Monday, December 19, 2016

Feliz Navidad!!!

                                                                                                           Dec. 19, 2016

Hi Everybody! Thanks so much for your emails--I loved hearing from everyone!
This week was a really special week and we have seen so much progress with our investigators!
First of all, thanks for all of your prayers because Sonia came to church yesterday! She came with us to sacrament meeting and made friends with some of the members of the Ward. After sacrament meeting we didn´t see her for a few minutes. We went to the Relief Society room and she wasn't in there. I freaked out like someone had stolen my child, haha. I whipped out the phone and we ran outside the chapel to find her! She was walking home and said she had to give the keys to her pharmacy to someone, but we encouraged her to stay so she could meet her baptismal date! She decided to stay for the second hour and we were so happy! She will be baptized either the 6 or 13 of January!
Also almost all of the familia Vaca Mendez went to church and the kids stayed all three hours! The Ward helped us out a lot  and I was so happy that they came!
Unfortunately, we couldn´t do our booth in the caminata because the assistants didn't give us permission. Bummer.
Quick side note before I forget but lately I have been complaining that we never eat anything weird and telling my companion how I thought I was going to eat dog and guinea pig and stuff. Well, yesterday we finally got to eat something semi-weird: cow heart! Some of our investigators from Peru fed us cow heart, haha. I freaked out when I heard it, but it was pretty good.
This week I felt our Heavenly Father´s love so powerfully and I just wanted to share two experiences.
On Wednesday we visited Hermana Carabajal. She is a member that lives by the Bishop.

Remember the picture (above) I sent of the service we did recently was for her. On Tuesday she was robbed and they stole everything of value she had. Her husband who lives in Paraguay recently took the children so she is alone. She was so sad and I decided to share Doctrine and Covenants section 122 with her, one of my favorite scriptures. It describes all of the trials the prophet Joseph Smith would have to endure, and then says "Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good" I felt so much of His love as I testified to the Hermana that He will never allow anything to happen to us that is not for our eternal well-being! He loves us and that is all we need to remember when things get hard!
Last night we visited Selbi and her family (we are now teaching her brother and dad which is super exciting!)
Picture of Selbi's family at her baptism.
We didn't have much time so we decided to watch, the "Light the World" video with them. I love that video so much! As we watched I was brought to tears because I felt so strongly the Savior´s love. I love watching the scenes from His life as He lifted others up and held them in his hands. Until he comes again, we are His hands. What an amazing opportunity we have this week and throughout the year to pick up our brothers and sisters and lift them to new heights! We can help them feel of His love with each thing that we do!
Thank you all for sharing your light. I hope everyone has a great Christmas and can´t wait to talk on Sunday! Light the world!
Elder Harris

Monday, December 12, 2016

He is the Light!!

                                                                                                                 Dec. 12, 2016

Hi Everyone! Hope you had a great week! Loved hearing from all of you!
This week was really good! We are struggling to find new people to teach, but we are continuing to learn and improve in our finding and teaching! It is so fun being two new missionaries because we both recognize that we don´t know how to do a lot of things, learn from preach my gospel how they should be done, and then try our best to put it in practice! I'm so grateful for my companion and his humility! He is a great friend and source of strength to me. 
This week on Wednesday our Ward mission leader told us there was going to be a big caminata, or walk, on the highway near our house. The purpose was to show faith in the Virgin of Cotoca so it was practically all Catholics, but we decided to go anyway to check it out.

 There were thousands of people walking down the highway (they walk from Santa Cruz to the catholic church in Cotoca, more than 10 miles) Anyway we were able to contact a lot of the venders and find a few new people to teach! They are going to do the same exact thing again on Wednesday of this week so we are teaming up with the Elders of La Pampa to have a booth there! Hopefully it will be really good for finding people! I also bought cotton candy there which was so good and brought be back to my childhood haha.
Sadly, Sonia didn't come to church yesterday! Her brother got sick and she had to take care of him. It was really frustrating but we are not giving up on her! Please keep praying, this week she will go for 3 hours for sure! Yesterday was our primary program and it was so good! My favorite part was when they sang I love to see the temple! I miss the temple so much. The covenants we make there are so special and it truly is the house of god.
We had to leave a few investigators this week and don´t have many people to teach. We are going to focus on finding this week and I know the Lord will provide a way!
One of my favorite experiences from this week was teaching an older man named Miguel. We found him in the street and sat down with him to talk. He told us about how his wife had died and we taught him a little about the plan of salvation, especially the atonement. I shared one of my favorite scriptures with him:
And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.
8 But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
9 He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death. 
It may sound a little cheesy, but as I read this last verse to him, the sunlight came through the clouds and it was such a warm light! He is the light of the world and I am so grateful to know that because of him, death has no sting, and the grave no victory! I hope that we can keep sharing this light with people in so many ways this week!
Love you all, and light the world!!

Elder Harris

Thursday, December 8, 2016

He hears our prayers!

                                                                                                            Dec. 5, 2016

Hi Family! So good to hear from everyone and glad to hear Collage and the Christkindl Markt went well!

We are excited to take part in this month's "Light the World Service Challenge," ( and have been working each day on an act of service.

Although this week has been a tough one because a lot of our lessons have fallen through, we still had some amazing experiences and I know our efforts are making a difference!

This week we helped the Familia Carrabajal clean up their yard. It was a fun service with the legendary Hermano Peña at our side.
On Tuesday we thought we found a baby horse in the street, (which would not have been too out of the ordinary) but as we got closer we realized it was a gazelle, so we cautiously took pictures.
Here we are eating bananas with the crew...
We also helped the Bishop cut brillos for his clothing business.

