Monday, January 26, 2015

First week in new area of Natal, Panatis

So everyone I hope this week was a good one for you guys.  It was definitely a good one for me here in Natal.  We got here on Wednesday and went to work.  Thursday was a great day.  We taught a bunch of lessons and marked three baptismal dates so that was really great.  We had our first zone meeting and I started getting to know the zone.  We have a huge chapel here in Panatis.  Like huge!  Maybe I´m just used to the one in my last area which was really small and old but this one is super nice!  Yeah I don´t know, I figured I´d just throw that in there.  I´m still getting to know my area and the ward here.  They all seem really great.  We go teaching with the ward mission leader quite a bit here.  He´s so hilarious!  I don´t even know how to describe him to you he just is.  Maybe it´s just because normal things are ten times funnier in Portuguese haha.  
         Anyways so I´m actually in a threesome now with Elder Morais and Elder Muñoz from Argentina.  He has something wrong with his knee and the clinic he needs is in our area so we went and picked him up and he´s just chilling with us.  When I say chilling, I mean just chilling.  Because of his knee he can´t really walk super well so Elder Morais and I take turns staying with him in the house while the other either goes teaching with a member or with the other elders we live with.  Staying in the house might sound pretty nich but As any missionary will tell you it´s not that great staying in the house on the mission.  It gets super boring.  On the bright side I finally learned how to solve a flippin Rubik´s cube!  I say flippin because I was getting so frustrated with it I wanted to throw it against a wall!  But I finally got it haha.  
           So yesterday we had lunch with the patriarch and we had the first roast beef I´ve had on my whole mission!  It was so good!  The food is a little more normal here.  At least so far it is haha.
          So I hung up the big family christmas tree that you guys sent me in my christmas package.  And every single elder that looks at it looks at Uncle Kurt and they're like "I didn´t know President Soares (Devin's mission president) was in your family!"  haha They literally look like twins I attached a picture for you guys haha.  I thought it was pretty funny.  But that was really about it for this week.  Not a whole lot went on.  I love you all.  Have a great week and remember that the church is true! 

Elder Devin Harris
Pic - Uncle Kurt and his twin haha
Pic - Our zone.  There are two Brazilian missionaries on my left between me and my companion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Four Months and My First Transfer!

So first off, I´m sorry that I´m emailing so late.  On the week of transfers our mission skips PDay on Monday and has it on Wednesdays instead.  Which isn´t very fun if you’re traveling all day like I was.  Yes I was travelling all day which means I was transferred!  I´m now serving in Natal in the area of Panatís.  It´s on the north part of Natal.  I´m sure I´m going to love it.  Natal is such a beautiful city!  We´re not really close to the beach or anything but it´s alright.  My new comp is Elder Morais.  He´s from Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.  He seems pretty cool but I´m not really sure yet.  My last comp and I ended up getting along great and getting work done in Currais Novos.  It was tough to say goodbye to him but it was good because I´m officially done with my training.  It´s time to put on my big boy pants and get to work.  So I´ll just kinda talk about my last week in Currais.  I was super sick for the first three days (Devin had Dengue Fever) so it sucked because I had to stay in the house because the sun makes it way worse.  So we had to stay in the house everyday until the sun went down every day before we could go out to work.  Friday was the first day I could start working in the sun again so we went and worked so hard on Friday!  We were trying to make up for the lack of lessons from the other days.  We ended up teaching 11 discussions on Friday!   It was crazy and tons of walking!  I´m now down to 84 kilos which is about 185 pounds which is unreal because when I left the CTM I was at 95 kilos which is about 205 pounds! I lost all that in less than three months!  I´m droppin pounds like I´m on some Jenny Craig stuff.  Haha you guys won’t even recognize me in a couple years!
           So we were having a lesson with our 88 year old investigator M. and her great granddaughter was there who was 14 years old and it was super awkward because M. was trying to hook us up the whole time!  She was like are you married?  and then I would say no and then she would like look at her granddaughter and be like, Did you hear that??  He´s not married!  And then she would just go off to her granddaughter like Look how handsome this missionary is, He´s American and everything.  Her granddaughter was so embarrassed but I thought it was hilarious! 
          It´s been super SUPER hot lately!  It´s getting way hotter because summer is just starting here.  It´s so weird, I´m still not used to it.  But here in Natal they have a nice breeze which is super good to cool things off.  I sweat even more here though because it´s so much more humid haha.  But it´s all good.  In my house there are two Brazilians and two Americans.  The one American has less time in the mission than me!  I was stoked when I found out because it means that I speak better Portuguese than him!  I was so happy!  Haha no but for real my Portuguese has been super good lately!  Elder Chagas left a day early to pick up a new companion in Natal so I stayed with the other elder in our house, Elder Quiroga for the whole day yesterday so I was pretty much senior companion and led all the discussions and everything.  We had a really spiritual lesson with one of our investigators Bru., who is the older sister of Bre, who we baptized on New Year’s.  I invited her to be baptized and she will be next week!  I´m so excited but kinda bummed because I´ll miss it :/  I spent pretty much all of yesterday saying goodbye to investigators and recent converts.  They all started to cry when I told them I was leaving which actually made me feel good because it means I actually made an impact on them.  But I´m super excited to start to get to know my new area.  It´s going to be awesome.  I love you all!  Amo vocês!  Desejo uma ótimo semana por todos.  Fica perta de Deus e ele ficará perta de vocês.  A igreja é verdadeiro.  Have a great week everyone!

