Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas in the MTC and an Apostle's Visit!

Dear Family,

I hope and trust that you all had a wonderful Chrsitmas without me!  I hope everyone had a great time in the new home of the Harris Family in Idaho. I can't even imagine how awesome it must have been to go to Boise and see the girls and Luke!  It was great that Matt and Carly got to take Olivia to Idaho for her first Chrsitmas as well!  I bet they had a blast! Christmas without the family was very different, but I would not trade it for anything. 

So here it comes! Christmas morning I woke up at like 6:00 so I could get my Christmas email off to you guys, then came breakfast!  I just had the usual... Frosted Mini Wheats. Then we had the chance to do our little Christmas for the three Mongolian missionaries here. Let me just start off by saying that I have never ever felt those kind of feelings before when giving gifts.  It was truly a life changing experience. Elder Zina and Enkjargel didn't really understand the whole giving presents thing, but then we explained it and they loved it! Elder Enkjargel tried to just give us back what we gave him because he is just that great and giving of a person. Sister Tumonbaatar cried when she opened our box to her!  It was so amazing to give to people who have never had the Christmas experience before.  It just really made me realize how spoiled I truly am. Maybe spoiled isn't the right word, but just extremely blessed.  I have always had the joy of having a Christmas waiting for me every Christmas morning, and they have never had that. It really gave me a lot of perspective. 

Next we had the opportunity to go to a MTC Talent Show. It was really fun and entertaining!  Elder Enkjargel is a famous magician in Mongolia, and he made it into the talent show. He did like 40 magic tricks and everyone was going nuts!  He received the only standing ovation of the entire talent show. He was so pumped and the smile of his face was incredible. GOSH I JUST LOVE MONGOLIANS ALREADY! 

Lunch came next and we had a really nice Turkey dinner. I was starving by this point and so it was so great to get some solid food in.  I am so grateful for the cafeteria workers who prepared these meals for us on Christmas Day. They deserve the most blessings, not us. 

After lunch, everyone ran to the Gym for the much-awaited Chrsitmas Devotional. We found a secret side door, so when the doors were opened for us to come in we just bum rushed to the front!  It is safe to say that the three sisters in my district and a few of the Elders that live next to me, got seats on the 4th row to the left of the stage. So we were approximately like 20 feet from the pulpit. Everyone filed in and we were all seated. A few prelude songs were sung, then all of a sudden we were all told to stand!  There he was!! Low and behold, Elder David A. Bednar, and his family walks in the door, walks up on stage and takes a seat!  Everyone continues standing and we sang as loud as we could. He immediately joined us in song, and that was probably the coolest part to me. It just goes to show how humble of a man he truly is.  I can honestly say that I have never felt the Spirit so strong in my entire life. An Apostle of God just walked in the room right before my eyes, and might I add, only 20 feet away from me. Just his presence brought the Spirit like a hammer!  I literally had goose bumps all over my body!  His wife spoke first, and she just introduced her family.  She had her 5 year old and 3 year old granddaughters come up and say their names and "Merry Christmas!" I got a little bit emotional at this part because they just reminded me so much of Kinzie and Addisyn. It was just so precious. Then when they went off stage, the 3 year old just wanted to stay and be with Elder Bednar, but her dad had to grab her!  Elder Bednar was laughing so hard!  It was great!  Elder Bednar got up and took the stand and just said "Merry Christmas!" We didn't know whether or not to reply back or just stay quiet, so we all just stayed quiet!  Safe bet when you have an Apostle of God right in front of you, but he made us all say it back!  It was pretty neat!  Next he informed us that this meeting would be historic, and he was going to do something that has never been done. At this point I was just thinking in my mind, "LET'S GO!" He explained that he would be passing out 200 cell phones to the 2,300 missionaries. We were all stunned. He went on to tell us that all this Devotional would be is him just answering our questions, which he is known to do very often.  So with the cell phones, we could text his cell phone number, and he would just receive them while at the pulpit.  HOW UNBELIEVABLE IS THAT!  He made us promise by the showing of the uplifted hand that we would not text anyone or call anyone but the number that he gave us to text to. We all promised....obviously, and then he said, "If I find out anyone texted their mom or girlfriend, I will hunt you down personally, and I will do bad things to you!" It was sooooo funny!  So the cell phones were distributed and the questions started coming in!  It was literally incredible. One question was asked about why do I feel so inadequate here serving a mission. He had a very short reply, and said, "Because you are." It was as plain as that. We are all inadequate because we are standing in the place of the Savior, doing the work that He would do if He was on the earth today. He then answered a question that I have had in my heart ever since I got here. His answer literally brought me so much peace, and I now know the answer.  He made it so clear, and it felt like he was literally just speaking to me one on one. If I ever have the chance to meet him, I would love to thank him for that, because it is literally something that changed my life.  After a few more questions were answered he said that he would be answering only one more question, and right as he said this, I got my hands on one of the phones and asked the question I have been dying to know! My question was,  "What does he mean when he says in his testimony, "I witness .... "?  If you listen to his testimony he always and only says "I witness." So as I sent the message in, he started to answer the exact question that I just sent. So he didn't answer my exact text message, but it was my exact question, so it was pretty awesome if you ask me.  Kinda like divine intervention I guess you could say.  He said, "Being a Witness goes beyond the five senses." I will leave that up to your own interpretation, but I know I received my answer. He then bore his testimony and took a seat. I was completely mind blown.  He soon left, and we did also. I will never forget that experience and that meeting. Never. 

