Monday, September 29, 2014

Referrals, Avocados, and Cave Teaching

Wow, well this week seems to have flown by! We have stayed very busy this week. I'll start right off with it. On Monday we received a media referral for a lady who lived in an area called James Hill. We had no idea where that was so we looked it up and it looked way far away. We called the lady and set up a time to go and see her Tuesday morning. We had to take two different taxis to get there. Altogether it took an hour and a half to get there 1 way. We went way to the middle of no where! It was great! That was about as much in the country as you can get. From the looks of it I wouln't be suprised if missionaries had never been there before, most likely not to the very specific area in James Hill where we went. It was a fun little road trip. The lady's name was J. Her husband went to Gyuana and met missionaries there. He gave the missionaries her phone number and then they sent her as a referral to us. Missionaries from the referral center in Salt Lake had been texting her a little bit. When we got there we new that we wouldn't be able to come out there very often cuz it cost us $800 to go and come for each one of us. We had a How to Begin Teaching lesson with her and taught the restoration and the Book of Mormon to her. She liked it a lot. She had heard about the Book of Mormon from the missionaries texting and calling her and was excited to recieve one. She doesn't have internet at her house so in order to teach her we are going to have to just call her and have lessons over the phone. We left her all of the pamphlets so that she had them when we are going to go over those lessons. It is going to be nearly impossible for her to come to church, she can't even afford to send a couple of her kids to school. She sends like 2 one day and then the other 2 kids the next day, and that's only like $100 for one kid instead of $800 to come to church. She also said that she would want to bring her kids to church if she came which would be like $4,200, almost $40 US to come to church for one week. I'll let you know how our phone lessons go with her.
On Wednesday we went into Mandeville for zone meeting. Zone meeting was alright this time. I ended up staying in Mandeville for a trade off with the zone leaders, Elder Stewart actually. It was a great time! I was actually there from Wednesday morning to Friday afternoon. I fell in love with Mandeville hard! That is an amazing area. First, I have always heard Jamaicans and other missionaries say that it gets cold in Mandeville, and I would always say no, it does not get cold anywhere in Jamaica ever. Well that first night we waited for a baptism interview to get done and we were just out by the truck... and I got cold. I was really cold actually. It was only in the 60's but I think the humidity made it colder.  That's the only explanation I have cuz it's not that I am becoming a wimp! 
We also had a cave lesson with their investigator who was actually baptized just on Saturday. There are caves right behind the area where he lives so we went there on Thursday night and and walked down into the caves. Went as far as we could which was probably about 50 or 60 yards and had a lesson. We took our little portable DVD player and watched a talk by President Monson so that he could get familiar with President Monson. It was so cool cuz the cave was just pitch black dark. There were bats in the cave too. Elder Ashworth was saying the opening prayer and in the middle of the prayer he got pooped on by a bat, it was so funny! I'll send pictures of the cave lesson hopefully.
So the bad part about Mandeville being cold is that the water is freezing like ice. Hence since we don't have hot water heaters, showering was awful. Plus they live on the 3rd story of the apartment complex so there is just a little trickle of water all the time so we had to take bucket showers. Well it gets better, I had to use a measuring cup to dump the water on my head cuz they didn't have any cups in their house. But the best part is, smart one Elder Stewart couldn't find his soap and shampoo, so we ended up having to use dish soap to shower with. #Jamaicaprobs  

Avocados grow like weeds there too. This member gave me a bag of like 20 huge avocados to take back with me. She has like 15 giant avocado trees in her yard and she can't give them away fast enough. Here they call avocados pears, IDK why, but I have had pear smoothies, pear and bully beef, pear plain, pear and bread, pear and noodles, pear and eggs, pear and crackers, guacamole, pear and bulla, pear and mac n' cheese, pear and hot dog, and pear and chicken and rice and peas. It's great. I love avocados, and they cost like $80 a piece here in May Pen.

The zone leaders got hit by the police last week while driving and so for the trade off we had to do a lot of paper work and running aroung between the police staion and the church to get documents and signed stuff and send stuff to the mission office. I felt like an office elder for most of the trade off, but it was still fun. Leave it to the police to get in an accident with lol.  

