Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Baptism & A Bike Crash (posted by mom)

Saturday was Bro. Lin’s baptism. It was a special one! We look forward to see Brother Lin receive the Priesthood, receive callings, and be molded into the person that God wants him to be. He has changed so much over the past few months. He is kinder with his family and with others. The first time I met Bro. Lin, he wasn't even willing to say a word to me. So we prayed. After we were able to meet with him we wouldn’t even let us discuss baptism. So we prayed. The change has been slow. We hoped we would one day see him baptized, and on Saturday we did!! His less active son came--he was a really nice guy. We are so excited for them and for their potential to be an eternal family in a year!! I think only God knows the full extent of this miracle. It was fun to see the end and the beginning--BAPTISM! President Bishop and his family came to see it! It was a special thing.

This week we went on exchanges with the assistants! That's always fun. It's nice to leave an exchange feeling uplifted and strengthened. The only bad thing that happened was the assistant and I wrecked with each other on our bikes...haha. It was actually amazing that no one got hurt. We were going really fast on this road to visit an investigator when we came to a yellow light--I figured that no one else would make it through the light so I slowed down and headed toward the closest person to contact them. The assistant looked behind him to see if my companion was going to go through or not. Therefore He didn't see me slow down and slammed the back of me. I looked behind me to see his face about 2 feet away from mine and hovering in the air. The only casualty was the box on the back of my bike. No one was even scratched... I think it makes a good story.

On Thursday we got to go to ZhangHwa to see an old Buddhist Temple and other sights with the mission. On Sunday our district leader was called to be the new mission recorder. So now our companionship has three people now. I am the Sr. companion and the district leader. I am responsible for the missionary work in the entire county of Yunlin!!!! wow! We are excited for this power filled week.

I was amazed that we were still able to get 30 sit downs this week even since we were gone for one whole day on the 23. It's interesting how the blessings come--they come at the best time and in the best way. We have a goal this week to add 100 investigators. It is a good thing that we have an extra companion and Zone leader exchanges this week!

Right now we are focusing on a Wang family--the father is a Police officer so it's hard for him to make it to church. We are also focusing on a Brother Li --a former atheist who prayed for a really long time and now believes in God. He enjoyed himself at church, and we believe he looks really good for his Week C goal. Others include a Brother Yuan, who is trying to help his parents have a better understanding of the Church, and the Brother Chen who still believes everything, but hesitant to act on it.

Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Going to be a White Christmas (posted by mom)

It's going to be a white Christmas in Douliu--and one Christmas from now, it will be even whiter when the Lin family goes to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity!!

Brother Lin is going to be baptized on Christmas day! We are really excited for him. It's going to be a day to remember! His story has been pretty epic--It involves twenty plus years of his wife fasting, praying, and believing. It involves his son going on a mission. It involves an Area 70 president. It involves the Taiwan Temple president. It also involves a caring mission president and about 5 elders who know him, pray and fast for him, and helped pave the way. It involves family back home praying and believing and encouraging. I am so excited for him and his family. He has one less active son who was invited to attend. My companion and I fasted and prayed that he will come.

I love saying "Merry Christmas!" to everyone on the street. It always gets a good reaction since the holiday is not celebrated nationally. My companion and I have organized a small activity on Dec 24. We are going Christmas caroling with ward members and investigators at the train station. The ward is really excited about it--I am too! The ward is having an activity on Christmas morning--grilling sweet potatoes and playing with each other.

Right now we are teaching a Bro. Yuan, he is a teenager who has a really big testimony. His dad came to church with him this past Sunday. His parents want him to wait to be baptized, but we are praying and planning to help them work through this so he can be baptized as quickly as possible.

Thank you to everyone who sent me a Christmas card, letter, or gift. The Ward/stake has sent 3-4 things that have brightened my day. Grandparents have each sent Christmas greetings that we are very grateful for!!

This past week I learned 50 characters each day. It is a goal that is making me stretch, but I've found that in one week doing this I feel that I've unlocked a little bit of the language. I don't feel so much like I live in a box. I can start to read things a little. I can definitely find my way to the chapter and verse of scripture I want to use without referring to the English version (at least most of the time.)

I love each of you so much. I'm so grateful that Jesus Christ, the Creator of our universe was willing to condescend below us all to be born in a stable. I'm so grateful that he allowed his entire life to be used for the purpose of Preaching the Gospel and preparing the way for everyone else to follow. I'm grateful that he took upon himself our pains, weaknesses, and sin so that we could be healed and reconciled to the father. I know he is lives. I know his restored gospel is true.

Love, Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Priesthood Blessing, and Protecting the Culture of Mankind (posted by mom)

I got to give my first priesthood blessing in Chinese this week. We had a sick brother who asked us for a blessing, so we gave him one. When it came down to it, the spirit calmed my nerves and the words flowed. I'm so grateful for a God who we can rely on.

An interesting situation: There is a foreigner in our area who is absolutely sure we are destroying the culture here. He is very clear at letting us know how he feels. In reality it is smoking, drinking, sabbath day violation, pornography, and the downplay of the family that are destroying the culture of the entire human family. It is that universal culture we are trying to protect.

This week we had a 2 day training in Gaoxiong. It was great. I felt a lot more confident this time than I have in the past. Me and another elder had to travel farther than anyone else to attend. As we got on the train, after the first day, we thought to ourselves, by the time we get home, it will already be way past the time for bed and we'd need to get up early to travel back. So we made a call and got permission to sleep over. On our walk from the train station to the Sanmingqu elder's apartment we talked to everyone we met, we called our investigators, and sat down with a homeless man. It was a much better use of our time. All in all, we had a great experience at the training. We learned and practiced a lot. I also got to see some former companions and friends.

I know this church is true! Scattered Israel is being gathered in! I know Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer!

I'm grateful for your prayers and love! Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Change of Heart (posted by mom)

We are loving it out here in Douliu. My new is from Hawaii and he is a midshipman from the Naval academy. He is a million dollar missionary. We work well together and he has a strong self-will and determination.

I want to tell you about a special experience I had just yesterday night. We went to go visit our beloved Chen baba who we have not been able to get a hold of for a long time now. He was really "buhao yisi" (embarrased) because he had made a decision that he didn't want to change or join the church. We expressed our love for him and re-taught some things that he had forgotten. We found that he had not been reading and praying recently.

I felt inspired to share two passages of scripture that were focused on his concerns. Then my companion pulled out a picture of his family and told Chen baba, with tear filled eyes and a sob in his throat, about how his dad was converted at the age of 19. He told of how the thing he most appreciates of his dad was his decision to join the church. I'm so grateful for this experience. Even if I would have found a scripture that was personally addressed to this Brother Chen, it wouldn't have had the same effect or spirit that was felt in those sacred moments of my companion's testimony. I felt the spirit and believe Chen baba's heart was softened.

Love you all --Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Baptisms and Miracles (posted by mom)

We celebrated two baptisms this past weekend. Because the chapel is under construction, we held them at the bishop's house in a pop-up font. The same, special feeling prevailed as we sang the opening hymn. As I introduced our investigators who were being baptized, my heart was filled with gratitude. One of them has made more sincere changes in his life than anyone else I've known. I was really excited for him to make this covenant with God. At his baptism there was a light in his eyes and a certain smile that I have never seen before. I think I felt a little of what God feels when His children choose to repent.

Yesterday we fasted for Brother Lin. The commitment we gave him was to stay for all three hours of church. Regardless of having much excuse to leave, he stayed the entire time.

Since being on my mission I feel like every time the alarm goes off in the morning, another miracle begins.

Two short stories in particular have increased my faith and have displayed the Lord's blessings in the work we are doing.

One was in my first move call, I prayed daily that I could find and baptize someone, and help them accept this gospel message. In the end, I found two people who were baptized in the same move call. I was so new to the work and I truly felt God heard and answered my prayers. I felt He knew me personally and he knew the people we baptized. God is mindful of us and daily takes care of us; He provides our needs and righteous desires.

Another story was when me and my second companion, decided we would break our personal record for adding investigators in one day and collectively break our companionship record. When we woke up the next day, it was raining. I had heard a lot of things about adding fewer people in the rain, but we prayed and had a firm resolve that we could do it. We went out and challenged EVERYONE we saw to hear the gospel and accept baptism. At the end of the day when we were counting numbers, my companion had crushed his personal record but I was short 2 adds of breaking my record. I was heart broken, but then a thought came to my mind--"reach in your rain coat pocket". I had forgotten about 3 adds that I had put there to protect them from the rain. God had truely blessed me and I was able to add more investigators on a rainy day than I had ever done before that time.

I love missionary work and see miracles every day.
Thank you for all your prayers. Love, Elder Harris

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I am so thankful to be a missionary--my mission has been the best experience of my life, and I still have another year!!

