Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Last One!

This is WAY long overdue, but this is the last email that I wrote home when I was a missionary:

I'm not even sure how to start this email. It still feels like I am a new missionary! How is it possible that it's already time to go home?

I will forever be thankful that I came on a mission. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has given me this privilege to serve. I have seen people change so much and be happier than they ever thought that they could be. I can definitely say the same about myself. I am a different person because I served a mission, and I have found a happiness that I didn't know that I could have.

A while ago someone asked me about things that I love about being a missionary. Here's the list that I've come up with.

Things that I love about being a missionary:

The Spirit
My companions
Seeing the Atonement work first hand
Loving people like I didn't ever know that I could
Learning about the pioneers!
Gaining a whole Visitor's Center full of best friends
Talking to people (Never thought that I'd say that)
Change (Or that)
Quoting The Testaments and The Joseph Smith Movie
Giving tours
Seeing miracles
Reading the Book of Mormon every day
Constantly learning new things (Even though most of the time I learn the hard way...)
Trusting in Heavenly Father
Coming to know The Savior

And the best part of it all? It doesn't have to end here! There is always more to learn and there is always something that we can do to be closer to Jesus Christ.

On my mission, I have had 12 companions, 5 areas, served at 2 Visitor's Centers, and have had too many incredible experiences to count. I wouldn't trade a second of it for anything, even the hard times. It's during those times that I have learned to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That's the most important thing that I have learned on my mission. We can always change because He always loves us. The Atonement is available to all of us. It doesn't matter how far we have gone away. It's always there. I think of this quote from Elder Holland's talk "It's Never Too Late":

"I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable [see Matthew 20:1–15], but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or distance from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines."

I know that this is true. The Atonement covers all of us, no questions asked. The only decision to be made is ours: Are we going to use the Atonement in our lives?

I am SO thankful that I came on a mission. It truly has been the best decision that I have ever made.

Love you!

Sister Harris

Monday, May 5, 2014

Miracle of the Week

Awesome miracle of the week:

For some background: Our phone went caput a few weeks ago, and we had to get another one, so all of out contacts were lost. As a result, we get a lot of phone calls from numbers that we don't know. 

Fast forward to this week:

We were out in our area and stopped at a gas station to go to the bathroom (any guesses about who asked to stop? haha)

Sister Peterson and I were waiting for Sister Rogers, and I heard this music. For some reason it didn't register that it was our phone, and I missed the call.
I usually don't call or text people back...especially when I don't know the phone number. I'm awful, I know. haha.  But for some reason, I immediately called the phone number back to find out who it was.
This lady answered the phone and started saying that she called the wrong number and that she was trying to reach someone else, and that she was sorry for calling. So I told her that she was just fine and that it totally happens. Somehow, we ended up striking up a conversation. She asked what we did as missionaries, and a little bit about the church. 

We ended up teaching a whole lesson over the phone, complete with scriptures from the Book of Mormon.The timing of it was so perfect because we were able to talk about things that were happening in her life, and how the gospel can help her to have peace through trials. 

As it turns out, her neighbor is LDS, and has the missionaries over all the time. She said that usually when the missionaries knock on her door, she ignores it.
I asked her if she would want missionaries to come and talk to her and tell her more. She said yes!
We happened to know the Sisters that are in her area, so we called them up and they went and visited her. 

It was such a miracle! Everything had just lined up perfectly for that phone call. We probably wouldn't have had a conversation if I had just answered the phone the time that she called. Heavenly Father always has a plan!

We also had our exchanges this week! I went with Sister Jensen (my old companion from Loess Hills!) and Sister Rogers to the Ralston Area, and Sister Peterson stayed with Sister Seguin in Rockbrook.
Exchanges were SO fun! It honestly felt like I was just hanging out with my friends, but we were also doing missionary work, which makes it 10 times better!
On exchanges, we did service, talked to a LOT of people, and taught their awesome investigator that is getting baptized this weekend. It was SO great!

Those were the highlights of the week!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Easter!

Spring at Winter Quarters

Happy Easter!
I hope everyone had a great day.  We worked at the Trail Center, had church, and then had dinner at a member's house. He got us each Easter baskets filled with chocolate, chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, zoo passes, a huge box of fruit, and gave us the leftovers from dinner. It was crazy! haha Then we just went out to try and visit some people.
I took a cool tour at the TC yesterday. Sister Hamilton and I took two architects on tour that work on temples for the church. That was sweet! I guess the church has like 7 or 8 firms that they hire to build temples. It was cool to hear a little bit about that and to compare it to building the Nauvoo temple (which took 5 years) and the Salt Lake City temple (which took 40 years). 

