Saturday, February 11, 2006

Brian Email 6-16-05

Querida Failia, (*we assume he meant familia*)

Wow, I didn't know Andy was the EFYing type, that's awesome though. I
hope he's having a good time. Is he in Jason's group, or how did that
work out? Haha, I knew you'd cave and get the Y pass! How long are
they valid? When I come back I'm sure I'll be playing a lot with Andy
and Michael. Andy will be leaving for his mission pretty quick when I
get back, and Michael will have the physical abilities to pose a real
threat to my love of winning. It will be about a month of hanging out
in Boise before school starts, I'd love to get some excercise.

It is really easy to buy food instead of cooking. I eat out way too
much. We've made a companionship goal to not eat out so much, and I am
trying to cut back on my ice cream intake. I always have some in the
freezer and I had been eating some every night, but it wasn't really
helping me much. Three or four times a week is more than enough too,
but I don't want to go cold turkey. I prefer taking baby steps. Really
tasty baby steps.

I also made a goal to write in my journal more. I hadn't been very
diligent in that, but I really see the importance of it the more I write
in it. I usually write at least a couple of pages, you know how I like
to write a lot. It's kinda hard to find time for it, but I can usually
squeeze in ten minutes at night.

We've been starting to drop a lot of our investigators. I don't know if
I said that last time, but we're not wasting any more time with the
excuse makers. The "professional investigators" are no longer our
problem. They know everything they need to do, and they are now
responsible for their own decisions, they shouldn't need a 19 year old

Oh, dad, you'll be happy to hear this, I FINALLY played disc golf!! We
went this morning with the Sister missionaries and Alfredo Gutierrez.
He's one of our branch missionaries who loves to hang out and do stuff
with us. He bought us Chinese food afterward too. I've never eaten so
much Chinese food in my life, but Hispanics love the stuff. We go to
the cheap buffets almost every week. Alfredo loves Chinese so much, he
always takes us out every time we see him, other than Sundays. I really
like Chinese, we never had much at home, so I grew to like it here.
It's pretty Americanized I'm sure... but it's good anyway.

Well, the work is going well, we tract a lot still, and we're always
running into crazy people and drunks. I'm sure it's the same in every
mission. Lots of weirdos everywhere. But we just go and do. Our zone
leaders gave us a good spiritual thought based on Alma 60:23 "Be up and
doing" in relation to developing Christlike attributes. That's chapter
6 in "Promulgate My Gospel" (D&C 118:4) Anyway, I'm out of time here,
we got a lot to do today. Have a great week, love you all lots. Be

Love, Brian D. Harris

Brian Email 6-9-05

Hi family,

Still no word on transfers, but that's not for another couple of weeks
still. I am on exchanges though today. I'm in a little town called
Monroe, about 45 minutes from my apartment. I am with my district
leader's greenie. He is from Mexico but grew up in Chicago. He speaks
perfect English and Spanish, so it's not really too big of a struggle.
I would have been pretty nervous if my companion didn't speak well.

I'm glad it's been raining in Boise, it's been pretty wet here too. Two
days ago, we were going to an appointment and we were trying to take a
shortcut, but the road was flooded so bad that no one could go through.
We stopped and got out of the car just to look. Neither I nor Elder
Marks had ever been witnesses to a flash flood before, so it was pretty
cool. We were watching garbage cans wash away and all kinds of things,
then this lady drove up and was freaking out about her dog being chained
up in her yard. So we ran across the road, the water was between our
knees and waists, and we went into her yard to try to help, but the dog
was just fine. It was kind of a waste, but we were already pretty wet
anyway, and it was fun. I've been in a flood! (And no, I haven't
gotten to play disc golf yet.)

