Monday, August 25, 2014

Missionary work is about to change...

Hello everybody!  

This week has really whizzed by compared to last week.  I am loving the area more and more each day.  I love going to Vandenberg Air Force Base to eat with the members from the military.  There's a member here named Bro. Miles who is a medic in the Air Force and he's studying to be a PA.  He talked with me about his experience in the Air Force and how it's helping him get through school and stuff like that.  It was really cool to talk with him about that; once I get home, I'm going to study more into that.  I'm really considering going into the Air Force to get through my schooling.  Everyone I've talked to has highly recommended it, and they said that you literally get paid to go to school.  Anyways, this week has been a great one.

It always amazes me how so many people can be prepared, but we need to exercise our faith to talk to them. We were heading back to our car, and there was a lady approaching us. Elder Kingrey struggles sometimes with talking to people on the street (I'm trying to help him with that) and so I sort of nudged him to talk to the lady. He said no, and so as the lady approached, I extended a warm greeting. She responded, and a conversation developed. Initially, she expressed concerns with our Church, saying that Joseph Smith coveted other men's wives, the Book of Mormon is a depressing story, and things like that. We confidently addressed her concerns and bore testimony of the Book of Mormon. It turns out, she was actually a less-active member of the church, and she said that she felt uncomfortable with coming to church because she smokes and doesn't follow the commandments completely. We explained that God always allows us to repent and come back, and we invited her to come to church the next day. She said she would, gave us her new address, and we went on our way. We got in the car, and I said to Elder Kingrey "Don't ever be afraid to talk with somebody, because if we wouldn't have talked with her, none of that would have happened." It was a great learning experience for him and for me, and a testimony booster as well.

Although the lady didn't come to church the next day, we are glad that we have her new address for the church records, and we will be stopping by her to help in the future. It certainly was no coincidence that we ran into her, and I know that the Lord guided us there so that we would be able to contact her in future visits and eventually help her come back to church. It's little experiences like these that have really made my mission meaningful. I am thankful that the Lord has used me so many times throughout my mission as one of his instruments. I always tell the Lord in my prayers that I want to be an instrument for Him not just on my mission, but throughout my entire life. Anyway, it was a neat experience for us to have.

You may be wondering why the subject line of my email is, "missionary work is about to change"  This week, we had a Zone Meeting and they told us that the church came out with a website called, and this provides an opportunity for missionaries and members to give service.  Our mission is creating a new key indicator (a new thing we measure each week) for service hours.  The goal is 10 hours a week!  Throughout my mission, I have LOVED giving service.  It's always nice to have a change of pace, and oft times you can connect with people a lot better through those service opportunities.  The thing is, though, we can only keep track of service hours, and go to the website often if we have IPADS!  President Felix has told us that we will certainly have iPads before the end of the year, and maybe even sooner.  We have a Zone Conference tomorrow in Ventura, and I'm pretty sure that they are going to be passing out order forms.  I'll have to give you more details next week.  I'm looking forward to using the iPads and you know what that means, family.  Skype!  haha I can just see the look on my mom's face right now. :)  

Travin, good luck with your Farewell this weekend!  You are about to be set apart to the greatest calling in the Church.  You were there when I was set apart, and I wish I could be there for yours.  I'm excited for you to join me and 85,000+ others in the mission field.  I know for me there's never been a time in my life that has felt so purposeful and gratifying.  I'm excited for you to experience that.  Take pictures!

I'm glad the family had fun in Wayne County, and yes grandma, I WILL share experiences next year!

I love you all so much.  I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  I know that the Gospel blesses families, just as it has blessed mine.  I am thankful for the opportunity and blessing that I have to be a missionary.  It's so great to be able to feel the Spirit's influence guiding me in the work. I'll talk to you all next week!

Elder Harper

Oh!  I forgot to mention!  So, these pictures!