We got our move call this week and I'm excited for another go around in Douliu. It's such a great place! I feel like I've grown up here. I feel like I finally got a grip on the language here. I feel like I actually know the ward members and investigators here. I have learned a lot about myself and leadership here. I love this place--It's a part of me and always will be.

I am also excited to train another missionary. My new companion is really confident. He added 3 people the first day and found us a sit down.
In the short time we've spent together I've learned a lot. Mostly I've learned that everyone is different. New methods need to be used with new people.

Last time we met with Lin Baba, he was PROGRESSING! He said he was reading and praying. He agreed to attend church for 3 hours this next Sunday and agreed to pray with us the next time we meet with him (He still hasn't prayed while we've been there.) We were bold, and he committed himself to action. I'm excited to follow up. I have a feeling that he will keep these commitments. My desire is to see Bro Lin join the church and on the path to be sealed to his family in the temple.

We have two baptisms coming up this week. One is a girl who was brought into the church by her boyfriend. She was ready for a baptismal interview the day we met her. The other is a former investigator. He showed up at church one day and has had a change of heart. He passed his baptismal interview and we are really excited for him!!

I recently refocused my mission on goals. Most of my goals are under the umbrella of becoming a better teacher. I think this is an important way we can influence others for good. I think improving my teaching will help in all phases of the work especially in leadership.

To accomplish this goal, I am striving to have the spirit's constant companionship, developing an increased knowledge of the scriptures, and working on Christlike attributes and teaching skills. I've found that in times when I've needed words the most--a scripture has come to mind. I know that the Lord's promise of giving us the words in the moment we most need it is true, but we, first, need a store of knowledge and scriptural understanding. I am also focusing my personal and language study around this purpose.

This past district training meeting was about teaching people, not lessons. I enjoyed preparing it and sharing what I learned. The conclusion was that, everyone is a brother or sister and if recognized and treated people as such we will have a genuine concern and love for them.

We need to ask ourselves: Do we just go through the motions and get casual in our relations with others? Or do we ask how they are and then really listen to what they say? Do we remember that Brother liao's mom is in the hospital and ask how she is doing? or do we forget?

This is an exciting goal for me and I feel really motivated about it.

Thank you for all you do,
Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Week in the Life of a Missionary (posted by mom)

This morning we rode our bikes to the very north of our area. It was about a 1 hour bike ride. There is a long red bridge there. Elder Gillespie and I had personal study out on a peninsula in the river. It was quite a sight, a good time to ponder and reflect.

I guess the biggest news this week is I did my first baptismal interview. Also, because our English class can no longer meet at the church we are holding our class in a company's second floor. It's kind of like the school of prophets... In an upper room...

Another exciting things is Brother Lin randomly called me up on Sunday and said he wanted to come to church. I love this guy, he had passed his baptismal interview awhile ago and then came across some commandment problems, and went missing. It was good to see him at church and we really want to help him start progressing again. The other Brother Lin has been out of town so we didn't get the opportunity to teach him this week.

Elder Gillespie ran into a guy the other day who was so touched by our missionary spirit and hard work that he wrote a blog article about it...I thought that was cool. He met with us and we are working with him. We need to help him overcome the problem of work on Sunday.

Move call is this next Monday. This is the first time I haven't been excited about it. I love this area, the people, and my companion.

Zone Conference this past Thursday was about setting goals and making plans. I feel that this is super important.

Elder Harris

Monday, November 8, 2010

What is the difference between good & great? (posted by mom)

This week was great. We went on assistant exchanges. I always learn a lot from exchanges and always come away with a clear idea of how I can repent and improve.

I've been pondering the question what makes a good missionary great? Why was king David in his prime able to expand Israel's kingdom to such an enormous size? Why was Joseph of Egypt able to thrive in any situation? Servitude, prison, second only to pharaoh? What's the difference in a good companionship and a great one? What makes a good district great?

I feel that it has to do something with love, prayer, diligence, desire, and attitude. I plan to continue studying and praying about this, and I plan to listen with my spiritual ears at Zone Conference to find the answers.

Right now, we still have the Chen Baba on board. He is so good. We meet with him 3-4 times a week. He has time in the evening so sometimes we stop by and sometimes we meet at the church. He knows the bishop and has a really good member friend Li Dixiong. We are excited about him. He works at a slower pace, but he makes the right decisions and when he is committed, he does it. He still needs a little time. We know he will make the right decision.

I love that God always blesses us when we make sacrifices to overcome bad habits. When someone stops smoking--God fills that hole with a testimony so perfect and pure. They are filled with spiritual strength. When someone abandons a sexual sin, virtue and spirit will quickly fill that hole. When someone sacrifices to come to church, their life aligns--spiritually and temporally. When someone digs a hole in their wallet to pay tithing, it's filled with a feeling of divine protection and security--this person will be filled with a deep commitment to God and his church.

Life's great, I love my companion, and I love the work. I love the people. I feel as though we walk with God.

I know miracles are possible; I know hundreds could be baptized here in Douliu.
We are working hard and the Lord is blessing us.

Love, Elder Harris

Sunday, October 31, 2010

You Can Fly (Posted by Mom)

I remembered a line from Jacob 7 today..."Our lives passed as though it were a dream." I often feel that way. (but if you look up the scripture, we were unlike those people because we did not mourn out our days...haha.) Waking up, biking around a little town, meeting every kind of person, challenging and testifying, declaring the divinity of Christ, bearing His name, baptizing, coming home, planning, following up, and sleeping...It sounds like a dream doesn't it? I thought about coming up on my year mark and I felt like crying, I started missing my mission really badly. Then I rememberd a few things: firstly, 3 months of the first year were in the MTC, and secondly every missionary in Taiwan extends one month!

On Tuesday we had a Combined District Training Meeting. It was really good. I enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the other missionaries and getting some fairy dust from the assistants. "YOU CAN FLY!"

Right now we have two really solid investigators. One is a dad, Chen baba. The gospel has really helped him fill some void in his life. He loves coming to church and meeting with us. He really feels the need to obey the word of wisdom--especially to show an example to his sons. He shared with us some spiritual insights he had over the past two days. His sons and family were able to hear his spiritual insights and witness their father kneel and in prayer acknowledge their Father in Heavens existence. How cool is the gospel! A father leading a spiritual discussion, showing the way by example, and witnessing his humility and reliance on God by kneeling in prayer. He has discovered those things that give one moral authority. We are praying for him and have a plan to help him be baptized! He still has some doubts and misconceptions but if he continues to remain humble and search spiritual knowledge he will be 'shown all things he needs to do'. The other solid investigator is Chen xiaojie. She feels that God helped her quit Coffee really pain-free. She has a testimony and she understands the importance of keeping the commandments.

We have an obstical right now. That is, they are going to remodel the chapel--make it bigger. It's going to take a year to do. That means for the rest of my time and Elder Gillespie's time in Douliu we won't have a convenient place to meet with investigators and it also means that all our investigators will have to find a way to make the 45 minutes (by bike) trip to the next town on Sunday to go to chruch.

We are going to be praying, and working our hardest to get them there. We also are in need of a place to hold our Wednesday English class. I'm positive that God has a plan in mind for this area--chapel or not.


Elder Harris

Pictures: 1) My companion doing some street contacting. 2)Bruce's baptism, 3) some super big youzi pomello... it is Douliu's speciatly

Monday, October 11, 2010

Answers to prayer, and Brother Lin (Posted by mom)

I've been impressed lately with the way God answers prayers. I feel as though I've witnessed the mercy, grace, and power of God in the recent experiences of my mission. He is directing this work. All we can do is do our best, strive to hear and heed the promptings of the spirit, and trust in Him. Things have usually worked out differently than we had planned, but God has carried us through and his purposes have been accomplished.

Our experience with teaching Brother Lin is really teaching me the different way's God will inspire a person or answer their prayers. In the time we've been meeting with him, I've had the spirit speak words to my mind, I've had confirming impressions and feelings, I've had other people tell me exactly what and how to do something, and I've at one point not been able to attend our meeting with him because of a training in another City--but my replacement knew exactly what to say and was the right one to meet with him that day. Brother Lin passed his baptismal interview today. This man will be baptized before long.

We were so blessed at church this week. It was really fun to see people keep walking in. There were two members that brought friends, a good referral, and a girl who just walked in! The members really took care of them which really helps to make them more solid investigators.

Also this Sunday, an investigator who we've had a chance to work with before, but left to Tainan for school, attended in Douliu again. He said he was getting baptized this Saturday!! What a joyous thing!

We also tracted out a golden investigator in Gukung this week. It was a lady who believes in God and Jesus Christ but has never quite known how to practice religion. She told her member friend she has been thinking a lot about baptism. We had a good talk with her about baptism, we gave her a planner, and set up a time for a discussion. Right after our lesson she will attend institute with her new member friend.

