Monday, February 23, 2015

A Spiritual Recharge

Hello everyone!

It still baffles me how fast these weeks fly by...I swear I'm breaking mission rules because it seems like I'm on the computer emailing every day!  

This week went pretty well!  Elder Gruwell and I went on exchanges with a couple of other missionaries in the district, and it was awesome!  I went with Elder Campbell to his area.  He's from Rexburg, ID and he's an absolute fireball. ;)  He's been out for just about 3 months now, and I was an am impressed with his amazing "greenie fire".  As we talked after we turned out the lights, it was great to be able to ask him about his family, his goals, how his mission is going, and just overall getting to know him and showing love for him.  We taught a guy named Juan Gomez who basically believes in everything that we do.  He talked about a "restoration of the primitive church" and "authority needed to baptize".  Hopefully they have success with him!

On Friday, President Felix held a zone conference here in Santa Maria.  We first went over a few updates/reminders, and discussed a few rules.  We heard that temple trips that take longer than 2 and a half hours to travel there will not be basically anyone can go except for the people in Santa Maria. :(  Missionaries in the northern part of the mission can now go to the Fresno Temple, but it's still too far away for people here to go there.  So, unfortunately we will not be going to the temple next week...Oh well.

It was great as we were able to read and learn more about "The Living Christ" document that the church has produced.  We read and listened to stories of Apostles who have received a witness of Christ--including Boyd K. Packer of this last General Conference.  We then each individually had the chance to bear testimony and to tell what we learned from that zone conference.  We finished the meeting by singing "I Believe in Christ", and I felt the Spirit radiate through my body like electricity.  So powerful.

But here's the funny part of the story:  While we have our zone conferences, our vehicles get examined by the office staff.  So before we go in, we leave our set of keys on the driver's seat and roll the window down.  When they're done, they leave the keys on the seat and lock the doors (because we have 2 sets).  Well, Elder Gruwell forgot his set of keys at the apartment, so we had to get a ride and drive all the way there and back to grab them (luckily it was held here in town...)  When we got back, I found out that I or somebody left our lights on, so the battery was dead.  The missionaries who drove us back also jumped our car for us too...true life savers. ;)

On Sunday, it was the Santa Maria Stake Conference.  President and Sister Felix spoke, and while President talked, he asked all the missionaries to stand up and recite with him, "Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them 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."  It was really powerful, and many people were in tears.

Not much new happening with the investigators..but Barb and her daughter Diamond went on a church tour with us this week!  I was on exchanges with Elder Campbell when they did it, but I heard that it was a big success!  A member came with them too, so that's good.

In conclusion, I am so thankful for the influence of the Holy Ghost.  I have been able to feel his promptings many times this week, and I am so thankful that I have learned how to better recognize that on my mission.  These feelings cannot be felt in any other way, so that just means to me that I know undoubtedly that this church is true.  "Everything that inviteth and enticeth to do good is inspired of God".  I love you all!

Elder Harper

P.S. Here I am looking like "Eezma" from "Emperor's New Groove"

Monday, February 16, 2015

Let's get the ball rolling!

Hello everybody!

It's been a pretty decent week this week.  Little miracles have been happening lately, so it's been a nice blessing from heaven.  It makes me feel like the Lord is still aware of us and all the work that we're putting in.

So remember Jason?  He's the drunk less-active member that we saw last week? Friday night he called us and said that he caught the wrong bus and went all the way to Lompoc, and he had to hitchhike back up, but he did.  It was a hard thing for him, but he gave us a call on Saturday and told us that he was successfully de-toxed!  We were so happy for him!  He's pretty transient right now, not quite sure where he's staying, but we're going to keep tabs on him and meet with him this week...while he's sober. ;)

Unfortunately, there's still been no change with Chris, but we still go by every now and then.  We hope he's doing well, and we know that one day maybe it will all 'click' for him.  

Something pretty cool happened this week!  So last transfer, we visited a member, and she gave us a referral.  It was her neighbor named Alicia.  Alicia read the entire "Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple" pamphlet, and was curious about temples.  We stopped by many times after that, but was never able to catch her.  Well, this week, we received a referral from church headquarters, and it was her.  (So somebody requested missionaries through or something).  We stopped by her that afternoon, and we had an awesome lesson with her about the temple and she asked some great questions about it, such as "who's on top of the temple?"  "who can go into the temple" and other stuff like that.  We did our best to answer her questions, and we read some scriptures from the Bible to help.  We gave her a Restoration pamphlet, said a prayer, set up a return appointment, and she said "God bless you for your service."  It was really nice.  We stopped by the member and told her, and she was really excited--and she's going to go with us to the next lesson! :D

On Saturday (Happy Valentine's Day!) I went on exchanges with the zone leaders, and we had a pretty good day!  We had lots of lessons with less-actives and other potential investigators.  He complimented me on my skills and attributes as a district leader, and it was great to receive that kind of support from him.  And, we heard that we might be going on a little exchange with one of the assistants soon, so that will be fun. ;)

Overall, it's been a pretty good week.  It's so weird to think that this month is halfway through...the mission is going by way fast.  I really am going to make the most of these last 3 1/2 months.  I know that there's still many wonderful things to do, and I'm thankful for this time that has been set apart in my life to do the Lord's work.

I love you all!  Have a great week!

Elder Corey David Harper

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Contrast of Spirit

Hello everybody!  I hope you're all doing so well.

