Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas with the Palm Trees

Hello everybody!

Wow, this week certainly was a great week with Christmas and all.  It was great to be able to talk with my amazing family!

Barb and Dan!  We went over there on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and they were so excited to see us.  They work for a pinball machine company, and they have over 30 pinball machines in their back room.  They let us play for a little while (yes, I played on a Star Trek:  The Next Generation one).  Barb has completely changed her life.  She is starting not to cuss so much, Dan has cut back on his alcohol, and both are genuinely happier than they were before.  That's what the Gospel does.  It changes lives!  We plan on teaching the Restoration lesson this Thursday!  I'll tell you how it goes!  It will be really interesting because Dan has no religious background.  We're going to teach very plainly and simply.

Also, GOOD LUCK SYDNEY this Wednesday!  You'll be a fantastic missionary!  Send me an email/letter would ya???????

Christmas Eve was a real treat.  We went over to the Leonard's house.  They fed us a really great dinner (ham, corn chowder, rolls, green beans) and some really great desserts like cookies, popcorn balls, and fudge.  It really hit the spot..and the scale. ;)  We were honored to participate in their family's Nativity program that they put on.  I was a wise man, and Elder Gruwell was a shepherd.  We then listened to a narration of the Polar Express, and concluded the night with some Christmas hymns.  Truly a night to remember.

On Christmas, we had a few dinners, and I thought that I was going to DIE when I got home--seriously on a sugar high and my stomach couldn't take any more.  We had a hot chocolate bar (with every single hot chocolate condiment you could imagine) with the Furhiman's--a member family from our ward with two sons that are going on missions soon!  We had a great night and a great Christmas season.  

Today we are going to have a great day with Anthony and Katie.  They are taking us to Boomer's!  Basically like Trafalga.  We're going to play miniature golf and swing at the batting cages.  I'll take pictures!  It's gonna be a fun day.  

I love you all, and hope you all had a MERRY CHRISTMAS, and I hope you have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Elder Corey Harper

Monday, December 22, 2014

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow...Please?

Hello, Hello, Hello Everybody!

Wow, what an amazing week behind, and what an amazing week up ahead!  Monday was kind of a rough day, but about halfway through the day I got a phone call from President Felix and he just wanted to check and see how I was doing (with Grandpa's death and all) and it was a call that was much appreciated.  He said that he got an email from Dad and just wanted to check up on me.  He's a great mission president.  Thanks for all the love and support, family!

Tuesday was also another great day.  My new companion's name is Elder Gruwell.  He's from, believe it or not, Orem!  He went to Canyon View Jr. High and Orem High.  He lives just south of the cemetery, can you believe it?!  We get along really well and we have a very similar sense of humor and so we laugh at just about's been great!

Tomorrow is our Mission Christmas Conference, and so half the mission will be meeting in Goleta tomorrow.  It should be a really neat day.

It feels so weird that Christmas is this week!  It sounds like they'll be some pretty good stuff happening.  We have member and nonmember dinner plans out the wazoo.  We'll be covered that's for sure, so it will be nice for us to spend Christmas with some nice people.  We have a district meeting on Christmas morning, so I plan to call home between 2 and 3 in the afternoon (your time) family!  It's so great to celebrate Christmas!  I love that people are generally more open this time of year and friendlier.  If only that could carry throughout all the year!

Not much more to say, since I'll be CALLING home on Christmas!  I hope everyone has a great week!  I love you all!


Monday, December 15, 2014

I'll be spending Christmas in Santa Maria

Hello everybody!  

This week has been another great one!  We have been sharing the "He is the Gift" video with a lot of people.  We have special pass-along cards that we are handing out (the same ones that are in the back of the Ensign) and we've seen some great success with it so far.

We got our transfer calls, and I'll be staying here in the Santa Maria 1st Ward (transfers end January 25th).  Elder Snyder is leaving, and the other two missionaries that we are sharing the ward with are going too.  Get this:  My new companion is on his 2nd transfer, so I'll be follow-up training him.  The other two missionaries are new too.  One of them just finished being trained, and he's training a brand new missionary.  Yeah....I'm going to seem like a dinosaur compared to all of them.  It will be interesting to see how everything plays out!

