Monday, November 24, 2014

Good-Bye Clorinda . . .

Hey family!
How are things in beautiful Alpine!
I sadly had to leave Clorinda. Elder Zivic (Assistant to the President) called me on Tuesday of last week at about 4 and told me that I will be heading to Formosa Capital to be one of the Zone Leaders here. So I got my goodbyes said, hugs given, and packed up to come to Formosa. It’s a super pretty city. It’s HUGE. It’s one of the biggest cities in the mission. It’s so big that we have to take a city bus to get to and come home from our area every day. It’s like a 15 minute bus ride, but it’s a good time.

My new companion is named Elder Brough. He’s from Syracuse; Utah. He’s a super good missionary and we are already making plans to make this zone the best in the mission! Sadly, this last week we only had 2 people come to church in our entire zone. So, we´re gonna be working overtime to get more than 10 people this week to church. As for my apartment, it's good. We have a pull up bar, so that’s nice. And well, it’s just another apartment.  :)
I will tell you, this area is awesome. I´m serving in a WARD. Barrio Italia is what it’s called (barrio = ward). There were 96 people at church, I didn’t have to teach a class, and it felt SOO good to just enjoy it. None of our investigators came, but we´ll be working on em this week, OH! And finding. We´re gonna do some finding (my favorite) :)
So yesterday a sister cut our hair, and you´ll never believe this... she cut my hair using a pair of dull scissors and a comb, and I’m not gonna lie... I look decent. Like, she did a really good job. I paid her a little extra because I thought I looked so good. ;)

And oh my gosh. We have this little ole Brother Adams in our ward. His name is Hermano Flores. He’s 75, ex boxing champ, and one of the most active members of the church. He doesn’t have a calling because he doesn’t have much of a filter (from what I hear) and so, we passed by his house to ask him if he wanted to do splits with us later on in the week and he says "wait here" about 2 minutes later, he comes out of his house with his white shirt, shoes, black pants, and Yankees hat. He was PUMPED to go. And it was so freaking funny. He´s 75, complete white hair, and he was running, making jokes, playing soccer with rocks in the streets, giving suckers to all the little kids, and he even crossed this open sewer line on a fallen tree. (the best) We were looking for another place to cross to cross this sewer, and he just winks at me and ran across this log. SOO smooth. He even told all the new people we met that he is gonna pass by their house on Sunday morning.
I´m in love.
Let’s see... what else happened.

So, my new area, is super interesting. Most of the area is government houses. They are all 12x12 (feet) houses. Made of brick. 2 doors, 1 in front, another in back and a window. There are families of 15 living in them. It’s super sad, but they look nice. Some people have even extended their house so they have 2 rooms or things like that. It’s crazy. There are about 8 houses that live on all the streets going north and south and 4 that go east and west, so 20 houses on every square block. It’s a lot of people in our area.

The last elder that just barely left here is named Elder White. He served here for 5 transfers and baptized 19 people. So.. that’s my goal. I´ve got 2 transfers and I think I’m gonna be ending here, so I´ve got a lot of work to do!

Saying goodbye to the people in Clorinda was pretty rough. I think I’ll miss Elder Simmons more than anyone. ;) He was a good one. I did hear that he´s gonna be coming to sleep in my pench tonight before our conference tomorrow! :) So we´re gonna party.

I also heard that 3 of our investigators went to church and they´re still planning on getting baptized on the 6th. I´m gonna count them as mine since I taught them everything they know ;)
But it’s alright. I´m here to prepare more people to be baptized and make this convenant with our Heavenly Father. I was studying a lot this week. I actually finished the Book of Mormon again in Spanish this week.
So since I started again, I started studying on Nephi. I thought something in 1 Nephi 2 was super interesting. How Nephi says that Laman and Lemuel acted the way they did because they didn’t know the dealings of God (or how God works with us). There was a cross reference to Moses 4:6 that I looked up and it talks about when Eve partook of the fruit. So I had to leave studies and while I was on the bus going to our area I was trying to figure out the correlation between disobedient children and understanding how God works with us. Then I got it, like as if someone spoke to me... "They didn´t understand the atonement."