On Wednesday we taught a less active family, Juan Carlos and his wife, the message of the restoration. We decided to watch the restoration video with them (I love watching the videos haha I think i have a problem because sometimes I'd rather just watch the video instead of teaching but they are so powerful!) Anyway, so as we were teaching about the apostasy before we watched the video, they expressed to us some serious doubts about the church and the Bible and Book of Mormon. We talked about them and I realized that all of their questions were the same questions Joseph Smith had. We then watched the video with them and it was so powerful!
My favorite part is when Joseph Smiths father is carving a wooden toy for his son and it quotes 3 Nephi 14: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" I know that this is true! Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers!
Yesterday we fasted with our ward mission leader. As we prayed with him to begin the fast, the impression came to me "The Lord hears the prayers of his servants" The Spirit confirmed this truth to me and I know that he is going to help us find some new families to teach this week!
Sonia is progressing well and came to church yesterday! Sadly, she chose to leave after the first hour so she can't be baptized for another three weeks! Please pray that she can come this Sunday and stay all three hours!
Last night we had an awesome family home evening with the familia Vaca Mendez and a part member family, the familia Mercado. We talked about family prayer, played a fun game, and ate soda and cookies.  
The familia Vaca Mendez also came to sacrament meeting yesterday which was so great! The members are helping us so much and we are starting to discover more and more the secrets of working with members!
Yesterday we found two families who are so prepared to hear the gospel! One we met while we were getting haircuts a few weeks ago and another we contacted in the street! We were able to teach them finally yesterday and we are excited to see their progress this week.
I love you all and hope you have a great week! Light the World!
Elder Harris

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Gospel of Doing Your Part!

                                                                                                       Nov. 28, 2016

Hi Family! Glad to hear everyone had a great thanksgiving and enjoyed their birthdays!
This week was a tough week, but also one of the most memorable weeks of my mission. As we witnessed a lot of investigators struggling to keep their commitments, something I learned is that this is a gospel of doing your part. It is so simple! Heavenly Father wants to give us so many blessings and all he asks is that we keep his commandments and do our part! Everything we teach as missionaries centers on keeping the commandments that he has given us and making covenants with our Heavenly Father. He has promised us so many amazing things, but we will never be able to experience them if we aren´t willing to do our part!
I am also learning so much from my companion! Elder Cohelo is a convert of three or 4 years and has a powerful testimony of the restored gospel. He also has such a pure love and concern for the people that I have never seen before in any missionary. He is helping me so much to refocus on my purpose and on other people instead of myself!
This week Sonia came to church which was such a blessing! The Familia Vaca Mendez told us they were going to come, but didn't which was sad.
We found a new family to teach. Kathy and Carlos have a 5 year old daughter and they are super prepared to receive the gospel! They accepted a baptismal date for the 13th of January and we are so excited to help them progress towards this goal!
This week the Lord truly allowed us to have the Spirit with us and testify by the Spirit! We had to be bold and fearless in testifying this week, especially with a man who has read the entire Book of Mormon, but will not be baptized. We testified of priesthood authority and it was a sad choice that he made not to be baptized, but we did all we could.
I am so grateful for the Spirit and the power of the Priesthood! I have such a strong testimony of the power that we hold and have access to! I am excited to start this Christmas season and hope we can all become more like the Savior one choice and action at a time!
Love you all! Happy Birthday Hilary and Reuben! Have a great week!
Elder Harris

Monday, November 21, 2016

News! First Cambio or Transfer

                                                                                                                Nov. 21, 2016

So this week, I received news on Tuesday that I have been assigned to be a trainer for this cambio or transfer. I'm really excited and happy and feel grateful for this opportunity! I also feel a little inadequate, in that I am still learning and growing, but I know that the Lord will bless me.

My companion is Elder Cohelo. He is from Iquitos Peru and fresh out the MTC. He is such a good teacher and so good with all the members and people in general!  He is also 21 so it is a little weird training him, but really good nonetheless!

I trust that the Lord asked me to train Elder Cohelo because He loves me and it will make me into the missionary I am supposed to be. I look forward to serving with Elder Cohelo!

In other news, they didn't open an area so we are still the only two Elders in Guapilo. Also I will give the sad news first: Sonia didn't come to church yesterday so her baptismal date for the 10th of December will be pushed back. We are going to try and visit her today or tomorrow and see what happened, but please pray that she can come to church this week!
Also, this week we were able to teach the familia Vaca Mendez and more and more people keep coming to the lessons haha. It is a family of somewhere around 12 and many of them accepted a baptismal date for the 6th of January! Yesterday they were going to come to church, but there was some sort of emergency so the adults couldn't. We passed by the house to pick them up and asked the kids if they still wanted to go. Four of them said yes, and so we all went to church together! This was such a great example to me of faith and desire to draw closer to the Lord. They had never been to church before and knew no one, but stayed all three hours. Last night Jose, the 11 year old son, asked us if we were going to have church again next week! This family is super prepared and I am so excited for them!
Something I have been really grateful for is the sweet presence of the Spirit. On the first day of this cambio (Wednesday), I received a promise from the Lord that we are going to be successful this cambio! It has been such a comfort for me to know this and I am grateful for the influence of the Spirit.
I know that Heavenly Father loves us and His only purpose and objective is our eternal happiness! He does nothing save it be to accomplish that purpose. If we can remember this we will be able to endure any difficult moment or trial!
I love you all and hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving! As members of the church we have so much to be grateful for!
Happy birthday to Jade, Dad, and Theo. Eat a lot of cake!
Elder Harris

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ready To Make Changes

                                                                                                                    Nov. 14, 2016
Hi Everyone! Thanks so much for all your emails and support!

