Monday, February 24, 2014

I Really Love My Area!

Dear Family,

Well hey guys!  I am just here at some video game computer cafe writing this email because I hear you can send pictures from this one!  Keep your fingers crossed and let me know if the pictures come through! 

This week has been such an adventure! So let me give you guys a run down of my typical day!  We wake up at 6:30 a.m., work out, eat, and shower.  At 8:00, Personal Study starts followed by Companion Study at 9:00,  then the 12-Week Training Program at 10:00, Language Study at 11:00, then lunch at 12:00 noon!  We make it to the bus stop by about 12:45 p.m., then ride the bus 15 minutes to our area.  The bus costs about 25 cents.  We make it to our area, and if we have lessons planned, we head there.  As of right now we only have two progressing investigators so we don't have too many lessons planned.  If we are not teaching lessons, we are just walking around, up and down hills, trying to find member's homes to get referrals from, and we also do ITL's, which is pretty much street contacting.  I really can't do that since I'm a "foreigner," but my companion can, so that's nice.   After a long day of walking, hiking, and being barked at by dogs, we make it back to our bus stop at about 9 p.m. and then home we go!   We get home, plan for the next day, and I am out like a light!!  Next morning, wake up, repeat... and so on and so forth. 

I really love my area though!  Our area is set in between two mountains, with the main road running in between. Our area covers pretty much from the bottom of a big hill, all the way to the top and over the other side a little bit.  As I have said, our area is pretty much all hills.  It could be worse though, so I don't complain about it.  The best part is the view!  We have a member, who is pretty much our Area Mother, and she lives at the TOP of a mountain in the area!  It is a hike to get to her house, but when we go, the view is breathtaking!  You can literally see all of UB!   The best feeling though was a few nights ago when we were trying to get over to her house to teach her two kids a lesson about tithing.  First off, we went up the wrong mountain, so we hiked along the ridge of two other mountains to get over to her house, a "ger."   We left at about 5:00 p.m. on our journey and made it there just as the sun was setting!  It was so pretty!  Then after we left her ger, it was about 8:45 p.m., and we started our trek down the mountain to our bus stop.   I cannot tell you how gratifying it was walking down that mountain in the dark of night, with the city lights off in the distance, knowing we put in a long hard days worth of the Lord's work! 

As of now we have two progressing investigators, Sister Althma and Sister Ochbayar.  Sister Althma is so great!  She is so ready for baptism, and we know the gospel has truly blessed her life already.   Her testimony is so strong!  You can pretty much call her the Golden Investigator. She will be baptized on March 14th if all continues the way that it is, but I know nothing will stop this Sister.  Sister Ochbayar is great as well. She was referred to us from a member, and we have met with her three times now.  I had a really incredible experience with her a few days ago during our first lesson with her.  We taught her about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and how we can have a relationship with our Heavenly Father through prayer.  I taught her the "why" and "how" of prayer, then we asked her to pray.  She didn't really want to, so I prayed first, and she agreed to pray after.  Well she prayed for US, my companion and me!   I honestly did not understand a single thing she said except for "Dear Heavenly Father" and "Amen," but I will tell you that I felt the Spirit so strong!  We all felt the Spirit in that room.  It was so powerful, and in our next lesson we asked her how she felt when she prayed and she talked about how peaceful it was and that she wants to keep on praying!  

I am so grateful for the Spirit that is connected with this work.  Like I said, I can hardly understand anything anyone is saying, but the Spirit speaks to make up for it.  This work is real.  I am so blessed to be a part of it!

This week I also went to the Mongolian Immigration Office and was "accepted," I guess!  They took my fingerprints and asked a few questions.  I had to wear street clothes so that was nice!  The undercover work here is great!  HaHa.   No word though on when I will begin teaching English.  

I had one of my "firsts" this week:   For the first time, a dog actually posed a threat to nothing like a little rock to the leg....I was 1 for 1! 