Then yesterday, here in Monroe, we were on bike and it rained pretty
good. It was coming down so hard, and the drops were huge. I was just
as wet as I was after the flood. I love the rain here because it is so
warm, it wasn't until we got inside our apartment for dinner that we got
cold. We went back out to warm up. Biking in the rain is a lot more
fun than biking in the sun, I don't sweat so much. We have awesome
lightning and thunder here too, way more than in Boise. It's probably
because it's a lot warmer here. It's been getting up into the 90s
almost every day. Another thing I like about the South, is that there
are fireflies. I never saw a single one before my mission, I kinda
thought they were just a myth, or maybe something that they only have in
England that Americans only hear about. But no, we have lots of 'em

I keep meeting people who know people on missions in Boise, but I don't
know any of them. I never really paid attention to missionaries. In
the west, they just don't stand out as much. Here, we have people that
remember every missionary that has come through in the last three years.
They think it's wierd that no one from Idaho or Utah knows which
missionaries had been in their wards. I couldn't tell you a single name
of any missionary from our ward.

As for progress in the work here, there's not much of it. Everyone
still doesn't come to church, everyone still says they're going to. We
have taught so many lessons to so many people but nobody keeps their
commitments, except for very few. Victor still reads, that is really
nice. He is closer than the rest of our investigators to baptism, but
he still hasn't come to church, he said that's something he needs to do
before he can commit to baptism, and I think he has a point. A lot of
our people (members and not) have been moving away, so that slows us
down a little. Our mission goal is for every companionship to spend 10
hours a week knocking, which is really a lot more than I've ever done
here. It's really not too much though, it helps me to drop stagnant
people faster. If they don't want to change, I don't want to teach
them. We find so many more people, and we drop almost as many. The
truly elect will recognize us, and we don't need to waste any time
teaching the un-elect if there are more people to find. I'm still
loving my mission, and I'm trying to keep a good attitude. It's not too
hard though, I love being here.

Thanks for the letter, it's always great to hear what everyone is up to.
I hope you all have a great day/week, y que Dios les bendiga.

Love, Brian

Brian Email 6-2-05

Hey y'all,

Yah, it's crazy to me too that it's already June. I'm going to be 20 before too long, that's scary! I hear being 20 is nothing to look forward to. The weather was really nice all week. We have had lots of clouds, so it's not too hot, then it didn't start raining until after we got the car back from the Sisters. :) Ha! We win, they get a whole week on bike in the rain!

Vicente and Maria didn't go to church (again) because Vicente took a trip to St. Louis, MO. I still don't know how he was able to afford that, he took a Greyhound all the way there and back. I remember looking for prices once from Boise to Salt Lake on a Greyhound, it costs $200 round trip... I don't know how Vicente pulled it off.

We've had some good lessons with a man named Victor. He was a referral from a member, and he's been really confused about religion. He told us that he was scheduled to be baptized with the Jehovah's Witnesses (Is that how you spell "Jehová" in English?) but we came and he started doubting a lot of things they had told him. He likes what he's heard from us, and he knows what he needs to do, he just wants to make sure that he's with the right church before he is baptized or stops meeting with anyone else. He still hasn't been to church, but he keeps saying how much he wants to come. He's really sincere, and he wants to know the truth so bad. He has been looking for the right church for so many years and he's studied with the JWs and the Catholics and a few different Christian groups, he just doesn't feel right about any of them. He's an awesome guy. He started smoking and drinking when he was 9 and he used to be into some hard drugs, but he stopped them all cold turkey all at once a few years ago. He has a lot of will power.

That's awesome dad, that you're reading Preach My Gospel. I decided I like "Promulgate My Gospel" better, I found that phrase in DyC 118 or 119 or somewhere around there. It's a really good book though. Everything is stated very plainly, but there are so many things to learn from it. I like a lot of the quotes they put in it. We are supposed to study it half an hour every morning, but it's hard sometimes because I've read it sooo many times now, in English and Spanish, and there are so many other books I haven't read yet, (the whole mission library, most of the Old Testament, etc.) But there is still more to learn from it, it just gets pretty tedious sometimes.

