Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Unanswered Prayers

                                                                                                               Sept. 11, 2017

 Hi Family!

This week was marvelous!! We saw a lot of blessings and we are receiving a lot of help from the members!  But, first, I want to share a few pictures. 

 On Monday, our P-day (Preparation Day) we got to play soccer. 

Tuesday was Elder Valencia's birthday so people gave us cake all week!
Bolivian tradition is to put your face in the cake and contaminate it with your germs before everyone else eats haha.
 I have to say, for the first time in my life I was sick of eating cake.
 
 Happy Birthday Elder Valencia!! (The cake is pink because it was also their daughter's birthday, just so it's clear!!)

We also were in a trio with my Grandson Elder Limaico, (trained by the one and only Elder Cohelo) who will also be training this transfer! He is from Ecuador and we had a great day with him!
 
First trio in my whole mission which was really weird, but no one was seriously injured and that's the important thing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 As for our investigators, we couldn't visit Familia Callejas this week. We are teaching a 15 year old girl named Raquel Amblos and she has been having so much trouble with going to church. Well yesterday she finally went and stayed all three hours. The young women did a great job befriending her and she is on track for her baptism the 23rd of September.

Javier has been having some family problems, so please pray for him that he can attend church this Sunday. He hasn't gone for the past two weeks!

Another family we are teaching is Familia Zambrana Nina. The husband was originally not interested and rejected our invitation to go to Church, but his heart has totally been softened and they are a really prepared family! More to come next week...

Last night we visited a less active man named Alfredo. Alfredo served a mission in Bolivia and later on was a Bishop, but had some problems in his life that caused him to move to Santa Cruz. His life has taken a turn for the worst in many aspects and he told us he kneels down and prays every day, but things go worse and he feels like  Heavenly Father doesn't hear his petitions.

As I listened, I thought of the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yesterday during the Sacrament I read the account of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in Matthew and learned something new: Christ asked his Father THREE times to pass this cup from Him. THREE times he made the same plea, yet the unimaginable pain, heartache, and suffering continued.

Did God not love Jesus Christ?

Did He not listen to His prayer?

Yet our Savior's petition was not granted. But did Christ lose faith in His Father? No, because He trusted that God had something more important in mind and understood that what He was going through, for some reason or other, was necessary, or His request would have been granted.

There is nothing wrong with asking for what we want when we pray. The Son of God did so three times! But when our request is not granted, we have to understand that it is NOT because Heavenly Father didn't hear our prayers. It is NOT because He doesn't love us. It is because He knows what is best for our eternal good, and true faith is trusting that His will is and always will be what is best for us.

I know He lives and I know He loves us. He does answers prayers! But when He doesn't, we have to continue putting our trust in Him and have faith that He sees what we do not see and knows what we do not know.

I love you all and hope you have a great week! Trust Him!
Elder Harris
 

 


Apple Pie and Old Men With Slingshots

                                                                                                            September 4, 2017
Hello all,

This week was quite unforgettable! However I slacked off a little on my journal writing so at the moment I have forgotten a few important parts.

Picture with Elder Hall and Elder Harrison
from my group this week at a Zone Conference.
Monday we had a great zone activity! Mama Olga made apple pie for everyone and we played ultimate frisbee in the park. Santa Cruz may be the hardest place in the world to play ultimate frisbee because the wind never stops here.

Tuesday we found a really choice family, Familia Callejas! Their 15 year old son Jorge went to church last week and he is really interested! The mom was also really prepared and she and her three sons accepted a baptismal date for September 30th. The only problem is the Dad refuses to meet with us because he heard some rumors about the church and he didn't let them go to church on Sunday. We fasted for them this weekend but please pray that his heart can be softened and he can feel desires to learn more!


This week as we were starting a lesson with Zacarias, our 75 year old, very hard of hearing investigator, he went inside and brought out a sling shot and a plastic bag full of rocks. His dog was apparently bothering him a lot, so he started letting 'em fly and it must have been quite the sight to see: An American and a Colombian in white shirts and ties practically yelling about the plan of salvation to a half deaf man as he shot his dog somewhat mercilessly. What a day to be alive!

Lots of answered prayers this week and we have been able to find so many new investigators lately! I love this area and I am really enjoying my companion too. Today was transfers and we will be staying together another 6 weeks which is going to be a blast!

This week I learned something new about the Savior. Jesus Christ didn't atone for our sins because it was His luck to be our Savior. He didn't do it because the lot fell to Him or it was His turn. He did it because He wanted to! I can only imagine the moment in pre-mortal life when He gladly offered himself to be our Savior! He was happy to do it because of how much He loves us!

I am so grateful for Him and His love for us. The choices we make every day show Him if we appreciate His sacrifice or not. I love this gospel! It is so simple and full of so much love! 

