January 30, 2015

MTC - Week 5


Sa vakacava tiko?  How are you?  Well, things are pretty good here at the MTC.  This week has flown by!  It has been a lot harder to stay motivated this week because it's so much sitting around in class.  But luckily I only have one week left!  We are supposed to get our travel plans today, but we haven't got them yet, so I'm not sure exactly when I leave.....hopefully next Saturday!  But despite that I have been trying to learn as much as I can while I am still here.  

Yesterday I memorized the First Vision in Fijian which is pretty cool.  I love the language so much!  It's weird but it sounds awesome haha.  Yesterday we Skyped an old lady who was in Suva, and it was so cool to talk to her!  Apparently she is a teacher at the LDS high school there, so we got to talk to a few of her students who were peeking at us behind the computer.  Haha it was really funny!  We learned that we have a lot of Fijian to learn though....after we asked her "Ko rawa ni tukuna tale mada vakamalua?" (can you please repeat that again slowly?") like ten times haha.  But it was still really cool, and hopefully we get to see her in about a week:)

Last week we said goodbye to a whole Tongan speaking district: two elders going to Tonga, two elders going to Hawai'i, and a sister going to Oakland/S.F.  It was sad because we got pretty close to them...they were all super awesome.  But then on Wednesday we got a new Tongan district with one elder and a sister going to Oakland/S.F., and a sister going to Tonga, so that was pretty fun.  The elder is 6'9''!  And he can shoot 3's better than anybody, so we basically all run around while he makes all the points when we play basketball.  

I went to the doctor on Tuesday and he said my finger is doing great.  I just have to wear this brace for the next 4 weeks and then I'm done.  I can almost bend it all the way so I'm not too worried about it.  It's still swollen though haha it looks super fat!  But it shouldn't be a problem anymore:)  

This week I've learned about the importance of drawing upon heaven for help in missionary work.  Missionaries don't convert people; the Holy Ghost converts people.  One of the seventy spoke this week, and he said the best missionaries are they who rely completely on Heavenly Father to use them as an instrument in helping others come unto Christ.  This is the kind of missionary I want to be.  In order to become this missionary, I have to be exactly obedient, have tremendous faith, and teach by the spirit.  It's hard, like all of missionary work, but I am striving to become like that!  The spirit is so strong here.  Something I didn't take advantage of before my mission was the gift of the Holy Ghost.  This gift is not only present during deep spiritual experiences, but it is promised to be a constant companion to those who have received it and who are worthy of it--and also strive to keep it.  I still have a lot of work to do to keep it with me at all times, but I am working hard for it:)

Have a great week!


Elder Harris

Elder Harris' Zone

Memorizing Fijian Words

Memorizing the First Vision in Fijian

January 23, 2015

MTC - Week 4

Bula vinaka!

Well this week has been pretty good.  There has been so much happening I can't keep track haha.  The weeks are starting to fly by, which is good because I want to get to Fiji as fast as I can!  Learning how to be a missionary and how to speak fijian is great, but sitting in a classroom for 9 hours a day is starting to be a drag.....  But I still love it!  

Last Saturday, we had what is called TRC.  It's where we have a lesson with a random person who speaks our language.  In our case, the only people they can find who speak Fijian are RMs.  And guess who I got to teach????  Skyler Smith, the guy who Racail told us to talk to!  It was cool to see him again and teach him a lesson in Fijian.  

We got a new MTC Presidency on Sunday, so we heard them talk that night.  President Burgess used to be the YM General President I think.  And then on Tuesday we got to hear from M. Russell Ballard....an apostle two weeks in a row!  He talked about what we need to do to be a good missionary (it was a lot).  And then at the end he gave us an apostolic blessing which was really cool.   He blessed us with protection, a love for the people, and a sense of the privilege and dignity of our calling. 

The Fijian is coming along.  I can say a lot, but I speak super slow and I can't understand it very well.  Our teachers say that we are doing really good as a class, but they also warn us that we can't let that get to our heads haha.  Anyways, the gift of tongues is real!  We were teaching a lesson, and our fake investigator had a question, and I was able to remember a lot of words just on the spot to help him understand.  It still was a struggle to say it, but I know the Lord is helping me learn this.  Fijian is super different from English.  There are 6 different ways to say we, 6 for us, 4 to say you and your, and 3 to say their.  And then trying to say the possesive forms of those is even harder!  But I love it.