Yep, I'm still in Charlotte. I kind of get the feeling I'm getting transferred soon, I'll finish 6 months here at the end of this transfer. Not many missionaries stay in an area much longer than that. I kind of hope I stay, but at the same time, I'm sick of working with the same excuses from the same people week after week too. Charlotte is really starting to feel like home though now. My address here is still 1327 Beacon Ridge Rd. #1418 Charlotte, NC 28210. The mission address is... hard to remember. Sorry, I don't have it written down. I'll have to send it later. I'm so bad about getting that to you, I don't think I even told y'all yet. I know all the right numbers, just not in the right order.

I started working out again. I stopped doing much after my bike thing because my wrist/arm hurt pretty bad, but I'm back on the weight machines and I'm working on my 6-pack again. I lost it before I even left the MTC. I'm doing 250 crunches a day now though. I've started gaining some more weight too since I started working out, that's a good sign. Hopefully I'll be ripped when I come home. Pushups are still too much for my arm, but I'll get there before too long I hope.

Well, that's about all I have time for today, I got some things to do. It was great hearing about y'all, as always. Have a great week, I love you all. Make sure you do some awesome stuff this summer!

Love, Brian Harris

Update on Brian (bike crash)

*note* we learned most of this from his call home on mother's day

He said he was riding along behind his companion on his bike on a busy
street, and the next thing he remembers is when they were putting a neck
brace on him and strapping him on a stretcher and into the ambulance.
As far as I know he still has none of his very short-term memory from
right around the crash. His helmet lost a big chunk in the front, so he
rang his bell pretty good and the helmet probably saved his life or at
least his brain functions. He reiterated to the boys that they should
wear a helmet! Apparently he was walking around a little after he
crashed, before the ambulance got there, and told his companion he
thought he must have fallen, but he doesn't remember and of that. He
said it was frustrating because they kept asking him questions that he
couldn't answer. He knew his name, his comp's name, and that he was a
missionary, but nothing else. He said they asked what month it was and
he 'guessed wrong'.

He broke off two teeth to various extents and had those rebuilt, 4 more
were loose but he just had to be careful until they firmed up again. I
hope it doesn't mess up his orthodontics too much. He said one of the
rebuilt teeth was starting to change color so he may need a root canal
in that one. Too bad.

His mission medical card hadn't caught up with him because he was
supposed to only be there temporarily, so we may have some insurance
work to do still. And I guess they use a mission debit card for their
expenses (food, etc.), and he has never had one in that mission, so he
and his companion have had to live off the companion's share, so 1/2 the
amount they give for a companionship. I think he may be using some of
his own money for some things...


Brian Email 5-26-05

Ok, a couple of things before I forget: Xing Li is getting baptized?!?
I knew he would eventually, he's an awesome kid. Congratuations to Bro.
Call too! It will be wierd coming home to so many changes. And it's
only going to get harder, I haven't even been out a year yet. And
another thing, Nicole Smith got married?? I hadn't heard that. And
dad, when you said "Michael in high school", that really freaked me out
pretty bad. He's actually going to be in high school when I come back.
I still think he should be in 4th grade or something.

Who are the seminary teachers now? I know Pres./Bro. Miner went to
Utah, and then Bro. Valencia (my favorite) got to be president. I guess
it's a good thing that he's going to Caldwell, he lives all the way out
in Middleton, it will be easier for him. But it's sad that he's
leaving. Are Bro's Golightly and Epperson still around? Who is the new
president? Give my congratulations to all the seminary graduates that I
know. Tell Josh hi.

I have some news this week. They put us on car share, so now we have to
ride bikes one week and then we get the car the next. This week is bike
week until Tuesday. We rode for about two hours straight yesterday, and
no one was home, so we went back home and then called Vicente and Maria
to see if they could pick us up for our appointment. We ended up
teaching them in our apartment, we read DyC 33 with them, and they liked
it a lot. They really like learning about the Pearl of Great Price and
Doctrine & Covenants. Vicente promised us last week that he would be at
church, but he didn't go. We went back to find out what happened, and
he said he was all ready, and his whole family was ready, but they were
waiting to go with Maria's sister. She kept saying she'd be right
there, and she kept not coming. Vicente got mad because they were going
to be late, and decided that he would rather stay home than go late and
angry. We were bummed about that, because they really need to come to

