Hello My Favorite Family in the Whole Entire World!! So much has happened this week and I'm worried that I'm not going to have enough time to write about it all and answer all your questions but I will do my best! :) Lets do the questions first!
Elder McKenna are like brothers out here! Except we don't fight like brothers.. ;) He is AMAZING!!! His testimony is SOOO strong and the Spirit is always there as he testifies of truth! I also noticed that he bears his testimony frequently throughout the lesson, not just at the end like I'm used to doing. And boy does it play a difference! I can honestly see the effect bearing testimony frequently has on the people we are working with, especially those who are less-active or not active in the church at all. It allows them to ponder throughout the entire lesson or discussion on what they believe or what they used to believe and then the Spirit can touch their hearts easier and testify that what we are testifying and teaching about is true too. So, ya, he's fantastic! The work here is going pretty well! We have seen a lot of progress with the people that we are working with and have like 5 new potential investigators we are going to try to get in touch with this week! And the members are very helpful with that! I really like this ward a lot! The members are very willing to serve and help us serve! It's pretty different though than most wards, it's kinds like the Palo Verde Ward in East Tucson. The reason why is because most of the people in our ward are in the Army and the base is like 5 minutes away from our area. So people move in and out pretty frequently and most of the families are pretty young still. So getting members to come out with us at nights is kinda hard sometimes but they are all very nice and love making us food and such so it works out! Our ward mission leader is Brother Eagan. I don't know him very well still. He is very active in the church luckily (I have to say this cause some of the ward mission leaders in other wards are pretty less-active actually...) and even teaches the Gospel Principles class. That's great for us cause he knows how to teach simply and effectively and knows how to ask questions that make the audience think. That is going to be very helpful for us when we bring him out to lessons! Most people don't realize they are speaking in big words or using words the teachee's don't know and that can be very difficult for them and even a turn off to the Gospel sometimes. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't use Gospel related words that only we use in the church, just make sure you know how to explain those terms simply and quickly so you can explain if someone does get confused. Our bishop is Bishop Williams. He is young too! His oldest is only 14! They have 6 kids and are a very happy and energetic family! We've spent a few hours over there with them and that was a great time to talk about people he wants us to visit and what we can do to help out the ward. That is pretty much all the questions I think. Oh, I love my bike now! It's fixed so it actually rides smoothly and shifts easily! I'm still in great shape too (somehow! That's a miracle!) so he doesn't go a lot faster than me, but he could if he wanted to! Luckily he is a nice guy and knows I'm getting old! ;)
Okay, where to start this week... Oh, I experienced the hardest thing I've ever had to witness before... It didn't happen to me personally but I was there to support the girl that it did happen to. I've been asked not to give too much detail so I'm going to try to not to. Jasmine is 17 and a senior in high school. She is a cheer leader and super happy and perky! We have been working with her, her mother, her mother's potential fiance' and her little sister. All 4 people were inactive members but are making a lot of progress on making it back to activity! So we've built up a pretty good friendship with them all over the past 2 weeks and broke a lot of barriers that they've kept up for years. There are still walls to climb over and break down but that will come with time and love. Anyway, because we've got close to this family and they can see we truly care about them, they asked us for some support for Jasmine... When Jasmine was 15, almost 16, she was sexually abused by a close family friend... for 2 years she has been battling with this, including therapy and lots of lawyers to get this guy behind bars where he belongs. Friday was one of the final hearings for the case. The guy had accepted a plea bargain and so Friday was the day they would shackle him up and take him away. Jasmine told her mother that she felt peaceful and calm when we were around and wanted that while she was at the hearing. The hearing was scheduled for 1:30. We showed up at about 1:15 laughing and joking and having a jolly good time. Things started to calm down and get a little quieter as we walked up the steps to the court house. As soon as we walked in, Jasmine saw "the guy" and immediately broke down into tears. The bailiff invited us into the court room and then told us the court was behind about 45 minutes to an hour. When her case finally came up, it was 3 p.m. For the last hour and a half, she had been trying to calm down and stop crying and finally succeeded at about 2:45. The hearing started at 3:00 and ended at 3:30. For all 30 minutes, I watched one of my friends who I'd never even seen seriously frown or sad before in tears and shaking on her mothers shoulder. And there was nothing that I could do to help her except pray for her. "The guy" was taken into custody and was escorted out in handcuffs by 2 officers. I don't think I've ever seen so much sadness in anyone's eyes or face as I saw with Jasmine. And it broke my heart... But just because he's in prison now, that doesn't mean everything is suddenly better and she's just fine. She has to live with that knowledge for the rest of her life. She doesn't have to have the pain or be hurt by it if she gives it to Christ but the memories will always be there... The reason I'm telling you this is because I learned something that day: everything we do, every little action or word or deed or thought effects someone around us, that even includes ourselves. No matter how small or insignificant we think it is, someone is watching us and is effected by our choices. This goes back to the tennis ball analogy I told you before. We are like tennis balls covered in flour. As you throw a tennis ball around that's covered in flour, it doesn't have to touch every spot in the room to cover it with flour. It just comes off as you throw it. As we are going around, doing our every day activities, we don't have to talk to everyone in order to effect them in some way. We have to be living our testimonies every day and showing everyone around us that we have taken upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ and therefore are His representatives in every aspect. Yes we are only one person individually but even one voice can be heard in a crowd of voices or noises if we speak up loud enough. That's why missionaries are asked to wear white shirts and ties everywhere they go, we stand out in a crowd and people notice us. As we live our testimonies, we will stand out too with everyone around us. A less-active showed us a song that was kinda interesting. It was called "Rebel". The first words were "Jesus was a rebel!" It caught me off guard but as I listened, it was true. He didn't do the same things as everyone around Him did or told Him that He needed to do. Then a preacher guy started talking in the song and basically said "In the past, people were rebellious by smoking or drinking or partying and sinning. Everyone around us is doing these things so it's no longer "rebellious" to sin. If we really want to be rebellious then we need to read our Bible (including the BoM), go to church, and follow Jesus Christ. That's the only kind of rebellion left!" Im not saying we need to be rebellious per say, but the message behind it is true. If we live our testimonies of the church, we won't ever leave people hurting the way Jasmine was hurt. In fact, we will be the ones there comforting them when they are hurt by those not living the way Christ wants them to live!