Have an amazing week!

Elder Harris



                                                                               

Javier and Mia's Baptisms

                                                                                                            August 28, 2017

Hello!

This week was really rewarding! Saturday was the Javier and Mia's baptism and it was really special!
                                                                  
Here is a picture of Mia surrounded by her family. Mia is a lot more
photogenic than we are.   
We sang, "More Holiness Give Me," and I could feel the Spirit so strongly.

As I looked at these two children of God, I felt how hard they are trying and how great a desire they have to be clean and pure!






         



Javier with Antonio, member missionary extraordinaire.
Javier is the slightly shorter one without a tie on. 



They both went to church yesterday and Javier brought his cousin. Although Javier doesn't have the support of his family, he is such a strong convert and wants to serve a mission! 









Friday was"Festival Moroni," a big dance festival for the Young Men and Young Women in the Stake. It was great to see everyone from Guapilo there, and cheer on my new Ward.

Reunited with Bishop Teran, Daniel, and Lucas Vargas
Lucero won and it was really hype! Lucas told me he is going every Sunday and preparing for a mission! 

Let see what else is new...it is about 100 degrees in Santa Cruz today and it is supposed to stay there for the next week. So the next time you see a picture of me I may be dark brown and 20 pounds lighter. Do not be alarmed!

Not a lot of news a part from that, looking forward to Zone Conference this week. We also have been finding a lot of new unknown fruits in the supermarket lately, so if I make some new exotic fruit juices I will be sure to send pictures.

Love you all! This is the Lord's work and He loves each and every one of us!

Elder Harris

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Faith and Hope

                                                                                                   August 21, 2017
Hola Familia,

Wow what a week! Easily one of the best weeks of my mission and I think things will keep getting better!

We had some great exchanges and were able to accomplish a lot this week.

Sadly, Javier and Mia didn't get baptized because Javier's cousin passed away and Mia's Mom has been sick, but they are both on track for this Saturday!

Another lowlight from this week was it rained and the street we live on flooded for several days...Thursday we were walking in peace and tranquility when a car came zooming down the street, plowed through the water, and left us soaked from the ribs down. It was straight out of the movies.


Now for the good parts and some great pics...

We are being spoiled by Olga's yummy cooking!


Grandma's barbecue chicken with Ernesto and Olga
It's not every day that you find graffiti made especially for your Mission President.



On Wednesday, I got to visit Guapilo which was a blast seeing members and a few converts too!


Loved seeing my good friend, Juan Luis


"The boys are back!" Some of my favorites!!

Loved being back with my trainer, Elder Sierra for a day
Friday we had another exchange but this time with the Assistants, and guess who I got to spend the day with? My trainer Elder Sierra! It felt like the good old days and we were able to teach A LOT of people that day. He is a legend and helped motivate me to talk with LITERALLY everyone...he doesn't like letting people escape.

This week I learned that sometimes we limit ourselves a lot with our attitude...if we conform to what we have always done and the results we have always obtained, we will never realize the amazing potential Heavenly Father sees in us. An important part of that is having faith and hope. If we don't BELIEVE we can be something more, we won't be able to invoke the powers of faith in our lives. All the miracles that were brought to pass in the scriptures were only done by Faith, because they were things HOPED for.

So my challenge this week is to forget that their are limits and accomplish things you never have! Have faith and hope and see miracles!
 
Love,
 
Elder Harris

Emilene's Baptism

                                                                                                August 14, 2017
Hello Folks! 
 
This week was quite exciting, although now that I am thinking about it, I can't remember all the reasons why. But hopefully something I say here will interest you.

Tuesday, we had an inspection from Sister Rodriguez, the President's wife. She was not very pleased by the lack of cleanliness in our house, but at the end Olga and Ernesto said some very flattering, partly true things like, "they have baptized a lot of investigators, and 90 people are going to the temple this week." To which Sister Rodriguez said, "they are hard workers, but very dirty."
This was a good reminder, that although we are hard workers, we need to try and work harder on the cleanliness part.

After that we had interviews with President which went a lot better. I also got to see Elder Cohelo that day which was a joyful reunion!

This week flew by and we were excited when Saturday came because we had a baptism!
 
Emilene Ortuño decided to be baptized and Elder Valencia baptized her.
 
 
   Her two sons were baptized a few weeks ago and she was really happy to follow their example.
A picture of Emilene Ortuno with her family
Her sister, who is the Relief Society President, spoke at the baptism and it was a really great service! 

