Monday, October 15, 2012

I Love My Savior,

            These last two years of my life I have spent in the great country of Peru. I had set aside my life back home to take on another, a more spiritual and uplifting life serving the Lord. I now know that I have made the most important and influencing decision in my entire life.  
            I have always marveled at the way the prophets in general conference talk about their missions and I thought to myself before my mission, “why?”  Now, I know why. There are no words that adequately describe how I feel now as I leave this country that I have grown to love. I have walked its streets and taught its people the marvelous plan of happiness. I personally have felt happiness like I have never felt before as I have helped the Peruvian people come to the knowledge of our Heavenly Father. I know that my father in heaven lives and blesses his children. That he is the God of yesterday, but also the God of today. He sanctifies us as we go about doing his work, and blesses us when we strive to do what is right. He never leaves us, he is always with us. I have learned that God is forgiving and patient with those that are not following the path of righteousness. He loves unconditionally and will always do everything that he can do to save us from sin. He sent his son.
            Christ paid with his own life, the price of justice, allowing mercy to enter in and save mankind. I know that Christ lives. I know that his divine affection is full of anticipation and hope for our return to him. He waits for us to return, he waits to hug each and every one of us and to tell us that he loves us. How great will be the day when we can tell him that we love him.  We  can show our love by keeping the commandments that he gave to us. Christ did so much for us, even he gave his own life, but what are we willing to give in exchange? Will we get up early on Sunday to go to church? Will we pay an honest tithing? Will we keep the law of chastity? Will we love one another unconditionally? My favorite scripture contains a question that Jesus presented unto the Nephites. The question is simple. Christ asked them ¨What type of man ought ye to be¨ and then in reply said ¨as I am¨. We must endeavor to be like Christ. I have learned this lesson on my mission that a man is nothing when he is not in the service of God and his fellow man. Christ never stopped being our Savior. In the darkest hour in Gethsemane he still said, though the pain was unbearable ¨ not my will, (but) thine be done¨ Oh that I could say these words when I am sad and have lost all hope. Our Savior came to this world with a heaven sent mission of peace. He sent me to Peru to continue the work that he began when he walked with us. What privilege I have had to serve as the messenger of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
            The Lord’s gospel is summed up in its simple beauty with five principles. It all begins with faith in Christ, then comes repentance, baptism by emersion, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, and enduring to the end. I have taught this gospel to hundreds of people and many have come to know the true meaning of happiness and joy as they too partook of the fruit. The gospel has become for me sweeter, and all that is sweet and whiter than all that is white. Though I will miss being in Peru, I know that I have done what the Lord asked me to do. I know that one day I will see these people again. It will be a day of tears and a day of great joy. Though may it be in this life or the next I wait for that day with much anticipation.
            I have thought about what I have really learned here on the mission and simply put, I have learned to have true faith in God. There is no other power in heaven or on earth that is more important than the priesthood. I have learned that we must cherish it and we must use it often to benefit our families. It is by this power that the family is not only a concept of earthly duration but an eternal blessing given to us from our father in heaven. I want to have an eternal family. I want each of us to always strive to keep the commandments so that one day we are all together in the kingdom of heaven. We can do it. We can keep the commandments. We will make it back to the presence of God. We will find the eternal peace we have long waited to have.

            I have a family here on earth… they are so good to me… I want to share my life with them for all eternity… families can be together forever…. through heavenly fathers plan… I always want to be with my own family… and the lord has shown me how I can… the lord has shown me how I can.

I love all of you, more than I can express in words.
Elder Jaren T. Harris

See you tomorrow!

Monday, October 8, 2012

I cannot let him down

Dear Mom and Dad,
 I want to thank you both for always helping me to feel like I had a great potential. I know that I am not the perfect son and that I have made my fair share of mistakes, but I have always felt the love and hope of my parents.

I really enjoyed conference  yesterday and the day before last. I felt inspired and spiritually uplifted as I listened to the special talks of our modern day prophet and his apostles. What great talks they all gave!
I really liked the talk that Elder Holland gave about Peter and the other apostles going fishing because they really didn’t know what to do after the death of Christ. It is moving to think that after all of the time that Peter was with the Lord on the earth that so easily he forgot his duty to him. I think that this is what I don’t want to happen to me. I know that after serving a two year mission it might become easy for me to slack off and let myself fall into the same old ways, but to what end would that serve me? The mission is similar to the time that Peter had with Jesus and I feel like I cannot fall into the same mistake that he made. Applying the doctrine of Jesus Christ is not just a 2 year deal, and afterward the world returns as if nothing had ever happened, as if I had never left at all. The Lord chose me to be here in this time in my life and I cannot let him down by not applying what I have learned in this short time.