Wow.... I don't know exactly where all that came from... I kinda spaced out there for a second or two and when I came to, I had a page long paragraph as you can see up above. I don't know why I felt like I needed to write all that but It's there and I don't feel like I should take anything out.
Let's change subjects though to something happier! This Sunday, we had the opportunity to go to 3 churches!! Not wards, churches! :) We went to an Evangelical Lutheran Church at 8:00 a.m. to start off our Sabbath. It was awesome!! The pasture saw us 4 missionaries in the back along with a few other new faces and invited us all to stand and introduce ourselves if we felt comfortable. No one else stood up after like 10 seconds so I thought "They already know we're here, let's let them know who we are!" So I stood up and introduced myself and then the other missionaries followed after me. As soon as we all sat down, these 2 people came from the back and gave us a handmade hot-pad and a small, wooden, hand-carved cross attached to a string. Everyone came up to us afterwards and greeted us with smiles and warm welcomes! It was great!! They were so nice to us! :) The preacher said something kinda profound though. In Matthew 25 it talks about serving the Lord by serving His brethren. He pointed out that when Christ thanked all of those who served His brethren, they didn't understand when they were serving Him. Then the preacher said, "These people served because of their love towards their fellow brethren, not because they were expecting something to come out of it. They didn't realize they were serving the Lord, just that they were serving their brothers and sisters." This is an example for us on true charity and love! How often do we serve people cause other people are watching or because we know that we will be blessed for it if we do it? We need to serve everyone around us cause we love them and because we love our Father and His Son, our Redeemer. Then we went to our ward at 11 and I was asked just before sacrament meeting started to give my testimony because their youth speaker wasn't going to show up. So I got to be a youth again for like 5 minutes! WOOT! Haha anyway I talked about the "tennis ball" analogy there as well and that was great! I realized though how much I am like dad! They way I speak, my short little laughs as I think of something or say something while I'm speaking, the way I raise my eyebrows at different points when I'm talking, I'm just like you pops! :) After church, we went to a Catholic Mass at a HUGE church next to our church building. It was beautiful inside! But there was most definitely a difference in the Spirit between all 3 churches. The Spirit was at the Lutheran church occasionally and could be felt here and there throughout the meeting. At the catholic church though, I couldn't hardly feel the Spirit at all... The people we nice and they talked about Matthew 25 too actually but the Spirit just wasn't as strong throughout the whole meeting. But at my ward, the Sierra Vista 1st ward, I could feel the Spirit the whole meeting!! All 3 hours were guided and inspired by the Spirit! It just confirms my testimony of the truth of the Restoration and that this is the true church against established on the earth! :)
We are working with a few people out here. Terrick is struggling a little bit. Not spiritually, but emotionally I guess. He lost his job and is fighting with his girl friend who he's been with for over 2 years. He hates being at home because of the temptations and trials that are there and to top it all off, the McKnights (his second family who are his biggest fellowshipper's and friends in the church) are out of town for the next week and a half. So he's been struggling quite a bit unfortunately. We talked to him yesterday and I asked him why he felt all of this was happening right now. He responded by saying "I know why. The McKnights are like my crutch right now but they are gone for a little while. I'm supposed to be baptized on the 6th and satan knows that. The devil doesn't want me to get baptized because the church is true and he knows I'm going to change my life for the better. I've been reading and praying every day and I just need to meet up with you guys so I can have the Spirit of the Lord with me stronger to fight off satan." What an answer!! Terrick never ceases to amaze me! I know that he is ready for baptism, I just pray that he will stay away from the temptations that are put in front of him and that he will continue to read and pray daily!
Also, Jasmine came to church this week! She stayed for the first 2 meetings but had to get home to start cooking turkey for her mothers work party. She said that she really felt the Spirit today and knew that this was where she needed to be! :)
I also talked to Elder Gilson this morning. Hope Young is currently in the hospital in Tucson. Her surgery is scheduled for tomorrow but today they have to check up on her to find out how bad whatever is going wrong actually is and what action needs to be taken. I don't know what they doctors have seen or what they haven't seen but I do know that she received a second blessing for her for during the surgery. I don't know what the outcome is going to be or if she is going to have to go into surgery but I know the Lord is watching over her and that if she needs surgery that she will heal quickly and not have to worry about it anymore. Thank you for praying for her and please continue to do so! They need all the prayers they can get!
Well my time is pretty much up so I got to get going. But I love you all so much! Thank you for the emails and helping me keep my mind focused on the work instead of reminding me that I only have like 6 months left. ;) LOVE YOU ALL!
~Elder Kyle Harris