I love you guys so much!  Thanks for all the support!  I am so blessed to have a family like you.  All the members that I show my family pictures to just look at you guys and smile ear to ear!  I love it!

Until next week,
Love, Elder Harris 

My companion and Trainer, Elder Olzyybayr and I. 

Walking through a tunnel on our way back home for the night...

My area... See, all hills!

My area. see the "ger" on the hill to the left? They're all over.

My area

My area

Elder Olzyybayr and I.

Where I sleep.... and yes, it is pink.

Home sweet home!

Inside our Branch President's ger. By the way, a "ger" is the traditional house of the nomads in Mongolia.  It is tent-like with a wood frame and covered with wool. It can break-down and collapse easily and also can be put together again after its been moved. 

This is our Church building. It's called the Khilthaast building. It is kind of like our church buildings back home, but three floors instead of one. Also, is is narrower in width than ours at home. It only has one hallway on one side, instead of both sides. It is like 30 minutes from the mission home. 

Looking through the gate in my area, into a yard. You can get a good look at a ger. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

I'm not in Kansas Anymore!

Muhuu Ger Bolth,

Well it is safe to say I'm not in Kansas anymore!  Well everyone I am here in MONGOLIA!  This place is incredible.....cold, cold, COLD, new, and AMAZING!  I am so blessed to finally be here and doing the Lord's work. How great is my calling!

Well after a very long flight, stopping at LAX, and Korea, we made it to Mongolia! When we got off the airplane it was time to go through Immigration, which we have heard is the "make it or break it" point.  We can't declare any religious affiliation, we are English teachers.  As I approached the Immigration counter, I'll be honest, my heart was beating 100 miles per hour and I was very nervous. The good thing is, they didn't ask me any questions and I went right on through!  Haha, there was nothing to worry about!   We got our bags and then our new friend, Batbolt, the Mission Driver, grabbed us and we went to his car.   It took about 30 minutes to get to the mission home, and on our way there, I was literally in shock!  This is such an amazing place, and it is definitely not as "third world" as I thought!  There were nice cars everywhere and people wearing nice clothes!  Seems weird that I am saying that, but I was not expecting that!   One of the first things I noticed right off the bat was that there are 100% no road rules!  ANYTHING GOES!  I'm dead serious.  I was kinda scared a couple times, but we made it to the Bayanzurhk safely!

We then met President Benson and his family!  They are so great, and I really felt their love for me right from the start.  Sis. Benson made us tacos for dinner and we had played some get to know you games.  Their kids are soooo cute and funny!  They were crawling all over me, and soon enough we were rock climbing in their room! President Benson interviewed me, and then we were off to bed. I went and stayed with Elder Hill and Elder Sims for the night. They are great Elders, and have been here for a while.

The next day we walked back to the Mission Home real early in the morning.  I considered this my first walk on Mongolian soil.  Holy cow!  It was nuts.  I felt like I was in a movie or something.  We were walking through straight slums.  I mean trash everywhere, pigeons everywhere, old rusty playgrounds everywhere, and an extreme amount of pollution!  Once we made it to the Mission Home we had some training, then the AP's took us out to lunch!  My first mongolian meal was........Sheep with potatoes, carrots, and onions.  It actually was really good!  The AP's ordered for me, so I just had to trust them!  To drink I had a nice boiling glass of some mystery juice.  That night I went back out with Elder Sims and Elder Hill, and taught a few lessons.  It was a great experience to say the least. Thursday night we had a huge training with President, and all the new missionaries were assigned their Trainers.  My trainer wasn't there because he was traveling in from Muran, the countryside.
So that night I spent the night with Elder Papenfuss and Elder Ericsson.

Friday, my trainer arrived!  Elder Ulziibayar!  He is a native Mongolian!  I was kind of nervous at first, but he does speak a little English so that made me really ecstatic!  He is a 3-year convert, and he is from here in UB.  He is such a great Elder, and a great example to me.  He keeps me in check!   But anyways, later we moved into our apartment and went to the Zack to buy a lot of meat, potatoes, carrots, and onions.  Elder Ulziibayar is a great cook, so I am very excited about that!

