Monday, February 2, 2015

The Best Two Years

Well, just like the movie, it really has been the best two years. 

I´m humbled to say that this is going to be my last letter as a missionary that I will be able to send home. 

Over the past 2 years I´ve grown a lot. Not in height, and I´ve lost a lot of weight, but I´ve grown a lot spiritually. I´ve come to a knowledge of what the Lord expects of us. And just like Elder Holland, Words can´t describe how much my mission means to me. I´ve never been so grateful for the time to represent my family, my church, and more importantly, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It’s been a very high bar to try to reach, but with the Atonement, I´ve seen my heart open to these people of Argentina. I love this country, I love these people, even the weird things that they do, I love all of it. There is something magical about being a missionary. How we can be so involved in the world, yet so blind to everything that really is happening. I´ve talked with people that I normally wouldn´t talk to, I´ve associated with people that 2 years ago, I probably would´ve looked the other way. I´ve sat and testified of our Savior in some of the poorest places I´ve ever been, and I´ve seen smiles come to the faces of these people as they are learning and accepting daily our Savior into their lives. 

If I have learned anything I´ve learned the importance of having a gospel centered home. Starting with a mother and a father who love each other and are willing to lay everything on the "altar of sacrifice" for the Lord. 

I´ve also learned how the Lord communicates with us, and the importance of not only listening, but when we do hear, acting. I had a very special experience with President Heyman back in January 2014 on this very subject.

I´ve seen the Atonement change the hearts of people. I´ve seen the Savior personally take people into his hands, mold them, and make them into better versions of themselves. I´ve seen as it says in Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

I´ve truly seen the Lord forgive sins and change them to be "as white as wool".

It’s really been a great journey. If anyone that is reading this is even questioning of going on a mission, or possibly thinking of not going - Go. Just take a leap of faith and go. You will never regret it. There are few things in this world that I will say are really important to me, but my mission has been one of them. 

There´s nothing that puts a smile on my face more than sitting on a chair, or a tree stump, or even on the ground, and sharing the message of the Restoration with these beautiful people. In Argentina, we have come to a conclusion that it’s a nation full of religious confusion. The best part is that our message clears up ALL of that confusion. It gives them a clear answer to all of their questions, yet, the churches that teach the false or not complete doctrine are usually the ones with more "followers". 

Just this week, one of my favorite investigators decided to stop meeting with us. I was brought to tears that night but joy filled my heart knowing that I planted a good seed with these people. They will forever remember the kindness and love that they felt from the Mormon Missionaries.

It’s been a dream. I can honestly say, just like Paul that I´ve fought a good fight. I might not have baptized as many people as I had planned to, but I´ve kept the faith. 

I love you all,
You know what they say.. "See you next week!"
Til we meet, 
in Salt Lake City. :)

Elder Cody Harris

Monday, January 26, 2015

Big Storms, Interviews and Nemo

Hola querido familia mio,

Well, it looks like you´re all just peachy. This week was a normal week NOT. It went by pretty quick, but it sure was full of its ups and downs.

I’m happy to hear that Kenz loved Preference, in the letter she sent to me it seemed she enjoyed herself. Luckily she has awesome parents that would prepare that much food for those kids! :) 

Since I’m a litle short on time, I’m gonna give you a little run down of this week and tell me if it wasn´t just as crazy as yours!

So, this week it RAINED. We had 3 really big storms pass through. One of them it was raining so hard against our tin roof we couldn´t sleep. It sure does make for good stories though, right? 

Then on Tuesday, I gave the training to a sister that is coming home with me. You´ll probably get to meet her in SLC because she lives in Utah too. But I let Hma Lund give this training and she talked about the spirit and the importance of the spirit not just in the mission but in our daily lives. Then gave us the invitation to always look for the spirit in all that we do. It was really good.

Then we found out that one of our new missionaries who is from Paraguay had to go to Cordoba to do some paperwork. So, that put Elder Smith (From AF) with Elder Brough and I from Wednesday to Saturday afternoon. We ended up working in the two areas and we didn’t get a chance to see a lot of the people we had hoped to see. But Elder Zabala brought us some alfajores from Cordoba that were pretty good! 

