Monday, October 23, 2017

The Golden Rake

                                                                                                      Oct. 23, 2017
Hola Family,

Really good week! It has been great being back with Elder Sierra and I have been brought to tears laughing several times this week.

Monday we got to visit some converts in Guapilo...

It was really special to go back to where we lived a year ago and see so many wonderful people!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Some of the people we taught are still struggling with old habits, but we were able to give some motivation and there was no better way to spend our P-day!
 
This week we were really busy planning an initiative to help the zone find more people to teach so they can start out the transfer well! Finding is so important in the work and we based it on 2 Corinthians 9:6 which says:
 
"But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully." 

So this week we have a huge competition planned to see which companionship and which District can find the most new investigators and we are really pumped about it! The prize is a miniature rake we painted gold and put on a trophy stand. Every Elder and Sister in Zona La Pampa will be competing for the golden rake these next 7 days.

We were blessed to find a really prepared investigator this week named Sebastian. His brother is a member and before he wasn't really interested in the church. But this week we decided to give it a try and he accepted a baptismal date for November 11th! He went to church yesterday and made some good friends already, so we are really excited for him!

Raquel has another baptismal date for the 4th, but she didn't go to church yesterday and we really need her to go! Please pray for her! We are doing everything possible and she already has a testimony, but she just really needs to attend more consistently!

This week we got a nice break from the heat, on Thursday it rained like crazy!!!
 

We had to walk through flooded streets to get to a baptism of a boy from the Ward. I got to speak at the baptism and it was really special.

 
The rain in Bolivia is such a beautiful reminder of baptism because it cleans out all the garbage from the streets and leaves things nice and clean. Every time we sin it is like throwing a piece of garbage on the ground and every week that garbage accumulates leaving our lives dirty. But as we are baptized and later on partake of the sacrament, we are completely cleansed and get to start again!
 
Never forget the importance of the sacrament. As we prepare ourselves and partake worthily, we are made clean and we can let all that filth be swept away!

Love,

Elder Harris

Transfers...

                                                                                                       Oct. 16, 2017
Hello Family,
 
To quote Kari, the babysitter from the Incredible's movie, "Strange things are happening!"
(Please imagine that in the voice of Kari, the babysitter, if not this email will not be as meaningful for you.)
 
Well, today Elder Valencia left for his new area which was pretty sad.
I have really enjoyed these last two transfers and he has definitely been one of my best companions. I will miss him and I wanted to share a couple of our last pictures. 
 
 
 
Now for the strange things...my new companion is my very own father in the mission, Elder Sierra. (For those who may not understand, your first trainer in the mission is referred to as your father.)
 
Great to be back with Elder Sierra!
It is very unusual that we have the opportunity to be back serving together, but we are very excited and it will be a blast. This is his last transfer before going home and so we are going to work very hard. It seems funny that one year later we are back in the same zone, right now sitting in the same internet where we went a year ago, and this afternoon we are headed out to Guapilo to visit converts.
 
Something we have been doing with our recent converts lately, is helping them become spiritually self sufficient by setting goals to read the Book of Mormon. We set a goal with them to read a certain amount of the Book of Mormon and then pick a date for them to finish. If they meet their goal by that day, we take them out to dinner. Javier finished 2 Nephi last week so Monday we had some delicious chicken and rice! It is a total win win haha
 
This week we also had an activity with the young single adults in our Ward as well as another Ward nearby. It was a competition between the two Wards, and we played games like human foosball, scripture knowledge, and other games we invented. It was a blast, but sadly no one brought a friend so even though it turned out well, there weren't any results as far as finding new investigators.
 
 
 
 
 
 
They have also been doing construction outside our house, (Bolivia is recently getting sewers installed) so there was a water breakage which led to the formation of some rather large puddles. One day, just as we were leaving the house, I tried to jump over a puddle but didn't calculate the distance well, and fell in the puddle. It was right in front of the workers which was really embarrassing, but we just cracked up after.
 
I am still being well fed in this area. Olga is fattening me up with her cookies and apple pie. The members give us a ton of food and we are very grateful and blessed! 
 
 
My favorite part of this week was reading Mosiah 14-16. I highly encourage you all to read these three chapters. They helped me learn so much about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what He suffered because of His love for us. He was completely innocent and didn't deserve any punishment, but decided to be wounded for our transgressions and smitten for our sins, so that Heavenly Father could give Him the power to intercede for us in the day of judgment. I am so grateful that He chose to suffer for us and for this amazing plan our Father has created!
 
Love you all!
 
Have an amazing week!
 
Elder Harris

El Calor: Nunca Deja de Ser (The Heat Never Ceases!)

                                                                                                           Oct. 9, 2017
Hello All,

This week was great! One thing I can testify of is that the heat and humidity in Bolivia is a lot like charity, "for charity never faileth!" It has been a hot hot week, but a lot of great memories and we got to do a lot of fun things this week!


Here we are on our P-day eating lunch together as a zone. We also got to play capture the flag which was a blast! 

Tuesday I had a long anticipated exchange with Elder Harrison. As you may have guessed our names made it pretty awkward. Introducing ourselves all day as Elder Harris and Elder Harrison...


If both of us being named Elder wasn't weird for people I think our last names did it. But it was a great day and we got to talk with a lot of people!














This week we found a new family, Familia Herrera, and they are married! That is very uncommon here in Bolivia so we are really excited and hoping to see some big progress this week!

We are also teaching Anali Gonzalez and several of her children. She went to church yesterday with her kids and really wants to be baptized. The thing is she is not married and her husband is not interested in marriage or the church. So please pray for him so his heart is softened and he can support his wife more!
 
On Friday night we went to a plaza as a District and had a really cool activity. We had two tables and on the tables there were pieces of paper numbered 1 through 10. Each number was a question having to do with God, the Prophets, Jesus Christ, and His Apostles. #1 was the easiest and #10 was the hardest. Some examples were : "How many Apostles did Jesus Christ have?" Or "Who was the Prophet that built an arc and filled it with animals?" We gave passersby candy for the questions they answered correctly and it was fun watching people progress from question to question.

The final question was "True or False: Jesus Christ visited the Americas?" It was interesting watching people think about it and ask each other and reminded me of the beginning of the Meet the Mormons movie haha. Most people said false because they only know about the Bible. This was the best part of the activity! We got to tell people that it was true! We explained a little bit about the Book of Mormon and then wrote peoples names and addresses down so the missionaries can visit them and give them a Book of Mormon! I really enjoyed teaching people about the restoration in such a simple way and the activity was a huge success!

I love this work and there is nothing better than being a full time missionary!

Here are a few fun pictures from the week... 

The District
Good Eats!!!



Bolivian Sunset!!

 
Have a great week!
 
Elder Harris

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

Love,

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!

Love,

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