Called to Serve in the Peru Piura Mission

Monday, December 29, 2014

Look for me in the Newspaper!


Ah I love those pics! I didn’t think the whole family was up in Idaho! Everyone’s looking old.. haha. Yeah they celebrate New Years here.. they say it’s even bigger than Christmas... so. :) I also heard they light human size dolls on fire in the streets so yeah I guess I’ll let you know how that goes next week :) 

So tell me more about Christmas? How was it? What are your plans for New Years?  Talking to you guys was great :) Made me realize how much I missed you! haha  Also.. the Latinos LOVED talking to Kenzie... They thought she was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. And now my new name is "cuñado" aka brother-in-law.  haha very funny.  I’m a little bummed I couldn’t talk with Cody and Ty and Kenz but I guess that’s alright.  It was the best present to talk to you guys :) Speaking of presents, THANK YOU for the tan pants! I’m serious! I was so excited. I was jumping around the room like a little boy on Christmas morning :) I still haven’t opened the others.. but I will soon. I’m just waiting for my companion to get his package so we can open them together. :)

We went to the beach again last p day and had a great time. I mean nothing beats a warm day at the beach with some friends, right? :) We played soccer and found some caves that we explored in! I’ll send pics. There was also a ton of crabs! Not kidding like 200 on the beach when we showed up. We scooped them up and put them in a bag.. don’t ask me why.  We’re just teens. 

Also this week we broke the record for the most people in a van. 24! So yeah wow that’s great news! Look for me in the newspaper!

Tuesday I went on exchanges with Elder Merrell. He’s new to the mission so as you can imagine it was a little tough for us 2 gringos.  But hey, we made it work :) 

Christmas Eve was well....... we made what we could with it :) We had dinner at the Echeandias house. They didn’t have a lot of food and they seriously gave almost all of it to us. It sure made me grateful.  I get a pit in my stomach every time that happens. But we had a great Chrismtas dinner :)  I felt like I was sitting at the table with my own family :) 

Later that night we went to the Plaza in the Talara.  We had a missionary dress up as Santa and he took pics with all the little niños :)   While they took pics, the other missionaries went around talking and handing out cards/pamphlets/liahonas.. EVERYTHING we had.  I’m not kidding, we literally BLEW UP Talara with the Gospel. Such an amazing feeling.

Christmas morning we had a show with our zone. You better believe that my band performed :) And yes, I have videos. :)   Later that night, we had literally like 5 dinners with different families. I about threw up. I cannot eat anymore panaton. eh. We also got a new tie from our pension :) 

I really did have a great Christmas. It was hard being away from you guys, but I’ll NEVER forget this Christmas. This year I feel like I found the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Haha I’ll also never take another one for granted :)

Saturday we had the service of a lifetime.  Our whole zone cleaned the whole plaza in Talara. It took us like 4 hours but we got it done :)  That night I also read a talk that Cody sent me about Becoming a Consecrated Missionary. It’s all I’ve been thinking about the last couple days.. so if you have some time, go read it! 

Sunday was great. Not many people came because everyone is hung over from the parties but it was great. :)  We had a little problem..... the building didn’t have any water...... aka no sacrament.  We freaked out a little bit so we ran to get some water bottles and made it back just in time for the meeting to start :) 

Anyways.. that’s about all I got this week. I loved talking to you, and I hope you’re doing well.

Enjoy the New Year!
Love and miss you!

-Elder Harris IV

Monday, December 22, 2014

I Learned A Lot this Week

Merry Christmas! 

This week was amazing! Probably the best week I’ve had so far. I learned a ton! Talara is the number 1 city for alcohol consumption on Christmas and New Years in Peru. soo haha 

Last p day, we got to play volleyball with our zone. Ahh we had such a good time. It reminded me of all the good times at home.

Tuesday, we had an awesome experience. We visited this family and obviously, talked about Christmas. We shared the video “He is the Gift” and talked a lot about our Savior. Anyways, when we finished, the dad looked at Elder Martinez and I and just said thank you, with the most soft and tender voice. He told us that we were the best present that they ever could’ve received, and that this Christmas had already been the best Christmas because they have us. It really was amazing.  After he shared that, the 8 year old daughter started blowing up with questions, and we just sat and watched the dad answer in the most loving manner the questions to his beautiful daughter. Truly amazing.

Wednesday we went to Piura for a multi zone conference. I learned a ton. "We can’t serve or be an instrument for someone that we don’t know. Find out what it means to TRULY know Christ." We had a Christmas program and played bingo. Nothing too special, but.. it was enjoyable none the less :) 

Coming home while we were waiting at the bus station, we made a band. haha and yes, I was the lead singer to Stand By Me - Ben E King. #YOAMO (you’re only a missionary once)

Thursday I went on exchanges with Elder Chapman from Syracuse. He’s our zone leader and one of my favorite Elders in the mission. He taught me something - we pray to have patience, love, ect... but God doesn’t just give it to us, he provides us with opportunities to grow our patience, love, ect. And now, every time I get impatient with my companion, I think of that. :) haha 

Friday we were teaching this family, and the mom is a member, but the dad is of another faith. He said something to us that really touched me. He said " I have so much respect for men like you because even though you’re only 18 and 19 years old, you truly are changing the world". It was so great.

We also had a fireside on Friday night. We had a GREAT turnout.. a whole 5 people came! Pollycarpio, 2 little girls and their mom, and then Harold. They asked me to speak so I just threw something together and it actually turned out pretty good! I talked about building our foundation on the rock of Christ. But once we build our foundation, we can’t just leave it... we need to continue to grow our faith and testimonies every day by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was a cool experience for me, because I felt the spirit speak through me... again! He truly is always with us if we allow him to be.  On the bright side of the fireside, because no one came, there was a ton of leftover food! We each got 10 empanadas! haha basically we were set for the next week :) 

Sunday night, we had our Christmas devotional with all the wards in Talara as well as all the missionaries and it was AMAZING! President Rowley and his whole family was even attending! That night, I truly feel like I found the true meaning of Christmas. It’s about being with your family and the ones you love and remembering the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It was amazing to me that a couple teenage boys could put this devotional together to provide a way for families in our area to feel and remember the true meaning of Christmas. 