So I promise this wasn´t intentional, but the title of this email is quite fitting because this week is cambios. (Transfers)... 

My companion, Elder Sierra has been here in this Ward 10 and a half months so we pretty much know exactly what is going to happen. He will be transferred to a new area this week and I will be getting a new companion.
Elder Sierra has been an awesome trainer! I am grateful that I could speak to him in English while learning and transitioning to Spanish. He has a strong testimony of the gospel and has taught me
a lot. I especially appreciate his sense of humor, as he has kept me laughing. 
Although I will miss serving with him, I look forward to meeting my new companion and setting some big goals for this next cambio!
With this being Elder Sierra's last week in the barrio, (he has been here almost a year) our pensionista and Ward mission leader made him a cake. (and even added my name at the last minute hahaha).


They are the Nunez family and they are so awesome!!

This week I really came to realize how lucky I am to have these two years to be a representative of Jesus Christ. Only two years to spend my time loving and teaching these people 24/7 and without the distractions of the world. I love the wonderful people I meet each day!

Although most of our time, we are either studying, serving, or out teaching, occasionally, on our P-day (our day off), we get to participate in fun recreational activities.
Last month, Elder Sierra and I got to play soccer with a great group of guys.

This week we visited a cool zoo or aviary with parrots and toucans.
This is me pretending to feed it a mango.
Recently, I had the opportunity to go on splits with another Elder, Elder Santos.
We discovered mangos--a lot of them!!

Just as we want to share the sweetness of the mangos, we must realize how important it is to share the fruits of the gospel with our neighbors and friends.   

This week I was able to study the story of David and Goliath and learned so much. David was so young but had such an unwavering confidence in our Heavenly Father. He said "Who is this philistine to defy the armies of the living god?" The work of our Heavenly Father is going forth and there is no man, no matter how strong or mighty, that can stop it! This week we have been able to work with people that are trying to overcome their own personal goliath´s, and as they put their faith in the living god, they have been able to make changes in their lives.

Sonia is making amazing progress! She has not had coffee in more than 10 days and is smoking less and less everyday. She has also read up to 2 Nephi 3 in the Book of Mormon and told us she has a goal to finish the book before her baptism on the 10th of December! We asked her granddaughter what changes she has seen in Sonia in the past month and she told us that before, Sonia was very closed and wouldn´t listen to anyone. She told us we are the first people to have ever reached her and she is becoming a completely different person. Sadly, she couldn't come to church yesterday so please pray for her that she can come this week or she won't be able to make her baptismal date!

This week we found several great families and invited them to baptism in the first visit. The Lord is preparing so many people here to receive the gospel, but most of all Hermano Vaca Mendez. We found he and his family and he asked us to come and talk with them. He repeatedly told us, "Listen to me, I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to be like this anymore. I am ready to change." He doesn't have a family and has a lot of problems with drugs and alcohol, but accepted the invitation to be baptized.  

It is a witness to me that so many people are just waiting for a message like this. The invitation to be baptized is all they need to change their lives forever! They are just waiting for someone to tell them they can!
As I leave my training and start with a new companion I am so excited to see more and more changes in the lives of heavenly fathers children! This is His work and He will not fail us, no matter how great our foes may seem!
Love you all and have a great week!
Elder Harris

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Selbi's Baptism

                                                                                                            Nov. 7, 2016
Hi Everyone! So good to hear from all of you!

This week we had a really great week! Selbi was baptized on Saturday and I was able to baptize her.
It was such a special experience and we are so happy for her!



      It is such a privilege to be able to hold the priesthood and to exercise it for the salvation of His children!

A picture of Selbi's family coming together in celebration of her baptism. 
On Saturday, we were having trouble emptying the baptismal font before the baptism to put in clean water. There was a problem with the pump and we were trying to unjam it. Before Elder Sierra climbed down into a manhole, we said a prayer and asked for help. Soon after, I tried twisting the handle one more time just in case and it worked! The Lord answers the prayers of his children, no matter how small or insignificant they seem!

Sunday, we had a really powerful fast and testimony meeting. I have never felt with more surety in my life that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ! Simple heartfelt testimonies can be so powerful and invite the Spirit so strongly. For the closing hymn we sang, "We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet," and it was such an amazing experience. I love being here and especially in this Ward! It is starting to feel like home and like it's "my Ward!"

Elder Sierra and me with Hermano Pena and Alfredo.
They are best friends and two legendary older men from our Ward.
They both love speaking English with us. 

This week Sonia has been making amazing progress! We gave her a priesthood blessing last week and for the last 8 days she has not been drinking any coffee! She even recognized how amazing this was because she drank 7 or 8 cups of coffee every day of her life! Not keeping the word of wisdom has really hurt her health, but she is starting to make the changes she needs to! She also has been reading in the Book of Mormon for a few HOURS every day which is amazing! This week we have
to work hard with her to help her overcome smoking!

We have so many great families to teach here in Guapilo and the Lord has blessed us with so much success. I am so grateful for the Spirit and how much it teaches me and strengthens me. It truly is amazing to see how Heavenly Father is changing people here and I love being able to play a part in that process.

I love you all and hope you have a great week! Remember that we belong to the true church of God once again restored to the Earth!


Elder Harris

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween! "Sweet week" in the Mission Field!!

Hi Everyone! Happy Halloween!                                                       Oct. 31, 2016

No spooky Halloween cats here! Just me goofing around
while sympathizing and pondering the life of a cat.

This week was another amazing week here in Guapilo and we are having so much success thanks to the help of the members!

Below are pictures of the missionaries I have the opportunity to serve with in my zone and district.

