Monday, December 14, 2015

My Last Letter as a Missionary

Dear Family,

As I have pondered on what to write about today, I have realized that nothing is as important to me as my gratitude and testimony that I've been blessed with over and over and over again here in Mongolia. The opportunity to come here, Mongolia, and be a representative of Jesus Christ, was only given to me by a loving Savior through His infinite atonement. The gratitude I have in regards to the opportunity to serve here in Mongolia among these people, the Mongolians, is something I truly I cannot express in words or in my final letter home.  However, it is something I will continue to try to express throughout my life by example "in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity," as Paul said to Timothy.

A mission is not about stories. Those are important, but for talks down the road with my family and friends. It is about things obtained spiritually. It is about habits and knowledge obtained.

As my time in the mission field comes to an end, I have reflected much upon my Heavenly Father and His only begotten son, Jesus Christ. I know that we have a Father in Heaven. He is perfect, and He loves us and knows us infinitely and perfectly. He knows His children. He made a plan of us. This plan gives us the opportunity to live with Him again for forever and ever. In this plan, there was a need for a Savior. One who would stoop below them all. One to be led like a lamb to the slaughter. One to tread the wine press alone. One to suffer in a garden for the sins, pains, afflictions, and shortcoming of all of God's children. One to be nailed to a tree, die, then three days later, walk out of a rented tomb, conquer death and prove that the grave has no victory. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Heavenly Father send His son, Jesus Christ.   He is Emmanuel, Jehovah, our Redeemer, our Advocate with the Father, but most of all He is our Brother. I know He lives. I know He atoned for our sins so we too, like Him, can conquer death, be delivered from our sins, and meet our Heavenly Father again in that great day (Alma 11:44).  I love Jesus Christ. I testify that He is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. I testify that His love is infinite, and forever with us. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

I can testify that Christ formed His church through priesthood power when He was on the Earth during His short ministry. That being so, it also fell into an apostasy, a time where God took his priesthood power from the world. In 1820, when the time was right, Heavenly Father restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth again in its fullness as so was the gospel in the primitive church containing "...apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth." He did so through Joseph Smith. Joseph was a prophet. He was called of God to do a special work. Through him the Priesthood was once again restored to the earth, never to be taken away again. John Taylor said, "Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it."  I love that man, and  I testify that he restored the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days, The fullness of times. "Millions shall know 'Brother Joseph' again."

I can testify that families can be together forever through priesthood ordinances. Families are ordained of God. I testify that a family consists of husband and wife and is essential to Heavenly Father's plan for us returning to Him again. I can also testify that I know ..."God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to only be used between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife." (The Family a Proclamation to the World). Just as God places care and concern on how His children return to Him by giving us the commandment that “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13), He cares how His children enter this earth. "Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ." I know this to be true.

I know the Book of Mormon to be the true, pure, word of God. Together with the Bible, we have the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love Mongolia. Mongolia has truly become my home. The true blood of Israel is here. The lost tribes of Israel are here. My work here has not been anything less than truly gathering Israel. The prophet Zenos talks of this in the Book of Mormon. The love of the Father is real. I have been so blessed to have been given the opportunity to serve in the Ulaanbaatar Mongolia Mission. (Jacob 5:71-72)

I love these people. They changed my life. My family and I will forever be grateful for the Mongolian people. Хангай шиг сайхан xүмүүс. 

Family, I love you. I am so proud to be a Harris. This truly has been the best two years of my life. 

"And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God." (Alma 42:4)

-Elder Marc Douglas Harris
Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission 2013-2015

#A Savior is Born!  Elder Harris and Elder Hatton in front of Genghis Khan’s statue in frozen UB, Mongolia.

 Elder Tsend-Ayush and I.

A selfie with President Benson!  A picture to treasure!

Brother Batbold and I.  Brother Batbold is our “everything” man here in the mission.  He has worked for the mission for 20 years.  He is such a great example to all of us missionaries!  I LOVE him!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Flew to Khovd, Mongolia for the Weekend

Dear Family,

Well I write you today from Khovd, Mongolia, буюу Ховд Монгол.  We are out here on assignment from President.   We are here to go on splits with the Elders, no other reason but to just work with them and report to President on how they are doing.  Being this far away from the body of the church in UB can be hard, ya know.  I remember those feelings when I was way out in Choibalsan a year ago.  It was a special experience to attend church meetings with them.  I gave a talk on tithing and Elder Hatton gave a talk on the atonement.    Khovd is the farthest city away from Ulaanbaatar where there is a Branch of the Church.  If you look at Google Maps, it is like 900+ miles west of UB, so that being said, I just keep up racking my frequent flyer miles seeing more and more of the beautiful country of Mongolia and meeting the faithful Saints from this branch of the Lord’s vineyard!  I have now flown 13 times on my mission, with four flights still left.

