.  It was honestly great!  PLUS his little brother came to the baptism and said that he wants to be baptized too!  We literally have received a TON of blessings lately!

I also learned something super awesome this week.  Someone said that the church isn't a building, but it's in our home.  I've thought a lot about that.  I've realized that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints isn't just a building, or a chapel or a temple - but it's a lifestyle.  It's how we live - it's what we do every day.  The church is made to improve the home, and the home was made to grow closer to the Lord.

That's my week!  And now we're getting ready for transfers!  Any guesses?  Am I staying or am I going?

Love you guys,

Elder Harris

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Love Being a Missionary!

I've got 10 minutes.

I hope you're enjoying your time on vacation and the same weather as me!  haha!  Maybe you should go buy one of my goofy hats!  :)

I think that this week has been one of the best weeks of my mission!  I loved it!  I freaking love being a missionary!

I just got back this morning from Pirane doing divisions.  I've been traveling since last Sunday so I feel a little jet lagged and I'm running on a few hours sleep for the week.  I did finally get the Christmas package that you sent.  I'm not sure if you didn't send a lot or if some of the stuff didn't make it through customs.  I got the presents, the tree, the oraments, reeses, oreos, tootsie rolls and a million taco seasonings.  Did you send more stuff?  Like Nutella, peanut butter, hair cutters?

Oh, and the watch, it isn't really "low profile" - it's pretty flashy mom - I don't want to get robbed!  haha!

I'll give you a quick rundown of the highlights from this past week.  I went on divisions with E Criado (from Cordoba, Argentina) and went to Bartolome de las Cases.  It's an Aboriginal colony and basically a laminate nation.  It's awesome.  We worked there and the two active members that speak the dialect (Toba) weren't there so we tried to find people on our own, but it just wasn't the same - but we did get some really cool pictures . . . .

On Sunday, the best thing happened!  So we got done with church and our studies and as we were preparing to leave, it started to DUMP rain.  So I put on my rain tie and we went out to work.  After walking for a little ways, we see this truck completely stuck in the sewer on the side of the road.  So us, being the great missionaries that we are, decided that we should help this family of 12 get their truck unstuck.  I had my boot on and we started pushing this truck but it just wouldn't go - I used my Ken Harris skills and started directing traffic - telling everyone what to do to make this happen.  So I got on one side of the truck - in the sewer - as we were pushing, the wheel started spinning and shot water and whatever else was in the mix ALL OVER ME!  It was great!  We eventually got them out and the family had a great time laughing at the gringo who was now covered in who knows what . . . . I decided that we should walk back to our place and I took a shower outside.  It's all good - living the dream.

Love you,

Elder Harris

Monday, January 13, 2014

It's Pretty Black & White

The mission is great.  It truly is.  I love being a missionary and learning and having stuggles and as my favorite song goes "Mountains to Climb".  We always have these mountains to overcome and I know that it's a long road to discipleship, and I have a long way to go.  I feel the more that I try to be obedient, do the things I should and strive to have the spirit with me that's when I feel the Favior nearest to me.  I absolutely love it!  The spirit is the greatest thing ever and I would do anything to have it with me all the time.

It really is the goal, for me as a missionary, and as for members of the church - to loose ourselves in the work.  I've really been trying to do that and now I finally understand how.  :)

As for this past week, we did work!

Monday:  We had our p-day as normal and then had a great family home evening with a part member family.  We started off by talking about how we are all in the Hands of God like we read in Mormon 6 or 7 or 8 - I can't remember and before we knew it we were talking about how we shouldn't worship idols.  And yes, Maria is an idol. (The wife is Catholic)  But anyways - it was great!  We felt the spirit and it's just a great time to be alive!

