Saturday, January 25, 2014

Six Weeks! Three to go!

 Dear Family,

Well it is just past my 6 weeks mark here in the MTC, so you know what that means...... LESS THAN 3 WEEKS til I leave for Mongolia!  I am so excited!  The MTC has been such a great experience, and I am so grateful for all the lessons I have learned here.  In the past 6 weeks, I have really learned a lot about myself regarding the type of person that I am, and who I want to be.  The MTC is good for that.   It really humbles you, especially if you are learning a new language.  You really have to fully submit yourself to the will of our Father in Heaven.  If you don't, or if you try to do the "MTC Experience" YOUR way, you are just wasting your time, and more importantly, God's time.

This past Wednesday I received a whole new batch of missionaries.  To my pleasant surprise, we have 3 Americans!  Two of the new Americans are my companions, so we are in a TRI-companionship.  Elder Palfreyman is from Orange County, and Elder Lattin is from Virginia.  They are both going to Paris together, so that is pretty cool.  Elder Lattin was called to be my assistant Zone Leader, so it will be very nice to have him serving with me.  Let me tell you, I missed Americans!  I need not get used to it though, seeing that I will be like only 1 of 50 in Mongolia!

So I want to tell you that I love the Mongolian language!  This past week it finally got to the point where learning the language is no longer a burden, but a privilege.  It took me about 5 weeks to realize that, and that kind of upsets me, but I think everyone goes through that stage.  Recently a lot of principles that just weren't clicking, clicked.  That was such blessing.  We are pretty much finished learning grammar, and other such things regarding the basics of the language, so now it is just reviewing things we have already learned and trying to master them.  Along with that we have been learning a lot of fun terms, and things to say!  One of my favorites is to say, "How slow are you?" or "How dumb are you!"  Obviously it is said in Mongolian, so they are a lot funnier in a different language.  This past week we all set Daily Language Goals, and I have been very good at accomplishing my goals every single day.  I have seen the Lord's hand in my learning so much more prominent now that I have made goals, and I have stuck with them.  I know the Lord knows our hardships and our struggles, but we have to do all we can do to help ourselves FIRST.  After He sees our efforts, and that we are truly doing all we can, He will take care of the rest, and make up for the areas in which we lack.  This is His work, not mine, but we have to do all we can do in order to get the help of the Lord.  I know this is true because there will be times where I prepare very well for a lesson in Mongolian, and I go in and do great!   I leave feeling the Spirit so strong, and I am just so pumped afterwards!  Then there are times where I don't prepare, and I just go in and try to do it on my own power and hope the Lord will make up for the rest, and low and behold nothings happens.  I leave upset, and frustrated with myself, and consequently not feeling the Spirit.   If we don't prepare, and we don't do our own work beforehand, how can the Lord help us?  He has nothing to work with, so He can't.  The Lord wants to see our efforts, our trial and error, and our dedication to doing all that we can do on our own. When he sees that, He will help us in all that we do, and that is a promise that is found all over in the scriptures.

I set another goal to read the whole Book of Mormon one more time before I leave the MTC.  It has really been a blessing, and I am on track to finish the day we leave. This time through I have been looking for direct correlations to missionary work. Something that I have noticed is that missionary work is the oldest work in the history of the world.  It really is.  Think about it, Adam and Eve, down to Noah.  Every dispensation of time revolved around missionary work, everything else is just background noise to the most important thing that has ever happened or will continue to happen, and that is bring others unto Christ.  This time reading the Book of Mormon I really have learned things that I have never even seen before.  Almost every chapter in the Book of Mormon is somewhat about missionary work, and if not, it is about the fruits of missionary work. It is incredible that when you have the mantle of missionary all these things finally make sense, and they just pop out to you!  I challenge all who are reading this email to read the Book of Mormon.  It really will change your life.  Have a question in mind when doing so, and I promise you that the Lord will answer your questions.  I have also set the goal to read one page of the Mongolian Book of Mormon everyday while I am here.  I am not too far along, and I don't understand any words beside God, or Nephi, but I know that Heavenly Father sees that I am putting forth my efforts, and if I continue, someday I will understand what these verses in the Mongolian Book of Mormon are saying. I have faith in that.

