Elder Harris, Portia and Gordella

Monday, June 27, 2011

Infinite Potential, Infinite Worth

Dear Family,

Today we all traveled to Abura for a special Zone Conference to say goodbye to the Sabey's. No one knew the status of the goal which ended yesterday evening so we were antsy for news. President Sabey began the conference with some opening remarks. He said that many of us were anxious to know the status of the goal. Well, when we committed ourselves to take on this goal, Sister Sabey remarked that it was impossible for every missionary in the mission (more then 140 total) to baptize someone with a family member in the church and then help a family to go to the temple to be sealed for all time and eternity. In the end it really was impossible. But we have also learned that where many things are impossible for us, nothing is impossible to the Lord. He then showed us the completion sheet for the Ghana Cape Coast Mission and every companionship was checked off. The Lord completed a goal that just a week ago I thought was impossible to achieve.

Deep down I knew the Lord would do something for us though. I can honestly say we did everything we knew how to do. We fasted and prayed, then went out and tried everything. Last Sunday all of our candidates basically failed because their temple trips were canceled. I couldn't see anymore options so we continued working on Edward and Felicity who we helped to get married civilly but weren't sure they could get off work to go before Sunday the 26th. We succeeded in getting Edward's temple recommend activated and he is now ready to go to the temple but his wife's records are still in Kisi so they couldn't activate it at the Takoradi Stake Center. After facing all these problems, the Lord gave us the blessing of finding two families who were ready to go to the temple that Friday. It was a miracle. On Saturday we finished twice with two families we taught in different areas. The beautiful part is that Edward and Felicity are all ready to go get sealed in September. That is something that would have taken years if we did not pursue this goal.

What good were these goals? I think the best part of these goals was the training we received from them. This mission is now primed and ready to baptize many, many people. The number doesn't matter so much as the quality of the investigators. We have learned the importance of families. The only people who will enter the celestial kingdom will do so in families. We learned the importance of future leaders and member referrals. We learned the importance of serving and working closely with the members in missionary work. We now know how powerful it is to bring back a less active then focus on their referrals. Such strengthen each other and work together towards eternal happiness. We learned that baptism is not the end of our work! The end goal is fruit that remains. We learned how important it is to help a recent convert go to the temple as soon as possible. The spirit they feel there is unlike anyplace on earth. We learned that what we want for each family we baptize is to help them be sealed for all eternity. Without that they can not receive a fullness of joy. Without that our work is in vain.

So we now know how to work towards each of these goals. As we do so the "numbers" and the quality of those "numbers" will go up. With that our faith in the Savior and the fact that this is His work has gone up tremendously. We know He is very good at doing His work and we feel privileged to be a part of it. Serving a mission is simply awesome.

This was President Sabey's final Zone Conference. Sister Sabey spoke first and expressed her love and appreciation for us and the people of Ghana. Then President got up and told us how things will work in the transition process. Basically the new president will come and he will leave. Simple. It wouldn't work outside of the church. He told us that because he was curious he decided to think about which goal we would have pursued if he wasn't leaving. He said that after thinking he had no clue. Then he told us that as he thought about what to say to us as he was leaving, he couldn't think of anything. President Sabey is completely dependent on the Lord for guidance and his time as mission president has ended. He expressed his love for us and then invited us to ask he and Sister Sabey questions. After an hour or so he invited us to get up and bear testimonies. I felt that horrible beating in my heart that told me I was going to go up so I did. I told everyone that I could remember when President Hinkley had passed away some years ago. When he went I was a little bit weirded out by President Monson being the new Prophet. I had grown up with President Hinkley and it was all too strange. Well we all saw how the mantle of the Presidency shifted and rested upon President Monson and there was a feeling like everything was going to be OK. I felt a little of that shifting today in our conference. It might be wierd and even uncomfortable for some for some time but eventually everthing is going to be OK. I love President and Sister Sabey. The things that they have taught me are eternal and will bless my life forever. But I am excited for the future as well and I know that everything is going to be all right. I love this work and I know that it is the Lord's work. Change is just part of life.