And here's a conversation from another dinner:
We were trying to share a thought and calm everyone down... One kid was running around in a cape.
Sister Peterson: "Hey, who's your favorite superhero?"
Kid: "Superman!!"
Sister Peterson: "Can I tell you about another superhero?"
Kid: "The Green Lantern?"
Sister Peterson: "Well, I was going to talk about your Dad"
Kid: "Dad's the Green Lantern??"

There was no getting it back from that point. From then on, Dad was the Green Lantern. Awesome.

Is everybody finishing up the Book of Mormon with me?  Let me know where you are!!

Here are a few pictures:
Our apartment the day I moved in.

Awesome member family

adorable little boy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Things I Wish I'd Done Before I Got Here

Ok, so here are the things that I wish that I had done to prepare for my mission:
  • Study the Book of Mormon daily and gain a testimony of it
  • Go out with the missionaries
  • Study Preach My Gospel

Probably the first and biggest thing that I wish that I had done was read the Book of Mormon daily! I read it, but not consistently. I had a testimony of it, but it could have been so much stronger!
I have learned on my mission that no other amount of gospel study can replace studying the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth and it is a direct and powerful way to invite the Spirit into our lives. If we want to gain a testimony of any Gopsel principle, we need to read the Book of Mormon. If we want to stay converted to the Gospel, we need to read the Book of Mormon. It's kind of my go-to answer for pretty much every problem. READ THE BOOK OF MORMON!!!

The next is go out with the missionaries! This can definitely seem scary.

What if you say the wrong thing? What if you can't say anything at all?

Don't worry about it!! We are all promised that we will be given the words to say exactly when we need it. Have faith in that promise! I have seen it fulfilled so many times. I can't even count all of the times on my mission when I have opened my mouth to talk and words came out that weren't mine at all.

I can't even say how important members are to the work. There is no point in missionaries being there if the members aren't going to participate. We as missionaries are here to help the members to do their missionary work, not the other way around.

The third thing that I wish that I had done was study Preach My Gospel. I think it was Elder Holland who said that Preach My Gospel was planned on one side of the veil and assembled on the other. (Something like that. Even if he didn't, it's still a cool thought and I wouldn't doubt it!)
It is SUCH an inspired manual. For anyone preparing to go on a mission, make it a habit to study! Especially the first three lessons that are in chapter 3.

I definitely recommend all of these for all members, not just ones preparing for a mission!!
"The decision to serve a mission will shape the spiritual destiny of the missionary, his or her spouse, and their posterity forgenerations to come. A desire to serve is a natural outcome of one’s conversion, worthiness, and preparation" Elder Russell M. Nelson

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lesson From a Four Year Old

I took an awesome tour this week! It was this cute little family. The parents were switching off watching the kids while the other one was in the temple. Sister Samuels and I went and walked around with them for a little bit.
They had this little boy that was SO cute!! He was almost 4, I think.
But we were walking around, and this cute kid knew a TON about the pioneers and the gallery.
He would push the buttons and start the program things, and tell us "Shhhhh! Be quiet while he's talking!" SO cute!

At one point in the tour, the Dad asked the little boy, "What do the pioneers do?"
I was expecting him to say something like, "They walk a lot" or "They have handcarts", but instead he said something pretty profound. He said, "They build temples! Kirtland, Nauvoo, and Salt Lake City."
Besides it being pretty much the cutest thing EVER, it was just so profound! And so true!

We focus a lot on the pioneers getting away from persecution, which definitely was a huge part of their exodus, but I think that we sometimes forget the reason why they did all that they did. 
They know that a prophet had been called again on the earth and that the original Gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored through him! 

As a direct result of that, they were able to make covenants, or promises with God, both through baptism and through partaking of the ordinances in the temple. They pioneers knew how much the temple would bless their lives. They knew without a doubt that they could be together forever with their families and that they could find peace and strength through their temple covenants.

I am SO thankful for the temple and for the peace that comes into my life because of it! I love to share this quote from President Thomas S. Monson on tour:
"Some degree of sacrifice has ever been associated with temple building and with temple attendance. Countless are those who have labored and struggled in order to obtain for themselves and for their families the blessings which are found in the temples of God.
Why are so many willing to give so much in order to receive the blessings of the temple?

Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort."

I definitely know that this is true! Getting to the temple is worth every sacrifice that we could make to get there, and in turn we are blessed with more than we could have ever given up.

I am so thankful to serve here and I am thankful for the wonderful examples of the pioneers. They truly testify with us as we tell their stories!

