Tuesday, June 23, 2015

This week was fun, tiring, hot, and successful!


So this week was fun, tiring, hot, and successful!

Let's start with fun. Well one of our less active families have moved to their summer home about 1.5 hours from our area in the boundaries of another area, the Axe Hero Branch.  They moved just as the wife and daughter were about to get callings.  We really needed to check on them though, so we took the bus and headed on out. This place is just BEAUTIFUL.  It is in the forested mountain just north of UB.  Sadly, we forgot the camera. We should be going back this week, though, and we will get pictures!  So we checked up on them,. They are staying there for the summer.  I hate that!  But respecting free agency given by our Heavenly Father is something I have learned on my mission.  All you can do is support, wait, and show that you care and remember them.  Well on the walk down this mountain to the bus stop, some lady was watching over her cow herd, nothing unusual here.  Well one cow moo-ed, and the lady yelled in reply, "Duugvi bai" (be quite)!  It was so funny! My companions and I started dying of laughter.. poor lady.  Yes, I said companions.  We have had a mini missionary with us for the past 3 weeks.  I just forget to tell you.  It is Elder Dulguun.  He was my companion about a month or so ago for a week.  So we are a three-some.  Also the bus ride back was nuts. The driver was going faster than all get-out, running a few cars off the road, yelling at passengers... It was nuts!  The conductor was a young man, and jokingly said, "Welcome to the roller coaster!"   We also had a Branch Elders Quorum activity.   We hiked up in the mountains for a 7-hour outing.  It was such a beautiful trip and fun activity that included Mongolian wrestling, tacos, and Elder Browing and his guitar.  He played the whole time and we all sang and hiked together... So relaxing and fun.

Tiring: Well this whole waking up at 630 a.m. and walking all day until 10:30 p.m. for the past 1.5 years thing is finally catching up with me. I feel like I am dying every morning, every day, but then at night, I just can't sleep.  If I could sleep, everything would be better!  My mind just won't shut off.  I just think, and think, and think some more about the life I have right now, and the life that lies ahead.  I have started writing.  I call my writings, "Marc Douglas Harris: Life on Earth."  Just planning a lot of things out...Education, job, church, health, home, family, hobbies, culture, traditions, American pride, etc.   I have many goals, and many things to accomplish.

Hot:  Well it is hot!  I sweat all day and all night.  Good thing mesh garments only cost 35 cents at the church here!   Ryan, I don't care what you say... I LOVE mesh garments.  Also, no hot water in our apartment for the past 2 weeks.   Well some may say that is difficult but I love freezing ice water coming out of the faucets. #CheersToNeverLivingInLasVegasAgain!

Success:  Well we have a baptism this week. Her name is S........! She is 20 years old and a student here in UB.  She has been a fast one. We finished all the lessons  SUPER FAST.  It is only because she could handle it.  She knows the Church is true, has a testimony of Joseph Smith, and can't wait to attend the temple.  She was the investigator asking us if she could pay tithing before we ever even taught it.  There is probably a full-time mission in the future for her too.  She will be a great addition to the youth here in Mongolia! So blessed to have been her missionary, but man that was fast!!  I am used to like 3 months with an investigator, and she was 3 weeks!   Another investigator we have is A.........  She is a 27-ish woman that always comes to the English classes I teach at the Church.  She was one of my students.  She knows the Bible like the back of her hand, and has been to tons of Korean Churches here.  Those are the new and hip churches in Mongolia.  Well she seems to be doing good. She has tons of questions, and I love answering them so our lessons are great.  We kind of got into a little (1.5 hour) discussion on why there is the need for prophets, and the Book of Mormon.   Two things that she has been oblivious to her whole life, even though she goes to other churches.   Reading the Bible here on my mission has truly blessed me, let me tell you that.  I love using doctrine from the Bible, the book she knows and believes in, to persuade her of the truth of our Doctrine and getting her to really thinking and pondering (D & C 121:41-42).  Combine that Bible knowledge with the knowledge and testimony I have of the Book of Mormon and it truly turned to be a "BOOM!" lesson.  It is crazy how the Gift of Tongues works.  Spiritual gifts are real!!  :)

I just want to share how much I love President Benson.  He does so much for all us missionaries, and for me personally.  I thought today about saying good bye to him and Sister Benson in 6 months or so, and it was just like a weird thought, one that I got out of my mind fast!  I will be filled with tears on my end.  I am pretty tough, but a few things get me to cry, such as when I'm touched by the Spirit, the movie Remember the Titans, 4th of July parades, and saying goodbye to people that have changed my life.  He is truly like an older brother to all of us Elders out here.

Well my time is up!  Have a good week and know that I am happy, healthy, and loving life here on my mission, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This church is true!

I love you all,

Elder Harris

At our District Meeting.

Elder Dulguun and I at the activity.

Elder Munkhbold and I at the Branch Elder’s Quorum activity in the forest, north of UB.

Me during our hike at the activity.

 Elder Huckvale and I at my 18-Month Pant Burning.

Elder Huckvale “flipped” at my 18-month pant burning.  Awesome, right?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Hard Week in the City

Dear Family,

Well, this week we got back from Choibalsan on Wednesday.  Man, was that so awesome!  We had a feast there last Monday down at the river.  The Branch bought a sheep for 170,000 toogs (80 bucks).  We went mutton-busting!  I tackled the sheep down to the ground, then we grabbed it by the legs, got them tied up, put it in the back of a little car, and off we went.  I won't go to into detail, but the way they kill it….wow.  My comp and I were two of the four men on the slaughtering squad.  I actually only did the skinning.  The food that was made out of it is called Horhog!  So good!  It is meat that is steamed with veggies in the huge barrel of hot rocks. It took about 4 hours.  Nothing is wasted.   So let’s buy a sheep when I get home and I will show you guys what to do!  Eh?