Laman and Lemuel didn’t understand or trust in the power, wisdom and love of God. It was something that really struck me.

Then I got to think about how of all the things that Lehi said to his sons, when Lehi tells Laman and Lemuel pretty much like "oh, if you were THIS great". THAT was what stood out to Nephi enough to write it down. Of all the things Lehi must have said to his sons, THAT was what stuck?

I remember one time when I was like 15 I told Dad I didn’t want to go to church, and he looked me in the eyes and told me "you know Cody, sometimes I don’t want to either, but I know it’s what I need to do." And, I bet Dad doesn’t even remember that... but it’s been a moment that honestly changed my life. Probably is the reason why I decided to serve a mission. Not exactly because I wanted to, but because I knew it was what I should do... and I´ve seen the fruits of it, and I love it. It’s by far been the best decision I´ve ever made in my entire life.

I just want to tell you thanks for everything you do,
I love you more than you know.

Elder Harris III

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Law of Chastity

My beloved Family,

OH, HOW I LOVE YOU SO. Another day another dollar o sea, another week another week of miracles.

So, just like every transfer, I haven´t heard anything yet. I do have a feeling that I will be leaving because of what President Franco told me in my interview. (He mentioned how he likes when the new missionaries take control of their area) so I think leaving Elder Simmons with 9 people who are preparing to be baptized will help him keep control of it for a while. We´re planning Varia’s baptisms for this month of December and I think that we should have at least 4 for sure. The other 5 we´ll see because of marriage statuses.. if you get what I mean. ;)

And yes mom... I will go to institute with you. I´ll probably be looking for things to do, so you can even tell the elders that I’ll go out with them. 

So.. Something that I studied this week was in 4th Nephi the first few verses really stood out to me.

 2 And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were ALL converted unto the Lord, upon ALL the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.

The part that stood out to me was that EVERYONE was converted. I always think "wow. how great would the world be if EVERYONE just lived the gospel?" and that's how it was in this time.. for a few years too! There wasn´t a division of "nephites and lamanites" or black and white or republican and democrat... however you want to look at it, because they ALL looked to God´s law, never had to have contentions between them because there was never any indifferance. Now if we apply that to our families... if everyone in a family is living the gospel, there won’t be divisions between them. I just thought it was really cool to think about. :)

 But that’s my little spiritual thought in the middle of my letter ;)

So this week.. was awesome. Just like every week here in Clorinda. It’s been such a great time. If I leave this week, I’m going to be super, super sad to go. It’s so nice having great members to take care of us. We´ve eaten 2 asados this week and we have another for lunch today! :) Asado = steak, chicken, sausage, and some type of salad. SOOO goood.

We also had our District Meeting outside because it was raining and it felt so good. So we brought the tables outside underneath the roof that connects the two buildings of the chapel and taught outside. I talked a little bit on obedience and giving all to the Lord. I also asked each one of them who is their example of consecration? Who is your example of consecration? I had to say my parents definitely showed me what putting the Lord first really means.  So, thanks for that.

We also did a few service projects. We dug a hole for a guy to put his trash in to burn. (Not really sure why, but we did) and then we cut this lady´s grass with machetes. It was so funny, Elder Simmons was having the time of his life! His shoulder hurt after but we got a lot done.

We also heard about another neighborhood that is in my area but is a few kilometers away from Clorinda. So on Wednesday we decided to walk out there with Oscar. We walked for about 45 minutes on the side of the route and we got there. It’s called Barrio Aca. It was houses made of chapas and madera. Honestly, it was way cool. Elder Simmons was pretty shocked... but we had a good time talking to a few people there.

OH! And we had the BEST Chastity lesson ever! So we wanted to teach all the lessons to Nelson and Mariela and Eliam and Luciana before their baptisms and when we sat down I asked them "Okay, does anyone here know what chastity means?" And nobody knew... so anyways. I´ve learned that while teaching the law of chastity the best way to teach it so that it´s not awkward is just to be mature about it and say it like it is. So, we taught it, very frankly. And at the end we asked if anyone had any more questions and Mariela just shook her head and said "no. entiendo bien." (no, i understand well). I don’t know. I thought it was funny. It’s probably one of those "you had to be there" type of stories....

