Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas week!

Hello everyone!

Well, I'll just start off by saying that because it's holiday season, I only have about 10 minutes today, so here I go!

It was so great to talk to all of you on Christmas!  Everyone sounds like they are doing so well, and the phone calls were something that I really needed.  Thank you everyone for coming to talk!  I would like to also thank everyone who sent Christmas cards my way.  They were much appreciated.

So, Christmas we had breakfast and dinner with the Berman's, and it was so fun.  We watched Ephraim's Rescue and had some prime rib.  It was great!  

Ahh! I got to go!  Catch you all next week!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas is already here??

Hello everybody!

This week was awesome!  Like I said, we went to the temple on Wednesday on the temple bus.  We woke up at 3:45 and we drove to San Luis Obispo to catch the bus at 5:30.  Us, the elders in the other ward, 2 Hermanas, and a set from Arroyo Grande were all on the bus, with some members of course.  

When we got to the Los Angeles temple, all of the English speaking missionaries from the San Fernando mission were there.  When we arrived in the session, there were about 175-200 people.  It was so powerful!  The seats were filled all the way to the back.  The spirit was so strong, and it was cool to see how powerful the missionary force is.

The missionary Christmas devotional was awesome!  We, as a district, sang "What Child Is This" and as a zone we sang, "Joy to the World" the Spirit was so strong and we watched clips about the Nativity.

Well, I won't really be saying much in this email, because I will be calling this Wednesday!  I can't wait, it's going to be so nice to talk to you all again.

Love you all!

Elder Harper

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting FAT!

Hello everybody!

Man I LOVE this time of year!  It's so great to be able to get to email the ones I love back home at this wonderful Christmas time.  

Well, I guess I'll start off with the bad news first.  Soooo...this past week we met with Michael once, and everything went really well and the Spirit was strong and everything, we read the children's Book of Mormon with him, and said a prayer and left.  He seemed extremely happy.  About 2-3 days later, we stopped by again, and there was a note on his door that said, "DO NOT DISTURB, MISSIONARIES DO NOT DISTURB."  Elder Navarrete and I looked at each other and we were super confused.  We knocked on the door anyways, but nobody answered.  Michael didn't go to church, and we got worried.  We've been trying to go by with his new home teacher but have been unsuccessful.  He won't answer the phone or anything.  This is what we think:  We think that because of his autistic state, he was really angry that Elder Canzona was no longer here and the whole change of the routine threw him off.  We've been trying to get his new home teacher there and everything, but we've just never had the chance.  We're sorta stuck with it all... and that's where we're at with him.

Well, now that that's out of the way I want to share a cool story with all of you that that happened this week.  We were tracting out some adjacent apartment complexes, and we saw a man walking down the street in the distance.  We had the feeling that we should talk to him.  So, we ran down the stairs and met him on the sidewalk.  We stopped him and asked if we could leave him with a card, and he said no.  Elder Navarrete got kind of discouraged and I told him that sometimes the Lord just gives of promptings to see if we'd follow them.  As we were walking back to the complex, there was another man who was walking down.  His name was Jesus (Hey-Zeus) and we talked with him for 20 mins!  We talked about baptism with him and he gave us his number.  We've been unable to contact him but we're still trying!

Jose has been sick with the flu all week and we've been unable to meet with him. :(  We saw him a few times though and gave him some scriptures to read.  He is set, however, to be baptized January 9th.  I'm crossing my fingers and praying that it all works out.

We invited Yvonne to our ward's Christmas party and she came!  It looked like she had a lot of fun and she sat with some members.  It was cool to be able to go to the ward Christmas party because it reminded me EXACTLY of our ward's back home.  It was just so awesome to feel the same spirit there.  Speaking of Ward Christmas Parties, I got a letter this week with letters and pictures from OUR ward!  I loved it!  Thank you to all who helped with that!  22 Missionaries?? Wow.

OK, so to answer questions about the Christmas call.  I'm not allowed to do it.

Just kidding. :)  We will be calling from a member's house around 10-10:30 ish so be ready!  Sorry, we are not allowed to Skype unless it's to another country.  I don't know why...but oh well.  We were told to try to keep the calls short, but yeah...we know how that works. :)  Let's still try though. haha.  What number am I calling?

I'm glad everyone had fun at the Progressive Dinner.  I was thinking about that yesterday.  Just for kicks and giggles, was it the Survivor finale too? :)  From the looks of it, Lincoln had a blast!  Thank you for the video, Cam and Lex!  

This week is going to be great!  On Wednesday, we get to take the bus to the temple!!!  It's Elder Navarrete's birthday this month, and we're super excited!  On Friday, we have a Christmas devotional in Santa Barbara and it's going to be great!  

Thank you all so much for your love and support.  Other missionaries do not have that same opportunity and blessing, and so I am that much more grateful for all of you.  I love you!  One more email until I call, mommy!  One more!

Elder Harper

Monday, December 9, 2013

What can I say? Missionary work is AWESOME!!

Dear Family and Friends,

It is such a blessing to be able to sit down and email each week and to tell all of you how my mission is going. This week was a really good transitional week to allow Elder Navarrete to get accustomed to the area and to the people.
How is it being a senior companion you ask? Great. :) It has been nice to see how much I've grown and how much my testimony and confidence has increased. I'm [starting] to feel old in the mission, even though I also feel relatively new (It's kinda weird...). It's also nice to feel like I've gained trust from the Lord and from President Castro to be able to serve in this position of leadership.
Elder Navarrete is from West Plains, Missouri and he's a cool guy. He has been out for seven weeks now, and he does all he can to contribute to the work. At times, he seems a little cocky and boastful in his abilities, but we are all working with him and helping him. Of course, nobody's perfect, but it's important not to dwell on the negative traits of people. Each companion I receive I try and make them my new favorite companion. Looking for the positives and just finding ways to have fun is very important.

