Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year!

Well everyone, it is that time of year again, where it is the end of the year.. Skyping on Christmas was great! I can't believe that this was mission Skype 4 out of 4, I never thought that I would get to this point! Christmas week was great and hot as well. So Christmas day we skyped, then had dinner with Elder and Sister Vance. That meal was good, had ham and all the normal side dishes, it has been a long time since I have had ham! Then we went and handed out some Christmas cards to a few members and non members then went up to our branch presidents house and had dinner with them. It was an effective Christmas. Throughout the day we looked for opportunities to do service and stuff as well. Christmas traditions are a little bit different than they are back home or in Cayman. So Christmas eve here seems like the big celebration. In all the town centers they have HUGE parties, they call it grand market. They line the streets with the massive speaker towers that you've seen in pictures. There are lots of things that they can buy at grand market so I think that the things they buy at grand market essentially are the equivalent of Christmas presents I think. But everyone at grand market just seems to be drunk and smoking weed and just chillin in front of loud music. They stay there all night long, then on Christmas day, Jamaica is very quiet, more quiet than I have ever heard, Everyone sleeps for most of Christmas day since they were up all night. They get up and they do eat a big Christmas meal in the afternoon. Give or take a little bit, that seems to be the Christmas traditions here for the majority of people. Not too much to talk about since we Skyped this week. We have been having very good success with working with less actives, that has been very productive recently. Working with investigators... doesn't seem to be going as well as the less actives, but going forward none the less.  Have a happy New Year! Enjoy the time in California! 
That truck has massive speakers all the way around it.  That is at grand market

Star apple

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!! To start off the letter today I want to start with the Christmas story in my nativish language.

"Iina dem die de, de Ruoman ruula, Siiza Agostos, gi aada fi rait dong di niem a evribadi iina im kingdom. (Dis a di fos taim niem a rait dong sins di taim wen Kiriniyous did a ruul uova Siriya.) Aal im piipl dem didafi go a di toun we dem baan fi get dem niem rait dong, so di gavament kyan taks dem. So kaaz Juozif did kom fram Dievid fambili an Dievid did baan iina Judiya, im did afi lef from Nazaret iina Gyalalii an go a Betliyem iina Judiya. Juozif go de wid Mieri fi get dem niem rait dong. Di tuu a dem did ingiej fi marie dem wan aneda an shi did av biebe iina beli. Wen dem de de, Mieri tek iin fi av biebi, an shi av ar fos pikni, wan bwai. Shi rap im op iina biebi blangkit an put im iina di baks we di animal dem nyam outa, kaaz no spies neva iina ges ous fi dem" -Luuk 2: 1-7

You can go read that alongside the English verses in Luke 2 if you can't understand them. That is copied straight from the patois bible in case you were wondering. Yes, they have a patois bible believe it or not. I can't wait for the patois version of the Book of Mormon, haha that would be the day! And for some reason, church headquarters calls this an English speaking mission, I don't see it, nor hear it very often. Nah, that patois above is very very thick even for locals out here.

Alright, we had our branch Christmas dinner on Saturday, it went well. We got just as many to that dinner as we do to sacrament meeting so that is good. We had almost 30 people. It was a pot-luck dinner. I made liver, turkey neck and curried chicken back and brought that to the dinner. I will say that I made them pretty good if I do say so myself. Watch out mom, your kitchen is about to get some new flavors brought into it in just a few weeks! At the Christmas dinner we put up the First Presidencies Christmas devotional to watch since I don't think anyone in the branch watched it last week.