And finally, we got to have our interviews with President Franco. We ended up drinking chocolate milk and eating donuts (they´re not Krispy Kreme or even Kohler´s worthy) but they were great! We had a good time helping the assistants give a training on finding people, and we used “Finding Nemo” as an example. :)

Just to help the missionaries understand, you know. ;)  Who doesn´t wanna find Nemo?

But I did think it was pretty funny, during my interview with President, he said "So, Elder Harris you have, what?  Like 18 days left?" And I just blurted out "I don´t know! I’m not counting!"

See you soon.

Love you!

Elder Harris

Monday, January 19, 2015

I'm Still in South America

Well Mom, it´s Monday again, and I´m here to tell you that I’m still in South America. :)
It’s hot, but we don´t complain. 

Braeden also told me that he´s doing good. I´m happy to hear that he´s happy and healthy. I´m doing well too. I´m just so beyond blessed that I’ve never really gotten sick or hurt on my mission. It’s definitely been a blessing.

So, as for this week, we worked our tails off. But we also had a few funny stories.

First off, Elder Brough told me while sitting at the bus stop that Taylor Swift only has 6 types of songs:
1. He´s too good for me.
2. I´m too good for him.
3. I´m over him.
4. He doesn´t notice me
5. I´m 15.
6. I´m 22.

I thought you´d get a good laugh out of that.

Also, a sister told me this one - Why did the hipster burn his tongue on his hot chocolate? Because he drank it before it was cool. 

So, there´s my 2 jokes for the week. :)

Well, I did divisions this week with someone named Elder Smith who was in the AF Marching Band! Can you believe it?! He lived over by the temple! We had a good little division working in his area.

But, I´ve just gotta tell you. I´ve met some of the best people that I’ve ever met in my entire life these past few weeks.

This week, the sisters Hna Lund and Beecher had a baptism of a man named Hugo. He´s an awesome convert! In Priesthood, he said how the BoM has formed a part of his life and is his "best friend". He´s such a good guy, and continually apologized for interrupting the classes.

We also found another couple named Fransisco and Catalina this week. We left them the BoM, and as we came back for the second lesson, Catalina was sitting outside READING the BoM as we came up. It was great! 

We´ve been putting a ton of emphasis on the Book of Mormon and helping people receive an answer that the Book is true. It´s really changed the way we teach. 

As we keep working, I´ve seen that I just forget about all the things that once were important and focus on the needs of others. And as of right now, I´m down to 1 pair of shoes, and 2 pairs of pants. Some people need things more than I do. 

As for Sunday, none of our investigators came to church. But the reason is (and this is a HUGE miracle that I¨ll share with you in more detail in a few weeks) that the bus got robbed and the bus driver was knocked unconscious, so the cops had to come and investigate. It´s a good thing the spirit told us not to get on that bus, right? :)

We also had a really good lesson with Johanna last night. So, I don’t know how much I´ve told you about them. So, Christian and Johanna live in this little house made out of cardboard. They´re super humble and they´re always laughing and smiling with their 3 cute little kids. So, I asked Johanna if there was anything we could do to help them, and she just looked at me with the biggest smile and said "No, I´ve got everything a poor person could ask for." I just thanked her for her love toward her children and for always being so optimistic. She then said something that went like this "Well, if I act sad that I don’t have anything then my kids will too".   She is just a great, caring mother, just like you, mom. Thanks for showing me what the Savior´s love is like. A lot of people don´t get a chance to feel that love in their lives, but I´ve got a whole loving family that shows me that, even when I´m a little stinker. 

This week has definitely been a good one. I love being a missionary. I´m not ready for this dream to end. It’s come and gone way to fast.

Love you all.
Study Jacob 5 this week. 

Elder Harris :) 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Pigeon Soup and People in the Woodwork

So, things on this side of the world might be a little different than yours. It´s currently about 100 degrees.  It´s been getting to a low of about 93 this week, with clouds, and humidity. It´s been a good week. I´ve also discovered a new diet - and it’s not the "starve yourself with only rice" diet like I tried last year, or the HGH diet I tried with Elder Valdez. It´s this awesome diet called the "Walk around in the sun all day in pants diet" It seems to work great. The hardest part is leaving the shade.

You know, it´s funny you ask what life is like here at 2 in the afternoon. I´d like to know what everyone else is doing too.. but I DO! They´re all taking a nap. EVERYONE sleeps a siesta. So from about 1:30-4 everyone sleeps and we study. :)  So, just imagine missionaries inside studying and there you go. :) Maybe I’ll take a picture this week to show you. 

