Sunday, November 27, 2011

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

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

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

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

I will be home for Christmas.

I love you 300! Elder Spencer Harris

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Welcome Home Date Set - updated

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

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

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Remembering (posted by mom)

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

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

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

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

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

That is when the miracles started!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Helping the Less Active (posted by mom)

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

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

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

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

Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Work Moves Forward (posted by mom)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Spencer Harris

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Opening a New Area (posted by mom)

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stake Conference (posted by mom)

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

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

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

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

Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A great week! (posted by mom)

This was a great week. Monday, as usual, was spent in the office. We picked up a big book of mormon that we had made for our investigator. This investigator is a Brother Ye. He has a hard time seeing, so we had a book of mormon printed large-size so he could read it.

Tuesday I exchanged over to Donghai where we had a fun day contacting and were able to sit down with a few members.

On Wednesday I went on an exchange with Elder X, an Elder from my MTC district. We are good friends and we had a fun day preaching the gospel together. He is just a really happy missionary, and I was grateful for his example. He loves this work. While I was with him we went and visited someone I helped get baptized in my second area (Taizhong Beitun). Her name is Sister Zhuang. She had cancer and is currently in the hospital. Her condition is really bad, and she is probably in the hospital for the extent. She was happy to see us and cried. It was a special moment to see them again (her and her husband). I was impressed by her positive attitude. She was still joking around with us, just as she always has. Her high spirits lifted me in our brief visit.

Thursday was Specialized training. (A training meeting for Trainers and Trainees at the end of their first movecall.) First we held it in the north and then went to the south. My companion and I got in some pretty slow traffic and were late to the meeting in the south. But the overall feeling of the meetings was good, and President Bishop masterfully taught us how to teach with discernment.

Friday was a fun day because I got to go back and visit my beloved land of douliu. While we were there we had weekly planning session. I went through old records and made them a list of all the former investigators who I thought had potential and made a list for them. The list was one page (front and back), I sure hope they can set up with some of those people and see them get baptized, especially Chen Baba. I called Chen baba while we were down there and he said that his dad is sick and dying. It is a sad thing, but I think this experience will soften Brother Chen's heart and prepare him to hear the gospel.

Saturday, we took a preparation day of sorts. We wanted to bike up Taiping mountains for our exercise. We called President Bishop for permission, and he said, where are you right now? can I go with you? So all three of us went up taiping mountains. It was a long, beautiful trail and for part of the time, it down-poured. At noon we went to my "leaving the office" lunch. I chose Subway. In the evening we had a baptism for the English branch. It wasn't a convert baptism, but we helped get the clothes and we helped fill up the font. There was something wrong with the water pressure in the church and so it took extra long to fill up the font...too long. We had to wait about 1/2 hour to start the service. In the end the water pressure returned to normal and we got the font filled. It was pretty miraculous. We resorted to using hoses and buckets. The water was really cold, but the kids were baptized anyway. It was a neat experience for the families involved.

Today we attended church. I helped translate for two stake high councilors who came to visit our branch. It was a fun experience, but there were a few times where I had to use my own words or just give the general idea of what they said. Our friend Verhilio has passed his baptismal interview and is scheduled to be baptized in the coming weeks.

I love each of you! Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Standards of Excellence

Thank you for your birthday wishes! I did have a good birthday. Elder Gluch called me and wished me a happy birthday. (I called him today and wished him a happy birthday.) To celebrate we watched conference and went out and preached the gospel.

Each week is full of exciting events and changes. This past week we had zone leader council. We talked about where the mission is headed and things we can do to increase baptism as well as retention. President Bishop brought up the idea of setting standards of excellence. We discussed some standards that would challenge missionaries and raise their vision of the possiblities. President Bishop is still pondering and praying over this and he will send out an email tomorrow informing missionaries of these standards.

This last week I got to go on an exchange with my first trainee--Elder X. (He is training right now.) It was fun to take the passenger seat on the exchange and follow him. He is a really good missionary who is focused on his purpose. He loves this work, and he is very diligent. I am proud of the missionary he is and the missionary he is becoming.

We are trying something new this week for our exchanges. One of us goes to an area and we bring one of the missionaries from that area here to our area. It is easy to do for when the exchange is close by. It has been fun, and we have seen many miracles already. In a matter of a few days, we have found 8 new investigators! It has been a great blessing.

Our recent convert over in Jinmen is doing well. Yesterday when we video-messaged with him, he told us that he had been reading in the prestood lesson manual and saw a portion about priesthood line of authoritiy. He wanted to know if we could help him get a hold of his priesthood line of authority. What a solid recent convert!

Thanks for the birthday wishes. Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Zone Conference & Letters to Converts

Today was special, I got to meet with mom's Taiwanese friends--Sister Annie Jiang and the Cai family. They were so kind to me and gave me some cakes and other gifts. It was fun to be able to COMMUNICATE with them. haha. It was interesting to find out that the cai family is from jinmen. They were excited to hear about what we are doing with the the members and investigators there.

This past week was Zone conference. My companion and I taught on effective principles of contacting. President Bishop talked on the importance of covenants and what you can expect from your mission. There really is only one expectation that we can have, and that is to do our very best and trust that the Lord will fulfill his promises. President Bishop talked about how we can know we are a successful missionary from those things listed on Page 10 of Preach My Gospel.

This week I went on an exchanges to two areas. The first was in Nantou: there is a big mountain that they run up for exercise. It was quite the work-out. I had a fun day spent with them. They have some good investigators. Second exchange was in Xinying. That was also a fun exchange. I feel like I was able to help the elders there. We met with a Filipino investigator who is Catholic. He is such a humble man, and he has a great testimony in Jesus Christ. He is just a little hesitant to get baptized. We invited him to come up to Taizhong to attend church in English with us. So today he took a 2+ hour train ride up from Xinying to attend church with us. I think he had a really spiritual experience. I wish we would have invited him to be baptized on a specific date right after church was out. It would have been a great time!

My language study as of late is writing letters to my recent converts. I have a lot of motivation to get them done. I really want these people who I have taught, and who I love so much, to endure to the end and get sealed to their families in the temple. I figure a letter isn't much, but it conveys a lot of love and is a good way to invite someone to read the scriptures or pray.

Thank you for everything. Elder Spencer Harris

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Brazen Serpents (posted by mom)

We had an incredibly regular week. It has been a long time since we've had a ordinary week. In fact, it is rather out of the ordinary.

No meetings, no trainings, no mid-night calls, no ground shaking changes to the mission. It made for a good week of exchanges, and that is what we did.

This week we went on 5 exchanges, Tuesday to Saturday. We spent our time in the south. We went to Ping Dong, Gaoxiong, and Tainan.

In Gaoxiong, I got to go on an exchange with Elder X. We had a lot of fun, and got a lot done. He and his companion work well together. He works hard and is really helping out his zone and the missionaries there.