I’ll be honest, I’ve missed you guys this Christmas season.. it really makes me grateful for all the Christmases that we had together as a family. I know for sure that after this Christmas, I won’t ever take another one for granted! So enjoy that time that you have together! haha 

I hope it’s a good one! And I hope Santa finds you guys! 
Love you!  I’ll talk to you on Thursday!!

- Elder Harris IV

Monday, December 15, 2014

Seashells & Worms


I love that about our Savior and Christmas. Actually, with all of our investigators, that’s a huge topic right now. I don’t know if you’ve seen the video, "He is the Gift", but if you haven’t, go watch it because it’s awesome.  I’ve shed a tear the last 2 times I’ve watched it. I thought about Abraham and how much faith he had to "almost sacrifice" his son... but then I think of our Heavenly Father, and like you said, Jesus is the only literal son of God and it’s amazing that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that he would be willing not only to give his son, but watch him die, and suffer for the sins of the world. It definitely gives Christmas a new meaning .. at least to me. ha :)  But anyways seriously if you haven’t seen the video, go watch it. PS - it’s even better in Spanish. 

This week was great - a little slow, but great. :) I can’t believe that I’ve already been out for 3 months. It doesn’t seem like a long time compared to the mission in general, but that’s like a whole summer!

Anyways.. last week for p day was dope. We played soccer on the beach again and just enjoyed the sun shine :)  Later that night, we had to sleep in the ZLs room AGAIN cause Elder Martinez had to go to Piura on Tuesday morning for a leaders meeting. The zone leaders were a little late so we ended up waiting like 2 hours for them. Martinez, Olortegui, Hogge, and I were so bored - oh my word. But hey on the bright side, I learned to dance the Salsa. :) We had to keep ourselves entertained somehow! :) haha 

When we woke up on Tuesday, the ZLs informed me that I was having a trio in MY area for the whole day. We purposely didn’t plan anything cause we thought that both of us were gonna be gone.... it was a LONG day. Elder Hogge, Elder Perez from Bolivia, and I walked around for HOURS and no one was home. And when I say no one, I literally mean no one.

Butttt there was one funny story. So like I said, there’s drunks everywhere. Borochos. This guy comes over to us and is so fascinated by our white skin.. and he just keeps repeating "gringos", "gringos". haha anyways.. he memorized my name from my plaque and now whenever he sees me, he yells from like 50 feet away "HARRIS"!!!! hahaha

We ended up waiting 2 hours at the bus stop for our companions to return from Piura.. why did it take so long, you may ask..... they wanted dinner...................

Thursday I went on exchanges with Elder Campo. Ecuador. He was one of my best buds out here. It was hilarious. We finished this lesson with this guy and he had some pigs in the back, so of course I asked if I could see them. Anyways we found his cousin back there with these pigs.. (don’t ask me why) and when he saw that we were representatives of Jesus Christ, he literally started pleading for forgiveness from his sins. Like what... we just left. ha.

Speaking of smelly things, on Sunday I found this sea shell. It was a cool sea shell so I put it in my bag and I forgot about it.  All of Thursday my bag just smelled HORRIBLE and I couldn’t figure out why.  So when we got back to the room, I found the shell and looked inside and it was full of WORMS! MAGGOTS! Everywhere. So I chucked it outside.. I looked in my bag and it was full of worms! I washed it :)

Church was great.. like always :) An RM from Chili spoke and he made it a little more interesting which is always nice :) 

But other than that, that’s about it for me this week.  It’s getting HOT! And I mean HOT with a capital H O T.  During the day, our room is seriously like an oven but on the bright side.. we had water all week!  On the dark side, the ZLs informed us that there’s gonna be no water in the whole city this week so fill your buckets.  To be continued....

That’s about all. I hope you guys have a great week!!
I miss you guys! Love you guys. Keep it real.

-Elder Harris IV

Monday, December 8, 2014

Service Week

Mother Dear!

My packages finally came! THANK YOU! Oh man, I wish I could just give you a great big hug :) Seriously, my companion and I were so excited.. like 2 little boys on Christmas morning :) I haven’t opened the presents yet though . . .  I’m waiting till Christmas.  :)  Haha!   I’ve been sharing all the stuff that I got with the other missionaries cause they probably won’t be getting anything from their families this year. It’s terrible and just makes me sick. So thank you :)  And the Nutella . . . ahhh. 

Anyways... as far as the skype goes, I can do it any day on Christmas week. Seriously I’m free whenever. What were you planning on doing? I know Ty and Kenz are in Arkansas... are they planning on skyping in as well? What about Cody?   It would be a lot easier for you to figure things out because you can contact us the easiest.  So let me know, just know that I’m free whenever.

Haha – don’t worry, I wouldn’t walk around without shoes if you paid me :) It’s dirty. Seriously, I haven’t taken my shoes off in the past 3 months. Speaking of, tomorrow is my 3 month mark :) 
Haha!  As for medicine... I’m pretty sure you packed me good for the next 5 years... like I’m fine mom :)  I get sick every once in a while, but nothing too big.

Ahh . . . I know I shouldn’t say this but I’m kind of happy it’s not snowing... in my own selfish way.  :)  I miss it so much.   I’m sorry to hear about your Christmas cards mom.... you must be devastated. :)

Sounds like you’ve been learning a ton at Institute! How come I never went before?? You guys went to temple square too? How come you guys all of sudden start doing fun things once I leave?? Monopoly AND temple square... come on.... 

This week was awesome though - a little slow but hey check it we had a service every day this week! 8 days in a row! Like were breaking missionary records here. My companion Elder Martinez and I are getting along so well. Seriously, we’re like best friends and because of that, we teach very well together. Like in unity. 