Following the conference, we ate and I sat with Elder Pinnell, Holmes, and Jaggi. Brother Akoki walked in randomly and I got to embrace a true friend I thought I would never see again. I love all these guys and it was hard to see them go. I talked with Elder Pinnell and I'm ready to pull the trigger in moving to Utah. If the apartment thing fails then I have places where I can hang for a while. Then we all went out to a really cool football pitch and had a tournament. We got smoked but I looked freaking good in a complete Manchester United Jersey, short shorts, Man United socks and matching football boots. I played all right in our second game and even had a shot on goal but I didn't get enough ummph on the ball and it rolled into the keeper's hands. There went my chance for glory!!! Then when we all finished, we said a final farewell to the Sabey's before returning to Takoradi where I am now. I won't see them again in Ghana.

What a crazy day! What a crazy week! Thursday we will have a new Mission President and quite honestly, I don't know how he could be more powerful, humble, and gentle as President Sabey is. I do know that everything will be all right and we will adjust.

Today I love my mission. One thing that Sister Sabey taught us today really stuck with me. She told us to never live beneath our potential. Never do anything that will keep you from becoming like our Father in Heaven. Then the line that was cemented in my mind by Ben Flinders came to me: Infinite Potential, Infinite Worth. All of us are God's children how great is the worth of our souls in His site. How grateful I am that He really does know my name and will do all that He can to get me home.

I don't really have much else to say. The Lord has blessed us with more people to teach and a few referrals. As for the letter this was a different one that had nothing to do with how hard mission is. I suppose you haven't got it yet.

I love you all very much!
Elder Harris
Dagger Todd

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dear Family,

Freshly Returned Missionary Mind? Ridiculous! I will be going and if it wasn't awkward, I would get up and do a little heel click in the air right here in the Cafe. That will be so freaking sweet. I told Thomer to look for shows around the time I get back. Supposedly all my favorite bands are doing tours right now so October should be pretty sweet. Oh what wouldn't I do to see Radiohead again? Anyway, by that time just listening to the recordings will be freaking cool and going to the concert will feel like a dream. Well, anyways, back to Africa.

So at the end of yesterday all I wanted to do was scream WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY???!!!!! Saturday, we had three potential people ready to go to the temple with the Kwekuma and Sekondie temple trips on the 24th of July. Our couple in Kojokrom is ready to go but they aren't sure if he can get the days off work. They are looking really sketchy. Yesterday we got a call and both Kwekuma and Sekondie canceled their temple trips because some freaking people from Cote Devoir showed up at the temple. We worked on getting our woman in Sekondie to go by her self to seal to her dead parents and she promised she will go. However another phone call killed that because the Zone Leaders found out her parents were divorced before they died. Can they be sealed???!!!! Can she be sealed to one or both of them????!!!! I sure as heck don't know and President is figuring it out. It's doubtful that the woman in Kwekuma will go by herself and over all everything is in the shiz hole.

Yesterday we worked all day just to get Brother Akon and Sister Felicity their temple recommends. If the Stake Presidency knew how to do their job (not trying to be bitter or anything) they would have been ready to go last week. If it weren't for us it might have taken years to get them to the temple. No offense but I read the handbook on this subject and I don't understand why they were so hesitant. It outlines every single problem they could have faced. This is a lesson to learn for me if I ever have to serve as a leader in the church. Read the Handbook!

What are we going to do now? I don't know! Pray! Fast! Be obedient. I've done everything I know how to do. Now I just need to rely on the Lord and if anything needs to be done that I can do I will jump on it. Now were are just praying that Brother Akon can get the time off. I hope he realizes how serious this is. Somewhere around 150 missionaries are depending on him and his wife!

The beautiful thing is that a lot of good has come from the goal even if we don't accomplish it. All of our people will be sealed eventually even if they don't do it before the goal ends. However I don't believe that the Lord would give us a goal he wanted us to fail. So if we do everything we can possibly think of, God will do the rest. I'm a little bit tired.

We played some small pitch football today. It was pretty fun. Next week we will all travel to Cape Coast to have President Sabey's last Zone Conference. It's pretty lame though because we were supposed to have it this Wednesday but now they moved it to Monday so that we can all play a huge football tournament. I kind of feel like we will rush the zone conference just for P-Day! Lame! It will be pretty sweet though cause I'll be able to see all my buddies.

School sounds awesome but I might have had a reality check, lol. What if the whole living together doesn't work?? I really want to go to LDS business college but do I want to sign up and everything before I even know where I'll live? What do you think? I guess I'm just being realistic now, lol. What I need to do is talk to Tracy and then I'll see what's up. I so want to go though!