There's a guy in my ward named Greg Grant who actually had the idea for Toy Story.  He submitted it to Disney, and they declined.  A little while later, when Toy Story was coming out, he took Disney to court and he sued them for taking his idea.  He was, let's just say, compensated from the lawsuit.  So yeah, he's the reason there IS a Buzz and Woody!

He also collects Pez dispensers.  Here's a picture of the Two-Face dispenser, and he actually got a signature from the guy who plays Harvey Dent/Two-Face in Batman:  Dark Knight!  Isn't that awesome?  

And, of course, the Star Trek:  The Next Generation Pez collection.  I just couldn't resist.... :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Fresh Week in Lompoc

Hello everybody! 

This week has been quite a good one.  I think Lompoc is really cool!  There's some mountains in between us and the ocean, but we still feel the western breeze. It's not even close to the humidity of Ventura.  I've really noticed that Lompoc is a gold mine as far as missionary work goes.  We have been walking down the street, and Elder Kingrey has said, "There's an investigator that lives here, a potential investigator that lives there, a less-active that we see that lives here..." and it goes on and on.  The field definitely is ripe and ready to harvest here.  I just need to sharpen my sickle and reap. 

One of the cool things about the Lompoc Ward is that the Vandenburg Air Force Base is in the boundaries.  There are a lot of military officers that live there that go to the church.  Pretty much this entire last week we've had our dinner appointments at the base.  We park our car in the parking lot, and the person we're having dinner with picks us up, drives to the gate and gives the officer his pass.  We've had dinner with a Tech officer, a Chief, and a Captain this week!  Let me tell you, I was pretty nervous to have dinner with a captain, but it was fun.  He didn't inspect my dinner plate haha. :D  It's been good to hear their stories of how they joined the Air Force and what they do.  I've recently been thinking about becoming a Physician's Assistant for my career (don't really know why), and all of them suggested that I go through the military to do that so I could have schooling paid for.  My options are open...I'll look more into that when I come home.

We also had another neat experience.  On Wednesday, we had service with one of our investigators, named Yvette, and we helped her pick some fresh strawberries from her garden.  I ate some of those and they were super good.  I LOVE strawberries.  (Another thing the mission has done for me...I hated them before).  I also ate a chili pepper too.  Let's just say that I needed some sour cream fast.  Anyways, all three of us rode our bikes down to the beautiful flower fields by the mountains (see picture) and talked about the scriptures.  The reason we rode there was because they were going to launch a rocket from Vandenburg at precisely 11:29 AM.  I got a picture and a video of the rocket being launched!  It broke the sound barrier and it rumbled the windows in the nearby houses.  The sister missionaries in Solvang even said they felt it!

On Thursday, the church's carpets were being cleaned, so we had District Meeting in Solvang!  It was cool to drive through that cool little Danish town and see the windmills.  I thought of Grandma and Grandpa DeLeeuw, looking at all the windmills. 

Well, my computer was really slow this morning, and so I didn't have as much time.  Elder Kingrey's awesome, it's been cool to see how we've both changed since the MTC.  We had another investigator with a baptismal date this Saturday, but her dad won't let her. (Deja Vu...)  Oh well.  I love you all and thanks for everything you do for me!  Thanks for the love and prayers!

Elder Harper

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Rougher Week...

Hello everyone!

Well, I can't believe that this transfer has already come and gone.  It's been a quick 7 weeks, but now things must change an move on.  We got our transfer calls this morning, and I will be leaving to Lompoc, CA (pronounced Lomm-Poke) in the Mesa Oaks ward.  I will be companions with, none other than, Elder Kingrey, my MTC companion!  It will definitely be cool to see how things play out.  We are in the same district as the sister missionaries serving in Solvang, so we will be allowed to go there on P-days!  Hopefully we'll get to go!  Just so you know, transfers end September 21st.  We have also been informed that iPads will be implemented in the mission very soon.