Missionary Work is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  I'm not trying to be silly, or cliche, but it is true.  The word that they use for Elder in Mongolia is "Captain."  So for the next two years I will be called Captain Harris.  I have been a captain of a Varsity Football team that was one of the best teams in Nevada, and that doesn't even compare to being called "Captain" as a missionary.  I am a captain for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that is the ultimate respect.

I Love you Mom and Dad.

Elder Xappuc

P.S. Thanks for the cinnmon rolls Ryan and Angela, and thanks for the care package Grandma Harris!  I loved them both!  I really appreciate it!  Also, thanks to the Jaussi's for the Krispy Kreme's!  It is safe to say that the 3 dozens donuts are already all gone! Thanks so much for that!

The new elders that came in on Wednesday.

My new comps! Elder Palfreyman and Elder Lattin

Elder Nolasco and I. He was my companion for a few days last week. He is awesome! I love him!

My District just doing funny pics!

More frivolity! 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Marc's Short Testimony in Mongolian

5 Weeks Down

What's up Family!  Well I hope you all have a great time celebrating Luke's birthday today! Happy Birthday to the cutest 1 year old boy I know! So this past Wednesday, January 15th, marked my one year anniversary of tearing my ACL and Meniscus. Crazy how time flies! It seems like just yesterday I was driving to Provo to get it looked at by Dr. Rich. Well I am extremely grateful for modern medicine and the opportunity that I know have to share the gospel with two good legs!  So you sold my car!?  I have only been gone for 5 weeks!  Well that was a great car.  It is sad to see it go, but hey I hear a truck calling my name when I get home in 23 months! Just kidding...!!

Well here we go. This past Sunday on our temple walk there happened to be two protesters with huge crosses outside the temple grounds harassing all the missionaries as we walked to the temple. They had video cameras and were yelling at us to "Please return to God! It is not too late!"  It was crazy.  We didn't talk or interact with them.  I honestly feel so sorry for people like that. They waste their time and energy on something so ignorant.  I hope someday they can know the truth for themselves, I really do.  It was just crazy because they are trying to convince 2000+ missionaries just walking to The House of The Lord, that we are damning ourselves by being His missionaries.  Everyone could only think to themselves that those protestors were in the wrong place if they were trying to convice Latter-Day Saints to deny the truth.  I mean, anyplace but the epicenter of missionary training.

On a brighter note, this past Tuesday we had the opportunity to hear from Elder David A. Bednar, AGAIN!  That was twice in 20 days for me!  It was so incredible to hear from him and his wife again, especially when you are directly in front of the pulpit on the 4th row!  He again answered questions that were previously asked during the Christmas Devotional. The part that struck me the most was when he bore his testimony of The Book of Mormon. It was crazy!  He was so bold and so straight forward about his testimony of the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. I have honestly never heard a testimony like that before.  He stood up there and said that this book is truly God's words to us. He said, "No evil man could have written this book, and no good man would have, except it be by the hand of God." POWERFUL!  He then challenged every scholar in the world who tries to prove that The Book of Mormon is a lie, to have any publishing company, any author, and any poet try to write one page that is equivalent to one page of The Book of Mormon, in a period of 100 YEARS!  He then said, "THEY CAN'T DO IT!" Not even if they were given 100 years!  The Prophet Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon in 90 DAYS!  How could you write a book with the content of The Book of Mormon in 90 days?  Well, you can't.  No one can.  No man who was not inspired, or called of God to do so, could have. I wish you could have been there in person to see the look in his eyes and the passion that he spoke with when he spoke of The Book of Mormon. Don't tell Elder Holland, but Elder Bednar has taken the role of "Favorite Apostle" in my book. In these times in the MTC when we are trying so hard to learn everything that we literally can about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to become more learned of the Doctrine of Christ, Elder Bednar has been inspired by God to come and speak of the most important things not only in our religion, but in the world. My testimony of The Book of Mormon literally grew by leaps and bounds Tuesday night when he spoke. I am so incredibly grateful for that. It was almost like he was speaking directly to me. He said things that I needed to hear to even more fully solidify that this is the only true church in the world today.  Plus Elder Bednar is such a Boss. He tells it how it is, and if you don't like that.... SEE YA!  I love it!

