Monday, October 27, 2014

Two decades into my mission...sort of!

So today I am emailing you on my 20 month mark! It's kind of like reaching a new decade in the mission, sort of not really.  It kind of makes sense in my head since 20 months is in increments of 10. Alright enough of that, so it is also Elders Chappell’s 2 month mark today. He definitely wishes that he had the 0 at the end of his month mark right now and I wish that I didn't have the 0 at the end of mine!  He is still missing home right now and thinking that time is moving slowly.   He'll start to feel better in about another 2 months or so. I wish that I could switch places with him though. It is bittersweet as time is winding down.

We walked with A. to church yesterday. She has kind of been at a standstill lately. She has been a progressing investigator for so long that she is kind of not even progressing anymore, kind of just plateaued. She basically keeps all of her commitments except to work seriously towards either marrying her baby father of separating from him. It's hard to drop her since she is keeping so many commitments and coming to church regularly, that's better than a lot of investigators do, but it is also hard to keep her since she has been taught for so long and is at a standstill. Co. is basically in the same predicament too. We fasted with A. this weekend so hopefully as we follow up with her on that we can come to some conclusion. We also walked to church with her this week so that she could save money from taking a taxi so that she could pay fast offerings.

They found Ca. at one of her daughter’s houses this week. Ch. is moving to Montego Bay next week. They finally have a little bit of water coming to an outside pipe in their yard since it has been raining the past week or so, so that is good too!

We got 4 new missionaries in the district this transfer. One sister is brand new from Utah and was terrified for a few days, I think she is better now. We also got 2 other sisters, they are white washing an area here in May Pen.  About 3 weeks ago an elder went home and his companion got transferred to a new area and sisters took that area over this week. They have been completely lost since they are completely new to the area.  Both of those sisters served in Cayman, and yesterday at church a member from Cayman showed up to church. I had to do a double take because I knew that he looked familiar but I didn't know from where.  Then I realized that it was J. H.  He has family here in MayPen. Man, it was great to catch up with him about Cayman. R., my recent convert, is getting married to the girl that gave us him as a referral. The girls name in W.  She is from Honduras and she moved back to Honduras before I left Cayman. Apparently R. has gone to Honduras like twice per month since we left.  I know that he went once before I left too. They just met at a restaurant she was working at and since she is a returned missionary she invited him to church, he came, got baptized, his son got baptized, got the Melchizedek priesthood, and now they are getting married in the Honduras temple in December when he reaches his year mark of being baptized! Yes! #eternalfamily, that's what it's all about.

Had a good lesson with an investigator named D. this week. She isn't keeping any commitments really. We asked why she keeps wanting us to come over and what she wants to gain from our visits and she told us that all the time when we are there she feels joy and she feels loved and stuff, and she says that those leave when we leave so she likes having us over there. We read verses from Galatians 5 with her and let her know that she is feeling the spirit. We then went over how one of the spirit’s roles is to testify of truth.  So, if she feels the spirit when we are there, and we are teaching her about the restoration, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, etc., then all of that has to be true.  Otherwise the spirit wouldn't be with us in a lesson. Hopefully she was able to connect the dots and starts to keep commitments now.

 Well this computer that I am on just isn't letting me send pictures. Sorry.  Have a great week! Happy Halloween! And Happy Birthday on Halloween to Taggart! Love you all!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ccraazzzyy CAT, Singed Fingers, Scorpions, and Water Buckets

Well, well, well, here we go again. I'm writing this one Tuesday this week. Yesterday was a national holiday, Hero's Day or something so the stores and email shops were closed. Plus people were home so we decided to trade P-days. This week was great. Elder Chappell got over the Chickengunia virus on Wednesday, so we were able to work for most of the week. Not too much happened on Monday or Tuesday since we stayed home. I did make this banana bread stuff on Monday, it didn't turn out like normal banana bread tho. I got the recipe from off the box of Elder Chappell’s Wheat Pancake mix. I looked at it and was like, woah, we actually have the majority of these ingredients. That means the odds are in our favor for it to turn out edible. It was edible, but it didn't look like it did on the box, probably didn't taste like it was supposed to either but it was good. I had to cook it in like a sauce pan. That's pretty ratchet I know, but we don't have any baking pans. Also, the fire in the oven went out about 4 times too without me noticing. Ovens are weird here, they don't have the automatic start, you have to take a match, or in my case quite a few matches to get it to light. Then for some reason it didn't stay lit for very long so I had to relight it too. We have to light the stove part with matches every time too. Kinda lame cuz I singe me fingers every day, but it's all good. 

