Called to Serve in the Peru Piura Mission

Monday, August 31, 2015

An Apostle of Christ

Familia :)

Hey this week was great.  I’m sorry that I say that every week, but it’s true. :)

Monday we went to a little city outside of Piura called Tambogrande.  We got bunched up in the back of a "truck".  I’m pretty sure it was meant to haul cows.  Anyways, we went to this river and just hung out for the day.  We jumped some rocks and had a good time :)

Tuesday we found this new family.  Jean and Roxmery ( that’s not how they spell their names, but to be honest the names here are so stinking weird I just kinda guess and put it to the closest American name I can find. :) Anyways, they were super receptive and we actually have an appointment with them tonight so I’ll let ya know.   Later in the night, Franchesca invited us for some aguadito and who doesn’t love aguadito? Although she puts way TOO MANY chicken feet in it and to be honest, NOT A FAN.

Wednesday I was pretty stressed out with all the work we’ve been doing and so I just decided to drop everything and read the scriptures.  I read a specific chapter in Matthew and it really touched me.  I remember having this feeling of being "whole".  That’s what the scriptures do to us, they heal us.  They fill us.

Thursday I feel like I learned an important lesson. Throughout my whole mission I was always so discouraged when we would teach a lesson and the people wouldn’t accept it.  I have always thought  “what did I do wrong?", "did I not teach it well enough?", or " did I not have the spirit with me strong enough?"  But I learned that one can speak with all the power in the world, but people still have their agency to accept the message or not.

Anyways later that night we found a "Preacher".  Oh my word that was a handful.  We basically sat in her house for like 45 minutes TRYING to escape and she just talks and talks and talks.  We finally found an opening when she took a breath and we bursted in "hey we gotta go".   She decided to offer the last prayer and of course we were happy to let her do it.  She continued to get on her hands and knees, played some sad music from her phone, and started crying/praying.  It lasted a while, and after the first 10 minutes I grew quite uncomfortable.  Especially cause the door was open and a lot of people were walking by......

Friday, Elder Bednar.  Wow... He truly is an apostle of Christ.  He is not like us.  Never in my life have I seen such a strong, pure countenance.  As he walked in the chapel, everything went silent and everyone stood up in respect.  His teachings were remarkable.  I wish you could have seen him, Mom.  The way he taught was unlike anything I’ve ever seen or heard.  I really learned a lot about myself and my purpose as a person and as a missionary.  An impression came to me that I wrote in my journal, "Your purpose is to lighten burdens.  You´ve always known."  From that moment, I have been busting my butt trying to help, and serve, and do everything I can for anyone.  I learned that we must ACT IN FAITH, and then whatever we desire, will be given to us.  I’ve noticed it.
David A. Bednar is an apostle of God, and I will always stand as a witness of that.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that experience.

Saturday we found 2 new families to teach!  The Lord truly is blessing us.

Sunday was great... I love the ward, and everyone in it.  They treat me like family.  Things are really good here, Mom.  I’m definitely going to be sad to leave this area.  I can’t believe I’ve been with my companion, Elder Nosa, for almost 4 months now.  But hey, were still going strong. :)

I hope you guys have a great week... love you and miss you!

-Elder Harris

Monday, August 24, 2015

Moving to High Ground

This week was great.  Last Monday we went to Catacaos for PDay. I don’t know if you remember me telling you about it but it’s the city of art... I always love going there to see all the hand made things, but let me tell you that some of it is ridiculously inappropriate. Haha!

Later in the night, a new missionary was having some troubles getting used to the "mission life" in a "peruvian culture" and the "spanish language" and "living with a latin" and just about everything else that a missionary feels as they enter the field.  Anyways, he asked if we would give him a blessing and of course we were happy to do it :)  We talked and I think he’s doing a little better... haha!  I mean, I can relate :)

Tuesday Elder Hamblin left.  Remember I told you that a missionary was going be with us for a little while.. yeah he was with us for like 5 days and left sooo yeah it was fun while it lasted :)

Wednesday after working in the office we were walking down the street and we saw the Garcia Tipismana family packing up as if they were moving. oh my word, my heart about dropped because I know that they have talked so much about moving back to Ica in Southern Peru.  They were born there).  Anyways, as we stopped by to see them, they informed us that they were only moving up the street to higher ground because "El NiƱo" is apparently coming this year and EVERYONE and their dog is freaking out.  I guess it comes every 15 years and it’s like a massive rain storm that lasts for months that destroys everything... so... really hoping that it doesn’t happen in my time here.

