Monday, June 25, 2018

I've got my bag of peanuts and I'm ready to fly...

                                                                                                             June 25, 2018
Dear Family,

Where has 2 years gone???? It is crazy that my mission is already coming to an end, but I couldn't have asked for a better last week here in Yacuiba! 
This weekend Fernando was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!
His baptism was really special!! It was one of the most spiritual baptisms of my whole mission!
Fernando's wonderful family
A couple of weeks ago he went to a baptismal service in the other branch and told us afterwards that he had felt something that penetrated him to the heart. On Saturday as we were changing after the baptism, I asked him if he had felt that feeling today. He said "Yeah, but a lot stronger!"
I am so happy he was able to feel the Spirit and recognize that the decision he made was the correct one!
How I will miss these dear people who I have grown to love so much!!!
Take me back to Primary!!
My best friend Gonzalo
Familia Fernandez
I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for letting me come here to Bolivia and serve in this part of His vineyard for two years. It is by far the best decision I have ever made and the greatest blessing I have ever received. There have been hard moments, tear-filled moments, and moments when I simply felt like I couldn't do this anymore, but those were the moments when I learned how much my Heavenly Father knows me and loves me.
Like Paul said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith...the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me" (2 Timothy 4)
I am eternally grateful for everything He has taught me the past two years and for such an amazing opportunity to help my brothers and sisters know the truth: God lives. He loves each one of us. He is the same yesterday today and forever. He sent His son Jesus Christ to show the way. The Savior calls us each and everyday to come unto Him. As we follow Him we will find more peace and happiness in this life than in any other way.
How lucky I feel to be a representative of Jesus Christ! There is nothing that has brought me greater joy than serving my Father in heaven these past two years!
I love all of you. I'm grateful for your love and support and for the part each of you has played in helping me fulfill my mission here in Bolivia.
See you Friday!!!!!
Elder Harris

One Step Closer

                                                                                                             June 18, 2018
Hi Family,
Sorry I am short on time today, but I promise next week's email will be better.
This week was full of fun happenings...we made chocolate chip cookies on Monday and the Sister who makes us lunch loved them so she has been making them every day haha. So here I am trying not to get fat... We also got together with our District and had a fun ice cream party.

Sisters and Elders in our District

This is my good friend Gabriel

This week we had exchanges with our Zone leaders her in Yacuiba. Elder Jones and I worked together and spent most of the day in baptismal interviews.
Intercambio with Elder Jones
Fernando was supposed to have his interview at 7 but at about 7:30 his mom called us saying he wasn't ready and still didn't want to be baptized.
Luckily we had the chance to visit them that same night and Elder Jones started asking him some of the questions as a part of the lesson! He did a great job motivating Fernando and helping him overcome his fears and it was the little push he needed to make a decision. Fernando decided he will be baptized this Saturday and we couldn't be happier! It was our biggest miracle this week and I can't wait to see him take this step after having taught him for several months.
During another interview we had, I was able to talk with a girl preparing for baptism about covenants. Covenants are promises we make with God, and every time we make a covenant, we take one step closer to our Heavenly Father. How happy He must feel when He sees His children making covenants! He loves and must miss us more than we can imagine. I feel so lucky to help people take one step closer toward their Heavenly Father.
Love you all!
Elder Harris

Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd

                                                                                                June 11, 2018
Hi Family,
This week was great! My new companion, Elder Calani, is from Potosi Bolivia and has about a month in the mission! He was previously in Nicaragua, but had to return to Bolivia because of political problems so I am technically his trainer! But for less than three weeks which is sad... ·#orphan

But it has been a great week! Fernando has progressed A TON!! He stayed all three hours at church on Sunday, for the first time ever which was huge! He and Felix attended a baptismal service on Saturday and they both loved it! Fernando felt the Spirit for sure and wants to be baptized, but feels he is not ready yet. Pray for him that he can overcome his fears and be baptized this Saturday!
I wish I could say more, but time is short (As always)
Sometimes when we make mistakes we may ask ourselves "Will Christ really forgive me again after I have fallen short so many times? Would He really want me to partake of the sacrament and be clean?"
This week while watching a video of the Savior instituting the sacrament, the words He said to His disciples really struck me: "Take, eat" He didn't passively let them know that He would die for their sins and explain to them that if they wanted, they could eat and drink the bread and water. Instead, He pleaded with them to partake of the blessings of His Atonement!
If you ever wonder if He would really want you to come unto Him and be clean, stop wondering!
He loves us. He cares about us and begs us to repent and come unto Him so that we can be clean.
Alma 5:33
Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.
D&C 19:16-17 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent. But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I.
If we don't repent and live His gospel, His sacrifice will have been in vain! He wants us to come unto Him and participate of the Salvation He has bought with His suffering.
I love him and I am grateful He was willing to do that for me and for each one of  you.
I'll end with a few fun pictures from our week to make you smile! 

