Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Choibalsan is where the Lord wants me for now.

Dear Family,

So is everyone still in the Christmas Spirit, or is the tree down and homemade fudge gone?  Man, just know that the mission doctor's wife, Sister Lewis, had some real home made fudge in their office, and HOLY COW, it was so amazing!!  I just savored it for like 30 seconds and thought about one thing... American Food.  Then I realized I was sinning (haha), then I had to get out of there before those thoughts were impressed on my mind!

Anyways, let's start with Christmas here in Choibalsan. Tuesday night (Dec. 23rd),  we had a Branch party, and man what was looking like a total failure ended up being so good and the talk of the night by the RS President was so great!   There was like 25,000 Toogs (13 Bucks) in our Branch Account, so we just bought some Saa (like silver sparkly paper that hangs from the ceiling) and a great Santa suit for only 7,500 Toogs (3 Bucks)!   We planned a pot luck and just hoped members would bring food.  Also, I started a new tradition here in Choibalsan....the White Elephant Gift Exchange, but the way dad plays at the Fire Station, more competitive.  The members brought tons of food, and they LOVED the gift exchange!  Being Santa was fun, but eventually it got super tiring. Yes, I had parents forcing their crying, scared children to take a picture with me just like in the US.  Some things never change!  Anyway, it was a Total Success, and pretty much free!  Last year, they spent like 3,000,000 toogs on the Branch Christmas party, so everyone was AMAZED that we did that on 25,000 Toogs!

Christmas in Ulaanbaatar (UB):  on Christmas Eve, we flew in and went straight to Elder Papenfuss' apartment and spent a little too much time talking into the night.  Waking up on Christmas Morning was a little hard, but the excitement of talking to you guys got me going.  UB in the morning is a sight to see.  Smoke is layered like only ten feet off the ground.  And then there's the occasional frozen dog on the side of the road... gross, but that is My Mongolia and I wouldn't have it any other way!!  :)   Talking to you guys was great, and in my opinion 30 minutes was perfect.  Just got the good stuff out, and that was it.  I love you guys so much, but talking for an hour is hard (emotional) for all of us.  I missed talking to Matt and Ryan and their families, but I'm sure they understand since they are RMs. Actually, I didn't wanna see their ugly mugs anyways... saved the mission office a new monitor (their faces might have cracked it)!  HaHa!  We then started putting together tons of Christmas choir songs for the Mission Fireside, and that was great to sing Christmas songs in Mongolian!  Soon the Christmas Fireside started and everyone saw the Benson's new little baby boy.  Man, President was so proud!  The Fireside was great, and so was the Food.  All the missionaries sang plenty of songs and some were so funny. The Mongolian Elders sang an old Mongolian song called "Minii Eej" (My Mother), as a tribute to Mary, and man every sister in the house was in tears.  I have already starting to learn it :)

The next day, my companion and I went to the Zaak (Market) and bought some warm clothes and just looked for cool stuff.  Fun Fact: All cool stuff at the Zaak is in the Buddist and Shaman section, so it is super weird and sometimes uncomfortable when you hear people practicing banging on the Shaman drums for sale.  Anyways, we almost bought a wolf paw for like 12 bucks, but decided that was not a good idea.  There was also a whole freshly-killed wolf, gutted and all, for 130 bucks,  (They sale wolf stuff under the table because it is illegal to kill wolves in Mongolia, so when you talk to them about it, they are always super suspicious.)

Well, then that night, the 26th, we went to the baptism of an 8-year old girl whose family is all members.  It was super sweet, and I was so happy for the father and mother.  That night I went on splits with a new missionary from West Jordan, Utah, and it was just "flashback city" of me a year ago or so.  It was a good evening and we enjoyed our time together.  I feel so blessed to speak and understand the language as well as I do.  It is truly the hardest thing in the world to not be able to talk to anyone. The next morning, my comp and I were off to Choibalsan again, and back to real life.

