Elder Harris, Portia and Gordella

Monday, October 25, 2010

Epoch P-Day

Dear Family,

This has been a pretty epoch P-day. The Suame elders came out with our district to climb the "mountain," which you can see from our apartment. As we were walking some of us decided that we would take our own way and we just went straight up cross country. It was the most insane bush hiking I've ever done. At one point I was on a rock face with an 8 ft. drop behind me. I was stuck there holding onto a shrub so I wouldn't fall off. Elder Keller threw down some vines to pull me up. I got up and with one hand I was holding this shrub and with the other hand I was holding this vine. I was leaning back when Elder Keller started pulling me up. Then the vine snapped, and I almost went tumbling off this rock which would not have been cool. Luckily I caught myself and another vine got me up to the next flat spot. Finally we made it to the top and had to wade through thick bush to get to the top rock. It was a pretty fun day. The other people made it to the top but their way wasn't as cool. (He is his Father's son.)

The plan was to then ride our bikes to town which would have been insane but we all said forget that. I'm pretty sure more then one of us would have been smacked by a tro tro or two. Maybe we'll do it next week;)

This week has been pretty normal. More and more people keep getting added to our teaching pool. Only one is very serious at this point but with time we will find some more. People just come to us most of the time. Aseyeboa's chapel is right on the road so every time someone just shows up to their church we get a referral. Tony expressed (bear with me if I'm repeating myself) the joy that he feels when we come to teach him and every time he opens the Book of Mormon. He was such a random contact it makes me smile to know he is progressing. It can happen!

Yesterday I went to church in my suit jacket. We live underneath the chapel so it wasn't a problem at all. I started greeting people in the chapel and one older man looking really surprised said simply "Elegant!" Brother Emmanuel and Afriyie were confirmed. I always love it when my recent converts receive the Holy Ghost because there is always a marked difference in how they respond to our teaching. They always understand everything better then ever before. Those who were a little bit stubborn are always a little bit more humble and submissive. It is a sweet feeling to know they are progressing.

I get made fun of here because I say sweet too much. You may experience this when I return. I blame Elder Ekaette.

It's raining there huh? It's still raining a lot here every night. We were afraid that it was going to rain on Sunday and nobody would have come for their confirmations. It sounds nice there though. Don't you ever get sick of all the sunshine? I've had enough sun to last me 20 years. The funny thing is I'm way tan from the neck up and the elbows down.

I am freezing my butt off in this internet cafe:(

All right so I figured I should start preparing your heart now while there is still plenty of time. Elder Vanchiere owns a big house boat down at Lake Powell. We figure that the longer we wait the colder the water will be. So, all of our MT's will be heading out there a week or two after we come home. How long? A few days. How much? I'm not sure yet. It will be a lot of fun though.

As for Christmas I do need some certain things. Well, my camera died this week:( Why, I'm not sure but it stinks. Something is wrong with the lens I think. I couldn't think of a better Christmas present though! I also need socks. And conference audio (if your feeling generous). Mostly I just need the camera. I put all my photos on a CD so they should be on their way soon, possibly next Monday. You have two choices for the camera: Casio Exilim 12.1 mega pixels or Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS 12.1 mega pixels. Whichever is better for you:) Beggers can't be choosers but I guess it doesn't hurt to give you options. THANK YOU:)

Freak I'm cold!

Will they really eat a little dog?

I'm sad you didn't get to see Gene Simmons. I think Jeremy saw him once or am I mistaken?

The power went out one night this week and it just happened to be the one FREAKING hot night of the week. I suffered all night long.

The crazy people are progressing small small. This one lady gives us these crazy looks that always make me feel way uncomfortable but she is still cool.

Well that's all for now. I'm going to sleep. Mark this as one of the best P-days ever in Ghana.

I love you all!
Elder Harris

Ps. OH YEAH! I got your package! It was way cool. The music was awesome. Elder Mbong loves it. There's this one song that I love where there's all this screaming and then one guy just beats on this giant drum: AHHHHHHHAHHHHHHHHHHHHAHHHHBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM. It was sweet. :) Thank you so much! (I have no idea what he is talking about. Jeremy did you stick one your CD's in there?? - haha.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dear Family,

First of all your emails were sweet this week. Thank you for the advice, it will really help.

The work this week has really been picking up. I underestimated what an amazing area this really is. Opportunities just kind of come our way when we go out looking for them. It wasn't like that in either Achiese or Asokwa. I've never been so busy before. It's a good thing that Elder Rogers is such an organized guy because it is kind of hard to keep track of all the potential investigators we have met during the past two weeks.

We taught brother Tony during church this week and invited him to be baptized two weeks from now. He is a solid kid and once investigators get to church, the branch pounces on them and makes it impossible to escape. Not that they force them or anything but they are way good at helping my investigators feel welcome and at home. Tony also has his brother and a few friends who are now members so I'm sure that he will feel at home. Nobody else is progressing as quickly but we have a few that seem serious about our message. I don't care about numbers but it feels good to actually report decent averages.

