Sunday, November 27, 2011

I'll Be Home For Christmas! (posted by mom)

There has been 4-5 times over the past few weeks where I've just started crying. I'll be like sharing my testimony in a lesson, or having personal study, and my emotions and thoughts collide in a volcano of tears. There are so many thoughts to think, so many feelings to have at this point in time. I have truly loved my mission. A new blood pulses through my veins--one that desires to talk with everyone and share the light that can come into their life as they strive to learn and embrace the gospel.

"This is eternal life, that they might know Thee the only true God and Jesus whom Thou has sent." John 17:3 I hope that the benediction to my mission will be the same as Christ's mentioned in verse 4 of the same chapter: I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

I want to let each family member know of my love for them and my overwhelming gratitude for their support, love, prayers, emails, letters, and encouragement. It means a lot to me. I am excited to be seeing you in a few short days.

I will be home for Christmas.

I love you 300! Elder Spencer Harris

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Welcome Home Date Set - updated

Spencer has been invited to report his mission on the following date:

Date: Sunday, December 11, 2011
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: 1505 N. 145 E. Orem, UT
At the church just north of Timpanogos High School

Thank you for supporting Spencer while he has been on his mission.
He arrives home the night of December 6th.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Remembering (posted by mom)

The Conversion of Brother Lin (written for the mission history)

There is a story that needs to be told: The story of Brother Lin Shao Xian. This story starts to take motion over twenty years ago when Brother Lin's wife made the courageous decision to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We showed up on the scene in late June/early July of 2010.

Brother Lin is a well educated, faithful, dedicated father. His career was as an elementary school teacher. The Lin Family has two children, both of which are members of this church. Brother Lin himself, for the longest time was unwilling to make the steps needed to humble himself and receive baptism. Even after attending church regularly for a long time, he still had chosen to avoid all invitations to take missionary lessons.

I would often try to catch him on his way out of sacrament meeting and engage him in conversation; his reaction was always the same, he would make a brake for the door, get on his scooter, and leave. My companion and I had very little hope that this man would ever change. We asked his wife one day what we could do to meet her husband and help him accept the gospel. She only had 3 words for us. "Yao4 dao3 gao4" (need to pray). She would frequently remind us to pray for her husband; it was a good reminder throughout our experience sharing the gospel with her husband--a reminder that our strength and abilities are weak, and we are in constant need to rely on God.

My companion at the time was Elder Siebert. He being the humble missionary that he is, brought up the idea that we pray daily for Brother Lin in our companionship and personal prayers. And from that time forward, we made it a special point to pray daily for Brother Lin.

That is when the miracles started!

One day we had a 'back-up plan' to tract. Up to that point neither of us had ever really tracted on our missions, and we tried to avoid it, feeling it was unproductive. However, on this particular day, we decided to tract, and the first door we tracted was the Lin Family. Sister Lin answered the door, and we had a chance to talk to her--she knew that this was a sign, and we believed her.

Around the same time, on July 7, 2010, President Bishop came to visit our ward. Afterward the church meeting, he attended a meal invitation with some friends as well as Brother and Sister Lin. President Bishop and his wife made friends with the Lin family and extended an invitation to Brother Lin to meet with the missionaries.

President Bishop made arrangements for Brother Lin to let us "practice" the missionary lessons on Brother Lin and his wife. We would practice teaching the lessons and ask for pointers, and they would offer suggestions. In this setting, Brother Lin started to learn that he needed to read and pray to receive an answer. He accepted invitations to try this message and ask God about its truthfulness. In this setting, we were able to discuss what it means to feel the spirit and receive answers. In this setting, hidden concerns--like the part of an iceberg hidden beneath the water--were revealed to our view, and we developed a closer relationship with Brother Lin.

My time teaching the gospel to Brother Lin was nearly 6 months and during that time I changed companions 3 times. Teaching the gospel to Brother Lin is an experience that I will never forget: We prayed countless times, we discussed and planned for him and for his lessons, we cried when we thought everything was lost, and offered praise and gratitude when, in the end, Brother Lin kept commitments and made choices that led to his baptism and enduring conversion. Throughout this experience, we learned a lot about taking council from leaders, receiving personal revelation, having patience, and relying on the Lord. We learned that when it is all said and done, we are 100% reliant on God, his power, and our prayers of faith.