As you read my last email, I know I sounded pretty bummed about staying in Choibalsan longer. I have been praying for help and just asking for the Lord to give me a renewed desire to serve in Choibalsan.  I can truly say that I have received those blessings and quite fast.....even before meeting with President Benson.  I just had the overwhelming feeling that all is well, and to stop worrying.  Just know, that all my feelings of sadness, are long gone.  The Lord truly blessed me and answered my prayers, and has helped me find strength beyond my own.  Yesterday at church, I was just so happy to be back in Choibalsan and to see the members. After church when we were closing down the chapel, Elder Tsend-Ayush and I just looked at each other and smiled.  It was such a great day!   But my meeting with President Benson really help to perk me right up too and it got my spirits going again.  He told me that my work here is not quite done yet, and that when we are in the service of the Lord it is not where we serve, but how.  He told me about that when he was a missionary, he served in one area for 16 months, and how it truly ended up being such a huge blessing to him.  He praised me left and right, and told me that I've been such a blessing to the Branch.  He also told me how great it is having no worries about the Choibalsan Branch.  I was not looking for that praise, but it was nice to hear.  You just feel so alone out here.....truly in Outer Mongolia.....like you never hear from the city (UB), and they never hear about you.  President Benson is....in a one word summary....a BOSS.....a GIANT (okay, that was two words).  Choibalsan is where I need to be, and where the Lord wants me for now.  I truly know that.   I will stay here for as long as He needs me here, and I can see success coming soon!

Until next week, Хайртай Шүү

Love you all,

Elder Harris

Pictures at the Branch Christmas Party, December 23rd

Can you guess who Santa is??

President and Sister Benson with their family and their brand new baby son!  So good to have them back!!

 Christmas morning in Ulaanbaatar!

Christmas Day with our new missionary, Elder Papenfuss, from West Jordan, Utah.  He and his companion have an awesome picture of the Waters of Mormon!

 Christmas Skyping with the family!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Dear Family,
Well, first of all, I will be calling you on my Christmas Day at 9:00 a.m., Mongolia time.....5:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Nevada time.  I will be calling from the Bayanzurkh building in UB.  

Well, not too much to report about this week.  Transfers happened, and I am still in Choibalsan, and so is my companion, and also the two sisters.  I'm join to be honest, I was a little bummed about it.  I love Choibalsan, but it is becoming difficult and hard on me.  I have been here so long (8 months) that sometimes I don't feel like a missionary anymore, but more a member of the Branch.  Being the Branch President has been a real blessing, I have learned so much.  But man, it is sure hard juggling my Branch President responsibilities and my missionary responsibilities.  Sunday is the hardest day for sure.  So many things to tend to.  The youth of the ward seem to show no respect for the church building or toward the leaders, so my companion and I have had to correct behavior a bit lately.  I really can't explain it, but it has been a rough week.  I always thought that I was sent here because people needed me, but I now realize that it is the exact opposite.  I needed Choibalsan.  I feel like I have changed so much here, and have really learned to rely on the Lord, but a change would be nice.  Don't get me wrong, I will continue to work hard every day that I am here to be the best missionary and Branch President I can be.  All week I have just been praying and asking what I still need to learn here, and what does the Lord want of me here? The answer hasn't come yet, and seeing how answers to prayers normally come, my answer probably won't come until I am long gone from my beloved Choibalsan.  As all missionaries and prospective missionaries know, "I'll go where He wants me to go,"  but now I am telling myself, "I'll stay where you wants me to stay, Dear Lord."  

Right now, we are about down to practically nothing in terms of investigators.  Bold Ah (who has come to church for like 6 weeks now), was unable to meet with us all week, and same with Enkhbat Ah (Togoldor's dad).  I truly have gained a testimony that all of our trials are for our learning experience, and nothing is given to us that we can not bear.  I know that is true.  I have faith in trials, and have set a goal to embrace them and welcome them in as part of this life's mortal experience to prepare me to stand before the Judgement Bar of God, worthy and ready to enter into His rest.   Missionary life...it is such a blessing, but sometimes one that takes much patience and long suffering.

Christmas is just around the corner!  Man, that is so weird!  I hate to say it, and don't worry Mom, or feel sad for me, but it doesn't really feel like Christmas here.  Some stores have trees up, and I know it is supposed to be Christmas, but it is just not the same this year.  It will be very nice to fly to Ulaanbaatar on Christmas Eve and be with all the missionaries for Christmas though.  I'm looking forward to that....and to our Christmas Skype.

