Monday, July 17, 2017

Family Reunion

                                                                                                    July 17, 2017
Hola Familia!
 
This week we had a multi-zone conference and so I got to see lots of friends from the mission. I forgot to mention that my trainer Elder Sierra is now the Assistant (told you he was good) which makes me feel proud just because I am his son. And my grandfather, Elder Aguilar, who trained Elder Sierra, finishes his mission this next week so we got to hear his last testimony and it was a proud moment for the family. Photo attached.
Last picture with Elder Aguilar, my grandfather (trained Elder Sierra)
Several of you asked me what I did on my one year anniversary as a missionary. Well, Wednesday in the morning at about 1:00 a.m., I woke up with a really bad case of chills. So, I started off my celebrations for the day by taking a hot bath and ended up sleeping a few hours in the bath tub because it was too cold to get out. After that I took a few naps until my fever broke and then we went to lunch. I still felt absolutely awful, so I slept at the Bishop's house and then went back to our house to sleep. So I had a great day overall! I didn't get to teach a single lesson, but at least I got some rest after a year of hard work!
So I am really grateful for good health! I received a priesthood blessing and said a lot of prayers that day, and Thursday morning when I woke up, I felt a lot better! I was able to work all day Thursday and enjoy the Zone Conference as well. Heavenly Father answers our prayers and has a perfect timetable for us!
Updates on Investigators:
So hopefully all of you remember Raul who was about to be baptized like 2 months ago...he still hasn't totally resolved his doubt with tithing, but he went to church yesterday and has done so much to repent! He accepted the invitation to be baptized this weekend and now just please pray he can overcome his doubts! Yesterday in gospel principles class, we talked about sacrifice. He said, "I think God is happier with us when we obey, without fully understanding why He is asking something of us." It was such a powerful statement from an investigator and we are really excited for him to be baptized this week!
Nayara Garamendi and Pablo Diaz also went to church and are preparing to be baptized Saturday! Please pray that everything can go well!
Our converts are great and all of them were at church yesterday which made me really happy! The work is going so well here and I am excited for the changes to come!
Love,
 
Elder Harris

"Happy 4th!" - Moving

                                                                                            July 10, 2017
Hello Everybody!
 
"Happy 4th of July" from your favorite gringos in Tarija!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This week we had a lot of changes...on Tuesday morning all the zone came over to help us move! We moved to a nice big house in our area and it is only the second floor instead of our fifth floor apartment so I am really excited for the opportunity not to exercise!

After we finished moving they sent me on exchanges for two days straight which was quite hectic, but at the end it was good to be back in my area. 
Intercambio (Exchanges) in the desert
 
 



 The other move this week was back to the house we were meeting in in San Luis! For the past 3 months we have been meeting in the Stake Center while they were remodeling the house we rent to hold church. Yesterday was the inauguration and it is a lot bigger now! I am grateful to have such a beautiful building to meet in and to be a part of a worldwide church!
 
There is no piano in the house we meet in so I have been unofficially released from my unofficial calling as branch pianist. It was good while it lasted.

The branch is good and the recent converts are all doing so well! Yesterday Aylen was called as Young Women's secretary and next week Arasely will hopefully receive a calling too!
 
Here are a couple of pictures I want to share: 


There are more Bulls fans here in Tarija than Chicago
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Leonor and Lorenzo Tuco - my Bolivian Grandparents
This week I was reading in Alma in the Book of Mormon and I highly recommend it! The first half of Alma teaches us so many incredible things about missionary work and I invite all of you to study it to know what you can do to share the gospel! Chapters 19 to 26 are some of my favorites in the whole Book of Mormon.

When the father of King Lamoni was being taught the gospel, he offered a prayer and said to our Heavenly Father "I will give away all my sins to know thee!" This is a sacrifice that sometimes we aren't willing to make. We all have habits and weaknesses that keep us from being worthy of eternal life with our Heavenly Father, and each day we need to be willing to give away all of our sins to know Him. It is the struggle of a lifetime, but the reward is so worth it!
 
Love, 
Elder Harris

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Baptisms/Looking For the Good

                                                                                                  July 3, 2017
Hi Family!

This week was jam packed with blessings and the biggest was the baptism on Saturday!


I'm excited to announce that
Arasely and Aylen Tejerina and Araceli Martinez were baptized Saturday night!! 
A lot of members from the branch went and it was an amazing baptism! We are really excited for them because there aren't many young adults in the Ward, but they can support each other and help each other in this process.
 
 Arasely was really able to feel the Spirit when she was baptized and all three of them in their testimonies said they were sure this was the right decision, and Aylen said, it was "the perfect decision!"

