Tuesday, February 17, 2015

every end is just a new beginning‏

I can't believe this is the last letter I'll write as a full time missionary. I don't know what to say. It doesn't seem real. I have absolutely LOVED my mission and these 18 months I have had in the Philippines serving my Heavenly Father.  This mission has truly been the hardest but best and most joyful thing I have ever done. I look back on the experiences I have had, the good, the bad, the downright weird and strange....and these experiences have completely transformed me and changed me. My conversion is deeper, my love and appreciation for the gospel and my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ is deeper. These are things I never could have learned living my normal life back at home.

I have learned that I REALLY am a daughter of Heavenly Father, that He loves me and knows me perfectly and completely. I know He knew exactly what He was doing when I was sent to the Cebu Mission. It took me 18 months and a mission halfway across the world to truly understand that I have a loving Heavenly Father and an older brother Jesus Christ and that they are REAL- but I'm so thankful for that knowledge that I now have.

In my final testimony at zone conference last Thursday, I started out my testimony by saying how much I have loved my mission because it has taught me that I can do hard things.I have learned through the hard times (and good times) on my mission how to use and rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Christ didn't just suffer for our sins but he gave us a way to reach our full potential and become better people. I know I still have so much to learn but I am so thankful for the knowledge I now have that I don't have to do it alone.

I can't even begin to express how thankful I am for my mission for every single companion I have had, for all of the areas I have served in, for every person that has come into my life these past 18 months. I have learned to love and see everyone as a child of God.

I am so thankful for my family who has been so loving and supportive all the way. I am thankful I've been able to help people come closer to their eternal families all while not having to worry about my family back at home.

I had a lot more I wanted to say but as I sit here and write this, I have so many thoughts going through my mind but overall I just want to let you know how thankful I am for my mission and for the opportunity to love and serve God's children in the Philippines. They have changed me. 

I'll be home in a few days. SEE you all soon :)

Love,Sister Harris
At church

Goodbye party

Good Bye

Bacong missionary's


Chabelita Flors Sister in Law

Chicken Cart he he

habla 2x ride

Dinner?  Not really just kidding around ha ha

Last Batch Photo

Mae is going to the Philippines Angeles mission

Going on a mission

Pres & Sis McCurdy

Me and Elder Buque are leaving

Fav treat fresh coconut

Going away party

Necklaces from Sis Henrichsen

No Make Up ha ha

mmmm shrimp

Sis Aqualando

Party time 


Sis Guia and Sis Barbie

Sis Hayes

Sis Ramos

Sis Tuellers Posterity

Us and Flor

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

beginning of the end

Hello everyone, things are getting down to the wire for sure! But I am still working hard here and seeing miracles everyday. I still can't believe there's no new snow in Utah but I guess that makes for an easier adjustment for me! :)

It's been a really great week. Last Wednesday after I emailed, we went to the beach for a district activity and we had a Filipino food fight. They don't actually throw their food like in America, but we layed out rice and chicken on some huge banana leaves and everyone just had at it with their hands. An interesting first and last experience for me! Haha.

We've been busy working in Bacong because tomorrow we have zone conference and Saturday is Flor's baptismal interview and my farewell party that the branch is throwing for me.

Flor is doing just great and super excited for her baptism. She loves the gospel and I love seeing her testimony grow. We went to visit her on Monday night and she had put plastic covers on her Book of Mormon as well as every single pamphlet we have given to her. We were teaching about tithing and I asked her if she still has to pay tithing even if she doesn't have a job, and this was her response: "Even if I don't have a job I'll still find a way to pay my tithing because I don't want to stop blessings." Her husband Sandy is really great and supportive too, and it's great having him as an RM active in the branch. Flor has her baptismal interview on Saturday before my farewell party and we are confident that she'll pass with flying colors. :)

We also have some other really great investigators, those sisters I told you about a few weeks ago, Gina and Buena. Their story is a member missionary success story. A member shared a Liahona magazine with them and they liked it and wanted to learn more. Then we showed up! Hopefully they come to church on Sunday.

This has been one of the happiest times of my mission and NOT because I am about to go home, but because I have been able to give away a lot of stuff that I don't need, or want, to people that could use it. The happiest experience I had this week was giving one of my luggage away to Mae, a missionary from Bacong Branch that is just waiting for her mission call. She is the only member in her family and has to support herself for her whole mission. Can you imagine? She is great and she works with us all the time so on Sunday after church before she worked with us, I surprised her with the luggage and to say she was shocked would be an understatement! We took a few pictures and she said that she would have to dream of all of the things that could fit in that luggage. They don't really sell anything like my luggage here in the Philippines. 