Yesterday in church was just as hectic as last week. We had 4 speakers planned to give a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday and only 2 out of the 4 showed up. The first 2 speakers finished their talks at 10:40, which meant that there was still 25 mins left in Sacrament meeting. This time I had to give a talk in Sacrament meeting without any preparation. I still wasn't able to take up all of the time so we still finished early, but oh well. The Elders quorum presidency is getting rearranged so they never came prepared for the lesson, so taught that on the fly again like last week. At least we had bread for the sacrament this week though! We have been kept very busy the past couple of weeks. We got home last night at 9:20 and realized that we didn't take a lunch or dinner break yesterday. Not healthy or good for the body I'm sure, but by going that long without eating it makes Mac n' cheese taste so much more delicious than when you are getting 3 square meals! Don't tell my mission president our occasional eating habits lol. Speaking of my mission president, his wife had a baby this week, a little baby girl. I'm not sure what they named her but I did hear that she was born.   

I am super excited to Skype on Thursday! I hope you all have a great Christmas week! As we invite the world to discover, embrace, and share the gift of Christ this year, also remember that the same invitation is being extended to us personally as well.

Big up yute.
Elder Colton Harris


Pomegranate or in Jamaican a pomgunut straight off of the tree.

In an area within our are named Munro, very often it is super foggy up there, it's high in the mountains and we drive through a cloud all the time!

Treasure Beach area

Anybody want a mango?

The top of the mountain that's covered in clouds is Munro! This picture is takin from Treasure Beach. Super glad that I don't have to ride my bike up that mountain!! :)

Our sign on the Santa Cruz chapel

The kids here love the little toys that you sent out to hand to them!!

Does this compete with the one Devin saw?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Busy Day at Church!

So this week was another busy busy week. We went to Mandeville on Friday for zone conference and also had our Christmas party. Thank you for the Christmas package as well! It was great to receive all of the American candy! The dinner was super good that we had! I was so full for the whole rest of the day too! The spiritual food was great too! Pres Brown did a super great job. Elder Martinez from the Area Presidency came to all the zone conferences around the mission except to Mandevilles, so that was sad. Afterwards there was a little Christmas musical thing by missionaries, I thought about showing off all my musical ability by whistling a Christmas song,, but then decided not to lol, I might have ended up throwing in some Flow Rida lines or something on accident that would not have been good haha. But everyone else's talent was pretty ok. We had to go back to Mandeville on Saturday, there was a district-wide branch presidencies meeting that we had to go to. That was pretty good, took up most of our day again. Talked a lot about strengthening the youth. So we had a lot of travelling to do, glad that I don't have to do this travelling in a taxi! We also took some trips to an area called Treasure Beach. There are a few investigators out there and a few less active members as well. It is a pretty cool area, hopefully we are able to swing some pdays out there soon. There is a member out there named Sis G., she is a picture perfect member missionary. We had her and Pres C. with us on Tuesday and she was telling us about how many years ago when she lived in Canada, she prayed and dreamed of the day when missionaries would be in her community, and then she realized that she was now with the missionaries in her community do missionary work, going to see her friends and acquaintances to share the gospel with them. 

Yesterday was a super busy day, I mean super busy. We got sustained yesterday in church by Elder Vance, he is a senior couple missionary that the district presidency asked to represent them. Pres. C. also had me conduct sacrament meeting as well. There was only one priesthood holder in the congregation that was able to bless the sacrament so I also blessed the sacrament. When I went to the sacrament table after I announced the sacrament hymn, I noticed that there wasn't any bread, so the C. family in the congregation noticed that there wasn't any bread so they sent up a package of crackers. Yes, I blessed essentially the equivalent of Ritz crackers for sacrament. After blessing the sacrament I gave a talk in sacrament meeting on sacrifice. It went well. After sacrament meeting I was supposed to be handing out donor statements to members and having them go to Pres C. for tithing settlement, I noticed that the primary had no teacher so I taught primary for the middle hour of church. After teaching primary, I also went and taught elders quorum for the 3rd hour of church. After church now we went and did the tithing, and had to update a bunch of stuff n MLS. MLS is the computer system the church uses to keep all records and forms etc on. So I had to train myself howto use MLS and then train the new branch clerk the things that I was learning. It was a hectic 3 hours of church I tell you!