Anyways... we’ve been talking a ton about temples this week and how we all need to strive to end up there. Ahh I miss the temple so much. I definitely took it for granted. It’s so amazing that there’s 8 temples within an hour or two of us. Such a blessing. I guess you can add it to the list ....

Seriously though, I’m so grateful to wake up in the morning and just have water and power. At home, I wouldn’t of even though twice about it.  This week wasn’t too bad. Our water only shut off once and it was only for a day. As for power... we don’t have much. We don’t ever have it during the day and occasionally we have it at night.

Anyways, enough of that.  On Tuesday we painted the house of the family Olivares. Haha!  It’s so strange to me. I  don’t know who would trust 2, 18 year old boys to paint their house but whatever.  I mean it doesn’t look good, but they were happy :) 

On Wednesday, we broomed the dirt of this guys house (Gustavo Echeandia)  and broke up the bees nests. Haha! He gave me a fossil of a sea shell. It’s pretty dope. :)  Thursday. we did some more painting. #givingtrees #itmustbechristmas

All of them make us food as a reward, and on Thursday.. well... I guess you could say it’s the crazy food of the week.... haha squid! It was fine. Just imagine a chewy fish. I’m getting more used to the food and the culture here.. but some things are just ridiculous.  For example, when the people finish gutting their chickens or fish or whatever creature they’re about to eat, they throw the guts out on the street.. like what? I dunno I guess the dogs need to eat too.

Also on Thursday, IT RAINED! Oh my word, it was seriously the best day of my life!  I was so happy I just ran outside and embraced it. Don’t worry, I have a video :) Also on Thursday, Elder Martinez got made DL and guess what! I’m the new English Teacher in Talara... so I teach a class to the other Latino missionaries every week.

Friday was hilarious. a funny story. There was this guy, and he was drunk out of his MIND. We call them "borachos". Anyways.. these borachos always come over to us and talk to us and they will like grab our hands and they won’t let go.. or they will like grab our shoulders and get in our faces.. sometimes it’s a little scary, but it’s not to bad anymore. Anyways... so there was this one and we just decided that we were gonna give him a hard time. I know what you’re thinking... a horrible idea, I know. But we gotta entertain ourselves somehow :) Soo he grabbed me, and I just gave him this big smile and I pointed in the distance and I was like WOAHH LOOK!!  And he was like what?? And he starts spinning in circles!! Haha!  He couldn’t even stand up!  And I’m pointing and he’s trying to figure out what I’m looking at for like 2 minutes hahahah and he’s just SOO confused. It was pretty funny. 

Saturday, we fasted. We fasted for Hermana Blanca.. the one with the baptismal date because she has a problem. She can’t attend church every week cause she has a little market that she runs and her husband won’t let her off. Soo.. we’ve been trying everything... and we just fasted that his heart would be softened. To be continued...

Sundays are always great. I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting. We had a couple of our investigators come.. but not all.   It’s tough when that happens cause we were so stinkin hard all week and then they don’t keep their commitments...

Later that night, we watched that first presidency show. I don’t know what you call it in English. I’m sorry! Haha! It ended later than we had anticipated and when we walked to the car spot to drive us back to our area but all the cars had finished for the night.... so, we waited.. and waited.. anddd nothing. By this time it’s LATE and we had no idea what to do... so we just walked to the zone leaders room and slept there for the night. It wasn’t bad.. besides the fact I haven’t showered in a couple days :) It’s just like normal now.. I feel bad for my wife.

That’s about it this week.  I’ve been guiding just about everything these past 2 weeks.. and it’s tough, but I’m learning a ton so I can’t complain, right?:)  We’ve been contacting everyone we can find and it’s just not turning up. We only had 4 baptisms in the whole year in our area and 3 of them left to Piura and Lima - so 1 recent convert. But hey, were workin hard. Every day I’m exhausted.  I’m just trying to do my part, and I guess I just gotta be patient :)

Hope you guys have a great week! 

Love and miss you!
-Elder Harris

Monday, December 1, 2014

First Transfer Down

Well, I made it through my first transfer in the field! It was hard, and felt long but when I look back on it, it doesn’t feel that long... anyways.. I’m staying here in Talara so nothing changed, except my whole zone left! Haha!  My companion is the new DL and we have 2 new missionaries in our district. FINALLY NOT THE YOUNGEST! 

haha yes, this Thanksgiving I had a lot of things that I was more grateful for not just "my family".  My Pensionista cooks rice and soup every day. Sometimes we have chicken and other times we have the plants I tell you about. About every 2 weeks she makes us spaghetti and that’s bomb. But my favorite thing she makes is the fried bananas. Ahh . . . they’re so good. We eat a ton of vegetables and she gives us a side of onions and tomatoes every day - and she puts all sorts of vegetables in our soup.

We’re not going to Piura for Christmas,  we’re just staying in Talara and 2 other zones (Tumbes and Sullana) are coming to us. It’s a little unfortunate, but that’s alright.  I don’t know how skype is gonna work, but I’ll figure something out this week :) 

This week was pretty slow.. not much happened.  Last p day, we had a water balloon fight with our zone. We filled up like 300 balloons and just went wild. It was amazing!  I felt like I was back at home with my homies :) 

Tuesday was great.  A funny story - we were at this house talking to one of our part member families, and they have this little boy named Maurcelo.  He’s about 3 and just such a funny kid. He has so much energy ALL THE TIME!  Anyways.. we were talking to his brother and all of a sudden he drops his pants and starts peeing on me!  I got out of the way pretty quick but it wasn’t in time to get away from the drop fire.  Don’t worry, I changed.  :)   Later that night, we went out to the Polleria – it’s like a chicken dinner place. E Martinez, Harold, and I bought some chicken and... it’s crazy that this shocks me every time but they just give us like literal chickens! We just eat it. I don’t know.  It’s cheap – like chickens for 21 soles. That’s like 7 or 8 bucks. It wasn’t great, none of the meat here is. I feel like I’m becoming a vegetarian.