Tuesday:  We had district meeting and just I gave a little training.  I talked on the importance of teaching to the needs of the investigators.  Conversion isn't a math equation.  We can't expect to go in, teach the 5 lessons and expect them to be baptized.  It's just not how it works!  The only true converter is the spirit, and the only way that we can get the spirit is by living worthily of it.  God's rules aren't that hard to understand.  All you have to do is choose the right and you will be blessed!  You choose the wrong and you don't receive blessings.  It's pretty black and white.

At district meeting I felt impressed that we should have a testimony meeting.  And you wouldn't believe the spirit that accompanied us in this meeting.  I would have to say, one of the highlights of the mission.  Hearing 5 other Elders bare their testimonies on the reality of Jesus Christ.  That we know He lives, and called a living prophet to lead and guide us.  It was powerful.

Wednesday:  We had the opportunity to have interviews with President Heyman.  I love every chance I get to talk to him and he's seriously the man!  I shared with him my thoughts of when I didn't act on a prompting and he shared a similar experience that was very humbling for both of us and also taught me a lot about who I want to be. 

No matter what, I'm learning to trust in the spirit.  In those feelings that say "Hey, what about this door?"  And even when people aren't home, I feel fine and the spirit burns inside me because I know I'm doing what the Lord wants me to do!  (It happened a few times on Thursday.)  Presient is a truly a great man and always makes me want to be a better missionary.

Thursday:  We saw little miracles!  :)  In the morning we had planned to visit a family that gave us a reference to visit a lady but we could never get in contact with her.  So when we stopped by the house of a member, and the woman we were looking for was there!  So we sat down and got to talking about what we do and ended up inviting her to be baptized!  It was a great morning!

In the afternoon we had a lesson with a lady named Claudia.  She hasn't had much religious guidance in her life and now we're trying to show her how she can have that guidance in her life.  We had a good lesson with her!  :)

Friday:  We did exchanges.  I went our with Elder Vega and worked in Fontana.  We found a few people and then in the afternoon her told me about this other little city in our area!  It called Bartolome de las Cases.  Basically, it's where the Lamanites live.  We worked out there all afternoon.  It's a little "colonia" with about 2000 people who speak Toba.  There is also a little chapel out there that's awesome and it's literally a beacon to the people that live there.

It was just a great, spirit filled day.  I've never been able to feel the spirit like we did there.  The Lamanite people are truly blessed.  They may not have many worldly posessions, but they have a spirit about them that in undeniable.

Saturday:  It was cold!  It rained and for once it was kinda chilly here!  But we worked as normal and had some great lessons.

Sunday:  We saw miracles upon miracles!  We had 3 investigators attend church which means we had 18 people there!  We couldn't believe it ourselves!  I also had to give a talk so I decided to talk on the power of a testimony and why it's important to have a testimony.  As missionaries we get to bare our tesimony every day.  But how often do the rest of you?  I read the testimony of Joseph Smith in JSH 1:24-26 (I think) and I love where it says some thing like "I could not deny it, because I knew it, and the Lord knew it".

I talked about those great men who "sealed their testimonies with their blood".  Abinidi, Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ.  It was super powerful to talk about these great men who literally died for what they believed in.

I was cool thinking back on it and for once I didn't feel like I had to worry about conjugation or the right words.  I just spoke and it made sense.  The Lord definately helped me our on that one.

In the afternoon we stumbled across this lady named Manuela.  She was anxious to read, pray and go to church after we shared a lesson with her.  It was funny because we asked her if we coudl talk to her to 5 or 10 minutes and ended up talking for abou 45.  She is super prepared and we invited her to be baptized!!  She's awesome!!

But that there was my week - one of the quicker weeks of the mission.  I can't believe how fast time is going.  I love every minute of it!

Love you all, I pray for you, and thank you for all the support you give me.

Spread the Faith!

Elder Harris

PS - I got a call today telling me that my "HUMUNGOUS" package arrived so I'll get in on Monday when I go to Resistencia.  I also probably won't be emailing but will send you one sometime next week.