This week we also said goodbye to one of our teachers, Brother Jolly. (If you're reading this Jolly Ax, how's it going?) I honestly learned so much from him. He is such a spiritual powerhouse and it is going to be very weird not having him there anymore. I hope to be the type of missionary he was. He was replaced by a Sister Largin, who just returned from Mongolia a few months ago actually! She is way cool, and she already fits right into our dynamics as a class.

We also received a whole new set of missionaries this week. These Elders will be tough.   Pray for my leadership skills! My companion, Elder Vaelea, left this past week so I received a new companion, Elder Olivedo. He is from Argentina!  Such a great kid, and I love being Zone Leader with him.

 Well Family, I love you all!  I hope all is well, and have a great week!

The church is true. The Gospel train is leaving, so if you ain't on it, better jump to it.  I love you all.  Missionary work is the real deal, and I hope that we all can come even more converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ these next two years.  Pray for me and the sisters and the language. It is coming along great, and I actually gave my best lesson yet this week all about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon! It was so crazy to see the Gift of Tongues work through you.  Pray for our visas too.  Please and thank you!

 Elder Harris

Elder Vaelea before he left. 

Great view of Utah Lake.

 Yes, the sisters think I'm weird.

 Elder Zina and I.

All the Mongolians and the missionaries going to Mongolia!

 Our departing teacher on the left, Elder Jolley, and our new teacher on the right, Sister Largin.

 The Mongolian elders, Zina and Enkjargel, "repping" Las Vegas Fire and Rescue.

 Thanks dad! They love their t-shirts!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

4 Weeks Down

CauH bauHa yy? (Hello)

Well this past Wednesday marked my four week point in the MTC!  You know what that means?   Five WEEKS LEFT!  All in all this past four weeks have been a whirlwind and I really can't describe it.  It seems like I have been here forever, but on the other hand, it has flown by so fast.  I'm very excited for the next five weeks and what they have in store.

So this past Monday and Tuesday all the Elders in my Branch left....except for me of course!   It was sad to see all the my buddies go, but the work must go on, right?  Anyways, we received a new group of Elders on Wednesday and I received a new companion!   Elder Vailea!   He is Tongan and is from Fontana, California!  He is a stud and he will be a great missionary!   He is also my Assistant Zone Leader until he leaves on Sunday, so that will be quick!  This is the third set of new missionaries I have been the Zone Leader for and there are many more to come!   I love my calling and I am very grateful to be serving them everyday.   I have really learned so much from all these international Elders and Sisters, and their examples are such a testimony builder.  A lot of them are from countries where there are VERY FEW members, so it is so awesome to see them here serving the Lord. 

At 8:30 this morning, Elder Vaelea, Elder Le, and myself had the opportunity to take Elder Nshimiyana to the temple for his own endowments. He is from Rwanda, and is the second missionary from Rwanda, but he is the FIRST to ever leave Africa. HOW CRAZY IS THAT!   He is such a stud, and he loves one American thing...Tupac.   Haha he always is rapping Tupac.   But to see the look on his face in the temple this morning was something I will never forget.  He glowed with happiness.   Afterwards, we were able to go into the Temple President's office and visit with the 1st Counselor of the temple.  One of his really good friends was the Mission President in the Rwanda Mission when Elder Nshimiyimana was baptized, so Elder Nshimiyimana was able to talk to him on the phone for quite a bit and catch up.  It was so neat. 

So this week we started our "English as an International Language" training, or EIL.   It is a very great opportunity and it will be awesome to see the fruits of our labors in Mongolia, but for the time being, EIL Training is miserable.   I don't like to be negative, but it is so boring!   It's okay though, it is all for our benefit and without it we would not be going to Mongolia, so we all are honestly very grateful to do it!  It literally is our ticket in.  We just sit and read a text book and do assignments on a computer for about 3 hours a night, so it's not too bad.  I shouldn't be complaining! 

So the Mongolian language is coming along great, and I finally think I am starting to understand how it all works in my head!   Too be honest, for about the first 3 weeks, I felt way behind and I thought I would never catch up, but there is hope!   I am definitely no where near where I need to be by the time I leave the MTC in five weeks, but progress is progress, right!   I can read just fine, and I am getting a lot better at remembering the vocabulary, but formulating sentences in my head is the hard part.  I love to sing hymns in Mongolian!  It really is the best part of the day!   All the sisters make fun of me and laugh the whole time because I sound terrible but I just belt all the songs out with PRIDE! 