Thursday I had a work visit with my good buddy, Elder Soto.  It was fun, pretty sure we stayed up till like 3 AM talking. haha :) We had a district meeting the next day, and the topic was focused on a talk from Elder Bednar, because he’s coming FRIDAY!!!! Ahh can you believe it!?! Seriously, I’m so excited :) Anyways, the topic was "asking in faith" that we must ask in faith, act in faith, and then act in the way He wants.  It reminded me a lot of Bishop Collins favorite quote that has always stuck with me "learn what it takes to align your mind and will with that of the Lord".  The work visit went well though... it brought back a lot of memories from Sullana :)

Friday we found an awesome investigator named Julio.  We taught him and his friend, Policarpio the Restoration and it was powerful.  It’s crazy how many times I’ve taught that lesson in the past 11 months but this one felt special... it was different. I guess knocking doors every day for 2 hours really isn’t that bad of an idea :) haha! It was tough this week, but hey we made it work :)

Anyways, not much has been happening - just working and finding as many people as we can.  All of our investigators are doing great and are still progressing, it just seems as if every single one of them has one tiny problem and if they could just fix it they would be ready for baptism.  Not kidding, the Garcia Tipismana family has attended church for the past 9 weeks... they have all the lessons, they just aren’t married. They have plans, but because of some personal family problems, the wife just isn’t on board yet.  So if you and the family could pray for them, that would be great.  
Let me know if I can do anything for you guys :)

I miss you guys, and love you!

Have a great week, and enjoy Lake Powell :)

-Elder Harris

Monday, August 17, 2015

I'm a Cowboy Directing Cows


Okay so this week was great, like always :)

Things are great here in the office... I would stay here for the rest of my mission, or I would leave tomorrow... just whatever He wants me to do. :) I truly am enjoying it though... I was telling one of my good buds, Elder Soto (my 1st companion in Sullana) that the things I’ve learned in the office, I wouldn’t have been able to learn if I was working outside.  Almost as if there are 2 lines of learning (trust me it works better with hand motions) and one line is missionary work outside, and the other line is the work I’ve learned here.  Both good, just different :) 

Monday we got up early to help with the transfers . . . basically we just sit at the bus stations and tell people where to go.  I imagined it like this... the cows are the missionaries.  If no one is there, they just bunch up and look at each other waiting to be told where to go... now, this is where the cowboy comes in aka grandpa Dennie.  PS that’s me.. anyway that’s what we did, just directed the cows.

After that we got to go to CHILIS!!! AHHH amazing!  It was super fun though because like half of my group from the MTC came with us and we had a good time talking about good memories :)  The missionaries from my group are some of my best friends in the mission.

Tuesday was SUPER cool... I got to pick up my friend, Bradi Richan aka Hermana Richan from the airport.  It was really, really good to see someone that I knew from home.  We took a bus with all the new missionaries to the mission home and then had a few presentations. After that we had some "chill time" so I got to catch up with Sister Richan and get to hear about everything that was going on back in Alpine :)   Oh my word, it was like my favorite part of the week. haha.  Turns out too that were gonna be in the same zone! 

Later that night we helped the Lengua family (their son Ledwey served with Cody in Argentina) sand and paint their bars on their doors and windows.. not kidding, I love their family.  Every time I talk with Ledwey it’s almost as if I’m talking with Cody.. man I miss him.

Wednesday we had another training with the new missionaries.  We ate tacos and who doesn’t love tacos?  Later we had a lesson with one of our investigators, Oscar Cunya.  He had a baptismal date for the 29 of August but we don’t think its gonna work out..... we just don’t feel that he’s ready for baptism.  We had a great lesson with him though, we talked about the love of God and how immense it truly is.  Maybe if you have your scriptures right there you can look up one of my favorite scriptures Romans 8: 38-39.

Later we ate dinner with one of my favorite members, Hermano Hernandez.  I’ve talked about him before about being a great example of someone who shares and gives everything he posses, I don’t know if you remember? Anyway, he had his whole family over including his son in law from Spain and it was super cool to talk with him and understand his culture a little better. Really fun :)

Thursday........ more trainings............ haha not kidding this whole week was straight trainings and meetings.  We had a lesson with a recent convert, Raquel Madrid. We talked about fasting and the power that we receive when we fast with a real intent. My testimony of the fast has grown so much over this past year, it’s incredible.

Friday we had a zone meeting and I guess there’s going to be some changes in the mission. From now on, every day from 6 - 8 PM all were going to do is knock doors.  Quite strange and there’s been a lot of stress throughout the mission, but I guess it’s what we talked about last week with the wheat and the tares.  Sometimes we don’t know why, but I have a testimony that President Rasmussen receives revelation for this mission, so I promised myself, and God, that I would follow him.  It’s been tough, but hey were making it work :) "If we say we´re disciples of Christ, we MUST pay a token even as He did.  Suffer... even a portion, the way He suffered" - Jeffrey R Holland.