Here are some pictures from our Christmas Party in Resistencia and some other pics from Villa.

I was so happy to see my MTC companion, Elder Beach, again!

Elder Harris & Elder Leon in Villa Angela

 Yup, it's a pet monkey!

Monday, January 6, 2014

I've Never Been Happier in My Life

Mom!  I'm alive!  :)

I'm going to rapid fire answers to your questions:

1.  What was the "special" item that you needed the money for?
You'll see when I get home.  :)  It's going to be awesome and I'm going to get it in about 10 days.  Thank you for being so nice to me.  I'm eating fine and things here are super expensive so I don't want to ruin your shopping plan with my food - plus the expensive food sometimes isn't that good.  I'm a better cook anyway.

2.  You haven't shared any information yet about your companions:  Leon & Zivic
Elder Leon is from Equador.  He's a super hard, motivated Elder and I would dare say that he completely changed my mission experience.  He's been the most motivated companion I've had yet and we did WORK together.  When President called and told me I was leaving, I think I was more sad about leaving him than the area.  Plus he knew a lot of English so I would teach him words and he would teach me.  He couldn't say "cheat sheet" for his life!! haha!

Elder Zivic is from Buenos Aries.  I feel like he's a lot like Tyler's trainer.  He good, we're working and we're both new to the area.  We're pretty much starting over here in Fontana.

3.  How are things going as the DL?
Things are good!  I got to teach my first District Meeting last Tuesday and I get to do another tomorrow.  The entire district is fairly new to the mission (I'm the oldest having been out nearly 11 months).  We talked about our goals since this year - 2014 - will the the only year in all of our lives that we will get to be missionaries for all 12 months of 2014.  What a blessing!  I will be able to say that for all of 2014 that I served the Lord!  So we're setting plans and goals to become better deciples of Jesus Christ!

4.  Tell me about how and where you live?
Ummmm . . . . I'd rather not.  :)  We live fine.  We have an AC unit in our bedroom and a refridgerator.  Plus we have a stove/kitchen area that's partially outside that we use to cook!  So we're good.  We have to pump all of our water and our tank is so tiny that we have to pump water every day.  It's an adventure!

5.  How is Formosa different from Villa Angela?
It's really different!  The streets have more rocks so it's less dusty but it's really humid here. 

Since we're pretty much opening up this area, we're slowing finding people to teach.  President has entrusted us with a lot with this area.  The branch is small and struggling - we only had 14 people at church on Sunday and that includes the Elders and the district presidency.  Did I mention that I got another assignment to be the 1st counselor in our branch?  Just give me more responsibility!  haha! 

We've got a lot of work to do here but just like every place it has it's problems.  Right?  Different place, same problems.  But I always remember what you told me:  leave each area and each companion better than you found them.

It was a solid week non the less.  Here's a couple of highlights:

*I got to play with a monkey!  It was pretty cool and I have pics but I can't send them.  :)

* I went to Pirane twice - once for District meeting which took all day and then on Saturday for a baptismal interview.  It did my first interview and it was crazy and I learned a lot.

*There was a sister having a hard time the other day and I remembered that you shared the primary motto with me the other day and it helped her remember who she was.  Thank you for your letters!  You might not know but the things that you and dad share with me ALWAYS come in handy.  Thank you!

*What the heck happened to Braeden's hand?  Tell him that he needs to keep his eye on the right ball.  The Mission Ball.  I'll be honest, I realize now that the Lord is way more important than baseball.  It's  the best decision I've ever made.

*This month my testimony of OBEDIENCE grew.  It's the entire reason behind what we do in the gospel.  I have a true testimony of obedience.  I now understand why it's important to be obedient to the gospel and to live how God wants us to live.  The thing is, is that when we study the basics of the gospel we learn more about ourselves than any other time.  And when we live these principles we become the people that God wants us to be.  I've never been happier in my life.

Love you!

Keep the Faith!

Elder Harris