So this chickungunya virus is spreading so quickly. Prez Brown said that for the past month an average of 2 missionaries have gotten it per day, and there are no signs of it slowing down. Sacrament meeting numbers were way low and it is because of this virus. So many members, investigators and missionaries have it right now... it's like the plague. Everyone in Jamaica is going to get it at this rate, it is spreading like wildfire. It has been hard to see people because so many people are sick.

A. came to church and met with our branch president. It looks like the wedding is going to have to take place in December, it's a long ways away and stuff but IDK why it has to be that long away yet since they just talked yesterday.
Well I hope that everyone has a good week. The new ward boundary changes look interesting, that should be fun. Change is great!
Have a good week! Enjoy the cow hoof soup Devin!
One Love.

Elder Colton Harris

Colorful Mandeville Apartments!


Monday, September 22, 2014

It is pouring service!

      Well Devin is off, wow. I am glad that he got there all safe and sound. The mtc and Brazil in general is going to be so sweet! Anyways, as for Jamaica...another week has passed by and this week was a little bit of a different week for us, but it was still a good week. 
      So as you probably know, after every lesson we usually ask if there is anything we can do for whoever it is that we are meeting with. We usually volunteer to do service in the yard or help paint their outside grills or cement walls, (which they paint often). Well since their has been a drought the past couple of months, no one has needed their yard chopped or anything. The past 4 or 5 months we have been asking and no one has needed anything done. They don't have irrigation here, so when it rains, stuff grows, when it doesn't rain, things don't grow... and that is your science lesson today brought to you courtesy of Elder Harris 1! :) Ha anyways, so since there has been quite a bit of rain the past 6 weeks or so everything is growing, almost everyone we ask now wants us to come over to help chop their yard. I guess the saying that when it rains, it pours, in this case it is pouring service. We are limited to 4 hours of service per week so we are trying our best to spread it out and get to everyone. Since there is a lot of service going on Elder Chappell and I decided to go out and buy machetes (that's what we use here to chop yard aka cut grass and weeds. I've never been so grateful for weed wackers and lawn mowers in my life till I came here, even push lawn mowers I am grateful for.) Thurday we had service at  one of our investigators house, her name is S. She has pumpkins growing on this steep rocky hill next to her house and there are these other plants, they are weeds but they are like vine weeds that grow throughout her pumpkins so in order for the pumpkins to grow and not get suffocated out, we had to go and pull all these vine weed things. We had to have pulled out miles of them, just small little vines, and we were only working in a pretty small area. It looked a lot  better. In 2 hours I think that I sweated at least 5 whole gallons of waters. It was pouring off of our faces like a water fountain for 2 hours straight.  Saturday we also did service for a recent convert's father. We went to his house and helped him chop his yard, that one didn't last as long. He was a funny guy. He spoke thick thick patois, he couldn't understand perfect Enlgish when I was talking to him. It's funny cuz the more slang I talked and the more I mumbled and joined my words together and talked faster, the more he understood when I talked. Afterwards we went and helped a member trim her hedges for a little while. 
     There were 3 missionaries in the district that got sick this week, I know that 2 of them had chickungunia virus and the 3rd one might have had it too. It was 3 different missionaries all living in 3 different houses here in May Pen so we couldn't really set up splits with the healthy companions. I went with Elder Lee for a few hours on Wednesday so that he could get out of the house. Elder Lee is from Spanish Town and lived close to where we did while I was there, he would go to lessons with us while I was there so now that he is out on his mission it is cool to have him in the district. I went with Elder Arrington on Thursday for a few hours in his area, we went and did some finding so that they could get some return appointments cuz right now they are struggling to find people to teach, so I went there and just talked to everyone on the streets that I could and we got some return appointments for them so hopefully it works out. It's not the most effective way to find, but it's a lot better than nothing. The other one that got sick was a sister so not a lot of help from me there. It's been a weird first full week for Elder Chappell.  He had to stay in with the sick companions for those trade offs.
      Wow, a rainstorm just barely moved in and it sounds like a big one! The buildings here, including the internet cafe that we are at, they have tin roofs lined with a really thin particle board on the underneath side as a ceiling, so when it rains it gets super super loud cuz it's a downpour hitting tin.
     This week we also helped a one armed rasta change his flat tire, we were just riding by and thought we would help. Before we stopped we didn't even know he had one arm so it worked out good.
      The water and electricity has been super off and on this week.  IDK why, it's super annoying. we can't do dishes when there is no water so I ended up having to eat cereal out of a cup with a knife cuz that was all that was clean. (It's a good thing I had some water in the fridge so that I could make my cereal that day since we use powdered milk. as you know the non refrigerated box milk is gross and costs $1,000 per gallon so that is only an occasional treat.) 
      As for investigators, A. didn't come to church again! NO! Sometimes I wish that I could take away peoples agency and make them come! I think I am slowly starting to understand how Heavenly Father feels when we know what is right but we choose to do what is wrong anyway. For this example, I know how much church will bless her in her life, but we can't force her to do it. C. came to church again. She is doing good, just is super scared of acting on spiritual promptings. She is letting fear get in the way of her faith. Another investigator came, his name is P. He is a new investigator but hopefully things turn out well for him. Also S. didn't come to church. Ugh. Had a great great lesson with her this week with a recent convert who is or used to be friends with her way before either of them started talking to the missionaries. The recent converts name is Pr.  and was just baptized last month. We met at the church and had a lesson on the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon has changed Pr.'s life and she contributed a lot to the lessons and bore powerful testimony. I love recent converts testimonies because they are so pure and simple, yet powerful. They haven't had enough time in church to say a scripted or repetitious testimony, so it's great! They will be good for each other in the church.
Well this week was good, have a good week back home! Love everyone.
One Love
Big Up.
Elder Colton Harris  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Training Again!