Today we took a trip out to Asokwa. It was really funny because we didn't tell Sister Yaa we were coming. As I walked into their compound, this old woman we saw every day got up, ran over and squeezed me in a big hug. Yeah it was kind of awkward but not as awkward as when the same woman basically punched Elder Lehr in the face. They were all very excited to see us after 5 months. Sister Yaa is still the same as when we left her. She was finally able to receive her patriarchal blessing which was sweet since it was something that we helped her to accept. She always had a hard time trusting anybody and I think we were able to help her a little bit. We also tried to see Brother Kennedy but he wasn't around so we went to see Andy. Andy was the first man I ever taught on my mission outside of the MTC. That seems like so long ago but at the same time it feels like yesterday. He was busy working so we just went to town and took a Tro Tro back to Abuakwa.

We had our Branch Conference this weekend. There is talk about splitting the branch into two instead of making it a ward. I think the problem is space in the rented house we use for a chapel (it also happens to be our apartment). The conference was really lame for us but it was great for the members. Tony came with his brother which was sweet and another investigator named Solomon came. The bishop of Asokwa ward also came with his wife and his son Koffi. Koffi is the most troublesome boy who ever lived but he is also the most loving kid in the world. It was good to see Sister Nicole (the bishop's wife). She was another of my favorite members here in Ghana.

I'm in a pretty good mood this week. The stress is already starting to melt away. Part of me is just realizing that I can't be so concerned about what he thinks of me. (He can be so hard on himself.) Sure I want to be a good example and everything, but if I make mistakes who cares? He will understand when he is the one training a newbie. Also, Elder Rogers is a freaking good missionary. Where I am lacking in anything he picks me up. He might still be learning to teach the lessons, but in everything else is way better then I ever was as a greenie.

Well I'm pretty wasted right now. I'm going home to sleep. Elder Rogers is giving his first instruction in district meeting tomorrow which should be pretty interesting. My first instruction was about prayer. I basically reuse my instructions every time I get transferred so I only have like three or four that I've written out. I've used President Eyring's talk called God Helps the Faithful Priesthood Holder three times now in different settings. I love that talk.

Anyway I'm out of time now. I love you all. I really did like your emails!:)

Love Elder Harris

Songs to remember: Red Oyster Cult, Guster

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dear Family,

BAMF stands for Brother Anxiously Maturing Ferociously.

Well another week has gone by and things are starting to pick up. The weight of training is still a heavy burden but I am still having fun. If I am not enjoying my mission, I'm doing something wrong. When I first came I thought it was going to be work, work, work. We work hard, then we play hard.

Elder Rogers is already a changed person since I first met him. He still has some American in him, but that will go with time. He is now in the coolest zone in the entire mission and I hope he enjoys himself because things will probably never be as good. We get along almost all the time, lol. I was reading my journal from the days when Elder Akoki was training me. I wrote that my companion and I got along great but sometimes, especially when he turned around to ask me if I was ready for companion study, I just wanted to hurt him. I'm sure Elder Rogers feels the same way about me sometimes, but over all we love each other. You can't choose your father or your sons so you might as well love them.

This past week has been full of mixed emotions. Some days I wake up ready to enjoy myself, because I only have a year to go in Ghana. The same day, I'll take a short nap at lunch time and wake up feeling like every part of me wants to be home RIGHT NOW. I have an entire year to be here. None of me wants to go home, but sometimes I just want to be finished and home. I hope that makes sense. I've just been stressed out like never before because everything is on my head. Today has been pretty sweet though. We went to Bantama, then hung out in town where we bought some Dr. Pepper and a new guitar for Elder Vanchierie. Elder Vancherie, Elder Mbong, Elder Holmes, Elder Yaggi, Elder Rogers, and I always move together in a group. We are all in the same district so we are pretty tight. This is the coolest district and zone I have ever had. Overall, I am enjoying myself even though my patience is being pushed to the max for a multitude of different reasons (my companion isn't one of them).

We had a baptism yesterday that was completely crazy. We have to do all our baptisms at the Asuoyeboa chapel so everybody gets shipped out in a tro tro right after church. Asuoyeboa was having their own baptism so tons of people were there. The original plan was to have our own service right after theirs ended. However, the other bishopric came out and started rushing our candidates telling us that they had to join their service. Everybody was so uptight since there were tons of people there. I was mad because they were acting as if the members were a paying audience who had to be kept happy. Now when you ask the people who were baptized for Abuakwa what their baptism was like what will they say? Well, I don't really know, I got there and I was rushed to the water to be dunked. It was just bad. Elder Rogers did get to do his first baptisms though. He did well except for when he was trying to hold their head instead of their back. Africans don't get around water very much so they are hard to baptize. Instead of helping you out by bending their knees, they straighten their legs and pretty much freak out. It's like trying to dunk a scared cat. Other then that, Elder Rogers did well.