We then went to the Mission Home where I met a member, who turns out to be my sponsor, but I didn't know this at the time. She took me to her car and we were off!  Well soon enough, we were pulling into a building and getting out of the car. I really had no clue what was going on, so I just followed her.  We waited in a long line, and then we were taken into a little room, where a nurse was waiting for me.   So I am assuming it was a hospital of some sorts.  Well my name was called and they motioned for me to roll my sleeves up. So.....I am in a pretty sketchy building, which turns out to be a hispital, in the middle of Mongolia, and they want to take my blood!   Well I was pretty nervous, but the blood drawing commenced...haha!  Then we went to another building where I had to go into a room, take off everything but my pants, and they put me in this weird machine and did some tests.  I am not sure still to this day what it was, but I assume it was an X-Ray.  Oh, I'm making memories!   Saturday we left our house around 12 noon and rode a bus out to our area.  We are serving in Xaalthaast, and we are "White Washing" it,  which means we are both brand new to the area.  The area is about 30 minutes from where we live, so the bus ride is required.  Bus rides are Crazy....Anything goes.  Once we made it out to our area,  we just walked around with our member list trying to meet members.  We walked around from about 1 till 8 p.m. and we didn't find a single soul.  That's just how it goes though!  The neighborhoods here have no structure or organization so it is very hard to find out where people live.  Good thing I have a native with me or else it would be impossible.  After my first full day of work, I was dog tired and crashed at about 9:45, thirty minutes after we got home.

Sunday was great!  We went to a member's home before church and had lunch!  This was my first member meal, so I was pretty excited!  We had a lot of Boads (like dumplings), which are Mongolia's traditional food, and then some mystery soup.  I still have no clue what it was but there was a sufficient amount of fat floating throughout it.  Church was great!   Elder Wilson of the Asia Area Presidency came and spoke in Sacrament Meeting.  He spoke in English so that was the only thing I understood all sacrament.  He did have a translator so the Mongolians could understand.  After Sacrament, I taught my first lesson to one of our progressing investigators!  Her name is Althmaa Egch, and she is scheduled to be baptized on March 14th!  We taught her about being obedient, reading her scriptures, and the importance of prayer.  My companion had me carry the load in this discussion, so I was on the spot!  I did the best that I could and she understood everything I said, which wasn't that much, but I would consider it a success!  Sunday night we went to the Branch President's home and had dinner, mystery soup again, and discussed how to strengthen the branch! They spoke a little English so I could understand the overall jist of the meeting.

All and all, I love this place!   I know I was called here for a reason, and I can't wait to find out why!   I am so blessed to have a member of the church as my sponsor!  This means I will have so many more opportunities, so for that I am feel truly blessed.  This place is a whole new world with stray dogs, drunk guys on the streets, and pollution beyond belief.  UB is said to be the world's most polluted city, but I am loving every minute of it!  This work is work!   It is hard and tiring, but I wouldnt have it any other way.  I know this gospel is true, and I am truly a messenger of Jesus Christ.  How great is my call!

I love you guys!

Elder Harris

This picture was taken from our airplane as we were flying over Mongolia. I don't know where we were. 

This picture is of the sisters that traveled with me, our trainers, President Benson on the right, and his two kids. Ulaanbaatar is in the background. It was freezing!

With my trainer and companion, Elder Ulziibaytar. Notice that Elder Ulziibaytar has his mission badge on. He can wear it because he is a native. I cannot wear my missionary badge, except in church settings.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Dear Family,
I am here in the mission president's home safe and sound. It is 7:30 pm Tuesday night.  We just had an excellent dinner with him, his wife, and kids. I am so blessed to be here, and I am ready to get to work!  I think he is going to let us rest tonight, so we will get to work tomorrow!
I love you guys!
Elder Harris

Saturday, February 8, 2014


ATTENTION! UPDATE!  FLIGHT PLANS HAVE JUST BEEN CHANGED!!  Disregard the last travel plans I sent!!

