Monday, December 11, 2017

Happy Birthday Ernesto!

                                                                                                    Dec. 11, 2017
Hi Everyone!!!
As you can tell by the title, today is Ernesto's birthday and there is going to be a huge rager at our house tonight apparently. They have invited the Bishop and a few other older couples from the Ward, so it should be a good time. Ernesto was born 72 years ago today. Wow!

As for us, our week was great! Really exhausting, but Rachael told me once that you aren't a successful missionary until you get home and fall on your bed after walking in the door without even brushing your teeth. (Or something along those lines.) So I guess that means we are doing a good job.

We have found a lot of great new investigators this week. Lots of young men and the Ward members are helping us out a ton which has been great! Yesterday, we taught a 22 year old named Alan who has a college friend that is a member of the church. We don't know her, but she sent us the referral. We asked Alan what made him want to learn more about the church and he said that he saw something different in her, something he didn't see in his other classmates. As disciples of Christ we have a special light and people see that!!! As we live righteously they will want to know why we are different!

This week Ana will be baptized along with Dulce and Fernanda, two girls who attend church with their mom every week. It has been a miracle because their dad didn't want to let them be baptized a few weeks ago, but our prayers have been answered and his heart is being softened little by little.

We are excited for Christmas! Although I doesn't feel like Christmas at all with the weather being so warm here, but what are you gonna do. For the moment I can't think of anything else to say so that concludes this week's letter. Here are a few fun pictures from the week...
Here I am standing in the streets of Santa Cruz, two days after a rain storm.
Enjoying nature...
Making cookies with Olga


I love you all and encourage you to keep being an example! When we are truly living the gospel, it will show on our face!

Elder Harris

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Election Weekend

                                                                                                  Dec. 4, 2017
Dear Family,
As you probably already know, this weekend was the annual Judicial Elections in Bolivia! I hope everyone was aware, it is something quite special that happened and only happens once a year so if you missed it, your loss.
Elections here in Bolivia are quite different. You are not allowed to drive without permission from the government on election day and there are also can be no meetings with more than 2 people. If you visit people and try to sway their vote you are taken to jail immediately.

So for those of you who are acquainted with missionary work, that meant we were seriously limited in what we could do Saturday and Sunday. There was no church yesterday, so we spent most of the day at home eating Olga's delicious food! But we were allowed (according to President) to go to certain appointments.
Things have been great with my new companion, he is really Christ like and that has made it really easy to adapt! We get along great and have been brainstorming a lot for Christmas.
We have to present a sketch as a zone for the mission Christmas dinner so we are busy writing the script for that and also coordinating other activities.
Highlights of this week have been:
- Raquel is really excited about serving a mission (woot woot)
- Her sister Ana still wants to be baptized the 16th but didn't want to come out and listen the other day when we visited them so she might be having an identity crisis
- Ariel and Angie are doing good, we are working with them on the law of chastity but the desire to be baptized is there!
- This week summer vacation started for all the children and teenagers of Bolivia so we are teaching lots of young men who are really open to learning and several have accepted a baptismal date!
- Our investigator Lucio has a talking parrot (see pictures)

I am really excited for Christmas! There is no better time to share the gospel and help people remember why we are celebrating! I am so grateful for my knowledge of and relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ and it is something that everyone deserves to have! So my challenge for you all this week is to think of someone who could benefit from the knowledge that Jesus Christ came to earth to suffer and die so that they might live with Heavenly Father again!
Next week if you each send me the name of that person, we will talk about phase 2!
Elder Harris

Departures, Teary Eyes

                                                                                                     November 27, 2017
Hello Family,
Today we had transfers! I will miss Elder Sierra as he heads home after 2 great years of selfless service. This week was a sweet end to the transfer!
Saturday night Franco was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! He was really excited and it was special to watch his uncle baptize and confirm him!

He was baptized along with three other converts in our District so it was a great baptismal service to witness.

                  Elder Sierra and I with Franco at his baptism.

Don't worry, we are not real gangsters!!