And our buddy Galo Vera just moved into the sisters' area. He will be
there until the beginning of July, and he'll be moving back to Ecuador
then. We're trying to get him baptized before he leaves so that he can
share the gospel with his family there, and hopefully he can go back
with the Aaronic Priesthood too. He told us he wants to talk to his
family about the church, so we're trying to get him excited about it.
He has given up all his addictions, and he is living all the
commandments, he just needs to come to church. He lives a lot closer to
the church now, hopefully he can make it. He has been to church twice,
so he just needs to make the effort to go every week starting this week,
and he'll be ready.

Paula is close, but getting farther, I think. She has had baptismal
dates before, and she reads from the Book of Mormon every day. She
never goes to church though, and she has a lot of excuses. She can be
baptized as soon as she wants to, but we don't know how badly she wants
to anymore. We don't really know what else to do with her.

The weather here is nice, but hot. I sweated a good 2 liters yesterday,
I'm sure. We've been hitting the mid 80's as far as temperature, I
don't know what the humidity is like, but we have a lot. I don't run
out of breath as fast as I did riding bikes with Andy in Boise. We have
tons of oxygen because mountains don't exist here. Dad, could you find
out for me the elevation and population of Charlotte?

That's all for today, we have to go eat because we're starving right
now. Then we get to shop and clean the apartment and write some letters
and snack on Elder Marks's package. He got pumpkin chocolate chip
cookies. Those rock, my friend Mallory sent me a bunch in the MTC. But
yeah, I hope all's still well. I love you all.

Love, Elder Harris

P.S. I didn't say y'all the whole letter!

Brian Email 5-19-05

Subject: 6 Months last Tuesday!

Hi family,
How are y'all? I'm doing all right. I just dropped Elder Gordon off in
Statesville and picked up my new companion, Elder Marks. He seems
really cool. I got to work with him once before when we had exchanges
in Greensboro, but I didn't get to know him too well. I have heard all
good things about him, and he seems like the obedient type. Right now
he's talking to a baptist here in our apartment office. He's been out
for about a year and just finished training a Puerto Rican. I'm still
in my same area, I'll probably get booted next time though. :(

I'm glad everything went well with the wedding and that y'all got to see
so many relatives. I hope they are all well. I'm glad Shannon and
Andrew got so many presents too, I would have given them one if I had
one to give. Did they get to see the puppet man?

Everything here is good, I get to be senior companion again, that makes
me a lot more stressful, but things are good. I just have to think a
lot harder. I'm not sure yet who between us is the designated driver...
I should call someone on that. In other news, I have been out more than
6 months now. That seems way crazy, I feel like I'm just getting
started. Elder Marks says he feels the same way. I guess that feeling
never passes completely because there is always something new to do.
I'm going to try to use Spanish more, that's something I didn't do very
well with Elder Gordon and especially not with Elder Frost. I can say
pretty much everything I want to now, but sometimes I don't understand
people, especially people from South America.

Well, that's all for today. I hope you're all well and having an
awesome spring. Go play some frisbee golf soon, the weather should be
just about right by this weekend. I might be playing soon, Elder Marks
loves disc golf too. Well, see ya.

Love, Brian

Brian Email 5-12-05

Hey Family,

Today is sooo busy. We spent all morning trying to get our apartment
spotless. We are so fed up with all the filth, and we were told that a
general authority is coming to visit the mission and will be touring a
few apartments also, so we wanted to get ready for that too. We are
about halfway done, we dont have any sponges or rags (all the old ones
from under the sink are moldy) and so we have to do our shopping first
and then finish. We have been so busy all day. We also threw out a lot
of old fruit from the crisper in the fridge. No one has bought fruit
here for at least six months, so I don't know how long it had been in
there. It was pretty gross.

