Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 27, 2014

Hello Family!! I LOVE coming to get on my email and seeing that people are still thinking about me :) I have a lot of Elders who tell me that after a year, people stop caring until about 4 months till you come home then they all get really excited again. Don't let that happen, k? I love hearing from you guys and I don't know how I could go for a few weeks without hearing from you!

First and foremost, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!! I sent you a card on Saturday but when we went out to check to see if it was taken later that night, there was still mail in the out-box... So I don't know if he picked it up then people put stuff in or if he just forgot.. But I didn't forget! It should hopefully arrive today, tomorrow, or Wednesday! :) I thank my Heavenly Father EVERYDAY for the privilege to be your son! I don't deserve to have such a loving, caring, patient mother. But I have been VERY blessed and I will always be in debt to Him for that. Thank you Mom :) I LOVE YOU!!!

I threw a party for Calvin this Wednesday. I had a feeling that he would probably be late (just because you never hear of people having babies on their due date) but I didn't want to miss my chance before he came! We didn't have stuff to make cake or brownies but we put on party hats and celebrated for about 5 minutes! Haha I should have taken some pictures. We still have the hats so we will take some later tonight :)

So I want to start off telling you about Elder Alder. Elder Alder is from Mesa, Arizona. He is 18 and just graduated this year. He is dealing with depression and has for most of his teen years. President emailed me last week and explained that he needed a happy, obedient companion and he would be happy and obedient too. And it has worked! Elder Alder is one of my favorite companions thus far! (He ties for 2nd with Elder Hickenlooper). In the 6 weeks that I was together with Elder Jones, we found 2 new investigators. Elder Alder and I have only been together for 1 week and we have found 3 news!! Elder Stock (my district leader) said that when you love your companion, your area usually flourishes! And that has happened with Elder Alder! I didn't think that I would say this but I like being Elder Alders companion. :)

So because we went up to Phoenix earlier this month, we had to give up 150 miles. And it really took a toll on us last week. Our miles reset on the 25th of every month and we hit our limit on Transfer Tuesday. So Wednesday - Saturday we walked EVERYWHERE we went, unless we could get a ride to dinner. Each day, we walked to the other side of our area which is about 5 miles to get there. Then we would walk around and see people, then we would walk back. In all, we walked about 13 to 15 miles a day. Easily. Oh it was such a pain. But we were blessed for it. Like I said we found 3 news because of it. Their names are Mrs. Brown, Ben, and Pier. We ran into Mrs. Brown as we were visiting her neighbor who is a less active and it turns out that she has met with missionaries in the past. She is older and is brown. After a few minutes of talking she said she had to get going and we set up to go see her on Saturday. That appointment fell through but we talked to her husband at the door and it turns out he is a preacher for a Lutheran church. He gave us his number and told us to call when we wanted to set up an appointment. We haven't called as of yet but I am super excited to call and talk to them! Ben is another new. We tracted into him. He is older and brown as well but loved talking to us. We brought up the Gilbert Temple and he said that he saw it on the news. ABC14 (ABC station up in Phoenix) did a special on it that was actually really good. He told us that it looked like a picture of a castle that someone plucked off the page and stuck on the ground. He said that it was the most GLORIOUS building he had ever seen. We are going back tomorrow to visit with him. It turns out there is an older couple in our ward that is going up to the open house later this week and asked if they could take him with them. So we are going to ask him if he would like to go up to that. I am super excited for him! And last but not least, Pier. Pier is in his mid 30's and black. We were walking into our apartment for lunch and we saw there 2 guys standing around next to a truck and trailer full of furniture. So we offered to help and they actually accepted! After we helped him move in, we got to talking about what we do as missionaries. We explained we were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and that we share a message about Jesus Christ and how He can bless people’s lives. I asked if he was religious and he said kinda. I pursued that a little more and he said that he knew a lot about a lot of religions but not very much about Mormonism. I asked what church he was attending now and he said "We don't have a church right now. But we are looking for one." My heart leaped for joy! But I didn't think that that would be a good idea to do in front of him so I just smiled and said, "Well we might be able to help you with that." We swapped numbers and are set to meet up with him on Sunday. He said that he might come to church if we can get a ride for him. However, there is him, his wife, and 4 kids. So it might be a little difficult to get a ride but the Lord will provide! :)