On Wednesday, I was feeling a little overwhelmed and incompetent, but then I prayed, I wrote in my journal for a little bit, read the scriptures and read the letter Cameron gave me when I went into the MTC about adapting yourself and finding ways you can improve. After doing these things, I felt so much better about everything and we were able to go our and have a good day. I know I say this a TON, but I have developed a greater love and testimony of scripture study and prayer. Truly just going to the Lord in times of need and reading the scriptures can answer ANY question we may have. It is such a blessing to be able to have the scriptures in our lives and to be able to turn to them when times get rough.

Oh, so about transfer meeting. Monday night (the day before transfer meeting) we couldn't find a ride from anyone to get down to Ventura. We were doing our laundry, and the ward clerk who lives in the same complex as us came in and talked to us. He called his boss (who coincidentally is a former bishop) and explained the situation to him. He was able to get work off the whole day just to drive us to Ventura. It was truly a miracle. We are bringing him a Dutch Apple Pie today.

Another thing that I have been appreciating is the feelings of love and trust that we have been receiving from the ward. I feel like this ward is a lot more missionary minded and focused than when I got here. What a blessing that is. Last Monday, we were able to go to Jose's house with a member from the Elder's Quorum and he was able to connect with him really well and show him some of the gospel library app's. It was really cool. The bishop trusts us a lot, and I just feel like we are doing good work here.

We have arranged to go to a member's house to do our phone calls on Christmas! They have unlimited minutes, :D and we were planning on going there around 9-10 (my time). I'll give you more details in the future. I can't wait to talk to all of you on Christmas!

Another thing that I have really appreciated this week is just simply receiving letters. I often reflect on how other missionaries don't even have the support of their families. Thank you so much for everything, and it was great to receive the letter from all of the Wards! Thank you!

Dad, it was also really cool to hear about that experience you had in the temple. Thank you so much for sharing that with me. It truly brightened my whole day. I know that I didn't find Sarah Jane Dunham's name on accident, and it was really cool that you were able to feel her presence there. Thanks again.

Well, my time is just about up. There is no doubt that the Gospel is true. If you don't believe me, then just read the scriptures. 'Nough said. :)

Love, Elder Harper

Monday, December 2, 2013

Here we go!

Hello everybody!

Well, this week was pretty good.  Thanksgiving was really good.  We got together with a member from our ward, and they took us out to lunch that day with some of their family.  Afterwards we got together and played a little bit of pool at their house and everybody just had a great time.  The member's grandson got his mission call to go to Washington D.C., and so we had the opportunity to help him set up his Missionary Portal.  He's really cool.

This week was really hard to meet with people, so as far as missionary work went, it was ok.  We were unable to meet with Michael, but with Thanksgiving and everything it's ok.  We will be going over there this week to catch up on things.  The Elder's Quorum president already has a home teacher for him too so he's in good hands.  We have an appointment with Jose tonight and we have been seeing him off and on the week.  He has been taught everything but the law of tithing.  He's living all the commandments so far, and so he is definitely on the track for baptism.  We'll probably set him with a date tonight.

This week was the last week of the transfer, and transfer calls have come!  I am staying here, so my address will remain the same. (Next transfer ends January 12).  It is weird to think that this transfer will take us into the new year!  I can't believe how fast time is going.  Also, I have officially now made it to senior companion.  I will be follow-up training a missionary named Elder Navarrete.  I don't know much about him yet, other than he's a tall redhead. :)  Elder Canzona's going to Oxnard and training a new missionary there.  Great things are going to happen this transfer, I already know it.  There are a few people that we are going to focus on, Jose being one of them.  I think that we can expect a baptism this transfer from him.  

We were talking to the Nursery leader from our ward yesterday, and she said that because Jose has a daughter, he is ineligible to attend the YSA ward.  But, the bishop seemed OK with it so we will probably talk to a member of the stake presidency about that.  When it all comes down to it, it's all about what's best for Jose. 

I don't know if I have told you about Carolann.  Carolann has been seeing missionaries for a long time.  She is a Lutheran and is such a nice lady.  She absolutely loves the missionaries and enjoys it when we come over.  Lately, she has taken a slight interest in our beliefs and agrees with much  of them.  We have been watching a lot of movies with her, including the Prophet of the Restoration, the Testaments, and we watched Joy to the World with her a few days ago.  She lives next door to two members, and they all get along really well.  A few of her friends gave her a large print triple combination and they wrote their testimonies in it.  Yesterday she told us that she has been reading the Book of Mormon and she loves it!  She doesn't want to rush things, but we hope to be able to bring her into the waters of baptism this transfer.  All in her and the Lord's time.  She and others threw a Christmas party and there was turkey, ham, macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, candy yams, and a lot of other good food.  There was music and we all sang Christmas songs.  It was great.

On Saturday we saw the Gold's!  It was awesome to be able to see everybody there and get a little taste of home.  Thank you so much for the package!!

I love you all so much.  Thank you for all you do.

Elder Harper

Monday, November 25, 2013

This week was spectacular!!!