So the Goal ends this coming Sunday. Pray for us please! I think it would be a good idea to send my License. This one won't say turns 21 in 2010. Now I can get drinks and and gamble no problem! Where is the concert? What are the seats like? I doubt we will be moshing together but if we do I'm going to take Mom with an elbow. Just wait till my own concert cause that one will be nuts. There will be nobody but ladies allowed in and they will all be screaming for me. Did you get my letter yet?

I love you all!

There is a laser in your mouth
If you aren't careful
It will blow your teeth out...

Tell me what your thinking baby
Tell me what your thinking baby
Tell me what your thinking baby

Tell me what your thinking baby
Tell me what your thinking baby
Tell me what your thinking baby

Where there is an answer you can't find
If you're not careful
It will break your pride

Do we fly before we fall?
Somehow as I'm thinking
I don't think so

A paper man has a paper mind
A catchy tune has a catchy rhyme
A fishy boat goes by fishy time
Are we all losers?

Tell me what your thinking baby
Tell me what your thinking baby
Tell me what your thinking baby

Tell me what your thinking baby
Tell me what your thinking baby
Tell me what your thinking baby

"Tell me what your thinking"-Drew Harris, Written in an African Internet Cafe

PS. Did you ever get the fried kitty pictures?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Email dated 6/13/11

Today is an absolutely beautiful day here in Takoradi. After a heavy rain that lasted about three days, the sky is clear and it feels pretty dry. It actually feels a lot like home even though I don't think you would think so. I've been in a really good mood the past couple days and the weather makes it all the more sweet. I finished three songs I've been working on for a long freaking time. One of them is pretty dang stupid but in the end the song as a whole will be awesome. It's not a lyrical masterpiece or anything. It's called Worm Vision (It's Making Me Numb). Its all about getting sucked into a wormhole. Like I said, pretty stupid:)

If you liked my last letter your going to love my next one. As for the videos, they are my favorite too. I need to start taking more but they take a lot of room on the memory card. Maybe I'll just burn another DVD.

Now don't think your making me homesick with your emails but I really miss Utah. I also miss being on the top of the mountains with the crisp breeze and a view of everything. I never ever thought I would have a desire to live in Utah, but after being here it sounds like heaven. Elder Baron is from Atlanta and will be moving to Salt Lake during the summer to go to the LDS business college. He said they basically pay you to go there. You just apply and your accepted. I hope he's right! It sounds really sweet.

This week has been hard but surprisingly I've been in a good mood throughout. I'm still sick!! We're now trying to kill it with three different drugs; one of which cost a whomping 24 Ghana Cedis!!! It was working pretty well until today. There's still some more to take so hopefully it works. On top of that I got a pretty severe head cold and I haven't slept all week end. Last night I just got up and started cleaning our windows at four in the morning. They were really dusty. I would have done more but I didn't want to wake anybody. I was all hyped up to clean everything! Finally I was tired enough to at least lay in bed and I even dreamed a little bit. I was in the priesthood room of the Burbank Chapel and it was during early morning seminary I think. Ryan from Sparks street was there but I'm not sure she recognized me so I kept throwing out random comments about the good old days when I was ten years old and in love with her. It was a funny dream and proof I think that the mind never forgets anything. Anyways, I'm on the downside of the cold so hopefully I'll get some sleep this week. Don't worry about the sickness. They are working on it and the worse thing that could happen is just going home a bit early. That would only be a tragedy for me.

Oh the goal, the goal! We are now one of two companionship's that haven't finshed it yet. The ending is at the end of this month. Our couple doesn't seem likely to go in time but we are doing everything we can. The Stake Presidency doesn't seem to know that they can reinstate him without approval from the First Presidency. You only need approval for extreme cases like raping a child, incest, or murder. President Sabey tried to talk to them but they still sent for help from the area authorities. We went out to Sofokrom this week to visit with a family who should be going to the temple this Friday but we will see. The man is a freaking bum who makes the wife do everything including providing for their six children. He just started making excuses about going the minute we got there. He does seem to want to go and the wife is pushing them so it should work out. All the arrangements have been made. They just need to push him out the door, onto the Tro Tro, and into the doors of the Temple. I feel bad for the wife but I think that the sealing will be the best thing for the marriage. We have one other backup but they don't go till the 24th of June, two days before the end of the goal. That is cutting it close and temple trips fail a lot here. I pray we won't have to hang all our hope on that one. Pray for us please! This goal is impossible without the Lord's help and we can use all the prayers we can get. I'm getting a little anxious being one of the last to finish but the Lord has come through for us every time before so I have no doubt he work some miracles. I just don't want to be that last minute miracle!