This Christmas is special to me regardless the amount of "Christmas Spirit" that is (or is not) around me.  I feel like I have started to grasp the the true meaning of our Savior, a topic that no one can truly have a hold on 100%.  That is an endeavor I will pursue for the rest of my life, but for now, I know I love Jesus Christ, My Savior and Redeemer.  Everyone truly wants one thing in this life, and that is happiness.  But something else that everyone cries out for in times of need and sorrow, is understanding.  We all want to be understood by others, and in our times of deepest sorrow, whether you feel like you are alone in the crowded comfort of your own home, or whether you are all alone in Outer Mongolia just trying to push through, He understands.  Our Prince of Peace was born in a stable belonging to herd animals, and as The Great Exemplar put it himself in Luke 9:58, "Foxes have holes, and … birds … have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.”  He went through scorn and torture. He was bashed and bruised, torn and tattered.  But as we know, "To this end was (He) born."  He was born to rise above all, to conquer the Spiritual and Physical death, for each and every one of us.  He is the gift. 

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 

I love my Savior.  I love you all.  Have a great Christmas, you guys!  

Remember, Wise Men still seek him. 

Elder Harris

I hope you all have a great Christmas this year!  What a special time it is for us to remember our Savior and the ultimate gift, the gift of His son. Good luck to you all this coming year, and may we make the Savior more a part of our lives evermore. 

"Every knee shall bowevery tongue shall Confess."

Merry Christmas!

My companion and I in our deels... and Santa hats!


It's gotten pretty cold here when the sun goes down, as you can see, especially for this Southern Nevada boy!

It's cold when the suns up too!

Yea, my Elder's Quorum President is blind, and he is the Asia Champion for Judo in the Para-Olympics. He is going to the World-Para Olympics soon!   Holla at a Mongolian! 

This is the picture of the ground breaking for the new Stake Center that they are building in Ulaanbaatar!!   

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm Totally Converted to Family Search.org!

Dear Family,

Well this was my week all wrapped up in a few words:  In commemoration of my "hump day," we climbed to the top of a building to burn my white shirt (it was spectacular), we had two baptisms, and I was totally converted to FamilySearch.org

Love you all!   Have a great week! 

Elder Harris 

Togolsiin ;)  (Joking!)

So this week was exciting!  I ripped a pair of pants beyond the point of repair while climbing to the top of a building to burn one of my white shirts!   It burned quickly, just in case you were wondering!   This past Friday, Munkhbaysgalan and Togolder were baptized.  It was a great turn out by the Branch, and we even got Togoldor's mother to come out to support him.  It was great!   Funny thing though, we started to fill up the font, left for a few hours, came back, and it was full of pretty much mud.   Yes, the water was that dirty!   So we drained it and had to fill it up again.  This time is was clean, but I am pretty sure the frozen river would have been warmer.   It was a COLD baptism!

We had a great Family History Fireside put on by the church's Mongolian Family History Consultant (Pugee), who covers all of Mongolia.  So much Family History work was accomplished!  All the names were given to Pugee to distribute to her friends in American so that work can be done with in a few months!  The members here are on fire with family history, so we are going to really focus on keeping them excited and coming to the church weekly to work on their Family History.  I had a cool experience while working in FamilySearch.org.   I could see that Grandma Harris had entered a ton of names just a few weeks ago.  How cool is that!  I was so proud of her!  Thanks, Grandma!  You can see who entered the names, and where and when it was done...all the way here in Mongolia!  Just know that Marc Harris is becoming a Family History MAN!!   I love it!

This week's Sacrament Meeting was great!   There were 81 people in attendance!  It was easily the most spiritual Sacrament Meeting I have been in since I got to Choibalsan.   Our goal is to have 100 attending regularly!  I know we will make it!

So mom you asked about our plans for Christmas here. Well, my companion and I are flying to Ulaanbaatar (UB) on Christmas Eve and will return to Choibalsan on the 27th, that is if we don't get transferred (transfers are on the 18th.)  All missionaries are coming to the city for Christmas, so it will be a great time!  Sister Benson and the kids will be back from Utah by Christmas!  We are all so excited about that!   Here in Choibalsan, due to limited funds in our bank account (haha), we will be having a big Christmas Party, while spending no money.  We are planning a potluck dinner and the youth in the Branch will be singing Carols and whatnot.  It will be a good time!  Yes, I am sure I will be giving a talk for Christmas in Sacrament Meeting, but nothing that I don't already do on an almost weekly basis. I talk nearly ever week.  In other words, lots of times the assigned people don't show up :)   Anyway, my comp and I are just really excited for Christmas and to fly to the city to be with all the other missionaries! 

Well, enjoy the pictures I sent!  I love you guys. Stay warm, safe, and strong. 