So Sister Sneddon's VISA CAME!!!  She is now flying with us to Mongolia!   So glad we didn't have to leave her behind.  BUT, they couldn't get her on the same flight as us so they COMPLETELY CHANGED OUR FLIGHT PLANS!  We aren't flying to Beijing now, we will be flying to Seoul, Korea!


We are NOW leaving the MTC at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 9th.

We fly Delta Airlines Flight 4543 from SLC to LA:
Depart: 1:55 p.m., Arrive: 2:56 p.m.

We then board Korean Air Flight 12 from LA to SEOUL, Korea:
Depart: 11:50 p.m., Arrive 6:20 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11th

We then board Korean Air Flight 5865 from SEOUL to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia:
Depart: 1:30 p.m., Arrive 4:15 p.m.

Sorry for the last minute change!  But those are the plans!  I will call you guys in SLC and LA still.

The Sisters, Brother Wilson, Sister Largin and myself all just went and did sealings in the temple together.  It was so awesome!   I love you guys!

Elder Harris

My Last Email from the MTC- Next from Mongolia!

MuHuu Ger Booth, (My Family)

Well this will be the last email that I will send from America...for the next 2 years! How surreal is that?   I feel so glad and privileged to say that my stay at the MTC has been such an amazing time.  I have learned so much about who I am, and who I want to continue to work towards being.  I have had so many spiritual confirmations in these past nine weeks.  I know this church is true, and I know Joesph Smith truly saw God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ.  I know I am protected as a missionary and that my calling is divine.  I am so honored to be called as a missionary to Mongolia.  Adults and Missionaries here in the MTC see that I am going to Mongolia, and their jaws drop.  I can't count the number of times I have heard that there is a certain type of missionary that gets called to Mongolia, so I am hoping and praying I meet those requirements over these next 2 years.  I know the Lord is helping me, and I truly am standing in His place as a missionary.  Even though I can't wear my missionary badge in Mongolia, I know that If I will be the type of Missionary I need to be, the people of Mongolia will know who I am and who I represent by my countenance.  This is truly the biggest blessing.
This past Tuesday we heard from David F. Evans of the Seventies again.  He spoke all about families.  It really rang true to me and I felt so close to you guys when he was speaking.  I am so grateful for the sealing powers that are on this earth today.  I know I can be with you all for eternity if we stay worthy.  There is a quote by Lorenzo Snow, and I am going to butcher it but he more or less said, "The fear of death has been risen from the Saints."  That is such a true statement in so many ways.  I pray that we will all live our lives in such a way that we will always be together.  That none of us will have to go through the pain of seeing a love one not reach the requirements of eternal life.  I love you guys so much mom and dad.  I am so grateful for the way you have raised Matt, Ryan, and myself.   I am so grateful for the temple and the role is plays in our salvation.  Elder Evans said, "Endure to your endowment, then endure to your Temple Marriage.  That is the main reason you came to earth."  I loved that.  It gives you so much perspective on what the two most important things in life are.  Our covenants between God and ourselves, and our covenants between God and our family.  Family can be together forever, this I know. 

Well Mom, I hope I answer all your questions! Here it goes! 

Regarding money for travel and a Mongolian Winter Coat, I think what you put on my card last week will be just fine.  Thanks so much for that!  I will be calling you guys, Matt, and Ryan from SLC and LA.  I don't know if I can talk on the bus ride to SLC, but I will see what I can do. You guys better answer or I will have to leave a voice mail in Mongolian and you will never know what I said!  Our bus leaves from the MTC at 6:00 pm, so I should be calling around 7:30 pm probably, and then again in LA.