We had a great experience this week with Chris!  A member family invited us over for dinner and they invited Chris too!  We had a really good dinner (filet mignons, mashed potatoes, veggies, etc.) and then we had some carrot cake for dessert.  We watched "He is the Gift" with Chris, and almost INSTANTLY the Spirit was thick enough to cut it with a knife.  Then afterwards we each bore our testimonies, and then the member family each bore their testimonies to Chris.  We saw Chris get a little teary-eyed after that.  It was a great night!  Lots of fellowship for Chris!

Also!  Going back to Lompoc for Rachel's baptism was AMAZING!  I saw Sam Rosales and his family right before, and man, what a reunion!  I was excited to go to Lompoc ALL DAY LONG.  Then when I saw Rachel in the font that night, it really just put the icing on the cake.  Rachel has come so far since Elder Kingrey and I first started to teach her, and what a privilege it was to be there for her baptism!  I have been really fortunate in my mission to be able to witness so many baptisms of those that I have taught.  I know that Heavenly Father is preparing more and more people's hearts all around the world, and it's a great time to be a missionary and to witness that!

Now, as for Christmas:  since it's Thursday, that's district meeting day.  I don't know if it will be later in the day because of phone calls, or if we'll call home after district meeting.  I'll find out more details next week.  If before, I'd imagine I'd call home around 10:30 or so.  But if after, It would be probably closer to 1 or 2.  Just keep that in mind, family. :)  and sorry, no skype. :(

It's so great to be a missionary.  I know that there is nothing better or more productive that I could be doing with my life right now than this.  I'm thankful for the birth of Christ, and that we can celebrate that this time of year.  I know that He did come to earth, live and die for us, and then was resurrected so that we might live too.  I know that the Plan of Salvation is true, and that families can be together forever!

I hope everybody has a great week!

Elder Harper

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Week to Remember

Hello everybody!

Wow!  Just like I said, this week is a week that I will remember for a long time!  To start off on a funny note, I will tell you something that happened to us.

On Tuesday, we woke up to a pretty good sized rainstorm happening outside.  As we finished our studies, the rain was continuing to pour outside.  It was the other elder's car day, so we were stuck on foot.  We walked up and down the streets, splashing in puddles and such, but not a lot of people were outside and willing to talk to us.  (I wonder why..?)

We were walking up Broadway, (one of the busiest streets in the area) and came across a McDonald's, so we decided to go in and try out the new White Hot Chocolate that they're advertising.  We ordered the drinks and sat down.  They called our numbers so we got the drinks, and as we opened them, it sort of had a brownish tint to the drink, but we thought that was normal.  I took several sips, but something didn't taste right about it.  THEY PUT COFFEE IN OUR HOT CHOCOLATE!  Yep, the guy put a few shots of espresso in it...I thought I saw a few of them smiling behind the counter..."Let's give some coffee to the Mormons." ;)  it was kinda funny, but mean at the same time.  Coffee's gross.

Anyways, on Friday we went to the temple with Katie and Anthony Hidalgo.  It was awesome!  We got there right when a session was starting, so we had some time to kill.  We went to the distribution center, and Anthony picked virtually every single video they had to offer and bought them all.  We went for a walk around the temple and took some pictures together.  Then we parted ways.  Elder Snyder and I went inside to do a session, and Katie and Anthony went to the Visitor's Center.  The session was great!  At the end, when we were sitting in the Celestial Room, a temple worker approached us and asked if we could be witnesses for some proxy sealings.  It was great!  It was the first time I had ever seen a sealing in my life, and the Spirit was so strong in that room.  I know that God sent me a tender mercy, because as I watched, I couldn't help but think that Brittany and Josh were doing the same think just a week before.  The sealer told Elder Snyder and I that THIS is how we endure to the end.  By getting sealed in the temple for time and eternity.  We went back into the Celestial Room afterwards and as I read my patriarchal blessing again, the part about being sealed in the temple caught my eye.  It made me excited for when that special day of mine would come.