So from what it looks like, my week has been all up's and no down's! I wish I could say that was so... While we were tracting, we ran into a couple working outside. We walked up and asked the guy if he needed any help working on some pipes that he was messing with and he said no. But then he stood up and started questioning us about why we were out there and what we were trying to accomplish. He threw down and called Joseph Smith a con-man and us servants of the devil. He said that even though our book quotes from the Bible, satan has to put in a little truth with all his lies or else no one would ever believe him. He questioned our priesthood and told us that if we didn't change our ways that we would be damned and burn in hell. Honestly, I almost started to laugh... I realized that it didn't matter what this guy threw at us or said or handed me to read. I know what I am out here doing is right. I know that this church is the EXACT same church that Jesus Christ set up on this earth Personally. And nothing this guy could say or do would ever change that. So that was a good experience for me! :)

That is about all that happened this week! I can't believe that I wrote that much in 30 minutes... Wow. I am getting pretty good at this whole typing thing! I am super excited to hear about Calvin! I want to see lots of pictures of my favorite nephew in the whole world! (My only as well! ha!) Thank you for your prayers and for the emails. I LOVE YOU!!!

~Elder Kyle Harris

p.s. Here is a cool quote I heard today in a song: "Why be a slave when you're meant to be free from this guilt?" I realized that people really can be and unfortunately are slaves to their guilt because they don't use the Atonement of Jesus Christ! Don't be a slave!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 21, 2014

Hello Family! I have some great news and some not great news! But before we get there, I want to talk about what happened this week!

We went through the Temple this week! IT WAS AMAZING!!!! I absolutely love the Temple! I felt the Spirit so strongly and I knew that it was where I needed to be. I heard something different that I had never heard before while I was going through. The guy for the recording said something to the point of "Always remember the names of those you go through the Temple for." I felt bad cause I hadn't remembered anyone else’s that I have gone through for. So I decided I would write down his name in my journal! It was just his first and last name. I was thinking later on Thursday night though and wondered if I knew him in the pre-earth life! Maybe I promised him that I would go through for him! I’m not sure but I do know that I have done my part to help him and he will be so grateful someday that I did that work for him! I just love the Temple! I fasted that day before I went as well. I prayed for greater patience with Elder Jones. And it worked! But I will talk about him a little later in my email!

So earlier this week we decided that we would go street contacting and try to get some new investigators! We had a LOT of success in my old area and I thought that maybe it would work here. It didn't work here.... No one here drives because everyone is rich enough to have a car! We ran into one guy who was just about to get into his car and he just looked at us and said, "You guys are just wasting your time out here. I don't believe in God." Then he got in his truck and zoomed off. I had two thoughts go through my head. My first was "If he knew that we were representatives of Jesus Christ, he wouldn't treat us like that. He would be so much more respectful!" (That one went away quickly though cause I remembered he doesn't believe in God...) My next thought was "How does someone get to the point where they don't believe in a God. Even if it is just some higher being, that is still belief in something. What causes someone to not believe...." And I couldn't figure it out. One guy we talked to pointed out that a lot of people say they don't believe in God but when something bad happens, they always seem to blame God for it! Now that doesn't make sense. You can't legitimately blame someone that you don't believe in. Anyway, the work here is super tough and we still don't have very many investigators. Jane hasn't contacted us still and that is super sad for me... Ben is our one investigator and he is pretty chill. He says that he isn't into "Joining" our church but is interested in learning about it! We are going to keep working with him though. I’m sure that he is going to want to join because he will know that it is true! I love how the Spirit can change people’s hearts if they let it!
So I hope I don't scare you too bad but I almost lost my Temple watch that you guys gave me this week... We don't have any miles left in our car so we walked EVERYWHERE! We tracted for 2 hours then walked home. As soon as we got into the apartment, I realized that I didn't have my watch. We looked everywhere in the car and in the house but had no luck... So we got in the car and retraced our steps. With no luck for 30 minutes, we realized that we hadn't said a prayer yet. DUH!!!! So we asked for forgiveness for not listening to the Spirit tell us to pray then asked for His help. We got in the car and the pulled off to the side of the road so we could look at the map for where else we had walked that day. As we pulled off, I looked right in front of the car and to my amazement, it was lying in the dirt unharmed and unscratched. When I picked it up, I realized that the pin that holds the strap on fell out somehow and was no longer in the watch. I worried for a little that I wouldn't find it but Jones bent down and picked it up! What a miracle for me to experience! I know that it is very simple and may not be all that great for everyone else but for me it taught me to Rely on the Lord. I can do this work out here all by myself. Well I can try. But without the Spirit, I will never succeed. How can I expect the Spirit to be with me if I don't pray for it's constant companionship? I CAN'T!!! I love the power of prayer! I will do better remembering to say those always, not just in times of need.