Later that night, our power and water shut off again. Luckily it wasn’t for 5 days this time... it comes on about every 2 days and then shuts off again. Soo we haven’t had much this week, but were surviving :) It’s horrible in the night time cause its literally pitch black.

On Thursday I went on exchanges with Elder Hamblin. IN MY AREA! So I add to direct everything, lead the conversations and lessons - it was super hard but I felt like a real missionary. Not just a "follower missionary". We got up super early and ran to the beach and we just chilled and had some time to just think. It was so great.

We visited this family and they made us "the drink". haha we call it RiceDirtMilk. It’s 1 word :) We didn’t get to have turkey for our Thanksgiving but we had chicken :) It was good enough. haha no, they don’t celebrate it here. They barely celebrate anything here. 

Friday was great. We worked HARD. Another funny story but first some background info. So how we get around the city is by Motos. It’s a motorcycle with like a carriage hooked on the back. They’re pretty fun. Anyways.. Harold’s pants got hooked on something and when he was getting out, the door wouldn’t open, so he gave it a good push and not only did he break the door, his pants ripped all the way down the side! Hahahaha!  The best part is that he wasn’t wearing underwear! Hahaha! We felt bad and we took a moto back to his house to change. We laughed pretty hard though. As for the man with the broken door, he wasn’t to happy.... 

Saturday we had a service project for the family Celi. They’re awesome, they have 4 girls and they’re awesome. Mijel, Pierina, Gasa, and Annabelle. We pruned their trees for them.. which is ironic because the tree was dead. Like straight dead. 

Church wasn’t great this week. Not very many people showed up.  It’s such a horrible feeling because we work so hard and these people tell us they want to come to church and they just don’t end up coming. I think we had 2 investigators.  So we’re working really hard on finding new people now. We are contacting everyone and asking everyone for references. Also, our baptism dates on the 6th are a bust now. Blanca and Alonso are having some problems with coming to church because they can’t close down their shop on Sundays. We’re trying to think of some ideas that can help them... but were hoping for the 20th. 

That’s about all for this week. like I said, not much happened. But I love being a missionary. I swear every day gets easier, and better. I wouldn’t trade this experience or this opportunity for anything. Thank you again for the support. Seriously.

I love you guys, miss you! Hope you have a great week! 

- Elder Harris

Monday, November 24, 2014

Life is Like a Day at the Beach . . .


Que tal :)

Sounds like you guys had a great weak! Doesn’t sound like much has changed back in Alpine!

This week was great here in the desert of the world. I don’t think there are any trees here.  If I see anything green, I’m happy. I miss the mountains and the trees in Alpine. We sure are blessed. PLEASE SEND ME PICS OF THE SNOW.

Last week we went to this beach called Capullanas. It was BEAUTIFUL and we had so much fun. We repelled down rocks, such an adrenaline rush. I needed that! We also got to see some flamingos on the beach - not something you see every day.

Last Monday, we also got to help the Peña family set up their Christmas tree. It looks horrible.. but hey we had a good time doing it. :) They’ve been like a family to me since I’ve been here!
On Tuesday, Elder Martinez was sick so we didn’t go out until the evening. Sooo I studied. A lot. From 8 am until 6 pm. It was a long day... :)  While we were out, this lady tried to convince us that Jesus was black. haha we weren’t buying it....

On Thursday, we went to Piura again. We had the same schedule as last time. We slept in the zone leaders room again... 4 people on 2 mattresses . . .  another LONG night. We woke up at 3:30, ect. The meeting was great, it was only for the "newbies". We basically just talked about obedience and the life of a missionary. 6 and a half hours long!!! from 8 30 until 3. Coming back we were starving so we got some food.... off the street. NEVER. AGAIN. 

Which brings me to the next section of the crazy food of the week dadadadadda COW HEART! We also ate mackeral (fish with face again) and sardines. 

When we got back to our pench, we realized it was darker than usual. haha We didn’t have any power in the city. It was great! It made the sunset and the stars SOO pretty. I felt like I was in the back of my truck up AF canyon again!

Before we went to our room, we went to our pensionistas house, and Hermana Veto was ever so kind to make us dinner. A candle light dinner. Haha!  It was great besides I felt like I was on a freakin date with my companion but we enjoyed it. 

We didn’t have any power in our room so it was pitch black so we put on some church music and it was actually pretty cool, I felt the spirit really strong. 

When we got to our room, we also realized we didn’t have any water.  We thought that was pretty funny.... it’s not........ I never thought not having water would be that bad. I’m surprised with how much water that I use, and how much I take it for granted. Humbled.  So it gets worse, keep in mind that I haven’t "washed" in 2 days because we´ve been in Piura so I was a little disappointed about that. We figured the water would turn on in the morning... it didn’t... we kept hoping.. but it didn’t. Luckily, we got some water on Sunday morning before church. But I’ll tell ya, not washing yourself for 4 or 5 days is a LONG time! I’ve never been more dirty, sweaty, sticky in my entire life. And our room smelled HORRIBLE because we didn’t have water and we couldn’t flush the toilet. I guess I’ll just let your mind imagine the smell after 4 or 5 days of 2 boys that got sick from a cow heart. 
Our power and water finally turned on Sunday morning, thankfully and we haven’t had any problems today either.

Sunday was a alright. Not a ton of people came to church.. only 2 investigators. I think we had 37 people so we’re hoping for next week. 

We also got to teach a lesson on Sunday to the Dioses family. ON THE BEACH! It was soo amazing... we were just kickin back, enjoyin the sand, the sound of the waves, and the SPIRIT!  They’re progressing great, we invited them to pray to God to know if this work was true... to be continued....

We´re teaching a ton of people. Less actives and investigators. We’re working SUPER hard every day. Blanca and Alonso are still on for their baptism on December 6th. They have their interviews this Friday so stay tuned. 