On Wednesday we had a great district meeting. Afterwards I went on a trade off with Elder Campbell. He came into my area with me. We went to our first lesson in Palmers Cross where P. lives. He lives with some others in the same yard too, a grandma looking lady named C. and her daughter, Ch., and also her baby daughter. Well they don't have running water either where they live. They were running really low on water and had been for a few days so we took about 4 of the 5 gallon buckets and went to walk down to the pipe where they can get water for that area. It's close, it's only about a 6 or 7 minute walk away from their house. We go down there and there is this lady there with 3 little daughters. She just got done like giving them a bath down there or something and we see that she is filling up water containers as well. The littlest daughter had like a water bottle bottle full, the next one up had like a 2 liter soda bottle filled up, and the oldest one had a little bit bigger container. They also had a 5 gallon bucket they were filling up. We asked if we could help carry the 5 gallon bucket for her, she said no for a few minutes. I wasn't going to let her carry it tho, she was little petite lady, I think the water would have weighed more than she does. Come to find out, she always carries the 5 gallon bucket of water on her head.... (when I found that out I kind of wanted her to carry it cuz I wanted a picture of that really really bad actually). But yeah, she does that every day. She puts the weight on her head and stabilizes it with her hands. We follow her to her house, and she lives way further than P. does from the pipe. It was up a steep rocky hill too. 3 different places walking up this dirt path we had to step up rock ledge things that were probably 3 feet tall each, it doesn't seem that tall but with that amount of water that’s a lot! I was super tired just carrying the water in my hands, I have no idea at how she does it. We told her next time we are in Palmers Cross we are going to carry water for her. She said we can only do that if we come and share the gospel with her family... Uhm sure, we can do that! :) Tender mercy right there.

Speaking of water, the house that I told you we built general conference weekend; we are going back over there this weekend. It rained last week and apparently everything on the inside of the house got soaked, including them. I knew that would happen but we did the best we could with what we had at the time. It sounds like more supplies have been gathered and we will be able to fix it up a little bit better this weekend.

On Wednesday I trapped a Satan cat in our house. This cat gets into our outside trash all the time and tears it apart and makes a mess. (btw, the trash collectors haven't come for 6 weeks, so we are having to burn all of our trash in our backyard the past few weeks). It also gets into our house almost every day. It climbs through our windows. We can't leave our windows closed even when we are gone cuz our house will melt I think if we do that. So it tears our inside trash apart all the time, eats loaves of bread, and other stuff. So on Wednesday I closed all the windows, doors, and exits to our house except the kitchen door and I sat behind the kitchen door. It came in our house and went right to the trash right on cue. I slammed the door shut and then that thing went CCRAZZY for a few minutes. It ran around our house trying to get out everywhere, even running into the doors and windows a few times each to see if it could push it open, and then it hid. I didn't really think about what to do once I trapped it in the house. That cat was one feisty thing. It was terrifying; I didn't know that cats could be so defensive. 4 grown men in our house were scared of this thing. We all grabbed our machetes and a box and tried to catch it; it was not going to get caught tho. We ended up just having to let it go after quite a while. I just realized there was no point in telling you this story. It would have been a lot better if you were actually there. We caught 3 scorpions in our house in 3 days too. Yay.

On Thursday, a recent convert in the branch died. Her name was Sister H. She was S's sister, and S. is our investigator. Sister H. was only 40 years old. She has been sick off and on for years now, she had bad kidneys and was on dialysis and stuff. It was pretty sad. Hopefully we get to go over soon and reemphasize the Plan of Salvation to S. She has just been busy this weekend since that went on. Sis H. left behind two kids, a 9 year old girl and a 14 year old son. The kids took it way hard. Yesterday at a lesson with some recent convert kids in our area we made cards for them and stuff. I bet the funeral won't be for about 2 months, they put off funerals for a LONG time here in Jamaica every time, IDK why.

Saturday, the missionaries all cleaned the church. That was a funish service project lol. 

A. apparently broke up with her baby father. Sh. didn't come to church this week. P. didn't come to church this week. Went to see P. yesterday. Apparently C., the grandmother like ran away on Friday. No one knows where she is. They have called all the family and friends they know around the island and no one can find her. She doesn't have a penny to her name to get anywhere, that's why she left, doesn't have any food or water at her house so stress and stuff must have built up. Her daughter Ch. is super concerned about her. I am too, cuz from what I have seen I didn't even know she was able to walk. While we were the yesterday we went and got more water for them. While we were filling up the water I noticed a sweet sop tree right next to us. Actually Elder Chappell noticed it and asked what it was. I told him that it is the most delicious fruit in the world. I am going to carry water all the time now that I know there is a sweet sop tree down there! Wish ya'll could taste it!