This week was certainly a good one.  As far as missionary work goes, it's still kind of the same--stagnant and rough.  Getting flipped off, barked at by dogs, the whole shabang.  This week, a guy in his car at an intersection yelled at us all the way accross the street!  Isn't it GREAT being a representative of the Lord???? I sure think so!

We're continuing to work with members, and yes, there's been a slight improvement in the enthusiasm for missionary work.  We've received some referrals from members, and that was a total blessing!  We're getting more and more acquainted one with another, and I feel that they're trust in the missionaries.

I'd like to tell you about an experience I had yesterday, hence the subject line "contrast of spirit".  Before church yesterday, I asked Heavenly Father to allow me to feel an increase of the Spirit as I attended church and paid close attention to the messages that the speakers and teachers would give. Over the course of my mission, I've detected a few ways that I feel the Spirit, and one of those ways is definite inside me, and I know it to be the Spirit.  

Well, a recent convert of about a year spoke yesterday about how he was drafted to play for a major league baseball team, the Baltimore Oreals, before he was a member.  During a practice though, he tore his rotator cuff.  The doctors said that many surgeries would have to be done, and he knew that it was the end of his baseball career right then.  He said that while working out one day in Santa Barbara, he met a girl there and they became quick friends.  This girl was a member of the church here in Santa Maria, and she invited him to go to church with her.  To put it simply, one thing led to another and now he's a member of the church and he's married to this said girl, and they are now preparing to go to the temple. He said that he knows that living a life in major league baseball was not the kind of life that the Lord had in mind for him, and that he felt happy with his new life here with his wife.

Anyways, as he gave this talk, and as we were singing the intermediate hymn afterwards, I felt the Spirit so strongly, a feeling that I didn't want to be anywhere else but that church building right then.  I knew that Heavenly Father had answered my prayer.  It was such a powerful experience.

Now, the contrast.  Last night, we had just finished having dinner with a member, and during dinner we got a call from a less-active member, and he left a voicemail.  When we got into the car, we listened to it, and he said that he wanted a blessing.  This man had come to church that day highly intoxicated.  You could smell the alcohol in his breath.  Bad.  So we drove over to the place that he was renting from, and as soon as I walked in, I knew that there was a different vibe about that place.  We told him it would be best to give him the blessing when he was sober, but he insisted.  So, we gave him a blessing to help him get over the addiction he had.

After the blessing, we told him we were going to get rid of his beer, and after he said OK, we proceeded by dumping his vodka down the sink.  Well, he started to go beligerant...he was really having a mental breakdown.  As we continued to search the house, we had to rip some glasses of alcohol out of his hands as he tried to drink them.  We kept telling him, "this is for your own good..this is for your own good."  When we went into his room, we noticed that alcohol was not his only addiction...he had cigarettes and pornography all over the place.  We got rid of it all, and a member came and picked him up to go to de-tox.  

From this experience, I not only felt bad for him, but I also made a firmer internal resolve to never live my life as I saw this man was.  This man was a slave to so many substances, and I never want to be like that.  I know that the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity are true commandments from the Lord, and, that when followed, bring us true incomprehensible joy.  I'm thankful that I've been taught these commandments from my youth up, and I want to live them fully throughout my days.

That is what I meant when I said, "A contrast of spirit".  

It's experiences like these that help me truly to learn the Gospel.

I love you all, and I hope you have a GREAT WEEK!

Elder Harper

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ups and Downs....

Hello, hello, hello my dear family and friends!

It has been an interesting week, one filled with ups and downs...

As for the ups, the first district meeting I planned was a success!  I brought a milk crate to the meeting, and we all took turns "soap boxing" and bearing our testimonies about the Book of Mormon.  I loved it!  I'm excited for future district meeting and such.

Another awesome thing!  This week, there was a mission-wide district leader training!  On Friday, me and the other 2 district leaders in the zone drove down to the mission office in Oxnard and heard from President Felix and the assistants there.  It was a very good, instructive meeting about how we can be better influences on the missionaries we serve.  Plus, there was pumpkin spice cake! :D haha just kidding, but it really was good. 

Unfortunately, not much new has happened with Chris.  We've called him every day this week, but no answer.  We stopped by his mom's house a few times this week too.  The first time, somebody else that is renting from her answered the door, and she asked us if we were there for Chris.  We said yes, and she told us that he was in the shower.  So we figured out that he's living there again.  However, the next few times we went by, nobody answered, and we know that there are people home.  We called Chris again, and his phone was we can't contact him that way anymore...and he didn't come to church either...but we're still trying!  We're not going to give up on him, he's so awesome!

Elder Gruwell and I have been thinking a lot, and we're going to try new methods.  "If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always got."  With that being said, we've been going through our cell phone and calling random nonmembers that past missionaries have saved in there.  We've called numbers that are disconnected, and so we've been clearing out the contacts that way.  There's also others that have picked up, and we've set some return appointments that way!  In fact, we've set more return appointments through the phone than by actually going outside and working...kinda sad how that's the way the world is today.  But oh well, we'll see them soon.  The other missionaries did that same thing this past week, and somebody in their phone actually came to church because of it!  Miracle!

I love you all so much!  The scriptures really are the words of life, and we can find help and healing when we read them daily!  I've been going through the Book of Mormon again, and I'm almost done with Mosiah.  The Book of Mormon is awesome!  I love you all!  Have a great week!

New district picture!