A group picture of all the missionaries serving in our zone.

Jumping for joy with the missionaries in our District
This Saturday Selbi is going to be baptized! We are so excited and hopefully her grandpa will be able to baptize her. She is so special and has been so prepared.

Yesterday we got to meet with Sonia again, the older lady who lives across the street from us. She has a smoking addiction and yesterday we taught her about the Word of Wisdom. She told us it is something she would like to change. We know it is going to be very hard for her, but I am so excited to help her overcome this!

The really sad news is that this week Secundino left to another part of the country to work. He left a note at the Bishop's house, but never said goodbye to us. I was pretty crushed because he was progressing so well and had read so much of the Book of Mormon! Hopefully he will be able to meet with missionaries wherever he is, but we are going to try and call him soon to coordinate that.
Also, yesterday we invited familia Cespedes to be baptized! They accepted and are going to read and pray about the Book of Mormon in order to receive an answer. They are such a great family and it is really exciting. Their son and daughter are 14 and 15 and already have made friends with the youth!
Last week we began teaching a 13 year old boy named Lucas. He works with the Bishop and his mother is a member, but he doesn´t know much about the church. This week as we were teaching him about prophets he asked, "Do you guys believe that there will be prophets again? Because I think that someday in the future there will be another prophet." This comment really hit me hard as I thought to myself, "Oh my friend, that day has already come!" Sometimes we forget how amazing the message of the restoration is. There are people who are still waiting for God to call prophets, and we are so lucky to know that He already has! It is our privilege to show them that God has again called a Prophet and that His church is once again on the earth!

One miracle we witnessed this week was on Wednesday, when we attempted to find a new family to teach. We had walked around a neighborhood for 20 minutes just looking for families who were home when we decided to say a prayer. I prayed that we could be led and guided to find those who the Lord had prepared. We decided to go to a house we had previously contacted. No one was home. Then we talked to a woman in the street who gave us a reference farther down the street. There was only a little girl home at this house, but we contacted her neighbor. He had met with missionaries before, but was not interested. Finally, we went all the way back near where we had started to find that family we were not able to teach last Sunday because there were only women. They were also not home.
At the exact moment we arrived at that house, a neighbor came outside of her gate. We began talking with her and found out she had received a priesthood blessing once when she was extremely sick, and that her illness had never again returned after that. She said she would like to meet with us and has a husband and 2 kids. 
This truly was a miracle for us. We walked for almost an hour and talked to so many people before finding the family who had been prepared. Sometimes we can't see the fruits of our efforts but the Lord is guiding us!
I love my area, my companion, and this work! Have a great week!
Elder Harris

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Always Remember Him

                                                                                                Oct. 24, 2016

Hola Familia! Thank you all for your emails and support!
I just want you to know how much I am loving my mission! Although it hasn't really been easy, it has been completely worth it.

This week was an amazing week! We worked harder than ever and the Lord blessed us with so much success.

Last Sunday after having a pretty disappointing week we decided that we needed to teach a lot more lessons with members. We made goals and plans to have a member with us at every lesson and the Lord provided. So many members sacrificed their time to help us and to bring their brethren unto Christ!

Some updates on our investigators - Selbi is progressing so well and is going to be baptized on November 5th! She is reading the Book of Mormon and came to our Ward yesterday for the first time and really loved it. She is so sweet and pure and it is amazing to see how the Spirit has touched her heart.
Secundino still has not prayed about the Book of Mormon, which is really difficult because without doing so it will be nearly impossible for him to overcome his doubts about the church. He is starting to make more friends in the Ward though, and this Saturday we are having an activity with the Elder´s Quorum to help befriend him!
Claudia and Ximena are having trouble progressing as well, but this week we found two new families to teach that we are really excited about!
We are also still teaching Sonia. She is the nicest and funniest old woman I have ever met. She is so loving and warm to us and too funny. During one of our lessons we asked her about the chapter she read in the Book of Mormon and she was telling us about everything she read. I looked down at my Book of Mormon and realized she was just reading the chapter summary! Elder Sierra and I laughed and it was hilarious. She smokes and hasn´t been able to come to church yet, but this week we are going to help her overcome these challenges!
Yesterday we went on splits with a priest and Elder from the Ward and they were super successful! The members help us so much and their influence on the work is irreplaceable.
Just a quick thought - after having an amazing experience during the Sacrament yesterday, I thought about what we can do to have experiences like that during the week, because we are promising each Sunday to remember him all the other days. It is amazing that we can take a few minutes each day to study the scriptures and pray to Heavenly Father in order to remember Him. The sacrament is short, but a powerful reminder of the atonement. So it can be with our scripture study and prayer.
I love you all and hope we can each do more to remember Him throughout the week! Have an amazing week!
Elder Harris

Monday, October 17, 2016

First, we are obedient!!

                                                                                                           October 17, 2016
Hola Family!

Great to hear from everyone today! We weren´t able to visit several of our investigators this week so I am sorry I can´t give you all updates, but I learned so much this week and it has been a great week!

Yesterday we had Stake conference in La Pampa, and a seventy Elder Godoy came to speak to us.

He had a powerful talk and there were so many good things we learned. One thing that I loved that he said is, "the indicator of the depth of our conversion is how we treat others."

This is so true! It is so important how we love others and show that love in each thing we do because that is the second commandment we received from the Lord. Our love for Him will be shown in the way we treat others!
Another thing he talked about was the importance of our covenants. He talked about how our covenants should firmly anchor all of our actions. When we start to make exceptions and rationalizations, we are wandering from our covenants.
As missionaries our ultimate goal is to help people make and keep covenants. It is ultimately obedience to these covenants that will bring them true
happiness in this life and salvation
in the life to come.