This week was absolutely spectacular.  Zone Conference was this week, and we met with all the missionaries down in Santa Maria.  I loved zone conference, it's always a place where a lot of spiritual revelation is gained.  It was neat to see all my friends from the MTC too .
But the greatest part of this week was, of course, Michael's baptism!  It felt great to feel the fruits of our labors finally paying off.  Michael is absolutely awesome.  On Friday when he was in his baptismal interview, he kept saying that he wanted to go to the sun, meaning the Celestial Kingdom, because that's the only place you can see God.  As you can see from the picture, Michael was just smiling all day long.  It was a neat feeling to go there early to fill up the font.  The Spirit was so strong as we just sat there, listening to the water rise.  After the baptism, while we were in there changing, I asked Michael how he was feeling, and he said that he felt warm.  The Spirit was just so strong the entire day.

As far as Thanksgiving goes, we were going to go to Paso Robles with Jose, but we asked permission from the Zone Leaders, they told us no.  We were a little bummed out but we'll probably be going to a restaurant with some members.  

I just can't get over the fact that November has come and gone.  Wow, the mission is going by too fast.  Christmas is one month from today too, so that's just crazy...

Well, sorry for the short email this week, but it was absolutely awesome.

Elder Harper


Monday, November 18, 2013

Jam Packed Email of Awesomeness

Hello again everybody!

Wow...where do I begin to describe this week?  It was absolutely INCREDIBLE!  This week we had the opportunity to continue teaching Michael and Jose.  They are both progressing really well, and Michael is still on the go to be baptized this Saturday!  The bishop announced it in church and people are fellowshipping him pretty well.  

We had the chance to talk with Jose about the Word of Wisdom this week, and afterwards he said that he knew it was going to be hard but that he's "ready to take it on"!  We ate dinner with members with him a few times this week and he's progressing really well.  He keeps on asking us such good questions, and the better part is that when we answer them, he's satisfied, and his faith and knowledge increases.  It is so cool to see him progress further and further in the Gospel and towards the waters of baptism.

Yet again, another miracle has transpired this week.  We were going tracting this week, and we knocked on a door (...DUH.)  Anyways, a Native American guy answered the door.  After we introduced ourselves and explained our purpose, he surprisingly let us in.  We taught him and his wife the Restoration, gave them a Book of Mormon, and committed them to be baptized next month!  They said yes!  It was really cool!  The only bad side was today we saw him outside with the that baptism probably won't happen.  But!  That is one of the most powerful experiences on my mission so far.

Do you know what else???  We had FOUR investigators come to church yesterday, including the native american guy and his wife, as well as Michael.  Jose was sick, and wasn't able to make it.  So, he will not be getting baptized on the 30th, but he's doing great!  

We taught Michael about the Law of Chastity, and it was a little challenging/awkward talking about it because we didn't really know how much he knew about the subject.  After that interesting discussion was over, we asked Michael about some of the logistics of the baptism that will be taking place on Saturday.  When we first set him with the date, our first impulse was that Michael's father was to baptize him.  We met him last Tuesday, and from what we hear from the other elders he's about as less-active as it can be.  As much as we would of like him to baptize him, we just don't see it happening any time soon, so we asked Michael who he would like to baptize him.  Guess who he chose to baptize him?  That's right!  I will be baptizing Michael this Saturday!  It was such a humbling experience and I can't wait to experience the feelings of the Spirit that will come.  The awesome and unique thing about Michael was the fact that we found, taught, and will baptize him in one transfer.  That's the indicator of a truly elect person.  We have had the chance to talk with Michael's mom a few times this week (she's active), and she has just kept saying how Michael's baptism is a miracle and an answer to her prayers.  The Lord is working miracles in Atascadero, CA.  

If you are not completely exhausted with miracles by now, I have another one to share.  We have been going tracting with some Hermanas for a little bit, and we've become good friends with them.  One of them, Hermana Brown came up to me and told me a little bit about what she's going through.  I won't go too much into details, but her mom is less-active and she's just been worrying a lot about home lately, and she asked me to give her a blessing.  Yesterday we had the chance to give her this blessing, and while I was in the middle of giving her the blessing, the Spirit prompted me to say that her mom's heart would be softened and that she'd return into full activity.  At first I was a little bit scared to, but as I paused, the Spirit kept nagging me to say it, so I did.  She thanked me a ton and we went our separate ways.  Today, 2 minutes before I started emailing, they came out of their emails.  She had a letter from her mom printed off and she wanted me to read it.  Her mom basically said that a lot of people have been taking good care of her and that her "heart has been tendered" and that she missed Hermana Brown so much.  

My jaw just about hit the floor.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  If there was ANY doubt in my mind before this week it is certainly gone now.  Miracles happen.  Hearts ARE softened, and people change.  I am so thankful to be an instrument in the Lord's hands.  This Gospel is the only way people can find happiness.  The Lord's work is moving along, and nothing can stop it.  I love you all so much.  Thank you for your shining examples to me.

With a heart full of gratitude,
Elder Harper

Monday, November 11, 2013

Another great week!

