Monday, May 26, 2014

Onward, ever onward

Hello dear Family and Friends!

This week, as usual, has been a good one.  We are still trying our very best to find new people to teach, but with no avail thus far.  We talked with a guy who was originally from Spanish Fork yesterday, and he said, "yeah...go away!" and slammed the door.  As a missionary, you become really calloused to these sort of things.  You feel bad that they rejected the Gospel, but all you can do is shrug your shoulders and move forward.  We will always face discouragements, but as long as we are doing our best, we will never be discouraged with ourselves.  

We weren't able to meet with Rachel this week, which was unfortunate because we had 3 members there that were going to be present in the lesson.  She's still doing great though.  

I'm not sure if I'm going to be here when Mario gets baptized, because he hasn't received another potential release date yet.  About 2 years ago, Mario received a job to be a truck driver, and he really liked it.  When he was climbing into the truck one day, he hurt his foot really bad and he was out for a long time, unable to work.  The Church has paid for his rent, and in return he washes the windows every week.  He's only missed church once in 2 years, and he is so loyal to the bishopric and the church as a whole.  His foot has recovered, and he now has a job as a truck driver again!  He's been living in a tiny motel room for 2 years, and he's so ready to start driving and move out.  We're all super excited for him.

Elena Thomas received the Holy Ghost yesterday, and she seemed like she was really glowing.  She contributed so much to the lesson in Gospel Principles, and we were all so happy for her.  She called all 4 of us to her place and gave us each little plastic bags of shredded blue paper with lighters inside.  She told us that they represented baptism by water/fire!  She's doing great, and she'll be an active lifelong convert for sure. :)

Well, that's about it, things are going great here in Santa Maria.  It's cooled down a lot, so that's nice.  I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Harper
P.S.  Congrats, Trav!
P.S.S. Pictures:  McDonald's advertising a banner ad on a plane!  Never seen that one before...
Elder Banks, Elder Toa, Elder Agle and myself having fun on p-day.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Just another week in paradise.

Hello, hello everybody!

The weeks are just whizzing's so weird to think that I'm only half a month away from being out for a year.  This has been the fastest year of my life, I'd say..but I digress.

Well, first things first.  I'm staying here in Santa Maria with Elder Agle for another transfer.  This next transfer is only 5 weeks, so it's a comfortable transition for President Felix when he comes in.  (So transfers end June 22nd).

Last night, Elena Thomas, the single mom with 4 kids that I had the chance to teach for a little while, got baptized!  I was able to give the talk about baptism at the service, and the four of us elders sang an a Capella harmony of "I Believe In Christ".  We sounded great, and the spirit was really strong.  What's also cool is that Rachel was able to attend the service!  She said that she was glad she came, and she said that she felt the Spirit!!!  We had a lesson with her on Thursday at the church, and we were able to answer some questions she had about the Book of Mormon, like how it related to the modern days and why the Book of Mormon is so important.  We told her that the Book of Mormon is one fruit that shows that Joseph Smith is a prophet.  If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet, and he did restore Christ's original church here on the earth.  She understood that, and she's always just so happy now!  Rachel went out to lunch with the Relief Society President and a few other sisters, and she walked up to them at the baptism and started talking to them!  It was so good to see.

We were able to render a lot of service this week as well.  We helped some people move out, and we set up chairs and tables for a wedding reception.  As always, our payment was food...Don't worry, Mom, I'm being wise with what I'm choosing to eat!  I made a commitment not to drink any soda, and it's been going pretty well so far.

On Wednesday and Thursday, it was 105 degrees outside!  We were riding our bikes all over the place, and people kept telling us to go inside.  It was a hard couple of days, but things ended up alright.

Going to the temple on Tuesday was huge blessing as well.  We were able to do 2 sessions, and I read my patriarchal blessing in the Celestial room, which was really powerful.  I love the temple so much.  I want to set a goal when I get home to go to the temple at least twice a month.  Every time I go to the temple, whether it's for baptisms, endowments, etc., I always walk out wanting to be a better person, and my love for the church always grows too.

Well, I guess that's all for this week.  I love being a missionary.  There's nothing else that I would rather be doing with this time in my life.  It's useless to worry about things that I my miss or anything that may happen back home, because it's all in the Lord's hands, and He is in control of everything.  I know that I came out here for a good purpose:  to assist the Lord in His work.  The Lord IS hastening His work of salvation, and it's an honor, blessing, and privilege to be on the front lines of this mighty work.  I love you all so much!  Thank you for everything you do!

Elder Harper 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Slower week, but Mother's Day was great!