Well, we left for Khovd on Saturday around noon, and we landed around 3:00 p.m.….not in Khovd, but in Ulaangom, Uvs Mongolia (Улаангом, Увс Монгол).  So we got off the plane "thinking" it was Khovd.   Seeing an opportunity to have some fun with two young Americans, the flight attendant and a (come to find out) less-active member of the Church who was on the plane also, played with us and told us we got on the wrong plane!!   Elder Hatton and I were kind of worried about how to tell President we got on the wrong flight, but we were also way pumped seeing that we are easily the first Elders to touch foot in the Uvs Province.  There is no church Branch there.  So anyway, after a bit, we realized they were joking with us, but we never found out why we landed there.  After about 20 minutes of just waiting on the runway, we got back on the plane and headed to Khovd.  The mountains were absolutely breathtaking as we flew right at cloud level.  Easily the prettiest mountains I have ever seen.

We got to Khovd and just got to work with the two Elders out here, Elder Mulder and Elder Bat-Orshih.  They are the only two missionaries out here in Khovd.  They are doing great and it has been fun to work with them.  Today we had the opportunity to go to the Western Mongolia National Museum. Here in the Khovd Province, there are nine nationalities, or tribes, of Mongolia.  At this museum, they have each tribe’s National ger, clothes, etc. on display for learning and Kodak moments.  It is safe to say we got tons of pictures of us in all the different clothes. My favorite was the Kazakhstan ger and clothes.  My old companion, Elder Murat, is Kazak, so it was just fun to be in a Kazak ger.  Their culture is really colorful as you can tell from the pictures!  Next we went up a huge staircase to a little mountain to a Зайсан look out point and just took in all of Khovd and it's greatness!   An interesting bit of information...The Khovd Province is known mostly around the world for their….(drum roll).....SNOW LEOPARDS!  Yes Kinzie and Addisyn….SNOW LEOPARDS!  I know that the Snow Leopards we saw at the Boise Zoo are from here. To see a snow leopard in the wild would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for someone, but that time was obviously not today for us!

Next we were off to the airport to catch our plane back to UB, but when we got to the airport we realized our flight was not until tomorrow.  The dates are off a little over here, I guess ;)   So we just made good friends with the taxi driver and will be using him tomorrow for our taxi.  Elder Hatton and I are having a great time and really have become great friends. He is a stud. Honestly the most humble kid I have ever met and he will be a life long friend.  He is truly an amazing disciple of Christ.

Well, the days are getting few…..Don't really know how to describe the feelings I have. Ээжээ дахиад тэврэхэд бэлэн байна гэвч Монгол эх ороноосоо уугуул нутагдаа буцахад яг үнэн хэлэхдээ бэлэн биш шүү. Би бол яахав дээ хөөгдөж явна л даа гэвч зүрх сэтгэл минь Монголдоо үлдэнэ ээ...

Ахлагч Харрис

Thanksgiving Dinner with our District.

 Elder Bat-Orshih, me, and Elder Mulder here in ховд монгол (Khovd, Mongolia).

Western Mongolia National Museum.

 Here we are at the Western Mongolia National Museum.  Elder Hatton and I.

Western Mongolia National Museum.

 Elder Hatton and I are here in Khovd, Mongolia.  We flew here on Saturday and will fly back to UB on Monday.  We are splitting with Elder Mulder and Elder Bat-Orshih.    We took this from a lookout point.   Khovd Province is known mostly around the world for their…….. (drum roll) ...SNOW LEOPARDS!   Yes Kinzie and Addisyn….SNOW LEOPARDS!  I know that the Snow Leopards we saw at the Boise Zoo are from here. They are obviously like a once-in-a-lifetime see for someone, and that time was not today! 

Here is where Khovd is located in relation to Ulaanbaatar in the center of Mongolia.   You can also see Choibalsan in the far eastern part of the country.