Last night we had an interesting experiencing. We weren't able to find many new people to teach this week and we wanted to find a family last night. It was nearing the end of the night and we found a family who agreed to let us talk to them for a few minutes. They brought chairs out and there was a male inside the house, but only the women wanted to listen. We are not allowed to teach lessons without another male older than 18 present, but we were really desperate and we had been trying to convince them to listen to us for several minutes. When we realized we would not have a male to accompany us, my companion said, "Its your call." I thought about it and decided that we would not teach this family. 
As I made this decision, the thought came to my head "First, we are obedient" Whatever comes as a result of following the commandments and mission rules may come. We missed out on an opportunity to teach, but obedience always comes first.
A big challenge here is self sufficiency. People are so poor here that it is difficult for them to pay tithing and not work on Sundays. Part of the area  goal for self sufficiency is tithing and keeping the Sabbath day holy. I realized that these are not the end or the goal, but rather the means by which people will be come self sufficient.
First, we are obedient, and then the Lord will be with us and pour out his blessings upon us. It is such a privilege to be taking part in the gathering of Israel in these last days!
I love you all and hope you have a great week! I pray for each of you daily and hope you know how much I love you!
Elder Harris

Monday, October 10, 2016

Mission of Miracles

                                                                                                      October 10, 2016
Hola Familia!
Como están? Espero que todo estabien y estoy tan feliz para ver sus fotos y leer sus cartas!
I am sorry for alarming you last week with our crazy story. I realized after emailing that I forgot to tell you that everything was okay and safe! We don´t work in that area much and things are totally back to normal now so no worries!

Elder Sierra and I out exercising on our Preparation day
So this past week was cambios,(transfers) and.........NOTHING CHANGED!

Elder Sierra and I are still companions and will remain in this area. We were both very surprised because he started his mission in this area and at the end of this Cambio, he will complete a year of his mission. We also thought that they would open another area in our town which didn't happen either, so we get to keep all of our investigators! So he will finish my training and we are both pretty excited to do more this cambio.

The official name of our mission is, "Bolivia, Santa Cruz, Mission of Miracles!" And this week I really got to see why. On Friday we were able to see so many miracles!

After lunch on Friday we taught a woman named Sonia. She is an older woman who lives across the street from us and her granddaughter is a member. It was only our third lesson with her and we taught her about the Book of Mormon and then invited her to be baptized! She accepted for the 4th of November and we are so excited for her! She is just the sweetest lady and always gives us apple juice when we visit her haha.
In the evening we had a lesson with Familia Baudevin. Last week a little girl came up to us in the street and asked us to teach her family. Her name is Selbi and she is eleven years old and most of her family are less active members. During our second lesson with her on Friday, we taught her the message of the restoration, and then Elder Sierra invited her to be baptized. She immediately said yes. He then asked, "And why?". After a few moments, Selbi said "For happiness", and then with tears streaming down her face "and because I want to be a member of this church!" It was a powerful moment for us and she is so ready to take this step!
After this lesson we taught Claudia and Ximena. We talked to them a lot about baptism. They still don't feel ready and don't want to be baptized, but we testified that they don't have to be perfect before baptism because that is the reason we are baptized. They are putting more expectations on themselves than the Lord has for them. We invited them to be baptized in November, and Ximena said she doesn't want to, but Claudia said if she feels ready she will. At the end of the lesson, I was prompted to tell them that we love them and pray for them each night. As I spoke these words I was filled with the Spirit and felt an incredible love for them! It was a powerful moment and a great lesson.
Finally, yesterday we had a lesson with Secundino. He finally came to church yesterday which was a huge victory because he always tells us he is going to come and then doesn´t. Yesterday afternoon we taught him about the plan of salvation, and as we talked about baptism he told us that he has been feeling the changes the gospel brings to his life. He no longer feels like drinking or doing something bad and we testified that the Book of Mormon and his decision to follow the Savior are changing his life. We are so excited for him to continue to change and progress!
This week we saw so many miracles and had an amazing week! This is the Lord's work and it is so amazing to work alongside him! I love this area and these people so much and can't wait to see them enter the waters of baptism! 
I love you all and hope you have an amazing week!
Elder Harris

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Faith is Optimism

                                                                                                         Oct. 3, 2016
Hi Everyone! Great hearing from all of you and hope everyone is healthy and happy!
This week was pretty crazy...on Friday in one part of our area there was a mass eviction where lots of people were forced from their homes. The police came in with riot shields and it was very chaotic. One of these families were members so we spent a few hours helping them dissemble their house in what I can only describe as the most chaotic church move I have ever taken part in. Houses were being bulldozed and it was really sad to see.
On Saturday, things got worse, and as we were driving through the area we heard several gunshots and people were lighting straw mattresses on fire to burn their homes. We asked our taxi driver a few minutes later if he knew what was going on back there and he said completely seriously "Ohh there´s a championship soccer game! Yeah there are two teams..." and he went on giving details about this soccer game completely oblivious to what we had just driven through. Elder Sierra and I just cracked up. It was crazy!! We ended up inviting him to come to Conference.

