Thursday, December 4, 2014

December 1, 2014

I can't believe it... December already... Only 4 weeks till I turn 22... and 2 till I turn 18 months... I don't know how else to say this but HOLY COW!!!!!! I met 2 recently returned missionaries this week: 1 had been home for 3 months and the other for 2 weeks. Both of them said that their missions are more like surreal memories or a dream than reality. That means I better make the best of it while I still can! :) Not that I haven't already but you know, I can always improve!

Hello and Hello my adorable family and a few friends that are lucky enough to hear from me! ;) Last week I told you about the hardest thing I've had to see someone else go through, this week I experienced the hardest physical thing I've ever had to go through! And it was all because of my own stupidity.. Haha! I'll get to that in a bit though. :)

Thanksgiving was pretty great! We had dinner with a single mother named Balbina. She is from Mexico and has 3 girls all over the age of 15. Plus her mother and her niece live with her in a small single wide trailer. Balbina is a manager at Wendy's and has been there for I think either 3 or 8 years (I know that is a big difference but it's one or the other, I just don't remember which...). So there isn't a lot of income for that house cause Balbina's mother doesn't work either. But she insisted that we and the Zone Leaders come over for Thanksgiving dinner. Elder McKenna and myself showed up at 3 to help cook or clean or anything else we could do to help before we ate at 4. But there was nothing for us to do there except keep the kids out of the kitchen. Balbina said that the best way we could help would be to play a game with the girls and keep them preoccupied. So we played Monopoly. About 45 minutes into the game, everyone was super bored of it and so we threw all the money into the air and pretended like we were super rich and had money to spare! It was pretty sweet! :) The Zone Leaders showed up and we sat down to eat. There was Turkey and Mexican mashed potatoes (it looked like and had the consistency of vanilla pudding but was really good), stuffing and 2 different kinds of green beans. One was just a normal cut green beans and the other was a Mexican style with green beans, cactus and red chili. I really liked the Mexican green beans but no one else liked them. Balbina kept apologizing cause it wasn't as fancy or nice as what we would get at other peoples houses but all of us kept telling her not to apologize. She had done so much for us with the little amount that she had and it brought a few tears to my eyes knowing that she was sacrificing a lot for us. That is true charity right there. It reminds me of the story I think in Kings 17 where the Prophet asks a woman to make him food. She only had enough to make one serving and that was going to be used for her son. But she prepared it and gave it to the Prophet because she knew he was a servant of God. Because of that, there was always enough oil and flour to make bread to eat. I know that because of Balbina's sacrifice, and anyone else that feeds us missionaries, will be blessed with the things they stand in need of! :)

Hope Young is doing very well! I have been keeping in contact with her and she was scheduled to be released today. But yesterday she was having some problems with the pain meds. In order for her to be released, she has to be able to take pain pills and keep them down. But her body was rejecting the pills and making her really sick. Also, Saturday night to Sunday morning, her I.V. stopped working and that was how she was getting her pain meds so she was struggling all night instead of asking for help from the nurses or doctors. I haven't heard from her today about how shes doing but I'll keep trying. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and decided to get her life in order. She realized that at home, she can't focus on herself cause she feels the need to take care of all her siblings and parents even though she is one of the youngest in the house. She hasn't gone to any college and hasn't had a job for a very long time. But she wants to get that fixed and get started on her future. She says that once she heals up she wants to go back to Oregon where she used to live and go to a Junior College and from there transfer to a University. She really wants to do something for children who have grown up in broken homes like she was. This is, just like you were saying mom, another example of either letting your past make you or break you. Jasmine (from last week's email) is letting her experiences make her a better person and stronger in the Gospel. This is exactly what Hope is doing. She knows the pains and struggles of living in a broken home and wants to help out those kids who are living in the same kind of situations! What an inspiration! I will keep you up to date when I find out when she heads home.

Terrick, our investigator, had his baptism date dropped this week. We have been trying all week to get in touch with him but he isn't answering our calls, texts, or even his door at his home. We stopped by again last night and his brother and a bunch of friends were watching a movie. They said that Terrick went to Texas to spend time with his family. It's great that he gets to be there with them but his brother said that Terrick would drop everything and anything for them just to make them happy. He has a testimony of the truthfulness of the Church and the divinity of the Book of Mormon, I just pray that he won't drop that testimony... His grandparents are very devote Catholics and that might be a problem if they find out he's getting baptized into the Church. So far we still haven't had any contact with him. Please pray that he will remember the feelings he's had concerning the Book of Mormon and the Church and that the Spirit will guide him and strengthen him through all his trials. He really needs the help...