I started reading Doctrine and Covenants last week, I made it up to
Section 41 this morning, I like it a lot. I hadn't marked hardly
anything when I read it last, so this time everything still seems pretty
new to me. It's really good, the Lord puts things so plainly, there's
really no way to misinterpret anything. When he calls people to
repentance, he really calls. A lot of what I've read so far reminds me
of Elder Oaks' talk "The Challenge to Become". It's a good talk, I
don't remember when it's from though. Also Elder Robbins' talk from
this last conference keeps coming to mind as I read. And of course, I'm
still working on the Book of Mormon in Spanish. I'm up to the part
about Samuel the Lamanite now.

It's really humid here. It's not terribly hot yet, but it feels that
way. Sometimes I can see the steam coming off the road. It's kinda
cool. We ate a lot again yesterday. We had our district meeting which
is always followed by lunch out with the Hermanas and sometimes other
office missionaries. Then Galo Vera decided to feed us, and then Doris
fed us right after. We told her we already ate a ton, and she said,
"That's why you only have to eat a little" She gave us a ton. Bleh...
It was a struggle. If I wasn't so full, it would have been really good.
She made us chicken and rice (just like everyone else always gives us),
but her rice was cooked with raisins and spices. A lot of Hispanics
don't use any spices, so it would have been a good meal, but I had a
hard time getting it down. 3 meals in as many hours is never easy.
We're not eating today, I'm not even hungry.

I'm really behind on writing people back. I have gotten about 6 letters
in the last month and a half, and I haven't written to anyone since
then. I got a letter from Julie Egbert in March that I haven't
responded to yet. I don't know if I'll be able to get anything written
today either, we're always more busy on P-Day than on any other day, I
don't know why it always happens like that. Next Thursday will be busy
too, we have to go to Statesville for transfers, then I come back here
(99% sure). I get to meet Elder Gordon's dad next week too.

I found an alarm clock this morning that Elder Frost left. So now I
don't have to go buy one. How lucky!

Well, that's all about me. Felicidades Shannon and Andrew! Good luck
with the reception and everything. Have fun in Seattle! And everyone
else, good luck with standing in line at the reception :) Don't eat too
many eclaires or anything. I gotta go now, have a great week!

Love, Elder Harris

Brian Email 5-5-05

Hehe, looks like you got all the good news this week. :) Yep, I got
the call from President Noel that I will be staying here for the
duration, like two weeks ago, but I kept forgetting to write that part.
It really doesn't seem very odd to me, so I forgot last week.
But yeah, I also got to spend some time in the ER last Friday.
Everything is more or less good with that. I cracked two teeth, which I
never found, and bruised my wrist up pretty bad. It's still swollen and
pretty dark. I also bruised my chest, I can't see any difference in
color, but I can definitely feel it. I got my teeth fixed up on Monday,
and they look pretty much as good as new, but they said I'm probably
going to have to get a root canal on at least one of them. We'll have
to see about that.
As for my clothing situation, we don't really wear our suits at all
except for interviews and meetings, and the short sleeved shirts are
fine. It's really humid here and pretty warm, so even during the winter
we didn't wear our suits that much. I will have to buy a couple of
suits though, my one is going pretty quick, it's way thin. I think I'm
going to have to buy some new pants too, because the pair I wore on bike
is shredded, and another one got bit up by a dog. And in my bike
adventure, I destroyed my only belt too, and a good tie. I have to
order a new name tag too because it's almost unreadable with all the
scratches. It's a good souvenir though.
Congratulations everyone with the dance festival! Samba is one of my
favorite ones to do. What kind of music did you dance to? I for sure
want to see the DVD when I come home. Sounds like it was a busy day
that day. 6:30 to 9:30 sounds a lot like my day. And good work Michael
with Mars Rover. I'm glad you got to lead your team to victory. Which
year felt better to win, this year as a mentor or last year as a member?
And Andy, I'm not at all worried about your AP test scores. You for
sure got 5's on everything. Keep up the good work!
And for Mother's Day, I'll be calling y'all at 3 your time. I'll have
about an hour and a half. Yep.
I'm not going to say a whole lot more right now, I'll talk to y'all on
Sunday. Peace out.
Elder Harris