Just last night I shared with some missionaries a story I love from the bible. It has to do with a brazen serpent. I like this story because I feel like it is very representative of missionary work. We truly carry a gospel of healing and salvation. If only people would but look and live. (Alma 33:19-22.) A lot of people do look and live, and it truly is a miracle.

I like this story because I feel like it portrays the urgency we should have towards this work. We should do all we can to help people accept this message and look. It should show in our faces, in what we do, in what we say, and we should be persistent about helping others know the truthfulness of these things. We all know someone out there who is dying spiritually and desperately needs the gospel. In fact, we are in a world of people who are dying spiritually and know not where to look for help.

So I resolved with the missionaries to be more urgent in helping people look to Christ and live.

I love this gospel and I know it is true. Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, September 11, 2011

24 New Missionaries! ...and becoming a principled people (posted by mom)

What a week! 24 new missionaries came to our mission. That is the largest group for as long as anyone here can remember. When we had our trainee/trainer meeting there were 50 plus people in the room. It quite nearly filled up our small chapel. These new missionaries are so much fun. As assistants we are with them the whole time, we run with them in the morning, we take them to all their trainings, we teach them, we eat with them, we contact with them. This group was a good group, there is a lot of fire and zeal to get out and do the work!

In president's welcome presentation, he has a slide show that his family put together for them. In part of his slideshow, there are pictures of him and quotes from letters he sent home. One of the quotes was, "I really groove on my mission." haha...

President Bishop did groove on his mission, and he still does. I do to: I really groove on my mission. (Someone will have to look that up on 60s 70s online slang dictionary and tell me the exact translation.)

When the new missionaries were about to arrive, we realized that we needed some more mission rule books. President Bishop told us that he had been pondering and praying about getting rid of the rule book for a while now, and mission presidents had been counseled to do so in a previous mission president's seminar. So in the end, this new missionary group does not have any mission rules. They only have a list of phone use guidelines that keep missionaries within our cell phone contract.

In a matter of two weeks, the mission has a whole new landscape. It is not the mission I knew growing up. But it's groovy, and I like it.

I guess when they re-did the mission handbook of instructions; they cut a lot out of it and emphasized principles. President Bishop wants us as missionaries to become a 'principled people' and be anxious to live the rules as we understand them.

The church is true. The mission is great. Love, Elder Spencer Harris

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Two Big Changes and a Typhoon (posted by mom)

This next week we have 24 new missionaries coming to the mission. WOW! That is a lot of missionaries. We are having to make some changes to our plans to accomidate such a large group. We are really excited for all the fire and faith they will bring.

This week was a big week. We announced 2 big policy changes at zone leader council. I thought the zone leaders would be hesitant, but they all took it fine.

Change one: In the past our mission counted people from the street as added investigators. Now investigators need to have sat down with the missionaries once and accept a return appointment. President Bishop, also decided that we only count those who actually come to the church, or let us in their homes, to meet and accept a return apointment. Currently our mission adds over 2,000 investigators a month. Next month it will be a totaly different story. It will be interesting to see what happens. We are hoping that the change will help missionaries focus more on their purpose.

The second change: Our mission for as long as anyone can remember, has contacted on the street separately, as individual missionaries. It is actually very efficient, twice the work can get done. The rationale was that missionaries were still within sight and sound of each other. However, President Bishop has felt the need to change this also. From now on, we will be more align with the teaching of the scriptures and the missionary handbook in preaching the gospel two by two on the streets of Taiwan. It is a big change for a lot of missionaries, but it will be good.

President Bishop is a very obedient person. He does what he thinks is right. These two changes are pretty big, but he felt that these were things that the Lord wanted him to do and so he changed accordingly. I am very impressed by his willingness to submit to the will of God and his obedience regardless of the consequence. We are really glad that the zone leaders were positive in their feedback and excited about the changes.

This last week we got stuck on the freeway with no gas in a Typhoon. Luckily we were in Tainan where we know some very willing members who came and saved us. We plan to write them a "thank you" letter tomorrow. They really did help us out of a bind.

I am loving life, and I'm loving my mission! Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Exchanges and Visiting Authorities (posted by mom)

I got a new companion on Monday. He is originally from Hong Kong, and more recently from Washington Utah. We get along really well. He works hard, is really humble and willing to sacrifice for the mission. He has attended BYU and is in the Utah Coast Guard.

We hit the streets hard this week, exchanging with missionaries every day except Friday. I enjoy talking with missionaries about what is going on in their work. Some missionaries really struggle and some really thrive. It is a special thing if we can have an open conversation about it, and I can offer suggestions as needed and requested by the missionaries.

Friday was a special day; Brother Adrian Ochoa came to the island for a island wide youth conference. He stopped by our mission and gave a talk in the north and in the south about what he feels successful missionaries do, and gave us seven points for future study and thought.

Be One with Christ
Be One with your companion
Be One with the bishop
Take responsibility
Develop Perfect Faith

His presentation in the north was very different from the one in the south, but all the same points were covered. I felt each was custom fit to the needs of the missionaries in the room. I knew missionaries in each group and some of the struggles they are going through and those struggles were touched on in the things that Brother Achoa said.

My companion and I ended up driving Brother Huang, an area 70, and Elder Jensen and his wife, the Area President, around the city to a few places they needed to go. It was kind of a scary thing, I am not that familiar with the city, and we ended up taking a few wrong turns, but we still made it in a timely manner.

It was a great week. Thank you for your prayers! Elder Spencer Harris

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The 1st Baptism on Jinmen Island! a lost passport and another baptism (posted by mom)

On Saturday, we went to Jinmen. It was a very sweet experience. Brother Huang, the man who we were meeting with on webcam over the internet, was baptized. My companion and I had the opportunity to go over there and be witnesses to his baptism. He is the 1st person baptized on this island. It was a very special day for the members on Jinmen. I have included pictures of the Jinmen branch of Brother Huang and his family.

We also had Combined District Training Meetings and Interviews in the south. It was fun to see the missionaries who I have served with before. They are all out there working hard and helping others come unto Christ. While President Bishop is interviewing the missionaries my companion and I do planner-checks. It is a lot of fun. A good planner will have a plan every half-hour, it will have back-up plans for each main plan, it will have daily lesson plans, goals, follow-ups, and other information recorded in an orderly fashion in the back. I really like doing planner checks. If done the right way, it can become a heart to heart conversation about what the missionary is accomplishing and where they feel they can most improve. It is always fun to listen, discuss matters important to them, and offer suggestions.

My companion and I were assigned to take a missionary to the airport so he could go to the MTC and pick up another missionary to bring back to the mission. We couldn’t find the passport for the elder that was going to the MTC (in the Philippines). In the end, the Elders in our mission office found it and drove it up to us. It was close, but the elder made his flight.