Elder Harris! 

BTW:  The Mongolian Santa wears a BLUE jumpsuit, not red!  Lame, I know. 

Let it snow!

Still snowing!

Togolder and Munkhbaysgalan's baptism.

Togoldor, his mom, little sister, and baby brother.

 Munkhbaysgalan.  He is Naraa's nephew.  

It was Chon's 7th birthday party this Saturday!   So cute! ....and yes, Chon is a boy......and his name translated is Wolf. 

My new member, Enkhtoya, and her husband, Ganbaatar. They left for Russia this week, so I probably won't see them until they come to SLC for their temple sealing in 2016! 

 Enkhtoya and Ganbaatar in their cold gear.  Going to miss them. 

 The "hump" day ritual!  One year!

 The final piece to the perfect deel!

Questions for Elder Harris' nieces about Christmas in Mongolia

Kinzie and Addisyn were curious how the kids celebrate Christmas in Mongolia, so they sent Uncle Marc questions.  Here are his answers:

1. Do the kids sing Christmas songs? 

Yes!  Kids and most people know the American Christmas songs but have no clue what they mean!  haha

2. Do they know who Rudolph is? 

No they don't.

3. What do they call Santa Claus? 

They call him Santa Clause like us, but older people call him "Winters Old Dad."

4. Do they put a tree up with ornaments? 

No they don't decorate homes....no one has the money to do that, and you can't buy that stuff here unless you are really rich. But in Ulaanbaatar, the city is decorated like Christmas with big trees and lights and music, but not in Choibalsan.

5. They believe in Santa, right? 

Yes they believe!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This Week is my One Year Mark!

Dear Family,

Well this Thursday, December 11, 2014, I will hit my one year mark.  Wow, it has flown by so fast!   I only have a year left in this desolate and cold, yet amazingly awesome country that I have grown to love, and man, the realization of it is hitting me!   See you all in a year, I guess.....haha!   During this past  year, I have been privileged to have had seven companions, served in three areas, and I helped six people enter the waters of baptism.  I have been told to "zail" more times than I can count (it means to "get lost," but in a lot harsher and more offensive way).   I have had a few punches thrown at me. I have been called the name of my Savior, mocked, offered cigarettes and alcohol, and many other things that I choose not to write at this time, but it has all been worth it.  I LOVE this work, and I will continue on with Thanksgiving in my heart for the opportunity I have been given to come to Mongolia.  The Purposes of God will roll forth, I can assure you of that.  Thank you so much, family, for this year of support and prayers on my behalf.  It has been felt, and I will never forget how much closer I feel to the Lord.  More than I ever have in my life.

This week has been good, successful week.....and tiring too. For some reason, this week I was just drained...literally no energy.   Most of the week was taken up with getting more coal out to the members in need for the winter, and in getting groceries for the families in need.  It is such a great feeling to minister to people like we do, and to have the calling that we have. Also, what a blessing it is that our Church is able to provide for people in need the way they do.  Truly amazing, and only something our Heavenly Father could have planned.

This week, I have studied about "Ministering" versus "Administering."  This is what I found:  Ministering is a sacred privilege and responsibility that I took upon my self when I was  turned 12 and received the Priesthood.  Ministering is standing as a representative of Christ in word and in deed, doing what He would do if he Himself were here in my place.  It is caring for people's temporal and spiritual needs and acting upon them with the pure love of Christ to strengthen them and support them. This is my role as a Priesthood holder, missionary, and a Branch President. I have members that stand in need of Christ's help, and I can minister unto them. Some are obvious, and some are harder to recognize, but everyone has needs that need to be attended to by the love and ministering of the Priesthood.  President Anderson taught me how to be a minister. Through using my priesthood, and looking at the members of my branch with spiritual eyes, I can help them come closer to Christ, and support them when they have no one to lean on but the Lord.  I need to be active in ministering, and not wait for the needs to come to me.  That is something I wish and pray to be better at.  Seeing all people through Christ's eyes, and being able to attend to their spiritual and temporal needs with out being told by them what that need is.  This is what I learned this week.

Well, this Friday, we will have a baptism!  Actually two!  I am super excited for it, and it has been a long time coming.  Patience is key, I have learned.  It all happens on the Lord's time frame, and how He wants His work to move forward.