Dreams really do come true!
When they draw you and your companion

A little more realistic...

What to do with a giant gift bag

Meanwhile at the Ant Farm at 5 in the morning




Toucan Hunting and Cuban Radiologists

                                                                                                     June 5, 2018

Hello all!

Boy do I have a lot to tell you. Many of you may be wondering why I didn't write yesterday. Do not worry; I will tell you why.

But first, I wanted to share a few pictures from last week. Last Monday, (on our P-day) we had the opportunity to go toucan hunting. We found that they were quite elusive, but after about an hour and a half of walking silently through the woods, we snagged these pictures.

 It was really cool to see them!

Yesterday, (P-day) we had the opportunity to go to Villamontes for a zone activity. It was about an hour and a half from Yacuiba.

We saw a lot of amazing things and had quite the adventure!

Elder Aldaz and I came across some pigs and had a lot of fun with them.

We also got to go fishing on the river...

Something that you may not know, is that I really don't know how to fish. My loving father really wanted to take me, but for some reason we didn't get the chance. I remember once, having had a very traumatic experience with fishing hooks when I was about 13 years old, so as you can imagine, this made me a little nervous.

Thanks to an extremely kind and patient companion, I finally learned how to fish. He didn't let his fear of getting hooked overcome his desire to help me learn to fish.

And after about 23 casts, I didn't catch a single fish! But Elder Aldaz caught a lovely catfish, and I didn't hurt anyone which was a miracle.
After the fishing we had steak and cheesy rice for lunch (a Bolivian favorite) and then headed to a cool looking rock we saw in the distance.

 When it came time for Elder Aldaz to get off the rock, he went off a steeper side and didn't land right. So after a long trip back to Yacuiba, we were in the hospital at 5:30.

The hospital people were in no rush to take care of his ankle so at about 7 he finally got it x-rayed and luckily there was no fracture, but at 8:30 they put his leg in a cast. (I got to see it all so I know how to make a cast if anyone is interested.

At 9 we left the hospital and went to our 7:30 appointment which we weren't able to cancel because they had gathered the whole family and also made steak and cheesy rice for us. Needless to say my companion can't walk for the moment and we recently received a call from President letting us know he will be spending the next two weeks in Santa Cruz :( He leaves tomorrow which is a real bummer, but hopefully he will be back for the last week of my mission.

My new companion is Elder Calani. The exciting thing is he is Bolivian! My first Bolivian companion!! He was serving in Nicaragua, but apparently things got dangerous and there are no longer missionaries there. I am nervous/sad/excited and honestly have no idea what to expect! Lesson learned: be careful with large rocks.

This Sunday was amazing! EVERYONE went to church! There is always a silver lining...Paul, Joel, Felix, Elmer, and Wilson's (the taxi driver) kids. We were so happy for all of them and they are making huge progress. We were able to fast with Paul this weekend and will continue working with him to help him feel ready for baptism. He finished 1 Nephi this week. What a guy.

Wilson and his family are amazing! We taught them the message of the Restoration this week and they embraced it so well. They went to our movie night Saturday (The only ones there) and are progressing well.

I can't remember much else for the moment because I have a thousand things on my mind, but I am grateful for the kind, encouraging voice of the Spirit! It will always uplift us and help us know what God wants us to know. If we are living righteously, He will comfort us and reassure us. There is nothing more incredible than hearing His loving and encouraging voice!


Elder Harris

Friday, June 1, 2018

Happy Bolivian Mother's Day!

                                                                                                   May 28, 2018
Hello Everyone,
It seems like every week is chalk full of holidays when you try to respect the cultures of two countries at a time.

We had a great Mother's Day yesterday! (Bolivian holiday is 2 weeks later than U.S.)  The sister who feeds us lunch put us in charge which was quite an adventure.
Considering they asked two foreigners and one man who knows nothing about the kitchen to prepare a traditional Bolivian plate, I'd say we did a pretty darn good job! 
Pique Lo Macho
 In other news, it wasn't quite as chilly this week which was nice. We didn't get to go back to the Grampa yesterday because the appointment fell through, but we will return in the near or distant future.

Sadly, Paul didn't attend church yesterday so we will have to postpone his baptism which was a real bummer. Still not sure what happened.

