Monday, April 17, 2006

Brian Email 7-28-05

Hey family,

Well, the bad news should come first... our baptisms didn't show up for
Sacrament Meeting, so obviously, we couldn't baptize them afterward.
Edwin the 21 year old son, has bipolar disease pretty bad, apparently it
kicked in again Saturday night, and he can get pretty scary sometimes.
When he doesn't want to do something, he doesn't. We'll have to keep
him on his medication, that's what is holding him back more than
anything. His mom, Nancy, is ready, so I think we'll baptize her and
then just wait a few weeks more to make sure Edwin can make it to church
regularly first.

As far as my companionship goes, I have great news. We are doing
wonderful. We are getting along great still, and we are working so
hard. We are currently leading the mission in total lessons taught each
week, and President Noel said at interviews on Tuesday that he felt
really strongly to put Elder Mitchell and me together. Elder Mitchell
is like a mule, he never gets tired, he never complains, and he just
pushes hard until the end of every day. We can hardly stay awake past
10:00 anymore, we finish planning, report to our District Leader, and
then we're out like a lamp. I've never worked so hard in my whole
mission, and I thought I was doing so well with Elder Marks last
transfer. Just goes to show there's always something else to be done.
We have already taught 19 lessons this week, the mission goal is 20. :)
I think we can hit 30 lessons this week, that was our companionship
goal. We are also tracting a lot more, we did 5 hours yesterday and 3
hours the day before. It doesn't seem as long as it really is, we've
been getting in a lot of doors lately.

Oh, I just remembered some more bad news. I dream every night about
going tracting or teaching people. It's really tiring. I wake up
drained, and I usually wake up several times a night speaking Spanish.
I don't think it's healthy, but I don't know how to stop it.

It's good to hear Andy is getting better at racquetball. I'm excited to
have that YMCA membership so I can play him before he leaves on his
mission. That's crazy that he's so tall. I bet he'll be taller than me
when I come home. Michael's going to be about 5' 9" too. That's wild.
When was the last time y'all have played with Steven? Tell Michael to
not slow down in Scouts, he's just flying through the merit badges it
sounds like. Keep it up!

How's the croquet season going? Have y'all been playing much lately?
Did you end up buying that nicer set that Michael wanted? I called up a
1-800 weather number just to get a forecast for the next few days, and
then just for kicks I asked about Boise, and the temperatures are about
the same. In Raleigh though, the heat index is above 115, so they are
telling everyone to stay inside all the time. I guess it's pretty warm
then. We've been having a lot of sunshine this week, but we're supposed
to have some thunderstorms soon. I love the storms here, the lightning
is so much better, and the thunder lasts a lot longer, and it's louder.
The rain is so warm too, we don't get cold until we go inside. I'm

A lot of members here are asking for potato recipes (just because we're
both from Idaho) and we don't have any. What are some of your

Also, have you found my sunglasses yet? If you send them, you can pack
the box with some of the ties I left home. I kinda wish I'd taken more
than 6 with me. :)

Well, that's all I can come up with for now. Have a great week, I love
you all.

Love, Elder Harris

Brian Letter 7-14-05

Hi family!
Thanks for all the info about Grandma, I hope she's still doing ok.
I'll be sure to pray for her specifically. And thanks for the birthday
greetings, I got the package on the 11th, and I enjoyed it a lot. I got
the dictionary on the 12th, right after Zone Conference. Nothing like
Zone Conference to celebrate your birthday. My district leader also
turned 20 on the same day!! He told Sister Noel that it was my birthday
too, (she didn't remember, and I'm not even sure if anyone here in the
office knows or has a record of my birthday, I'm a stranger here still,
sorta) and then both the Greensboro and Winston-Salem zones sang to us
during the lunch break. I didn't really tell anyone in the branch in
advance, I always felt weird when my companions got gifts from people in
Charlotte. I didn't want anyone spending money on me, it's hard enough
to pay rent on their trailer homes as it is, I would have felt bad
accepting any gifts from anyone. But when we went to our appointment
after ZC, we told one member that it was my birthday, but then we had to
leave for a dinner appointment. It turns out that as soon as we left
her house to go to dinner, she called the other family and told them to
hold us up as long as possible. She started a cake immediately and
brought it over before we could leave. You just can't stop Mexicans
from throwing a fiesta!! I don't know if you know of the tradition, but
the birthday boy has to take a big bite out of the cake, and when I had
my head down they pushed me in deep. I knew it was coming, but it was
fun. I had blue frosting all over my face.

Holy Moley is right! Andy got a 35!!! I got a 29 too, like dad, and I
didn't get any scholarship. I think Julie hit right around there too.
I only know of two other people that have gotten higher than 34, one is
Austin Call, and one is Chris Hoeger that I ran cross country with.
They both got the Hinckley Scholarship. That's great that Andy ranks up
there with them. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Andy gets the
National Merit Scholarship either. He can go up on the wall with
Shannon at Centennial!