I totally agree and I know that choosing to follow Jesus Christ is a perfect decision!













 
This week I was reading a little bit in the New Testament and I learned something that I loved and wanted to share. In Mark 14:3-9, there is a story about a woman who took some really expensive ointment and poured it on the Savior. Those who were with the Savior started to criticize the woman, saying that the ointment could have been sold to help the poor and the needy. After listening to them criticize this woman, the Savior said to them "Let her alone, why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me"

When I read this story I realized that Christ looked for the good in others and everything they did. While other people criticized and bothered this woman, the Savior praised her for the sacrifice she was making on His behalf. I think looking for the good in others is something really hard for us to do as humans! We are so prone to criticize and look for faults in those around us, but our lives would be so much happier if we look for the good side of people and each thing they do and say!

I love the mission and feel so privileged to be a part of this work, especially to be serving where I am at this time. I know God loves us and wants us to be happy, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is the perfect plan of happiness!

I want to share a few fun pictures from our P-day this week:

We went to the country club and it was a blast! We got to play American football and I also got to play frisbee with the owner's miniature horse (photos attached)



















We also got to climb a fun ropes course with zip lines. 
 
 
 

Happy Birthday to the good ole USA and hope everyone enjoys watching their respective dogs hide from the fireworks this Tuesday night!

Love,

Elder Harris


Every Person Is Important!

                                                                                                  June 26, 2017
Hello Family!
 
This week was really good...we have seen a lot of progress with our investigators and we also were able to find lots of new investigators that are really prepared to receive the gospel!

Friday was Carlos Camacho's birthday so we celebrated with a really delicious chocolate cake! We let him keep the half of the cake we didn't eat which I am really regretting lately.


Yesterday, he received the Aaronic Priesthood and was also called as the 1st Counselor of the Young Men's Presidency. There is only one active young man in the branch for now but soon there will be more!

Aracely Martinez and Familia Tejerina went to church yesterday which means they will be baptized this Saturday! We are really excited and tonight we have a family home evening planned with all 5 of them and another family in the branch.

This week I was able to feel love for some of our new investigators in really incredible ways. Yesterday we had a lesson with some Seventh Day Adventists, who believe that Saturday is the Sabbath day. It was my first lesson with someone of this religion and it wasn't very productive because they just kept talking about the Sabbath day and wouldn't let us talk about anything else. I was just trying my best to end the lesson respectfully and testify a little bit of the message of the restoration. At one point while the husband was talking, I decided to look into his eyes, and in that moment, Heavenly Father let me feel so much love for Him and all I could think about was how much God loves him and how sad He is that one of His children is lost and needs to be guided back.
 
As missionaries we talk with a lot of people and its not always easy to feel that love, but we just have to remember how much every person means to Him!

Love you all and hope your week is great!

Elder Harris


Seeing Their Potential

                                                                                                  June 19, 2017
Hi Family!

Thanks to everyone for your emails, glad Father's Day was great! Shout out to two special fathers in my life, Dad, my own father, and Theo, the father of my niece and nephew. 
Hope your day was great!

This week there was a lot happening here in Alianza.

Church with Sebastian, Aracely, and Ayleen Tejerina
One of the biggest blessings was that a ton of people went to church yesterday! We had 8 investigators there and 7 of them were under 25! Young people are so prepared to receive the gospel and so willing to try new things so please share the gospel with your friends!

One memorable moment this week was a conversation we had with a drunk man. We were waiting for someone on a park bench when a drunk man approached us asking for money. Instead I gave him a plan of salvation pamphlet and as we talked he told me I had beautiful eyes, which is usually a flattering compliment but not when it comes from a 47 year old drunk Bolivian man who you have never met. So he told us it is okay if we visit him in his house someday and as he said goodbye he grabbed my head and gave me a rather forceful kiss on the cheek.
What a day to be alive.

In terms of investigators, Abraham and Pablo didn't go to church yesterday so their baptismal date for this weekend fell. But, Familia Tejerina went and they are on track for the first of July! They are doing really well. Please pray that they can gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon this week!

The greatest lesson I learned this week is the importance of seeing people for who they CAN be. There is a man in our area named Lorenzo. When I was serving with Elder Wirthlin, we always saw him drunk on the streets. One time he spoke to us and began crying, but instead of trying to help him I just tried to end the conversation and walk away because to me, he was just another drunk man. But a couple weeks ago we found Lorenzo in his house and he was sober. We taught him a lesson and found out he is a loving father of two teenage kids. He expressed his desires to stop drinking and told us he felt great being sober! He even wanted to go to church.

