Monday, October 2, 2017

God Bless our Prophets Dear!

                                                                                                    Oct. 2, 2017
Hello Family,

What an amazing weekend it has been! General conference was so inspired and I am so grateful to know that there are Prophets, Seers, and Revelators on the earth today!

This week we got to invite SO MANY people to Conference and all week we were getting our investigators hyped for the Conference. Raquel, Juanito, Familia Rodriguez, and a new family all went and enjoyed the Conference!
We are going to follow up with them in the next few days and hear how their testimonies were strengthened!
One of my favorite moments from Conference was Saturday morning when President Eyring signaled with his hand for all to be seated. To me it was amazing to see how all members of the Church were focused on his hand, watching to know what to do. How amazing it is that all of us, no matter where we are on the world, we can fix our focus on the Prophets called of God to know what to do! And as they signal to us, we all obey in unity!

Saturday in the Priesthood session, Elder Richard G Maynes gave a talk I really loved about integrity and how to earn the Lord's trust! We need to keep our word in order to have His trust. When we say we are going to do something, we should do it! He said, "Once you compromise your integrity, it is very hard to get it back." The Lord must feel so sad when we break our promises to Him! On the other hand, when we keep covenants we can say with joy "Dad, I kept my Promise!" (See Joy Jones' talk from last Conference.)

I hope we can all discover the joy that comes from living with integrity of heart and keeping the sacred promises we have made with our Heavenly Father!

I want to share a couple of fun pictures from our week...
                                                       Olga made us snickerdoodles!!

                                                      Caught drinking coconut water


Elder Harris

Blessings on Blessings

                                                                                             Sept. 25, 2017
Hi Family,                                                                           

This week was great! Lots of memorable moments. I didn't really mention this in my letter last week, but last week was tough for us, we struggled a lot to find new investigators and it wasn't our best week. President called us in for interviews Tuesday, and we read a scripture together in the Bible that says, "Neither he that sows is something, nor he that reaps, but rather God, who gives growth." (Sorry
for my rough English translation.)
Sometimes in life (and especially in the mission) we need hard times to humble us and help us remember that success is not the result of our own efforts, but rather a gift from our Heavenly Father. So after a humbling week we were quicker to recognize the abundant blessings we received, not earned, this week and it we were able to find a lot more new investigators!
Raquel didn't go to church yesterday which was a bummer, so we will have to postpone her baptism a few more weeks. We couldn't visit Freddy this week because the pool was pretty busy, but we are working a lot with a teenager named Juanito who is doing good and obtaining a testimony little by little.
Update on Javier: He went to seminary this whole week which made me super happy and also went to the Bolivian equivalent of Mormon Prom on Friday so he is doing good.
I am excited for Conference and cant wait to hear from our Prophet! I know these men are called of God and this is an amazing opportunity to receive His guidance in our lives. Please invite a friend or someone who has never been so they can feel that too!
Elder Harris

Four Sloths in a Tree

                                                                                                Sept. 18, 2017

Hola Family,

As you can tell I am running out of creative titles for these emails, but this week we saw 4 sloths in the same tree, hence the title 4 sloths in a tree. I'll send you a pic.

On Monday, our day off or P-day, I went bowling for the first time in over a year! Not sure how but my lack of practice made me better than ever and in my first game I bowled three strikes in a row and all the Latinos thought I was a bowling legend. But then my luck wore out and I played terribly the rest of the day. haha.
On Wednesday we had an exchange in Cotoca, a town about 20 minutes out of Santa Cruz. There in the Plaza we saw the previously mentioned sloths. It was a great day, we did a lot of finding and spent a lot of time in the sun!

Javier went to church yesterday which was really exciting! The sad news is that Emilene Ortuño had to move to another Ward in the Stake the other day. We got to help her move Thursday night, but sadly we won't be able to teach her anymore. :(

As far as investigators go, Raquel didn't go to church yesterday so we have to postpone her baptism.

This week we taught Freddy, a 40 year old man who is extremely humble and so kind to us. He thanked us repeatedly for our visit and he also has a lot of desires to change. He accepted a baptismal date for October 7th and we are going to visit him again this week. He works at a pool and keeps telling us to bring shorts to go swimming after the lesson but do not worry, we are going to be strong.

Not a lot of news this week, but we had a lot of opportunities to serve!
This week I learned that Priesthood means service. It is service that transforms as into the men Heavenly Father needs us to be and helps us look outside ourselves and help His other children!


Elder Harris

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


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 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!
Elder Harris