Hello everybody!
This past week seemed to FLY by.  It seems that the weeks are getting progressively faster.  It's a weird feeling; how come this never happened to me while I was still in school?
Well, things are looking up here in Atascadero.  This past week we were able to get in contact with Michael's mom, and she gave us the green light for him to get baptized!  When Michael was 8 years old, the bishop at the time didn't think it was necessary for him to get baptized because his autism was so bad.  Now that he's 34, he's progressed a lot since then, and so he can now be baptized.  We read with him a few chapters from the children's Book of Mormon, and he soaked it all in.  We asked him what he got from the chapter we read with him, and he told us all about it with perfect detail!  Michael now has a baptismal date for November 23rd, and we are super ecstatic about what is going to take place in these next coming weeks.   I've attached a picture of me with Michael.  He's such a stud.
Another great thing also happened yesterday.  Jose came to church!  He brought his 2 year old daughter with him, and he seemed to have a good time.  Jose is really shy around people, but he'll warm up in time.  When we went to Sunday School, he dropped his daughter off at nursery, and when he came to pick her up, she actually didn't really want to leave with him.  It was awesome.  The High Priest Group Leader also invited us and Jose over to dinner last night, and we had a spiritual lesson about the Restoration.  The entire family bore their testimonies to him and told him that he was on the right path.  We also shared the Mormon Message with him by Neil L. Andersen in which he said, "You don't know everything, but you know enough."  When we asked Jose how he felt, he said that he felt scared, but in a good way.  He is gaining a more powerful testimony each and every time we go to visit him.  With he and Michael, we now have set times 3 times a week that we are going over to teach them, and we are doing our best to have members with us there as well.
We went to a baptismal service on Saturday in which a mom, son, and daughter got baptized into another ward.  The dad is going to get baptized in February, and the spirit was so strong.  When the bishop confirmed the 15 year old son, we heard that he told him that he would serve a mission and bring many others unto Christ.
Well, more news next week.  I'll keep you posted!
~Elder Harper

Monday, November 4, 2013

This area is about to explode!

Hello everyone!

Well, the title says it all.  Our district is on the brink of having quite a few baptisms!  This upcoming Saturday, there's a family of 3 getting baptized. 

As for progress with people, Jose is still doing well, and last week we set him with a baptismal date for November 30th!  He actually accepted the concept of authority really well, and quickly accepted the invitation to be baptized.  When we went by, he kept telling us that he's feeling opposition, and that he has been feeling too guilty to pray;  he's recognizing that that feeling is not from God, which is awesome!  When we went over there last Monday, he told us that he's been working at a restaurant for 3 years, and he's never gotten Sundays off, but he does now!  He's coming to church this week!  If he comes to church for the next three weeks, he will be baptized.  Tonight we are going to talk about some of the Commandments, just to make sure he's on track.  Jose is one of the most elect people I've met out here.  He's so sincere, and he's definitely ready and prepared to be baptized.  He even honked and waved at us when we were riding our bikes one day.  I have high expectations for him.

Also, we were riding our bikes walking down the sidewalk one day, and we found a guy walking his dog.  He talked with us and we set a return appointment for the following Friday.  His name is Michael.  He's a really nice guy, and he is high-functioning autistic.  It turns out, his parents are members of the other ward, and he has not been baptized.  As far as understanding the doctrine, he's OK at it, and he's always learning.  He's high-functioning enough to live on his own, and he can definitely make his own decisions.  A member has taken him to church for the past 2 Sundays, and he loves it.  We talked about the Plan of Salvation with him, and he is understanding the importance of being baptized.  If everything works out, we plan to set him for the 23rd.  His dad is less-active, and so we are going to try and talk with his mom to see if it's OK with her.  Again, he can obviously make his own decisions, but it wouldn't hurt.

Elder Canzona and I are doing some great work.  Sometimes things can become a little rough, but we are always good at resolving things in the end.  It is a great skill to have to be able to do that.  He is very knowledgeable and always has a good attitude, and we make up for each other's weaknesses.  Overall, it is an inspired companionship, as every companionship is.  I'm always learning how I can improve, and I'm doing the best that I can.

We don't get to see President and Sister Castro that often, because we are on the outskirts of the mission.  We guaranteed get to see them every transfer meeting, an occasional Zone conference (about every three transfers), and President's interviews that are about every three transfers as well.  The Zone Leaders go to the Mission Leadership Conference and bring back information that the President talked about, but that's about it.  President Castro trusts his missionaries very much.

On Halloween,  we had a dual ward trunk-or-treat.  We had chili dogs and chips for dinner, and they did the trunk or treat.  There were quite a few less-active people that were there, so that was awesome.  Our mission-wide rule was that we had to be back in our apartments by 7:00, so we couldn't get together and do anything fun really.  I wore my orange tie, so that was about as Halloweeny as I got. :)

Well, this week was a really good week and I can't wait to see the miracles that will continue to take place.  The Gospel is true.  We see so many people every day that are struggling and looking for peace, but the can't find it, or turn to incorrect sources.  The fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to find solace and peace in this life.  I want all of you to know that my testimony of this Gospel has strengthened so much in these 5 months I've been out, and I'm doing the best I can to spread the word.  I love you all!

Elder Harper

Monday, October 28, 2013

Seeing investigators at church is such a neat blessing!

Hello everybody!
This week was really good!  Thank you all for the letters/packages/Facebook messages that I was informed about. :)  Spending a birthday in the service of the Lord truly is a blessing.  It's so weird to think that I'm
This week we taught Yvonne (75 year old lady) about the Plan of Salvation as we read the pamphlet with her.  It all sunk in to her.  She said the closing prayer, and she cried!  We invited her to church, and she came yesterday!  They were short on deacons, and I was actually able to give the sacrament to her.  The Spirit was so strong.  I'll see if I can get a picture with her, she's so nice.
We also picked up a new investigator from the Hermanas named Jose.  He speaks perfect English, and he lives in our area so that's how we got him.  Our area is actually the biggest area in the entire mission.  It's about 150 miles from end to end, and it goes all the way over to the Bakersfield mission border!  We never really get to go out there, because we are only allotted so many miles a month in our car to use.
Anyways back to Jose.  He's had a rough past.  When he was younger he always had anxiety and was into drugs and felt like he's been possessed at times.  We would have never even thought because he's the calmest guy ever.  He's been reading the Book of Mormon, and has been praying to know if it's true.  He's recognizing questions of his that are being answered through the Book of Mormon!  He's been saying that it's hard for him to pray and that he feels too guilty to pray.  We explained that "the evil spirit teacheth a man not to pray" and that Heavenly Father wants you to pray when you feel guilty so He can help.  He's understanding really well and we're meeting with him tonight!  We are going to set him with a baptismal date too!  That's our plan!
Last Monday we almost died.  Elder Canzona almost got us in a car accident but we came out unscathed.  Thank goodness.  Thank you for the prayers.
I love you all so much!  Thank you for the support that you give me.  I'll send some pictures of the area next week!
Elder Harper

Monday, October 21, 2013

A-Town ain't finished with me yet!

