Monday, May 7, 2012

Find, Teach, Marry, Baptize and Confirm Families

We went to Lima again this week.

I like getting on planes. I have really gotten used that nauseous feeling that I always get right at the beginning, but I am starting to like it.

 I sent you a picture of Elder Emett and I eating in McDonalds in the airport. It was the first time in a more than a month that I have eaten a hamburger.  So tasty! Of course not all of that trash on the table is from us.  We were with all of the Zone Leaders from Iquitos, Tarapoto , Yurimauas, and Moyobama.  Every month we all have the opportunity to get together to have a moment of laugher and stories in the airport.   I really enjoy this moment, because it is a two second break from the battle. After every Zone Leader Training I feel like President Blunck super charges my batteries! I just want to go out and baptize the whole world.  

I am super excited for these last 5 months… I want to give it my all so that I can baptize more Brothers and Sisters. We are hoping that at the end of this month we have another 10 baptisms. It is looking like it is very possible. We are teaching three really good families right now. The three families consist of families of 4. They need a lot more of the gospel right now.  They are a little new and they don’t understand all that well.  We are very excited because every family we are teaching knows the purpose that we have as missionaries that we are teaching them so that they can make and keep the covenant of baptism. We are hoping that we can get some of these families baptized this month but it will be a battle.  We have to get most of them married. The fight against the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom is the biggest battle here in Iquitos. The people are quick to understand the logic of the gospel and are quick to feel the prompting of the spirit. The problem that these people have is the addictions to the things of the world. As I have been teaching these families, I have been learning more about the importance of the family in God’s plan.  I can see how fiercely Satan wants to destroy the family. The focus of the mission right now is to find, teach, marry, baptize and confirm families. I think that I have been fighting in ignorance. This divine concept from President Blunck was presented to us at the beginning of this year. As I have changed my focus from baptizing anyone and everyone, to baptizing families, I have had more success than in any other time in my mission.

I am overly happy to be with my companion again.  We are going on 5 months together. This has been the most time that I have been with one single companion on my mission. Don’t get me wrong in the beginning, just like any beginning, it was very hard. We had clashing personalities. He wanted things his way, I want things my way, but we worked through our differences and now I am happier than ever. I think what this helped me to learn is that when I have my future wife I know that it is going to be hard in the beginning too, but there is no reason to just throw in the towel and give up.  We are given trials and problems from the Lord, he loves us, and he desires that we become better through the refiners fire. Just thinking about this make me think a lot about Aubrei.  I really hope that she is happy.  I hope that they aren’t having so many problems adapting to life together.  I hope the best for them.

Well the thing that I love the most right now is that I am going to have the chance to call you and talk to the family.  I am going to do my best to get Skype to work. I think that I have it all set up right.  I am going to use the computer that is in the church. I set up a Skype account and I think I sent you an invitation to be my friend. So you guys should look to be my friend.  I am going to call the house tomorrow morning just like I did last time… Early, so that I can get you, Mom, and you, Dad, at the same time.

LOVE YOU and I will talk to you tomorrow, Elder Harris

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Two Families Get to the Waters of Baptism

Celebration Time ...

Well its official!  We had 9 baptisms this last week. We helped two families get to the waters of baptism.  We are super pumped.

 The first family is named Ruiz. They are the family of 5 that has a father, a mother and three kids. We found them because other missionaries were walking in the street and the father (George) starting talking to them. We then received the reference to go and visit him from the missionaries and we went. There weren’t married, and he has conditional freedom for some past mistakes, and the kids didn’t want anything to do with us. To be honest teaching this family was a miracle. We started just teaching the basics to the father and he started to change little by little. Finally one day he just told us that the gospel is true. That what we had explained to him about Joseph Smith was true. He then started to invite this wife (Milagros) to hear the message… she had tons of doubts because she grew up with pure Catholics… but she could feel the excitement that George had for the gospel. The Children were complicated, because the family was not unified because Milagros no is the true mother of the oldest two children. She is the step mother. We started the task of getting them to pray as a family, this is the best way to unify and to help them understand better the spirit. We then started to talk to them about the possibility of getting married so that they could get baptized. In one powerful lesson the whole family accepted.  We starting working on explaining the importance of going to church and the responsibly that we all have of partaking of the sacrament. Marcelo, Georgina and Kaxandra, the three children, started to see the change in their parents and they began to get more and more excited. Finally this last Friday we had their marriage and then on Saturday we had their baptism. Friday night we threw them a big party in the church we had more than, 90 people there. The party was the biggest activity that we have had in one single ward in my entire mission. Let me just tell you mom I am starting to get really good at coordinating weddings. I think I might have to go professional…… no just kidding.  The highlight of the moment was when George cried thanking us for the change that he received in his life. We felt really good after he told us that.