Yesterday was my companion's birthday and at first she didn't really want to celebrate her birthday, but I told her that's too bad because I love celebrating holidays, ANY holiday, so I made a big deal of her birthday and turns out that she loved it and we had a great day! Every appointment we had I made sure to tell the people that it was her birthday. Monday after district meeting we got her a cake and sang to her as a zone at lunch. Then last night we went to the Guia's and a few families from the branch joined us for a fun birthday dinner. I guess it was just my way for paying it forward because Sister Wechsler gave me the best birthday ever in Toledo last year!

I have been studying a lot about the Prophet Joseph Smith lately and reading in Joseph Smith History and trying to learn as much about him as I can. From this I have developed such respect for a man who was prepared from before the beginning of time to be the prophet of the restoration. It says in D&C 135:3 that "Joseph Smith, the prophet and seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it." In the last days before the second coming of Jesus Christ we are warned that persecutions of Joseph Smith will get worse but it is our responsibility as members of the church to seek for a stronger testimony of him and his role as a prophet so that we will be firm when persecutions come. As President Uchtdorf says, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." So this week I encourage you all to strengthen your testimonies of Joseph Smith. I love this talk from General Conference about him by Neil L. Andersen: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/joseph-smith?lang=eng&query=joseph+smith

I can't believe that after this I'll just have one more letter to write you all before I come home. It still doesn't seem real. I'll forever be thankful for my mission and everything I have learned here. 

Love, Sister Harris

Celebrating Sis Tonga's Birthday

Branch Presidents Family

Celebrate Sis Tonga's Birthday

More Birthday Party

Branch Presidents family

more Birthday photos

Great Banner

Sister Birthday Girl

Investigators Gina and Buena

giving gramps luggage to Mae

Erica, Julias sister and Me

Me and Sis Tonga

Flor and her husband.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

week of miracles‏

It has been such a great week and just as I put in the title of this email, a week of miracles. One funny thing about the Philippines is that things NEVER go as planned or expected...this has made for funny experiences, miracles, and great journal entries my whole mission but I just want to share one thing that happened this week that demonstrates that principle.

Something interesting about Bacong is sometimes we don't have water, or power, or both. It has made for some adventures going to the pump (see my email from a few weeks ago) but it makes things even more interesting when it's a Sunday with no power or water. 

That's what happened this Sunday...there was no power or no water so we weren't really expecting to see many people attend church. However, we were definitely proved wrong, and there were 7 INVESTIGATORS and 2 LESS ACTIVES returning for the first time that went to church! It was as if our entire teaching pool went to church! I kept wondering to myself who else would come in and as I would think of these people, I watched them come in. It was such a great feeling to see hard work paying off and to see these wonderful people we've been teaching understand the principle of keeping commitments and attending church.

I said there was no power and water, right? That made for an interesting 3 hours at the church. No fans, no working microphone, no light, church in the dark :) I wasn't planning on bearing my testimony but I felt like I needed to and I'm so glad I did because as I stood at the front and bore my testimony (speaking really loudly because the mic wasn't working) I got to look into the faces of so many people who have become my family- and I couldn't help but think of everyone I've met in all of my areas and so many people who I have taught and loved and so many people who have actually taught me and been such inspirations to me. Sweet experience.

That night we went to visit a cute newlywed couple in the branch. The husband, Sandy, is an RM and the wife is an investigator, Flor. My whole time in Bacong we have been working with them and they just got married so Flor can be baptized now. Before she didn't really have the desire to be baptized but because of Sandy's good example and some trials that have brought her closer to Heavenly Father, I have seen her testimony grow and now she wants nothing other than to be baptized and sealed in the temple to her husband in a year. She will be baptized on February 21, the day before I leave Bacong. There will be one last baptism before I go home! I am so happy. 

I have loved every day of my time here in Bacong but it has definitely been a trying time for me. My whole mission I have had no problem seeing success and elect people just coming out of nowhere wanting to be baptized but in Bacong it has been a little bit different than that. I have really had to work hard- harder than I ever have before on my mission, and pray- harder than I ever have before on my mission as well. But it has been such a blessing to see these little miracles this past week and feel like the work I've done here hasn't been wasted. No effort in missionary work is wasted! Every single day is a learning opportunity.

I love you all so much and I'm sure while I've been here in the Philippines learning and growing and changing, all of you back home have been too. I remember Sister Tueller telling me at the beginning of my mission to "BECOME" and that really set the stage for so many lasting changes and miracles this past year and a half. It's great. I love my mission and the miracles I've seen and I'm looking forward to seeing more in these last few weeks. 
Nahigugma ko ninyo! Amping permi.

Love, Sister Harris
P.S. sorry no new pictures this week, my face is struggling with "bugas" :( but here's a cool picture from the plane going to Manila last week!
Leaving Bacong

On the Jeepny

Path to the woods

children follow me everywhere

follow the missionary

arriving in Manila

Over Manila

On the plane

cute missionaries

Sister Domingo

Path toward a house