Every Saturday we get to participate in a program called TRC.  TRC is like family home evening, but all in Mongolian, and we teach either REAL Mongolians, or just past missionaries who served in Mongolia. The first time we did it, I left really disappointed in myself because I felt like I couldn't say anything, and since I couldn't speak, I felt like the Spirit wasn't present.   After a few hard days of just gettting through the Language barrier, we returned this past Saturday for another TRC, and we had a great time!   We talked about how to have more meaningful prayer!   It honestly was awesome!   I felt a lot more comfortable speaking this time, and it was honestly the strongest I have felt the Spirit while teaching in Mongolian!   Feeling the Spirit while teaching in Mongolian has been something I have had to learn!   It honestly was really hard to do for the first few weeks, and I think it is because we are just reciting memorized or written lines.   It really wasn't coming from the heart.   But this past TRC I felt like I was able to better speak my mind and the things of my heart.   I think the Spirit knows when you are speaking from your heart and not your knowledge, and this is why the Spirit was so strong this past TRC.  It really was awesome! 

Along with the Saturday TRC's, we still have three investigators that we teach in all Miongolian.  They are just our three teachers, but it is such great practice.  They all play the roles of people they personally taught in Mongolia, so it is pretty much a real life situation.  People with real life concerns and needs.  Teaching in Mongolian is hard, but I am seeing my growth and improvement, and I can't help but be happy.  It has only been 4 weeks, and I have learned the basics of one of the craziest languages in the world.   It is such a blessing, and I know it is the Holy Ghost that is helping me through it.   In the scriptures it promisies that the Holy Ghost will put the words in our mouth at the exact moment we need them, but only if we are worthy of it.  I have definately seen this promise in my life, and what an incrediible experience it is when you are able to say sentences in Mongolian that you had no clue how to say. 

Another cool thing, this week we received a REAL LIFE INVESTIGATOR to teach for the rest of our stay in the MTC.  She is a senior at Provo High and is 18 years old.  She just moved to Provo 2 months ago with her family and started doing service at the MTC for her NHS hours.  We taught her for the first time on Tuesday night and it was awesome.  It was in English, of course.  It was cool to see how the Spirit was teaching her through us because we (the sisters and I) discussed our feelings after we met, and we all literally were going to share the same scriptures and thoughts but one of us said it before the rest of us did!  I'm very excited to keep teaching her.  Hopefully, she will accept our message and be baptized.  If not, we will pass her along to a new set of missionaries when we leave.

Well on a crazier note, I have somehow managed to LOSE 7 pounds here!   Don't ask me how that can be, because I don't know!   Just know that the food got very old about half way through week 2.  My bowl of cereal tally is at about 5 bowls a day. Wish me luck!

We have GYM about 4 times a week, and it is something we all look forward to ALL DAY!   We get to play basketball for about 45 minutes, and it literally is such a blessing to get a break from class and take out some stress!   The knee is holding up great!  I literally am so blessed to have recovered from that surgery so well.  The knee brace does help a lot though, so I am very grateful for modern medicine!

This past Tuesday we had a devotional, and we heard from the Presiding Bishop of the Church, Gary E. Stevenson.  It was so neat!   He spoke about "Vision" and how we need to have our vision set on the "eternal" setting.  He then brought up something that was so new to me, and I think it can clarify a lot of things for people who are wondering why Mormons have so many "Rules."   We don't have rules, we have opportunities.   Opportunities to become better people every single day. Opportuniteis to come closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and opportunites to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion to help us do what is right.   MORE "RULES" (and obedience to them) = MORE BLESSINGS!   How crazy is that!   I wish I would have realized this in high school when I was late for curfew every single night!   (Sorry again Mom and Dad)  But honestly that concept can work for anyone!   Member or not, it makes sense!   Blessing can also be replaced by privileges.   We are too busy living in the "now" and we don't see what opportunities we could have in the future if we would just follow rules!   I am a great example of this, and I am learning every day how to follow rules, because on the mission if you don't follow rules, number 1 is you will not be able to teach effectively, and you also might be sent home!   What a waste of a mission to come out and not follow rules!   The Law of Chastity and Word of Wisdom aren't rules, they are opportunities to become better every single day, stay away from health problems, and to ultimately be closer to our Heavenly Father, so we can return to him someday. Anyways, that concept really blew my mind..

