Monday, June 24, 2013

I'm in Cali!

Date: June 25, 2013
Area: Simi Valley
Companion: Elder Hall

Wow, where do I start...being on a mission is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I'm really sorry about the limited amount of time I have on the computer and that I can't email you all personally...ahh I hate it. I read all of your emails, I love the pictures, and I'm grateful to have such great family and friends.  I know I've already told most people already, but I've been thinking that it's nicer and more efficient to get physical, handwritten letters whenever you'd like to write to me. I understand that you do not know the address yet so everything's ok. But just for future reference, the address that you will be mailing to throughout the duration of my mission is the mission home address. From there, the office staff will forward the letters and packages to my specific apartment, just so things are a little easier. For those of you that don't know, the address you will be mailing to is:

Elder Corey David Harper
3301 West Gonzales Road
Oxnard, CA 93036

Letters:  When the mission home receives a letter, they will forward that letter to me the same day it is received.

Packages: In order for the mission home to forward a package the same day it is received, it must be mailed with either a Priority or First Class label.  Otherwise, I will not receive the package until a Zone Leader or someone else retrieves it, and that's kind of rare.  


Thank you for your letters!

This week has been absolutely incredible. I took off from the Salt Lake City Airport on June 17. My flight was delayed, but it was ok.  We arrived in Denver, and from Denver we flew out to Santa Barbara.  We arrived in Santa Barbara and we met the Mission President and his wife, and they are amazing. The Assistants drove all of us back to the Ventura Stake Center (the one that I put a picture on Facebook) and we had a welcome to the mission devotional.  We dropped off our luggage in the gym. It's beautiful there in Ventura!  The assistants took us to Panda Express (never been there.  Heavenly.) and came back to the stake center.  President Castro said a few more words along with his wife, and we had some cookies and refreshments.  Some members were nice enough to let us spend our first night in the mission field in their homes.  I slept well...really well.  We had a nice breakfast and they drove us back to the stake center for our transfer meeting.

Cameron, what you were saying was correct.  The mission boundaries aren't changing until July 1st, so whatever area we were put in first would determine the mission I would be serving in.  We were all really nervous that we wouldn't be continuing to serve in the Ventura mission.  We all had that mindset that we would go wherever the Lord wants us to go, but we still didn't want to go to Bakersfield.  Luckily for me, I was fortunate to STAY in the Ventura Mission! 

My first area is Simi Valley, California.  It's a little warmer here, because it's slightly more inland, but it's beautiful!  I love it here!  My companion's name is Elder Hall, and he's from West Point, UT.  He's 22 and he's a great first companion and trainer.  We're the oddest companionship, because he's one of the oldest in the mission, and I believe that I'm the youngest in the mission right now.  It's crazy.  I feel like a baby... ;) I'll tell you a little more about Elder Hall in future emails, but I really like him and he's a great example.

We were what the missionaries say, "whitewashed" into the area, meaning that neither of us served in the area before.  The first night we went trackting, I was really nervous.  We basically live in the ghettos of Simi Valley, and it was awesome to be able to confidently walk down the street, wearing nice white shirts, slacks, fancy shoes, and carrying wallets, to know that the Lord was watching over us and we had nothing to fear.  I've not been scared once.  Don't worry though, mom, there are much nicer areas outside of where we live and in the ward boundaries.  

Wow, so much to say...We have ran into so many great people out here, and I had my very first door slam the very first day!  YES!  It feels great.  There have been many more since...oh well.  Their loss.  There's many different people and investigators/less-active people that we've ran into, but I'd like to tell you a little bit about a guy named Chuck Houck. He's in his 50s, has been in and out of prison many times, has been in gangs, and has had a less-than-ideal life.  He has been searching for truth his entire life, and has been into many different religions.  

He was baptized last December, and he's one of the greatest guys I've ever met.  He has such a big heart, and he's completely changed his life around.  It's amazing to hear his conversion story and to see his conversion in the Gospel, because he actually worshiped Satan when he was a kid and teenager.  He is absolutely incredible.  He has a burning passion for the Gospel, for the scriptures, and for serving others.  More later...running out of time!

We had our very first baptism!  Emily Miller is ten years old; her father's less active, her mother's not a member, and her brother's not a member.  She was taught by the previous missionaries, and she was actually introduced to the Gospel by her friend.  A child converted her.  

I loved the Worldwide Leadership Broadcast, and it was cool to watch it from California in the church.  It's weird to think that I sang in that choir just last week.  I'm not sure the details of how things will be implemented.  

I'm on a bike!  I'll send you a picture next week.

I love you all.  I have so much more to say but so little time.  Thank you for your prayers and examples.  Talk to you next week!

Elder Harper

Elder Harper with his favorite things: Powerade, Spaghettio's, and Cheese.

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