Joel is struggling with a lot of doubts and has stopped progressing for the moment. We were able to visit Fernando again this week and he accepted a baptismal date for the 16th, but still has trouble staying at Church which keeps him from making friends. So please pray that he can stay for the classes this week!

Felix is doing great, a family from the branch has become really good friends with him and he goes to church on his own now. He has changed a lot and we are super proud of him!

When they try to spell your name...
One miracle we saw this week was with our English classes (finally!!!) Haha there was absolutely no one when the clock turned 5, but at about 5:15 a man named Wilson showed up with his two kids. He asked if I remembered him and I honestly had no idea who he was, but he kindly reminded me he had driven us home from the Grampa the other day in his taxi. I had invited him to the classes and thought nothing of it because about 432890243723895078345 taxi drivers committed to go to the English classes and never showed up, but luckily this time was different!

There was a Mother's day dinner afterward and he stayed with his whole family! They loved being in the church and sadly weren't able to attend yesterday, but are excited to go Sunday and look like a great family!

This week I read a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 97:8 that teaches a really important principle:
"Verily I say unto you, all among them who...are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice--yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command--they are accepted of me."
Heavenly Father wants us to keep our covenants with sacrifice! A lot of people have trouble understanding the importance and seriousness of a covenant. There is absolutely nothing more important than our covenants! No other priority, activity, or commitment can take more importance in our lives than the promises we have made with God, and we have to be willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to observe them.

Here are a few more fun pictures:

Mama Vivi and Grandma Martha

I'm on a bridge!

There's hope for everyone!

Love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Harris

La Grampa

                                                                                                          May 21, 2018
Hi Everyone!
This week was awesome, my new companion is the best, very hardworking and obedient and is helping me finish the mission just how I want to! 
Dreams really do come true...about 20 minutes from Yacuiba there is a little town called the Grampa, and ever since I got here I have always wanted to go. Well this week we finally got our chance. The Sisters gave us a reference for a family from the Grampa (don't get confused here, I am referring to their place of origin, not their paternal grandfather) So last night at about 6:04 we took a trufi to the Grampa and got to visit the Arancibia Family. What a day to be alive!
This week it got real cold here in Yacuiba (a whopping 45 degrees). I have gotten so used to the heat that I have become real wimpy I am no longer worthy to call myself a Chicagoan.
Paul is doing really well, we had a couple of solid lessons with him this week and watched "Finding faith in Christ" with him. We talked about the story of Peter trying to walk on water and talked about how sometimes coming to Jesus Christ can be something that fills us with fear and doubt. We have to let our faith be bigger than our fear in order to come unto Him and be saved. Paul accepted a baptismal date for June 2nd, please pray that he can attend church this week!

Joel is also progressing poco a poco. We watched "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" movie with him this week. (I would highly recommend it if you haven't seen it!)

Enjoying movie night with Joel 

As we watched it, Joel was able to feel the Spirit and gain a testimony of the restoration which was amazing! He is struggling to attend church so please pray that he can stop working on Sundays.

Felix is doing great, he went to church again yesterday and his family kicked him out of his house because he is listening to us. It is amazing that some people are persecuted "for the crime of building homes and worshipping God," but Felix is a great example to me of being willing to sacrifice everything to follow Christ.

I feel blessed to have met such amazing people and we continue to find the elect each and every week! I know this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was a Prophet called of God and truly testified of Jesus Christ! I feel blessed to be a part of the restored Church of Jesus Christ and to tell people that God once again has spoken with His children!
Love you all! Have a good week!
Elder Harris

Skyping with Family and the Final Transfer

                                                                                                       May 14, 2018
Hi Everyone!

It was so great to talk to the family yesterday!!!!
Here are a some pictures of our Skyping experience:

As you can imagine there was lots of excitement!!

I got to introduce them to one of my special friends

And to my companion Elder Vasquez

There was lots of happiness and laughter...

The highlight was getting advice from my siblings and sharing my testimony in English and Spanish.

I am so grateful that God has given us families to teach us and support us and I am pretty sure I have been blessed with the best in the world!

This week was great, we were able to work a lot with Paul and Joel and finally discover Paul's doubt. We have another lesson with him tomorrow which should be great!
Yesterday we got to take a new investigator, Felix, to church! He was super pumped about going, he even called us on Saturday to ask what time church was gonna be (for those of you who have been missionaries you know how weird/unlikely it is for someone to call you ask that so he is really cool!
Today I received my new companion, Elder Aldaz from Ecuador! He has about 9 months in the mission and is really cool so I am excited to work with him! Sorry for the disappointing email but we are just about out of time...thanks for all your love and support!
Elder Harris