The other family that we were teaching that also got baptized this last week is the Sinti family. This family is one of the most humble families that I have had the opportunity to teach here one my mission. Graci is a single mother of 4 children. Her husband had an accident, he fell off of his motorcycle and hit his head.  The doctors thought that he was done, that he would not survive but he did. He recovered and was let out of the hospital. Everyone said that it was a miracle. Weeks later the family started to see that he was little bit  going, for lack of a better word, insane. He literally is one of the people now that we see in the movies that should be in an asylum. It’s sad because he cannot hold a train of thought for more than a few minutes before he jumps to another topic or he starts to cry, or he just stops talking altogether.  He isn’t violent which is good but he is no longer able to function well in his family. So Graci, the mom of the family, had to go to work so that she could support her children.  She sells beans, and other first-hand goods, like juices and potatoes and uka (which is a plant that they eat here a lot). We started teaching the family about 2 months ago. They were coming to church off and on… sometimes they wanted to get baptized and sometimes because of lots of little problems they would get sad and have second thoughts.  One day she just told us that on her way home she went by the river so that she would have a relaxing walk to just think about her life. When she was walking she began to think about baptism and she told us that she heard a voice in her head that said that she should get baptized. From that day onward she started to come to church. The trials became even harder when her feet became infected because of a small cut that she didn’t clean. It became hard for her to walk. The girls and her weren’t coming to church. We started visiting her every single day, sometimes more than once in the day, just to see how she was doing. We almost lost her when we started to talk about the word of wisdom. Graci and her girls all drink coffee - which is just killing them. She didn’t want to put her addiction to bed but we convinced her with the help of one of her best friends that is a member of the church. This last Saturday the whole family got baptized. They almost didn’t show up because her feet were swollen again, but she made it. Her little girls were so excited to get baptized while we were waiting for the mom to get baptized we all began to laugh when the littlest girl (Cindy) let out a little a gas. It was really good because it let out a ton of nervous tension.

What a fantastic experience! I love the feeling of helping families get baptized.

Don’t worry Dad… I know that I have always been a 90%-er but this time I am going for the 110%. I am going to pass my goal and I have a hunger for more. We have a few new families that we are preparing right now that I think are going to get baptized this month of May.  All is well in Zion.
About the Elder Emett thing. Well I would love to go to Saint George and visit his family. Elder Emett and I have been talking about it a lot and we want to have the opportunity to have our families meet. I like the Idea a ton.

About the packages…I will be receiving the first package this week because I am going to go to Lima again. So don’t worry I made a few phone calls and it is there in the offices I will be personally going to pick it up.

So are you in the same apartment as you were last time?
 Yes I am still there in the same apartment. 
 Or is it different?
 Well, we changed the lay out but not the house. 
How is it different?
 Just the layout.
How are your sheets and stuff holding up?
 In this I have no problems at all…. I have great sheets.
Do you still have contacts?
Yes, I have just enough for the last few months of my mission… if you want to send me a package that would be nice just in case of emergency .
Can you get solution for contacts there?
Yes, but it is really expensive, just one bottle more would get me to the end.
Eaten anything out of the ordinary lately? 
Not really because I think I am just used to eating whatever they give me. I did however eat Piranha the other day. It is really tasty I like it a lot.
Do you still go to member's houses for lunch?
Yes, it will be like this for the whole mission. I like it because it is my chance to try new things. 
What have they been feeding you?
Well the same old rice and beans and lots of fried banana.  I like fried banana.