Here are our flight plans:

Delta Air Lines flight 635: SLC to LA:      
Departure: 9:45, Arrival: 10:52

Air China flight 984: LA to Beijing:          
Departure: 12:40 a.m. on Monday the 10th, Arrival: 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday the 11th

Air China flight 901: Beijing to Ulan Bator, Mongolia:  
Departure: 11:55 a.m. Tuesday the 11th, Arrival: 2:30 p.m. Tuesday the 11th 

From what I know right now, we will wear P-Day clothes of the plane, not missionary suit and tie or badge!  Sister Sneddon's Visa has been sent to D.C. to get approved and whatnot so we will see when she leaves.  She is definitely going to Mongolia, we just don't know when.

In class we have been doing just a lot of application of the language. Things like giving directions, calling of the phone, ect. The language will be hard when I get there, I know, but I have faith that if I just put myself out there and give it my best effort, the Lord will help me, and the Mongolians will respect this Average White Boy speaking their language! 

Mom feel free to give my email out, but no promises that I will be able to reply to everyone that sends emails. Time is limited, and my family is most important. 

So I will be doing a lot of packing today, and tomorrow, and Sunday.  I will be struggling to make weight with my bags due to the fact that I have 8 pounds of presents that the Mongolian missionaries gave to me to take home to their families.  Oh, well, glad to do it ... you gotta love them!

So that picture with President Clark and his wife in it from last week, he was the previous Mongolian mission president before President Benson.  He was just released like 5 months ago. He is in a branch presidency here at the MTC so we see him all the time.  He is a great man, with tons of helpful insights on living in Mongolia.

Just for you mom.... I have gained like 3 pounds in the MTC.... haha no losing weight here!  As we speak I am weighing in at a solid 198. Rock solid. Maybe. :/

Last night we had Culture Day.  All of our teachers came in and we all wore Mongolian Traditional clothes and we saw all their pictures and home videos!  I really can't even stand not being there already, right now.  It will be so incredible and life changing.  Everything I wanted in a mission....I got, and Aunt Jill is my witness on that!   I love this gospel and I love my purpose.

Next week you will hear from me from the Land of the Blue Sky, and -35 degree weather... MONGOLIA HERE I COME!

Love to you all,

Elder Marc Harris
Cool Chinese elder in my branch.

Elder Lattin who is my assistant zone leader.

Letting out some energy, enjoying a clear day. 

Enjoying a clear day at the temple with the sisters.

Looking dapper in my Mongolian hat!

The sisters and I in our Mongolian wear.

Studying in my Mongolian Wrestling hat.

Sister Hansen and I.

Traditional Mongolian attire.

Another language teacher of mine, Brother Jolley and I.

One of our language teachers, Sister Larjin and I. 

Eating one of my last meals at the MTC cafeteria. 

Studying, hard at work.

Yep, Mongolia! There's where I'm headed!

The sisters and I in front on the world map.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Got My Flight Plans! So excited!

Cauh bauha yy?

Well family, I GOT MY FLIGHT PLANS!!!  I LEAVE ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 9TH!!  We fly from SLC to LAX, from LAX to Bejing, China, then onto Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia!   I am so excited!!
I am happy to say that I have now passed the 7 week mark in the wonderful Provo MTC!   How bittersweet it is to know that I only have about 10 more days here!   Two weeks from now I will be in Mongolia, living in sub-zero temperatures walking up and down the streets doing the Lord's work.  Words cannot describe how excited I truly am.   Yes, there is a little bit of a fear of the unknown, but that is mostly just because of the language.   But, you know me, I am aways DOWN for an adventure, and Mongolia truly will be the adventure of a lifetime.  I know the Lord will bless me. I am on His errand, and He didn't call me to fail. 