Brother Lin's heart was softened and his testimony took form. He passed his Baptismal Interview, and was baptized shortly after his son returned home from his mission to Taibei.

He was baptized on Christmas day, December 25, 2010, and confirmed the following day.

Brother Lin, after nearly one year, is still active in the church. He is a faithful Melchizedek Priesthood holder, and he and his family are preparing to enter the temple to be sealed as a family for time and all eternity.

I am grateful for a wise Mission President who saw and seized an opportunity to bless this family. I'm grateful to God who marked the path and allowed us to be a part of Brother Lin's conversion.

I know this church is true, I know that God is our Loving Heavenly Father. I know Christ is my Savior and the Savior of the world. I know the gospel of Jesus Christ and His church have been restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. I know Thomas S. Monson his God's current prophet on the earth, and he leads us according to the will of God. I know this restored gospel has the power unto salvation to all those who embrace it's glorious principles and ordinances.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. Elder Spencer Harris

(Companions who also taught Brother Lin: Elder Siebert, Elder Gillespie, and Elder O'Brien)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Helping the Less Active (posted by mom)

We have had some neat experiences helping less-actives come back. There is a brother Wu that we found on a teaching record. We went and visited him and testified boldly how the gospel can bless his life. We then committed him to be baptized, and he agreed! We brought his name up in Ward Correlation Meeting and the Ward Mission Leader informed us that he was already a member. Haha...But I think something must have sparked a feeling in him when we taught him like an investigator, and committed him to be baptized. He took the initiative to talk to his boss about rearranging his his schedule to get Sundays off so he can keep the sabath day holy. I'm not sure of the detials, but things were worked out so he can attend church most sundays.

We are also working with that Brother Wang, a less-active who has seriously started considering his standing before God. He hasn't missed church one time since we invited him (3 weeks.) The last time we went and visited we prepared a lesson around a question that he asked. (Essentially, what is the purpose of life.) The best part of the lesson was when he said, "My daughter needs to come to church, and here is how you are going to help her...." His daughter is now one of our investigators.

We are still working with Brother Qiu. He told us that he is content to just come to church to meet people. We kindly informed him that God gives us church for another reason--for our immortality and eternal life. We are going to try to help him set a new goal this week. He likes watching DVD's and listening to music. We are going to give him some church music to listen to and some church DVDs to watch. We hope it will fill his home with the spirit, and he will feel a pull in the right direction.

Today, we went to Gangshan to visit some of my recent converts - the liu family. They are still very strong in the faith. In the final years of their lives, Brother and Sister Liu joined the church and have found life in new abundance. Sister Liu was the one that read the book of Mormon, D&C, and the Gospel Principles book in just a few months. They have both gone to the temple and participated in work for the dead. I hope their health holds out so they can make it to the temple. In a little over 3 months they will be able to go to be sealed for time and all eternitiy. Their son and grandson have joined the church, and their daughter is currently investigating. It was a special experience to meet with them again.

Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Work Moves Forward (posted by mom)

I am really grateful for the opportunity to have another transfer in on the streets of Taiwan. We want to build this area and leave behind a solid foundation on which missionaries can continue to build. We were near 30 sit-downs this week. We have also given away 23 copies of the Book of Mormon in these past two weeks! We are trying to flood the earth.

We have met a lot of Less-Actives who are progressing and who have family members who are potential investigators.

Brother Wang is doing well. He has made a strong commitment for activity in the church and is working toward receiving the Melchizedek priesthood. He is trying hard to serve and make friends at church.

Sister Pan another less-active has remarried a man who is willing to let her come to church and who is willing to come himself if he has the time. She has two unbaptized children. Her schedule and life circumstance has recently changed and is now align with a life in the gospel.

A 12 year old less active boy went to church with us this last week and is ready for the Aaronic priesthood. The members were really excited to see him. He is a really neat kid. I'm glad we were able to find him and that his parents were willing to let him come to church with us.