So Amanda did get baptized this last week! Elder Flake was able to baptize her! I also called her and told her congrats! She was so excited to hear from me! It was so great hearing about how she decided smoking wasn't worth it anymore. I know that this will bless her life so much and I know that she knows too.

So this is what I have been waiting for to tell you guys. The reason I had to email so late today is because it was transfers. And.... Elder Jones has been shipped off to the Gila Valley! I have mixed feelings about it. I am happy for a new companion but I will kinda miss his quirkiness... Only kinda. ;) However.... We got calls on Sunday night and I was told that I would be companions with Elder Evan Alder. I just sat in complete silence for about 15 seconds before the A.P.'s asked if I was still there. I said yes I was and that I had heard them loud and clear. Elder Alder is from Mesa, AZ. He was also in the MTC with me. He was in my district as a matter of fact. BUT we did not get along hardly at all. I don't even know why. In my mind I felt like he just tried to hard to be that missionary that everyone liked and always had to get the attention on himself. That really bugged me... When I told everyone who I was getting as my companion, EVERYONE told me how sorry they were and said they would keep me in their prayers. They also said that this would be another transfer of patience building. I didn't know what to expect. And honestly I got really stressed.... I didn't sleep for more than 3 hours Sunday night and didn't eat anything but a brownie and some milk all day Monday. When I saw him today at the transfer site, my stomach flipped, tied itself in a knot, then tried to come up through my throat. I felt so sick and was super worried. He saw me and yelled in the Chapel "ELDER HARRIS! WE ARE GONNA KILL IT!!" He ran over and gave me a hug that picked me up off the ground. President actually pulled me off to the side after the transfer meeting and told me, "Elder Alder has had a rough past with companions not getting along with him. But he is a great missionary. When he and his companions were being obedient, they got along great. That is why I put him with you Elder Harris. I know that you will help him stay obedient and I am not worried one bit! I know that you guys will get along great because you will be that example that he needs on his mission." WOW!!! wow... I looked at Elder Alder and everything changed... I realized that I had judged him off of what everyone else saw and what I had previously seen. But the Atonement changes people and the mission changes people! I have been changed so much (for the better!) so how do I know that he hasn't as well. I have been with Elder Alder for under 12 hours still but I can tell that we are going to much better friends that I had anticipated.  I don't really know what to expect from him but I know that he is a great missionary with good intentions and because of that, we are going to kill this area!

I love you all so much my family! I can't believe that this week is your due date Syd! That is SOOOO exciting! I know that you are going to be a great mother and David; you will be an amazing father. Calvin is very lucky to have you as his parents! Connor, I am sorry that you had to miss your talent show and that you guys lost in the tourny. But we were in the same state! That makes me so happy to think about how much closer you were to me! Gavin, I hope all is well with you! I hope school is going good! I got a letter this week from my friend Maddi and she remembered that you were getting to high school age. She told me to tell you not to be a lady slayer like your big brother! Just be friends with everyone and go on lots of dates! Don't single just one girl out! You will be much happier in the long run! :) I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!

~Elder Kyle Harris

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 13, 2014

Hello my dearest Family!
This week was kinda a let down.... It all started on Wednesday. It was Zone Training so we all showed up to be trained by President Killpack. As we were sitting there, I crossed my arms across my chest and then yawned. *RIP* My grey suit coat from Missionary Mall ripped down my right arm from the edge of my shoulder to mid-bicep. I called missionary mall and they said that I just needed to send a picture or 2 to their email support group and they would send me a new coat. So I have a torn suit for now. Then Elder Stock (our district leader) came over to our place after district meeting with his companion. Unfortunately, he wasn't feeling very well. He threw up a few times and decided that he would take a nap for a little while since we had dinner in 2 hours together. So as he laid down, Elder Jones and I decided that we would just go check up on our investigators and potentials.

So we started with Jane. Jane went to Houston for a few about a week and returned on the 4th. We tried texting and calling her when she returned but had no luck. So we decided we would just go over and check up on her seeing as how it had been like 5 days since she'd been home. We knocked on her door and her hostess answered. We asked for Jane and she said, "Jane isn't interested in your church anymore." I was shocked... I just stood there for a second with this dumb look on my face... I asked her if we could talk to her and she said that now wasn't a good time. We gave her our number and asked her to have Jane call us. She agreed and took our number then closed the door. However, we talked to Jane when we first met her and she said that her Host and Hostess were pretty against her taking the lessons. Her host is Jewish and her hostess is some Christian faith. She we don't know if she is really not interested or if she has just been told that she can't take the lessons or talk to the missionaries anymore. We talked to a guy in our ward who explained that anyone from an Asian country is usually pretty respectful and wont go against what they are told. And that is Jane is a round-about way. She is SUPER respectful and wouldn't do anything to upset her host/hostess. So unfortunately we will never know what made her change her mind... But what we decided to do is we would pack up the rest of the pamphlets we have for her and then write our testimonies on a piece of paper for her to have. That way she has it when she returns to China and can study and learn there. And if she isn't interested then we have done everything that we can to invite her to come unto Christ. Just keep her in your prayers. That was the first thing that went wrong...

