Friday, April 21, 2017

Cold Water!

Hi Fam!!!                                                                                                 April 19, 2017
So you may be wondering why this email is titled cold water exclamation point. Well, I will explain it to you. But, first I want to share a few pictures.
A fun picture of me on the bridge
This is a Laguna De Oxidacion (that means "lake of the rusting," for you non-Spanish speakers.)
Surprisingly scenic given the name.  
This is a member who I think looks like Jerry Seinfield. He was excited when we told him he looks like an American celebrity.

A classic picture of me standing by the Guadalquivir River.  It is so beautiful here!!

This week was quite memorable! We had a zone conference and interviews with president which were both very encouraging. We talked about how finding new people to teach should be something fun! We shouldn't do the same thing every day like just knocking doors, but we should come up with creative things to do to find. I don't know what they are talking about, I find knocking doors exhilarating.
This week we met some interesting people. First of all a lot of basketball players came into town for some international league tryouts (it was easy to spot them because there are no other 7 foot tall black people in Tarija and they were staying in a hotel near our house) So we talked to their manager one day. His name is Kevin and he was really nice. He read our name tags and it was so nice to hear my name pronounced in a non-Spanish accent for once. So it was our first time contacting an American person and it went very well.
Also we started teaching Mauricio Marquez, a young man we met in the park. He started tell us about his life and it turns out he is a professional soccer player! He played for blooming, which is like the best team in Santa Cruz! So we are teaching a professional soccer player...what a bucket list item.
Now back to the cold water. This week our hot water broke, so showering every day was like a really painful game of hokey pokey.
Also it has gotten really cold here in 45 degrees! So that has to do with cold and also speaking of water, this weekend Cristina is going to be baptized!!! She was really hesitating and didn't feel like she was ready but we had to great lessons with her and told her "Why wait to receive the blessings?" So she accepted the invitation to be baptized this Saturday! She has her interview tonight, so please pray that her testimony can continue to grow and she can act with faith this weekend!
We have been so blessed this week and the Lord has led us to so many people who are prepared to receive the restored gospel! In our mission we focus a lot on finding families and young people, and this week we were able to start teaching two new families and several new young people! I am so grateful that the Lord hears our prayers and I am grateful for all of your prayers on our behalf.
I love being a missionary and being able to feel the spirit so abundantly! My testimony of the Book of Mormon and the prophet joseph smith grow stronger and stronger each day. READ THE BOOK OF MORMON! It is an absolutely incredible book and will help you come to know the Savior and be a better person. Everyday I learn so much from the examples of amazing men and women in this book who loved the savior and kept his commandments. I know that when we keep the commandments we are blessed! He loves us and His plan is perfect!
I am grateful for all of you and your examples and encouragement. I feel so blessed to have each one of you in my life and so blessed to be here in Bolivia at this time! Hope you all have a great week!
Elder Harris

Happy Easter!!

                                                                                                       April 10, 2017

Hello Family and Friends! Today we are celebrating a very special day...its Abby's Birthday!!! Don´t forget it because it is easily one of the two most important days this week.

This week was pretty trying, but it was fun! Monday was Bishop Olivera´s birthday (we eat lunch with him everyday so we are pretty tight) We gave him a tie and returned the tupperware we borrowed months ago. Happy birthday Obispo!

We also made salteƱas with a member! Very long process but the most amazing food ever!
On Tuesday we got a young man who leaves for the mission soon to accompany us for two appointments with single women. They both failed us which was really disappointing. So we contacted for a little bit and then decided to walk to a less active sister who lives SUPER far away. I had never visited her before, but we had tried many times and she wasn't home.
When we arrived, she was home and we had a member so we were able to teach us. After the prayer she told us she had been praying a lot because a lot of things were going on in her life and that we were an answer to her prayers. I am so grateful that the Spirit guided us to her home and it was a miracle she was home in that moment and we had a male accompanying us. There is nothing better than being the answer to someone´s prayer and the Lord´s plan is always more perfect than what we may have in mind!