I want to thank everyone who sent me Christmas letters and packages! I am so grateful to be in your thought and to be loved by all of you. I want you to know that your packages weren't just to me, but they were also used to give to three Mongolian missionaries who need it more than myself. I hope that brings you great joy. 

I know Christ lives. I know He is the Savior of all mankind, and only through Him can we be saved.  I know this. The Atonement is real, and is the greatest gift we can possibly receive. I love my calling as a missionary, and I am so blessed to be here, bettering my life, but more importantly, acting in Christ's name, representing Him, bringing salvation to the people of Mongolia

I love you Mom and Dad. Thanks for being my everything. 

Elder Harris


Merry Christmas

My Dearest Family, 

Well SURPRISE!! We were allowed to email for 20 minutes this morning because we wouldn't be able to call. It was pretty nice of the MTC Presidency to allow us to do that. You also will get my typical Friday email as well, so twice in one week! Can't complain, right? 

Well last night for our Christmas Eve Devotional we heard from Elder David Fox of the Quorum of the 70's. He rwas really good! He spoke on the importance of letters and emails while on your mission, and how you should never write anything that does not bring the missionary spirit to those that are reading it. He read letters from his dad that he received while he served in Japan. It really made me miss dad, and realize how extremely grateful I am to have a father like I do. Pretty emotional talk....So Dad.. I love you... I hope that the Missionary Spirit can be conveyed in my email today. After the devotional we watched Mr. Kruger's Christmas, and The Nativity. I love both of those movies! The Nativity brings such a spirit to all that watch. It truly testifies of Christ, and there is no denying that he did come to live on this Earth to redeem all mankind. Mr.Kruger's Christmas is just a classic, except this time it had a whole different meaning to me. It was quite a night. Then around 9:30 last night we opened all of our presents as a district! It was a great time! Thank you Mom, Dad, Ryan's Family, and Grandma for the Christmas packages! I'm sure Matt's got lost in shipping or something ;) We made a Christmas tree in our class room and everything, so it kinda felt like home I guess! The reason we opened them all last night was because we planned on taking a lot of things that we don't need, and re-gifting them to the two Elders and one Sister who are here from Mongolia. They have no Christmas whatsoever, so what better way to spread the Christmas Cheer ya know! I know that they will love it. They are coming to our class at 7:30 this morning to open them. I honestly can't wait! 

So today will be a very special Chirstmas for me, and I wouldnt trade it for anything. The Spirit around here is incredible. Every Elder and Sister was running around last night yelling, "MERRY CHRISTMAS" to everyone! It was a blast! But on top of the Chrsitmas Cheer that surrounds this campus, we will hear from a member of the Twelve Apostles today. It will truly be a moment I will never forget. I am so grateful to be here on this Christmas serving my Lord and Savior, and doing His work. There is no greater place to be. I know that. I love my Savior, and I am so eternally grateful that he came to this earth so that he could be a perfect example to us, and to Atone for all of our sins, pains, weaknesses, and griefs. I know without the birth of Jesus Christ, we would not get through this life. Please remeber Christ's birth today. It was a humble birth, so that he could raise from the bottom, all the way to the top. 

I love you family! Don't have too much fun up in Idaho without me! 