Date: October 21, 2013

Area: Atascadero

Elder Canzona

Hello my dear family and friends,

I absolutely LOVE sitting down on the computer and emailing.  It's so great to see all the different pictures and hear from home.

This week went pretty well.  On Tuesday we had to drive all the way down to Oxnard to pick up our newish-used car: a 2011 Toyota Corolla.  It's about a 3 hour drive both ways, and honestly, it was one of the scariest drives of my life.  Elder Canzona, being from Montana, can't drive in traffic....I am thankful for angels that watch over and protect us. We needed every angel we could. :)

Well, now I can write home to say that I ate Vietnamese food on my mission.   We had dinner with a part-member family, and the nonmember wife was Vietnamese, so it was really cool.  We had Bon-Hoi (I think that's how you spell it).  It's nothing gross at all, just some white noodles, pork and cucumbers wrapped in a piece of lettuce dipped in fish sauce.  They told me how fish sauce was made, and I surprisingly held it together.  Try it out!  I'd be down to have that again when I get back!

Well, we also had some great service opportunities this week.  We helped a couple move out of their house into a new one, and on Saturday, we drove out to Creston and split some wood and cut down trees!  Just call me Elder Lumberjack.  It was pretty satisfying...we also had the chance to see the part-member family again there.

Well, the subject line says it all.  I'm staying in Atascadero, and Elder Canzona is as well.  Pray for us that we don't die in a car accident.  :)  Thank you in advance for all the things coming my way.  I love you all.

This past transfer, our district did something really cool.  Each week, the Zone Leaders would pick a color.  In our prayers, we would ask Heavenly Father to prompt those individuals whom he has prepared to be wearing this color, and that we would be able to see them and talk to them about the Gospel.  There have definitely been many miracles wrought from this method, and it was so cool to see all that came from it.  The zone leaders are going to give us a piece of paper with how many people were talked to that wore that color, and also all the names of the people who were invited to be baptized.  I'm so excited!

Yesterday at church was also really great.  Ward Council was better yesterday than it has been in a long time.  Our Ward Mission Leader, honestly, is kind of a pile.  He was chastened a little by the bishop yesterday, and we hope things will be better in the future.  

Well, I love you all so much.  Thank you for your love and letters.  I'm attaching pictures from the temple and the birthday party we had at the beginning of the month.

Elder Harper

Monday, October 14, 2013

Such a great week

Date: October 14, 2013 
Area: Atascadero 
Companion: Elder Canzona

€‹Hello everyone,
The title says it all.  This week was pretty cool.  Some downs, but some unexpected ups as well.  Obviously going to the LA temple on Tuesday was awesome!  The new SD card doesn't work with my card reader, so I'm going to have to buy a camera cable or something.   I'll send the pictures next week.  It was a 4+ hour drive from Atascadero to Los Angeles, depending on the traffic. We left at 6 o'clock in the morning and got there around 11.  We hit the distribution center and took some pictures.

It's amazing how soundproof the temple is.  Outside there is so many horns blaring and sirens, but as soon as you step inside, wow.  Can't hear a sound.  It was so peaceful to go to the temple. The first session a Japanese lady was there, so it was the old movie, but I didn't realize she was there until halfway through so I kept trying to see the difference, but I couldn't.  It was kinda funny.  So, we went through again, and I did get to see the new movie, it was AMAZING.  I'm definitely going to go to the temple so many times when I get home now.  We got back at 9:30 that night, it was such a great day.

Another cool experience to tell!  So Wednesday, we were running a little bit ahead of schedule, so we decided to go to the local park and talk to some people.  When we got there, Elder Canzona had to go the bathroom.  As we were heading that way, I spotted a lady sitting on a bench with her mom.  I felt horrible for doing it, since he had to go--but I said hi.  She said something back, and I pretended to not hear what she said so I could step closer and start talking.  Well, that simple "Hello" turned into a 45 minute lesson with this lady.  All we asked her to start off with was, "What do you know about Mormons?"  She kept telling us things that weren't true, (polygamy, etc.) and we corrected some of her thoughts.  We taught her about the Restoration, and a little bit about the Plan of Salvation, because she told us her father recently passed away.  We gave her a Book of Mormon, invited her to read it, and asked her if she would be baptized if she found out it was true.  We got her address, and set up a time for us to meet with her.  Time certainly went fast, and before we knew it, we were late for dinner.  We found out she lives in the other Elder's ward, and we told them about it.  They went by, continued to teach her about the Restoration and Plan of Salvation, and set up another appointment to meet with them tomorrow.  She is now a new investigator of their's.  And how did all of that happen? A simple "hello"!  I may never see Vivian again, but I will remember this simple experience that helped build my testimony.  This Gospel is true, and it is such a blessing to be able to share that with others!

This week is the last week in the transfer, so if any of you decide to send letters please send it to the address in Oxnard.  Thank you!