One of my favorite things about living in the Polynesian zone is the singing.  We sing all the time.  There are two hymns that we sing a lot: one is Tongan, and one is Samoan.  They aren't in the English hymnbook, only the Tongan and Samoan ones.  But they are just beautiful when we all start singing them.  President Burgess and Sister Burgess came and sat by us on Wednesday, and someone asked if they wanted to hear a song (I didn't know if that was a good idea because we are pretty loud).  But they said yes, and we sang super loud so basically everyone in the cafeteria could hear.  They loved it haha, and no one could tell us not to because they were there (we've got in trouble for singing before).  It's super awesome!

Well, that's basically it for this week.  Probably only two more weeks in the MTC.  My teacher said that we usually leave on Saturdays so we might leave on February 7....two weeks from tomorrow!  The gospel is true!  Being a missionary is awesome!  


Elder Harris

Elder Cocker and Elder Harris

January 16, 2015

MTC - Week 3

Bula vinaka na noqu matavuvale!

So this week has been pretty interesting (as far as the MTC goes anyways).  Last Sunday I went to Sacrament meeting and Priesthood, and then I started feeling pretty sick, so I went back to our residence and took a nap during the afternoon.  I've been a little bit sick all week, but everyone says that is just what happens at the MTC.  

Then on Monday morning we had a really cool class where I felt like I was learning so much Fijian, and I just felt really good about everything!  

Then I went to gym......I was playing volleyball with our zone (basically all polynesians) and I went to block a spike from this big Tongan kid (not a very good idea) and all of a sudden my finger was numb!  I thought I just jammed it, but I looked down and it was sticking out all funny.  I didn't really know what to do so I just started laughing and showing people.  Judging by the look on their faces that wasn't a good idea either haha.  So I walked over to this little first aid station, and all of a sudden it just popped back into place on its own.  

It was just dislocated for less than a minute, but the sports med guy sent me to the doctor just to be safe.....then the doctor sent me to the BYU health clinic to get an x-ray just to be safe....we looked at the x-ray and nothing looked wrong, but he sent me to the hand specialist at Intermountain Health Clinic just to be safe (which was actually fun because we drove through BYU and Provo to get there)....and when I got there the doctor said it was okay it would just take awhile to heal haha.  So lots of doctors for nothing;)  But the worst part is.....I don't even remember if I blocked the spike or not!  And I don't get to play basketball or volleyball anymore.  But at least it's not broken.

So this was all pretty discouraging, but there were a lot of good moments this week too!  

Probably the coolest thing that happened was the Tuesday night devotional....with Russell M. Nelson!  It was really cool; he gave an awesome talk, and his wife did too.  For some reason I remember hers better though.  She talked about how desperation is a good thing, because it causes us to reach out to our Father in Heaven for guidance.  I want to be more desperate for spiritual guidance so I can have divine help as a missionary.

So the Fijian is coming pretty well.  I have learned a ton....I have no idea how I remember so many different words but it is pretty neat.  E bibi meda sisili.  (It is important for us to shower).  We teach our teachers as they pretend to be investigators all the time.  And it is all in Fijian!  But lately our lessons are actually sounding like lessons; it's so cool to be able to communicate with them in a completely different language.  The hardest part about Fijian is learning how they talk.  It's pretty easy because it's almost like caveman talk, but it's also hard because they say things completely different than we do in English.  

We have a lot of class everyday....we wake up at 6:30, eat breakfast at 7:10, go to class from 7:40 to 10:40, go to gym, lunch at 12, class from 12:55 to 5:15, dinner, class from 6 to 9:30, and go to bed at 10:30.  It's pretty crazy but I'm used to it now.

Anyways, thank you for everything!

Moce mada


Elder Harris

Older Fijian MTC District

January 9, 2015

MTC - Week 2

Bula vinaka!

Hey everyone!  How is everything going?  I am so sorry to hear about Maggie...that is horrible.  We are preparing to teach a fake investigator on Monday who hypothetically lost his wife to cancer about a year ago.  Yesterday in my study I learned that through the gospel of Jesus Christ we can see our family members after this life.  D&C 130:2 says that whatever relationship we have in this life will carry on in the life hereafter.  This is possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and temple ordinances.  So while tragedies do occur, we always have hope!  The gospel is amazing!  

I am learning so much about what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  As a missionary, and especially at the MTC, we have spiritual experiences all the time.  It feels so good to surround myself with such happiness and peace, and it gives me a conviction to share it with others.  I think one thing we all need to realize is that a disciple of Jesus Christ should always be kind and loving to everyone he/she meets.

The MTC is fun!  The cafeteria.......okay, but I'd go back to the Cannon Center anyday.  

We have three Fijian teachers.  Brother Crump has been teaching ever since he got home from his mission 4 years ago.  He taught our other two teachers Brother Smith and Brother Ledoux, who were both in the same intake as Skyler, the guy that we talked to before.  They're all really fun and great teachers.  Although this week we haven't had them much because the other Fiji district is still here because of our date change.  But the other Fiji district is leaving tomorrow, so we'll have them all the time from now on.  