PS I PROMISE that I am writing a "What I wish that I would have known/done before my mission" post! It's coming soon! :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Typical Day!

I got a letter this week that asked me all about my typical day as a missionary, and what are some things that I had done/wish that I would had done to prepare for my mission.
So, in response to that, I'm writing a blog post! :)

My typical day is a little bit weird in comparison to a regular missionary day because I get to serve at a Visitor's Center, but I'll definitely tell you all about a day in the life of Sister Harris!

A regular morning, when we aren't serving at the Trail Center looks like this:
6:30 Wake up, exercise
7:00 Get ready, eat breakfast
8:00 Personal Study
9:00 Companion Study
10:00 Book of Mormon study
10:30 Go out to the area!
If we serve at the Trail Center for the morning shift, we have to be there by 8:45 and we stay until 3. Then we do a shortened version of our studies afterwards. If we serve the afternoon shift, we go at 3:00 and stay until 9:00.

When we go out to the area, we usually try to have appointments instead of dropping in on people (because nobody likes that!) But we're basically up and going all day long, until we get home at 9:00 at night. We get an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner, but we try to have meal appointments with members as often as we can.
At 9:00 we plan our next day. We have a plan for every 1/2 hour with a back up plan for every time slot just in case something doesn't work out.
Then we have some time to unwind and get ready for bed. We are in bed by 10:30. Then it starts over again the next day!

Here are somethings that we do when we are in our area:

  • Go to appointments
  • Street Contact (Talk to everyone who is outside)
  • Try and meet everyone on our ward list (There are SO many who we don't know!)
  • Have member meals
  • See miracles!
  • Service
  • Tract (Knock on doors. We try to avoid this as much as possible...) 

At the Trail Center we give a lot of tours! It's finally starting to pick up, which is awesome! During the summer it gets super crazy. You're basically running around for 6 hours with no breaks. There were days when I didn't get a chance to sit down or eat, but didn't even realize it because we were so busy.

I LOVE giving tours! It can definitely be challenging because we don't give the same tour to everyone that comes in. It's totally up to us what we want to share with them, so we really have to pay attention to the Spirit so that we can know what to share with people. You have to get to know people and know their needs really fast. Anyone that says that Visitor's Center missionaries aren't "real missionaries" obviously hasn't had a school tour of 50 kids, 5 other tours, and an unexpected tour bus pull up in the parking lot before. And you have to teach a mix of the history and the gospel to each of their needs.

There are SO many ways to fulfill our purpose as missionaries!

Being a missionary is exhausting, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. There are days and weeks when it seems like absolutely EVERYTHING is going wrong! I have been pushed to my limit many times and have wondered if I could keep going.

And the truth is, I can't keep going by myself. I can't do anything without the Savior.

During all of my trials and hard times, I have learned to rely on Him. He has become my best friend. My relationship with Him and with Heavenly Father has grown SO much and has become more than I ever thought that it could be. The best part is that it can still keep growing!

Being a missionary is the best thing ever!! I can't think of anything else that I would rather be doing right now.

Wow. This turned out long. I'll do part 2 of what I wish that I had known/done to prepare for my mission next week!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Street Contacting May Not Be The most Effective Method Ever

 We had a baptism this week! It wasTristan, who committed to be baptized the night before I was transferred. I didn't know if I would be able to go, and it was super stressful getting there because we have to have a less active member or an investigator with us to be able to attend, but it all came together at the last second, so that was good.

But the baptism was incredible. The change that has happened in Tristan is unbelievable. He was already awesome, but he just glows now! I'm so thankful that I got to teach him.   It was a great day!

Things here are good! I love TP with Sister Samuels! We are mostly working on finding new investigators to teach...but when are we NOT working on that...  ( really? haha...)

Yesterday the weather was AWESOME (75 degrees!) so we walked a lot and did a ton of street contacting. Absolutely no one wanted to listen to our message, but we did get told that we were "some fiiiiiine ladies" a few times...haha awkward. What do you even say to that??

We found a new investigator named Byron, who as it turns out was more interested in us than in learning about the gospel. We actually got some semi-creepy texts, and when we tried to turn him over to the Elders it didn't go over so well. They are still going to try to teach him, though, so we'll see how it goes.
We also met this guy that was pretty anti, but he did tell us that he was 1/32 Lamb-anite. (I'm trying to spell that how he pronounced it)

And we have some less actives that we are working with who are progressing so much! After a lesson with one of them she called us and left the sweetest message on our phone about how much she wanted to come back and how she felt the Spirit when we were there. So that was pretty cool!

Have a great week!!