I love you guys a ton. I miss all of you a ton.
Elder Harris

Macaroni and Cheese

April 23 - WHAT NEW CAR?!!!!!!!!! A Ford Edge!
Well that is coolest thing I have ever seen. That car was super sweet. I am way jealous.
Well to answer some of the questions that you have about well….. Everything.
How am I feeling? Everything is really good I got over my cold that I was having. I think that as far as anything goes I am really getting a whole lot better because of the heat. The heat always keeps me sweaty which in turn helps me to keep thin. I guess there is an added bonus to being an easy sweater.

How are the shoes, and Clothing? Well……….. hmmmm I really could tell you the truth, that most of my things are pretty hammered but I don’t want you to send me more clothing. I am just going to leave a lot of the shirts and pants that I have that are not too bad so that other missionaries use them.  Don’t worry about the cloths what’s 6 months more of beat up clothing?
How is the cooking? Normally I have been eating a lot of top roman, macaroni and cheese because my companion likes that so much. The thing that I really miss a lot is hot sauce. That Chipotle Tabasco or another flavor that isn’t the original would be super nice to eat.

Have I taken any pictures lately of the ward and my apartment? To be honest I am really bad at remembering to take pictures I haven’t taken a new picture in a long time because I have just been so busy. This is one of the reasons that I haven’t sent to many pictures from Iquitos. But this next week I am going to send a picture of a really big surprise that I have to tell all of you about.
How much longer to I expect to be in Iquitos? It looks like I am going to be here in Iquitos only three more months. After that what president Blunck seems to be doing is he lets the Zone Leaders go back down to be District Leaders so that they can capacitate a new missionary from the CCM I hope that this is what I get to do, because I think it would be super great to have a little KID in the mission. MY FIRST SON

How is the Spanish? Well to be honest I think that I can finally speak the language. I understand well now and I can write and read and think and dream in Spanish.  I am still however expanding my vocabulary but more in the traditional sense.  For example if someone talks about a new thing that I have never heard of before, I just can ask them to explain what that it.

How is my companion? Good, we are really happy right now. We are finding lots of people right now that are helping to get baptized. We are look at this Saturday with a lot of anticipation I will explain why this next week because it is a big surprise.  We are getting along really well and we are now really good friends. I think that he is going to be with here for a good time more.

Are there any new investigators…. Yes there are lots and lots of new people that we are teaching right now. We are trying to get these people to accept to be baptized because that is what they all need the most of all the things that they are doing in their lives. Yet, we are still having some problems with one of the families that we are teaching.  The father is just not progressing like we want him to. He doesn’t understand yet. 
Adios, Elder Harris

the WHAT informs and the WHY transforms

April 16th - A very difficult week

    There have been times on my mission that I have come to a cross road between hopelessness and perseverance. I have come to realize that it is these moments that really change the way that I think. We can choose to be optimistic, full of hope and long suffering, if we understand the why behind every decision. If we don’t comprehend the mysteries of God why do we then conform to our ignorance? I have taught many people in my mission who have been members of the church for years and years, but fall away for the smallest of problems. HOW? I think it was best explained, as Elder Utchdorf said, in this last conference, the WHAT informs and the WHY transforms. I hope and pray that my family one day arrives together in the celestial kingdom and then we all make little worlds right next to each other. What a fantastic thought!

     I just had so many different problems this week. I guess it is in these moments that I just need to press forward with faith in Christ. 2 Nephi 31:19-23 I am super excited however to change this week into the best week ever in my mission so that I can pull myself out of the funk that I got myself in.

Thank you dad for being thoughtful, and sending me the list of movies that are going to come out this summer. It got me all pumped to fight like a mad man until the last day of my mission. I think the feeling of triumph and accomplishment after my mission has ended, knowing that I have fought everyday, will really give me the satisfaction. I don’t think that I would feel very good watching all of the movies thinking that they are my prize for serving a mission. In fact I think of the movies like a little add bonus, something that just comes with the bigger package. I love the fact that you guys at home are always pumping me up and I thank you for that. I can feel the love that you send to me.
Mom’s questions:

Companion?  My companion and I are doing really well. We have found the key to solving our problems and we are learning a lot from each other.
Food?  We are eating, ok, lots of top ramen and other things that we really don’t need like cookies.