After that we went to Tainan as fast as we could because my companion's former investigator Brother Shir was scheduled to be baptized. We were running late so we took the high-speed rail, and then a taxi to the chapel. It was really close, but we made it with 5 minutes to spare. After the Baptism we took a bus back to Taizhong. Brother Shir is a really special brother, he has known the church since 1992, but not only until recently did he make the choice to get baptized. It was a very sweet experience.

Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meeting my recent converts at the temple (posted by mom)

My companion had a recent convert going to the temple for her personal endowment, so we got to go to the temple in Taipei to be there with her. What a neat and special experience. While we were there I got to see some of my beloved Gangshan friends in the temple. After the session, I ran into 4 of my recent converts!! What a fulfilling experience that was. They are full active members--really apart of the church/ward family and they are going to the temple to worship God. These are some of the pictures I took with them.

The other highlight of the week was helping with the combined district training meetings (CDTM). We go from zone to zone to help in training and working with the missionaries. The zone leaders prepare a training, and the mission president teaches. Afterward, the president does interviews and the assistants and zone leaders do planner and area book checks. It is a really fun experience. It is a lot of opportunity each day to get to know missionaries and feel of their love for the work. It is a chance to share effective missionary methods and help to resolve problems and challenges they are facing.

Our President has been teaching us about mighty prayer. It is really special because each time he teaches it, he does it differently. I feel he really tires to think of each zone and it's members and then teach to their needs and as the spirit directs him. My companion and I are the lucky ones because we get to see it every time and hear all of president's insights. One thing I like that he shares frequently is from Jacob 4:10. Don't seek to council the Lord, but take council from his hand.

Have a wonderful week. Elder Spencer Harris

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Grateful for the Atonement (posted by mom)

This last week we just had move call. It is the time where we take missionaries home. On Monday we stay around the office and help things run smoothly. We make sure the missionaries are to their interviews on time and we help set up their career work shop as well as their evening devotional. The returning missionaries always look so noble.

On Tuesday we take the missionaries to the temple, then to the Taibei 101, and finally to the airport where they take the great transfer to the sky (in an airplane).

I had a special experience in the temple that I wanted to share with you, but it needs a little bit of background:

On my 4th transfer on island, I had a local companion. He is a great missionary! He speaks English very well and he is very smart. On that particular transfer he moved into the area, and I had been in the area for 3 months at that point. I felt like I had a good grip on missionary work and a good understanding of the area. I was a little stubborn, proud and controlling of the work at that time. I have felt bad about that situation and since that time I have tried to make things better. I have written him letters, and I have prayed and asked God for forgiveness and for help to make things right. Often people will advise missionaries to not have any regrets on their missions, and I was really regretting this. I was so happy to run into this brother in the temple. We talked for a little bit about life and how things were going. He is currently serving his mandatory military service. (He ended just this week.) After talking briefly we split so he could attend a session in Chinese and I, a session in English. We met up again in the Celestial room where we talked in hushed tones about our recent converts in Dakeng. There is one boy in particular, who we were unsure if he would continue to remain active. But his one boy kept coming to church, riding his bike, and now he has the Aaronic priesthood. We talked about other investigators we taught and about our own personal spiritual growth. Outside the temple he came and found me; he wanted to take a picture with me. After we took a picture we had another brief time to talk, and I was able to apologize for my hardheartedness. We worked it out. I am so grateful for the atonement which covers our sins. I am grateful God is merciful enough to grant me the privilege to tie up this loose end in my life. I am grateful that I now have another friend in Taiwan.

I know this church is true and God is always there for us.

Elder Spencer Harris

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Orienting the New Elders & My Testimony (posted by mom)

What a fun week we had here at the mission office. New missionaries came on this past week. We started preparing for them at the start of the week.

Then on Wednesday evening we drove up to Taibei and waited for them. Their plane got in at about 9 and we didn’t get home to Taichung until after mid-night. On the way home we have a devotional. We all introduced ourselves, and the new missionaries shared with us why they came on a mission and what expectations they have toward their mission experience. It was amazing to see how excited these new missionaries are. Their faith is so great! This group seemed particularly special—they had all overcome personal challenges and courageously chose to serve a full time mission.

On Thursday morning we went running with them and ate breakfast at President Bishop’s house. After a full day of training and eating out at some Chinese restaurants, we went and did our Dan Jones activity with them. At Dan Jones we go to a crowded night market, sing a hymn, and each take a turn standing on a soapbox preaching to the people there. (Alma 13:22) After the trainees have their turn on the soapbox, a more experienced missionary will take them around the market. It was neat to see these missionaries grow in excitement and self-confidence. Each of them came back to the mission office having found many new investigators.

Friday we run again with the new missionaries. Then later in the morning we have a meeting where trainees are assigned to their trainers. It was a lot of fun. The rest of Friday we spent delivering bicycles and luggage to the new missionaries.

As an AP we rarely have time to proselyte and find new investigators. That is one thing that I really miss, helping people come unto Christ and be baptized. However, I do love working with President Bishop and serving other missionaries.

I love this work. I feel that the doctrine of Christ is now a part of my soul. Faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end—I know that this is the path to salvation. This is the foundation of eternal life and every person that enters this mortal realm must accept and live this gospel to return to live with our Father in Heaven. And what an exciting time we live in when the gospel has been fully restored. Eternal truths are now ours to learn, we can work towards exaltation through temple covenants and priesthood powers. We can work for the salvation of our posterity and our dead. This restored gospel is so engaging. I love a quote from Elder Maxwell on the subject:

"I am even more anxiously engaged in the restored gospel than ever because the restored gospel is so engaging. It really does get a grasp on our minds, and there is no end to the exploration that one can make of it. It is, as I said years ago, an “inexhaustible gospel.” To be anxiously engaged really does mean that we are engaged intellectually as well as spiritually, and life in the kingdom, as you all know, is also very engaging. So although some people at my stage of life might say, in effect, “Been there, done that,” not I. I feel instead this sense of anxious engagement in something that I have yet to take the full measure of. As I look back across the sweep of this century, I feel that very strongly.

This too is my testimony.
I love you all 300!
Elder Spencer Harris

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Trainings, DVD's and a few Q&A's (posted by mom)

Each week is an adventure! Things come up, meetings happen, we go on exchanges etc.

This past week we had leadership training meeting. It is a meeting that is used to train Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and Trainers. The way our mission is set up is so that districts are really small. That's just how it is, I'm not sure of the reason--possibly to let many missionaries have leadership opportunities / easier to spread information. Anyway, Half the mission ended up attending. We were trained on 4of the 8 Fundamentals from Preach My Gospel lessons. Elder Cocke and I shared how to prepare a good district training meeting and President Bishop taught us the principles of the baptismal interview.

During Elder Cocke's and my presentation and practice model, there were a lot of ah-ha moments for some of the district leaders. So I feel like it was a success and helped out the missionaries in attendance.