God directs the show, conducts the orchestra, and writes the novel--but He requires a willing, seeking, humble heart.

Love you all, Elder Harris

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Baptism, Early Mornings, & New Investigators (Posted by mom)

Can I just tell you, I love being a missionary: This week has been a lot of fun. Tuesday through Thursday we traveled to Gaoxiong for a leadership training. We got up at 5:30 a.m. each day so we could get there on time. I enjoyed the training. There are so many great missionaries in this mission. Their language and teaching abilities are amazing! It was an honor to learn from them and have an opportunity to practice teaching with them. I felt I learned a lot.

On Friday, we took part in an early morning seminary activity. We woke up at 5:00 a.m. to it. It was a lot of fun, but boy after all those early mornings we sleep well on Friday night.

Most importantly, this past Saturday Lin Jia Cheng (BRUCE) was baptized! He came to our English class, and then to church. The gospel message just really clicked with him. He reads the scriptures and prays each day. Bruce rode his bike to his own baptism that his parents didn't even attend. That shows the kind of faith he has. The spirit was there.

This past week, given the time we had in our area to proselyte, I feel that we made a lot of progress. We had many first discussions. My companion found this boy who ended up bringing 5 other boys with him to the discussion. They are all super willing to come to the church and meet with us. Each time they came a few more boys show up with them. They asked us to meet with them every evening to read scriptures. They are 14-16 (some of them have a few bad habits, but they have quickly learned to be respectful in the chapel). I am amazed at their willingness to read and discuss the scriptures. They are pretty open about answering questions too. We are praying for them and hope they will come to general conference. I have a feeling if they come and attend, at least, the priesthood session, they will truly be pricked in their hearts. (We will get conference a week later than you do in America).

We also have a golden referral. Lin Jia Wen. A female investigator. Yes, in my area there no sister missionaries, so we teach girls. We have to have a Melchizedek priesthood holders with us, and we also try to find a female member to sit in on the lesson. It's like an army of people... (if an investigator cancels, the whole army has to be called and relieved of duty). We have a few female investigators right now so there is a lot of coordination that goes on.

I know this chruch is true. I know there is a sustaining power in this work. It enables the willing servant to complete all that is required at his hands. What a great blessing that is!

I love you lots.

Elder Spencer Harris

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stars and Dots (posted by mom)

Thanks for the prayers, the prayers, the prayers, the love and support, and the prayers.

I think I've been letting myself get stressed out a little too much lately. This past week, I tried to not let the dots and stars stick to me. I tried to talk to everyone I met and just tried to be a little more cheerful. I tried to hold up a clear banner and some people answered the call.

The times when I was refused, I let those dots slide off. The times I felt I had done something special, I let those stars slide too. It was a prayer process. I tried to do as king Benjamin invites in Mosiah 4:11-12 and tried to remember my nothingness before God and retain a remission of my sins. This kind of existence was more joyous and happy.

It's odd how we get in these patterns of thinking that what we do makes a difference. Clearly God requires our all, but that is not the main requirement for success. A broken heart and a contrite spirit, humility and meekness, charity and faith give our words and actions meaning and power. When we realize this, things just happen on their own; and more often than not, the blessings come with little or no correlation to our focused efforts.

Elder Gillespie and I are having fun getting to know some less-actives. Not many people have the privilege that we have of being born in the covenant and having the blessings of eternity before us at the moment we take our first breath.

I love you lots. I pray for you too.

Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Typhoon and Some Great Investigators (posted by mom)

I love this work. We had a Typhoon here yesterday. They cancelled church. It was bad in the morning as far as wind goes, but in the afternoon it was the eye of the storm. Then in the late afternoon we got the end of the storm, but it wasn/t as strong as had been predicted but everyone was still worried, and no one was on the street.

We are excited about some investigators right now. This week I had, what I consider, a powerful insight. That insight was that regardless of how many people we have investigating the church, I always have an investigator with me 24/7. That would be my trainee. After this realization, I found myself riding a little faster and striving to be more focused. I found that I was praying more often, using the scriptures more, striving for a cheerful attitude, pointing out the successes, and being more thankful.

We truly have been blessed. One day we had one investigator call us up and tell us she was at the church. We were able to get a member there and share the importance of the restoration. The spirit was there, and she came ready to learn. She understood much of the depth and importance of prophets and the restoration. She agreed to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it was true. She has cancer and I felt to promise her that in those times of pain and discomfort, if she prayed with faith in Jesus Christ she could receive power to endure and comfort from the pain.

The same day we went to meet with a Mr. Zhang. His family loves us and have encouraged us to continue meeting with him. When we taught him, he was very somber and I believe he was touched by the atonement and my companion's simple, pure testimony. We found out that he had been divorced just a little under a year ago.

Also the experience we are having with the Lin part-member family has truly been a revelatory experience. I've been learning the power of the promise in 1 Nephi 10:19 about seeking and finding. I've prayed daily for this man for around a month or more. Two times ago meeting with this family, he was in a bad mood and kept getting up and walking around. I knew it was deliberate and a pain entered my heart--it was hard to continue sharing something so sacred and personal to someone was wasn't listening. At one point I thought of saying, "Maybe now isn't a good time, you two seem busy, maybe we can come back tomorrow."

I said a prayer.

In that moment, the spirit distinctly told me, "Just get to the restoration." As the lesson neared that point, he sat down and focused for a moment. My companion started to recite the first vision. I hadn't heard him mess up before, but this time there were some struggles. Brother Lin helped him with his Chinese and soon the recitation turned into my companion saying a portion and Brother Lin repeating. The spirit came, his heart softened. I felt brother Lin realize that we are in the same spot his son is in (on a mission), and I felt how he wished people would listen to what his son had to say--I saw this change happen on his face and in his heart. The lesson ended well and on a much higher note than it started. As we left the door, the spirit gave me the next, clearly distinct piece of inspiration. From the time I left the door of their home to the time I got to my bike, I knew exactly what I needed to do for the next lesson. The spirit brought to mind a deeply personal experience of mine that needed to be shared.

Throughout the week, I had plenty of time to practice sharing the experience to myself, I did it in English, I did it in Chinese, I practiced it as I lay in bed, I practiced during my prayers. By the time the next visit came around and the time came to share, the spirit filled the room and attended my words. They listened intently, I cried, and they were touched.

We gave the invitation to be baptized and found out about brother Lin's current concern. (undisclosed) As much as this seems like a dead end, I know that the spirit will continue do direct this process. Brother Lin's wife has worked with him for over 20 years. Her faith his very strong. I know there is a happy ending to this story and I'm excited to see what the Lord has planned and how the spirit will continue to direct my companion and I as we work and pray for him.

I love you all. Keep being all that I know you are!

Elder Harris

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Eternal Families (posted by mom)

I'm so greatful for our eternal family. What a HUGE blessing it is. Not a week goes by that members don't express their gratitued or desire for an Eternal Family (yonghengjiating) or Momomon Family (momenjiating).

We met with three part-member families this week and they all came to church. We are going to meet with another husband of a part-member family on Tuesday. I'm excited that God has given Elder Gillespie and I an opportunity to work with part member families. Our plan of action: HELP THEM FEEL LOVED. We are going to create opportunities to stop by, have members meet and friendship them, and help them keep commitments and grow in their testimony, faith, and desire. We are going to continue to be bold.

Here are a few scriptures that really help me as a missionary: Alma 36:24-25 helps me find joy in the work. Alma 16:14 helps me have the courage to talk to everyone to find that person who is willing to listen. 3 nephi 5:13 helps me remember what the ultimate goal of missionary work is--Eternal Life.
I love you all, Elder Harris

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The meaning of "GO!" & "16 Stones" (posted by mom)

I got a surprising phone call this week, President Bishop called to let me know that I would be a trainer this move call. It's pretty crazy. I feel like I was just trained yesterday. There is quite a few missionaries coming in recently and so leadership opportunities are coming up really fast.

I don't feel like I have been trained fully in all the aspects of missionary work, but I have been trained completely in one aspect: "GO!"

I remember asking my mom when I was really young what the shortest sentence was, and she said, "GO!" This word is synonymous for missionary work - - probably one of the best words that describes what it is we do. I hope my new companion will understand "GO!" before these 6 weeks are up.

At Stake Conference President Huang talked about the brother of Jared. He made 16 stones right at the beginning and then took them up the mountain. He didn't do one and see if it worked, then make the other 15. He had the faith to make all 16, and carry them in is hands to the top of the mountain. "He prepared them to be touched by the finger of the Lord."--Huang Huizhang

This is my move call motto: "16 Stones". I don't know about 16 people being baptized, but Elder Gillespie and I are going to put forth the effort to prepare the stones in advance so that they can be touched and enlightened/illuminated by the finger of the Lord. I hope that as we put forth the faith this move call we, as the brother of Jared, will unveil the power of the Lord and behold his glory.