This week we were blessed to be able to find a lot of great people to teach! Also, last night when we went to visit Raquel, her sister Ana told us that she wants to get baptized. So her baptism is scheduled for December 16th! We also found a really prepared couple, Ariel and Angie, on our exchanges this week. They both want to get baptized and aren't married yet, but they have a date for the December 23rd so please pray that they can get married and attend church next week! They couldn't go yesterday because Angie sprained her ankle which was a bummer.
My new companion is Elder Matheson from Cedar City, Utah, He is a really humble guy and a really talented musician so don't be surprised if next Monday I know how to play the violin. I am excited for another great transfer in Lucero. It is the best Ward and the members do so much to move the work forward!
I hope everyone has had the chance to watch the Light the World video. There is no better time than Christmas to remember the Savior of the world and do our best to live as He did!
1 - Our zone activity Monday was a marshmallow gun capture the flag out in nature (how neat is that)
2 - Olga made an amazing goodbye lunch. (This was pretty much our Thanksgiving)
3 - The five of us that came together were finally reunited this week at Zone Conference!
4 - Elder Sierra and me with Oliver
5- Elder Sierra's final departure. He's got his bag of peanuts and he's ready to fly...

Love you all!

Elder Harris

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Hope of Israel

                                                                                                          Nov. 20, 2017
Hi Fam!
This week was great! They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I thought if I sent a lot of pictures this week, I could get away with a short email.
The best part of this week was Junior and Teresa´s baptism!

Their mom and cousins are members and their second cousin is Angie Ayabiri. (Hilary knows her!) So it is a small small world!!
They were super excited and really happy and we are trying to help them build good habits of reading and praying!
Franco will be baptized this Saturday and he is also really excited about it. (He kept pushing to be baptized last week, but his parents wanted it to be this weekend.) Yesterday, Junior and Teresa and Franco sat with us at church and I felt like we were foster parents haha it was pretty funny.

Here is a picture of the missionaries in our district at the top of a large tower.

A picture of the missionaries in our zone. "Zona La Pampa"
Lots of great experiences this week! I know Heavenly Father directs this work! He is at the helm and grants us his spirit to be instruments in His hands! There are so many incredible youth and children in this world that are His hope! I know they will also be instruments in His hands to bring about a great and marvelous work and build the kingdom of God! I am grateful to be a member of this church and share this message with the world!
Thanks for the love and support everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Elder Harris

Monday, November 20, 2017

Chile stole the beach

                                                                                                     Nov. 13, 2017
Hi Everyone!
This week was really good, lots of blessings and lots of good food. Elder Sierra is trying to lose weight in these last couple of weeks, but it is pretty hard in this area because the members love to feed us!
Our investigators are doing really well, we are working with some young adults towards baptismal dates in December and right now we are teaching a few part member families and also Franco, an 8 year old kid who has been going to church by himself for the past year. Last Sunday he came up to us and asked if he could be baptized so this week we talked to his parents and made sure they will support him and help him! His brother and uncle are members of the Ward and live a few houses away so he has a good support system too!
Fun Bolivian Culture fact: No one here likes the Chileans because a long time ago there was a war between Bolivia and Chile and Chile won and took away the coastline Bolivia used to have. So any time someone here meets a Chilean missionary they make jokes like, "When are you going to give the ocean back?" haha it's pretty funny.

So we don't have a real beach in our mission, but on Monday we went to the next best thing: Sand dunes in the middle of a shallow river. We played soccer and frisbee as a district and it was a blast!

Also we hit up Cotoca on the way and the sloths were feeling pretty photogenic that day.

We found a really cool train track bridge
The sand dunes near Cotoca

Something I learned this week is that often when the Savior invites us to repent, He says "come unto me," immediately before or after. When He invites us to repent, He is inviting us to make ourselves worthy to be nearer to Him. When we sin, we distance ourselves from Him and are not worthy to be close to Him. So we can really only come unto Him as we repent and become worthier to be in His presence!
I love teaching the gospel and understanding it better each and everyday! Read the Book of Mormon every day and you will learn and feel incredible things!
Elder Harris

Pray Always!

                                                                                                        Nov. 6, 2017
Hello Family,

I hope everyone enjoyed Halloween! We kind of forgot it was Halloween on Tuesday until we saw a group of kids going from store to store asking for candy. (I doubt they had too much success because Halloween is not part of Bolivian culture haha.)