Well this week on Friday, we were walking and found Lorenzo walking in the street drunk. He approached us crying and told us that he lost his daughter. He had been looking for her for days and no one knew where she was. I thought of the loving, sober man we had taught and his desires to change And this time I listened sincerely and felt desires to help him. I wanted to hug him and tell him everything was going to work out.

To serve people effectively, we have to separate their character from their condition. We have to see people not for what they are, but for what they can become. We have to remember their potential and remember how they are at their best. This is the only way we will truly be able to love and serve the people around us!

Abrazos,

Elder Harris


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Transfers

                                                                                                    June 12, 2017
Hello to All!

Today is transfers and the big news is...no transfers for us! I will stay another 6 weeks in Alianza with Elder Campozano. I am not District leader anymore which will be nice not having to plan the meetings haha, but I will miss working with the Elders and Sisters in our District.

Not a whole lot of news this week. The blessings keep coming and we are seeing so much success with the teenagers and young adults here in the mission! The biggest miracle of the week is that yesterday eight of our investigators went to church- and all 8 of them were between the ages of 15-25! We have shifted our focus in the mission and we focus more on teaching the young people and we are seeing so much success with that change.

Abraham and his cousins Pablo and Kevin went yesterday and are progressing towards their baptismal date for the 24th! Also we are teaching Familia Tejerina, a single mother with three teenage kids and her nephew who is 19. The four kids went to church on their own yesterday which was amazing!

Carlos was sick yesterday and couldn't go to church which was a bummer, but he is going to have an interview to receive the priesthood this week which is exciting! Cristina went again yesterday and they are thinking about calling her to be a primary teacher which would be a perfect calling for her!

Bryan Miranda still doesn´t really have a testimony and has lots of doubts about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, so please pray that he can gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon and feel the Spirit as he reads this week!

Fun fact about Bolivia: People´s most formal family photos that they hang on their walls are almost always just their heads photo shopped into a stock photo. I am still trying to figure out why.

Please enjoy this photo of our district and a photo I took with a member when I thought I was going to get transferred haha.

Sisters and Elders in our District

Me with a member of our Alianza Branch
Love you all and hope you have a great week! Read the Book of Mormon and pray every day and you will be happy no matter what is going on in your life!!!

Love,

Elder Harris

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Carlos' Baptism

                                                                                                   June 5, 2017
Hola Family,

This week was incredible!!! I don´t know how, but every week is just better and better in this area and I am just wondering when the blessings are going to run out and it is going to get hard again.

Elder Campozano and me with Carlos
On Saturday Carlos got baptized! He was so ready and it was such a good baptismal service. He is a really funny guy and one of the best friends I have made on my mission. I am super happy for him. We didn't do a very good job planning the baptismal service, but A TON of members came and it all turned out great.
 
Also, two of the young men we are teaching, Abraham and Bryan, both came to the baptism and really liked it!
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bryan and his brother went to church yesterday and stayed all three hours! In the afternoon Bryan joined us to do home teaching with the Elder´s Quorum yesterday! He is the only investigator I know who has already done home teaching and he did it like a pro. He shared a scripture during the visit and his testimony of the Savior as well. It is a total tender mercy that we found him and he is preparing to be baptized the 17th of June. 
Picture with the Branch Pres. and Stake Pres.- Carlos's baptism was the first baptism in the Alianza Branch.
Post Baptism Celebration with Carlos
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I want to share one more picture of a multi-zone activity where we had a lot of fun playing soccer! 
 
It is winter time here in Tarija and it has gotten pretty darn cold. We were eating lunch with some members and talking about how cold it was and the 6 year old daughter said "I like the winter" So I asked her why and she said because of the snow. It has never snowed in Tarija in recorded history, but I guess that is true faith.
 
Lots of tender mercies this week and the Lord has guided us to so many people who are prepared to receive the gospel!

This week we watched a video called "The Mediator" with an investigator and it is such a simple and powerful video about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what He has done to save us from the demands of justice. I am so grateful for the Savior and how He sacrificed all He had to pay our debt. Please watch this video if you can find it!

One scripture I really liked in the Book of Mormon this week is 2 Nephi 26:24:
 "Él no hace nada a menos que sea para el beneficio del mundo; porque él ama al mundo, al grado de dar su propia vida para traer a todos los hombres a él. Por tanto, a nadie manda él que no participe de su salvación." (English) "He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.

I know Heavenly Father loves us and He does nothing save it be for our eternal happiness!

Never forget that and have a great week!

Love,

Elder Harris