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