Next was Elder Holland. Or should I say NOT Elder Holland. We received a text on Thursday Night telling us that Elder Holland’s Schedule has changed suddenly and would no longer be able to speak to the missionaries... We still went up to Phoenix which was fun but we listened to Elder Jim Wright who is our area of the 70. His wife spoke first and told us that she was telling people how bummed the missionaries were going to be that Elder Holland couldn't speak to us anymore. They didn't understand so she put it this way, "Imagine that you buy tickets to go see the Beatles live and on the front row! You are SOOOOO excited to jam out to some great tunes and when you finally show up to the concert, you are told that the Beatles couldn't make it but instead they had the Dixie Chicks...." And it was true! I was so bummed when I found out that we weren't going to hear Elder Holland. President and Sister Killpack also spoke for like 5 minutes before Elder Wright spoke. Sister Killpack explained that it doesn't matter who is speaking cause it is all about the Spirit. It doesn't matter who brings the Spirit in cause it is the same Spirit either way. President Killpack talked about Samuel Smith. He is Joseph Smith's brother who was one of the very first Missionaries for the Church. He went to England and had no success. He didn't have a single baptism in 11 years! (I think it was 11 years...) He handed out very few copies of the Book of Mormon. One of which he gave to a man by the name of Phineas Young. Phineas told him that he was going to prove this book wrong then ran off with it. After 2 weeks, Phineas had read the Book of Mormon twice and knew that it was true. He then shared the book with his brother Brigham Young who then shared it with Heber C. Kimball. However, Samuel Smith had moved on and had no idea that someone believed what he was preaching. It wasn't till he returned home that he found out about the Young's and Heber Kimball. This hit home for me. Jane just dropped us and I was kinda heart broken about it. But who am I to say that she won't accept it someday! I know that she will. She knows what the Spirit feels like and she believes in Jesus Christ.

Earlier on Wednesday, Elder Jones tried to comfort me by saying, "Hey, at least we are planting seeds." I answered back saying, "Ya. But every farmer needs to harvest something or else he is (or at least feels like) a failure." Back to the Phoenix trip. Elder Wright then spoke. The main thing I got out of his talk related with this too. He said, "It is NEVER about us. It is ALWAYS about Him." Right then the thought popped into my head about what I had said about harvesting. I realized that I am not the farmer. Jacob Chapter 5 came rushing into my mind as well and I realized that I am just the servant planting seeds and grafting branches. The Lord is the Farmer and He knows what is best for each and every different kind of plant (or person). You can't harvest things too early or else they are bitter and will eventually just be thrown away. But the longer you let a piece of fruit ripen on a tree, the sweeter it gets and the better it is! It is the same with people. All I can do is plant seeds. I can nourish people with the word of God and help them become sweeter and more ripe. The Lord is the one who harvests, not me.

We had an investigator in our last area, Bones. He is like 70 and black. He has a long white goatee that is braided and has beads in it that spell "BONES". He carves walking sticks. Something he said was "I don't carve anything into the stick that wasn't already there. I just put my blade to it and take off the extra, unnecessary pieces of wood. It already has its potential beauty inside of it. It is just my job and the whittler to bring it out so everyone else can see its true beauty." President Monson in a Christmas Devotional once said "Put your trust in the carpenter." I then made the connection! We are all pieces of wood just lying on the ground. The Lord has come and picked us up and wants to help us bring out our true beauty. He is the only one who can bring out the best in us and it is only if we allow him to. Just thought that was a cool little thought!

Some updates:
Alexander Christopher Jones is officially engaged!!! He will be married to a miss Mary sometime in March. I wish I could be there for it but I cannot be... So I will need you guys to be there for me and to take LOTS of pictures so it is like I am there. Maybe you could get a cardboard cutout of me and give it to him for his reception! Yes?? :)

Also Elder Jones and I are doing better. He isn't very upset about his aunt cause he didn't know her very well but it still took him some time to heal. I am happy to say that he has healed and is growing. He bore a SUPER powerful testimony about the Book of Mormon in church yesterday and it brought in the Spirit! I was so happy and proud of him! He is growing a lot and is trying his hardest to be a good missionary!

