Monday, April 28, 2014

Miracle Thursday!

Hello everybody!  

It's so good to be here again, sitting at the computer, emailing you all.  This week has been pretty great.  

On Tuesday, a member took us out to a place called Hometown Buffet, which is basically like Chuck-A-Rama.    Why am I telling you this you ask?  Because he picked us up in his 2013 Red Camaro and sped us down the freeway to dinner!  It was pretty fun.  I wish I had my camera.  They also had this cake there called Tres Leche's cake that I really loved and I want to make or buy when I get home.  Cool story of the week.

There are older members of the ward who recently got married in December and they had us over for dinner as well.  They live in the same complex as us so it's pretty convenient.  We helped them carry out some drawers from an old desk of theirs and they gave us some really good cheesecake that is to die for.  Wow, all my stories of the week involve some sort of food.  No wonder I'm gaining weight...I'm already at 20 lbs...oh yeah.  We went to Texas Roadhouse on Wednesday with other ;P

Get this:  This is the climax of the week.  On (Miracle) Thursday, we received a text at 11:30 at night from the Media Referral center, which is basically a center where missionaries call to give the names and the new addresses for people that are moving, so the missionaries in the new area can continue teaching.  Marva, a member, and Daniel, her nonmember husband moved up from Santa Barbara here to Santa Maria for their honeymoon, and they packed everything they had.  We called her on the phone and told her where the church building was, and they came to church.  We set up an appointment to see them Sunday night and we came over and got more of their story.  We went through all the pamphlets and asked him if he was taught the lessons and he has!  He's been taught everything he needs to know and he is living all the commandments!  We taught him about temples/baptisms for the dead and he liked the concept.  They said that they are only going to be here for about 10 days, but they want Daniel to get baptized HERE while they are in Santa Maria because they are moving to Murray, UT when they leave.  Their home teacher is driving up from Santa Barbara on Friday to baptize them, and so we have a baptism on Friday!  We are going to give Mario a call later on today and see if he got off parole, and if he does, we will probably have a baptism on Saturday too!  The work in Santa Maria is going great!  I love being here and see so many people's lives change for the better.  Everyone always says that if we were to be with Mario when he first started investigating the church, we wouldn't even be able to recognize him.  The church really has changed his life so much.  His daughter, who was baptized 2 years ago turned in her mission papers about a month ago, and is waiting for her mission call.

Saturday we had the Central Coast Helping Hands project, which is basically the Mormon Helping Hands, but the local leaders of the church wanted to expand it so any denomination could attend.  There were people from all sorts of different faiths that were there.  We met at a high school and we scraped off old paint in the bleachers and repainted them.  There was a big BBQ afterwards and the Father from the local Catholic church blessed the food and it just united us all as Christians. It was a great day, and we were really tired afterwards.  

I should probably tell you that over the past couple of weeks, I have learned how to play Texas Hold 'Em, or Poker (not with face cards!).  We've been going to the other elder's place during our lunch and evening hours and we've been playing uno and betting pushups.  It's been fun. ;)

Basically, I love being a missionary.  I love the new surprises that come each day, and you never really know what's going to happen.  For example, yesterday afternoon we were walking down a busy street and some guy pulled up next to us and called us the f-word.  I love it, because all we do is smile, wave, and say, "Have a nice day!"  Being a missionary is awesome.  I've never had so much fun, and I've never felt the power of the Holy Ghost so strongly either.  You can plan to do one thing, but God pulls you another direction and you end up doing something completely different.  Missionary service has its ups and downs, but over time, you forget the specifics of the bad experiences and remember the specifics of the good ones.  God truly does have his Almighty Hand over His missionaries, and there's never been one time where I've felt scared or threatened or afraid of what might happen, because I know that the Lord is there and He won't let anything happen.

I'm so excited to call home in just under two weeks for Mother's Day.  Family, I'm so sorry that I haven't been answering specific questions that you've been asking me, but I will answer any question that you have when I call home.  I love you all so much!  Have a great week!

Elder Harper

Oh.  P.S.  My toe did break.  A ligament pulled too far and pulled off a piece of my bone.  I put it in a little splint for a couple of days, and it's basically already healed. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter and Elder Nelson!

Hello everyone!  Happy Easter!

This week, as usual, has been AMAZING!  To start off, I would like to tell you a cool story that happened to us.  

We saw in our area book a potential investigator named K.C. that was found in Dec 2012, and so we decided to stop by and see her.  We approached her apartment building and we saw her outside and she was watching her son ride his tricycle.  We introduced ourselves, started talking to her, and asked her if the missionaries before ever talked to her about families.  She said no and we taught her a little bit about the Plan of Salvation.  I took out my planner, and one of her 6 kids saw a picture of Jesus and he said, "Jesus is really strong!"  We said "Yeah!" and the little girl ran up to me and just gave me a hug out of nowhere.  All of them were just super excited to see us and we said a prayer with them all.  K.C. asked if there was anything we could give to her to read, and Elder Agle and I just looked at each other, and we fumbled through our bags.  We gave her a Restoration pamphlet, a Plan of Salvation pamphlet, and a Family: Proclamation to the World pamphlet.  We have a return appointment with her tomorrow at 10:00 and we are super excited!  It was definitely a tender mercy and miracle from the Lord.