Friday night was tough. Our investigator Joao and his wife split.  You could see the pain in his eyes, almost as if we didn’t know what we could possibly to do help this man.  We testified of the Book of Mormon.... about the peace, and the happiness that we receive when we truly look for Him.  We invited Joao to read it from the beginning... I’ll keep you updated next week :)

Sunday we talked a whole lot about charity.  So I’ve made it a goal that in every day, EVERY MOMENT I’m going help someone. So Sunday night when we were super tired, I said hey I’m going to make some dinner for my companions. I whipped up some ARROZ CHAUFA and we had a good meal together :)

Earlier in the day we ate lunch with Bishop Melgar and his family.  We talked a lot about their descendants, the Incans.  And it hit me... hard.  I haven’t had something touch me this hard in a long time.  I feel like this past year I have only been worried about my personal learning and adapting to this culture.  And it hit me that I don’t really know who THEY are... and the more that they talked to me about where they came from, and their past, it hit me that it’s not supposed to be about me.  It’s about learning about them and their past and learning about their culture and why they are the people they are.  I feel like I’ve judged them the past year for not being like us... American.  But it’s because that they never had the opportunity to progress like we have.  The Spanish came and destroyed their whole empire. Burned every record and story they had... tortured and killed their people.  And from that point on, they continued to kill and diminish them. They aren’t like us because they never had a chance to grow like us.... and I think this lesson is bigger than just a nation.

Alright, sorry about rambling on and making it so long :)
Things are great here, hope you guys can feel my prayers and my love.  :)

Have a great week, love you!

-Elder Harris

Here are a couple of pictures from our pday a couple of weeks ago.  So we start on this hike and we see this house that is pretty isolated from EVERYTHING. Haha anyways, this girl was outside her house and Elder Soto waved at her and asked her if she wanted some Doritos. She was a little shy and quite confused what a "Dorito" was, but she decided to try one.  She put it in her mouth and not kidding about had a heart attack.. SHE LOVED THEM.  She stuck her hand back in the bag and grabbed a HUGE handful. Oh it was to die for.  We had to take a pic... excuse the bed sheet cape – it’s a long story.

This lady lives HOURS into the mountains - COMPLETELY ISOLATED from everything and everyone.  Not kidding, I don’t know how she’s still alive.  She had like her own well and her own crops.  We chased her chickens around and she gave us some water so we called her homie.  

The rest of the pictures are from the trip

Monday, August 10, 2015

Greatest P Day Adventure

Wow I about died I missed you so much this week :) haha no broma... sounds like a great week though. I loved the pics of you guys boating but a little jealous none the less.  I hope the water was cold so you guys understand what I’m going THROUGH EVER SINGLE DAY! Ha! I’ve taken a total of 2 hot showers in my 11 months that I have here. I’m about sick of this cold water to be honest.  
Geez how many people did you guys take on the boat?? I can’t believe that Kenzie is starting school next week? my word where did the summer go?? Gonna be a junior already?!

This week was stressful, great, and super fast.

Last Monday we completed our goal of contacts as a zone so we woke up at 3 AM to take a bus to the Sierra of Peru to a little city called Canchaque, Huancabamba. IT. WAS. AMAZING. Not kidding, one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever been in.  We arrived in Canchaque about 7 AM (about a 3 hour bus ride) and we hopped in the back of 2 big trucks that took us even deeper into the mountains.  We went on this super sketchy trail for about 30 minutes to get to, not kidding, the most isolated village I’ve ever seen in my life. The village was called Pampaminuses and I’ll bet there was only 30 - 40 people that lived there.  No school, no electricity, nothing.  Nothing, nothing, nothing. Not kidding when these people saw us it was like another world to them. Crazy.
We found a trail that led up to these super pretty waterfalls. It was about a 2 hour hike and I loved every minute of it :) 

I’m sorry that I don’t have much time today - we just got back from helping in the mission home and I’ve gotta get some more work done so we can get out tonight to work.  It’s been transfer week and it’s been absolutely crazy.  I thought of it like elves on Christmas... like the week before Christmas all the elves are trying to get all the toys ready.. yeah that’s kinda how I feel. :)

Anyways, Elder Nosa and I are staying together for our 3rd transfer..  haha!  He’s been a good companion. We get along good and we’re good friends but sometimes we have some times where I just want to kill him. I guess that’s what happens when you’re with someone for 3 months straight. haha.. I guess it’s preparing me for my wife, right? :) 

So also there’s gonna be another Elder that’s gonna stay with... His name is Elder Hamblin and he’s from Arizona.  He has like 2 weeks left in his mission because he’s gonna go home early to start school.   So he’s gonna chill with the us for a while. I don’t exactly know what he’s gonna do but hey, it should be good. We’re good friends, he was actually my first District Leader when I got to the mission in Talara and we went on a ton of work visits.