On Saturday we ate some Reese's peanut butter cups, so I guess that counts for something. But, the closest thing to Halloween this week was Day of the Dead!!!! We have been super excited for this day the past few weeks because we had 2 big activities planned!
Everyone had the day off so in the morning there was a ward activity organized by Grandpa Ernesto. We all met up at 8 am, ate breakfast, and then we trained the ward members how to contact people and get down their info to be able to pass by and teach them another day! Lots of members showed up and they went and contacted all over the area and now we have a ton of great referrals to contact so it was a big success!

Here in Bolivia EVERYONE goes to visit a dead person on November 2nd. So the cemetery was packed all day. With that in mind, we got a dry erase board, a table, and some pamphlets and set up a little booth outside the cemetery next to all the people selling food and flowers! We wrote "Where do we go after we die?" and "Will I be with my loved ones after death?" on the board and then contacted the people passing by.

Later on I went into the cemetery with Elder Sierra where everyone was sitting, eating, and spending time with their families and we sang "Families can Be Together Forever" and afterwards gave out pamphlets of the plan of salvation! It was really fun and nerve wracking to just start singing, but it went great and we found some good new families!

When we were done I called a taxi to carry the dry erase board back to the chapel and we needed a taxi with a rack on top. In Spanish, they call the rack "Parilla", but I accidently said "Parillada," so instead of asking them to send a taxi with a rack on top, I asked them to send a taxi with grilled steak. Good times.

The best part of this week was Raquel's baptism! There was a huge amount of support from the ward and lots of the youth went which was great!
It was a neat service and we are so happy for her and the step she is taking in her life! Her cousins went to church yesterday and we are starting to teach some of her family which is good!

This week I was reminded of the power of prayer. Whenever you are feeling inadequate and like you can't measure up to the tasks that lie before, pray. He listens and will give us the strength we need to magnify our callings and meet the demands placed upon us! "Pray always, and I will pour out my spirit upon you" (D&C 19:38) I know that promise is true!

Love you all, have a great week and don't forget to pray!

Elder Harris

Finding the Elect

                                                                                                       October 30, 2017
Hey Family,
This week was incredible! We were really blessed as a companionship and as a zone and I am really excited to see the fruits over the next few weeks!
The competition went really well, everyone was really hyped during the week and we ended up finding three times as many new investigators than we did last week! We surpassed our goal as a zone by a lot and I am just really grateful Heavenly Father helped us meet the goal and then some. 
Elder Sierra and I were able to find a lot of people the Lord has been preparing and several of them quickly recognized us as representatives of Jesus Christ.
Raquel went to church by herself yesterday which was all we needed to see to make sure she is ready for baptism! She has a testimony and a big desire to be baptized, so this was the last piece of the puzzle for her. Her baptism will be this Saturday and we are really excited for her. She has been investigating the church for almost a year!
On Saturday as we were working we saw a man across the street and decided to talk to him. From the first few things he said to us it became obvious he was different than most of the people we meet. He told us he would like to hear more of our message and to come back later that night.
Marco Antonio is one of the most prepared and elect people I have met in my whole mission! He recently got separated from his wife and is struggling to raise his five year old son on his own, which has made him incredibly humble. As we talked about repentance and baptism he told us he wants to be baptized and he is preparing to be baptized on November 18th!
Lots of progress in our area and lots and lots of people to teach. I feel really blessed.
This week we taught several people who told us we are not true Christians and felt like we were trying to take away their faith in Jesus Christ. I want to bear the testimony that they didn't give us the chance to share.
I believe in Christ. He lives and He loves us. Only because of Jesus Christ we have hope, because "there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God." (2 Nephi 31:21) I know that He loves us so much that He calls prophets to testify of His divine mission. He has called prophets in these latter days to restore His church and to teach His gospel. We are not asking anyone to put their faith in these imperfect men who God has called, but rather to rely "wholly upon the merits of Him who is mighty to save." I testify that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is His restored church. He is at the helm, and as members of that church, we believe in Christ!
Elder Harris

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!


Elder Harris


                                                                                                       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 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


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