 Family! What's up?! Devin I can't believe that you are heading off to Brazil tomorrow! You are starting the best journey of your life! I have started to train again this week cuz I must not have done it right the first time and have been thinking that about your first couple weeks in the mission field, it's the best. Everything is just so brand new and it's just great. Transfers were on Tuesday this week. We went in and I swapped Elder Davidsen for Elder Chappell. Elder Chappell flew in Jamaica in Monday and is from Pleasant Grove Utah. He's 19 and Jamaica has made him super wide eyed! Ha both times I have trained I remember how I was when I arrived in Jamaica. It's funny cuz everything that I thought was "weird" has now become normal to me. He says that when people speak it might as well be Spanish because he can't understand any of it. He says he probably knows more Spanish than what he understands in Patios. He seriously thinks that the church should have us stay in the MTC for a couple extra weeks and learn how to understand Patois. When I think people are speaking clear and clean English he still looks at me and says he can't understand. There is a Jamaican elder in our house and the elder speaks good English but the accent makes it so he still can't understand's kinda funny. He is a great missionary, wants to work hard and be obedient so it makes my job a lot easier. He is picking up on stuff quick, the language, the lessons, so it is pretty good. He loves the food. He asks a million questions but that is good, because of that he is going to learn things a lot quicker than I did cuz I just went with the flow of things. Also, answering all the questions make me feel super smart, so keep the questions coming! :)

 Well the chickungunia virus is behind me...I think. Sister Brown said symptoms could come off and on for years even if you think it is completely gone. YAY! :( On Monday my hands felt like I had dipped them in an acid bath. Anything I touched hurt so bad. I had to keep looking at my hands to make sure they weren't filled with blisters. It was crazy. Riding a bike was hard with that! Elder Davidsen had the same thing happen to him with his hands and so did a couple others in the mission who got the virus. It has turned into like a really bad thing in Jamaica. On Wednesday we gave 2 blessings to members who had the virus.

  So A. is planning on getting married to her baby father E., hopefully we can get all of that squared away so the marriage can happen in October. She didn't come to church yesterday so we are going to have to find out why. It's too bad. Have started teaching a couple others too. On Saturday night we stopped and asked this lady for directions to an address in her neighborhood. After we got the directions she told us that Sister missionaries used to hire her to clean their house. She told us how she was taught the Law of Chastity and the sisters must have made a good impression on her. She told us how her husband died a year ago and how her mom died earlier this year. We asked her if she knew where they were and she said she didn't know for sure but that she thinks she has an idea. We quickly taught a couple sections of the Plan of Salvation and she just lit up. We left the pamphlet with her to read in detail and told her we would come back and explain it in detail this week. We were about to go and we asked if there was anyone that she knew who was going through a rough time in their life, or who could benefit from the message we share. Wow she pulled out her address book and gave us like 12 referrals; her kids and some other people she knew. Not saying all of those referrals are going to be elect but at least we have names to work with already. It saves us the dirty work of being on the streets trying to start awkward conversations with people to get to know them. The spirit touched her heart when we taught that little section of the plan of salvation and she wanted everyone she loved to hear about it too.