Conference was amazing! I had to watch the first two sessions on Saturday in Spanish because there was no English transmission, but it was really special because when you can´t write down exactly what they are saying, you write down exactly what you are feeling. I really enjoyed President Uchtdorf's first talk and the Spirit was so strong throughout that day!
On Sunday morning we got to greet all the saints as they gathered in the Stake center in La Pampa! It was the happiest moment of my week to see so many righteous Latter Day Saints gathered to hear and sustain a Prophet of God! Unfortunately, none of our investigators attended which was really sad for us as missionaries, but we made several visits and calls to each one of them and did our best so there is nothing to regret!
This week I learned an important principle: optimism is an essential part of faith. I am a new and naïve missionary with a pure optimism at times simply because I do not know reality yet. Sometimes my companion and others around me tend to dampen that optimism because they "know better" or have experienced so much rejection before, but if we are to be faithful we must be optimistic. If we act without a sincere belief and hope that something is going to happen, we are not acting in faith.
Updates on investigators: Claudia y Ximena haven't progressed much this week but Secundino read 10 chapters of the book of Mormon on his own! It was amazing to hear this! I love this work and love all of you!
Elder Harris 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Iveth's Baptism

                                                                                                           Sept. 26, 2016
Hola Familia!
So at this point you may be asking ¨"Who the heck is Iveth" because I never have said anything about her before. Iveth is a 13 year old girl who has been meeting with the missionaries for a long time, but has struggled with the decision to be baptized. I have taught her a few times since I got here, but she told us she wasn´t ready yet. On Thursday we met with her and she told us she was ready and Saturday we had the baptism!

Lots of the youth were able to come support her and it went really well! She told us afterwards that she felt a lot better than before, which was so great to hear because whenever we ask her how she feels she just says "bien no mas" haha. Baptism is such a blessing and such an amazing opportunity we have to help people enter the kingdom of God!

I'm happy to report that our Ward mission leader fixed my camera this week haha...he is not a camera guy but somehow knew that I needed to turn on macro mode so that should do it. A really simple fix!
So I'm going to be able to send more pictures.

A picture of our Bishop (front) and Ward Mission Leader, Hermano
Nunez, (back) who is also our pension or caretaker who feeds us.  
In answering questions in regards to our eating situation, we have a pension (caretaker who feeds us)where we eat lunch every day. The pension is paid through our monthly mission funds. The Ward mission leader is our pension so that's been fun. The food is pretty good and normal - always soup first, then some rice and meat and veggies, then a dessert. His wife makes a KILLER homemade chocolate ice cream, but she only made it once so I am still hoping haha. Also everyone here makes really good fruit juices and I have really enjoyed those. Nothing has been too strange yet. We eat with a member family each Sunday. We usually don´t eat dinner to save money and because lunch is huge, but I have choco krispis or frosted flakes for breakfast every morning.

Hmm what else...on Monday we had a fun zone activity where we went to a wildlife park and played soccer and explored. We also got some pretty sweet zone shirts and I really enjoyed it! Anyway at the park we saw a few alligators, a sloth, and a monkey. It was so funny because Elder Sierra wanted to find a monkey the whole time (it reminded me of Theo and the sea turtles) and we searched for a while and finally as we were leaving the park there was one swinging around. Elder Sierra was so happy that God answered his prayers haha.
Also, we had a zone conference on Tuesday with President Rodriguez and it was great to hear from him. He focused on the Spirit and what we can do better to have the Spirit with us throughout the day. President compared the Spirit to the sun. It is in one place, but we can all feel its warmth if we want to. It requires action on our part however. We have to do something as easy as going outside or opening up the windows in order to feel the light of the sun. Similarly, it is not hard to feel the Spirit, but we have to do our part!
On Tuesday night I got really sick and so I was in bed for most of Wednesday which was a bummer. I felt a lot better by Wednesday night but I continued having really severe stomach pains until Friday. I got some medicine and I am back to normal now but for this reason we weren´t able to do a lot this week. 

The last thing I wanted to share is a special experience I had yesterday. After Church I was feeling pretty down because a few members made comments about how quiet I was when I told them I wanted to be a lawyer and it is really hard sometimes when people can´t see who I really am because I can´t speak to them well. Anyway, I was depressed about not being able to be myself here, but I had the chance to study my call letter and patriarchal blessing for a few minutes. I was able to feel of the love Heavenly Father has for me and it was a powerful testimony to me of the Holy Ghost´s role as a comforter. He sent the Spirit to comfort me during this time and I was completely overwhelmed by the love and hope I felt. The language is getting better and everything will get better! Heavenly Father loves us and the reason we have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost is so that no matter what happens, we will never feel alone or abandoned. Turn to Him in hard times and He will send His comforter. There is a peace that we can find in Him that we cannot find in the world.
I love you all so much and hope you have a great week! All is well here and there is something to learn, love, and enjoy every day!
Elder Harris

Monday, September 19, 2016

Teaching by the Spirit

                                                                                                             Sept. 19, 2016

Hola Family!

First of all, thanks for all your emails and updates on life! I enjoy reading and hearing from everyone and I'm sorry my responses are so underwhelming all the time, but an hour and a half is not long enough! So a lot has happened this week.

On Wednesday, I had my first intercambio (missionary exchange) with Elder Puitiza.
He is from Peru, has been out 5 months, and is a really great Elder.

In my area we only ride around in vans and buses, but in his area all they ride is motorcycle taxis, so we got to ride on a motorcycle which was pretty sweet!
Anyway, he was baptized three years ago and worked for a year to come out on a mission. He is such a Christ-like Elder and I had a really great time working with him!
Quick story:
At the beginning of one of our lessons this week an Hermana brought out a full Sprite bottle and I said, "Esto es mi favorito, or this is my favorite!" To which she then responded--Agua???
I realized that the bottle was full of water and not Sprite and we all cracked up. haha  It was funny, but a little embarassing.

