Monday, October 27, 2014

A Fantastic Week at the Temple + My Birthday!

Hello all!

Wow, like I said, it's been another GREAT week here in Lompoc!  I had a FANTASTIC Birthday!  Thank you everyone for your birthday wishes!  Thank you grandma and Kristine for the McDonald's and Dominos gift cards.  I guess that means that I'm just going to get even more fat. ;)  Thank you, really. :)  Thank you also Mom, Dad, Aubree, Cam, Lex, and Lincoln for the packages and letters!  I am STOCKED on candy and sweets.  Don't really need to shop today. ;)

Thursday was great!  After district meeting, the sisters walked out of the room.  Elder Griffin, my district leader, said that one of the Sisters needed a blessing in the cultural hall.  We all followed behind, and when I walked in the gym, there they all were, with a birthday cake, balloons and a card and they yelled, "SURPRISE!"  I'm in the process of getting pictures for this event.  My camera's battery was dead.  Just so everyone knows, I had 3 birthday cakes, and 2 sittings of cupcakes this week.  Holy. Cow.

Going to the temple on Friday was an absolute treat!  Bishop Riley drove us down at 6 in the morning.  We arrived just 2 minutes before the session started, so we did Initiatories for about 45 minutes and then we caught the next session.  I LOVED being able to do a family name!  There was such a palpable difference.  Dad, I thought about YOU the whole time as I did the session.  I saw the newest video that the church released, so I've seen all 3 videos now.  Yay!  I'm not behind anymore!  After that we went to a sea food restaurant called Andrea's in Ventura on the way home.  (Yes mom, SEA FOOD!)  I had clam chowder and ate fried shrimp and halibut as well.  It was good!

The Lompoc Ward is EXPLODING!  Between us and the sisters, yesterday there were 8 investigators that attended church!  EIGHT!  Rachel, after the Gospel Principles lesson, turned to me and said, "I understood ALL of that!"  We had taught her the Plan of Salvation lesson and about Agency, and the lesson in Sunday School was about agency.  Nancy and Sis. Cannon, a member's wife came too.  We have been meeting with the Cannon's, and Sister Cannon and Bro Cannon have been reading the scriptures together and praying to know about the church.  Unfortunately, they have not yet begun reading the Book of Mormon yet, and so we told them that she won't really get that full answer until they begin to do so.  We were a little nervous when they began the lesson and they talked about Kolob and other all went well though. :)

I love you all so much!  One hour is not enough time to do everything I need to do!   The computer automatically logs me off afterwards, but I do put the most important stuff in the letter.  I love you all, and I hope you have a great week!  Have a great week!

Elder Harper

Why yes, I DO love ferrets

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hey hey hey!

Hey everybody!

It sure has been another great week in good ol' Lompoc!  

Lemme just get right into the good stuff!  Yesterday at church there were so many investigators and less-actives that came to church between us and the sisters.  The chapel was actually pretty full!  

One of those that came was a man named Sam Rosales.  (He and his son Joey are the ones that are in the picture).  Sam and his 2 boys were baptized in Bakersfield a year or two ago, but they sorta fell away when Sam was having troubles with his now ex-wife.  We have been meeting with them a lot ever since I got here, and he recently found somebody in the ward who he has fallen in love with and they have discussed marriage.  (She's a single mom).  Sam has a new sense of commitment, and so he has been wanting us to come over and re-teach all the lessons and help him back on the path.  He has a heart of gold.  He told us that he wants to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, get a partriarchal blessing, and receive his temple ordinances and be sealed to his boys and his girlfriend for time and all eternity.  He is so passionate about it all (Who can blame him?  A potential wife is some good motivation to get worthy and be sealed...) :D  He works at a gas station, and recently was able to get all Sundays off from work, and he's come to church the past 2 weeks.  He's received some home teaching assignments, and he's making more friends in the ward.

We are REALLY excited to go to the Los Angeles temple this Friday.  What better birthday present could there be?  We will be going down with the Bishop.  

Something else cool.  We had a dinner with a less-active member and his nonmember wife that live on Vandenburg base.  Initially the wife was pretty closed.  We saw in the records that past missionaries had been a little bit too bold with her and it closed her off.  We decided that we would have a nice, light dinner and not force the church on her and stuff, and by the end of the dinner she was asking us questions about what we do and stuff.  She referred to the church as "the Church".  Not "your church", but as "the Church".  It was pretty cool!  I love having dinners on the base.  To see the valiance of those in the military and to hear their testimonies is such a blessing.  

I love you all so much!  I hope each one of you have a great week!  I'll talk with you soon!

Love, Elder Harper

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Charity Suffereth Long, And is Kind"

Hello everybody!

Wow, I don't know how many times I have said this, but the weeks do just really whiz by.  It's bitter-sweet to think that I am 2/3 done with my mission.  Bitter, because I know that it will be ending soon, but sweet about the fact that I will be able to see all of you again.  The most important thing that I CAN do is just to enjoy every moment that is given to me to serve, and when the times comes, it comes, and I shouldn't be worried or sad about returning home as long as I served an honorable mission...but enough of that talk!

This week really has been a mighty good one!  On Wednesday, we had quite a morning!  A mission rule that we have is to try our best not to ride our bicycles at night.  With winter approaching, the days are getting shorter and shorter, and so that rule is getting harder and harder to follow.  As a result, Elder Kingrey and I have been moving our morning studies to the evening, finishing our day with personal and companionship study.  But anyways, back to Wednesday.  We rode down to a less-active's house and I had the privilege of giving her a blessing of comfort and counsel.  She is obese, and was considering going through an extensive weight-loss surgery, which would change her lifestyle completely, and she wanted to receive a blessing to help.  I gave her the blessing, telling her that her body was a temple that the Lord had given to her, and what she chose to do with her body was her choice, but to remember the consequences of her actions.  A few days later, she decided not to go through with the surgery.