Something that I did learn from the conference that I think is going to affect my life is that I gained a greater understanding of the gifts that God gives his children. I have been thinking about the gifts that the Lord has blessed me with and I have been thinking how I should apply these gifts for the benefit of my future. I think that the Lord has given me a sound mind and a strong body. I have been blessed with a lot of personality and a drive to do what is right.  I believe that I am intelligent (though some others might not think so, lol). I have been thinking about the future and I know that not everything is not always going to work out just perfectly but I do know that there is a lot of potential. I think that this will be a topic to discuss when I arrive, so keep your minds open to the possibilities.

I was thinking about how much time I have spent  on a plane in my entire mission. Basically the average time is about 48 hours; this is after summing up the time in my last three flights to get back home. Crazy to think that I have been in a plane for so much time already, when before my mission the only time that I can remember being on a plane is when I went to Vegas by myself.

Well this next week I am going to send a power house testimony so that you all at home can cry like dogs…. Well not that much but I will send my testimony.

Monday, October 1, 2012

15 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What’s up?
Can you guys believe that I will be in the house in 15 days!!!!!!!!!!!!! How nuts is that. I feel like it is just a dream, that someone is joking with me and any moment now the cameras are going to come out and say ¨GOT YA¨.
Good news… one of my best friends from the mission is now going to BYUI. I don’t know if you remember Elder Divis. I talked about him a really long time ago when I was in Jicamarca with the other Elder Vasquez and Elder Lucas. I got a letter from him and he is super happy. He is loving life because there are lots of good single ladies that want a return missionary husband. I am hoping that after a time I might be able to move in with him and I think Elder Emett too.
This week on the mission side of things was a little bit more difficult than normal. It looks like I am going to be ending my mission with four more baptizes on my very last Saturday in the mission. I hope that the people that we are preparing are going to get there because they all have great potential. One of the people that we are going to baptize is a single mom and her daughter that should have gotten baptized this month however she wasn’t able to pass the interview. So she has had to wait for some time so that she can prove that she really wants to go to church.  The other two baptisms are going to be a lot easier because they both really want to get baptized. One is a separated father that needed a lot of spiritual guidance. We are helping him.  He really likes it a lot. The other is a young guy whose name is Efrain. He had been coming to church for quite some time and I have always thought that he was a member of the church. I didn’t know that he wasn’t a member of the church. So we are starting to teach him, but he already knows everything,  so it is going to be really easy. I know that God has blessed us with these people in these last few days.  I hope that all is going to go well.
I will be sure to pray for the people that are sick right now. I think it is sad that a lot of people that I have known throughout my life are starting to get sick or have passed away. I guess this is another sign that I have been gone for two full years.  I know that this won’t really hit me until I have arrived home and I go to church that first Sunday.
I am excited however to meet up with Haleigh’s  ¨Oliver,¨ he will have to pass the test. Well I am sure that he has passed Dad’s test but he needs to pass my test too. Though I don’t know what that test is going to be.
The end is near, the finish line in sight… I have to take the last few steps.

We won the battle

Bueno todo bien en Sion

I guess I am coming to the point in my mission when it is just not enough to baptize little kids.  What I mean is that I love to baptize families more than I like to baptize kids. Baptizing a family is so much more gratifying. 

We had another baptism this week... which is super exciting. This family that we helped to get baptized was an extreme struggle. The same day of the baptism we called him early in the morning so that we could remind him and his wife. They told us that they wanted to talk…that always means that something bad is going to happen. So when we got there we were super scared that he had done something bad. Something along the lines of drinking or smoking because he had had a problem with addictions… but it was something a lot less bad but still difficult solution. Basically in the week he had traveled to another city called Trujillo.  While there he had talked to an Adventist friend. This ¨friend¨ of his talked him out of getting baptized. She filled him up with lies and stories about the church that aren’t true. He was extremely confused and sad that he had lost so much respect for the church. We started to show him scripture after scripture. We won the battle, don’t you worry.  We had to pull him out of the fiery depths of the underworld but we saved him. It just amazes me how fast Satan works against us, I have seen so many different ways that Satan tries to attack the family it is no wonder for me at all to think that he is truly the father of lies. 

Everything went as perfect as crunchy peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwiches. They showed up on time for the baptism. (That was a first in the history of my mission) We had the bishop baptize the wife and my companion baptized the father of the family. 