This week we also were able to meet quite a bit with Enkhbat Ah, the father of the family we found.  He is having some experiences with the Spirit in his life, but is having a hard time recognizing it.  He needs to make that leap of faith.  He is keeping his reading commitments and prayer commitments, but he didn't come to church yesterday, which was disappointing.  Sometimes I don't understand why people make that decision, but I just try to understand that this is bigger than me, and His plan is greater, and we all have our free agency to choose.  Enkhbat's son will be baptized this Friday, so we hope that will be a big motivation for him.

Also this week we met with our 50-year old investigator, Brother Bold, quite a few times.  He is really quiet, and hard to teach.   He just sits there and listens and nods his head to everything.  We ask questions to get him involved, but man it is rough.  He understands it all, but is having a hard time making the connection on why baptism is vitally important to him.  He comes to church every week, so we will see where it continues to go.

I love my companion and we get along well.  He is funny, and fun to be with.  Soon I expect him to take the reigns of District Leader....Man, that will be nice!  It will be a big help to me!

I think I could summarize this year of my life in this scripture:    "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." -Philippians 4:12

I feel so blessed and full, and so pleased with the Work I have had the privilege of being a part of this past year, but it is not over.   One more year, and Boy, am I Hungry!   Dad, be assured that I am thirsty too!

I love my God, my Savior, and His work.  Nothing like the Best Two Years!

Love you all,

Elder Harris 

This past week, my young friend, ErdeneMunkh, went on "splits" with me.  He will be a great missionary in a few years.  ("Splits" is when two missionaries, who are companions, split up and go out teaching with other members in the Branch, doubling their efforts).

President and Sister Anderson (who are filling in for Pres. and Sister Benson while they are in Utah) came to Choibalsan a couple of weeks ago.  What great people they are!  I learned so much from President Anderson in the short time he was here.  He served as Mongolia's Mission President a few years back.   By the way, Sister Benson had a healthy baby boy this week.  Their family will be coming back to Mongolia soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Holy Ghost softens hearts and prepares people in His own time

Dear Family,

Well, it is getting so cold here. I mean below zero cold!  It's not even funny, cold!  I love it though, and we stay warm.  Snow is everywhere, and that is fine, but the wind is bitter... bitter.. cold.

This week was a good one, with much success!  This week we found four new investigators!  One is a 50 year old man named Bold.  He is coming to church pretty strong now (4 weeks in a row), but he is still having a hard time meeting with up with us.  Please pray for him to find the time to meet with us.  The other three are our other investigator (Togoldor's) father, mother, and little sister.  So we have a Family to teach that we've been praying for!   It was funny how it all came to be.  It was pretty much just pure faith in following the promptings of the Spirit, and 100%  trusting that even though it seemed crazy, it will work.  We were meeting with this family one evening last week and talking about everything besides Church.  Togoldor was not home, we were waiting for him.  The family has never shown any interest whatsoever, but they always send their son and little 8 year old daughter together to Church.  Well, this week was the Primary Program and the daughter, Odentsetseg, was telling us how she memorized all the songs and is so excited to sing at Church.  The mom and dad said they planned to come and watch her, and right there, BOOM!   There was the opportunity we had been waiting for from this family for five months!   Right then, I felt prompted to just invite them to be baptized.  Why?  I had no clue, because they have denied and pushed away any and every invitations for like five months.  So that evening, I had pushed away the prompting a few times, but I finally felt the reassurance that all would be well!  I looked at my companion and told him in English that I am going to invite them to be baptized and he just looked at me like I was crazy!   The father was half asleep in his chair, the baby was crying, the mom was counting rice.. yes counting rice... haha, and the little daughter was doing homework.  So I just spoke up and told them I wanted to share a story about Jesus from 2nd Nephi 31:5, about His example to us of Baptism.  Works every time!  The Spirit came and supported us in our faithful actions, and they all agreed to be baptized on the 26th of December, so we were so pumped!!!   We left the house and my companion just looked at me and laughed.   It wasn't me, only the Holy Ghost can do that.  The power that missionaries have is one that is not our own.  The Holy Ghost softens hearts and prepares people in His own time and by His own plan.  Truly a great story in the making.

Togoldor and Munhbaysgalan will be baptized on December 12th.  That will be a great day.  Please pray for them that this will go through. Toes and fingers are crossed here.