Elder Harris II 

P.S.  Sorry for no pictures, I´ll try to send some next week
One of Devin's friends from Currais Novos posted this on Instagram:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thomas S. Monson Ties, Rejection, and Dengue

So this week was really good but pretty slow, Not a whole lot happened this week.  Just a lot of walking, a lot of sweating, and a lot of teaching ;)  But it´s all good.  So I finally got the package from the family.  The kids loved the little toys you guys sent to give out to them!  They were all so excited when I gave them to them!  And my comp loved the tie and the mints.  Haha he calls the tie his "Gravata dos profetos" or his "prophet tie" because he thinks it´s such a slick looking tie haha.  They always call my ties Thomas S. Monson ties because they think I got them all from him for some reason because I live in Utah haha.  Yeah Idk.  So the mints that were in the package, the Brazilians loved so much that they ate all of them on Sunday.  They thought they were like sent straight from heaven or something.  Apparently they don´t have wintergreen flavored stuff here.  But whatever I guess haha.
              So this week was the first week in my whole mission that we got rejected hardcore.  We received a reference from a ward member to talk to his neighbor so we went there on Tuesday and there was a little boy playing out in front of the house and we were like, is your mom here?  And he was like yeah, I´ll go get her...  So he goes in and comes out a little bit later and is like "Sorry my mom said she´s not here".... We just kinda stood there like.  Oh, well that makes sense...  So anyways we left and came back the next day and the lady was standing in front of her gate and we walked up all pleasantly and before we even could say Boa Tarde!  She went inside and slammed the gate shut.  She was like get outta here you Mormons!  And we´re like wait what is going on here??  Maybe that´s just what I was thinking because when Brazilians yell angrily you can´t understand anything so I´m just standing there while she is just going off in super loud and fast Portuguese and All I´m getting out of it is LSKD JKDJSOP SDJOHO SDJLOKSDJ LKOZOX NVNOCI ODIFOPWIEJ FOIJF SATANAS!!!!!!!  I did hear the word Satanas which means Satan.  Man it escalated quickly.  We waited for her to finish and then we were like, Well do you believe in Jesus Christ?  That was a bad idea because then she went off again yelling her gibberish.  I did get a little bit out of this one.  She was yelling about how she believes in Jesus but not our Jesus... Anyways she told us if we came back again she would hit us with her broomstick.  Then she went inside and slammed the door and that was that.... I personally think it went fairly well.  Haha So on a more positive note, we went to lunch at a member’s house this week and we had a Barbeque!  A barbeque here is nothing like a barbeque in the States.  They have so much meat.  And it´s the closest thing I could think of to heaven.  There was so much food!  It was incredible.  I ate so much meat.  I gained one and a half kilos just from the barbeque...  But man it was so worth it. 
            I´ve been pretty sick the past couple of days with something they call Dangy (Dengue) here.  It´s where you get all these red spots all over your body and it makes your body hurt like crazy!  So it´s been pretty tough to stay motivated to work but I´ve been chugging along.  I watched a video that I think is called "The atonement and how it relates to missionary work" with Jeffrey R. Holland and Henry B. Eyring.  It´s all about how we need to refrain from idleness no matter how tempting it may seem.  I can´t do it justice, you guys need to go watch it.  It´s such a great video for all members, especially missionaries or those about to leave on their missions.  But yeah the video motivated me to keep working even when staying in bed all day was a huge temptation for me.  But yeah, that was about it for this week.  It was pretty slow but the work is going forward nonetheless.  I love you guys all!  Fica firme, fica forte! 