Anyways, I love you guys!  I think about you often, but not too often.  I'm on the Lord's errand, and I have no time for that distraction. Until next week... 

-Elder Harris

My buddies from south of the border and me- Coolest Mexicans ever!
 Elder Carson Smith and I.
 Elder Harris loves getting packages in the mail!
 All the Elders in my branch before they left. 
 My buddies and I at the fireside.
 Attending the temple for Elder Nshimiyimana's endowment on Friday. Such an awesome experience!
 My companion, Elder Vaelea

Friday, January 3, 2014

Week 4 at the MTC

My Dear Family, 

Well once again I have had a great time this week here in the MTC.  It has definitely been one for the books.  I'll fill you in later on the details.

We had a fireside Sunday night and one of the new Branch Presidents and his wife spoke to all of us about the Holy Ghost.  It was a very good talk and it really opened my eyes at one part.  She  compared us (missionaries) to Angels.  She did this by showing how Angels were always there for Christ and his disciples when they were in need.  She said that we are Angels because we are helping the Brethren, and others throughout the world when they are most in need.  It was a really cool comparison. 

On Sunday after one of our Leadership meetings, I pulled Brother Vaughan aside.  He is a member of our Branch Presidency, and asked him a question that I have been pondering for about a year or so, but especially lately as I am here in the MTC.  My question was, "How can we know the difference between the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and our own conscious?"  He had a look on his face that kinda showed that he had never had this kind of question before.   But as true disciples of Christ should, he didn't answer the question from his own knowledge but he immediately turned to the scriptures to answer my question.  We turned to D&C 88.  In the first 15 verses or so it talks about the light of Christ, and how it feels the immensity of space.  When we are born we are all given the Light of Christ.  It is a free gift.  The Light of Christ is in essence our conscious.  We all have a brain that knows between good and evil, and right from wrong.  This was something that was new to me.  I never really thought about it like that, and I was mind blown as we read those verses. 

Next we talked about how when we are baptized we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost as a constant companion.  As we know, the Holy Ghost gives us promptings on what we should do, and what we shouldn't.  This gift is not free, and the price we must pay is to enter into the waters of baptism and be confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and live worthy to have the Holy Ghost with us.  He asked if all of that answered my question and I said yes, I think so.   He then told me he felt compelled to share something on another subject.  We turned to 2nd Nephi 32 and talked about the Administering of Angels and how in verse 3 is says that, Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost.  I will not go in depth about that, but I want you you go read chapter 32 and ponder what you read.  What I learned from Brother Vaughan and these scriptures is that whether the promptings come from The Light of Christ (D&C 88), The Spirit of The Holy Ghost, or the Administering of Angels (2 Nephi 32), it really doesnt matter.  It doesnt matter because they all come from the same source....Jesus Christ.  This really opened my eyes and gave me some food for thought.  

I am very grateful for the understanding and knowledge that I have.  I know this is the true Church of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is the only way back to our Father, and we need to be anxiously engaged in always staying on the path of righteousness.  We need to be like Nephi, following the Iron Rod back to his father, and not like Laman and Lemual or the others who  were embarrassed or ashamed of the Knowledge that we have.  I am blessed to have the most sought-after knowledge in the world today, and that is that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am only 1 of 80,000 missionaries, but God knows me, and he is cheering me on.  D&C 104: 82,  "And inasmuch as ye are humble and faithful and call upon my name, behold, I will give you the victory."   WE WANT A VICTORY!   That is all for now.

Could you please send the original copy of my Patriarchal Blessing?   I need it.  I will send it back home right after I get it, though.  Also please send a copy of my mission call, not a scanned copy that turns out yellow, but just a regular copy!   THANKS! 

I love you guys so much!!  I pray for you both every night.  THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM IS THE ONLY OPTION!

Elder Harris
Christmas Eve
 Christmas Eve. Elder Enkjargel entertaining us with his magic tricks. 
 "Behold, the field is white and already to harvest." Doc. & Cov. 4:4
 Mongolian Elders and Sisters at the Provo Temple.
 Temple visit with all the Elders in my zone.