I love this work, and I am so grateful for the time I get to serve in douliu and I'm really grateful for a worthy, obedient, diligent companion. Miracles are waiting to happen this move call.

Thank you for all you do. Love, Elder Harris

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Baptize Brother Lin! (posted by mom)

President Bishop called me up and gave us the assignment to baptize brother Lin. Brother Lin is not a member but is married to a member in our ward. He got to talk to Elder Perkins (Area 70 presidency member for Asia) and he was touched. When Elder Perkins talked about his dad's conversion story (converting at an old age) his heart was touched and he felt the spirit. I know that Brother Lin, is being prepared. Elder Siebert and I prayed for a chance to share the gospel with him and a special experience happened. We tracted into their home and were able to have a good conversation with him. (We usually never go tracting. The first time we went, we knocked doors until it was time to go home -- unknowingly we stopped the house right before the Lin family. We felt that we needed to go back tracting that area and finally we got time do it. The first house we knocked was their home.)

I so love this work, it is truly divine and inspired. It is the work of God. I still have over a year left of my mission, but I feel that the time is far spent.

Love you all, Elder Harris

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Beautiful Place & Making Pancakes (Posted by mom)

Yesterday, we went to the prettiest place on earth. It is called Lin2Nei4. (Forrest within) It was a forrest in a slight basin with mountians on one side. Every where we looked there was a tree-line. The sun was setting and there was a glow across the whole sky. Wow. Heavenly father sure knows how to paint a picture. We went there to find a former investigator and a Member we wanted to visit but we didn't get to visit either - however, we did, teach the first lesson to a young person in the rain. I was pretty cool. God truly does work in mysterious ways. We found a lot of other people on the way too.

I have to let you know that my life *warning this isn't very spiritual* is forever changed. Elder Siebert showed me how to make pancakes in the microwave! I've been trying a bunch of new fun ways to make pancakes. It's been a lot of fun.
Me and Elder Siebert on our morning run

Love you all, Elder Harris

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Baptism and My Companion (posted by mom)

The city of Douliu is really great! The work really is progressing and the Lord is us.

We had a baptism this last Saturday. It was really neat. Our district leader, invited us to to make the event special. So we decorated a little table and put a little card that everyone could write a welcome note on. We also wrote a welcome note on whiteboard. We plan to give him a triple combination and a little card. These were little things but I think they helped to make his baptism special.

Our companionship is going great. Elder Siebert and I are very similar; we don't have overpowering personalities, we are both pretty open with anything, and we are both slow to be offended. This is really good for companionship unity, but it makes the decision process a little slow. Our relationship is strong, and we enjoy serving and teaching together.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Life in Douliu - Q&As (Posted by mom)

Greetings from Douliu. The people here are great, the food is great, my companion is great, the apartment is great, the ward is great, the bishop is great, and the district and zone are great. The apartment is really nice. We live on the 13 floor. I have no idea how the ants got up to the 13th floor, but they did...haha. This is the battle that we are fighting right now.

Many people have asked me questions so I will try to answer some of them.

How do we spend our time on Sundays: We go to church, then we do missionary work. We eat at home (curry rice).

How do we get our hair cut: Haircuts cost about 3 dollars in Taiwan, so it is really convenient.

Is it rainy: Yes, it's rainy.

Do the members feed us: Members don't feed us that often. I think it is avoided because if members feed us they go all out on everything!

How do we spend our time: Most of our time is spent at appointments with investigators and less active members, and contacting new investigators at intersections.

Are the people nice: The people are really nice. It's great. A lot of people reject the missionaries, but 95% of the time it is done with a smile.

Do we keep our apartment clean: Our apartment is really clean! My companion and I do a good job keeping it clean.

The bishop here is great, his name is Bishop Shen. He knows the situation of all the recent converts, less-active members, and our investigators. In order to be baptized, a person must attend church 3 times and meet the bishopric, so all our investigators know the bishop and the bishop knows them. Most investigators get the priesthood the week after they are baptized. Baptismal meetings are set up and done completely by the ward and it is usually a member who baptizes them.

The work here is really great. It took me some time to get used to the area. In the big city, I would contact really quick because everyone is in a hurry. When I first got here, I was really quick contacting people and after I finished they would stand there like, "Is that all you are going to say?" People have a lot more time here to listen. We had a lot of investigators at church this week. 3-4 are looking really solid.

I'm loving this work. I'm learning a lot. I love you all. Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Baptisms and a Move Call (Posted by mom)

This week, I was in a tri-panionship with none other than...... ELDER GLUCH (my friend from Orem)!! It was fun, really fun. He kept me company as I packed on the day before move call. We had a great time and it is a memory I want to keep forever.

Our two baptisms this week went really well. The 11 year old is so solid. As we were meeting with him in the days leading up to his baptism, we asked him why Joseph Smith is important, and he, with out hesitancy, said "Because of the Great Apostacy." He has an understanding. I know the spirit has really confirmed to him the truth of the gospel and helped him learn because he was willing to read and pray. When he was bearing his testimony after his baptism, he said: "I'm really afraid of water, but as I was about to be baptized, I felt that God was with me."

The other baptism, Jiang, arrived just as the meeting was ready to start. Satan was working on him, but he came anyway. What a great act of faith. He has really found the comfort that comes from the gospel. The Elder's Quorum President has befriended him.

Every one's experience is different, --from the 11 year old who was really excited to be baptized and overcame the fear of water, to the 35 year old who just broke up with his girlfriend and put his faith in God to the point that he was willing to accept the ordinance of baptism.

Oh how I love this work!! God is a gracious God. He loves his children and blesses them according to His tender mercies.

I am now in DoLiu and am a senior companion, I wasn't ready for that. I am very aware of my own weaknesses. The Holy Ghost is going to be our senior companion.

My Junior companion is great. He is fluent in Chinese. His mom is from taiwan and his dad is a former Taibei missionary. He is from Orem too and went to Mountian View. He loves the people and wants to help them know the chruch is true.

I testify that it is through Jesus Christ that we can be healed spiritually. (And physically, for that matter.) This is what want to share with people. This is a truth that can only be felt and understood by the power of the Holy Ghost. When this happens a light comes to the eyes, a smile to the face, and humility is instilled in the heart. That is what a mission is about.

I love all of you. Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Elder Uchtdorf Visits (posted by mom)

President Uchtdorf came to our mission. I got to shake his hand. I also got to sing with a small group of elders. President Uchtdorf cried when he heard the song. He told the missionaries our life is a treasure hunt. Every once in a while he would say something like, find the treasure in learning the language. Or find the treasure in having a companion. I is interesting to think of life in terms of a treasure hunt. We have struggles, but there is always something to learn or gain from our experiences.

The two people scheduled to be baptized this week are not the ones we thought they would be. The first is a man we taught earlier who came back to church to find us. He has become very humble and really desires to be baptized. The other is an 11 year old boy who has a strong testimony of the truth and, by the grace of God, was lead in a round about way, to the missionaries and to baptism. He is reading the Book of Mormon. He lives near a family in our ward who are willing to bring him to church each week with them. This work is so joyful. I know that it is lead by God.

This past weekend, I found out a new convert in the ward is having a commandment issue. It is a sad thing. However, I know there is hope through the atonement of Christ.

I love you all. Thank you for your support. Elder Spencer Harris

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Missionaries (posted by mom)

People often tell us, "You're really xinku" (hard-working), and we like to reply, "We are really xingfu" (happy).

We met two neat people the other day. One basically self-contacted me, and the other, his friend, said that he had always wanted to talk with a missionary, but they had never stopped to talk with him. We met with them last night; they both believed that Joseph Smith saw God and Heavenly Father. They really understood what we taught. Most people don't get the point that we have a current prophet on the earth, but in the closing prayer, one of them thanked God that he had again given us a prophet!

Yesterday was combined district training meeting. President Bishop was presiding. The feeling was completely different, but still really good. He will do a great job. He is really humble. He has assumed the mantle. It's visible. (President Bishop was my branch president in the MTC)

President Uchtdorf is coming on Saturday. A group of us get to sing for the mission conference. I'm so glad I get to sing for a prophet.

Another cool thing is we found a less-active member. We were looking for an address, it led us to the middle of nowhere. We were on this little road in the middle of an orchard. We came to a house and come to find out, there was a member living there. His original house was destroyed to make way for a new park. He found this run-down abandoned place and started living there. We've met with him a few times and got him coming to church again. It's good because now the ward now knows his situation and help him out.