So last Friday I went to the Provo Temple, and had the opportunity to do an endowment session.  One of our teachers, Wilson Ax, came with us and did a session. So as we were walking in he said, "I want to get the Mongolian translation for the movie!"  So he booked it down to some translation place in the temple, and got a set of headphones that translated the session into all Mongolian.   It was so cool!  To my surprise, we were able to watch the old movie!   It was nice to have a change, but man was it old.  About half way through,Wilson  turns to me and asks me if I want to listen in Mongolian?  Of course I did, so I put on the headphones, and there I was listening to a temple session in Mongolian!  It was crazy!   I maybe understood 5%, but hey, it is a work in progress!  Afterwards we were in the Celestial Room, and we were greeted by all the missionaries who are in the MTC from Mongolia!  It was so cool to be in the temple with them.  We were all in a circle kind of quietly chatting and whatnot, and then Sister Mashbat (from Mongolia) says, "Harris Zalthbrin" (which means, Harris Pray).   I was taken back, and was like there is no way that I am doing this right here!  She just stared at me and folded her arms, closed her eyes, and bowed her head and said, "Harris, I'm waiting."  Now I was on the spot!  I looked around and all the Mongolians and my teacher followed the example of Sister Mashbat.  So right there in the Celestial Room I offered a broken Mongolian prayer.  It was actually a really cool experience, and one that I will never forget.

Last Saturday we had a TRC (where we teach Mongolian RM's lessons).  But this week, to our surprise, we had a REAL investigator show up, who was from Mongolia!  Now we were really on the spot!  This was the real deal!   Sister Hansen and I were so nervous, but we went in there with faith, and it went great!  He is an 18 year old foreign exchange student that goes to Timpview High.  We taught him about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but he told us he already had a testimony of both of those, and he had already decided to get baptized!  Wow, LETS GO!  How awesome is that!  We asked him when he wanted to get baptized, but he wouldn't tell us a date.  He kinda had that "I'll get around to it" attitude, which isn't bad, but he is so ready!  Hopefully we'll teach him again tomorrow!  Pray for us and him as well!

EIL (English as an International Language) Training started this week!  It has been great, and very helpful!  I am so excited to get over to Mongolia and teach English!  So I have learned that we are the ONLY mission in the whole world that is required to get EIL certified in order to enter a country!   Another reason why Mongolia is the best and most unique mission in the world!  So once we get there, we become employed by our sponsor.  He or she is our boss for the most part, and if we don't make him or her happy, they won't sign our Visa's for the second year!  So this is the real deal!  We will enter the country as English Teachers, and if we don't make them happy, we are gone!  That really gave us so much more motivation in this EIL class. Today is our last day of the class, which I am pretty excited about, because we have had it from 8 am to 12 noon every day this week, so there has been quite a lack of Mongolian Language learning this week. 

Last week we were able to hear from Sister Sheri Dew!  She is such an amazing Sister in the Church!  Her testimony and bluntness about the gospel of Jesus Christ really got to me.  I am so grateful I had the opportunity to hear from her because I have always heard she is such a spiritual giant, and that rumor was confirmed!  This past Tuesday we heard from Elder Martino, of the Seventies.  He talked all about member missionary work, and pulled all of his talk from the the chapters in Alma where Alma and Amulek become companions and teach the gospel together.  He said something about investigators that really struck me, and I want to share it with you. He said, "While at first they may not accept the gospel, if we persist, the Lord will bless the heart of those we love."  The ones we love are our investigators.  All we have to do is love them, and if we do, we will be blessed, but most importantly the Lord will bless THEM more than they could ever imagine, and someday they will accept this gospel for the truth that it is. 

I love this work mom and dad.  I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  These past 7 weeks have flown by, and it is so crazy to think I only have about 22 months left really scares me.  I know I will not want to come home, and I will be wishing to stay a little longer in the freezing Mongolian weather.  Although I can barely speak the language, I know that Heavenly Father knows me personally and he will bless me.  I can't wait to send me first email from Mongolia!  The church is true. I know that. 


Elder Harris

My EIL Certificate

My EIL teachers, Brother Anderson and Brother Evans... and me!

My EIL teachers, me, the Sisters, and President and Sister Clark