Dear One and Dear All,
This week was awesome! Especially this weekend! The Spanish Town District is officially the Kingston Jamaica Stake! A lot of hard work and preparation paid off this weekend as Elder Holland organized it! Elder Holland was a boss this whole weekend! The Saturday evening session he had everyone laughing out loud for 45 mins. He was hilarious on Saturday! I honestly didn't know that he had it in him to be that funny! He also had his very serious moments as well!! He said, "We talk a lot about Hastening the Work, so what exactly does that mean?" The story he told was "The bishop, the Sunday school president, and the elders quorum president go over to an in-actives house one day. When they pulled up, Frank, who they were going to visit, was smoking a cigarette. He invites them into his house and puts out the cigarette in a cup of coffee. Frank says welcome to my home. They talk for a few minutes about whatever home teachers talk about.. weather.. sports.. basically anything except the gospel. Haha just kidding, you gotta get warmed up tho Elder Holland said :) Then after some awkward silence cuz Frank just met the bishop while smoking the bishop says, "Frank, we're here to call you to teach a sunday school class." Frank said, " But I smoke!" "Oh really Frank! That didn't need to be told us! A cigarette in your hand, smoke billowing around your face, and a pack of camels in your shirt pocket kind of indicates a smoker! The Lord has called you to do this."
Then Frank, who is Elder Hollands dad realized that it was Elder Hollands 10 year old class that they were calling him to teach. Elder Holland said that his father wouldn't have ever accepted that call for the bishop, the stake president, or even the prophet himself, but he would accept it for his child. Right then he said, " When do you need me to start? He took his pack of camels out of his shirt pocket and tossed them into the fireplace. He never touched another cigarette, beer, or coffee again. He said, "Don't ever give up on or forget about people like Frank! The Lord is preparing people like Frank all the time and is aware of them constantly whether we are or not. Because of that simple visit, numerous missionaries have come, countless temple marriages, etc. People like you have saved people like me! I would have had no future ahead of me whatsoever if it wasn't for those three men magnifying their calling and being concerned about the one. My father would have remained inactive so where would I be?! Frank smoked everyday of his life for the first 10 years of Elder Holland’s childhood. He said that his father always wore a white short sleeve shirt everyday. "I thought Van Huesen shirts came with a pack of Camels right in the pocket. Buy a shirt get a pack, buy a pack get a shirt.." Anyways, moral of the story, Don't call on the STP! (Same Ten People). But more important moral of the story, he said "this story is a home teaching story, it's a missionary story, it's a family history story cuz not one ounce of family history work was done on his father’s side up until that day. It's a temple story cuz his family was able to be sealed." Elder Holland said. "I don't care what you call Hastening the Work, I just care that it happens."
I didn't do it any justice at all ha I tried, you had to be there for sure!! Sorry.
On Sunday Elder Cornish said, "In a very real way, Satan's influence in Jamaica has been significantly reduced because of the creation of this stake and the additional priesthood keys that are now here." I thought that was a very awesome sentence. He talked about how a stake is a place of refuge from the world and a place of additional blessing, and if we want to be covered by its refuge and gain its blessings then we must follow the counsel of the stake president, whom the Lord sustains whether we do or not.
Elder Holland also talked about the significance of a stake that I'm not going to do justice so I won't try. He then explained how it is a modern day miracle how 2 foreigners (Himself and Elder Cornish) can come in, completely flip the district upside down, release everyone and put it back together as a stake in 24 hours and have every single person sustain the new people called and have it work perfectly is a miracle and also evidence of the divinity of the restored church. Any other organization, whether a business or university or whatever that may be to have people flip it around and change it up, "there would be fist fights and blood on the windows, peoples tires would be slashed. By the way, Elder Cornish, can you go check our tires?!" I never thought of it that way but it's true.
So simply put, this weekend was great! I can't put it in words as you can obviously see from the previous paragraphs. I got to shake Elder Holland’s hand as well. It was great being taught by an apostle of the Lord. The work is going accelerate in Jamaica starting right now. 15 months ago I honestly never thought that I would ever serve in a ward or attend a stake conference while on my mission, and here it is! It's exciting. I'm honored to be part of it! The letter doesn't do it any justice! I tried to put details but it made it more confusing I think. Hopefully the letter makes sense! Just know that it was a very great weekend! Elder Holland said, "This first stake in Jamaica is historic for the Church, not just for this country!" Have a great week!
Elder Colton Harris