You might find this interesting, I did: The missionary department has issued every companionship in the world a DVD player. They have authorized the DVD player for the use of watching 2 Preach My Gospel video series. These videos show missionaries using particular missionary (teaching) skills in actual situations. There are good examples and bad examples. Overall, the missionaries do a really good job teaching these investigators and many of them get baptized. It is fun to watch and insightful. The reasoning is that the church has had certain groups of missionaries watch these videos on a regular basis and their teaching noticeably improved.

It is a big change, and it shows the trust that the church has in missionaries. Elder Cocke and I now have boxes of DVD players in our office waiting for a new home.

Elder Cocke and I are over an English branch of the church here in Taizhong. A few weeks ago, a member gave me some referrals. Anyway one of them was GOLDEN! He is way willing and wants to learn more. He lives in Taibei though. I am excited for the missionaries that get to meet with him.

I love you tons. I love this work and the many missionaries I know get to know and work with. We have a great Sr couple that works with us here in the office--Brother and Sister Liston. they're wonderful!

Elder Spencer Harris

Questions & Answers:

Are you enjoying being AP?

What is your favorite part?
Working with missionaries all over the mission.
Helping them learn and see the success from all their hard work.

Do you still get to bike places or do you just use the car now?
It is a little bit of both.
If there are no meetings, we drive around going on exchanges.
Some of my favorite times are going around with missionaries having fun and seeing miracles!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cut and Fill and an Investigator Turned Missionary (posted by mom)

This past week was a lot of fun. We had two Zone Conferences this past week—one in the north and one in the south. Both went well. President Bishop gave a great presentation on having faith to move mountains. He used an experience he had while helping to build highway 41 by strawberry reservoir. To build a highway it has to be designed and planned. Mountains and valleys have to be leveled using a ‘Cut and Fill’ method. And finally a road must be paved. He taught that the time invested in designing and planning a road is an example of faith. Faith is a principle of action. To have the faith to move mountains we have to ‘cut and fill’. We have to remove (or ‘cut’ down) mountains of sin and ‘fill’ our lives with meaningful pursuits and activities. After the mountains in our lives are removed and the valleys of fear and doubt are filled, God will help us pave the way to our ultimate desire—eternal life and exaltation. He gave us an invitation to select one mountain in our life that needs to be cut down and one valley in our life that needs to be filled and then to take action. I was impressed by his lesson, and I am committed to change.

Elder Cocke and I gave a training on listening (to the spirit and to what your investigators are really saying with their words and body language). It is a teaching skill listed in Preach My Gospel in Chapter 10. We had a fun skit that got a lot of laughs. We had an investigator named “Brother Lessons”. (We were trying to emphasize a point that we want to teach people not lessons.) We did everything wrong during the teaching process. We didn’t listen to him and we didn’t prepare for our meetings with him. It was a lot of fun.

One exciting thing is currently in our mission, there is a short-term missionary. The special thing about this is that a little over ½ a year ago, I ran into this person on the streets of Douliu and we started teaching him. He was baptized a few weeks after I left Douliu. Imagine my excitement when I ran into him dressed in a suit serving as a short-term missionary.

We are seeing a lot of miracles. I enjoy having many chances each week to learn from a lot from the missionaries in our mission on exchanges. I love this missionary life. I’m grateful for our savior; I love him. I am grateful for his promise that if we come unto him he will show unto us our weakness and help us make weak things become strong. (Ether 12:27)

I love you all. Have another good week. Elder Spencer Harris

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Teaching Investigators via Web Cam (posted by mom)

It’s been a great week. I’ve had many more opportunities to get outside my comfort zone. One example is we trained 40 missionaries on the Peach My Gospel teaching fundamentals. President Bishop trained on 4 of the 8 topics and me and my companion trained on the other 4. It was a little stressful but in the end it turned out alright; in fact, I think it went pretty well.

This last week on Monday we had a chance to go visit a member and his college roommate who was from Utah. It was an awkward feeling using English to share the gospel. In hind sight I think we could have done a much better job.

Recently we have had the special experience of teaching the Huang family. The reason this is so special is because they do not live on Taiwan. They live on an island called Jinmen. It is very close to China but independent from China. The island is a part of our mission, but there are no missionaries there. There is only a small band of about 10 members and a few investigators that meet every week out there.

The goal is to baptize the investigators who have been attending church for a while, but have not yet had the chance to hear the discussions or be baptized. The plan is for us to teach them by webcam. It is different from teaching face to face, but the spirit is still present. We have only met with one of the investigators so far — the Huang dad. His wife is a member, and they have a daughter who is currently 7 years old. He has a baptismal goal for 7-30-11. We believe that he will make it. I’ll keep you posted.

Aside from training, this week I got to go on an exchange to Gangshan, my former area. It was fun to see some of the members and recent converts there and see that the area is in good condition. President Bishop attended the latter half of this exchange. It was fun to see his zeal and excitement for the work.

Another exchange took us to the bottom of the island where I got to meet a new missionary. He is great! He is bold, willing to speak up, not afraid of work, very smart, diligent on the streets contacting, and every good thing a missionary should be. He asked me if I knew his cousins and I did. They live just 3 houses down from us.

On Saturday, we had a preparation day. We were in Hengcun so we took a ride down to Kenting and walked around a beautiful park which included a lighthouse. At the park we saw a very long centipede (over 6 inches long) and a lizard jumped from a tree and landed on my companion causing him to scream…haha. After that we went to an aquarium, it is one of the biggest in the world. It was fun to see.

I love being a missionary. I miss having my own area to work in though. It is a little harder in the office to have time to find and teach people. This is one reason I’m so glad we’ve been given this Jinmen island project. I hope we can see some baptisms in the near future.

I am so grateful for God. I’m grateful for his awareness of me and those I serve with. His tender mercies are evident everywhere. I’m grateful for this restored gospel that will allow us a clear view of our relationship to God and many other precious doctrines that are lost to this world.

Until next week,

Elder Spencer Harris

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Busy Week of Exchanges (posted by mom)

It’s been a full week!

Monday, was spent being busy in the office. We prepared schedules and trainings, tried to find short-term missionaries, and sent out some emails.

Tuesday we were off to Jiayi. I had the chance to exchange with an elder from my MTC district and his local missionary companion. It was fun to take a day to preach the gospel with them! Elder X is from Idaho; he’s done some fun things in his life such as raise ostriches and work at a research farm. Elder Y is a smart guy who graduated from Taiwan’s best college with a degree in Electronics!

Wednesday I exchanged with the Zhanghua Zone Leaders. It was a good learning experience for me. I was able to learn a lot from the both of them. They are master planners. They remember every single invitation they extend to investigators. I was impressed by their humility and diligence.