So it was a busy week, this next week will be just as busy I hope. It is getting really close to Christmas! Can't believe it is coming so soon! Love all of you! 
Love Elder Harris
Pic 1) Sunset view from Pres C.'s house last night.
Pic 2) Treasure Beach
Pic 3) The owner of a resort in Treasure Beach is a member of the church and grew up in Idaho... can you tell? :) Deer sheds (antlers) in a tiki hut thing on the beach!! :)

Monday, December 8, 2014


Week number 1 is down in Junction and I love it! Man this is area is super sweet! We got here Wednesday evening, got in right when it was getting dark and we were following the zone leaders so I didn't know where we were going, which means that if I ever have to leave Junction I don't know where to go since there aren't nice and easy street signs to follow, but we're here and that's all that matters! Thursday we hit the ground and started to get a feel of the area. We headed up to President C.’s house and got to know him a little bit, then he came out teaching with us. He is super awesome and very converted! He has been a member for a long time and has even been branch president a few times. When we went to his house, if I hadn't known before hand that he couldn't see then it would have taken me a long long time to figure that out! He is pretty young, under 50 for sure just lost his vision pretty recently due to other complications so he knows the area here in Junction really good. He was leading us around telling us where to turn, how far to go and what store or shop or kind of tree to look for, just landmarks to help us. He has this place memorized, and trust me, this would be a difficult place to memorize! He loves missionary work too, I need to get him a name tag since he wants to go out with us so often. The branch is very small, about 25 people were there for sacrament. We are going to get it back up and running. We have church in a rented space, they don't have a building of their own. Our area is super beautiful as well! I thought that I was in the bush when I went to May Pen, I was way wrong. May Pen was less city than Spanish Town and Kingston but Junction is pure bush as they say here in Jamaica. There is a ton of farm land, they grow everything under the sun it seems. The parish that we are in (St. Elizabeth) is called the bread basket of Jamaica meaning that most produce comes from here. It seems that everyone here has a farm. It goes house, farm, house, farm, house, etc. They aren't large farms like we picture back home with acres and acres of land, but they are farms that like a family would be able to handle doing all the work by hand and not machinery, so that is the main source of income here. There is really red dirt everywhere too. We are essentially in the mountains of Jamaica, there are so many hills, I am so glad that I don't have to cover this area on a bike! That would be terrible! Although, it did ruin my plans for "3 months to sexy." I have told essentially everyone that I don't care what I do for the first 21 months of my mission as long as I ride a bike my last 2 transfers. Well, so much for that! My transfer call to Junction with a truck was essentially my "3 months to fatter and whiter." I wanted to get a good tan, get slim before I go home, so this is my luck. Where has this truck been the past year? Yeah so since we are in the mountains, they are arranged perfectly so that we see the ocean from the mountains almost everywhere we go. If you look one way you see for miles down into a valley of Jamaica, and you look the other way and you look down at the ocean! We get to see the ocean from up high in the mountains,,, that's a sweet combination!!!  It is very beautiful! I love it! Another thing that I like about coming to Junction is that we moved into the apartment the sisters lived in. I told everyone before I left May Pen that the house we move into would be super nice since sisters lived there before,, I was right! Man how would it be to be a sister in this mission! Hot water in the house, non-rusty fridge, carpet in the bedroom! (first carpet I've seen in Jamaica btw). They did take the couch out of the house, only sisters can have couches in the mission according to Prez Brown, that isn't even exaggerating either.  But yeah I don't even feel that I am in Jamaica since I don't get yelled "whitey" or “chiny man" anymore at me and because of hot water and carpet and a truck. My new comp is Elder Sullivan. He is Jamaica from Yallahas. He is a recent convert, baptized about 2 years ago, only member of the church in his family. It'll be good. We have a long way to go as far as getting down the missionary lessons and etc etc, but it's all good. That's why we have 3 months to train. No I am not district leader anymore! I realized that I haven't seen another missionaries district meeting in about 16 months or so since in Cayman even though we were zone leaders there were no district leaders so it was just us! Finally don't have to worry about coming up with teaching plans for district meeting all the time! I am in the same zone I was in while I was in May Pen. So another story, Prez P., the district president was here to put Bro C. in as branch president, after sacrament meeting Pres P. called me into talk with him. I thought he was going to explain that I should help out and be branch clerk like Prez Brown told me I might be doing. Well Prez C. called a branch clerk actually, but he called me to be the first councilor in the branch presidency. I was surprised at that. Guess it is another opportunity to serve, stretch, and grow. I've never seen that before, some missionaries go branch president but IDK if I have seen them as councilors. It'll be fun. The First Presidency Christmas devotion was great! It doesn't look, feel, sound, smell, you name it like Christmastime here. I can't believe that it is so close cuz it feels like summer time down here. That is the week. I'm sure we will have another great week this upcoming week as well!