Work in the Branch is going great.  As I said, the Primary Program was yesterday. It was so dang cute!  They sang five songs, mostly the teachers sang, but that is okay.  Those little children are so cute when they remembered the words.  Their favorite, and the crowd pleaser, was "Book of Mormon Stories."   All and all, they loved it and so did I!

Yesterday I had to have a pretty stern interview with one of the brothers in the branch.  He is pretty much crazy and does many things that are quite inappropriate.  My companion and I have had to speak to him in the past.  I share this because I truly feel for this man, and care for him.  I see him as what he can be and not what he is.  I closed that interview and I felt good, the way I feel our Savior would feel.  It was a weird experience for me, but it is moments like this when you feel the true Love of Christ working, and it is something you will never forget, even when it is in an interview such as this one.   

I love you guys. Pray hard, read carefully, and watch for the Blessings that come to those who look towards Him.

Elder Harris

We got the Primary together before the Primary Program on Sunday and snapped this picture.   Look at their smiles!   Aren't they the cutest?! 

 Me with my companion and the Primary Presidency before the Program....

My Mongolian "deel" is finally finished!   I am truly so proud of it, and I can't wait to show it off in the States on every Holiday!
(Wikipedia says: A Monogolian "deel" is traditional clothing worn for centuries by the Mongols and other nomadic tribes in Central Asia.  The deel is still commonly worn by both men and women outside major towns, especially by herders.  In urban areas, deels are mostly only worn by elderly people or on festive occasions.)

We are all wearing our deels (except the sisters)!     We will all wear our deels for Tsagaan sar, the Mongolian New Year! 

Mom, you've asked for pictures of my apartment for months, so here it is!   Home Sweet Home, Mongolian-style!  Pretty nice, huh? Our study area. 

The kitchen...

My bed and prayer cushion!

Another view of the bedroom...

Looking into the bedroom and kitchen...

The tub and shower... 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Dear Family,

Sorry this one may be a short one, just forewarning.  This week we had six visitors fly out to Choibalsan from Ulaanbaatar:  The interim Mission President and his wife (the Andersons), the APs (Elder Higgs and Elder Khash Erdene), Brother Enkhjigur and Brother Batbold.   Man, was it great!   You may remember that Elder Khash Erdene was my companion several months ago and also the Branch President here (it was great to see him again).   Also, this week was my companion's 19th birthday and his Mother and Father were in Choibalsan on business so they took us out to lunch at a great place.  Needless to say, we ate out three times this week and didn't pay a dime, so that was fantastic.   I spent a lot of time with President Anderson administering to members, and making sure that their needs were met.  He and his wife are such great people and so charitable.  He made a huge impact on many people in just two days, and it is something these people will never forget.   He gave me many tips on how to be a better Branch President and how to be a better administrator.  I am so grateful for his help and his advice. 

This Sunday we had 84 people in church!   Every seat was full!   Elder Higgs and my companion ended up standing up in the back so others could sit.  It was awesome.  Also, the fireside on Sunday night had a great turn out, and I know many were touched by the Spirit during that short hour.  Everyone wanted pictures with the Andersons afterwards.  It was pretty cute.

The two investigators we found last week blew us off all week so that was kind of rough and unexpected.   One called me and said that she hates to read so she will not be able to continue meeting with us.  She said she will still be thinking about our message, and will get back to us.  We will follow up with her this week for sure and allow the Spirit to do the work in softening her heart.   I feel that she is prepared, but she just needs that confirmation. 

Balancing missionary work and my responsibilities as Branch President can be challenging at times, but my companion and I are starting to get going with the missionary work.  We will have 3 baptisms here in 3 weeks.  I spoke with the APs about my efforts in trying to accomplish all my responsibilities, and they understand that it is hard balancing everything with the responsibilities that I have.   But they assured me that President Benson would not have called me to this position if I could not be the leader he knows I can be.   I try to be like President Brigham Young, meek, humble, strong, and firm in his beliefs and actions.  He was called the "Lion of the Lord," and I hope to develop those attributes throughout this calling.

I love you all, and am so grateful for you.  Have a happy Thanksgiving and eat some turkey for me (there are no turkeys in Mongolia)!

Elder Harris

The APs (Elder Higgs and Elder Khash Erdene) with my companion and I.

 My companion and I, with our two great friends Tumee and Ganbayar. They are great young men, future missionaries for sure!

 My Comp, Elder Tsend-Ayush, and I.

 Elder Higgs and I.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I love my calling, and I love Mongolia!