On Saturday we had a ward activity and I was so stressed I forgot to take pictures, it turned out okay.(P.S. If all else fails musical chairs and food makes for a great ward activity) Mostly just members came but one family we invited came and loved the activity! We have an appointment with them Wednesday and hopefully they will become investigators!
Here are a few pictures I was able to take that I want to share:

Bolivia = Beautiful!!
Me on an intercambio with Elder Aguilar (who plays a grandfather role)

A poorer area in our zone. It is very humbling!
I am very grateful for Easter and for this time to remember the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ! 

I love the scripture Alma 24:10
"And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of these our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son." 
I'm so grateful that God has given us the chance to repent and be forgiven for all we have done!
I know that thanks to Him, what was said of Christ that Easter morning more than 2000 years ago can be said of us each day: "He is not here, for He is risen" Each day we can use his enabling power to rise to something more! We can leave behind the person we once were and become something even more incredible!

I am grateful for my Savior and for His ultimate expression of love for us! He laid down his life for us because he loves us! We can show our gratitude for what He did that day by choosing to repent today and become more like Him. He lives!

Love you all!

Elder Harris

P.S. Please pray that we can find more people to teach!!!

General Conference

                                                                                                    April 3, 2017

Hi Everyone! This week was great!
We got a visit from my first zone leader who has completed his mission and came back to Tarija for a visit. It was great to see him!  
On Monday we visited Cristina Humacata and asked her if she was able to pray about the Book of Mormon. She said yes, and told us that afterwards she felt peace.
I asked her if she had ever felt it before and she said no. It was amazing to help her recognize the Spirit and I hope she can realize that it is what motivates her to come to church and keep reading the Book of Mormon!
She came to 3 sessions of General Conference this weekend which was incredible! We are excited for her as she prepares to be baptized the 15th of April.
On our P-day we were able to go on a hike to a beautiful mountainous area. It is so beautiful here and
I wanted to share a few pictures.

We weren't able to visit Elizabeth this week and she couldn't go to Conference, which was a real bummer.
BUT, on Tuesday we were knocking doors and met a man named Raul Sancias. Raul is an older man who lived a good part of his life in exile in Switzerland for "political motives" He is an avid painter and sculptor and now lives in Bolivia again. Raul has quite the life. He is also SUPER prepared to receive the gospel. He let us in on Tuesday and we taught him a little bit about the restoration. We gave him a pamphlet and he told us he was going to paint the picture of Christ on the front of the pamphlet. We also invited him to General Conference.
On Saturday I had been watching in English with all of the gringo missionaries, but for priesthood session I decided to watch in Spanish with all of the members from the Stake. As I entered the chapel, I saw Raul seated there alone! It was a miracle that he came and afterwards he told me he was very impressed! He showed a lot of faith after just one lesson and hopefully we can visit him again this week! We need to invite EVERYONE, even if we don't know them very well yet, because you never know who will accept!
What we have is so amazing! Living Prophets and Apostles on the earth...what a privilege it has been to listen to their words. Some of my favorite parts:
During Elder Chei´s talk I heard the words "send your blessings forward and send em back" These are our responsibilities! Teach our children the gospel to bless our posterity and do family history to bless our ancestors!
I also loved Joy D. Jones talk about keeping covenants. "The Savior gave his life for us because he said he would!" We need to keep our promises and covenants because we told our Father in Heaven we would!
Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to return and receive his blessings. We have so many opportunities to help others receive this blessings! I hope we can feel more love for God and our neighbor this week and show that love in selfless service! Love you all and hope you have a great week!
Elder Harris

First Dog Bite

Hi Everyone!                                                                                March 27, 2017

A little humor... this week was pretty tough. So for those of you who aren't familiar with Bolivian ketchup it is quite sweet. But this week we went to a higher class grocery store and I bought Hunts Ketchup, straight from the States. To be honest it has been hard adjusting back to the salty acidic taste and now I am just not sure which one I like better. More to come next week.