And now I'll answer your questions about my mission. No, there are no
other Spanish missionaries in Winston-Salem. :( We used to have two
sets, but we don't have enough support or something, I think it would
work to put two more in here. We drive a good 50 miles every day, just
getting to appointments. There is one companionship in Greensboro, but
we never see them except at combined ZC. It's weird being in an English
district. Charlotte is the only city with more than one companionship
of Spanish, and there are only 4 there. I think President Noel just
wants to build up the strongest part a lot more, there's no point in
doubling the size of a branch in Greensboro by putting another
companionship there... Haha, it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but the
sad part is that I'm not really stretching it too far. They have about
10-15 people at church on a good week.

Our baptisms still haven't happened. I don't know yet if Victor and
Luciano from Charlotte have been baptized. I know they had dates set.
Our big day here is on the 24th. We are also aiming for another one
during the beginning of August.

My companion is doing awesome. He speaks Spanish so well he reminds me
of me! Just kidding, but he does speak well other than a few minor
problems, but those are normal. He studies a lot. His name is Steve
Mitchell from Eagle Idaho. He lived more or less around the area of
Chinden and Eagle, so maybe 4 miles or so from us. He says he knows
cousin Amy, and I think he asked her out once or twice too. We know a
bunch of the same people, but we never met before here. He was so fed
up with his last companion. It was the longest 6 weeks he'll ever have
to deal with. Good to get it done at the beginning I guess. He says he
never wants to be a slacker like his last companion was. He seems
pretty level headed, and he has a lot of common sense. He's a good kid,
we get along great so far.
Anyway, I need to get going. I LOVE the dictionary by the way! I read
it a lot. Thanks for everything, have a great week! Tell Brian T hi
for me, and happy birthday. I love y'all, hope everything is going
great in Boise by the time I hear from you next week.

Love, Elder Brian Harris

Brian Email 7-7-05

Wow! Sounds like the trip to Yellowstone was pretty exciting and
eventful. We've had a few events here of our own... Last night we
committed two investigators to baptism. They chose the 24th of July,
which is as good a date as they could have picked. All they have to do
is come to church a couple of times, they know a ton, and their
testimonies are ripe enough. And this morning, my old companion Elder
Gordon called and he had just called my old area and found out that
there are two investigators with baptismal dates there as well, both of
whom I found! I was excited to hear that, even though it is pretty
wierd that he called me... So Victor and Luciano are supposed to be
baptized during this transfer! :)

As far as the area goes, it's still a confusing city, but I'm getting
the hang of it. I just have to look at the map a lot, and eventually
something sinks in. According to our maps, the roads are straight, but
compared to Charlotte, they just run in circles... I don't know what to
think of it yet. Winston-Salem is big enough to have two sets of
missionaries here, but we are the only ones. We used to have two sets
back in November-ish, but it was just too hard because all the members
live on the south side, but there is a huge Hispanic population on the
north side too. There are basically just two lodes of Spanish, with the
whole center of the city English. It's a little bit hard to split a
branch like the one here, so we're winging it by ourselves. It's also
hard to get up north, with limited miles, but we make it. I think the
tobacco thing has kinda mellowed, but everyone here smokes, just like in
every other town in the South. The Winston brand sells pretty well

My companion is pretty cool. He listened to a lot of the same music as
I did, and had some of the same friends. He said he knows cousin Amy,
and that he promised to take her to a dance once, but he forgot and she
called him to take him up on it the night before the dance. Haha, I
could see her doing that. He has no experience with real missionary
work except for this week, so I'm taking him tracting and we're finding
out what it means to do missionary work. His old companion was so
trunky it makes me sick. He was an odd person anyway, so this is a real
breath of fresh air for Elder Mitchell. He has a good testimony, and he
likes to tell people about it. I think it will be a good and succesful
and enjoyable six weeks. He also loves Napoleon Dynamite. He has the
chapstick with Napoleon's face on it and the quote "My lips hurt real
bad". He won the BSU Napoleon Dynamite look-alike contest a few months
ago, maybe you can find a picture or something in the campus paper. He
showed me a picture and he looks exactly the same. With the haircut now
you can't really tell so well.

Well, that's all for today, I have to go to Wal*Mart to do some grocery
shopping and picture developing. I'll look forward to the dictionary
(Thanks Andy, you're the man!!) and the birthday package, it will be my
first package since the MTC... good times, good times. Hope y'all have
a blest day, be good.

Love, Elder Harris

P.S., when I get my mission plack thing will it still say Venezuela?