My companion is going home this week, which is super strange.  He is making me feel a little bit “trunkie”  but not all that much. I guess that I just have the fighter’s spirit and I can’t let myself get lazy. I have a goal to achieve I want to try to achieve.  I want to bring 80 souls to the waters of baptism in my mission.   I think that I might get pretty close but I still need to find more families. So pray for me that I might have the opportunity to find new families this week, so that I will be able to baptize this next month. Please be specific with God so that he gives a specific blessing. I will try hard to find new people this week to teach so that I can have a ton of success this last month of my mission.
Elder Harris (loves you)

Monday, September 24, 2012

God testifies it to my soul

Well family, I guess the end is near.
I am getting closer and closer but still feel like it is so very long away. I guess we will all really start to feel the end after this next week because we will be in October.  

This week went really well because we had another baptism. We baptized the family of Victor and Elena Arias. They were such a fun family to teach. Brother Arias is one of those guys that doesn’t say very much but hears everything that everyone else is saying.  He knew from the first day that we found him that he was ready for the gospel. His wife had taken the lessons from the missionaries a really long time ago.  When he was finally ready, a lady in the ward gave us the reference and we went. That first lesson was awesome because he right there on the spot accepted to be baptized. The only down side however is that they were and are always working. He has to work almost every single day. It was a really big problem for them to go to church on Sundays. Yet after explaining a little bit about the importance of the day they began to change.
Then about a month later they were baptized.

There is no other joy greater than helping a family get ready to get baptized. The feeling is like pitching a no hitter, finishing a marathon, painting a master piece or cheering at the homecoming game. As I think more about it, those other things aren’t even as good because baptizing a family is even better. I know that the gospel is true every single time that I baptize people.   God testifies it to my soul. I feel closer to him and I know that he is happy with me. I am going to be sad that I will not have the opportunity after my mission to help people the same way as I have helped the Peruvians. The Lord however has called me here to teach me of what I must do for the rest of my life.  I think that preaching the gospel is not just a two year calling… but a standard of living, a model of life. As the prophets have said we must stand in higher places, I think that means we must rise above the fear, and doubts. We must be bold in our determination to help others receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I know this work is what He wants us to do.  So as Joseph Smith said, ¨shall we not go on in such a great cause.¨

I think that one of the greatest things that I have learned on my mission, to be honest, is the great appreciation that I have found for my own parents. There are many people here in Peru and I am sure in the world, which were not born of goodly parents. I have been so blessed as to have been gifted my parents. I have thought many times about the blessings of having been born into a family that already had the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am thankful that I have had parents that are active (and still are active) and spent the time to teach me the principles of the gospel. I hope that you both, Mom and Dad when you thinking about me, serving in the lord’s work, you can see this service as the fruits of raising me the right way. My success is your success; my baptisms, are your baptisms. Of course all these things belong to the Lord and he should always be accredited to him for he is God and he gives us all things that we stand in need of.
I love you all and miss you all.
                               See you soon

Monday, September 17, 2012

I don’t want to ¨play¨ prayer today

Well it looks like the world doesn’t wait for the return of the Peruvian missionary man.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY HALEIGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Who would have thought that Haleigh would be 18 years old when I come back from the mission? That she would be having boy toys and would be a senior in high school? I never thought that the day would come when most of us are no longer live in the house but that we are just getting too old.  I wonder sometime what it is going to be like to find my own eternal companion and then I remember ¨WOOOOOOHHH THERE, BUDDY!!!!! YOU’RE NOT READY FOR THAT KIND OF COMMITTMENT JUST YET!!!!!¨ I am proud of Haleigh and Saydi the both of them are toughing it out, holding down the fort back home.

This last week was stake conference in my stake here in Peru. Elder Uceda on of the 70s came to speak with us. He gave a fantastic talk. He talked about the importance of really being dedicated to doing the right thing at the right time. I thought that he was really speaking to the Peruvian people because sometimes I feel like they just don’t understand the importance of the gospel. He said something that really made me think. He made an interesting point. He began by sharing a story of his youth when he would play with his brothers and sisters. He told us that the game that they used to love to play was ¨Doctor¨. As he shared the story he laughed and joked about how his little sister always had the mysterious sickness and that he as the doctor needed to find the cure.  After sharing his story he began to become very serious and said that other people are playing another of kind of make believe but with the gospel. He said that some people ¨play¨ the gospel.  He said, today I will ¨play¨ tithing but tomorrow I don’t want to ¨play¨… that most people see the commandments as a game and less as a serious law of God. Well today I am not going to ¨play¨ the Sabbath day because I don’t feel like going to church, or I don’t want to ¨play¨ prayer today because I don’t feel like praying. He testified that these people will not live up to their divine potential and it will be much harder for them in the life to come. I know that what he said is true; if we don’t see the commandments of God as blessings, we will be unable to comprehend the importance of completing them.  