Sorry the letter is so long. I have a good keyboard at the email shop today, one where the keys don't stick so I was able to cruise. Have a good week! Love you!

Nuff love.

Elder Colton Harris
the district

the clothing store in MayPen, in the MayPen street mall

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Taste of America!

Hola er'one! Well as for our week. We had 3 progressing investigators this week. Progressing means they have a baptism date, attended sacrament meeting, and are keeping other commitments. C. was one, an investigator named Sh., and an investigator named P. C. is coming along slowly but surely, hopefully she will be baptized towards the end of November. We walked with Sh. to church yesterday, she lives really close to the church so that is convenient, she lives just a little bit further away from the church here then we live to our church building back home. Sh.  is living with her boyfriend and we had a law of chastity lesson with her this week. In our plans we planned to teach law of chastity, when she didn't accept to live it we were going to drop her cuz we thought that she wouldn't commit to live it at all. She has been living with her boyfriend for a long time and really has nowhere else to go. Well we teach the lesson and give her the options of what she can work towards doing and she is like, "I'll move out, my mom lives in Canaan Heights and I'll build onto her house. All I need is such and such amount of cinder blocks for a foundation, such and such amount of board for walls, and such and such amount of tin for the roof. I start work up again in a month so I'll save money from those paychecks." So we were surprised big time! Hopefully she follows through with it. It  won't be a great house, but at least she is keeping the commandments. P. lives in an area called Palmers Cross. He walks to church too. He lives a few miles away. He lives probably further away from the stake center in Beaver to Grandma and Grandpa Harris' house and he still walks it. He has to be over 60 years old too. We were in missionary correlation meeting last week and  was telling our branch mission leader that he lives clear out in Palmer Cross and would have to walk, and he goes, "Oh that's just right around the corner." It is crazy the different perspectives out here. 

So Monday we went to Mandeville. We stayed the night there since we had to travel into Spanish Town with them the next day anyways. We went back to the caves and had a Family Home Evening with their recent convert. We stayed outside the cave but near the entrance and roasted hot dogs and ate cup cakes, that's about one of the most American things I've done out here, it was great. We obviously went back inside the caves as well and walked around. Tuesday we had a super long meeting in Spanish Town. I was on a wooden bench from 9am to 5pm straight. I thought conference weekend was bad out here, at least we got breaks from the wooden benches. We did get a little break for lunch. They provided pizza and salad. Holy cow, the salad tasted so good! It's been a long time since I have had salad, and even a longer time since I have had ranch! I've decided that I love ranch! Besides the length of the meeting, everything else was great! It was a mission-wide district leaders meeting. It'll help a lot. The off island areas skyped into it, it made me miss Cayman a lot when I saw the clerks office in Cayman over Skype.

Elder Chappell has officially been shot by the chickengunman! Haha, the virus that's going around has been getting a lot of nicknames cuz Jamaicans are funny like that. So chickengunia turns into chickengunman, chickenganja (ganja means weed here), chickengonorrhea, and many more. But he got sick yesterday after church. We came in early he wasn't feeling good. After we got in our branch president calls and asks if we could go give a member a blessing for him. Sure prez. So we had to pack back up and ride 40 minutes one way to give a 3 minute blessing, and then we rode the 40 minutes back to our house cuz the member lived in an area called Racetrack and that is very far away from our house. Elder Chappell is a trooper, went out to give a blessing for the same thing he has. He is the last missionary in MayPen to get it so hopefully we can focus on the work, until next week when transfers come and we get a brand new sister missionary in the district and another elder from somewhere else around the island, hopefully that other elder has already had it too. So I have a feeling this companionship right here is going to be out of commission for a few days starting right now.

I bought a new camera this week, I finally don't have to take pictures off of others camera. There were pictures taken at that service project last weekend but i'll have to get them from a different missionary. Devin, that was an amazing story that you wrote about. As long as we are faithfully living the gospel we don't have to just hope for miracles, but can come to expect them daily! Keep it up and that will just be the first out of numberless miracles on your mission. The Meet the Mormons movie looks really good. I've seen some trailers for it and read about it on some of the church websites.  Everyone should go watch it. And the new horse looks great too, grandpa, it sounds like we need to have negotiation lessons. If ya ever come out here we will practice the art of bartering. Rule #1, you're not supposed to add money when they put out a price for you to pay them lol. Good job Treyson in football! Good job and good luck Kierstin in soccer! 