Money? Yes, mom you can send me money from America if you want because I can change the money here. I have been going ok with the finances, not super great but ok.

Apartment? Our room is great but really hot after the sun has been on the window all day.

Health? My health is a little bit bad right now. Nothing to worry about just that I have had a nasty little cold for about 5 days… I am taking some pill so that I can break it.

I really don’t have a ton to say this week.
Just that I am a little bit excited for something that I was talking about with my best friend here in the mission Elder Emett. I have been making plans with him to come and visit him in his house for a week after the mission is over. He lives in the same place that Aunt Jill lives in Saint George. We are hoping to meet up sometime in November…. But I am not sure how I am going to get down there or anything like that. Well…. Right now is not the time to be thinking about it.       
 really love you guys a ton and I hope that everything is going great.
Tell the girls that I love them and that I hope everything is good.
Another thing that I thought would be really nice to know and see. PLEASE SEND ME A PICTURE OF WHEN YOU AND DAD GOT MARRIED IN THE TEMPLE. And it would be nice for you to send me that detailed version of how you met and how you fell in love and how much time it took, all the way up to when you guys when to England. 
LOVE Elder Harris 

Side Note

April 9th - Well hmmmmm….

      Well two thoughts… the brother in me wants to give it to the boy who humilated Saydi in front of others and made her cry.. Like there is no tomorrow and thank Haleigh for not letting this go by like it was nothing. However the missionary part of me thinks that it would be best to show an increase of love for those that we have chastised. (D&C 121:43) Forgive and Forget. I can summon up thoughts of a time in my high school life when my sister exposed picture of me to all of her friends for her English class project… I abandoned all hope thinking that I would never live the ridicule down. Really just thinking about it now, I realize that I worked myself up too much about what had happened, letting my relationship with my own sister become offended. Just like President Utchdorf spoke in this last conference…. When we have grudges or have ruthless thoughts about others we should just ¨STOP IT¨.  I encourage Saydi and Haleigh to repair, instead of extinguish, the friendship they have with another member of the Lord´s church. I know that I am speaking boldly, but where there is love there cannot be fear. (1 Juan 4:18)

     Well we had a pretty slow Easter here in Iquitos. It has been tremendously hot during the day and then it rains just about every afternoon. This last week here in Peru the whole country celebrates the national holiday of LA SEMANA SANTA (THE HOLY WEEK). Basically it is an excuse for all of the preposterous movies about Christ to be played on every single channel. This week, is the cause of literally all of the confusion the people have about religion. Every movie that these people watch that depicts the life of Christ is different, showing different baptisms, different miracles, and different teaching. All week long we had questions like ¨do you guys baptize with a lot of water or just a little water? ¨or ¨Was Christ just a revolutionist that wanted to start a rebellion against the established norm? ¨ Or the most wild of the questions ¨Just like God sent his son to be the Christ, will the Anti-Christ be the son of the Devil in the flesh? ¨ well as you can read, it has been a tough week. I have found a lot of comfort in knowing that for every difficult question the Book of Mormon can offer a precise answer. I am passionately in love with the Bible… there is a ton to learn from the stories and the teachings of Jews specifically in the New Testament when it talks of Christ.  Nevertheless I have gained a deep respect and admiration for the directness and sincerity of the truth found in the Book of Mormon.  When I say that I feel inspired as I read it, I am not able to adequately express my thoughts. When I read, I am filled with spirit just like Nephi. (1: Nephi 1:12)   
Well I love you guys a lot.

Side note: Erin Dobbins sent me a letter… just tell her that I don’t have a ton of time to write hand written letters and that she should go on a mission. I hope she will understand.

Side,Side note: I am super hungry for a super delicious hamburger from Chilis or Fuddruckers or from where ever really.

Side, Side, Side note:  I think the girls looked super cute in there Sunday clothes for Easter.

Side note to the Fourth Power: I keep showing the pictures that you send me to my best buddy here in the mission named ELDER EMETT… he wrote Haleigh a letter, he is going to try to send it off.

Another side note … You, mom, and you dad are looking pretty hot and young. I don’t think that you have changed at all. Maybe just that mom looks younger that’s all. Late 20s, maybe early 30s.     
Don’t worry, be happy.