Elder Sierra has been pretty sick this weekend so unfortunately we weren´t able to do much the past two days. We had to miss church which was a bummer, but I also had A LOT of time to study and read so I have learned a lot this weekend haha. All the studying I did without any teaching was just a reminder to me that if we don´t act on what we learn from the scriptures, they are just words on paper. The important part is going and doing! Anyway, he is feeling better now so we are excited to have a whole new week to work hard and improve. 
This week we stopped by Paul's house to set up an appointment and he told us he wasn't going to meet with us anymore. It was pretty disappointing, but he is still a really good guy and I enjoyed the opportunity we had to teach him!
Emmanuel is progressing really well and will probably be baptized either this week or next. We invited him to download the app and listen to the Book of Mormon on his phone, so hopefully he can start doing that!
Claudia and Ximena are also both doing well! Claudia is 23 and Ximena is 19 by the way. Their older sister and her husband are less active but they accompany us during the lessons and are really nice. They both told us this week that the Book of Mormon helps them feel clean, and Ximena said that after reading she feels like she has talked to someone. The Book of Mormon is powerful and we are seeing such a difference in our teaching as we focus on the Book of Mormon as the key source for conversion! Ximena came to church yesterday and is on track to be baptized the first of October.
This week I had the most amazing and powerful experience of my mission so far. On Thursday we were teaching Familia Suarez, an older couple with 3 children. They have been meeting with the missionaries for months and have accepted everything we have taught, but they aren´t married which is the only thing keeping them from baptism. As we were following up on their plans to be married at the beginning of the lesson, Hermana Gabby told us that they are having a lot of troubles in their relationship and Jorge is considering leaving. They have been together for 5 years but they told us they were always arguing and it was tough.
Elder Sierra and I are 18 and 19 year old boys and we are by no means qualified to give relationship advice, so we honestly had no idea what to tell them. We wanted to encourage them that by living more like Christ and showing more love they could improve their relationship, but we also didn´t want to tell them they should be married if they really don´t get along. As I was thinking about what kind of counsel we could give them, prayer came to mind. Then Elder Sierra began talking about how prayer could guide them. Then the thought came into my head, "We don´t know, but your Heavenly Father knows everything." Seconds later, I heard Elder Sierra say these exact words in Spanish. I could not deny that the spirit was guiding us both in this moment. I began to speak and told Gabby and Jorge that I can´t always understand their Spanish very well, but I can testify that the words of Elder Sierra are true because I was thinking of those exact same words. I got choked up and began to cry because I realized the Spirit was working through us. As I testified to them that their Heavenly Father loves them and knows them perfectly, the Spirit touched their hearts and they both began to tear up. We told them that in reality, we don´t know what they should do, but Heavenly Father wants to help them and guide them, and if they reach out to Him in prayer, He will give them an answer. We invited them to pray together and be willing to accept whatever answer they receive.

I testify that if we are worthy and obedient, we will have the power of the Holy Ghost with us as we teach. We do not need to worry, only trust in the promise of the Lord that it will be given us in the very moment what we shall say.

I love you all and hope you have a great week! Always remember how much we really owe and live in a way that demonstrates that understanding!


Elder Harris

The Power of God

                                                                                                               Sept. 12, 2016

Hola Familia!

How are you all? I'm sorry I am really short on time, but I will try my best to share a few things from this week!
First of all, this week we taught Paul about the Book of Mormon more and his Dad joined us during the lesson. His pastor discouraged him about the book and he said this might be our last visit but we managed to take out another appointment with him for this week so we will see! We invited them both to read and pray in order to know for themselves so hopefully they will receive the answer they need!
We also started teaching an English class on Tuesday and it was only about 6 people but hopefully it will grow! We are trying to use it to find new people to teach and also help people become friends with Claudia and Ximena. We taught them the law of chastity Saturday night and Claudia said about halfway through the lesson that this is impossible. I testified to her of the promise in 1 Nephi 3:7. We will receive no commandment that the Lord does not intend for us to keep, and he will always provide a way. They committed to live it and they are progressing well! Ximena read three extra chapters of the Book of Mormon more than what we had asked her and I think they are gradually gaining a testimony of it. They have a baptismal date for the first of October, but they need to attend church two more times to accomplish this goal so pray that they can come to church these next two Sundays!
We are also teaching a young man named Immanuel, who is 15 years old. He has been coming to church for years but no one knew he wasn't a member. As we taught him about the restoration this week for the first time, we discovered that he cannot read. This was both shocking and humbling to me and it makes teaching him a lot harder, but he is really smart and I know the lord will provide a way!
Last night we had a noche de hermanamiento at a less active family´s house. We usually have them every Sunday night. Basically the whole ward is invited and we all introduce ourselves, listen to a message from the bishopric, and then play a group game and eat some food. It was a really great opportunity to get to know the ward and it was a lot of fun. One of our investigators came and honestly it was a big success for the less actives as well. At the end of whatever weird game we were playing, I lost one round so I had to accept a punishment. The ward members decided I would have to pour a glass of water on my head. I stood in the middle of the huge circle of 50 members and poured water on myself. It was really awkward and funny haha. 
Anyway, I am doing so much better and starting to enjoy it here more! The people are great and we found a few new families to teach this week. Elder Sierra has been here for 9 months so it is likely he will be transferred in 3 weeks, but we are making the most of our time together haha.

Elder Sierra and I got creative as we continued to practice our teaching skills. 
He is really funny and a great trainer and we work well together so I am really grateful for him.
Thank you for your love and prayers! Hope you all have a wonderful week!
Elder Harris

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Answers to Prayers

                                                                                                          Sept. 5, 2016
Hola Familia!!!
This week in itself has been an answer to prayers. Thank you for all of your prayers and fasting on my behalf! I have been happier and enjoyed being here more and I am really grateful for all you have done.
Elder Sierra and I classing out in our sweaters.
Just a few quick funny and interesting things:

There is one field in our area where a bunch of owls live, which is super cool and unique because I've never really seen owls. There are usually 5 or 6 just hanging out and if I ever get the chance I will take pictures.