We went back over to Mary (the elderly lady) yesterday. She told us to come back in 2 weeks because she has doctors appointments all this week. She said she has been reading the Book of Mormon and has lots of questions to ask us. We will be going by next week sometime!

Ben and Amanda are married and Amanda is ready to be baptized. Unfortunately, Ben is not worthy to baptize her. But she doesn't want to put it off any longer! So she asked Elder Flake to baptize her! She will be baptized this upcoming Saturday! :) :) :)

I haven't sent the package I was going to send because I don't have a personal card yet. I called the back today and they said that they would send me a new one and it would be here in 3-5 days. So I will send it when I can :)

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!! Thank you for the great emails and the fun stories! It always brightens my week when I get emails from you guys! I LOVE YOU!!!

~Elder Kyle Harris

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

January 6, 2014

I cannot believe that it is already 2014! And this week flew by too! TIME IS GOING TO FAST!!! I like it sometimes but when it comes time to email and I don't have a whole lot to say I wonder where time went because I feel like I didn't do as much this week as I did in previous weeks, but that isn't true! We have been working our tails off here and I think that it is going to start paying off. We have a list of 7 investigators. Here is their names and what is happening with them...
Shawn - Doesn't want us to contact him till April cause he is working 2 jobs for the government and has no time.
Justine - Pregnant and living with her bf. Wants to have the baby and get married before we come over again (this upcoming fall....)
Jesse - He is 20 and so after being taught all the lessons from the missionaries before me and Jones, we have to pass him off to the Singles Ward Missionaries.
Rudy - Lives out of our area. We have been teaching him at his girl friends house but they broke up so we have to pass him off to missionaries in that area.
Yavanna - She doesn't make time to meet with us. She is a single mom and so that is tough but it has been 2 months since anyone has seen her. May need to drop.
Crystel - Single mom of 3 working 3 jobs. She is very hard to get in with and wants us to come back in the beginning of Feb. to teach her the lessons.
Jane - She is from main-land China. Will be going back to China at the beginning of Feb. She went to Houston for a trip and will get back this week. SUPER INTERESTED!!!

As you can see, we have a lot of people who probably don't understand our purpose as missionaries. We aren't just service boys you can call up when you decide that your tree could use pruning or your rocks need raking. We are representatives of Jesus Christ and are hear to share a message about His Church restored to the Earth! There are people out here who are prepared to hear this message. But there are people who are not prepared and not ready yet. We can help them become ready but only if they allow us to. The hardest part is separating those who are almost ready and those who aren't ready at all because they are at the same spot sometimes. So you just have to work with them till you find out. And by that time, sometimes you may have put hours and hours and hours to help them and you find out that they don't "want to become Mormon". Ugh it is just so frustrating because the Spirit is there testifying to them and they wont listen to it... But that is how the Lord is going to put us into the Kingdoms in the next life. If we listen to the Holy Ghost and It's promptings, we will have Celestial Glory! If we don't... we cannot have that gift...

I heard a talk this week that was awesome! It is called "Life is a Football Game" by Troy Dunn I believe. It is super funny but gives us a great view of how much time we have left before the Savior comes again. I don't have time to tell you the whole story but I think that you would all like it! Maybe you could listen to it for family home evening or something like that :)

I go to the Temple on the 16th of this month! And I go to Phoenix to listen to Elder Holland on the 11th. So it is going to be a great few weeks here! I did get the birthday package :) THANK YOU!!! I loved it! And it was just what I needed.
I heard a quote this week and had to write it down. It is a little longer but I love it! It can be applied to anything: Sports, church, school, ANYTHING!

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. The moment one definitely commits oneself, the Providence moves in. All sorts of things occur to help me [us] that would never otherwise have occurred raising in ones favor all the manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way." I believe that is by Elder Robert D. Hales.

Gavin and Connor, I am very glad to hear that you all had a great vacation and are doing well! School is starting up again so don't keep your mind in that vacation zone! Focus, work hard, and do your best. I wish I would have done better in school... Don't make that same mistake I did. The best tool you can use in your school work is the Holy Ghost. He is the best tool in life! But you need to make sure that you are getting along and doing the things you need to do so you can have the Holy Ghost with you! Keep on Keepin on and make me proud! I love you!!

Thank you for everything you have done for me and for your prayers in my behalf! I love you and miss you all so much!

~Elder Kyle W. Harris