Well, time is getting short, but I just want all of you to know that I know that this Church is true, and God really calls people in their weakness and qualifies them for His work.  I've changed so much already by being out here on this mission, I can already tell.  Thank you all so much for your examples to me.  I love you all!

Elder Harper

Monday, October 7, 2013

General Conference was awesome!

Date: October 07, 2013
Area: Atascadero
Companion: Elder Canzona
Hello everyone!
It's great to be here in the Family History Center writing this email. I love preparation days for many reasons...

So yeah, this week went pretty good. We were able to meet with Mike and Robin at Burger King on Thursday and go over the last things they needed to: ten commandments, law of chastity, and review the baptismal interview questions. They have such a strong desire to be baptized!

General Conference was so good! I have never taken so many notes in a general conference before. All the missionaries in my district watched general conference in the stake center here in Atascadero. General Conference is like Christmas morning. Although I must admit, Sunday morning I was thinking a lot about crepes... It was so great to be able to hear the voice of the prophets and apostles, especially with uninterrupted times. I'm lucky that it's just an hour earlier here...Mike and Robin have such a strong desire to be baptized, but it's hard to get them to come to church. Since they are homeless, they are really hard to get a hold of, and all we have is their cell phone number, which was not helpful because it was turned off the entire time. They absolutely HAVE to come to church this Sunday. If they do, they will be baptized October 19th! (An early birthday present, might I add... :))
It's so crazy that Brittany's getting married tomorrow. Take lots of pictures for me! Get a cardboard cutout of me or something so I can stand in the line... :) It just so happens that Elder Canzona and I get to go to the Los Angeles temple tomorrow! I am soooo excited! General conference, preparation day, and a temple day; nothing better. I will take pictures when I get there and send some home.
There is a member who recently got the Melchizedek priesthood who has a friend who is not a member. Her mother is going to die very soon, and so we have been teaching her the Plan of Salvation. We didn't get to finish the lesson, and the next day she was nagging us about it. We take that as a sign that she's ready to take the lessons. I have been on 3 exchanges in the past week, and all three of the other elders couldn't believe she was not baptized, so we are going to be working on her soon, and she is a goal for baptism next transfer. Well anyways she held a triple birthday party for her mom, Elder Canzona and I this last week, and it was so nice of her to do. I can't believe I'm turning 19 soon...geez.

I love you all so much! Mom, thank you for the package! I will not starve this week. That's a really good thing....

Until next week,

Elder Harper G

Monday, September 30, 2013

God speed the right!

Date: October 03, 2013
Area: Atascadero
Companion: Elder Canzona 

Hello everyone!

It is so good to talk to you all again!  This week was a great one!
 I'm a little bit short on time, but I would like to talk about this
past Saturday.

This past Saturday
I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with Elder Hill, a missionary
that I came out with in the MTC.  He came into my area, and so I had to
step it up and plan the day because he didn't know any of the people in
my area.  As you know, I have not been here for very long myself, and so
I was a little bit nervous about how the day would plan out.  We looked
in our area book and we wrote down some names that we saw in there and
planned to visit them.  When we left, I felt very lost, confused, and
inadequate.  I was convinced that that day would not be very good.

At lunch, we came back and I was thumbing through some things in my
manila envelopes, and I stumbled across the talk that Mom gave me a
little bit ago.  It was Jeffrey R. Holland's talk, "Cast Not Away
Therefore Your Confidence".  I didn't have much time to read it the day I
got it, so I put it into my envelope.  I read the talk, and I was
filled with hope.  This talk gave me the confidence I needed to go out
and finish the day.

We went out.  We knocked on some potential investigator's doors.
 We were bold.  We brought the Spirit.  We exercised our faith.  We were
trackting down a street, and I jokingly cast an imaginary fishing line
on a house and got pulled in.  We knocked on the door, and a sweet old
lady named Julia answered the door.  She told us that she was baptized
Catholic, but a while back she went to a big Christian meeting with a
lot of different churches, and she said that she was really impressed
with the LDS church.  We talked with her and bore testimony of simple
truths, and now we are going to be going back there soon!  We did the
Lord's work that day and had some pretty good numbers to report.

I gained a testimony that the Lord blesses his missionaries for
their planning efforts.  Although we didn't fully know what we were
going to go out there and do, we exercised our faith and went out the
door.  In return, we were blessed with the confidence to do His work.  I
learned that day that I CAN be a senior companion.  I CAN lead out, and
I know that the Lord has blessed me with the abilities that He
requires.  I have learned so much on my mission, and I have acquired
skills and abilities that I will use the rest of my life.  I wrote in my
journal that night to NEVER forget the feelings that I had that day.
 Thank you Mom for sending that talk, for without it I would have never
been able to accomplish the work the Lord required.

I love you all so much!  The Lord works His miracles and he gives
His children the skills and talents that they may need to bring to pass
this most important work.

Elder Harper

Monday, September 23, 2013

"And ye shall receive no witness until after the trial of your faith"

Date: September 23, 2013
Area: Atascadero
Companion:  Elder Canzona

Hello Family and Friends!

It is good to speak with you all again. It is so weird how the weeks just continue to whiz by. So I guess my email didn't go through until 5 o'clock last time? That's odd, I sent it off at the usual time. Oh well, you still got it.

This--I just heard BYU lost to the Utes. Dang. --Anyways, this week went pretty well. This week we gained an investigator for a baptismal date, and lost another one. We now have two investigators who have a baptismal date. Mike and Robin are a homeless couple currently looking for an apartment. They are GOLDEN. When I came into Atascadero, Mike was the only one with a date. When we met with them on Friday, we felt prompted to ask Robin if she wanted to be baptized too. She said yes! What was really cool was that halfway through our lesson about prophets, their friends came up to them and gave Mike 2 cigarettes, but he refused! He's been keeping the Word of Wisdom for about a month now! They are ready to be baptized, and things may be looking up for them regarding a place to live.

