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

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