 That's it. I am excited to get pictures from Devin next week from Brazil! Take care bro! 2 more years till I see ya. Love ya!

One Love.

Elder Colton Harris
Elder Chappell, Elder Stewart, Me, Elder Jackson
Dirty, grimy, gross light switch that I had to clean
My closet... I call it a "walk in" closet because before I rearranged our bedroom, every time I got out of bed I would accidentally "walk into" it. BTW it is just a piece of wood coming out of the grills
Our lovely floors that look like a 3 year old installed it. They got more glue on top of the plastic tiles than they got on the bottom! It is super bumpy too. If you look in the glare on the left side of the pic you can see how bumpy it is, the whole floor is like that.
 The fridge... I think the office elders found it in a gully. A couple weeks ago ants got into my food while it was in the fridge, we found out that the seal around the edge doesn't completely seal, so ants could get into it. That's why it doesn't keep our food very cold either. 
Our shower right when I got here. #Gross! We cleaned it, but most of it is permanent, even a lot of rust. That is why I shower with my flip flops ON! 

After we cleaned it.. still gross

Monday, September 8, 2014

Chickungunya Virus and Oval Rim

Well everyone we have had quite the week! It started out all good, then went downhill, then went into a big pit, and then came back up again. It started out good as I said. The rim on my bike got pretty messed up this week. I broke a spoke, and then throughout the rest of the day spokes just kept breaking. By the end of the day I had like 6 broken spokes. The next day we decided to ride to Rastaman Bike Repair Guy so that he could fix it, on the way there 6 more spokes broke and my rim looked like the letter C almost that's how bad it kept getting bent. It started out with 1 broken spoke and a small small bend in the rim, and ended up with 12 broken spokes and a super bent rim. Usually getting the bicycle rim tuned is a really routine fix, but this time it wasn't. It couldn't get fixed all the way so now my rim is oval, that kind of makes riding more interesting and more difficult as well. So Wednesday is when it got great though. Had district meeting in the morning, Ap's called minutes before it started and said they were going to be there. It turned out really good. Elder Davidsen woke up with red dots all over his body and seemed pretty sick. After district meeting he couldn't do anything so he went home with Elder Campbell because I was going on a trade off. I went out to an area called Hayes, if you get a chance look it up in conjunction to Maypen because it was a trek! Well the next day I got sick too. We called Sister Brown and she said that we have Chickungunya virus. Apparently it is a virus that is being spread throughout Jamaica right now through mosquitoes. Oh it was terrible. My body temperature was so hot! Joint pain comes with this virus too and my joints hurt so bad! I could barely walk, it hurt to even move my fingers and stuff. I got the red dots too. There is no cure for it so she said to take tylenol for the pain. I was really only sick for Thursday and a little bit on Friday. Elder Davidsen had it a lot worse than I did. He was sick Wed- Saturday. Man staying home while on the mission is so boring. I could have left the house on friday but because of Elder Davidsen we stayed in. 
So I am going to be training next transfer! I guess I am pretty excited about that. I go into Spanish Town tomorrow to pick the new comp up. Should be a good week. A. and E. are getting married the first week of October, after that she can then get baptized! I got to go, the computer is about to lock me out, I ran out of time. Have a good week! Love you!
 Big UP.
Elder Colton Harris

Monday, September 1, 2014

I might have gotten hit by a car this week

Hey everyone! Well as dad says, I am officially in the 4th quarter of my mission, it is way weird to think about! In a typical 4th quarter of sports it lasts the longest because there is always a lot of time outs, and the 2 minute warning timeout etc, but I have a sad feeling that the 4th quarter of my mission will by far go by the fastest! We had a really great week this week, I hope everyone back home had a great week too. Well this week we had a really good, effective week. Had electricity and water for the whole week so it was successful.  Well investigator wise we also had a good week. We extended 4 baptism dates this week and they all accepted, now we need to work in getting them to church on time so that they will be progressing. If they miss the sacrament then we can't count them as attending church, and we had 4 investigators show up all after the sacrament was passed. I mean that's not too bad considering there were only 10 people (not including missionaries) in the chapel at 10 o'clock when church was supposed to start. No one from the branch presidency was even in the chapel at 10, so we obviously started late.  That's something we are working on. I also gave a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday. Every 5th Sunday of the month this branch has the missionaries speak, so a missionary from each companionship spoke. My topic was, 'A Loving Father, An Eternal Plan.' It went pretty well. I was the last speaker and I was left with basically no time. I figured that less time for a talk is more difficult than additional time.  It's hard to take a lot of stuff out cuz you wonder if it will still flow, but if you have extra time you just bare a little bit longer testimony and speak a little bit slower. It ended up turning out well.