An investigator, Brother Qiu, came to church. He is a cute 60 year old man. He knows a lot of the ward members already. He is comments in classes and lessons. He remembers things that surprise me--scriptural facts and such. He is really quick, and quickly connects the dots. This last week's Gospel Principles lesson was on the gathering of Israel, and he was really into that. We want to make sure he is preparing for a life long conversion, so we are trying to help him focus on sincere prayers. He is just a really neat man. His baptismal interview is set up for this Saturday, and his baptismal goal is for the upcoming Saturday.

We are trying a new activity that we are excited about. As we interact with members, we give them a list of our new members and encourage them to learn their names. We then give them a specific invitation to call or care for a specific person. I think a lot of times members just don't know who the new members are, and knowing their names is a crucial first step.

I have some miniature-for the strength of youth pamphlets. Whenever I contact a youth, I want to give them one of these and invite them to read through the whole thing and sign their name on the back as a commitment to live these standards. In my first area, I met a youth who had agreed to live the law of chastity previously in a similar way. Someone visited his school class and taught the principles of virtue and then handed out cards and had everyone sign it. When we taught him the law of chastity, he pulled out the card and said that he had been living this law for a while now.

Elder Spencer Harris

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Opening a New Area (posted by mom)

It was a great week, Elder Perkins and I opening an area! There were some long days, but mostly, just a lot of miracles. We contacted a guy the very first day, during our preparation day, and set up an appointment for him that night. He has a daughter and a son who are willing to listen to the message and we hope to see them continue to act on and accept this message of the restoration. I feel a lot of incentive to get out and work. I feel a great weight and desire to talk with everyone.

Right now Brother Qiu is really progressing. He is an older man who lives by himself. His leg has an injury that he has to go regularly to do therapy on it. When we ran into him, he was just willing to listen and we talked for a good 10 or so minutes. I I know the gospel has what he needs. Our first meeting with him was at church which is pretty impressive because, first it is like going to a party where you don't know anyone, and second our chapel is very far away (about 30 or so minute vehicle ride, or 1+ hour subway ride for us).

We have also come across some other investigators with a lot of potential including a less-active Brother Wang who came back to church, and has an unbaptized family. Their family crisis right now is such that I believe that they will readily see their need for the gospel and quickly accept. Another is a Brother Qiu, a husband of a less-active sister in the ward. We went to visit and met him outside his house. He was extremely willing to set up a time and have us over to their house. We will be giving him a special addition Liahona (similar to the Ensign magazine) on Christ and inviting him to learn more about the gospel and start to come to church with his wife.

Yesterday, Elder Gerret Gong came to our mission. It was a very good meeting. I learned many things that had personal meaning to me. At the end, I was invited by him to be a part of the panel for questions and answers.

During this last month, I get to call my former converts. I have just started calling some of them. I was happy to hear that The Yang family from Dakeng is doing great! Sister Wu from Dakeng is still active and serving. Brother Yang unfortunately is smoking and it is keeping he and his wife from the temple. I plan to talk with him about that the next time I have an opportunity to speak to him. Sister Lian, from Douliu, has moved to Taibei and...drum roll please...MARRIED A MEMBER!! She has been a member for over one year so they are currently preparing to go to the temple to be sealed.

Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stake Conference (posted by mom)

Today was interesting, we attended a stake conference that was about 1/4 live and 3/4pre-recorded. It started and ended with a choir and a stake presidency direction, but the middle they showed a pre-recording of Elder Scott, Brother Osglthorpe?, Sister Dibb, Bishop Burton?, and the Asia Area President Elder Perkins. All of their talks were inspiring and just what the area needs. We had an investigator at church, (which is a big deal for our time-limited companionship.)

This week President Bishop opened a new district (Jiayi District). It is pretty exciting! The size of the district is such that it can soon become a stake. There is a good strong presence of priesthood brothers in that area. The members in Taiwan work really hard to further the church.

Tomorrow, I move--back to the deep south in Gaoxiong to a place called Xiaogang. My companion and I will be opening this area, so there is a little pressure to get out and baptize, but I am way excited.

Love you all. Thank you for your prayers and love.

Elder Spencer Harris