I feel like the world is at an end. Wow it stinks that I won’t be coming home until 7:06 PM. So my big question is what are we going to eat? I am sure that I am going to be dying of hunger after having eaten plane food all day long and all night. If the family wants to go, I am dying for a big delicious burrito in café Rios, but before we can go however I need to released as a missionary. Which reminds me where are we going to release me, in the church or in the house? Who all are going to be there? Do I have an interview with the stake president? Do I have an interview with the Bishop? Is my homecoming talk the same week that I come back? Where will I be sleeping in the house? Is Dad going to have to work the week I come home? Can I visit mom in the preschool one day? Can I go to CMR during the Spanish classes of Haleigh and Saydi and speak with the teacher in Spanish embarrassing them in any way possible? How long will Aubrei be with us? Can I drive the new car? When will we go to get my new drivers license? Can we go Snowboarding this winter? Should I show up in my glasses when I come home or in my contacts? Can Dad and I go and work out together, then afterward shoot hoops? Can I take mom out on a date so I can tell her about Peru?
I want an answer to each of these questions. LOL

I love you guys a ton

Elder Harris

Monday, September 10, 2012

the work goes on

Well the work goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on.
I feel weird because I am starting to find families that I won’t be able to see their baptisms.  I love the fact that I only have 4 weeks left after this week. I find it super remarkable that I have gotten this far and I still feel like I am only just leaving the MTC. I was thinking about what it is going to be like to step down off the plane and enter in that glass box that we have there in the Great falls airport. I was thinking how silly it would be if I just stood there in the other side of the glass for two or three minutes, gawking at you guys, so that you guys are held in suspense. I even thought about waiting until every other person on the plane gets off, so that I am the last person to disembark. I don’t know… I think that my heart will be pounding so hard that I probably will forget about doing a prank, and be more concerned about not having a heart attack.  

The work has been going well.  I think that I am going to have baptisms this last month of my mission. My new companion is very obedient and likes to work hard so we are getting along well. He is from Guatemala, so that makes him the fifth Guatemalan that I have been with in my mission. He is a convert to the church and was for the longest time the only member in his family. Later in his life when he was just about to go on a mission his mom and his sister were baptized in the church. His dad for a really long time was a pastor of another church but after getting a little bit older stopped teaching. From what my companion tells me he now is going to our church, but doesn’t want to get baptized just yet. Elder Vasquez wants to go back and baptize him when he gets home.  He is a fresh change from my last companion. I know that I didn’t get along with my last companion very well, but we did have a lot of success. I just am not the type of person to give up at the last minute. I feel like I signed up for two years so I should work for two years.

I did have a spiritual experience this week. We were teaching a new family, that we had just found, about the importance of going to church and the gospel in general. As we began to talk more and more the father of the family became excited. At the end of the lesson he explained to us that he had been going to the church in the jungle with his family, and that his sister-in-law is a member of the church there and the he wants to know more about the gospel. We then started to talk about the great blessing that the Lord has prepared for his family and that the way they could be more blessed is by getting baptized.  He accepted to get baptized right there on the spot. However he is going to have to go back to the jungle for 2 weeks and then he is going to return and he wants us to come back and teach him when his family is in Lima again. We were super happy for him and the choice that he is making, but I won’t be there to see the baptism.

This was the first time that it has really hit me that I am going to be coming home in a very short period of time. I know that I am always saying silly things in the letters that I write.  I was always joking about coming home, I never really thought that the day would come. Yet as we were talking to this man about the possibly of getting baptized with this family in October I couldn’t help but think that I will not even be in the same country. The lessons that I have learned here on my mission have been many but God never stops teaching me new ones. I have come to realize that for all of the complications, and difficulties that I have had on my mission, I have come to love Peru so much. Many times in my mind I have thought about what Dad said to me right before I left for the mission.  He said, ¨we will be crying when you leave and you will be crying when you return¨. He was right. I am starting to feel the weight of coming home from the mission more and more on my shoulders. There will be a lot to discuss when we get home but right now is not the time.  I need to stick it out till the end. I imagine that god wants me to learn what it must feel like when he loses his children. Maybe when they stop talking to him through prayer or when the time has just run out. I can imagine that God, right before the second coming, will feel the same that I am starting to feel now. That feeling of ¨well I did everything that I could¨ but now the time has come to go on with the rest of the plan.

There is only so much that I can do to make the world a better place. The rest they have to choose to change themselves. But no one said I can’t stop trying!

Elder Harris