Thursday we had Zone Leader Council. It was a fun experience. I had the chance to conduct the meeting. I was really nervous, but in the end everything went alright. All the Zone Leaders reported on their Zones, and then we ate lunch at President Bishop’s house. After lunch, we had a really good discussion on how we can increase baptisms in the mission. We chose four ways that we felt would be most effective and then divided up into 4 groups and discussed how these ideas could be implemented in a zone. It was a great time to fuel ideas and get the Zone Leaders excited for the month of July. After that, my companion and I presented training on helping other missionaries catch the vision of missionary work, and President Bishop talked about the mission training plan.

Later that evening, we met with some youth from the Taizhong Stake. They are organizing a missionary activity day and came to the office to discuss the details with us. I was really impressed by their thoughtfulness and preparation for this activity. It should be a good one.

Friday we exchanged with the Xihu elders. (That was my first area.) We were actually in the area just south of where I served, but it was fun to see the chapel and come across some of the members that I knew before.

Saturday was in Huwei. (Just north of Douliu—another area I served in.) The Huwei companionship was particularly diligent. They talked to everyone. They have high goals and big plans. It was a pleasure to exchange with them.

It was an exhausting week. But I loved it. I really want to learn those skills that will help me uplift, bless, and inspire other missionaries. I want to know how I can better help them find joy in the work. I want to know how I can help them be fruitful in all phases of the work.

My apartment is great! It is right above the mission office. The chapel we use is right next door. Our apartment is decently sized and clean. We share it with two other office elders, and that is fun. The church and office and mission home were all built on a small plot of ground many years ago. Since then, high-rise buildings have been built on all sides. Everyone knows where the church is.

My companion is a fun person. We get along well. We talk openly and frequently with each other (just like the missionary handbook says.) He is always good to invite me to pray with him. He is from Colorado Springs. He is a genius in mathematics, and he is also a BYU student.

I am continually impressed by the goodness of the missionaries in this mission. As far as I can tell, they are all trying. They study daily, sacrifice their time, give of themselves, work in harmony with their companions, and do all they can to help others come unto Christ. I am too. I love this work. I’m grateful to each of you too—for your prayers, for your testimonies, and for your love and support. I’m grateful that you too are trying to bring others unto Christ by word and by deed.

Have a good one. Love you 300. Elder Spencer Harris

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My First Week In BeiQu (posted by mom)

This past week was unlike any other week of my mission. I have a new companion; he is great. He loves this work like no one else does. He is very good at inspiring other missionaries to do their best. He is also very smart. He is a Math Major at BYU. I know I can learn a lot from him in the coming months.

On Monday we were busy in the office and helped out with the returning missionaries' fireside.

Tuesday, we took the returning missionaries to the temple, the Taibei 101, and then to the airport. It was sad to see such amazing people and such amazing missionaries going home. They all left the mission stronger than they found it. Many of them I served with, and I am excited about their futures.

On Wednesday, we got caught up on things in the office, and spent a considerable amount of time cleaning up the apartment. President Bishop really wants us to be the example of cleanliness, so it was good that we cleaned up. It really does look a lot better.

Thursday we started exchanges. Exchanges are really fun. It is a great opportunity to learn from other missionaries, learn about the mission on the front line, and teach them methods that will help them be successful in all phases of the work.

Exchanges are usually Monday through Saturday, minus mission meetings or other events. It is a lot of fun, and it is also exhausting. Thursday, we contacted a lot and met with some recent converts. On of the missionaries in that companionship is in the Army; he invited me to do a work out with them. It was a really good work out--I'm still sore. :) On Friday, we had the special opportunity to pass someone on their baptismal interview. Then on Saturday, I had the opportunity to exchange with my past companion (Now Zone Leader). We had a blast and had a good talk about the mission focus and leadership.

Saturday was also fun because we had an opportunity to go with President Bishop to do a training of Ward mission leaders and ward missionaries. My companion and I presented a training on bearing testimony of The Book of Mormon. We feel that it was well accepted. President Bishop gave a good training.

Today we will attend church with the English branch. It will be an interesting experience. I had a chance to drive yesterday very briefly, but it felt pretty natural, I don't think driving will be a problem.

Thank you for your love, encouragement, emails, letters, and mostly, thank you for your prayers. I pray for you too!

Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, June 20, 2011

Move Day and a New Assignment (posted by mom)

As you have already heard, the dynamics of my mission have changed a little bit. I was asked by President Bishop to be an Assistant to the President.

It has been a pretty crazy day. There has been a lot going on with move-day and missionaries going home. I haven't really had time to soak in what's going on. However, I know that I will learn many things from this new assignment; I also know that I am going to have many opportunities to serve others and grow. I'll let you know more next week.

I love you 300! Elder Spencer B. Harris

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Baptism (posted by mom)

We just had an investigaor Brother Hong get baptized. He was a special one. A trainee found him on an exchange with my companion. He said he would possibly come to church. In the end, he did come to church, and they talked about something that he needed to hear in priesthood. He came for two more consecutive weeks and got baptized. He is a really busy person, but he made time to learn and embrace the gospel. We don't feel like we did anything. He was truly prepared to accept baptism. The second week he came to church, he wore a suit, and he has every week since. He was really anxious to pay his tithing. He gave a great testimony.

Another recent convert was praying for a job. He found one, and he truly believes it is a direct answer to prayer. That one is brother Zhao. His job is the night shift, but he is still willing to come to church and attend. It is great to see people come to church and accept Jesus Christ.

Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Baptisms & My Testimony (posted by mom)

One of our investigators was baptized this week, Brother Zhao. He has made big changes in life. It has been wonderful to see him change.

My Witness:

I have a firm testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This testimony did not come to me in an instant; it has come line upon line, precept upon precept as I strive to obey God's commandments, study the scriptures, and pray sincerely (2 Nephi 28:30). The strength of that testimony has come over time through consistent, daily effort and by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Because of this testimony, I know that God really loves us. He is our Heavenly Father. As a part of his 'Plan of Salvation', He sends us to earth and gives us our earthly families. He desires for us to do all we can to return to Him. He wants us to prepare our families to become eternal families--to live together, forever, in his presence.

God truly gives us all the means necessary to succeed in this life, obtain our righteous desires, and receive eternal life. Through prophets, he reveals his plan of happiness for us. He also calls prophets in these latter-days, and through the prophet Joseph Smith, restored the gospel and church of Jesus Christ.

At age twelve I have my first recollection of receiving a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of this gospel. While attending a priesthood session conference at our meetinghouse, everyone in the audience stood up to sing the rest hymn. The song was 'Praise to the Man'--a song about the prophet Joseph Smith. As we sang, our voices filled the room with a volume I unexpected. I felt that if my spiritual eyes were opened, I would have seen concourses of heavenly messengers singing the same tune. But what ultimately impressed me was not the volume; it was the still, small voice of the Spirit testifying to my heart and mind giving me a certain knowledge and witness that God truly called Joseph Smith as a prophet in these latter-days (1 Kings 19:11-12, Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3).