 Likkle more.

 Elder Colton Harris

Pic 1) Elder Sullivan
Pic 2) Upgraded the ol' bike
Pic 3) Part of the area we cover
Pic 4) View from our area

Monday, December 1, 2014

To Junction!

Alright so I am starting to email you at 5:45 p.m. today! Today has been a crazy day! I woke up early and started studies at about 7 this morning because the zone leaders came and picked me up at about 8 so that we could go into Kingston. This morning there was a trainers meeting in Kingston, so yes as you can guess by now, for the last 3 months of my mission I will be training again! So transfer calls came on Saturday. I am not in my new area right now like some people think I am, but I am going to be serving in the village of Junction! It is in the parish of St Elizabeth. There is more to it though.  So there is a sister companionship that has been working there, they are leaving.  And me and my new trainee will be white washing the area, and we have the whole area all to ourselves. I go into Spanish Town on Wednesday to pick him up. After that we are going to the area not knowing any investigators or members or anything. I have never been to Junction and there are no missionaries there to show us around so it is going to be great! I am really excited for this, it is going to be challenging but also great! We went to the mission office today after the trainers meeting and Prez Brown pulled me into his office. He told me that I came within an inch of becoming branch president out there. I'll be honest, I am super glad that I don't have to train and be branch president! But, they decided to make a guy named Bro C. branch president. Bro C. is blind, and there are only 18 people that show up to this branch so pres said I will be the branch clerk and branch this and that and that we are going to be driving Bro C. around helping him to fulfill his calling and stuff. I am super excited, it is going to be a great 3 months! I have never met Bro C. but everyone says he is the most awesome guy ever! So that is that, I'll let you know next week how Junction is. I am also excited about the new "He is the Gift' Christmas initiative that the church is doing this year. As missionaries it will be a great tool to find new investigators, especially since I will be in a brand new area, I am going to use that so much in order to find new investigators. If you haven't seen the video you should watch it, He is the Gift.  Watch it and then find ways to #sharethegift this Christmas season with anyone and everyone.

I am really sad that I am leaving May Pen. It has been great here, and honestly the past 4 1/2 months have flown by like just a few weeks!

For Thanksgiving this week we made rice and peas and then we went and bought an apple pie from the grocery store! That was the best part! We were in Mandeville this Wednesday for zone meeting so we went to this American style grill.  It was great. We also considered that part of our Thanksgiving.

This week there were 3 baptisms in the branch. They were from 2 of the sister companionships here. I had interviews with them all this week and they are great! Originally all 3 of them asked me to baptize them, I told them to spread the wealth a little bit so one of them asked Pres Brown to do it and the other one then chose Elder Martin. Pres Brown agreed to do it throughout the week but then on Saturday I talked to him and he said he wouldn't be able to make it to May Pen and asked if I would baptize the person for him. Long story short, I baptized 2 people this week which was great and then I confirmed the other one in church on Sunday.

Sorry that this is so short and scattered, time was super limited.

Have a great week! Love you all!
Elder Colton Harris
Thought this shack was great!