I'm glad you enjoyed your vacation. Soon I'll be planning for my own wedding then all of sudden I'll be planning for my daughters wedding. I hope it doesn't come too fast. I love you all and hope we don't meet too soon! I pray that it will be at the appointed time. Then all the prophecies in my most recent letter will be fulfilled!

Elder Harris
AKA The Candy Man

Well I've been out walking
I don't do that much talking these Days
These Days
These days I seem to think a lot about the things
That I forgot to do for you
And all the times I had the chance to

Well I had a lover
But it's so hard to risk another these days
These days
Now if I seem to be afraid to live the life
That I have made in song
Well its just that I've been losing
For so long

I'll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these Days
One of these days
These days I'll sit on cornerstones and count the time
In quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don't confront me with my failures
I have not forgotten them

These Days-Jackson Browne

Email dated 6/6/11

Dear Family,

Greetings to you in Zion. I love you all and miss you very much.

Today we fried ourselves in the sun playing small pitch football at the Stake Center. I'm feeling pretty good but I'm tired since our power was out all night again. The transfer last week was a really big one. Elder Haderlie and I are amazingly still together but Elder Akwori and Elder Chime went home. Elder Akwori was replaced in our apartment by Elder Baron a cool cat from Atlanta and Elder Chime was replaced with Elder Stats a fly fellow from Utah. Elder Bassey was transferred to Mankesem and was replaced by Elder Bentum a Ghanaian. Elder Reid is training; Elder Nelson is training; Elder Buah is now with this cool French Guy. Elder Lehr got transferred back to Asokwa! AHAHAHAHAH! Sorry for him even though I kind of envy him. He went up to basically train the new couples to know Kumasi. There's no one better to do that except maybe myself. My son Elder Rogers is training and Elder Jaggi is too. I'm a grandfather! Elder Akoki died and went home to his war torn city. He emailed me today and said a lot of things are different and life is hard but he's still going to try returning to Ghana around August so I can see him one more time. I hope he is able to. They made Sunyani a Zone which now has 12 Elders plus the couples working there. Elder Vancherie is also training. Big transfer with 17 new missionaries that need to be trained. The next transfer will include 16 more new missionaries and I recieved a phone call from President Sabey basically telling me that I will either train or receive an assignment as a leader. Great!! Thank you? Anyways this will also be President Sabey's final six weeks and the next transfers will be conducted by the new mission president. This is the beginning of the end and we are still working hard.

I don't have much to report. On Saturday we recieved news that our sure backup for the goal failed and that Brother Akon probably won't be able to go to the temple this coming Friday. We spent all yesterday searching for other options and we found one in Sofokrom who will probably work out in the next couple of weeks. We also got President Sabey working on the Akon thing and in the end we learned that he will probably go to be sealed to his wife this Friday. We are praying very hard and I feel like we are doing the best we can so I know the Lord will help us through. Yesterday was a stressful day for us.

I want you to know that I ate pancakes this morning with Bacon Spam! Oh yeah! I got your package this week! Thank you so much. I loved the shampoo stuff you sent. I haven't felt so clean in so long! My skin felt so soft! The Proactive was sweet too and I've been using twice a day for a few days now.

I've included the picture of a cat's legs and feet with the tail also. I would have included the chopped off head but I don't have the picture. This is the cat that Elder Haderlie ate. I haven't eaten one yet but if the opportunity came along I wouldn't pass it up.

The most fun I had this week was when Elder Haderlie got a rubber snake. Africans are so afraid of snakes and we have had fun filming our members freak out when a random snake gets tossed at them. Helena screamed like four times and thought it was real for a few days after.

Well I'm finished now. I hope you like the pictures. Have fun in Utah! Don't forget about my school!

I love you all
Elder Harris

There's a gap in between
There's a gap in between
Where I end and you begin

I'm sorry for us
The dinosaurs roam the Earth
The sky grows green
Where I end and you begin

I am up in the clouds
I am up in the clouds
And I can't and I can't come down

I can't watch and not take part
Where you end and where I start
Where you left me alone
You left me alone

X'll mark the place
Like the parting of the waves
Like a house falling in the sea
In the sea

I will eat you alive
I will eat you alive
I will eat you alive
I will eat you alive

There'll be no more lies
There'll be no more lies
There'll be no more lies
There'll be no more lies

I will eat you alive
I will eat you alive
I will eat you alive