In the California Ventura Mission, it is a rule that the investigators have to go to church at least 3 times before they can be baptized. They have been to church twice, and we were hoping that they would come yesterday so that they could be baptized on Saturday. Since they are homeless, it is really hard to find them because they are constantly moving, but they do have usual places where they like to hang out. We did everything in our power to get them to church, but it just didn't happen. Although we were discouraged, we know that it will happen very soon and we will be meeting with them as much as possible this week.

Jalisa is another investigator who we are really making progress with. I don't remember if I told you much about her, but she's been studying a lot of religions lately. She's been everything from a Buddhist to a Muslim to a Christian, and now she is studying with us! We're really working the Book of Mormon with her. This week, we read Alma 7 and we stressed the connection between the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, to Joseph Smith being a true prophet, to the Word of Wisdom being a true commandment. She struggles with smoking marijuana, and she told us that she's not ready to be a member of our church yet, but she'll be baptized soon. She's going to church every week. Yesterday, this ward had their primary program, and she absolutely LOVED it. The way the children taught the basic gospel truths so simply really helped her I think. She is also getting a lot of member support. We taught the Gospel principles class yesterday on a last minute notice, and the members of the ward helped her a lot.

Atascadero has sooooooo many hills. My pants are starting to get really tight because my legs are getting huge! Hahah it's a blessing and a curse....

Well, that's about all I have to report this week. The Church is true, the book is blue, and Moroni's on the ball. :)

Elder Harper

Huge Tarantula

Ripped his pants while getting onto his bike

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Date: September 17, 2013
Area: Atascadero
Companion: Elder Canzona

Hello my dear family and friends!

Here I am in Atascadero, everything's going great!  After transfer
meeting we all got in the car and it was about a 2 hour drive from the
Ventura stake center.  The area is pretty nice, a little cooler than
Simi Valley from what I've seen, and there's some really nice people
that live here.  The ward in which we cover is HUGE!  It's about an
hour's drive from one end to the other.

Elder Canzona is my new companion.  He's a lot different from Elder
Hall, and it's going pretty good.  The apartment I moved into is a LOT
bigger, which is nice.  He's from Boulder, Montana, really shy, and he
has a great heart.  He shows genuine love for our investigators.  I've
attached a picture of him.

Speaking of investigators, there are 2 investigators that are on
track with a baptismal date.  Week 1 of every transfer is a little
hectic; we haven't had much time to meet with them.  We are going to see
an investigator of ours tonight, David.  He's in his early 20s and he's
agnostic.  He wanted to meet with us tonight solely to answer his
questions, which I am very excited about.  It is very easy to lead any
question into a gospel principle.

There's a member from our ward that's a barber, and he always

plays Jehova's Witness whenever he meets a new elder.  Luckily, another
elder that was in Simi told me about him so he didn't get me!  He and
his wife are so politically red it's unbelievable.  We were in the
barber shot one day and they gave me a pocket Constitution.  She said,
"Study this every day, and when you get home, you'll be Constitutional
missionaries!"  Oh they're funny... :)

Ever since I've been in Atascadero, I've felt a new wave of
confidence spread over me.  When I was with Elder Hall, I sort of felt
like I couldn't be to my fullest potential because, he being the
trainer, felt like he had to take the lead more and stuff like that.
 Now that I am no longer with a trainer, I feel like we're more on an
equal level, and I've been powerful and bold in my lessons and
declarations.  It's cool to be with a companion that's only a couple of
transfers older than you, because you're more on an equal level.

I have an experience that I would like to tell y'all about.  On Saturday,
we went to see one of our investigators with a baptismal date, but she
wasn't home.  As we were going down the stairs, a little chihuahua
jumped up on a patio flower garden and started barking at us.  It caught
us a little off guard, but we went over, let it smell our hands, and
pet it.  A lady there was outside smoking a cigarette, and we talked
with her a little bit about her dog and got to know her a little.  I
asked her, "Out of all the times you've seen the missionaries go
upstairs to your neighbor, and all the other times you've seen
missionaries, what is it that you think we do?"  She thought a little
bit about the question and she said that she thought we went around and
talked with people about Jesus Christ.  We enthusiastically responded
that that was exactly what we did!  We talked with her a little more and
the subject of baptism came up.  She said that she had been baptized
twice, and she nailed the definition of what baptism was!  She said that
she was raised a Presbyterian, but hadn't been to church in years.  I
asked her another question.  I said, "In those years when you attended
church, how did you feel knowing you had Jesus Christ to turn to?"  She
then told us a personal story of how she had leukemia and the doctors
said she wouldn't live, but miraculously her fever broke and she
survived, and now she runs an agency that helps Afghanistan veterans.
 By this point, she was very emotional, and we told her that we felt the
Holy Ghost speak to us as we heard her story.  We found out that she
doesn't have a Bible, and so we offered to give one to her.  She gave us
her contact info and we are going to stop by soon!  It's amazing how
the Lord works.  Who would have thought that a little chihuahua would've
started all this??  Like I said before, the confidence that I have been
blessed with to teach with power and authority has been wonderful.  I
feel like I am becoming the missionary God wants me to be more and more.

And there's my spiritual thought for the day. :)

I love you all.  "Always be willing to give an answer for the hope
that is in you."  Recognize how the Lord uses you, and take note of it.
 It's such a blessing.