Afterwards, we went through the Visitor's Center a little bit more with Anthony and Katie, and they said that they loved it there.  Anthony teared up a little bit when he and Katie were there, Katie says, but if you asked him, he'd deny it. :)  They were going to take us to a restaurant in LA, but they got a little lost.  So we drove up along the coast through Malibu and then into Oxnard and ate at BJ's Restaurant, the same place where Anthony proposed to Katie.  It was pretty cool to go there.  We listened to John Bytheway and some good country music on the way back, and it was a great day!

We were super blessed to be able to see Chris again this week. Our ward had the annual Christmas party, and Chris was able to come along. So many great members from our ward introduced themselves to him, and Chris told us almost as soon as we were beginning to eat that he felt comfortable there. After the dinner and the Nativity program, we gave Chris a Church tour. We went into the Primary room, and there were a few kids that were running around and being a little loud. But as we showed Chris the pictures that were on the wall, he began to cry. The main picture we focused on was of Christ coming the the Americas and blessing the children there. As he cried, we asked him how he was feeling. He told us that he was feeling great, but he had no idea why. We paused and told him that what he was feeling was the Spirit that was confirming truth to him. We told him to strive to feel these types of feelings in his life. I thought it was amazing how even though the children were being loud, the Spirit still subtly touched his heart, and ours. It was a great church tour, and a great night for him and for us.  Unfortunately, Chris didn't attend church the next day.  We offered him to get a ride from a member, but he said that his mom could take him.  We'll keep working on him!

Another awesome thing will be happening this Friday!  I just got permission from the mission president to go to a baptism in Lompoc!  Yep, Rachel is getting baptized, and she wanted me to be there!  I'm so happy and excited that I'll be able to go and to see all my old pals in Lompoc!  I'll take pictures!

I love you all!  Have a great week!

Elder Harper

Monday, December 1, 2014

I cannot believe it...18 months.

Hello everybody!

WOW what a week!  I just want to start by saying that "IT'S AWESOME BEING A MISSIONARY!"  I love waking up each and every day knowing that I am going to give somebody else an opportunity to be happy in their life.

Where do I start?  Well​, yesterday we had the fabulous opportunity to be a part of Ernesto, Katty and Karoline's confirmations!  It felt so good to witness three more souls beginning the process of returning to Heavenly Father.  They're doing great, and they have quite a few friends in the ward already.

Thanksgiving was great!  We went over to a member's house and we had a good ol' classic Thanksgiving meal.  Turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, JELLO SALAD (Love jello salad), pumpkin pie, etc.  Not gonna lie...when we walked inside, the Cowboys and Eagles game was on, and Elder Snyder and I couldn't help but to watch a little.  (It wasn't that much, I promise!)  Overall, a great Thanksgiving!

I don't have much time (on a library computer again...), but I want to tell you about an experience we had.  While we were tracting, we knocked on a door but nobody was home. As we preceded to leave his house, the man walked up behind us and said that he came home because he forgot his bus pass. We told him we were missionaries and offered him a card, but instead he looked at us and said, "Well can't you come back?" We enthusiastically answered yes and we told him that we share a message about Jesus Christ. He then said, "That's exactly what I need right now!" We taught him (Chris) the Restoration lesson a couple of days later and he told us it was an answer to his prayers. I learned that by "small and simple things are great things brought to pass." Simply him forgetting his bus pass and being there at the precise moment we were there was small, but it answered his prayers so much, and that was a great thing for him.  As we taught him the lesson, we could really just see the cogs moving in his brain.  It was making sense to him a lot.  We left him with a Book of Mormon and a Restoration pamphlet.  He wasn't able to make it to church, but we talked to him the other day and he said that he read the pamphlet and was starting on the Introduction to the Book of Mormon and he has questions for us for tomorrow's lesson!  The Lord definitely guided both his and our paths that day.

I'm also super excited too for this week because it's Elder Snyder's birthday on the 10th, and so we are going to the Los Angeles Temple on Friday!  I've been so blessed on my mission to go so much.  This is my 5th time going on my mission.  I'm so fortunate to have a temple nearby.  I love the temple!  I'll be thinking about all of you when I go through!  I hope you all have a great week, as you begin to enjoy the Christmas season!  Let's all remember the true meaning of Christmas!

Love you all!
Elder Harper

P.S. Thanks for the chocolate countdown, grandma! :)