I’m getting somewhat use to the culture here, but it’s tough. I’ve been here for a month and I still feel culture shocked.  The food is.... well its food - just rice and bread. My favorite thing is a fried banana! ahh it’s so amazing. And of course, onions :)

Mi castellano es mejor cada dia. estoy trabajando super duro siempre y he aprendido mucho en esas cinco semana pasadas. Eentonces, les extraño. siempre estoy orando para ustedes. espero que ustedes tienen una buena semana! 
love you, miss you! 

- Elder Harris IV

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bowling, Crazy Food & Church


What’s been happenin! haha 

Ahhh Mommmm... I love you so much. Thank you for sending me the stuff.  I don’t need a ton... just peanut butter. I’m not kidding, it’s like the holy water down here. People go absolutely nuts over it. The members and the missionaries. haha   Funny story - this family found out I had some... so they asked me if they could have some... of course I said yes, but.. I didn’t know how to transport it to their house so their son came over to our apartment and we couldn’t think of anything so we just threw some spoonfuls in a grocery bag hahaha

On typical day we get up at 6:30 and work out. Then shower in the arctic water and eat breakfast. I usually start studying about 7:45 until 11. It seems like a long time but it’s really not much. At 11 we leave the apartment and work until 1. Then we have lunch for an hour and at 2 we have language study.  We leave again at 3 to work and get back to apartment about 8:45 or 9. We plan for the next day, eat dinner and finish up about 10. We chill for 30 minutes and go to bed and wake up and do it all over again :) Yes, my ipod works and it’s glorious.  The district meetings are always in Talara, so like 20 minutes away.  Our apartment isn’t much. There’s a little 1 circle stove on the ground. but the problem is that we never have water to use. To get drinking water  we have to walk like half a mile to get it and we just don’t have a lot of time. soooo we just eat bread. THANK YOU FOR OATMEAL MOM! I LOVE YOU.

Hey wow I saw you changed everything in the house! It looks great! Why such a big change? You must be going through a mid life crisis or something. Don’t worry mom it will get better. Just give it some time. :)

This week was awesome. Last week for p day we went to this bowling alley.  It is the oldest in South America. 103 years old. haha It was like throwing a rock down a wood floor and you had to set up the pins by hand. Haha!  It was fun though :) I also cleaned my apartment and it took me 2 hours but I actually feel somewhat clean now. Haha! Before I continue, I better tell you that when I was washing the dishes this week and I cut my thumb open with a knife. I better not send a pic......

Tuesday I went on exchanges with Elder Campo from Ecuador. It was awesome except for the fact that in my real area, 2 investigators that we’ve been teaching told us that they know the church is true and they want be baptized! Soo yeah boohyah. December 6th. Save the date! I guess it’s not about me though so I should just be happy for them. All this hard work is really paying off!  haha

On Thursday, their son cooked us dinner. It was great. He literally chopped a chicken right in front of our faces and mixed it with some rice. It was great besides the fact it was still bleeding. Please take me to the hospital when I get home to get my stomach pumped. Thanks.

We also ate masamora this week. It’s black corn in liquid form. Goopy liquid form. It’s weird. It makes my stomach sick. Also the crazy food of the week... drum roll bababa… QUAIL EGGS!!!! Like literal quail eggs.  Like who eats that? And they were fresh too. Like the quail had just dropped them out moments before and I had to eat like 5. 

On Friday night we slept in the zone leaders room cause we went to Piura on Saturday. There were 6 people in a tiny room and 4 of us on 2 tiny mattresses. As you can imagine, it was a long night. We had to get up early (3:15 a.m.) to get to Piura.  We left the room at 4 and walked to the bus station and left Talara at 5. We arrived in Piura about 7:30 AM. It was nice though because I just slept on the bus. Well what I could, it’s hard because its hot and there’s a lot of smelly latinos. It was so nice to see all of my homies though. Beidleman, Haws, Hanvey. ahh GLORIOUS. We started the meeting at 8:30 and Elder Evans of the 70 spoke to us. It was great. He talked about hastening the work, repentance and obedience. It was very long and the meeting didn’t end until 1:30 and keep in mind that I hadn’t eaten ANYTHING.  No breakfast. Nothing. They finally gave us a sandwich around 2. We left Piura the same day and got back around 5:30. 

Yesterday at church, it was amazing. Almost ALL of our investigators and less actives came. And like we have no idea how they all came but dang were we happy. Usually we have about 36 to 38 people come but yesterday, we had 56!!! It was like a big family reunion! Everyone was just so happy to see each other. It was amazing, I wish you could’ve seen it. I just felt happy. Pure happiness. 

I also got to speak in church yesterday. I talked about faith. It was like 10 to 12 minutes long in Spanish and its crazy cause I don’t speak that well and my Spanish was near perfect. I spoke with power, and I truly felt like God was speaking through me. My testimony was strengthened yesterday.  I know that when we do put our trust in God that miracles can happen. I gained a stronger testimony of the power of God and the gift of tongues. It was an answer to my prayers because I was so nervous about it. ahh so crazy.  I wish you guys could’ve heard it - with a translator, of course :)

It’s great being here and I’m having the time of my life but it’s hard, really hard. I’m just trying to push through one day at a time. I’ve truly never been more humbled in my entire life. Sometimes I feel like I just keep getting punched and punched in the face time and time again but I’ve had such an amazing experience coming closer to my Savior because I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve got down on my knees and just said help me.  I can’t do this on my own and every single time, I’ve felt Gods love. I’ve felt him next to me. 

I’m doing great family, and sounds like you guys are too. Thank you for supporting me, it truly means the world to me. 

I love you guys more than anything! Always praying for you!

-Elder Harris IV

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chicken Lungs


Que tal? :) I can’t believe It’s already been 2 months!! Yesterday at church, I was thinking that exactly 2 months ago we were driving to the airport, saying our goodbyes, and I was starting on the adventure of a lifetime. I feel like I’ve been here for 3 years but on the other hand, I feel like I just got here. It’s a good feeling :) 
This week was awesome. I felt like just yesterday was p day. The weeks go by super fast when you’re working hard I guess :) 

How was the birthday?? Tell me more about it! What did you buy yourself? :) The family looks pretty lonely without me and Cody... how is it with only 1 kid at home?  I’m sure you guys are pretty bored....? :)  But sounds like you guys had an awesome week though! PF Changs? I don’t even know what that is...? Have we been there before? American food seems like a foreign concept to me over here. Man I would really love some right about now. Rice does get old......