Have a good week! Love you all!
Elder Colton Harris

Monday, October 6, 2014

Conference Weekend!

Here we are again, another Pday. Conference was great this weekend! I was looking forward to it for a long time! I loved a lot of talks! I loved Elder Christopherson’s on mercy and justice; I loved Lynn G. Robbins’ talk. Elder Bednar's was great since it related to missionary work and sharing the gospel. So many really good talks, I honestly didn't even know that general conference was as good as it is while I was back home. There is only 2 possible reasons for that, 1, Conference messages used to not be very good, or 2, I just wasn't paying attention or showing up to conference ready to learn. More than likely it was the 2nd one. Elder Holland’s talk was amazing too and it probably hit home to me because I am just surrounded by poverty and sufering. Actually on Saturday morning before conference, us missionaries here in May Pen went and did a service project for a less active. She has been staying in a little house for a while but she hasn't been paying rent since she has no money and Saturday was the last day before the landlord kicked her out. She had no where to go. She has 4 little kids, all under 10 probably. We had to go and help her build a house. Yes a few inexperienced people built a full house in just a few hours. That right there can tell you the quality of the house. Also, it was built with materials that looked like they have been used to make many many houses over the past many years. The house was the size of Kierstin’s bedroom, the structure was just made form skinny trees that they cut down with a machete and took the branches off of them, the walls were some sort of old, used sheet rock/cement something that looked like paper mache, and zink (tin) on the roof. There is no water, electricity, there isn't even a bathroom or kitchen. There are big gaps in the walls and roof, the floor consisted of dirt, rock, broken cinder blocks and spilled cement mix powder. We weren't there long enough to help them move in since we had to go home and get ready for conference, she had some other people help with that, but it was just sad.  It made me feel bad for complaining all week long because water has been out at our house all week! There is no water from the time we wake up until about 9 o'clock at night if we are lucky. The bathroom has some, but still it's super annoying! Can't do dishes, wash clothes, etc, but we survive. And living like that is still a lot better than A LOT of people here, at least we have food to eat and a safe sturdy place to live. We have so much back home, I have learned that almost everything I have is a privilege, even down to constant running water. So yeah, that's why Elder Holland’s talk was great, and I shook his hand a few months ago, so that makes him a lot cooler in my book too. Also, Hugo Martinez, the one who spoke in Spanish in the last session is coming to our zone conference at the end of the month, so that is cool. And Elder Anderson who said one of the prayers is who I drove around in Cayman for a few days so that was also pretty awesome. We had a good turnout to conference as far as investigators go, I was sitting next to A. in conference for a session and she said, "This is kind of boring." At that moment I was just thinking this isn't boring stuff at all! Actually, conference is really exciting! I was just as excited while watching conference as I usually am about a football or basketball game. I didn't even know that that kind of excitement was possible about conference, especially that kind of excitement in myself! It was kind of cool. Anyways D&C 43 has some good advice that we can apply about conference..
And now, behold, give unto you acommandmentthat whenye are bassembled together ye shall cinstruct and dedify each other,that ye may know ehow to act and direct my church, how to actupon the points of my law and commandments, which havegiven.
 And thus ye shall become instructed in the law of my church,and be asanctified by that which ye have received, and ye shallbind yourselves to act in all holiness before me—
Conference means nothing until we actually ACT on what was said and felt. That's about the extent of my spiritual thoughts, at least spiritual thoughts that are easy to convey over email.
So this week we met a cool guy named D. He is 28 and is friends with a really solid member who used to live here in MayPen, but now lives in the New York. He still talks to her over the phone and she has been sharing stuff about the church and her testimony with him even before we met him. That was really cool. He recognized that she was way different in a good way as they grew up together and went through school. Pointed out that those are the fruits of the gospel. He didn't come to conference cuz he got the chickengunia virus. That stupid sickness!! 
Anyways, Treyson, keep up the good work in football! And also Kierstin in football too! (I mean soccer, sorry, I've been in Jamaica too long). And try to drift a corner of two while you're driving with dad this week! :) Have a good week! We are heading to Mandeville today for Pday, and then I am going to Spanish Town tomorrow for a mission wide district leaders meeting. Love you all!
One Love.

Big Up.

Love Elder Colton Harris