Our families are still progressing toward baptism. We are diligently planning, teaching, following-up, and doing every thing we know how to help them make and keep commitments and receive a personal confirmation of the truth. We have faith that they can all make it.

The church is true. It changes lives, brings true happiness, and allows us to obtain eternal life. I love you all. Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, June 28, 2010

God Hears and Answers Prayers (posted by mom)

A cool experience happened while I was reading Elder Eyring's talk in the conference ensign. My mind kept returning to someone I had never met. A youth in our ward (the son of President Li of the stake presidency). I really felt for this guy. I had never met him, but another Elder told me about him. I found myself barely able to read the talk though the tears. I felt God's love for this guy and I felt a great need to help him re-discover his testimony. I said a few prayers for him that day.

Sunday came around, and low and behold, he came to church. After 4+ months he came to church! The moment he walked in the door, I knew who he was. (He came in with his mom, so it's not that special, but when I saw him, I felt I knew him.) He had brought with him two friends.

I don't know the end of this story, but I feel as though God hears and answers prayers. I feel as though God truly prompts us. I'm going to do my best to help this guy re-discover his testimony.

Right now our progressing investigators are three families. It's exciting to be working with these three families, but it is a lot more complicated to facilitate a family's spiritual progression.

This is President Hoer's last week. Although our time in Taiwan doesn't overlap very long, I feel, because of his influence, I have set some habits that will last a lifetime. I feel as though a (you ban fa) seed has been planted in my soul--and I will never be the same again. I feel eternity is mine if I will but use the time God has given me. I feel ready for life's challenges, because work, faith, prayer, and a vision will carry me through. I wish him the best and am grateful for the positive influence he has been in my life.

I love you all very much. Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Baptism (posted by mom)

Dear family,

This past week, Zhang Jie Xin got baptized. He is 20 years old and is currently homeless. He loves the Book of Mormon. The ward is really willing to help him out. They want to help him get a job. The mission gave him and old missionary bike. He has a lot of future a head of him!

I'm really excited about some investigators right now. We have a Liu family, a Li family, and a Chen family. They each have their strengths and their weaknesses. We are doing our best to help them toward baptism and salvation, but ultimately it's their decision. It's sad when people make the wrong choices, but at the same time it's comforting to know God's eye is watching over them. He loves them. He wants them to return to Him and will give them every opportunity to make it home.

It's strange to have President Hoer leaving. He is so good. He makes a missionary feel like if they wanted to fly they could. There is no roof on this mission. He has given us a vision that is like nothing else. He expects nothing but the best.

I'm sure President Bishop will be the same way.

We are also having a mission conference this next month, and President Uchtdorf is coming. (He will pick up his two grandsons - one is in Taibei and the other is in Taichung.)

I love each of you. The work is going great. --Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rain (posted by mom)

I can't even explain the rain. It comes down so hard! Missionaries pray so hard that it won't rain Sunday mornings. On Sunday, I called all our investigators who agreed to come to church each 3 times. 2 made it. I'm really starting to learn the use of testifying and promising blessings, because people really need a reason to change their lives--especially if it means coming to church in a down-pour.

Zhang Jie Xin passed his baptismal interview. He has been brought to church 3 times by a member. He currently has no mode of transportation. We are pretty sure we can get him a bike from a previous missionary. He will be baptized this Saturday or the next.

I have to tell you of a crazy dream that wasn't a dream, but felt like it. We got a referral through our mission referral system, we called it up, and set up an appointment for the evening. This guy is sounding really golden right.

So we go over there in the pouring rain. There is a big fence around the building. A man walks up to the gate, and yells for someone to open the door for him. A lady comes out and opens the door, invites us in, then shuts the door. I look at the gate and there is a lock on the INSIDE!! OH NO WHERE ARE WE?!!!!

We go in, and it ends up being a sanitorium! I can't even describe my feeling. She calls up, and tells us to go to level 5. In my head I'm thinking, "What's level five?!!!" We go to the evevator and press the up button. A resident comes over to the elevator and starts compulsively pressing the up button and looking around like, "It's broken!" Any way, we get in the elevator and the lady keeps pressing level 2 and she still has a confused look like, "It's broken."

We get to level 2, she gets off. On Level two, there are about 3 people standing there with blank looks on their faces. The thought again comes to mind, "What's level 5?!"

We arrive. We are trying to find a Mr. Lin. I start asking around what people's names are. Many of their names are Mr. Lin...

We finally find the right person. He loves to read and his room is full of books. We start teaching, He is very smart. There are about 5 residents in there listening to the lesson... A lady comes in and starts talking really loud. She must be a church member. She is shouting things like, "I'm a mormon." "There was a sister that was so good go me." "I gave so much money to the church to help them build temples and church buildings." "Hosana!" Needless to say it was a very interesting teaching situation.

The work is going good. I love each of you. --Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Companion (posted by mom)

Today is move-call day. My companion, Elder Hofhiens, is going to be a Zone Leader in Jiayi. I'm staying here in Dakeng. My new companion is Elder Zheng. He will be the district leader. I'm excited, and a little worried because I'm the one who knows the area and so a lot of things that need to be done and remembered are now my responsibilty.

This last week we had a power week. That means we were out the door at 9:30am and back in the door at 9:30 to 10:00pm. We really wanted to set this area up for success this next move call. We also had a tripanionship for 3 days. It was a fun, powerful week!

One of our investigators is named Zhang. He his homeless and stays under a bridge. He has committed to find a job. He is living the word of wisdom. He loves reading the Book of Mormon. He loves the gospel. One of our new members is taking him to church every week.

My testimony of prayer is being strengthened. There is so little we can do without the help of our Heavenly Father. We are all mortal, and our ability to do good is limited. However through prayer and effort, He can help us become more humble, patient, and loving, etc.

I love you all, Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Baptism (posted by mom)

Brother Xie got baptised this week!!

It is exciting to be a missionary and to help prepare people for baptism. Just a few weeks ago, my companion bore a sweet testimony about baptism. Our investigator asked "After I'm baptized, will my life be any different." My companion said, "I promise you that the difference will be like darkness compared to the sunlight." When he said that, I thought to myself, Probably the only thing I remember from my baptism is that right after I was baptized, I told someone, "I don't feel any different." I felt that nothing had changed. In hind sight I realize I was wrong! In the MTC, a general authority told all the senior couples, "Thank God every day for the decisions you have made in light of the gospel." Also a member in Taiwan said something like this, "From the moment we were baptized until now, everything that has happened has been a miracle." I love these two quotes.

There is no way to know how our lives would be different without baptism, but I can promise it would be a lot worse. Our souls would still be in infant stage. Our understanding and eternal perspective would be so basic. Because we were baptized, our daily struggles and trials can be consecrated and become the miaracles that make up our life.

This is the only true in living chruch on the face of the whole earth. Through baptism we've put ourselves on the only path to salvation--that is our Savior's atonement. With our baptism, we've invested in a one-way ticket to Heavenly Father's holy presence. This is my testimony. I am grateful I have been called as a missionary to baptize for the salvation of souls.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Baptism & the Temple (posted by mom)

Brother Liang was baptized on Saturday, and confirmed on Sunday. (He is the one who started living the word of wisdom in one day!) He brought a change of clothes to his baptism and he also brought his tithing!! Wow! If every member had that kind of faith, this church would go places it has never been. Today he is going with us as a member friend to teach an investigator.

Xie (our 17 yr old investigator)got permission to be baptized! We are so excited for him, and he is excited for himself. He will be baptized this coming week.

Brother Yang's surgery was a success. He is still going to be in the hospital for a while though.

It rained a lot on Sunday. It was great because after church no one wanted to leave, so we kept bringing members into a classroom to talk with all our less-active members and investigators.

This past Wednesday, we went to the temple. It was a really spiritual experience. I remember walking into the celestial room and feeling God's love so strongly, so real. I am grateful for temples.

I love you all. Elder Harris

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Temple, Baptism, and Hope (posted by mom)

Today we get to go to the temple! That is why I am here at 4:00 a.m. writing you this letter.

Brother Yang was baptized this past Saturday. It was such a good experience. He overcame smoking, and now he and his wife are both members. He is having a surgery today(something with his brain). We got special permission to visit him and his wife in the hospital yesterday. When we got there they had just finished talking to the doctor. They looked really sad. I guess it's pretty serious. I think God sent us to be there at that time to give them hope. The gospel brings so much hope. In my journal, I wrote, "We talked to them about the hope of the gospel." Then I remembered we didn't talk about hope at all, but that is what we saw in their eyes as we left the hospital. They had found hope and solace as we talked to them about the gospel!

This Saturday we have three more investigators that will be baptized. One is named Liang--he is one of the elect. One is Zhuang, I don't know what happened, but he really changed this past week. He became humble and his hesitancy about baptism has turned to excitement. The other is Xie(He is only 17 and needs parent permission -- He is not too sure he will get it. We are praying for him).