I know that President Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet, and he has all the authority and priesthood keys to direct the kingdom of God on the earth. I know he leads us by the spirit of prophecy and revelation.

I know Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He is the Only Begotten Son of God. I know His atoning sacrifice is real because I have felt His atoning power remove my burden of sin and replace my feelings of guilt and sorrow with those of peace, love, and forgiveness.

God boldly declares unto us "that there is on other name given nor any other means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord Omnipotent." (Mosiah 3:17)

This is the doctrine of Christ, His gospel--the good news! This is the way selected by our Heavenly Father and agreed to by each of us in the grand council of heaven before the world was created.

Now in mortality, we do not decide the way--we discover and follow the course already established by our Father in Heaven and shown unto us by Jesus Christ:

"And [Christ] said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?

"And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.

"And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do." (2 Nephi 31:10-12)

Narrow is the gate and straight is the path that leads to eternal life (2 Nephi 31:9,17-18). The gate is baptism. It takes sincere seeking, study, and prayer to know the truth of these things, and it takes humility to heed God's command to believe in Jesus Christ, repent, and be baptized.

I thank God for the promises and blessing extended to us through this covenant of baptism. My decision to accept baptism started me on a life-long journey of spiritual growth. My belief in God and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints deepens each day.

This testimony helps me find peace in the storms of life. In times of trial or when facing challenges, the gospel reminds me of my eternal destination and gives me faith in the course marked by our Heavenly Father. (Psalms 23)

In addition to strength in times of trial, my deepest joys and greatest successes in life stem from participation in this restored gospel of Jesus Christ. God truly grants us the sincere desires of our hearts (3 Nephi 14:7-8). I have learned that God's timing is always correct, and his promises are sure.

I finds great satisfaction and fulfillment in life at this time when I can devote all my time, efforts, and talents to help build God's Kingdom on the earth.

I hope to assist my Taiwanese brothers and sisters embrace the glorious principles and exalting ordinances of the restored gospel, and by thus doing, share eternal joy with them.

I bear witness of the truthfulness of this work and the power and wisdom of God, our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

--Elder Spencer Brian Harris

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Terrific Investigators and Mission Conference (posted by mom)

Right now we have some really great investigators!! It is really interesting how God prepares people to hear the gospel. I never get the feeling like I have prepared someone for baptism. I feel like we help them remember truths from their pre-existence, support them in living the gospel, and deal with the other technicalities. It is all about God and the Spirit.

Two investigators are preparing for baptisms. They have both really learned to rely on the Lord.

One of these brothers left his previous church because he started to see some things that he felt were not aligned with God's teachings; he also had been caught by the government for some things he had done wrong. At this time in his life, the missionaries ran into him on the street. He was so ready to accept this true, restored gospel and leave behind him a world of sin. We are really happy for him, and we cannot wait for his baptism.

Another, Brother will be baptized in the coming weeks. This brother is so prepared to hear the gospel. He has suffered from depression previously in his life, he feels the peace and joy that the gospel brings to his life. He attended a baptism this past week and told us that he can't wait to get baptized himself. When we met with him yesterday he told us that he had come across some challenges at work and that he felt that it was Satan trying to destroy his life. Elder Summerhays and I both knew 100% the answer we wanted to give. That morning we had heard a talk by Elder Holland about how trial proceeds or follows the blessings. He used the example of Jospeh Smith in the Sacred Grove. We read together from JSH 1:15-17 and shared with him our testimonies. The spirit was really strong and he said that he felt just as Joseph Smith did. That was a neat experience.

This past week we had a mission conference. We had over half the Zone stay at our apartment because we needed to get to the train station by 4am. I was impressed that the Zone went right to bed and didn't stay up chatting--I'm really proud of our obedient mission. Anyway, the visiting authority was Elder Jay E. Jensen. He truly is a master teacher. It was fun to have him teach us. It was a pleasant experience. He had so much control over the the teaching situation. He kept us involved and interested. I was very impressed.

Love, Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, May 16, 2011

Baptism (posted by mom)

Dear Family,

We had a wonderful baptism this week. Brother Zhong has quit smoking and quit chewing beatle nut to prepare himself to be baptized. It was a special event and the spirit was really strong.

It has been a fun first week as Zone Leader. A bit crazy though, with projects and events overlapping each other. Sometimes it's hard to know what to focus on. We are planning a zone activity, going on 2-3 exchanges a week, and planning a leadership training presentation.

Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Transfer, Zone Leader & Miracles (Posted by mom)

This move call I am being transferred to Shizhong and will be a Zone Leader. I'm excited and a little stressed about this new opportunity. I will be with Elder Summerhays, my MTC companion again. The sisters that came on with us from the MTC are now going home. It is an odd feeling to think that they are now ending their missions and will be flying home tomorrow. For me, I still feel like I have much to learn and much to do.

This last week in GangShan was a miracle week:

First, My companion, Elder Carter, contacted a man two areas previously, in Tanzi, who was sent as a referral to Gangshan. He was marked as no time in the referral system. When Elder Carter arrives, this man finally shows up in our phone to contact. So Elder Carter calls him, and the man remembers him. He invites him to church and he comes. We find out he lives near one of our recent converts. The lesson in the Gospel Principles class he attended was on repentance. I looked over at him and find him crying. He tells me, "I have such a peaceful, good feeling right now." He then tell me the story of his past life and how he just recently got out of prison. We talked about Jesus Christ and the miracle of forgiveness. Before this man left he told me he plans to place his life's burden on Christ forever.

Second, We stop by the store of a member referral and try to set up a time to meet with her but to no avail then she followed us out of her store. She asked if we could meet at a member's house, we said we thought that would be alright, but we don't know the member's schedule. At that same moment, the member pulled up on her scooter and we successfully set up a time.

Third, On our way to district meeting we got off at a wrong stop. I thought we had passed our destination. Amazingly I heard someone call out my name. It was a member I knew from a prevous area had served in Taiwan, he informed us we actually hadn't made it to our stop yet. He redirected us and saved us the mistake of going the wrong way.

Fourth, our recent converts, the Liu family, have a grandson who I've really wanted to share the gospel with for a long time. I think of his name often and wonder how we can work around his schedule. (He is really busy.) One time going to the chapel we came across his mom and set up a time to meet with them. We had a successful first meeting, and he was willing to set up a second time to meet.

"It's such a fine life, carrying the banner!"

Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, April 25, 2011

Partaking the Sacrament (posted by mom)

I have a new companion, Elder Carter. It is an interesting situation. We are both Senior companions. He will be taking my place here in GangShan. So we have 2 weeks together to get him used to the area.

I recently read a talk about remembering Christ--it suggested we adequately prepare to partake of the sacrament. I realized I often find myself waiting for someone outside the chapel during the sacrament time or feel anxious about investigators coming when I take the sacrament.