Elder Harris #2

I really like this tropical weather sometimes!

A picture of our barbecue!

At the Cristo Rei statue in the center of town

Monday, January 5, 2015

First letter of 2015!

Well everyone, this week was a great one for sure!  I hope you all had a great New Year's because I know I did!  It´s kind of funny to think about what my New Year´s resolutions were last year compared to this year haha.  This year, 2015, will be the only full year of my life that will be completely dedicated to serving the Lord.  So I´ve been doing a lot of thinking as to how I can make it as great as I can.  So we had the baptism of B. on the 31st, the last day of the year and It was awesome!  I was able to baptize her so it was even better :)  This week I went home teaching with a member Irmão F.  It was different because I wasn´t with my companion who can usually take charge.  F. just put me straight to work once we got the houses and I ended up giving all of the messages and answering just about all of their questions.  All the people we visited were less actives so it wasn´t as easy as talking to the firm members.  It was really intimidating at first but they ended up being really great discussions.  I was able to understand just about everything and say just about everything I wanted to say!  It was actually really cool.  I know I´ve talked about this before but being here forces you to rely on the Lord.  It´s been one of the best things that has ever happened in my life!  When I have the spirit with me I can say and understand just about anything but when the spirit isn´t there.  Just about all of my portuguese goes out the window.  So it´s been really awesome because just to have a random conversation on the street I have to rely on Heavenly Father´s help because without him, I can´t do anything.  So that´s kind of an experience to share and kind of an invitation to all of you out there reading this to look at how much Heavenly Father helps you on a daily basis with the littlest things that you never really think about. 
        Anyways, we finally got U. to come to church!  Unfortunately we couldn´t get him to come to his own daughter's baptism :/  The past two lessons with him have been intense! Intents, like camping... Alright, ignore that, but for real on Friday the AP´s came to Currais Novos and went on splits with us.  We went teaching with Elder Corrington.  He´s an American from Texas and he´s just about to finish his mission so he´s fluent in the language.  Anyways I can honestly say I learned more from him on Friday alone than I have from anyone else in my whole mission.  Anyways back to the point.  We went to U.'s house on Friday night and usually we read from the Book of Mormon and testify and answer any questions he has and invite him to come to church and pray and all that.  But Friday we started discussing why he doesn´t believe in God and pretty much it just comes down to he has had a lot of trials in his life and doesn´t know why God isn´t helping him out.  And this is where I took over, it was awesome, All of a sudden a bunch of scriptures were flowing to my mind and I read a verse in Ether 12 that says blessings come after the trial of your faith and testified and then he asked why God lets people be killed and bad things happen if he really loves his children, And so I opened up to Alma 14 about Alma and Amulek having to watch their families and all the believers being burned and it talks about how the righteous are recieved up in Glory and we kinda got that settled and then he was pretty much saying that he has no proof that a God exists so I was like, Bam Alma 30, where it talks about everything we have on earth testifies that there really is a God.  Idk, it was just cool that I was able to understand his questions and know exactly what to say and read and it kinda showed to him that the gospel has answers for everything.  So he finally agreed to come to church and after church he said there really is something different about this one that he hasn´t felt in the other churches he´s been to.  So we´re gonna keep working with him and fingers crossed!  
          Wednesday we had the ward's New Year's/Christmas dinner (That we decorated for again) and it was good.  The best part about one got sick from the food!  Woo!  I get nervous when we go to places where they feed a lot of people because the food is almost always bad :/  Speaking of food, we went to M.'a´s house again for lunch yesterday and she fed us baby pigeons... Yeah, when I say baby I mean like I´m pretty sure someone went to crack an egg open but they baby chick had already formed so they just decided to fry it up instead haha.  There isn´t a lot of meat on them so you eat it whole, bones and all.  And I would be lying if I said it wasn´t really good!  I ate 8 of them!  It was actually really good.  I did however stay away from the feet.  The little claws scared me, I didn´t want to have one stick on the inside of me.  But yeah, for sides we had.... Yup you guessed it, beans and rice haha.  
         But anyways, this week was really great and I have been taking the lead a lot more and becoming more and more confident in the language so it´s been great.  I love you all!  Make yourselves a great year this year!  A igreja é verdadeiro!  Fica firme fica forte!
Elder Harris #2