Alright, let me tell you about the worst physical thing I've ever experienced... It all started off with not having dinners this week. Everyone is pretty much out of town and so we had dinner on Thursday and Sunday. Every other day we fed ourselves, which is fine with me cause I made that Mac and Cheese casserole that I love so very very much! Well, there is a pizza and wing place called Vinny's here in Sierra Vista. It is super good! There are 2 other missionaries out here, Elders Keinitz and Coesens (Like Peanuts but with a "K" and Cousins) who didn't have a dinner on Saturday. They were told about a hot wing challenge at Vinny's and if you do it, you get your picture on the wall and a free t-shirt. So Elders Keinitz, Coesens and myself decided to do the hot wing challenge while Elder McKenna decided to just get a small pizza cause he was too chicken to do challenge. There are like 6 different sauces and the 3 hottest are "Hot", "Suicidal", and "Homicidal". The challenge is you have to eat 20 Homicidal wings. You can take as much time as you want but you can't leave the table and not one else can touch your wings or you get disqualified. As soon as they bring the wings out, the smell of them makes my eyes water and nose runny. They are hot..... It took us about 5 minutes of them just sitting in front of us before we got the courage to start eating them. Do you remember me saying they were hot? I think that is the biggest understatement of the year!!! THEY WERE HOT!!!!!!! After my first bite, my throat tightened up and my stomach told my brain, "Don't you dare put another one of those into me or I will cause you immense pain for the next week!" I got the hick-ups immediately and felt like all my insides wanted to be on my outside, and I had only taken 1 bite!! But I had already paid for them and there was no way I was going to take them home with me, so I just kept eating. About 3 bites in, I was crying from the pain of the hot sauce. We were told to bring gloves because the sauce will burn your skin. We didn't bring gloves... Sure enough, it burnt! My hands were shaking and my mouth was on fire and it hurt to breathe out my nose cause it would blow on my lips and cause them to burn even more! Just thinking about it makes my lips hurt again! About an hour and a half in, I only have 6 wings left, Elder Coesens has 4 left, and Elder Keinitz has like 15. I get the idea to pull the meat off the bones and stack it in a pile on my plate so I can just eat it with a fork. By now, the intensity of the heat caused my mouth to go numb. It was the weirdest feeling though cause my insides were burning but I felt freezing! I was shivering cause I was so cold. And both the other Elders were cold too. So Vinny's was nice enough to turn up the heater for us. Since my mouth was numb, the heat didn't bother me anymore, but I was STUFFED!! I couldn't eat anymore and I still had 6 wings to put down. Elder Coesens put down the last of his wings and the manager came and checked to make sure he got enough meat off the bones and that he didn't hide any wings or anything anywhere. He passed the check and got his t-shirt. They asked if he wanted to take his picture now or wait for me. He looked at me and said "He's gonna finish. I'll wait." I couldn't back out now. I looked at my plate and separated it into 4 big bites. I grabbed my lemonade and took big bites, chewed, then used the lemonade to help me swallow. It only took me 5 minutes and I FINISHED THE CHALLENGE!!! We got our t-shirts and our picture taken and we hung it up on the wall next to all the other missionaries who had finished it in the past.......But the challenge wasn't over.... The real challenge was when it came back out. We went to sacrament meeting, well the first 20 minutes of it, then I headed strait to the restroom and didn't come out for about 30 minutes. It was hotter coming out than it was going in!! Momma-mia, I hated life for the next 12+ hours! We were given permission to go home so I could cry in peace. And I did, all the way up until dinner. Luckily I was feeling better for dinner and was able to eat! But man oh man.... I cried more during the after effects than I did during it! I got a t-shirt and memories and that is good enough for me. I am never doing that dumb challenge again... But It makes for a great story! :)

I JUST GOT AN EMAIL FROM HOPE!!! She is being released from the Hospital today! :) But she has to stay in Phoenix where the hospital is cause the hospital in Thatcher (Gila Valley) won't deal with her health problems so they just life flight her to Phoenix anyways. But she is being released today! :) Our prayers are being answered!! Keep it up!

Well I love you very much! Time to get off to sports! :) Be safe and don't do dumb things like a hot wing challenge!

~Elder Kyle Harris

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