This last week I was determined to make a change. Before I went to church, I said a personal prayer to prepare myself. I felt a special peace during the sacrament. It was nice. This feeling helped me resolve some worries I had and gave me renewed confidence for the future.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Two Baptisms, Some Amazing Recent Converts & a New Companion (posted by mom)

I now have a new Short-term missionary, His name is Elder Wu. He will serve for these next two weeks, because they didn't want him to serve in the area where he lives, my companion was sent there and he was sent here.

We had 2 great, really-solid, investigators be baptized! One was baptized by his dad! It was special. It is so great to see the gospel changing the lives of people.

One recent convert finished reading the Book of Mormon and gave a talk in church. We have another, recent convert who also finished the book of mormon and received the priesthood this past sunday. Yet another recent convert helped baptize one of our our newest members, he also quit his job so he could have a job that will let him attend church every sunday!!!!!!

Elder Harris

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Miracles (posted by mom)

I love this work, I know it is directed by God and as long as we are striving to do his will, he will allow us to be in the right place at the right time.

We have certainly seen many blessings here in Gangshan. This past week while we were at the church meeting with a recent convert, one of our investigators saw us and came in. He had a changed heart. We were able to bear testimony of baptism and help him resolve to read scriptures, pray, and come to church. He accepted the goal, and we sent him on his way.

We were shocked when the next day while meeting with a recent convert, another investigators passing by stopped in and sat down with us. I care about this investigator and until now, has not been willing to take the next steps toward baptism. We shared with him a scripture about how 'the Spirit will not continue to strive with man' and encouraged him to set a baptismal goal and keep the word of wisdom while the spirit was still striving with him. He accepted the goal and set up a baptismal interview, and now he is on track to be baptized.

Among our recent converts is a Liu family. The Liu mom finished the Book of Mormon about a week ago! We set a goal with them to go to the temple in a year to be sealed for time and all eternity. We are really excited for their family! They have two daughters and one grandson who are still not members. One of their daughters and their grandson live in our area. They are both busy, but one of my biggest desires right now is to help them accept the gospel and allow their new found family tradition bless future generations for eternity.

We are working hard, and seeing many blessings! Love, Elder Harris

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Two Baptisms and a New Companion

I'm loving life on this side of the world. It truly is a lot of fun. The heat is returning, it's time to turn on the fans and air conditioning.

We had two baptisms this past week! Both went well. Brother Li, a special guy we have been teaching and an older man Brother Liu, whose wife is a member (he is older and was worried about bending back in the water. He brought a small stool that he sat on first then slowly went back--all went well).

When people accept the invitation to be baptized, I see them as a bishop, full of the spirit, accompanied by their family--all having the same eternal goal--, Eternal Life. In leadership training President Chen spoke about the importance of envisioning our recent converts as leaders in the church. This made me realize I need to teach more in depth doctrines like fasting, sacrifice, service, pondering, missionary work, and others that usually get left behind.

We have been blessed with a lot of baptisms lately. I think it is a new season in GangShan. Today we bought some simple stationary that we will use to invite our recent converts to record their testimonies.

We have a really neat investigator right now named Brother Wu. He is so prepared. He came to church this week wearing a suit!! He is also comes to church activities and tries to get to know the members. His wife is Christian and she lives in China; she will be coming here next month and plans are set to share the gospel with her. ETERNAL FAMILY here we come!!

My new short-term missionary companion is great! He is humble, and he has a lot of desire. He said he wants to baptize 10 or more people this move call! WOW....we better get moving.

Currently we are focusing on member referrals. These past two move calls a lot of our success came from working with member's family members. As a part of our finding plan we are going to visit less-actives in our ward and try to meet their families. We are striving to ask everyone for referrals. We are hoping that through this method we can find those people who are willing to progress quickly. Hopefully we can find those families whom the Lord is preparing to hear the gospel or are prepared to come back into the fold.

(Written to his mission president) I am happy to serve in whatever capacity the Lord would have me serve in. At the beginning of my mission, I was more desirous of leadership positions, but now I can honestly say that I know God's plan has always been the best plan. When I came to GangShan we had hardly any investigators, and we really struggled for those first few weeks. However, through our experiences I learned that the mere chance to wake up every day and put on a name tag is enough reason to rejoice. So, I am grateful to serve wherever is needed. I’ll fulfill my commission the best I can. I love being a missionary and wearing the name of Christ.

God is great! Love, Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, March 13, 2011

God's Loving Kindness (posted by mom)

This past week we had a fun district training meeting where we each had a chance to share an instance when the Spirit directed our work. It was neat, we practiced testifying afterward. I think as a missionary, we get in the mode where we assume we are testifying, but in the end we just talk. We practiced saying phrases like, "I know this because..." and "By the power of the Holy Ghost I know..." Then as we testified, we tried to really process what we were saying and give meaning behind the words. I enjoyed it. I know the spirit is key to this work.

District Training Meeting, brought out the fact that when we consistently strive to do the things God would want us to do, we are directed and our efforts are magnified. In all the stories shared, we were just doing what we felt we should do, and only after the miracle happened did we realize we had been directed. I know this is true--Do what you should do, and be where you should be and then the miracles will happen.

We had a Zone activity today. It was a lot of fun. We went to lotus lake...I've been there before. It is a place with a big dragon and tiger and two tall pagodas on a lake. Afterward we went to a Stake Center. It was fun to be around other missionaries and rub shoulders with the greats. Everyone is great!

I'm learning a lot about what God means when he says "loving kindness and long-suffering toward the children of men". We currently have some people we are working with who have some special needs. They require endless kindness and a lot of patience. But they are children of God too.

Keep being awesome!
Elder Spencer Harris

ps: In answer to your questions, we didn't feel the earthquake and Taiwan seemed pretty unaffected.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Gospel Changes Lives (posted by mom)

It was a great week. It is so exciting to see the change that comes into people's lives when they accept the gospel.

Our new member Brother Zhuang came up to me after church and said when can I meet with you this week. Those words were written in heaven!! It is wonderful to see the excitement he has to be taught the gospel.

Another new member brother Chen, has to work sometimes on Sundays, but he has been able to attend church for five consecutive weeks: 1) confirmation, 2) regular meetings, 3) stake conference, 4) regular meetings, and 5) priesthood ordination. His Book of Mormon is marked up and has many tabs marking his favorite parts!

Also Gao Jiemei is helping her husband come into the fold. Her husband is older and is worried about the process of baptism (bending back to be immersed.) So the current plan is go go to a swimming pool where it will be a lot easier to be immersed in the water. I'm really excited for him and for their family.

This ward is so good. There is no pride in this ward as far as I have been able to tell. Everyone stands fast in the work wherewith they have been appointed. The Ward Mission leader has a lot of ban fa (anything is possible attitude) --he always helps us think of the possibilities!