After the blessing, we helped another man in the ward named Bro. Edwards move from his motel room to a permanent apartment.  We spent 3 hours that morning loading his SUV with items from his place and moving them to the apartment.  While doing that, I was able to really talk to him about how he was feeling and just doing my best to show love to him.  I noticed that his shoes were really worn out, and I felt bad for him.  I thought of a pair of shoes that I could give up, and to be honest, I was initially hesitant to give them away, because they were one of my favorite pairs of shoes that I had.  Then I remembered Elder Uchtdorf's talk about President Monson wearing slippers on the plane because he had given the shoes he had on his feet to someone in need.  If the Prophet gave up his shoes, I should too.  So, yesterday at church, I gave him a pair of Sunday shoes that I had acquired from a thrift store, and he was really appreciative.  I'm thankful for my mission experience for placing me in situations where I can show God's love to those who are in need.  I know that I felt much better after giving him the shoes than I would have by keeping the shoes.  I know, it's a small, petty story, but I learned so much from it.

5 and a half minutes remaining....ahh!  Not much time!  To finish, I want to tell you another story.  A less-active lady gave us a call on Saturday night telling us that her boss was in the hospital and she wanted us to give her boss a blessing.  On Sunday afternoon right after church, we rode our bikes over to the hospital in our suits to see this man.  When we walked into his room, he was resting, and I was about to say his name and then he woke up.  He looked quite startled to say the least to see us there.  We told him who had sent us, and he had no idea who we were talking about.  Eventually he found out, but in the mean time it was kind of awkward that we were just there.  When we told him we were there to give him a blessing, he got really emotional and felt so thankful to God for sending us.  His name was Ning Wong and that he was born in China shortly before WWII.  He told us that he had been Christian for much of his life, and he told us that Jesus Christ has always been there to help him.  We gave him a blessing and gave him a Book of Mormon and he cried when he saw the Book of Mormon.  He wanted to send money to the church, but we told him it was a free gift.  He was so thankful for all that we did, and as we left the room, he was cradling the book in his arms.

I only have 30 seconds, so here I go.  I am thankful for this Gospel.  Jesus Christ lives and loves us.  God always answers prayers.  I love you!

Monday, October 6, 2014

What a Great Weekend!

Hello everybody!

Wow, the title completely speaks for itself.  It certainly was a great General Conference weekend.  It is always invigorating to listen to the words of the prophets and apostles.  What great counsel they gave to us!

This week has been yet another great week in the California Ventura Mission.  On Tuesday, we all drove to Santa Barbara to have our Mission President's interviews, as well as to watch the "Meet the Mormons" movie.  I think I mentioned this before, but as missionaries, we will not be allowed to be near the movie theater vicinity when it comes out in a few days, so President Felix allowed us to come to the stake center and view it.  On the way down, Elder Kingrey and I grabbed some food at McDonalds, and as we were driving, I spilled some of my vanilla shake ALL OVER my suit, shirt, and tie.  Yes, RIGHT before President Interviews!  I ran into the bathroom to try and clean things up, and in the end, I looked OK by the time the movie was over.

But anyways, the movie was AWESOME!!!!  I hope y'all have tickets to watch it!  President Felix said that they showed the movie to a group of non-members in SLC, and 75% of them said that they would recommend the movie to one of their friends.  My favorite one was about the "Candy Bomber", a 92-year old WWII Veteran that dropped candy on children near the Berlin Wall.  I won't spoil it, or any other part of the movie, but be sure to see it!

On Wednesday, we had our exchanges, and I went to the Spanish Elder's area and did Spanish work for the day.  The last lesson we had for the day was with a lady named Reyna.  They were teaching the Plan of Salvation lesson to them, and Elder Cavazos said that the "Terrestrial kingdom is a place where people who were not baptized go."  All of the sudden, the little 9-year old girl.  Looked up at us, and then her mother.  Her countenance was completely sunk.  She looked at her mom and then the mom said "Don't give me that look" and then she completely broke down.  I understood very little of what was going on and what was said that I nudged him and asked what was going on.  The mom told us that the girl had not yet been baptized and that she had been asking her mom to get her baptized for quite some time.  I whispered as firmly as I could to Elder Cavazos, "Set them with a date!!!"  He invited them to be baptized, but unfortunately the mom said that it was not time yet to do that.  I felt the Spirit so strongly that night, and I actually understood quite a bit of what they said!  Talk about the faith of that girl though...what other 9 year olds are concerned that strongly about baptism!?

Nancy came to General Conference and watched a session.  We haven't talked to her about it yet because she had to leave early, but we hoped she liked it.

We've been doing a lot of service lately.  (See Mormon Helping Hands vests)  We've been coming to this Library and doing basic custodial work.  It's really fun and relaxing.  It's nice to have a change in the routine as well.

We're emailing at the Library today and the rest of the transfer, and we have exactly a one hour session.  Don't have much time left, so I just want to say that I love you all so much and I know that this Gospel is true!  I loved Elder Bednar's talk about sharing the Gospel.  I loved the story that he shared and I hope that we can all be better beacons of light in this dark world.

I love you!  I'll talk to you next week!

Elder Harper

P.S. Mom I found some khaki's at a thrift store for really cheap and they fit wonderfully.  Thank you for your love and support everyone!  Here's also a picture of my district right after General Conference.