Elder Harris

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Week 2 at the MTC

Cauha bauha yy?  That's how you say, "How are you?" in Monglish!
Well I have officially passed the one week mark that everyone says is the hardest.  I am loving it here, but I can't wait to finally be in Mongolia!   Eight more weeks!  Our Mongolian classes are going great!  I must admit it is so hard though.  I have learned how to read some of the language, pray, testify, and answer a few questions, but it is really hard to understand what the teachers say in Monglish!   It gets better everyday though!   My voice is on its way back!   It was funny having to teach our "investigator" a 15-minute lesson in a language I don't know.....with no voice!   What a humbling experience!   Pretty much useless, but I know that the Spirit was there to testify for me!   My district is growing very close.   We all get alone very well and love doing our language study!   We received 45 new missionaries in the Zone on Wednesday, so I am officially the Zone Leader of the biggest branch in the MTC.   This branch consist of only six Americans, and all the rest are international:  German, Tongan, Samoan, Austrian, Brazilian, Mexican...You name it we got it!   I love being the Zone Leader though!   It is a lot of work, especially getting all the new Elders and Sisters up to snuff, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.    It makes me work harder and strive to be a better example. 
So this past Tuesday we had our devotional.  We had the chance to hear from the President of the Quorum of the Seventies, President Rasband, and his wife.  They were great!  President Rasband was a Mission President in the New York New York North Mission from like 1998-2000.  Was that Ryan's President?   Sister Rasband shared a story about an Elder who wanted at least ONE shoe shine before he left his mission in New York.  He served in the Bronx and never had the opportunity to get one because he never served in Manhattan.  With about one week to go in his mission he was walking in the Bronx and heard a man yelling, "Shoe shine, get your shoes shined!"  So the elder jumped on the opportunity as fast as possible.  The man was a poor man, covered in filth.  The Elder asked the man how much he charged, add the man just replied, "How ever much you want to pay is fine."  They man took out a can of polish and used his hands and his forearms to rub the shine in the best way he could. Then he took his shirt and used it to make the finished product. The Elder was brought to tears to see this man serving him like that for "how ever much he wanted to pay."  The Elder took everything he had on him of value and all his companion's things of value and gave it to this man.  Sis. Rasband compared it to our Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  How he was willing to do EVERYTHING for us, just for one thing in return. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered for all of us individually.  I know this is true. 
President Rasband spoke about the Doctrine of Christ.  It was an incredible talk.  He made it very interactive for us.  He had Elders and Sisters come up to a microphone and read scriptures then answer questions about it.    He told a story about how he went with Elder Dallin H. Oaks to the city of Cuzco in South America. They met with thousands of people, and spoke to them about the Doctrine of Christ and his Atonement. President Oaks spoke to them in English for about an hour, but then he told the congregation that he felt impressed to speak to them in Spanish so they could better understand his message.  Elder Oaks learned a little bit of Spanish in his youth, but had never spoken it since. He testified to them in PERFECT Spanish for 15 minutes.  He promised them that they are loved and if they will strive to come closer to Christ, that they will be saved.  The Stake President on the stand turned to President Rasband and said that Elder Oaks hadn't messed up once, and that he is truly speaking true, native, perfect Spanish.  When Elder Oaks sat down, President Rasband said to him, "We just witnessed a miracle."  Elder Oaks replied, "In all my years I have never felt the spirit work through me as I have just now." How incredible is that?   This story brought me tears.  I know that miracles do happen when we are obedient.  The Holy Ghost will speak to anyone and everyone who is willing to hear and we, as the missionaries, are just His mouth piece.
I am loving my time here.  My testimony grows stronger everyday, and I feel closer to My Savior each and everyday.  I am so grateful to be a missionary.  So grateful to be in HIS service.  ONE of 80,000!   What an honor!   We will bring the world His truth!   I know this! 
Until next Friday...
Elder Harris
 Elder Chang, Elder Harris, and Elder Maun at the temple.
Elder Harris with Elders from his district.

More shots! It hurts but at least he had a teddy bear!
Elder Harris LOVES getting packages!
Thank you!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

First Week

Well how is everyone! What is it like having me outta sight and outta mind? I bet it is quite refreshing! Well I assume that you guys arrived safely back to Henderson. I just want to thank you mom and dad for driving me up here and spending the last few days with me before I departed. I know you wouldn't have missed it, but there are tons of Elders and Sisters here who flew into the MTC and said bye to their parents well before Wednesday.

So lets see here... well the MTC is way cool! I am loving every bit of it, even the terribly uncomfortable beds, and the very early mornings. It is just all part of the experience ya know? Well this place is truly amazing. You feel the.spirit so strong when even just walking down the hall. The thing I love the most about the MTC is the overall Spirit of Missionary Work. It is absolutely incredible how it just radiates through every building, hall way, and most importantly the people here. You will never see someone that isn't smiling. I love that. All the teachers, employees, etc, all have a true desire to be here and help with hastening the Lords work in any way that they can. Something that is indescribable is just walking through the halls and seeing a SEA of Elders and Sisters. It is almost overwhelming how many there actually are. It has been a very humbling experience for me. The best part about it though is as you look around and see everyone, you know why they are here. We all have the same purpose, the same goal, the same wants and desires, and that is to serve our Lord by bringing others to the happiness that this gospel brings.