Well, time is short. The good news is... The gospel is true! It gives us hope and an eternal perspective. I love the gospel! Oh how we ought to live our lives according to the knowledge we've been given!

I love each and every one of you--300!! Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Miscellaneous Topics (posted by his mom)

Thank you all for your prayers. I feel them, I really do. That is my testimony. I often have something happen followed by the feeling, that was in answer to a prayer.

We live in a big sky scraper. One day for exercise we ran to the top of our building, on the way we found a weight room! We made it to the 26 floor and the security guard was there. He let us go out on top to look around. Wow, it was cool, and it was really high.

We had zone conference this week. We always learn specific tools to use in teaching, planning, etc. This time we learned about helping people commit to obey God's commandments. We learned it is important to let investigators know that keeping certian commandments is hard but obedience will bring blessings. It works great; I have never quit smoking, but letting someone know I understand it is hard to quit gives them "face" and gives them a deeper resolve to stay with it.

Lately I have also learned that goal setting and planning are so important. Goal setting is actually an act of faith. It is also an act of repentance. Worthy, righteous goals and plans mixed with prayer allow us to utilize the Atonement and become who we need to be. I wish I had understood the power of goal setting a long time ago.

As far as investigators go right now, Yang will be baptized this Saturday, then the next week we hope to help Xie (a 17 year old), Liang (a man who quit all his word of wisdom habits in one day), and the Xu family. If they all keep progressing as they are now, what a day that will be!

Love you all!!!
Elder Harris

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pictures (posted by mom)

Sister Wu,
Sister Zhuang & Brother Zhuang

Brother Wu

Brother Li

Brother Yang & Brother Yan

Daily Miracles (posted by mom)

This past week has been a blessing week! Each day we come in the door and say, wow, today had even more miracles than yesterday. One of the biggest miracles was the Xu family made the decision to be baptized. They will be baptized next weekend!! They are so good. I feel like we haven't even helped them. I feel like they got themselves to baptism and the cool part is they've really taken ownership of their new life!!

Life is great right now. If I were to tell you anything about recently, it would be that I'm so excited about my new study journal. It's helping me learn so much!!!

With love, Elder Spencer Harris!

Monday, April 26, 2010

3 Baptisms & Stake Conference (posted by mom)

We had 3 baptisms on Friday. Brother and Sister Zhuang got baptized! Brother Zhuang is nearly 80 years old! He had to be baptized 2 times!!! I felt bad about that. The other was Sister Wu. They are all so good and so solid!

My companion and I found out we are staying together for another move call. I'm excited. We are getting organized and setting some good goals that will make us the companionship we weren't this last move call. We are focusing on teaching mostly.

This weekend was stake conference. Elder Watson came. He had all the youth in the stake stand up and told them the prophet loves them. I'm not sure if anyone else felt it, but I felt a wave come over the audiance, literally a wave. I felt the love the prophet has for these people. Think of the love God has for us!! I can't even immagine it!

I know this church is true. I'm so greatful for a merciful God. At stake conference I was suprised at how much I undersood! That's not me that's God! I'm so glad that I have the chance everyday to spread the good news!

I love you so much. Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Missionary Sunday (posted by mom)

The work is great. I'm learning and growing (but not as fast as I'd like). Consistancy is everything and I'm starting to learn that.

We are helping as many people as we can come unto Christ--that is our purpose. We had 12 investigators at church this week! WOW! I was shocked. Sunday is "Game Day" as my companion likes to say. The most stressful part of the week is when sacrament meeting ends. Everyone gets up--and we try to invite them to stay to the rest of the meetings, confirm them for next sunday, set up appointments, and introduce our investigators to people they need to meet. As we sing the closing hymn, I just pray the members will help us take care of all our investigators so we can get to each of them before they leave.

With all my love, Elder Spencer Harris (posted by his mother)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Conference and Finding Investigators

Dear Family,

I love you all so very much. Conference was great. It is a little different over here. We rest only 1 hour between sessions. I was excited because we had 9 people to church over conference weekend:

Lai __ --He is very golden. He said his mom will not be happy with him if he gets baptized. He's asked us about the opportunity to serve a mission (he is nearly to old to serve though.) He always comes to church! He is so willing to obey God's commandments! Lai __ is preparing to be baptized this Saturday.

Xu family --a golden family that was a member referral (sister-in-law + family) of the stake president of the gaoxiong stake where I lived when I was previously in Taiwan...small world huh? They are working toward baptism. I'm so glad they came to conference this week.

Wu family --a husband and wife who have really connected with the first councilor in the bishopric's family. The husband and wife both have health issues.(The first councilor is a great missionary, he carries around contact cards everywhere he goes.)

Hong __ --he is a long time investigator who seems to have become humble and now is willing to work toward meeting the requirements to enter that small and narrow gate that leads to eternal life--baptism.

The Zhuang family wasn't able to come, but they are still on the path toward baptism. The Mom has cancer and is living in the hospital this week for some treatment.

This past Thursday my companion and I only had a few appointments so we decided we would each try to break our personal records for adding investigators in one day. (That means they give us contact information, set up a date to meet, and set a baptismal goal.) My previous record was 14-- (I don't remember that, but that's what my companion said my record was). My companion's previous record was 17. That morning when we woke up it was raining HARD. We kept to our goal and went forth in faith and were successful. I added 16 and my companion added 27 -- together we added 43 New investigators! The Lord blessed us even in the rain. We also ran into 4-5 investigators and less active members, I know Heavenly Father blessed us to run into these people so that we could follow up with them and boost their testimony and desire. Also, on that day at lunch, we ran into an investigator whose phone had stopped working and he got a new phone and number (he lost our phone number). We were able to get his new number and have a small little lesson over lunch.

I love you all so much.
Elder Spencer Harris
--Posted by his mother

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Chinese Memorial Day

Today we had a special activity. We went and helped clean graves for the Chinese memorial day. On this day the people Clean Graves (Sao Mu) worhsip (bai bai)and give food and money to their deceased ancestors. My conpanion and I cleaned up a whole area of the cemetary: swept the walks, pulled weeds, and cleaned the grave sites of those who don't have decendants. It was a fun service. The press came out and got some of it. We actually made a difference, it looked a lot better.

My companion and live at the mission storage appartment. We stay upstairs and the storage area is below on ground level. We have a big garage door for our front door, it's cool. I feel like we are leaving a base or something every time we head out. Since coming to TaiZhong, we haven't taken time on our preparation day to go grocery shopping so we have been eating oatmeal every morning. For our other meals we buy bian dangs on the street--they are a box lunch with rice, meat, and veggies. They cost less than $1.50 US and we can eat until we are full. It is a quick and convenient way to go.

I thought you might like to hear some rejections missionaries hear when going tracting:

No free time - - Mei3 you3 kong4
I'm busy - - Zai4 Mang2
I don't need it - - Bu4 xu2 yao4
I don't have use (for it)"--basically means no thanks - - Bu2 Yong4
Sometimes people invite us back to be nice but give us a fake number

The truth is none of these are good excuseses to avoid hearing the gospel; the good news!

There are many times I feel directed/prompted to do something and I get the distict impression that it is in answer to my prayers, and the prayers offered by family and friends back home. (it is sometimes a spiritual boost in the middle of the day, a prompting to talk to someone, a witness that something I read is true, and so on.)Thanks for your prayers in my behalf. I love you all so very much. Please keep the prayers coming and I'll keep praying for you too.

This week, we found out our baptismal candidate was already a member! I'm not sure what to think--I am happy he is a member though.

Currently we have an investigator named Brother Lai. He is in the Army--he is a big, strong guy, with a tender heart and a willingness to believe. We call to give him reminders and to follow-up like we do with our other investigators, but he is self motivated in coming to church, reading scriptures, and praying. (Missionaries call those behaviors "The Big Three" or "CPR"-Church attendance, Prayer, and Reading the scriptures.) I know if a person does these three things, God will direct their lives in the ways of righteousness. It is so easy to tell if an investigator has been reading and praying because they understand the doctrine. If they don't, they get confused about the simplest things pertaining to their salvation.

Thank you for the Conference Updates. I'm really excited. It seems as though the focus was families and parenthood--I think that's really good. In my last area there was a family that was previously really strong in the gospel, but all their children have fallen away from the church. We visited them a few times and they told us how proud they are of the freedom they gave their children. They did't set rules or teach them the gospel because they felt their children should learn things for themselves. I don't believe God ordained families so children could learn for themselves. I think parents have the responsibility to teach their children the gospel and show them the paths of truth. There is an eternal purpose to life and I'm happy that as a child I was directed down those paths of righteousness.