That’s awesome though for Kenz. I hope she gets better... I’m praying for her every day. But and dad worked in the yard for 6 hours?? To be honest, I’m a little jealous.  But hey, 6 hours is a ton. I’m proud of you guys :) Looks like  you’re not as old as I thought :) nahh I’m sorry. Just a joke. I can’t believe you have the 40s?? And snow?? ahh dang you’re so lucky. It’s hot here, yeah.  Be grateful for that snow :) I always ask all the kids if they’ve ever seen it and they like don’t even know what it is. It’s so funny cause they ask if we have snowball fights and build snowmen. haha man I love it. 
nahh there’s no gatorade here. Just caffine fruit drinks. Guarana. There’s not any stores here.. just little markets that sell bread and soup. haha but yes, there is Coke here and its BOMB. 

It was a great week. Last week for p day we went to the most west point in South America. It’s a lighthouse that comes off the coast. It was about a 4 mile walk on the beach and we saw about 8 lobos del mar. I don’t know what the animal is called in English. Super cool though. To get to the lighthouse you have to climb this big sand mountain and it was awesome.  I felt like I was back home again climbing horsetail or Timp. It’s just more deserty here.  :) Seriously so beautiful at the top though. I wish you guys could’ve seen it. Ocean in every direction you look. But coming back, my black Arvo broke. Kinda sucks. 

This week we calculated the cost of our room per night. 11.5 soles which is about 4 dollars. We have 2 people so for me to live there is 2 dollars a day. Pack your things family, were moving to Peru! 

The interview with president was super chill. He just asked about my family, comp, area. I told him they were great and that was it :) 

We got a ton of new investigators this week. Eva. Haha! It was hilarious. Her daughter was eating this fruit I had never seen before and I asked about it and she asked if I wanted to try it...  I said yes, because it’s polite. She took the half eaten fruit from her daughter, and the spoon she was using.. and GAVE IT TO ME! It was..... good.

We’re teaching the Peña family. Harold is my age and he’s a member but the rest of his family isn’t so were working together to progress his parents and his siblings. They’re super cool and we have so many powerful spiritual experiences with them. His mom said that she wants to be baptized so yeah –WOW! Great news! Also there’s Carlos and Shirley. They came to church this week with their kids and they’re progressing swimmingly :)

Our branch is awesome. It’s mainly run by the Branch Presidency. We have 1 priest (Harold), 2 teachers, and 1 deacon and all of them are sons of the 2nd counselor.  We don’t speak every Sunday . . .  but I am speaking this coming Sunday.  Great. 

Thursday we had a consejo de barrio. I don’t know what it is in English. Like a meeting with everyone? it started at 7:30 but the President didn’t show up till 8 35. Haha! Anndd he was the first one there.  Like it’s ridiculous. 

ALSO . . . the crazy food of the week was............. drum roll please........ dadadadadadadadadadada Chicken lung! Don’t worry, it was deflated :) It was hard... and chewy. 

We’re having a great time. So many spiritual experiences. My testimony seems so much stronger to these people than I ever thought. Every time I speak I can just see them being filled with the spirit. It’s amazing. Also yesterday, I had the opportunity to fast. I fasted for my famiy and for the gift of tongues because it’s hard learning a new language :)  It was HARD. No water, it’s hot outside, walking all day, headache, you name it.  By the 23rd hour I was about dead. But President Gutierrez pulled me aside and just told me that its going get better and that I need to trust the Lord and the language would come. I truly felt like he was an angel in my life.  It was like God was speaking directly to me through him. So cool. Every time it gets hard out here I think of a quote that was shared to me. "The road to salvation leads to the edge of Gethsamane and in the shadow of Calvary".  If we plan to live with our Heavenly Father again, we need to experience some of what Jesus Christ went through for us and that seems to get me going again. 

I know I’m so blessed to be out here and I’m so grateful for all the support at home. Thank you for wanting me to be out here – it’s such a blessing. 

The language is coming though... I have learned so much these past 3 weeks because it’s all I speak with my companion. A lot of the time I just feel lost in conversations. But hey,  it will come. 

Anyways, I’m glad you guys had a great week and I hope you have a better one this week :)  Things are great here so you don’t need to worry about me. Keep me updated on all the things that are happening at home.

les extraño! les amo!

- Elder Harris IV

PS:   I also had the opportunity to play the game "how many Latinos can you fit in a van?" I think we won. 22. And it was like a 45 minute ride. Yeahhhh I’m becoming real close to these Latinos.

PSS: All the teenage boys grow up their pinky fingernail really long. It’s something that has to do with drugs. But anyways, I’m doing it too. I need to fit in somehow :)

PSSS: The water is still freezing and it’s still horrible. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 2 in Piura


I’ll skip a couple of those questions and just put them in with my whole email. I can’t answer them directly :) too much stuff happened. But my bed is fine... its small. haha. I can feel 2 wires run down my back but if you sleep right in between them it’s not too bad. nah we don’t live with the pensionista, she lives about 3 minute walk from our house.. so it’s not too bad.  She’s super dope. She makes us lunch every day and does our laundry. It’s like my own personal mom :) Don’t worry though... she’ll never replace you :)  You Googled it?? Are you in the right place cause I don’t actually live in the city of Talara. I live about 20 minutes outside of the city.. I don’t know in what direction... but yeah its windy here so that makes it a lot cooler. The Elders said that it’s the coolest area in our mission because there’s so much wind so I got hooked up with that. But dang it’s still hot.  And the worst months are still ahead of me!  hahaha Air conditioning? hahahahahaha. yeahhhhh good one... nahh.  The mission president is awesome, such a good guy. It helps that he’s from my area.. but super chevere. 