Hello everyone! (Again) :)

I hope you all had a great week!  It was great to call home yesterday for Mother's Day.  Not much more to say than I did yesterday, but it was such a blessing to be able to talk to you all.  I forgot to mention that Elder Agle actually applied to UCAS the same year I did, but he was way high on the waiting list and was unable to get in.  So yeah, small world! :)

We're super excited to go to the Los Angeles temple tomorrowmorning.  I'm going to go on FamilySearch and see if there is anybody who needs an endowment session done.  Probably not likely, but I'll check.  We were originally going to go on Friday, and I planned to ask if I could get a couple of names mailed to me this week, but it's not going to happen before tomorrow. ;)

So, we were knocking doors in the hot, windy weather, and we talked to somebody named Michelle on her doorstep.  We taught her a brief Restoration message and she seemed to enjoy it.  She asked us how we could possibly enjoy leaving our families for two years to go to a faraway place to talk to strangers.  We explained to her that we gain a lot more out of our missions than we could ever imagine.  I quoted the definition of a missionary:  Someone who leaves their family for a short time, so that others could be with their families for eternity.  She seemed to really appreciate that, and she said, "I'm glad that I came out to talk to you guys.  I learned a lot."  Hopefully something good comes from it, but even if nothing does, another seed has been planted.  

TRAVIN!  Since I heard that you are in charge of reading my emails to your family, I just wanna say that I'm so excited for you, and for your mission call coming up.  You probably feel a mix of emotions; excitement, nervousness, etc., and that's what's so fun about serving a mission.   When that call comes and you find out where the Lord wants you to serve, I encourage you to go on your knees that night and say a prayer to the Lord committing to Him that you will do your best to bring souls unto Him.  I definitely know that mission calls are inspired and that you will be called to where you are needed most.  Love ya Travinski!

As I said before, not much new to say.  I love you all so much, and I hope you have a great week!

Elder Harper

Monday, May 5, 2014

Holy Cow...Eleven Months Already.

Hello everyone!  What a week it's been.

First, I'll start off with the bad news.  Unfortunately, Mario did not get off parole. :(  But he is trying to be as optimistic as he can, and we were talking about how turning to the scriptures, prayer, and going to church help us in our trials.  He completely agreed and he's taking it well.

Also, You remember Marva and Daniel Louiselle?  They moved into the 2nd ward the DAY before they were going to get baptized.  But they still did in the other ward, so it counts, right? :)

Jamie also dropped us this week.  We knew that it was coming, but she told us that she was just comfortable with where she was.  She knows a lot more than she did when we first found her, and we know that we planted seeds for future missionaries.  She has some member friends as well, so she will come around.  

This week has been pretty good.  It's funny hearing about weather back home, having blizzards and cloud coverages.  On Wednesday this past week, it hit 102 degrees and the 90's on other days this week.  And guess who was going tracting in it?!  Yep.  This guy here.  It was pretty exhausting, but we bought Gatorade's at the gas station so it was ok. :)

We had a really good lesson with Rachel on Saturday at the church with our ward mission leader.  We really got to know Rachel a lot better.  In all the lessons that we've had in the past with her, she's sort of been stone-faced and emotionless.  When we talked with her on Saturday, she really opened up and she was even laughing at some points in the lesson.  We got to know a little bit more about what her background was.  We discovered something.  She worked for a federal corrections facility for 25 years, and she told us that over time, she became calloused to things that we would find disturbing, so she said that her heart was hardened, but that things going on in her life had caused her heart to be softened.  I asked her what sort of things those were, and she said that by allowing the Lord back into her life, going to church, and having missionary discussions had softened her heart.  

I don't know if I've told you her main concern.  She doesn't really feel worthy to pray to God, and she described it as a "mental block".  We explained to her how the Spirit operates, and that that is God talking to us.  She had a few experiences that she has felt the Spirit, and when she finished describing one, I stopped the lesson and told her that in order to feel the Spirit, one has to be worthy to do so, because the Spirit cannot dwell in unholy temples.  I said, "Take confidence that God has forgiven you, Rachel.  He is communicating to you through the Spirit, and that's how you know."  It seemed like a light bulb went on in her head, and at the lesson, she said that she was glad she came.  At the end of the lesson, we bore powerful testimony about the Book of Mormon, and we told her that the baptismal font is where God wants her, in own due time.  She also came to church again for the 5th or 6th and she stayed all three hours.  She has great fellowshippers that are answering questions she has.  The Relief Society President, Primary President, and Young Women's President are all going to get together and invite her to go to lunch with them this week, so that will be awesome.   Things are going great here in Santa Maria.  We don't exactly have the biggest teaching pool, just Mario and Rachel, but we are continually asking God to place those people in our paths that are ready to receive the restored Gospel

Basically, Rachel will get baptized.  It may not be in the time that I'm here, but that does not matter.  She has come so far ever since I've gotten here, and I can't wait to see how much she will continue to progress.  I love the Gospel so much, and little experiences I've had here and there are giving me a stronger and strong testimony of the truthfulness of this church.  No matter what goes on in any of our lives, we always have Jesus Christ and His Gospel to fall back on because He is the Rock of our Redeemer (read Helaman 5:12).  I love you all so much and I can't wait to talk to my family on Mother's Day.  Love you all!

Elder Harper