Also, on Friday, I most likely broke my toe... ;)  I was looking for one of my CDs under the couch, and Elder Agle told me where it was, so as I was sliding my foot forward to get up, my foot hit one of the legs to the couch and I probably broke my 3rd toe on my right foot.  It kinda hurt.  It doesn't hurt really to walk on it anymore but I'm going to go to the urgent care facility to see a doctor right after I'm done here to make sure it's healing in place.  If not, they're going to have to break my toe again and set it in the right place.  Wish me luck haha :P

BUT!  Onto more serious things.  Seeing Elder Nelson on Saturday and Sunday was so cool.  We drove down to Ventura and I was able to sit on the 5th row!  Every missionary got to shake his hand as well.  When I shook Elder Nelson's hand, I said, "Pleasure to meet you" and it kind of caught him off guard.  He said "Thank you" a few times and then gave me a pat on the back.  It was such a cool feeling to shake the hand of an Apostle of the Lord.  My foot suddenly didn't hurt so much :)  There was a question and answer session and somebody asked how we know if we are being changed.  He said that repentance is conversion and we can know by how much we desire to serve others at all times.  It was such an inspired question and answer that just struck me to the core.

On Easter Sunday he also came again and spoke to the Santa Maria stake.  His wife talked about the Atonement and how we need to use it more often in our lives and it answered a lot of my questions.  This week has been so

We have a rule in our mission that says we have to wear our suits all day on Sundays unless it is over 80 degrees.  It was 75 all day.  We rode 20 miles on our bikes.  In suits.  We were exhausted.  But we had a good salmon and ham dinner at a member's home so we were happy. :)

Overall, this week has been great.  I love being a missionary serving the Lord.  There are so many exciting things going on all around us and sometimes we need to just slow down and thank the Lord.  I love you all and I hope you all had a good Easter!

Elder Harper

Monday, April 14, 2014

A new transfer in Santa Maria!

Hello dear Family and Friends!

So! Another transfer here in Santa Maria has begun.  Three new elders came up, and we are now back to 2 companionships in the ward.  Brother Cadena, a convert baptized last August, was kind enough to drive us all down to Ventura and back.  Everyone is getting along well, and it's nice to have some new, fresh elders in the district.  It's funny...I am the oldest one in the district "mission-wise".  It's really weird to think that because I still consider myself fairly new.  Wow, how time flies.

Like I said last week, Elder Agle is my new companion, and he is pretty cool. I forgot my camera cable, so I'll have to send a picture of us next week.  But I did get a picture of the district.  Elder Agle grew up in Glendale, CA but moved to Mapleton when he was 10 or so.  He's pretty funny.  On Saturday and Sunday nights, there was a Christian community choir, with members from our church and others that were singing a requiem.  We've been singing "REQUIEM!" back and forth and it's been pretty funny.  

Unfortunately, this week was a bit of a drag.  There were 5 lessons that cancelled on us, and a potential investigator dropped us, but it didn't get us down.  We just had the fabulous opportunity to knock on doors and do what we call "miracle walks", which is basically just street contacting.  There was a "femi" guy that answered the door and he kind of bashed with us for a little bit.  It kind of caught me off guard, but we always just brought it back to prayer, and we invited him to just pray to know if the things we were saying are true.  

As missionaries, all we are supposed to do is "invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them to receive the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."  Sometimes I think missionaries in general get discouraged if someone doesn't want to learn, but we shouldn't.  We simply invite them, and it's all on them and their agency to decide if they want to learn more.  Our job is just to teach and testify clearly to help them make the right decision.

We are SUPER excited to be able to see Elder Russel M. Nelson twice this week!  We are having a mission conference in Ventura on Saturday, and then the special stake conference on Sunday.  We are preparing ourselves to receive some GREAT revelation.

I can never bear my testimony enough.  I know with all my heart and soul that this church is the only true church upon this earth.  I know that God and Jesus Christ restored the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and that that same Gospel is on the earth today.  Thomas S. Monson is a prophet who receives direct revelation from God.  The powers, keys, and authority that bind husbands, wives and families together for the eternities has been restored, and those ordinances are performed in the 142 holy temples.  The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, and it reveals the correct interpretation of the Bible.

I love you all so much.  Thank you everyone for all you do.  I'll catch you next week!

Elder Corey Harper

Monday, April 7, 2014

General Conference Week!

Hello everybody!!!

Wow, what a great week it has been!  With General Conference on Saturday and Sunday, it really just topped it all off.  First things first, I am staying here in Santa Maria for another transfer, and my new companion is Elder Agle.  I've been in his zone before and he seemed pretty cool.

This past week seemed a little bit slower than the previous few, a lot of cancellations, but still great.  Now, with it being transfers, two new elders are coming into the same ward, and the area will be back to how it was before.  I'm super glad that I am staying here, this is a great ward.  That also means that I will be able to witness (hopefully) the baptism of Mario, and I will be able to attend the special stake conference on Easter when Elder Nelson is coming up!  I also heard that he is going to be staying afterwards for about an hour or so to shake hands and meet the members.  I will do EVERYTHING in my power to be able to get a picture with him.

General Conference was amazing!  I loved Elder Holland's talk and the powerful testimony he bore.  "I know that the priesthood keys have been restored to this Earth, and I am more confident of that, than I am that I am standing before you at this pulpit today, and that you are sitting before me today."  Wow!  We all met at the stake center and watched all the sessions.  Benito and Griselda saw the sessions on TV, and Benito came to the Priesthood Session as well!  We were so happy!    Mario also came and saw the Sunday Morning session at the stake center. 

Well, there's not a whole lot to say this week, and I'm running out of time, but I want to share with you a simple, yet cool experience we had yesterday.

We went tracting, and we were knocking on a door and a hispanic lady opened up.  We explained who we were and that we share a message about Jesus Christ.  She expressed that she was not interested and she said that she didn't believe in God.  We bore simple but powerful testimony that there IS a God out there who lives and loves all of us very much.  I told her to look around, and see His creations, and that it was all evidence that there IS a God.  Nothing much really came from it, but I felt confident that I was bearing testimony of the things that I knew to be true.  It was a great experience.

I love you all so much!  Thanks for all you do!

Elder Harper

P.S.  Grandma!  I tracted on Roper St.!