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.