I was able to meet with such great old friends out there, especially Ganbayar and Naraa, the Mother and Son I baptized.  Naraa is prepared to go to the temple in Hong Kong in September, and Ganbayar’s mission papers are almost done.  He just needs an interview with President Benson.  He should be gone soon! Availability date is September 19th!  I am so blessed to know them!

This week in the city was hard.  Work was slow. One investigator of ours who should have been baptized, wasn’t.  A story for when I get home.  Also, an Elder, a friend of mine, left his mission this week. It was hard on me to see him leave.  Just really sad to have missionaries go home.  Please pray for our mission. It’s so tough when we have Elders or Sisters leave early.  It is scary.  We are so close to having two more stakes in Mongolia, so a total of three!  Satan knows that and is scared. He is working hard here on us missionaries, and with the people we meet with.  Please pray. Heavenly Father protects us, but Satan is real, and he wants to destroy us.  We need His blessings every day for protection against the adversary.  This week I had trash thrown in my face, point blank. Cross that off the bucket list. :)  Another story for when I get home.  Everything is good, though.  I love my mission.

Love you all,

Elder Harris

Back in my Choibalsan.

I love these people!  This is a group picture taken on June 1, 2015, at the Branch activity of the Choibalsan Mongolian Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 Fishing the Herlen River.  Choibalsan, Mongolia. 

Racking up the frequent flier miles.  This is the 12th flight of my mission.

“You follow your companion into war." -Elder Harris- June MLC

 Mutton bustin’.  Got ‘em.

 Viewer discretion….Preparing the sheep!  Elder Hill and I. 

Sheep gut soup!  Nothing is wasted.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Greetings from Choibalsan!

Dear Family,

Well, I made it safe and sound to Choibalsan.  I flew here on Saturday with my companion and Dr. and Sister Lewis, and will stay for five days.  We will fly back to UB on Wednesday, June 3rd.  

Man, I love being back here!  Right now, I am back here in the Clerk's office in the Choibalsan church building writing from my old computer.  Man, I miss this place.  Church on Sunday was so great and I was so blessed to reconnect with so many old friends and faces again.  I just might gain five pounds here in five days, but we will see.  The members were surprised and happy to see me and said that I've lost a lot of weight…That is good news, I guess.  Yesterday I ate at three different member’s houses after church:  Oyunerdene Egch, Damdindorj Ah, and my new members Naraa and Ganbayar's house.  There are so many great memories and flashbacks here to some of the most spiritual parts of my mission so far.  The best news of my trip (and possibly my whole mission) is that Naraa is preparing to go to the Hong Kong Temple in September for her endowments!   She has money saved for it and everything, and has her mind set on going!  Also her son,  Ganbayar, has started his Mission Papers and will have them turned in this month.  May 30th was his one year anniversary as a member, and I was so happy to be here with him for that.  His availability date is September 19th, his 18th birthday!   It is truly overwhelming to look back and see how these two children of our loving Heavenly Father have changed into Covenant Keeping and Covenant Making members of His true church.  Words cannot describe the happiness I have for them and the gratitude I feel to have been their missionary.  If Naraa goes to the temple and Ganbayar leaves for his mission before I leave Mongolia, well, there could literally never be anything that would make me much happier. This church is true.  I love my Savior. He is my Redeemer.  This is His church. 

Today we have a huge Branch activity down by the river.  They bought two sheep for it.  Yep, they slaughterd and cooked them and made horhog. (Susan’s note:  I found this definition of Horhog on the internet:  Horhog is a traditional Mongolian meat dish, which is very popular in camping and outdoor activities.  It is not a dish for two. It should be made at least for 5 people. Horhog cooking is a lot of fun. It entails the spirit of togetherness and sets the beginnings of friendship. The cooking process is simple at first glance, however, it requires practice and intuition. Meat cut in large chunks is cooked with hot stones in a tightly closed aluminum can until it forms a hearty stew. When the cooking is done, the stones are taken out first and given to all horhog eaters. While still hot and greasy, stones should be rolled between palms or held with fingers. Rolling or holding stones with hands is supposed to be good for health because Mongolians believe that the heat and grease from just cooked meat eliminates fatigue and boosts stamina.)   

This past week in Sansar was pretty good.  My companion and I have been able to do pretty good work with our investigator A……..  She is 20 years old and should be baptized this coming week on Friday.  Most likely though next week due to us being here in Choibalsan.  She is great, active in church activities, and has made many friends in the church.  I am really proud of her for all the work she’s done to get to this point.   I’m even more happy and grateful for the work our Heavenly Father has done with her.  Her testimony is strong.

Hey Dad, could you take time and send me the story of Grandpa Harris' conversion?  Sister Lewis, the doctor’s wife, is here with us in Choibalsan and she told her father’s conversion story last night.  It made me think of Grandpa Harris a lot. He changed a lot of lives and the history of our family when he accepted the Gospel.  I never really realized it until last night.  He is a pioneer in our family, and a man who although I didn't know very well, is someone who I love very much. I love you dad. Thanks for being a great Father to me.
Love you all,

Elder Marc Harris

Last year at Naraa’s baptism, with her son Ganbayar and me.  Ganbayar has started his mission papers, and Naraa is preparing to go to the Hong Kong Temple for her endowments.  This makes me so happy!!

My MTC group.  The sisters are getting ready to go home.  Their time in Mongolia is up.

 More goofy shots.

 My MTC group, Huckvale and me!