That is about it for me this week. It was a full week. One training and two exchanges. Our Zone is really unified right now. The Zone leaders have given us some fun invitations and helped us strech ourselves. We have a goal for 30 baptisms this month! They asked us to teach 6000 other lessons on the street this past week. It was fun to recognize that there is always the possibility to do more!

The church is true. I love you all.
Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Two Baptisms / THANKS for all the Letters & Prayers! (posted by mom)

Thanks to all for the fun valentine cards and letters!!

Thanks to everyone who prays for me and/or who has written me over the past several weeks/months/year. There are many! I really appreciate it! Sorry I have never written back.

This week was a lot of fun!! Elder Lin and I have wonderful adventures every day... :) The greatest of course was the two baptisms we had on Tuesday. It is amazing to see the change that happens to people when they hear and accept the gospel message.

Missionary work is going well in our area. Our district has many progressing investigators right now. My companion and I have two week Bs. They have each come to church over 3 times. The only problem is they have been unable to meet more than once a week. We are using the Fundamentals from Preach My Gospel to strength them. We are also encouraging them to pray and read the scriptures daily. The future looks bright for the both of them!!

My companion and I had dinner with some members the other day. The dad is less-active. The nice thing about wearing a white shirt and name tag is you can ask the questions that no one else can. Questions like, why have you stopped coming to church and what would help you feel the desire to come back. As a missionary you can be really direct and specific in inviting people to change. Although this father is not ready to come back to church yet, he has agreed to hold a family home evening weekly.

Oh yes, We had a power cleaning day this week. Let me tell you--It was powerful!! The kitchen, bathrooms, and balconies all received much needed attention. Clean really does make a difference!

Thank you all for your prayers and support. Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another Baptism & A New Companion (posted by mom)

We had a baptism on Saturday!! It was for a 73 year old woman and was one of the best baptisms I have ever attended. Her son is a member. The ward put together a really nice program. But the greatest part was her testimony at the end. She bore testimony of how she came to know the church is true. She reads the Book of Mormon daily. We started reading the Book of Mormon about the same time, but now she is way further than I am. I am always suprised at how much she understands. She was really affected by the baptismal interview process. Through it she truly feels forgiven and renewed. She is such a nice lady--her prayers are so sincere.

Move call just happened and I'm staying here in GangShan. I have a new companion Elder Lin Jia Hao. He is native to Taiwan.

This past week we had a Power Week--this means we leave the door an hour early and eat lunch and dinner on the go. It was a powerful, long week, and a lot was accomplished. There were 92 people at sacrament meeting. That is A LOT for this ward; more than the chapel can hold.

Love you all 300!! Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Baptism and Seeing an Old Friend (posted by mom)

I feel more blessed with investigators and opportunities than I have at any other time on my mission. I find myself having to decide between two opportunities to share the gospel rather than working all day for just a few chances to sit down to teach someone.

This week we had a baptism. He is so good. He is into science (a chemist) and it was difficult for him to believe in God and the restored gospel: but now he believes! He didn't see any miracles, but his change of heart has truly been a miracle. It was wonderful to see him humbly and diligently feast on the word of God. He told me, "Elder Huang, recently I've been taking a lot more time to study. In the scriptures it says that we need to believe first then only can God confirm our faith (Ether 12:6). So I've decided to believe." Because of this his testimony did come. I am so excited for him.

Another special event was a girl I knew when I was an exchange student in Taiwan came to visit me this past sunday with her fiance. They are planning to get married in the temple. It was fun to see them again and hear about their exciting plans for the future.

Thank you for all your prayers. The church is true.
Missionary work is great!

Love, Elder Spencer Harris

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Surprise Visit (posted by mom)

The President YANG FAMILY visited the Gang Shan ward this Sunday!!!! They are just as amazing as I remember them!! It was so good to see them!! They brought me a bunch of food. Enough breakfast for the next 3-4 weeks! I felt their love and they conveyed the love of my family to me. It was a fun experience. Wow! It was really good to see and talk to them! (Spencer stayed with the Yang Family when he was an exchange student in Taiwan a few years ago.)

My companion is great. I learn so much from him. He studies the language really diligently, he adds new investigators like he has been doing it his whole life. He has taught me some important things to win the hearts of people. He is always really good at getting to know investigators. We work hard, and it feels good.

Today we cleaned the apartment of a member in a neighboring ward. He is crippled and has a hard time cleaning. In two hours we still got a lot done. I love that kind of service project. I learned a lot from him. This man has years of church material and a stack of scriptures that were marked up like crazy. It was inspiring.

Love, Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Land of Milk & Honey (posted by mom)

We were blessed with a lot of people at church. Probably the most special part was that our recent convert's family all came to church. This week we found a teaching record that had the name of our recent convert's sister on it. We invited her to church. In the process we started visiting our recent convert more often and met his parents. They are super nice. Our first request for the parents to come to church was denied, but we asked again the second time and they agreed. On Sunday the whole family showed up.

One of this ward's strengths is friendshipping and fellowshipping. If we get the investigators to church, they will do the rest.

Yesterday, we were introduced to a family who's father died a little over a year ago. We had a good opportunity to meet them and share the hope of the gospel.

It's nice, right now we have several willing investigators who are progressing.

Missionary work is amazing. Love, Elder Spencer Harris

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Greetings from Gang Shan (posted by mom)

It was a good week in GangShan we added many new investigators and met some neat people.

There ward here in GangShan is so good. There are 5-6 returned missionaries. They are really unified and striving to strengthen the ward and it's members so they can eventually build a chapel.

My companion's name is Elder Wheeler. He is from Idaho Falls, he is a convert of three years!! He is the first member in his family and gave up a lot to come out on a mission. We are working hard to build this area.

It's cold, but we have jackets and make sure to stay warm. The apartment here in GangShan is really nice too.

Love, Elder Spencer Harris

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Transfer to GangShan (posted by mom)

Today I've spent most of the day moving!! I am now in Gangshan in Gaoxiong. It is kind of like DouLiu--a small town with surrounding areas that we take care of. Although being new I am a district leader with a full district.

The other day I thought about the time I've spent in Douliu. I had one of those tender mercies this week. - - it was a clear recollection of my time in Douliu. I felt God’s love for the people there, and of His love for me – I felt His approval of the work we did there. I am grateful for my time in Douliu. While there I developed a greater understanding of God - - His timing is perfect and He has a plan for each of us. In that moment I also had the realization I still have a lot of work left to do and much is still expected.

Last week my companions and I worked really hard and added 113 investigators. (That includes Huwei's and Douliu's adds--we spent time in both places and strived to build both areas.)

I'm excited for this new place and new people. I'm excited for this new start in this new year. My new companion seems to really want to do the right things and work hard. We've already talked about goals we want to work toward as a companionship.

I hear good things about the ward here. I also see many families on the street. I am excited to serve here in Gangshan.

Love, Elder Spencer Harris