I want to share a few fun pictures of our world...

It looks like I'm finally official as I have received my Bolivian legal card.

Look at these giant avocados!
I knew you would appreciate this mom!!

Giant cut out cardboard near the airport... Welcome to Tarija!!

This week was a pretty good week! We were able to find a few new investigators and people are progressing well. Elisabeth read 2 chapters in the Book of Mormon, but yesterday she didn´t go to church and we aren´t sure why, so please pray that she can attend this week and feel the spirit there!
We are also teaching Cristina Humacata (not the same Humacata family) She is a 40 year old woman and doesn´t have a family of her own, but she is progressing really well! On Friday we invited her to pray about the Book of Mormon more sincerely than she ever has and she accepted a baptismal date for the 15th of April. She came to the Women's Conference on Saturday and also church yesterday which was really exciting!
So, as suggested by the title of this email, I was bitten by a dog this week.

Last night at about 7:47 we were walking to the house of a recent convert when a dog out of nowhere bit my leg. It was quite unexpected and quite painful, but not a very deep bite.
I wanted to clean it so we went to the house of some less active members that live nearby.

When we got there all of their things where scattered and they started to tell us how the whole family was really sad and worried. They were trying to find a new house and had no hope.
We shared a scripture in Alma 37 about small and simple things and the parents began to cry as they told us that we had been an answer to their prayers. We hadn´t planned to go there at all, and honestly we only went because I got bitten. I was grateful to be an answer to their prayers and I know Heavenly Father's plan is perfect! A prompting may have been nicer than a dog bite, but if that's what it took to make us go to there house then I am okay with that.
I know this is the true church of Jesus Christ. This morning I read a really great scripture in the Book of Mormon.

22 And thus, notwithstanding there being many churches they were all one church, yea, even the church of God; for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God.

This is the true church! It doesn't matter where we go in the world, as we attend this church our faith will be strengthened and we will be encouraged to repent and become better!

I love being a missionary and there is no greater joy in this life than that that comes from representing the Savior of the world!
Love you all! Enjoy Conference and have a great week!
Elder Harris

New People to Teach

                                                                                                          March 20, 2017
Hi Everyone!

It's been a great week! I want to share a few pictures of the missionaries that I have the opportunity to serve with.
Picture of all of the missionaries serving in our zone as we met for zone Conference.
Group of Elders and Sisters serving in our District
This week, we had some changes in our boundaries and had some tender mercies.
We have new investigators finally! We still need quite a few more, but I am really happy because we have some investigators that are progressing.
One is Elisabeth. She studies at the University in Tarija and this week we taught her about the first vision. She could feel the Spirit and accepted the invitation to be baptized! She has also been reading the Book of Mormon, so today we will go there to find out how her testimony is growing.

Also, we are teaching the cousin of that member who found us in the park. His name is Luis. He is an active Catholic, but admitted that he hadn't truly investigated enough to know if our church is true so we have taught him a few times this week!

We had to drop familia Humacata this week (the H is silent folks, who knew) which was tough, but we told them we will be happy to come back when they are ready to take this seriously.

Yesterday one of our other new investigators went to church and she is really good! She participated a lot in gospel principles class and understands everything we teach really well! This week we are going to invite her to baptism.

The work is going really well here...the members are helping us out a ton and I love my Ward and the leaders. Tomorrow we have transfers, but we are pretty sure things will stay the same.

Life is always an adventure! Yesterday this drunk guy with a guitar chased us for a good 5 minutes which was scary at first, but later just entertaining. Lots of drunk people here. We also had a huge rainstorm this week.
Sorry I don't have a whole lot to report, but one quote I wanted to share and I don't remember who it's from, but it goes something like this:

"The ultimate demonstration of love is loyalty." Let us show our love for our Heavenly Father this week by obeying his commandments and going where ever he asks us to go! I hope we can all be more loyal to Him and by doing so show our gratitude for all we have received!

Have a great week!

Elder Harris