The church is true. I love you all, Elder Harris
posted by his mother

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Personal Study Time in the Mountains

Guess what? I got to sing with Elder Gluch at Zone conference!! How crazy is that. Heavenly Father sure knows what He's doing. Four of us sang I'll go where you want me to go--I sang the alto line and there was no possible way I was going to mess that up. (There was only 3 notes.)

Dad asked me a question about learning everyday words like "potassium permanganate"--haha. No, not yet. But it made me think of zone conference President Hoer had to traslate for parts of the conference because no one else knew the words that were being said. He knew words like whale shark, plankton, and carbon monoxide poisoning. He is so smart! He is a master of the language!

Most recently I've been so amazed at the Savior and His role. I've been pondering on the meaning of always remembering the Savior--as we promise to do each Sunday when we partake of the sacrament. Every prophet's purpose, since the begining of time, is to testify of the Savior and His divine role. Every verse of scripture points to the Savior. Every ordinance in the law of Moses and every ordinance in the law introduced at the time of Christ's death points to the Savior--every jot and tittle. This insight is starting to change how I study and how I act. The words of Hymns and scriptures have taken on new meaning.

I just want to let each of you know that we have a Father in Heaven. This life is not "whatever" (sui bian), there is a plan. We are being looked out for. The way is prepared and we are not left comfortless.

This week, I wondered, "How can Christ know what it's like to sin and to have that loss of spirit?" I thought there was no way, Christ can't know how that feels. How can he help me in that case? How can he know how it feels to have the spirit withdraw? and in that case, how can I use the atonement to overcome that distance from God? However, my wonderings were very immature: On the cross, in the agony that he was put through at that time, the Father withdrew his spirit. In the Savior's hour of need, in his darkest hour, the Son of God--perfect and holy--suffered a a temporary spiritual death. He bridged the eternal divide. When we sin, and the sprit withdraws, Jesus Christ's atonement has covered that, and he can lift us from our fallen state and allow us to keep going. We can feel the arms of mercy extended to us and once again experience the blessings and joy of walking in the presence of God. How great is our Savior!

The scriptures often begin with the words, "And it came to pass". In Chinese it is written "Shiqing shi zhe yang de" -- the literal translation of that is, "Things are this way." I thought that was pretty cool.

Today for Preperation day my companion and I biked to the other end of our area, and hour + ride up the mountians. We got permission and had personal study up there. Biking up the mountian was really cool. I felt like I was in my zone. We decided that since we never go up that way that we'd take some time to spread the good news, so we took some of our Preparation Day to find the prepared. It was fun! As we tried to do as the Savior would do, we were lead to a less-active family that there was really no way of finding where they lived by their address; we were able to serve some people who had stuff fall out of their truck; and we were able to run into a former investigator on the street that my companion had just barely told me told me about.

Too many things seem to fall into place in missionary work. It can't all be coincidence. God directs this work.

(Jia you!) add oil - give your best.

With all my love,

Elder Spencer Harris
--posted by his mother

Sunday, March 21, 2010

TaiZhong Dakeng Ward

The new ward is great! there are about 80 people who attend regularly. That is about 40 less than the Xihu ward. The members here in Taiwan really are so great! They fellowship like I've never seen anyone fellowship. I've learned that I wasn't a fellowshipper. That is changing and will continue to change. Even long time attenders can use fellowshipping--an arm around the back and a sincere "How are you doing?"

I'm so excited for general conference. We get conference a week late, so if you would be so kind as to give me some brief updates and highlights, that would be SO EXCITING! (I don't want all your notes though. :) )

Here in TaiZhong, I've noticed that there are a lot more sirnames. In xihu, a lot of the members were Chen or Yang, but here we have Zhuang and Qiu and Meng and all types of sirnames. Also, in TaiZhong, we are working with some people who are struggling with the commandments. It is way outside my comfort zone to help people overcome problems with the law of chasity and the word of wisdom, but I'm learning quickly. Boldness and holding to the firmness of the commandment are good ways to help people overcome these problems. I've noticed that placing faith in their ability and in the ability of the atonement help too. Inviting someone to do is a lot less effective than letting someone know that they can start obeying this moment, and that through prayer and the atonement they can overcome any challenge.

Two days ago, my companion and I really wanted to add a Week B investigator--that means getting them ready for baptism in 2 weeks. There are a few ways to do that, mostly prayer and calling/visiting former investigators. I think between my companion and my prayers and faith we were rewarded. I was riding my bike down the street and a man on a scooter called out to me and so I went to the side of the road to talk to him. I guess he has attended church many of times. For some reason he has just not been baptised. We set up the baptismal interview right then and he passed. His name is __ Zhang.

My new companion is great! He is worthy, obedient, and DILIGENT! I thought I was working so hard in my previous area... I guess not. I'm hoping I can set some good habits this move-call. He is so focused on our missionary purpose. Everything we do is pointed to helping people come unto Christ.

I'm teaching English again--the beginning class. It's scary because my Chinese is still beginner so a lot less can be communicated to a beginning class. If anyone has some fun games or songs, or ideas to teach beginning English, that would be great!

We are also teaching Mr.Zhang. He used to smoke a lot, and he's quit for 4 days--he has so much faith. There is another man Mr. Jie. His son died a while ago and he goes to this spot by a bridge everyday at 11 and 4 to remember his son. We often go to meet and talk to him at those times. I know he has the ability to obey the commandments, I'm just hoping that he will make the decision to DO IT.

I feel like I should still be new, but my companion expects a lot and it's really good for me to learn the ropes of self-motivation in the work, and it's teaching me to be a hard worker and to grow in important areas like the language and teaching and contacting.

I know this church is true. I'm so greatful for the opportunity to serve God for Two years. Two years seems so long and I often think of you all and miss you so much. My testimony is growing in the areas of work and faith--thanks to my companion. He is a worker and he is a pray-er and he has so much faith.

Please just tell everyone you see that I love them, and I'm so greatful for their love and support. Tell them that I'm loving the mission, the work is so good and it is divinely directed. My testimony is strengthening every day.

With Love, Elder Harris
--posted by his mother

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Transfer to Taizhong!

Wow! I am being transferred. I was not expecting this move call. I am going to Taizhong! My companion will be Elder Hofhiens. There will be 5 elders from the MTC in that zone. Exciting!

Zheng Xing was confirmed this Sunday as well as Zong Yi. After his baptism Zong Yi bore his testimony about how prayers are answered and how Joseph Smith is a prophet and received answers to his prayers. I am going to miss all the new converts so much! Some of them are young and don't have family suport. I worry about them becoming blinded by the lies of the world.

I know that we have a Savior. I know God loves us. Our lives take on so much meaning when we yield our thoughts, words, and actions to God and to His service. We would sorrow because of the wickedness of the world, but our joy in Him would be so great! We could stand tall, have confidence in this world; and walk confidently, and humbly in the presence of God. He could guide our foot steps, make use of us, give us ever greater opportunities to serve and bless others. I truly believe it is as in the days of Moses--If we would just look, if we had our eye single to the glory of God, the way would be easy. How do we do that? Conscientious effort? yes. But I think it starts with the little things --reading the scriptures, praying, going to church. When we study the scriptures, do we really study? When we pray, do we really pray? When we go to church, do we mentally and spiritually attend?

Thank you for your prayers. I love you all! Please keep praying for me. At times I believe I really feel the power of your prayers helping me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Earthquake and 3 Baptisms

Yes there was an earthquake this week; there were actually two, and one was pretty big. But don't worry. It's funny because my desk isn't very stable, and during earthquakes, it goes back and forth. That's one of the way I could tell the quake was still going on. Sometimes when I write, my desk also shakes back and forth, so now I get paranoid. It is distracting to personal study to stop every time the desk wiggles to see if an earthquake is happening.

Last week Zheng Xing was baptized. He got his parents permission. I was asked to baptize him. THat was a neat experience.

This week we had 2 more baptisms. Zhou Huang got baptized. His wife came. She is also interested in the gospel. Zong Yi also got baptized. His is only 17 years old and has been golden from the start. He is our investigator that has read so much of the Book of Mormon.

We had Combined District Training Meeting this last week. President Hoer gave a talk, and the zone leaders did a training on lesson plans. Afterwards President Hoer interviewed all the missionaries. He asked me what were the 3 things that make our mission so successful. One of the things I said was "We keep our lines in the water ALL THE TIME" This is from a quote by Elder Oakes in "Preach My Gospel" It means we are talking to people ALL DAY! We talk to car windows, people on scooters, and if no one is at the intersection, we talk to someone through a screen door, or across the street.

My mission will be the best two years of my life. I have no doubt. The best part about it, is it is hard.

I love you all. The church is true.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Baptism Day!