I’m sorry that I just don’t have much time this week but I love you guys and miss you like super a lot. :)

Have a great week!

-Elder Harris

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Birthday "Party"

Okay family this week was sick. 

Monday we went to this super cool river for Pday... it was huge and it reminded me of the Nile river in Egypt cause there was a lot of naked people bathing but hey were in Peru so yolo.  We brought a picnic and found a little shack where we got some nice shade and enjoyed a day at the "beach" :)  It was a great day but quickly came to a end when we showed up at a less active members house where we’re teaching, Fatima, and she was outside smoking.  It was slightly awkward and very uncomfortable for everyone but she let us in and we had a good lesson with her but she was quite embarrassed.

Tuesday Elder Soto was struggling a bit so we watched a video from the church "How the Atonement applies to missionary work", if you haven’t seen it yet, GO WATCH IT. It’s a really, really good video. Elder Holland talks about how important it is to "Endure to the end" and like you were talking about mom, it’s getting harder and harder in a more and more corrupted world. Elder Holland says "why should it be easy for us, when it was never easy for Him? Salvation is not a cheap experience.  Salvation was never easy".

Later that night we had an appointment with the Ramirez Paiva family.  For an early "birthday" present, they invited us for ice cream and the best part . . .  donuts.  Like where in the freak did you get donuts in Piura?  But hey we enjoyed it.

Wednesday . . . . Everyone in the office "forgot" all day that it was my birthday so no one said anything to me.  I wasn’t expecting much, but I thought they would at least say happy birthday! Haha.  I felt a little sad as we left the office but I’m tough so i didn’t say anything. :)

After we went to a really cool less active members house, Franchesca and Teresa and we had a lesson with them.  After the lesson they they cooked pancakes and we some Inca Cola to celebrate my birthday. :)   As we left, I felt a little better that at least SOMEONE remembered my birthday . . .but as we were walking outside her house, all of them exploded like 6 or 7 eggs on my head because APPARENTLY it’s a tradition here in Peru.  It was fun though :)

 We walked back to our room and because I was super dirty I went straight into the shower.  When I  got out, I put my pants on to do our daily planning and opened the door to our room and right as I opened it I was bombarded by a million white shirts smashing eggs on my head and whatever else they could find in our refrigerator... flour, pasta sauce, ketchup, the whole nine yards.  Turns out they had planned it all day long to not say anything to me and while I was showering, my companion Elder Nosa opened the door so all of the other Elders could sneak into my room... they thought they were pretty funny haha :) After they smashed me, they sung happy birthday and brought out boxes of pizza and a huge chocolate cake.  To say the least, I had a great birthday :)

Thursday was ridiculously busy.  I had to give like 3 presentations at missionary trainings but hey we got lasagna and brownies so life’s good.

Friday morning as we got to the office, Elder Rodriguez (the elder that is in my old area, Sullana - Bellavista) informed me that an investigator (Teresa) that we worked so hard for was getting baptized that day.  Ahh I was so happy so I hurried and grabbed the phone to call my companion in Sullana, Elder Soto.  A couple hours later, he calls me back and asked if I wanted to go with him to the baptism in Sullana to baptize her.  Of course I said yes!   I was pumped :)  It was AMAZING! When Elder Soto and I walked in the doors to our old ward, oh my word, they were so excited to see us.  Hermana Teresa started to cry because she was so happy.  Everything with the baptism turned out well... it was such a powerful experience. I had the opportunity to be one of the witnesses of the baptism. The spirit that I felt during the meeting strengthened my testimony that God and Jesus Christ live. A really special day.

Saturday we started our fast.  I fasted for the Garcia Tipismana family that they will have a desire to get married and baptized.  Everything is ALMOST finished with the coordination, they just need to take that leap of faith and do it. 

We had a lesson with a recent convert, Hermana Racquel.  I’ve talked about her before.. she’s the really sweet old lady.  Anyways, after the lesson I was looking on her shelf at a really cool ancient relic. I asked where she got it and she told me that her father-in-law passed it down to her.. AND SHE WANTED ME TO HAVE IT.   It was hard to accept such a priceless gift, but she ended up giving it to me and it is sooo cool.  Not kidding I’m keeping it forever.  It’s like an ancient Incan relic. Kinda hard to explain :)

Sunday was fast and testimony meeting.. it was great.  I love hearing the members testimonies. :) We ended our fast and ate lunch with the Alburqueque family.  Their son just returned from his mission in Brazil so he made us some traditional food from his mission. We ate Feijoada and Cuzcus.  I’m sure Devin has had it a million time but it was really good.

Anyways, it was a really good week.  Thanks for all the love and support. :)

-Elder Harris