Well, it's sad to say, but just like the title suggests, this week has been one of the rougher weeks in my mission.  We texted Lily on Wednesday to see if we could meet up with her, and she told us that she and her mom got into an argument, and her mom said that she didn't have permission to get baptized.  Lily lived with her aunt and uncle for a few days in Oxnard, and she's now living at home again with her mom.  It was pretty disappointing at first to know that she wouldn't be baptized August 10th, but we know that all things happen for a reason.  Since I am leaving tomorrow, I am going to see if we can talk to Lily tonight, and if not, call her.  She will be baptized, even if it takes until she's 18.  She'll get baptized.

This week we were able to do some service for people in the neighborhood.  We pruned some Birds of Paradise trees and cut down some hedges.  We did service for 6 hours on was pretty intense.  

This transfer I have learned a lot.  I have learned to stand up for my beliefs.  I have faced a lot of opposition, both from those who I've talked with on the streets, and from missionaries that were being disobedient.  I am thankful for the quiet peaceful feelings that come when we know that what we did was right.  When we shape our lives on constant principles, we will be happy.  When we make exceptions, we become conflicted and are not as happy.

On Saturday and Sunday we had stake conference, and it was great!  President and Sister Felix both spoke to us about the Holy Ghost and how we need to listen to the promptings we receive.  It was their first time ever speaking at a stake conference, and they did great.

Well, that's about it for this week.  I'll talk to you next week, in Lompoc!

Elder Harper

Monday, August 4, 2014

Baptism here we come!

Hello, Hello, Hello!

First of all, let me just say, that being a missionary is AWESOME!  There are so many blessings that the Lord bestows upon us, and we are not even always fully aware of what He does.  This week, however, we are fully aware of what he's done.  He has helped Lily progress through the midst of trials and hardships.  

Lily has an aunt that is not exactly fond of our Church.  We presume that she has been asking Lily a lot of controversial questions about our beliefs (Mary-Virgin birth, Jesus suffered in Garden or on Cross, etc.) because Lily, out-of-the-blue asked us those things.  In our last lesson with her, we talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and afterwards Lily told us about how her mom is OK with her being baptized because she knows that Lily has the right to be a member of any church that she wants, however she is a little disappointed about how soon Lily has decided to join.  Lily is determined to press forward regardless of what her family thinks, and be baptized on August 10th.  Her biggest concern is whether or not her family will join the church.  

We had an Investigator Fireside provided by the Ventura Stake Presidency last night, and both Lily and Fernando attended.  Lily brought up her desire for her family to get baptized, and the ward and those that were there explained that she will be an example of righteousness in her family.  A member told her that when she joined the church, her father was very against it.  But after 30 years of her being in the church, he now respects the church.   Lily was comforted by their stories and she knows what she needs to do.  Fernando has been doing well too.  He has changed so much from when we first met him.  He doesn't feel ready to receive the Priesthood, but he's going to Young Men's and I bet he'll get it soon.  Oh, Lily and Fernando are both 16 by the way.  Lily's baptism will be a perfect way to end the transfer.

This morning, the district went to the top of some hills by the ocean here in Ventura, and we all saw the famous San Buenaventura Cross.  Today we decided to have a little more "relaxed" p-day and so we are doing some tourist activities, going to the mall, playing a light game of dodgeball, fun stuff.

There's been some BEAUTIFUL sunsets here, so I've got a few pictures of that...we were also riding our bikes and came across a squashed opossum in the road...haha, just random things. 

One of our investigators, Bud, is a 74 year-old man and he's a Seventh-Day Adventist.  He invited us into his home Friday night and he has an AWESOME game room.  He had so many arcade games, pool table, mini bowling alley, just some cool stuff.  He also had a jukebox and some speakers from the 50's in his house.  It was pretty cool.

I can't believe that this week is the last week of the transfer, and that it's been 14 months since I've left!  Wow...I'll talk to you all next week!

Elder Harper