Christian and Johanna are good. They were sick on Friday when we visited them and Christian said they´re good to come to church but we haven´t been able to see them. We will be visiting them tonight since they didn´t make it to church this week. Johanna is still reading in the Book of Mormon and Christian is every once and a while. 

But we did have Consejo de Lideres this week. So, the elders from Ibaretta came down on Monday night and we cooked up some pizza and enjoyed some outdoor pizza with coke. Then on the way back!! The elders from Clorinda had to stay with us (you know, I think they just like us the best) so we cooked up some choripancitos! oh it was soo good. 

Consejo was really good too. The area presidency has made some changes and now we only report 1. number of baptisms and confirmations 2. assistance in our ward/branch 3. less actives reactivated.  It´s a really different way to do missionary work. The idea is that they want to focus on results and not as much on how we get the results.

I also gave Elder Valdez the goodbye hug. I´m not gonna lie... it was weird. It´s strange to think that I won´t see that kid until we´re both back in the states.  But don´t worry. He´ll come to visit sometime. He´s one of my best friends in the mission.

As for this week, it was HOT! But, it sure was a fulfilling week. I feel content with everything that we got done. We taught a lot of lessons, visited a lot of people, and we´re starting to see multiple families progress toward reactivation or baptisms. It’s a good life.

So, we ate pigeon soup.

This weekend also has been the best weekend of my mission. Well, second behind the week that Jorge was baptized. But, I just feel content. I remember very distinctly walking to the bus stop at the end of the night and having the spirit come over me. It was a good feeling, almost like someone was saying "good work". I got that feeling on Saturday and Sunday night. It really was a testimony builder to me especially if I could explain ALL of the things that happened those 2 days. They were days full of lessons on all parts of the spectrum. From first contacts or investigators taking their first steps, inactive members with a ton of problems looking for solutions or recent converts asking themselves why it´s so hard to endure to the end. A little bit of everything we had mixed into those two short days. But, we taught to their needs and helped them understand how important the gospel is in their lives.

So, I don´t know if you remember, but we were teaching a Family Laviosa a while back. Aldo and Laura? Well, we went by the other day and were talking to their dad Seferino who was super against talking to us. Well, we talked to him a few times then finally gave him a BoM and invited him to read it. We set a time to talk and when we came back, he had read all of 3 Nephi 11, and went off for 5 minutes EXPLAINING EVERYTHING that happened in the chapter. He even caught the part where everyone came up to Christ. It was awesome. We taught the first lesson, and I asked him "So, do you want to know if this message is true?" And he just paused, then humbly said "Si." So we started throwing ALL the commitments at him! Will you read? Will you pray? Will you come to church? Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized..? (before I finished my question he said yes) He replied Yes to every single commitment. And you know, it´s not rare here to find people that say yes. It’s another thing to have people actually keep their commitments. But the way he said it was so determined that I knew he was going to do it. He showed up to church as we were helping prepare the Sacrament and he kinda got on us and said "Hey! I thought you were gonna be here waiting at the door!" But he stayed for Sacrament Meeting and then had to go. I even got him singing the hymns with us! 

We also had another investigator at church. Her name´s Sofia, she´s 16 and the sister of a super active new convert. We hadn´t even taught her yet, and she came to church, but Sunday afternoon we had a lesson with her and her sister Selva and another friend named Lorena and they all want to read. They all want to come to church. Honestly, God is just dumping blessings on us.

And we had another investigator at church. Her name is Mikaela, she’s 12 and is the niece of a convert of 2 months. We´re gonna keep teaching all of them, and see if those white pants still fit. ;)

I was thinking last night about how great this last year of my mission has been. From Elder Zivic, Elder Suarez, Elder Valdez, Elder Simmons and Elder Brough. They´ve been some of the best companions that I could´ve ever asked for. They´ve helped me in millions of ways. I feel this last year of my mission really has been the turning point of my life. 
I love being a missionary, I just want to keep living in this dream that I´m living.

Love you all.
Elder Harris III 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Moments I'm Going to Miss

Hola Familia!

Nuevo año, nuevo momentos para poner las pilas y hacer un poco mas!