So our investigators, most of them have been being taught for a while. One of them, A., she just a baby 2 weeks ago. She keeps commitments really well, all of them except marrying her baby father who she lives with. The baby father joined us in some lessons this week and said that he is down to marry her whenever, so now the ball is in her court to see if she wants to. It's not an easy situation or decision for her because of things that have happened in the past, but also if she decides to not marry him then she will literally have no income whatsoever or support financially. So hopefully things work out soon. She really wants to be baptized. She has to walk to church every week on Sundays and also comes to the Friday night activities that the branch holds every Friday night. She did that while 9 months pregnant. She actually had the baby on a Sunday so she missed that week, but the very next week, (last week) she was at church again. Her walk is probably about 2 miles, there are 2 really steep hills up on her way to the church, one of them is very steep and rocky, and 1 really steep long down hill, and then reverse that for her walk home. I get tired just thinking about heading to her house for lessons. Dedication. Once certain people feel the spirit of the gospel nothing can stop them. The Sunday before she had the baby she walked in the rain too.

N. and C. are 2 other investigators. We are working on getting them married as well. They have a date for the 14th. They don't live together, but they are together if that makes sense so they can get baptized before getting married as long as they live and will continue to live the Law of Chastity. They both have a date for Sept 14. Marriage would be the ideal situation for them tho. They want to be married but they have zero money to do it with. Even with us providing the building and a person to do the ceremony for free, they still have to come up with about $15,000 (US $140) to get a marriage certificate from the government and stuff but there is just no money flowing in. He works whenever he can find work, but with that they still barely have the bare necessities. US $140 is probably more than a months salary for him, and that is if he saves all of the money he makes, which obviously isn't feasible. Hopefully they can have the strength to live the law of chastity.

The zone leaders came to district meeting this week. Had a really good district meeting. We went on splits with them in our area cuz they didn't have enough miles to do a trade off. Yeah, just my luck, I thought I would be going back to Hopeton with them for a day, nope. Hopeton is just an area in Mandeville, it's not that big of a deal. Played a football (soccer) game with a bunch of Jamaican youths on Wednesday. Elder Barber, one of the zone leaders set it up, yeah they are way good and control the ball like professionals and we are all super uncoordinated with our feet. They laughed at us for a while. We played on this really small rocky dirt patch that was on the corner of the road and the field was shaped like a triangle and mostly everyone was playing without shoes, but it was fun. I also went and bought a fan this week! Yes! Not super hot at nights or during studies anymore, it's moved down a notch from super hot to just hot. There are no signs of fall anywhere out here, but it has been raining quite a bit so that's been nice.

On my 18 month mark I got fed what they call turned cornmeal. This was my first time having it. It is cornmeal cooked in coconut water and has seasonings in it too. Also had chicken back as part of that meal. It was pretty good. Chicken back is very common, I eat it at least 2 or 3 times a month, it's just a lot of bones and no meat, I don't eat chicken back bones either by the way. I might start tho so at least I get some nutrients off of it.

I might have gotten hit by a car this week, it was a low speed collision. He basically crossed the intersection while I was riding and hit the front of my bicycle and then took the front of it under his car and ran it over. I wasn't in harms way at all. He pulled over and got out but there really wasn't anything that he could do. It was his fault cuz I was on the main road going straight and had the right away he just wasn't being very vigilant and pulled out in front of me. Happy 18 month mark to me! :)

The camera guy who is supposed to be fixing my camera keeps saying, "You can pick it up tomorrow." Well he has been saying that for over 3 weeks now. I finally put my SD card in my comp’s camera so there are a few pictures today.

Have a great week everyone! Enjoy school!

Big Up.
One Love.
Elder Colton Harris

Pic 1, what it looked like when I pulled it out of the car
Pics 2 and 3, I straightened the handle bars out and that's what we got lol