But the other day Elder Simmons did ask me after all of my time on the mission what is the one thing that I´ve learned. I thought for a minute then I responded "We have good days and we have bad days, but the gospel will always stay the same." The gospel is just a big map for us. It doesn´t tell us about all the little bumps in the road, just tells us how to get there. I´ve definitely learned to trust in the promise that the gospel will lead us to peace in this life and eternal life in the life to come.

That’s all the time that I got.
But I love you guys.
Have a good week!
Stay safe and keep the faith!
Elder Harris III

Monday, November 10, 2014

Flooded City & Cheeseburger in Paradise

What up fam.

I’ve got some news for you.  We ate cheeseburgers at the American joint and the city is flooded!  It DUMPED rain this week. More than ever in my life. We were soaked from head to toe all day and the streets flooded but we found a horse and took some pics. 

One day, while we were out, we were talking to this lady Maria outside of her house and it just started DUMPING rain. We were sitting outside under this little tin roof (like a porch) to her house and we couldn´t hear anything. It was a great lesson.  We explained the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was awesome until she asked us "So was my baptism not valid?" And I wasn´t really sure how to respond... so I shared Moroni 8:8, asked her her thoughts and bore my testimony. After 20 months, I´ve learned that true doctrine tied with my testimony usually is my best friend.

So Elder Simmons told me the other day that he hopes that we stay together for another transfer. Mainly because this next transfer we´re going to have like 7 baptisms. It just seems to be my luck... I get everyone all prepared, I leave, then they get baptized. It’s alright. :) I´m okay helping out in any way that I can. :)  I did get a letter from a family in Goya that told me that a few of my investigators got baptized. Happy news, right?! :)

That’s super interesting about Grandma running around with Grandpa of E Simmons. How weird. I wonder what Grandma did when she was my age....

As for Oscar. . . wow. We had an experience last night where a few of his "buddies" came by his house last night when we were over.  One of them was more drugged up than I’ve ever seen anyone in my life and the other two were on something. They talked for a minute than Oscar came back in. I can only imagine...   But I´m proud of him and the changes he´s making. He came to church again with his sister Carolina and HIS MOM CAME! Innocencia came to church!!! :) I was so happy! She also asked for a blessing after sacrament meeting so we asked the branch president to give one to her. She has some problems with her legs, from what she´s said it sounds like she has some knee problems. Anyways...

We also had the biggest miracle this week. So Innocencia has a few kids. One of them is named Feliciana (if you remember her) isn´t a member neither are her kids. With the other elders from what we´ve heard, the dad chased them out and said that his kids will not be baptized in the "mormon" church until they are 18 and have finished their catocism (catholic seminary class thing...I don’t know how to say it) So we´ve been praying and fasting for this family for the past 2 months, and the other day we were talking to Eliam (kid 11) and he said "I just wanna get baptized in your church"... so we told him to go call his mom. Feliciana came out and we explained to her what was going on, how Eliam and Luciana want to get baptized and she said "I´ll have to talk to my husband." So we passed by later on in the week and we asked Feliciana and she still hadn´t talked to Sergio her husband. So being the overly bold missionary that we need to be sometimes, I asked her to go and grab Sergio. We explained the same thing... and guess what! He gave the kids permission. :)

We were so excited for them. The dad, well, he doesn’t want his kids to do this "just to do it" but to keep following up with the church. So, Eliam promised he was going wake up bright and early and get to church, we passed by, and it seemed like they were sleeping. So we have permission, just lazy teenagers that like to stay up late and sleep in all day. (I now understand your life, mom and dad. Sorry about that.) :)

We also put up some hammocks this week to relax a bit at night. We bought a watermelon, cut it in half and enjoyed that while in our hammocks. Pic included :)

I also have a scripture of the week, President Franco shared it with me. D&C 6:36-37

36 Look‍ unto me in every thought; doubt‍ not, fear not.

37 Behold‍ the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails‍ in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit‍ the kingdom‍ of heaven. Amen.