So Wednesday immediately after I was dropped off, we were given our badges, and I was escorted to a special line, to talk to special people. I was pretty scared to be honest. I thought I was in trouble. Well come to find out, Jordan Hansen, the one who we assumed would be my companion, is not an Elder, but a Sister. You heard that right, I am the only Elder going to Mongolia. Crazy huh? So the 3 sisters are Sister Della-Silva,from Montana, Sister Sneddon from Park City, and Sister Hansen from D.C.. So here is the tricky part, I am what they call a SOLO ELDER. It is pretty weird. I don't really have a true companion. I must be with the three sisters from my district (Sneddon, Della-Silva, and Hansen)  pretty much at all times. I can never be with one of them alone, and not even two of them alone. I have to be with all 3 of them at the same time. Such a lack of testosterone... But whenever I am not with them, I am to be with my two Elder roommates, Elder Maun, from Marshall Islands, or Elder Chang, from Taiwan. They have become pretty good buddies. So we have a room made for 6 Elders, but there are only 3 of us in there, so that is quite nice. Elder Maun is going to Fort Worth TX, and Elder Chang is going to NY NY South. So to your surprise, I love Elder Chang. He is fresh off the boat to America. Wednesday was his first time on U.S soil. Crazy huh? He is great though, and pretty funny. He sings Josh Groban all the time, which is so funny. Elder Maun is a 25 year old Elder. He has a great spirit, and I respect him a lot for coming out this late. 

I am in Branch 14 here in the MTC. Fun fact, I am the only American in Branch 14. We have about 20 Elders, coming from such places as Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Argentina, Tonga, Samoa, Pompei, and some other crazy European countries. They are so cool though! My two favorites and the two who I have taken the most liking to is Elder Roggow, from Germany, and Elder Aabo, from Sweden. They are SOO chill, and I know that we would be such friends if we grew up together. They both love Will Smith. I didn't even know people outside of the states knew about that kind of stuff. Elder Roggow and I have had some pretty good times in the dorms rapping Will Smith songs. Like I said I am the only American. it is honestly such a testimony builder to me. You see how much all these Elders have sacrificed to be here. You take for granted that the there are kids all around the world with the desire to serve, and that this desire is just not in America. They all have such strong testimonies. I actually envy their testimony so much because it seems like they have had to prove it more. 

Something cool was that we had a very small group of Elders and Sisters that enterned to MTC on Wednesday. There was about 140 of us, and not a single one was called to an English speaking mission. We are all here for 6-9 weeks learning something brand new. In my case the longest language program in the MTC. 

So Thursday night, I was called to be the Zone Leader of our Branch. What a humbling experience that was. We have about 5 districts in our Zone, so about 50 missionaries or so, and I am to lead them by example on how to be the best that they can be. It is going to be such a learning experience for me, and I think I will learn more from them than they will from me. I am blessed to have been called to that. It will keep me busy. Elder Roggow and Aabo are the Zone Leaders now, but the leave Monday, so they will train me before they fly out. Pray for me. Our Branch President is President Marion, from North Carolina, or Zion as he calls it. He is a great man. He stares into your soul and makes you feel it. He is very blunt and will and has already called me out a few times for things. It is pretty scary, but I know it is out of love. He bore us his testimony last night and it was incredible. The spirit was very prominent. I will enjoy working with him as I strive to become better. 

So Mongolian is nuts. Literally mind blowing. Don't ask me how I will learn this language in 9 weeks because all I will say is by the spirit. Heavenly Father will take care of us, and that is all the 3 sisters and I keep saying. We have already learned how to say about 10 different basic phrases. It is fun practicing with the sisters. We have made it our biggest goal to talk in Monglish as much as possible in our every day talk. It will come with time. Patience is key. 

I am so blessed to be here. I AM A REAL MISSIONARY! A called representative of Jesus Christ. I love you guys. I promise that I am so busy in the work and I really havent even had a chance to think about you guys until I sat down to write this. Hang in there, 2 years is actually pretty short if you look at the big picture. 

I know my Savior lives. I know that missionary work is the life blood of this church. I know that I am here for a reason, and that is to help others come unto Christ. I have bought into this work, and I am so excited for what is to come. 

Elder Marc Harris

Elder Chang and I

 Elder Maun and I

 The badge

 The Sisters and I getting our first mail.

 Elder Rodriguez and I at the dentist.

Getting blood drawn!!

 In our class

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

MTC Report Day! I’ve waited for this for my Entire Life!

Getting ready to report to the MTC on Wednesday, December 11, 2013.

Just killing time at the Provo Temple before I report.

Driving into the MTC.

Getting instructions on where to go, what to do, and how much time we have to say our final goodbyes. 

We are curbside and…...the time has come.

It is getting very “real.”  

Ready to go!

Last goodbyes.

Another Elder was assigned to help me.

……..And my mission has begun!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Leaving for Provo on December 10, 2013, for the MTC.

Leaving Henderson early Tuesday morning, December 10, 2013, for the MTC.

 Re-reading my Missionary Handbook.

Catching some shut-eye on the way.

Checked into our Hotel in Provo, and headed to Salt Lake to go through a session and go out to dinner.

Reading over all my information, again, before I go to sleep.