Our branch isn’t super strong but our president, his counselors, and our relief society president are like the only ones that are good and actually show up. We run a lot of it though. well,.. we try to at least.  My district is cool. There’s only 4 other missionaries - Elder Campo from Ecuador, Elder Hamblin from Arizona, Hermana Meakjfsdñj from Mexico and Hermana Garlick from Texas. She’s tight but this is her last transfer so she’s going home next month.

This week was bombski.  Last week for p day we drove like 20 minutes to this different beach and it was BEAUTIFUL too. There were all these caves and cool rocks to climb on right on the shoreline. There were some killer waves that I wish I could’ve body boarded or surfed. We played soccer on the beach and I got SUNBURNED on my neck. It was horrible the next couple days cause my collar kept rubbing on it but its better now. :)

One of the members made us rice pudding and it was amazing. It’s like the only thing that somewhat reminds me of the US.  The problem is here, when you eat their food really fast, they think that you want more. So they just keep bringing it, and bringing it, and bringing it and it’s rude to say no. Sooooo you just say yeah sure. It’s horrible, I probably had 5 cups of rice pudding. Note to Braeden; eat slow.  It’s alright though, I’m not gaining much weight because we walk like 8 miles every day and I sweat a lot so I’m burning it off :) 

On Thursday, we had a district meeting and you’ll never guess who showed up... President Rowley! haha and I was the one who had to give the spiritual thought. In Spanish!. yayy. We also have interviews with the president this Wednesday. 

After our meeting, we went on intercambios. I’m sorry I don’t know what the word is in English but it’s like trading companions. So I went with Elder Hamblin up to the high part of Talara. "Talara Alta". It was sooo nice to speak English! We didn’t have much success. In fact, no success. We walked around for 8 hours and no one opened their door or listened. We knocked on this door and no one answered, and we were just about to leave until this man walked up, literally walked right in between us, opened his door, and closed it without saying a thing. We just laughed.. we thought it was pretty funny. Another house we went to, Elder Hamblin was like watch this, they’re going to say that the boy is showering. Haha So we walk up and knocked on the door and the mom answers and before we could even speak, she says sorry... he’s showering. I was trying to hold it in at the door but I couldn’t.  I’m sure that left a great impression.  

HALLOWEEN! Pretty good for you guys huh? All the kids came? But hey, the first holiday away from home! Didn’t feel very different, but I sure was thinking about you guys! We went to this guys house, named Franco and he has 2 little siblings. Santi is 2 and Azul is 1. They’re sooo cute. Anyways.. when we were trying to leave Santi stood in front of the door and just said NO. It was so cute, I took a picture.

Ahhh this is a good story.  So we were teaching this family.. they’re a great family.. bless their hearts. Anyways we finished and they offered us dinner. They were having fish and it sounded like a great idea.. I mean, I love fish! haha  Man I didn’t think they meant a literal fish. I about died…skin, fins, head, face, spine, EYES!  I was counting down the time until I was done. We finished.. eventually and I felt sick after. The fish was called chula and it was big too.. like 8 inches long. 

We’ve had a ton of spiritual experiences the week and even had the opportunity to give 2 blessings and they both were awesome. We have this family that we teach named the Olivares family and the mom was telling us about how her sons have a drinking problem and E Martinez promised her that if they attended church for a month, that they would see a change. I could tell that it was the spirit speaking through him. Such a cool experience. We told her that we would pick her up for church and they were ready to go at 8:35! AMAZING. It’s moments like that, that make all this hard work worth it. 

Elder Martinez and I are getting along soooo well. We’re actually very similar. We have the same sense of humor and you bet we have a dang good time. Always laughing. He LOVES music!  He’s the number 6 DJ in South America!  Like he’s unreal. He got to play with Skrillex. Live. If you don’t know who that is, ask someone. It’s a big deal. Anyways, because of that love for music, he makes EVERYTHING he hears a dubstep or electronic song. Cars... church hymns in our appartment... SNEEZES. ahh man its hilarious.

Church yesterday was great. It’s just so different from our ward at home because people just like walk around during sacrament meeting? Like what?  Sit down. Our church is very antique. The ceiling is woven palm trees. It’s dope. I’ll take a pic this coming week and try and send it.  All the kids love us here.. they always ask for my signature. I feel like a dang celebrity. They call me "chewy". I dont know why... 

The food is either getting a lot better or I’m just getting used to it. I forgot to mention that we eat onions and cucumbers with everything and i love it. It’s seriously like my favorite. It gives the food some flavor.  I’m getting used to the culture here because dang that first week I was definitely in some culture shock. I’m getting used to being dirty :) Just accepting it now. 

My Spanish is coming along well.. I get bettter every day but it’s still hard and I still don’t understand a lot, but it’s better :)   It’s funny, they change their V and B sounds here. ha. 
I love the members in my barrio. They’re amazing.. but always busy. All the people here are fisherman so they aren’t ever home. 

We’re working really hard. Reallyyyyy hard. I’m exhausted every day but I know that this is where I’m supposed to be. I love being out here and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. 

I love and miss you guys... and have a great beginning of November :)

Happy birthday mom, and have fun! I’ll be there in spirit :) 
Talk to you next week!

- Elder Harris IV

Monday, October 27, 2014

Talara & Elder Martinez


Oh my word! It sounds like you guys have had such a crazy week! KENZIE WENT ON A DATE #what?!?! ahh that’s awesome! Was it for the school or what? What’s the boy’s name? How did it go?  Tell dad to let her kiss some boys.. she needs to start soon if she’s going catch up to us 3 :) 

We don’t celebrate Halloween here. It’s not a big deal and I never was that into it anyways. I totally forgot this week was Brayden Matheson’s wedding! How did it go? And Maddi’s? Tell them I’m sorry I missed it, but I was a little busy.  Also I’ve already met Tanner at Tyler’s wedding. Definitely a good guy. That’s awesome I’m super happy for them!