We baptized a kid named Afriyie and his brother Tony attended the service. We contacted Tony at this house when Afriyie wasn't around. After the service, Elder Rogers asked Tony if he wanted this for himself one day. Tony told him that he would definitely want to be baptized one day. He hasn't been taught anything, but I'm sure the day will come very soon.

The work is moving forward in Abuakwa. We found about eight investigators this week so we're getting more busy. Some are downright crazy so we're going to have some fun breaking Elder Rogers in. He can teach really well so I'm not afraid for him. He will probably end of being my favorite companion on mission which is hard to say because Elder Akoki and Elder Buah were BAMFs (Brother Anxiously Maturing Ferociously).

That's all for now. I have more to write next week since there is a lot planned for the next few days. Our temple trip got canceled so you should all go to make up for it. Instead we are having a special training day at the temple. We are going to learn about doing family history work and marriage. It should be awesome but... well it's not the same thing. Keep us in your prayers and remember your boring life is not boring to us on mission. Just tell us everything;)

I love you all!
Elder Harris


It won't be long before another day
We're gonna have a good time
And no one's gonna take that time away
You can stay as long as you like

So close your eyes,
you can close your eyes, it's all right
I don't know no love songs,
and I can't sing the blues any more
But I can sing this song,
and you can sing this song
when I'm gone

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm just a soul who's intentions are good...

Dear Family,

I've made it. I am now over the hill. Exactly one year from now I will be on a plane home from Accra. It is a really strange feeling because where I was looking back to how life was before mission, I now think to how it will be when I come home. My optimism for the future is higher and I have more confidence in myself then ever before.

We enjoyed this weekend. My Mt's in this zone are: Elder Thompson, Elder Vancherie, Elder Holmes, Sister Affrani, Sister Owuna, and myself. That's pretty much everyone who matters except Elder Pinnell and Elder Jeppesen. Sorry for them cause I know they probably suffered. We went to a new pizza place on Saturday with the whole zone. The pizza was much better then what i've had before but a mental block kept me from enjoying it. I couldn't eat the meat and I gave a few pieces to the African Elders who came, but at least I never threw up! I do have a slight cold today but that's about it. I feel really sorry for the new elders because our whole focus has been on one year, one year, one year. The poor guys are at one month now, 23 more to go. We all went through the same thing though. I had to listen to Elder Adjei say he's going home for 6 months. The time will come when Elder Rogers can make jokes about how young his own son is.

Other then our celebration, we are moving ahead small small. We gave Elder Eke a call in Takaradi to see if we have missed anyone who should be baptized on the 10th. Turns out there is a guy named Nana Koffi who we had never met before. Elder Vancherie and I went to find his house and he is a really cool guy. We already have three candidates for baptism this Sunday which feels like a lot to me, but in this area it's not a lot at all. Elder Vancherie has seen this branch start from nothing and grow to 150 members in just one year. I'm finally seeing why this country is so amazing. We still don't have a lot of people to teach but we are still meeting new people and receiving referrals. I refuse to contact because I know that eventually we will have enough referals to fill our teaching pool. That's how cool this members are here. Elder Vancherie and Elder Mbong have really been helping out too since I have no clue how to get around the area.

Overall training itself really sucks. Elder Rogers is freaking awesome and being with him is great but the training part is really hard. The stupid thing is that every time something goes wrong, like a failed appointment, It feels like it's my fault. Then you get that look from your companion saying, "What do we do now?" Well, I DON'T KNOW! Luckily I have a whole support group to help me out, haha. Elder Lehr is always around, Elder Vancherie and I have heart to hearts every single night, and Elder Holmes is going through the exact same thing right now. I think Elder Rogers also understands, in a small measure, what I'm going through and has been patient even when my grumpy, want to kill something, attitude comes out. That song by The Animals is perfect for me. It goes: I'm just a soul who's intentions are good, Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood. My bad side comes out sometimes but I hope it hasn't been too bad. :)

What's General Conference?

The mission is starting to expand. Four elders have been sent to Sunyani which is about 2 hours from Kumasi. Elder Russel, Elder Bahme, Elder Ayim, and one other Elder are starting the church there from nothing. They are probably the biggest BAMFs in the whole mission. President Sabey really knew who would be up for the challenge. I'm told more apartments are being built and soon more Elders will go up. I really hope I won't have to, because I'm really enjoying myself here. This zone is freaking sweet and I don't think it could ever get better.

Well, I don't have much else for you today. I'm way stoked for this next year. The third lap is the hardest lap to push through but President told me last week that the next year will go twice as fast as the first. For all you waiting just hang on for a short time and I will be back soon. I love you all!

Elder Harris