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