Elder Harper

Elder Harper and the sister missionaries

Elder Harpers cousin Kevin's best friend Elder Bostrom

Elder Harper and Elder Canzona

Elder Harper and Doug

Good-bye Elder Hall!

Monday, September 9, 2013

My last week in Simi Valley

Date: September 09, 2013
Area: Simi Valley
Companion: Elder Hall

Well, the subject line says it all.  I'm getting transferred out of Simi Valley.  Elder Hall is staying here; I know there's going to be some serious miracles that will happen here in the coming weeks and months.  I'm glad that I was able to be a part of it and help the work move along.  I've made so many friendships and connected with people on levels that I never thought possible.  I don't remember if I mentioned this, but a few weeks ago we delivered some "Mormon cigarettes" to Bonnie, Chuck's wife.  It's pieces of paper rolled up with scriptures or quotes on the inside, all put into a homemade cigarette box.  She's loved them!  I used the two quotes that you sent me, Mom a few weeks ago and it's helped both me and her so much.  Well anyway, today we are going to deliver another thing like that.  Bonnie struggles with drinking as well, and a couple of weeks ago after one of our lessons, we stole an empty bottle of whiskey out of the trash.  (I promise it's better than it sounds...) We got home, washed it out, tore off the label and made our own to put on it.  The bottle says, "Be filled with the SPIRIT of CHRIST and you shall not thirst".  We put in cool quotes and scriptures, and wrote personal messages to her and put them in the bottle.  We got the ward involved and we have about 80 rolled up pieces of paper with messages of encouragement from just about all the elders, relief society and high priests in the ward.  It's so cool!  I've attached a picture of it as well.  We're delivering it to her tonight, and I can't wait to see her reaction!  I've also grown to love Chuck so much as well.  He has the biggest heart of gold.  It'll be hard to say those goodbyes today and tomorrow.

My new area I'm going to is Atascadero (AKA A-town)!  It's on the northern end of the mission, and an elder from my district just came here from there and he says he loved it!  Atascadero is more farmland than city, and I'm super stoked to see more of the mission!  My new companion's name is Elder Canzona, and he's only been in the mission field a couple more transfers than me, so it will be cool.  As always, I'll be sure to take lots of pictures!

Over the past 12 weeks I've been here, I've gained a greater love for the Gospel.  My testimony of missionary work has increased so much, and the whole way of how I think about missionary work is different.  Thanks to Elder Hall, I now see missionary work as not such a big deal.  It doesn't have to be a big, ginormous effort.  It can be as simple as inviting someone to come to an activity.  I can't wait to see what Atascadero has in store!  I'll keep you posted!

Til next week,
Elder Harper
Spirit of Christ whiskey bottle for Bonnie

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Lord tests us to see where we will turn.

Date: September 02, 2013
Area: Simi Valley
Companion: Elder Hall

Hello Family and Friends!

This week has been pretty good.  On Tuesday, I woke up with a fever...on Wednesday, I woke up with a cough and a runny nose, Thursday,
an ear infection, and yesterday, pink eye!  It was pretty hard to focus
on how I could improve spiritually when I wasn't feeling well
physically.  However, yesterday I gained a lot of love for the members
in this ward and a testimony of Christlike service.  I called the
mission president's wife and explained my situation, and she said that
we shouldn't go out and teach.  We went over to the bishop's house for
dinner last night, and I was just bombarded with medicine, and Ramen,
and eye drops and love.  One thing's for certain in this ward:  I
definitely feel well taken care of and loved here.  Every single prayer
in church they pray for the missionaries.  Our dinner calendar is
practically filled.  We have developed relationships with the youth and
the adults, and our testimonies have been strengthened by them.  In
fasting testimony meeting, Elder Hall and I both had the impression that
we wanted to go up and bear our testimonies.  As I looked out over the
ward, I felt the Spirit so strong.  I knew that we were all unified and
had one purpose.  We all have a knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ and
we are here to bring others to that same knowledge.

Last week I had one of the most spiritual
experiences.  We just came back from a good day of missionary work, and I
wanted to watch a DVD.  I watched the video called "To This End Was I
Born", and I felt the Spirit so strongly.  Watching the Savior suffering
for our sins and being crucified always testifies of how much he loves
us.  There's a part in that movie where it shows Him going to the Spirit
World to set up the missionary work there.  I felt so happy watching
those spirits up there, and I thought about Grandma Harper, the Ropers
and Jared.  Just knowing that they are up there doing the same thing I'm
doing down here is so cool.  I read D&C 138 after that, and as I
knelt down to pray, I cried, the first time since I've been out, and
just expressed the love and the gratitude that I had for Heavenly Father
and Jesus.  My motivation became a lot stronger to follow Him and to
bring others unto Him as well.  As it says in the hymn, anyone who
rejects the message we bring will never know true happiness.  

This week we helped a couple named Kevin and Haley
move out of their house.  They're a friend of Chuck's that he's known
for a very long time and they have seen the changes he has made in his
life.  One day, they called Chuck and told him that he was the only
person that could help them.  He brought us over there and we started to
share the Gospel with them.  We taught them the Plan of Salvation on Friday
and they loved it.  They were asking us so many questions about the
Church.  Over the years, they heard so many false things about the
church, and we have helped resolve conflicts and answer questions for
them it's been nice.  Unfortunately, they don't live in our area
anymore, so we are going to hand them off to the other missionaries.
 I'll keep ya posted! I have gained a testimony that service softens
people's hearts.  It's paying off!

Megan's doing well.  She's progressing with the other missionaries and she's developing friendships with the YSA people.

Well, my time's about up.  I'll talk to you next week!

Elder Harper