First off, I´m a little bummed. I feel that I´m just barely starting to figure out what being a missionary is all about. I´m starting to understand what I need to do to be effective as a missionary. I feel that this life is a dream, and I really don´t want it to end. 

The work is progressing. After a few weeks, we finally had a family come to church. Christian, Johanna and their 3 kids all came. They came all dressed up too. I was super excited to see them all come in and enjoy the fast and testimony meeting we had. I, also bore my testimony about how great 2014 was. I remember a year ago, I gave a training to a few missionaries in Comandante Fontana about how 2014 will be the only year in our lives where we can say that we were missionaries for the entire year of 2014. It was a good year. I can say that I was obedient, we worked hard, and had a GREAT time doing it. I bore my testimony of the Savior, and of the Book of Mormon. How in this year, my testimony grew a lot. I came to understand my role as a child of God, and what I am supposed to do as a Priesthood holder to help others. I´ve seen good examples and bad throughout my life and this year has given me a good opportunity to put my head on straight and know what type of man I want be. 

I did make some resolutions. President Heyman will be proud to know that he taught me one thing - PLANS PLANS PLANS: so I set some good goals. :)  And just like President Heyman taught us, now I´ve just got to  go out and achieve my goals. 

As for this week, we had a GREAT week. On the 30th, 31st and the 1st, we had to be in the pench at 7PM, so we didn’t get a ton of work in, but wow. It sure was a week to remember! 

So first off, on the 30th, I gave a district meeting. I gave it on goals and I kind of cheated because I used the same training I did a year ago in Fontana. It turned out great. We then played Jeopordy! to help the missionaries use Preach My Gospel.  We had them study Chapter 3 all week then we had some decently hard questions to see how well they studied. 

We then got the transfer doctrine. We had a whitewash in the zone, and now we´ve got another set of elders here. So, we´re excited for that! 

Then on Transfer day... we spent the ENTIRE day in the terminal. We had to wait for missionaries and help them come and go. And to top it off, New Years eve might be the busiest travel day in the entire getting bus tickets was near impossible and there were 20000000 people in the terminal. It was a madhouse. 

But all the missionaries got to where they needed to be, except one. :) The one that didn´t make it is a "mini missionary" he´s a convert of 7 months. He is AWESOME too. He was going up to Ibaretta to serve with Elder Cannon and Elder Hulme for the transfer and he had to stay the night with us on New Years Eve. We totally cooked up a HUGE ASADO. A full chicken (gizzards and all), sausage and meat! It was SOOOO GOOD. I´m a pro at cooking asados now too, so I¨ll cook one for you when I get home.  Elder Bustos was his name. He´s so excited to serve a mission too. 

As for this week... let´s see. I had another one of those super cool "I felt like a bishop" moments. We found this man named Carlos, and as we left his house another man across the street called us over, told us he was a member, but has been inactive for a while. He told us about all the things that was going wrong in his life, and what he shouldn´t be doing... and Elder Brough kinda threw me into the lion´s den when he said "Oh, and my companion has a scripture to share with you..." So, I was franctically thinking of what I could share with this man that was just so broken... I thought about the scriptures in Alma 37:41 where the Words of Christ will tell you all things you must do, then I thought of the importance of keeping our families following the prophet like the story of King Benjamin in Mosiah 2:5. Then a thought hit me - The doctrine of Christ helps people change. 

So, we started talking about faith.. then we moved onto repentance. And we stayed there because it felt right. The more we started talking about repentance and the atonement, the stronger the spirit got and by the end of this lesson, this man was wiping tears from his eyes. We gave him a big hug and told him we love him and want the best for him. We also left him with the invitation to come to church. He didn´t come, but I do know that we did our job - create a spiritual enviornment and let them choose to follow the Savior or no. I´ve come to learn that´s really what the Lord wants us to do. Have the spirit in the lessons – that’s why we´re obedient, that’s why we study, that’s why we try to keep our thoughts pure, that´s why we pray so much!  For those maybe 5 minutes we get maybe once or twice a week, where the spirit is so strong that anyone that walks into the room knows that the Lord´s spirit is there. Those are the moments that make this work so special. Those are the moments that I´m going to miss. 

I just love you guys so much.
You´re the best.
Keep the Faith.

Ether 12.

Elder Harris III