We have two investigators on track for baptism this week, Mia, a nine year old girl from the Ward, and Javier Burgos, a 16 year old boy whose friend invited him to church a while back! So kids, invite your friends to church! It might work! We are REALLY REALLY excited for Javier because he has been wanting to get baptized for the past few weeks, but his dad didn't give him permission. Well, last Sunday we decided to fast for Javier's dad so he would have a change of heart and let Javier be baptized. Last night, we passed by their house and talked with his dad, and he had changed his mind completely!!! I know that Heavenly Father answered our prayers and that when we fast we become more worthy of his amazing blessings!

I am really happy with my companion and my Ward, and also happy to be back where I started.

Church yesterday with Javier and his friend Antonio
Yesterday at Conference I got to see a lot of members from Guapilo and even a few people I had taught so long ago! This week I get to do an exchange there and I am pumped for that too!

I wanted to share a picture of a stellar referral we recently received that didn't have an address, but made us smile...
If anyone knows a Fatima who makes bread, please let us know where she lives.   


Love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Harris
 

Miracles on Miracles...

                                                                                                           August 7, 2017
Hola Family,
 
We had an amazing week this week! I drank less Coca Cola and I think that had a lot to do with it! We started off our week playing Wally as a zone, which is (It is like volleyball, but in a racquetball court) basically volleyball for the un-athletic. But it was quite a hoot and we had a good time!
 
Tuesday, we had an exchange with the other Elders in our Ward. I don't remember a lot, but we worked really hard and ate ice cream--the key to being a happy missionary.

On Thursday, we had a Leadership Council with President which was really good. We watched a powerful talk from Elder Holland about the role of the Spirit in missionary work, entitled "The Third Companion." He shared an amazing story that made me want to seek more the guidance of the Spirit and pray for it each day. On Thursday I started doing that, and our weekend was just chalk full of miracles.
Friday, we were giving a baptismal interview and a member approached us and asked if he could accompany us in the afternoon to visit some less active members he knows. We were a bit reluctant because we had planned to study, but decided to go with him. We visited a few families and were heading back to the chapel when he remembered another woman who lived a few blocks away. When we got to her house, Marlene let us in and gave us something to drink because of the heat. We started with a prayer and right after she told us all about her family and why she was less active in the church. She informed us, that lately she has been attending another church, and she has felt confused about what is right. Last weekend she decided to fast to know what church was true, and through tears she told us, "And now you have arrived." I felt the Spirit so strongly, and it bore witness to both of us, that we were the answer to her prayers. There is nothing more incredible than being the answer to someone's prayers. I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is the Lord's work. He directs it and if we are worthy of the Spirit, He will lead us exactly where we need to go!
The other miracle, is that EVERY SINGLE door we knocked on this week was opened, and every house we went to received us and let us teach them the gospel. It was so strange for me, like we couldn't make a mistake, because in every house we felt impressed to visit, we were able to teach the gospel. It was another amazing answer to my prayers!
I love this Ward! It is huge and the young men and young women are doing so much to share the gospel! So we decided to take advantage and have an activity with them last night. I taught about sharing through social media and it went really well!


The work is great here and I'm doing well. I love you all and hope you have a great week!
 
Love,
 
Elder Harris
                                                                                 

Transitioning to my new area

                                                                                                           July 31, 2017
Hello Family!
 
This week has been really great! My new area is quite different from the last and so I am learning a lot about adapting.
First of all it is about 200 degrees here in Santa Cruz and the heat combined with lots of Coca Cola makes me really sleepy. I am having trouble staying awake in moments when I really need to be awake. So please pray that I can have more energy this week haha.
Last Sunday I attended church with about 34 other members and yesterday I was in church with about 296 other members! This new Ward is gigantic and we don't fit in the chapel, so they are going to remodel our chapel in the next few months.
I have already met a lot of great members, and set a goal to learn everyone's name which is proving quite difficult with so many people, but I haven't given up yet! The people are really kind here and so welcoming, and I have already run into several people I met and even some I taught a year ago in exchanges!
We live with an older couple named Olga and Ernesto...Olga cooks us lunch every day and she makes a mean apple pie, better than any apple pie I ever ate in the States. So there is a 100% chance I am going to get fat this transfer because Olga loves giving us tasty food.
My favorite part of this week was the sacrament yesterday...in Alianza the sacrament lasted like 30 seconds because there were so few members, but here I have a lot of time to reflect and ponder on the Atonement.
 
This week I learned that if the Atonement had only been to save me and no one else, it still would have been worth it for the Savior. That statement is true for each and everyone of us. He wants us to never forget that He suffered for each one of us!!! I encourage all of you to think of the Atonement in a more individual way this week. He accepted the bitter cup with joy because He knew it was the only way we could return to our Father in Heaven! I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and for His infinite love for us!
The computer isn't letting me upload pictures today, but just know that I am still 5' 10 and white and my companion is a somewhat short Colombian with black hair. He is currently wearing gray shorts and a chelsea jersey.
Love you all and hope you have a fantastic week!
 
Elder Harris