We have a new elder in our district: Elder Davis who has been here for 6 weeks but had to get surgery on his ACL two weeks ago.  He'll probably leave with us.  

I am learning quite a bit of Fijian!  I can say a prayer, invite someone to be baptized, and (almost) put a whole sentence together!  Fijian is a little weird because a sentence is like...He is a prophet Joseph Smith...but then if the sentence has anymore stuff it is just hard haha.  But I know it will come with time.  I love Fijian!!!  It honestly is a super cool sounding language.  They have a lot of long words like vakavinavinakataka and vakalougatataka.  

We sing a lot of hymns(like 4-5 times a day) in Fijian and my district always makes me choose the song because I can recognize the song by looking at the notes haha.  I am now the official piano player for sacrament meeting so I need to practice today (Mom I know you'll be happy to hear that).  

One cool thing about the MTC is devotionals every Sunday and Tuesday night.  We had the Young Womens General President on Tuesday and the Church director of mormon.org and other missionary technology stuff.  He did the #BecauseofHim and #HeistheGift, and he said next Easter it will be #BecauseHeLives.  It was cool how they are using that to spread the gospel!

Anyways, have a good week and thanks for the packages and letters everyone!

Love, Elder Harris

[Note: Elder Harris was referring to the tragic death of a sweet girl, Maggie Robinson, that has been a difficult loss for her family and all of his home town]

Elder Lemusu (front) and Elder Alonzo

My Companion

Elder Kintstone from Papau New Guinea Leaving Tomorrow

Our Class

January 2, 2015

MTC - Week 1

Bula vinaka!

Well Fridays are my P-days while I am in the MTC, so I am in the laundry room writing this right now.  We usually would go to the temple right now, but it is closed just like almost all the stores at the MTC.  Apparently they can't get anyone to work over New Years haha.  

The MTC is a really unique atmosphere!  Everyone is working towards being a missionary, and you can just feel the power that is working on making all of us young men and women into missionaries.  

Right as soon as you dropped me off, I went to the bookstore and got all my materials.  They actually have a lot of Fijian material; I have a Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, a Bible, Preach my Gospel, and all the missionary pamphlets in Fijian!  I also have 3-4 books that help me learn the language.  

After I got my books we went straight to class where I met my teacher Brother Crump, and he only spoke Fijian to us!  That first day we spent a few hours in class learning the basics of the language like "how are you?" and "what is your age?'' etc.  I love the language already!  We then had a lot of meetings that taught us rules and such, but that was about it for the first day.  

My companion is named Elder Tera, and he is from Tahiti.  His native language is French, but he speaks pretty good English.  I have to help him understand certain words he doesn't know but he is doing really good!  In my district (all the people speaking Fijian who arrived with me) we have another Elder from Tahiti who is Elder Tera's cousin.  He doesn't know English very well and his companion is in the Marshallese class so I spend a lot of time with him so my companion can help him understand.  We also have Elder Lemusu, who is half-Maori half-Samoan from Australia.  We have Elder Amai who is half-Maori from New Zealand.  We have Elder Alonzo who is Phillipino from Chicago.  And we have the other palogi (white guy) who is Elder Haines from Idaho Falls.  We are all Elders, so we have a good time haha.  My zone is all the people going to Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands, so we have a ton of Polynesians!  There is another Fijian district that is farther along than us, and there a sister from Australia that is the only palogi in the room haha.  But I am learning to love the Polynesian people; they are very kind (and like to give lots of hugs) and very fun.  We have a good time in the cafeteria haha!  

Thursday I learned how to bear my testimony in Fijian!  Au kila ni dina na kospeli i Jisu Karisito!  And tonight we have to teach our first investigator....in Fijian!  Not sure how that is going to work but we will just do our best:)  

We had a meeting with our branch president, President Willes, yesterday, and it was probably the most spiritual meeting I have been in!  He talked about being exactly obedient so we can draw the powers of heaven to bless us as a missionary.  It was very cool; he is a neat guy.  Apparently he was President or CEO of General Mills and a mission president in Hawaii, so he has had a lot of life experience.  The first counselor is Brother Muir, who was the 16th missionary to enter Fiji, and apparently his ancestors lived in Beaver!  So it was fun to talk to him!  I see Schyler all the time!  The first day it seemed like our districts were always pretty close together so that was cool.  I am doing well and working hard at learning Fijian.  I love the gospel, and I know this is where I am supposed to be!

Love, Elder Harris

P.S. I will send pictures next week.  I only took a couple and I forgot my camera today.