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