Our investigator Guan Hao was BAPTIZED!! What a neat guy! He is so firm in the gospel right now. He has been living values of the gospel for a long time already -- in a home and environment where those morals are not lived. He is so strong. When we called him the day of his baptism, he told us that it was one of the most important days of his life. His testimony after his baptism was so sweet and tender. After he was confirmed in sacrament meeting, I leaned over to him and said, "Right now, you are the newest member of the church". He got a really big smile and gave me two thumbs up! What a good kid.

Unfortunately Zhen Ying was a no show. He has things he needs to work out with his family. His parents do not approve of him joining the church.

We found another amazing investigator. He has had the Book of Mormon for a week now and he's in 2nd Nephi!! I also ran into some Philipino friends and they both added baptismal goals. We had 7 investigators at church today.

I love you all so much!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Golden Investigators

This week was really cold. The thermals came on, and the rain gear was a must.

We have two baptisms this Saturday!! Guan Hao and Zhen Xing. They are both awesome. I stopped Guan Hao on the street a couple weeks ago! He is SO GOLD! For example, he was already obeying the word of wisdom when we found him. Same with the law of chastity. When we taught him the law of chastity, he showed us a card from his wallet the signified he had already commited to live by the standards of that law!! He has done a good job meeting people in the ward and making friends in the ward all by himself! Zhen Xing is also awesome. We taught him the law of tithing and he LOVED it. He was asking a bunch of questions about how to pay it and how it exactly works. He paid his tithing for the first time this sunday.

We had 4 investigators at church. Really solid investigators, it's exciting to see.

Zone Conference was on Wednesday. It was a full day of spiritual power and training. The theme was our purpose--Chapter one of Preach My Gospel. So good! It was really fun to see my MTC companion and most of the missionaries from the MTC.

The day before the Zone Conference I went on a transfer to Zhanghua so that the zone leader could come out and do the baptismal interviews. He knows why he's on a mission. He has a really good system that works for him.

This week is a Power Week. We leave early and come in late and each day we have a focus. Today's focus is power cleaning. And our appartment needs it. I cleaned the fridge. I'm proud of the way it looks!

Thank each of you for your prayers, they mean a lot to me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Teaching English Classes

This past week we went on exchanges with the Assistants to the President. They have so much enthusiasm for the work!

We had a lot of success on the eve of the Chinese New Year. Many of the people in Taiwan have a home evening together as a family on that night. I saw so many people smiling, having fun, radiating love in their homes. The church teaches us that we can have that experience every monday night with the Family Home Evening program.

I have been asked to be the Engligh Leader. This means I train missionaries for 30 minutes on how to teach effectively, then for an hour I teach advanced Engligh. Sometimes I get to share a spiritual thought at the end of of class. Most of the teaching is done in Chinese. This assignment is a stretch for me because it is so not who I am. I prepare and then go and do my best. It is scary but it is going okay.

There are 4 elders in my apartment and English never happens. Two of the elders are Taiwanese and my companion's Chinese is REALLY good. This situation is really helping my language skills. I am able to hear and speak more than I thought I would be able to do. However, I still can't say and hear all that I would like. I believe in the gift of tongues.

I am having fun. I'm loving the work. I love you all!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Successful Missionaries

I am loving this experience so far. Presiden Hoer says "A successful missionary is Worthy, Obedient, and Diligent." Every missionary I've met so far has been all 3.

The Lord is pouring out His spirit on the people of Taiwan! Twice, actually 3 times, I've seen someone and I have felt a voice tell me "Go talk to them." All three have stopped and talked to me and all three were patient with my Chinese and I was able to set a baptismal date with each of them.

The cool thing about Taiwan is we baptize here. There are so many willing people that we mostly work only with those willing to set a baptismal date on first contact. I have already added 5 investigators with baptismal dates. I have faith that there are prepared people here.

The Taiwan people are so nice.
This is Christ's church on earth.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Arrived in TAIWAN!!

I got to give out a Book of Mormon on our trip to Taiwam. It was to a Chinese man from Brazil. It was fun to talk to him. He speaks 4 languages.

It was cool to get to the mission home and to see that President Hoer and his wife really are as awesome as they were made out to be. The kind of people you could be seeing in the middle of the Conference Ensign in a few years. They've lived in Asia for 20+ years! I was glad to get here and have the mission spirit be as strong, if not stronger than it was at the MTC. The spirit of the missions is "There's a Way - Anything is Possible" (you ban fa). Even more than that, I was excited to see that the spirit truely is in the heart of the missionaries and in the heart of my companion. The Hoers fed us well! They gave us some trainings. Then they had us go to a night market and we got to get up on a box and preach to the people there. It's called "Dan Jones Night" (he was a powerful missionary in the early days of the church). We spent the rest of the time going throughout the night market contacting people.

I am serving in XiHu. It is about a rural of a place as Taiwan gets (yet there are sitll people to talk to everywhere). My companion is Elder Porter. We've been spending most of our time finding. I'm starting to feel more confident in finding. It's a lot easier when you keep the perspective our life's purpose. There are prepared people here! To sort out the willing from the unwilling, we set a baptismal date the first time we meet with people.

I want to let you know I'm loving this. I feel like I've been here for a long time.

One of my favorite times of the day is personal study. Finding scriptures to share, talking with God, self evaluating, setting goals, and receiving inspiration.

I know that I'm in good hands--God's, the Hoer's, and my companion has got my back.

I love you all so much. The church is true. There is real power in keeping our covenants, living by gospel principles, losing ourselves in the service of God, and in trusting in the Lord.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

TAIWAN Address

Elder Spencer Brian Harris
Taiwan Taichung Mission
498-11 Wu Chuan Rd.
Taichung, 404-46 Taiwan

Monday, January 25, 2010

Eleventh Week: Last Week at the MTC

The MTC is a great place. The experiences we have here are amazing. I have learned a lot. There is a power here. In the MTC I don't feel like I'm a sub-missionary, but that infact I am a missionary.

I got a new Chinese name and I love it. HUANG LING KAI
HUANG - my last name
LING - Spirit, clever, sharp, effectual
KAI - Triumphant strains, triumphant

We are it - We are THE force for good in this world. Missionaries have the authority to put people on the path home to their Father in Heaven.

I want you to know that the atonement is real. Faith has real power. Our covenants have real power.

I read this great talk by Elder Holland called "The best is yet to be". It was awesome.

With love,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tenth Week: A Tender Mercy

The best part of this week was at our Teaching Center. We had these two awesome returned missionaries that we taught. The Spirit was there. After we taught we had a discussion about having faith to do hard things and relying on the Lord's promised blessings. As I pondered, the Spirit came into my heart and in my mind that made me know that the Lord had accepted my efforts here at the MTC. What a tender mercy. I think that is what we all are striving for in this life, to know that our attempts - poor, human attempts - to be the best we can be - are recognized by a divine Heavenly Father.

I am excited to go to Taiwan and give it my all. I feel like I have been given insight into who I am and what is expected of me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ninth Week: MTC Experiences

I'm not sure if you remember, but one time we taught a lesson to another Elder who was playing his friend. His friend's father wasn't a member and was having issues with the legitimacy of his citizenship. My companion and I had somehow felt that the lesson we had and our prayers for him actually helped. Anyway, this man got baptized and now the whole family are members. A cool little closure to this story.

My companion and I had a late night talk with an elder who was having a hard time. We gave him a blessing.

My teacher invited me to teach tithing to the whole class...In Chinese!!! It went alright, it was a good experience for me.

We also had a good experience in district meeting. We shared stories and scriptures about the Book of Mormon and its effect in our lives. The spirit WAS there!

I read a talk from Elder Uchtdorf, near the end he talks about having a Celestial Pedegree... He also talks about having an effect on those around us and the nation in which we reside. It gave me hope for my future experience in Taiwan.

Random Information:

Our district has 8 missionaries (2 of which are sisters)
There are 2 districts going to the Taiwan TaiChung mission
I am in the choir.
I lost about 5 pounds when I first got here - we were doing rigerous exercises
Now we are playing volley ball
My favorite thing is when your testimony is confirmed through a sacred special experience - or - when you feel that God accepts the work that you have done so far and He consecrates it for your good.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Eighth Week: New Year's Resolutions

This week I had the opportunity to give a blessing to a sister in our district, it was a special experience. She followed the instruction in the blessing to get some sleep and woke up feeling fine.

New Year's Resolutions:

Get to bed by 10:30 p.m. every day
Get up by 6:30 a.m. every morning
Learn Mandarin
Live in another country for 2 years
Wear a nametag everywhere I go
Wear a suit every day
Spend time studying the scriptures every day
Try new foods
Share my testimony with everyone I meet
Shave daily
Teach a nation

I hope you liked those.

p.s. The chruch is true!
With love, Elder Spencer Harris