Dang.. I miss yard work. I just wish I could come back for one day just so I could help. Ahh I miss our yard.

Well.. I left the CCM this week and our last soccer game on the nice turf field. It was definitely bittersweet and I made sure to end my last goal with a bicycle kick. Elder Beidlman and I made sure to kiss the field good-bye as we left. It was tough saying good-bye to all the people especially our teachers. Our last time seeing them they just told us how much they loved us ect. They really meant a lot to me considering how much they helped me and how much time we spent together. Our last night at the CCM we had our tie trade and I got some sick new ones. It was tough saying good-bye to the Elders going to the other missions but hey.. 2 years. Beidleman, Haws, Ayala and I all gave each other blessings in the bathroom on the last night.  It was super cool.

We got up at 3:30 like I told you that morning and headed to Piura. We saw this lady hiding in the bed of a truck in a potato bag. It was funny. Then I got to talk to you and we were off.  I slept most of the plane ride.  This place is a desert and it’s hot. The president and some missionaries were there to pick us up. The mission home is absolutely beautiful. I also got to proselyte with one of the leader missionaries. Elder Melo from Ecuador. We went to San Pedro in Piura. It’s pretty run down. We taught this lessen to these 2 Hermana’s and they didn’t have a ceiling and only dirt floors. Thye had absolutely nothing. They gave us some food and it was in this glass jar and it had like the consistency of boogers - with chunks. It was horrible but we ate all of it though, and we were grateful.

We then went to a meeting and got our new areas. I’m in Talara! It’s BEAUTIFUL.  I’m right on the beach – it’s literally a 2 minute walk from my apartment and it’s amazing. They have a ton of crabs everywhere and we found a dead seal last week on the shoreline. A month ago, a member found a dead shark and he pulled out all the teeth and wears them around his neck. haha pretty sick. Talara is the most west city in South America. Pretty awesome. I don’t actually live in the city though... I live about 20 minutes away but we have to come to the city for everything.  And where we live.. well... yeah it’s not much.

My new companion is Elder Martinez from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He’s super cool.  Like you said he’s pretty tall - about 6’ 4”.  He speaks a little English - but not much. He’s a straight clown, and I think he has memory loss because when we pray together... we usually switch off but he goes ummmmmmm I think it’s you. EVERY TIME.  I just smile and do it :)  His accent his really thick and hard to understand but we communicate well. He’s a super hard worker and just a good guy. 

Our room is.... wonderful :) It’s not much. We have a tin roof and concrete floor. We don’t even have a mirror. Ahh man.. you guys have got to see our shower!  It’s a barrel with a PVC pipe that trickles water out. It’s hilarious. Oh by the way, ITS FREEZING. Ice cold.  It’s miserable every morning. Our toilet is literally right under the shower so you gotta wipe off the toilet too. It’s dope. Sometimes we just use a rag to clean ourselves just because it’s easier.

 It’s really hard being here. This first week has been the hardest week yet.  It’s super frustrating because it’s straight Spanish all the time. No English.  I don’t understand much when they talk 300 miles per hour.  As far as the food ... oh man it’s hilarious. It’s just bread all day.  For breakfast, bread or sometimes we just don’t have any food so we just say whatever. We have a huge lunch though every day. Like huge. It’s soup and rice. Oh yeah this is the best part - PLANTS. We eat plants. Like what? Like cactus. I’m telling you guys it’s the weirdest thing. No wonder I’ve had diarriah for the past week. Dinner is usually noodles or bread. haha

The people here are amazing though .. for real.  I already love all the members. We got to give a blessing to our Relief Society President a couple days ago. In Spanish! Boom! She’s got the cutest little kid - Nathan. Seriously everyone here has a little kid and they are ADORABLE.  I would adopt one if I could, not kidding. The members always give us food too but usually it’s just horrible. We always have to gulp it down with our drink but were grateful :)  There’s this guy named Polly. He’s hilarious. He’s 80 years old and soo animated.  We also we went to a birthday party of one of the members. Her name is Pierina and she’s 10.  Ahh it was great.  Evaline is awesome and were teaching the Peña family right now. They have a son that always comes with us. He’s 19 and a great guy. Ahh man I could just go on and on about the members. 

The girls here love us. I’ll just straight up say it. We call them snakes! hahaha.  All the girls here give us dead fish handshakes. Pretty funny. Also everyone always asks me to pray. They love hearing me speak in Spanish because they think it’s hilarious to make fun of me. haha  We had our first Sunday here and there were probably 10 people there at start time.  Then around 9:45 about 20 more people rolled in.  There’s about 30 in our ward and they asked me to bear my testimony in Spanish. It went pretty good.

Our Penchenista is great. She’s super old and her name is Hermana Veto.  All my shirts are already yellow btw.

This area isn’t bad though. For real. You can tell how bad an area is by the roads and this place has some rock roads.  You can also tell by the houses. There’s all sorts in this area. The best houses have concrete everything. The second best have brick houses with tin roofs and then the worst have dirt floors, wood houses, and a tin for the ceiling or no ceiling at all.  We see it all here.

So funny story, we hiked over this sand mountain to get to this house and when we got there, E Martinez informed me that she was crazy. Anyways when we got there we heard this lady screaming a prayer. It freaked me out and her kids were crazy too. They were throwing rocks at us. IDK - it was weird.  They live right next to this cemetery ... 

It’s super humbling to be here and see what these people have.  I seriously feel guilty having all this crap. It’s hard to adjust to the culture. I definitely have some culture shock. I go to bed absolutely filthy every night just because there’s no other option. It really is hard to live amongst these people but I really am doing great.  My Spanish is getting a lot better since I have to speak it all the time. I’m even picking up an Argentinian accent so maybe I’ll be able to understand Cody when he gets home.  All the other elders make fun of me because I talk with it occasionally.

I hope you guys are doing great. I’ve been thinking about you guys a lot this week. I miss you! I’ll talk to you next week

Love you!

-Elder Harris IV