Also, this week we moved into a new house, which is a lot smaller, but perfect for what we need! And it is clean so we just have to keep it that way haha. Nice vaulted ceilings and it has really been a great change.
One time this week I was really tired and I know I did this once before during our family prayer haha but it was about 10:23 at night and I started my personal prayer. We usually pray as companions after so Elder Sierra just had to wait for me to finish. I fell asleep about halfway through my prayer, but I was kneeling with my head in my hands so Elder Sierra couldn't tell. He had a stressful day that day so he was thinking --Man this kid is really pouring out his heart. Then as time passed...Wow Elder Harris really loves me. He is praying on my behalf for this long...  and then after about 15 minutes he thought.. Wow this guy is a spiritual giant. He is amazing! And all the while I was just sleeping. So after 17 minutes at about 10:40 he saw me twitch, and he was like,--wait a minute! So he woke me up and then we just laughed about the whole thing for the next 5 minutes haha. And that is the story of the 17 minute prayer.
But on a more serious note, there are so many joys that come from this work. This week we started teaching a 17 year old boy named Paul, who I met on the bus last week. I almost wasn´t going to start talking to him, but I am so glad I did because he has been really prepared to receive the gospel. He already has a strong testimony of Christ and the bible and he has gladly kept his commitments. I am so excited for him and hope he can gain a testimony of the book of mormon this week!
We are also teaching two young women whose sister is a member. Their names are Claudia and Ximena. Saturday night we invited them to be baptized and although they were a little hesitant they accepted. We picked them up for church the next day and they stayed all three hours! The ward is really welcoming them and that has been great.
The last thing I wanted to share is that on Tuesday, we were walking around near our house and trying to decide where to go. Elder Sierra thought we should go to Familia Flores, and I don't really know everyone yet so I just agree with and follow all of his decisions haha. Anyway, they are a less active family with 3 or 4 kids. We taught a short lesson using the image of the tree of life. I testified that we don't need to wait to enjoy the fruit. We already have the iron rod in front of us and there is no reason to continue to be lost in the mists of darkness. Shortly after, Sister Flores told us that she had been praying all day and then we showed up. She didn't believe us when we told her that we had no plans to visit them that day. It was such a faith building experience for me because all I could think about while she was crying and sharing this with us was, this is why I came on a mission! In reality, I came to be the answer to someone's prayers and it is such a privilege to be doing the Lord's work here in Bolivia.
I love you all and hope you have an amazing week! Thanks for all your encouragement and loving words!
Elder Harris

Monday, August 29, 2016

Patience in our Trials

                                                                                                               August 29, 2016

Hola Familia! Como estan? I hope everyone is doing well, it was great reading all of your emails!
Last Tuesday, I arrived in Bolivia and we slept in a hotel in the city until about noon that day. Then we had papa johns pizza for lunch which was AMAZING and got to spend time with the mission president the rest of the day. It was wonderful to visit and spend some time at the mission home.
My first companion in the mission is Elder Sierra
Wednesday, we met our trainers and did some contacting. My first companion is Elder Sierra! He looks Latino, so I thought he wouldn't speak English, but it turns out he is from Florida, so we are all good. haha
He is pretty awesome! 
The city of Santa Cruz is built in rings, so there are about 9 rings in total (moves from the center out, you can look up a map if you want). Our area is in the 7th ring. Generally, it gets poorer as you move out. Our area is pretty third world but luckily we have a nice apartment to live in. It is pretty big and we have only seen 2 roaches and 1 lizard which apparently is like super lucky and our apartment is the nicest in the mission. We are moving on Tuesday to a smaller apartment, but we are going to keep this one super clean so I am looking forward to it.
As I said, our area is really third world. In some parts people live in apartments but pretty general there are just one or two room brick homes with tin roofs.

There are cows and chickens walking around everywhere and it has been a real reality check for me since I've been so sheltered.

Our beautiful Ward building

I'm still getting used to the cows
We either walk everywhere or take trufis here, which are vans with like 15 seats that have routes and are pretty cheap. One time on my first day, we were in a trufi and my companion said when we need to get off just say, "Pare por favor." We were at a stoplight and needed to get out so I asked him if I should say the same thing and he said yes. Anyway, we had been stopped at this stoplight for like a minute and a half and I just all of a sudden said, "stop please," in Spanish. Then after we just cracked up because of how stupid everyone must have thought I was. haha

Anyway, I love my area and it is exciting to be participating in this great work. They have had a lot of success in this area and we have a lot of people to teach.

Last night we were teaching the Familia Millares, who were baptized almost a year ago and are preparing to go to the temple. They have a lot of challenges as they prepare, so we taught about the principle of adversity, and how Satan tempts us the most right before we are about to do something great. For example, Joseph Smith was almost overcome by the devil before he had the first vision. If he had not persevered and asked God to deliver him, we wouldn't have the restored gospel her on earth. As I testified of this principle, I realized that I was teaching myself. This week has been very difficult and full of adversity. I'm having a hard time adjusting to the new culture and language, but I know that if I am obedient, have faith, and persevere, that the Lord will bless me to do His amazing work and help bring people to Christ. If I can work hard and persevere through small trials, for the next few weeks, I will be able to do so much good for the next two years. 

Please keep us in your prayers as we try to teach more lessons this week. I know that this is exactly where I am supposed to be!

I love you all and hope you have an amazing week!

Elder Harris