Ponder on those words for the week,

Talk to you soon!

Love you!!
Elder Harris III

Monday, November 3, 2014

Flooding the City . . .

Hola! Que tal! Como va familia?!

Oh family. The life in Clorinda is just peachy. I’m just having a good olé time with my good buddy Elder Simmons. We´re basically destroying this city. And by destroying I mean that we´re flooding it with love and with the gospel. I’m pretty sure everyone already has at least 3 Books of Mormon. But for real.  We´re starting to see the windows open and blessings being poured down on our heads. It’s awesome. 

So for starters, we decided to get our heads on straight on Monday. Get our boots on, and go to work. And we worked a ton this week. We had over 30 lessons, and we had 28 people who committed to go to church. Yeah, only 3 actually came. But still! We did 110% of what we could, and left the rest to the Lord, and He pulled through. 

To give you a run down on the people here... So, the Familia Noguera. The mom Inocencia went to another city for a little while. Her son, Oscar is the one who gave up drugs and everything and is going to church now (was baptized as a kid) he’s 20, and he’s making some huge steps in his life. So, the other day we went to visit Oscar and them. Oscar started telling us about this dream that he had. (For you that don’t know - The Lamanites have awesome dreams) So, in his dream, 2 men dressed completely in black came up to him and told him to stop going to church and talking with the Elders, and if he doesn’t they are going to kill him. The same night he had another dream of 2 men, who looked "familiar" shining, dressed in white that said "Don´t worry. Keep doing what you´re doing. We will protect you." I think of how many times those same "men in white" are standing over the missionaries in the world. And especially over Oscar in his life. 

To keep going on with the Noguera family. So one of their daughters Catalina and her new husband Julio were baptized a few months ago and are active in the church. Cata´s sister Lisandra and her brothers Oscar and Nelson are all members. The youngest, Carolina was baptized a few weeks ago with us. Her oldest sister Feliciana is not a member and has been a little bit "against" us for the past couple of months. So lately, we have been working with Nelson and Oscar and trying to help them receive the priesthood. Nelson moved in with Feliciana and Feliciana´s husband´s mom and sister died this week. So he´s had his elbow in the air for most of the week. ;)

Anyways, last night we stopped by to talk to Nelson since Feliciana never wants to talk to us. In the afternoon when we were planning on what to teach them, Elder Simmons said "We should set a plan of progression" or like help them set a plan on how they can change their lives! So I thought that was a great idea, and we moved on to the next family we were going to teach. So... we get to the house, and we have this plan that we´re going to set a plan... but that’s about it. And not knowing exactly what to do.. we did what every good missionary does - Improvise. :) 

So we just started talking 1. What is your goal? 2. What would be the first step to reach this goal? 3. What are you willing to sacrifice to reach this goal 4. What would stop you from reaching your goal? And then we shared in Alma 22:15 how King Lamoni is willing to give up his kingdom for eternal life (his goal). So anyways, we started talking about that with Nelson and Feliciana´s kids... and Feliciana came out and was almost in tears. She asked me "What do I do so that my husband stops drinking?" I was just shocked. Completely caught off guard and I just had to reply "I don´t know. But I know someone who does." And we left it at that. I just told her that I know there´s a reason why the Lord sent the missionaries back to their family after 10 years of not seeing them. 

Another family that we´re teaching is the family Oliviambre. They´re awesome. Their little boy  Waquín is 11, his little sister Doris is 8 and they´re so smooth. One day this week when we passed by their mom was sleeping and it was SO hot, so they went and bought heladitos (otter pops) for us to eat. SO smooth. We sat under a little pavillion and ate heladitos. We taught them the Sabbath Day as simple as we could 1.Go to church 2. Relax 3. Spend time with the family. haha They´re great. WaquÍn wants to be Messi and play soccer in the states, and Doris... is Doris. :) 
They´re catholic, and go to a catholic school, but Doris wants to get baptized in the church. She thinks it’s just the prettiest place. (Shes now been there twice). 

We have a lot more families we´re teaching, but that’s about all I have time for.
Send my love to everyone at home. ;)

Elder Harris III