Dear Family,

Well this week went by really fast, and quite well. Tuesday and Wednesday went down the drain because we were at the church all day, or handling 10 tons of coal to be delivered to members.  A man from Hong Kong came to Choibalsan to inspect our church building on Wednesday, so I got the word that everything needs to be 100% spick and span.  Tuesday we had a impromptu Service Day, and in about 5 hours we got the entire inside and majority of the outside spotless.  It was great.....and lots of members came out to help!  In all, we filled an entire dump truck with garbage bags filled with leaves or trash.  I am not joking, an entire dump truck.  Choibalsan's members can truly work!  The inspection went great and we passed with flying colors!  Actually a man from UB was shocked on how clean it was.  But then on Thursday, during mutual, I totally punched a hole in the wall while playing dodge ball.  Well I really didn't punch it, but it looks that way....haha.  I was dodging a ball thrown at me and didn't realize how close I was to the wall, so I put my arms out in front to protect myself (just a simple reflex) and what do you know....Huge crack and hole in the wall!   That was an awkward phone call to explain what happened to the man who just had left from the inspection!  

Also this week, we found two new investigators, both through Sister Nergui (if you translate her name, it literally means "No Name"...haha...and it is one of the most common names in Mongolia).  She is a new member of about two years and she lives super far away from the church, but still makes it every week and fulfills her calling, as Branch Librarian and Primary Presidency 1st Counselor, like a champ!   She is actually one of my favorite sisters in the Branch because of her humility and willingness to submit herself to the Lord's will.  We have never been out to her house, so we decided to go out there one night this past week.  Her sister (40-ish) happens to live with her and is not a member, so we hopped on that very quickly!    Also, we received a referral from them for Sis. Nergui's niece (27) and her husband.  We were able to set baptismal dates for Sister Nergui's sister and niece, so I am excited about that.   We are hoping for them to be baptized on Dec 19th (the day after Transfers).  The Sis. Nergui's sister came to church yesterday, but her niece did not, so that was a little disappointing and we will be following up with them this week.  Older investigators are just so much cooler to me, so I am so grateful that we were blessed with these two new investigators.   A funny thing happened while we were teaching them a lesson (the mom and daughter).   I kept on saying "homosexual," instead of "respectful" while teaching about prayer.  They are really not very similar in Mongolian, but when you talk fast you can get mixed up!  Anyway, I was trying not to laugh, because I knew what I was doing, and my companion was trying his hardest to hold a straight face, as were our two investigators.  I did clear things up and told them what the word really should have been.  We had a good laugh, and then we went on with the lesson.   

On a not-so-good note this week, our 15 year old investigator, Tuguldur, who has been an investigator since like August, skipped out on his final baptismal interview and didn't come to church yesterday.  It is frustrating.  We went and talked to him last night and he had every excuse in the book, but is annoyed at us for not allowing him to be baptized.  I will keep you updated on that in the weeks to come.   

Mom and dad, I just want to say how great it is to be here in Mongolia.  I love my calling, and I love Mongolia!   It is still so unreal to me that I am actually in Mongolia and representing my Savior.  You know, you grow up always loving the missionaries at your house and at church, and viewing as them as Heroes.   It is still crazy and surreal that I AM one!   Mom and Dad, I feel your prayers, I want you to know that.  I really do.  We are being blessed here, and I can feel the connection between your prayers on our behalf, and these blessings we are receiving.  The Lord's most answered prayer is the one of a Mother.   Mom, I love you deeply, and you'll never know how much I miss you.  If I didn't have you....яанаа.   Dad, you are my hero.  I love you more than you will ever know.   In the package I received this week, there was a song on a CD called, "In a letter Home," and boy did it hit home.  Listen to it, and just know that that song describes how I feel to a "T."   I read each of your letters often, not the whole thing, just the few sentences that you usually write in closing, and they give me just what I need to keep me going.  I love you guys, but I love my Heavenly Father more.   Why?  Because He gave me you two. 

Love your son,

Elder Harris

The crack in the wall.   Like I said, it was an awkward and embarrassing call!

 This picture is not for the faint of heart....We found this skinned dog right outside the back door to my favorite place to eat here in Choibalsan...yup, we did.

 My favorite convenience store here in Choibalsan has a great pic of Heidi and Spencer on the wall. I get a kick out of it every time I leave the store. #TheHills