Brian Email 6-30-05

Dear Family,

Yep, transfers happened. I still don't know if I'm all that excited
about it or not. Elder Marks and I found so many awesome people last
transfer, I just want to stay to see them progress... but there are
always just as many people here that need finding. My companion is a
greenie, so I'm a little nervous about how to help him while learning
the area. He's halfway through his training, so he knows a little bit
about the area already. Oh, I'm in Winston-Salem now. All last week I
convinced myself that I would be going to Statesville, but I didn't. I
still haven't been anywhere here, I unpacked and came straight to the
library. It seems to be a lot smaller than Charlotte, but it looks like
we'll have plenty to do. The whole city is our area, plus all the
little towns. The branch here usually averages an attendance of 60ish
people, with a minimum of 40 and a max of 97 one week. So it's smaller
than either of the branches in Charlotte, but not by a whole ton. When
I find out more about Winston I'll let y'all know. I'll be here at
least 4 1/2 months, President Noel says I'll be training here when I'm
done training Elder Mitchell. It's wierd being with a missionary newer
than me, especially after sending my first two companions home.

As for the work... uh, Pineville is doing really well. I don't know
what else to say about here, supposedly we might have a baptism this
weekend? We'll see. Charlotte will be having like 4 here soon.

To help Andy find that dictionary, a member in Charlotte told me that
there is a company called "Mosaico" that specializes in foreign books,
particularly Spanish. It might be "Mosai Co." but I think it's the
first way. Worth a look on Google.

I will write my address here:

2014 Bromley Park Ct.
Winston-Salem, NC 27103

If y'all feel like sending anything, I would be pretty happy. I haven't
gotten a package since January, I'm excited.

I'm really out of things to say for now. I love you all, I'm glad
you're all having a great summer so far. I'm glad Andy's been riding
his bike a lot. It's good excercise, although, I'm really happy to be
in a full car area again. Biking every other week was really killing
me. But, I hope y'all have a great week, say hi to Shannon and Andrew
and Julie and Scott for me. Chao.

Love, Elder Harris

Brian Email 6-23-05

Hola familia,
It never ceases to amaze me how busy everyone is all the time!! To
answer some questions first off, the course we played on for disc golf
was really big and really pretty hard. I lost one of my "eagle" discs,
but I found another lower quality disc before we left. Elder Marks lost
his "eagle" too, so we only ended one short. The course is huge, all
the holes have three pins, or goals, and there is also a "gold course"
for more advanced players. So, there is always a par 3, 4 & 5 on each
hole, all in different directions. There is a lot of brush too, a lot
of the course was in the woods, so we had to throw between columns of
trees and avoid streams. There were also big ravines, and if the disc
fell down it took lots of extra tosses to get it back up. There is a
plant here called kudsoo (sp??) and it's really tangly and grows on
everything, so we lost some discs in that. It's one of the most
obnoxious parasite plants ever, but it's pretty. In short, it was a
professional style course. I've heard they have some big tournaments
here. (Speaking of tournaments, did I mention that one of the PGA
Master's games was here? It was in my area, and some of the
missionaries I know went to watch.)

As for exchanges, I definitely am leaving Charlotte. :'-( That's ok
though, I've been here 6 months now, I figure 1/4 of my mission is long
enough. President Noel said at interviews that I'll for sure be
leaving, I don't really know where yet, I'm thinking maybe a city called
Winston-Salem, but I'm not sure. Then after 6 more weeks, I'll be
training. There will be three new Spanish missionaries coming out, and
I saw their names so none of them will be Hispanic, just gringos. I was
hoping for a native, because I still have trouble understanding people
when they talk fast, or if they are from South America. Peruvians are
hard for me. But I get to grow this way too. As happy as I would be to
stay here in Charlotte forever, I should probably just go wherever the
Lord wants me.

Oh, and Happy Father's Day. I forgot to mention it last week, I had
been thinking about it for like a month, but I never remembered. I
forget everything on Thursdays, my mind just shuts down sometimes.

I'm glad Andy's been reading those sports textbooks, he's the kind of
kid who could be an expert after one week of practice and just knowing
all the rules and tricks. Has he been going bowling much? It's a good
date idea, and it sounds like he knows how to treat the ladies now. EFY
is good at training guys to be gentlemen. Congrats for dancing all the
slow songs too!

I really like how our family writes too. Shannon is very clever, I love
reading her emails that she sends out. She's sent me a few letters too,
I love those. And I could never forget Andy's stories, I still have one
of them memorized, one about his mask... Hahaha! If Michael would
practice sitting down for half an hour a day and just write whatever,
his creativity would blossom so much. He's got a great mind, he just
needs to train it, and he'll be a better writer than anyone in our
family. I think he likes writing anyway.

And now for a couple of questions from me, I was looking around for a
dictionary that defines itself in Spanish. Like a regular English
dictionary, but Spanish. I have plenty of Spanish-English dictionaries,
but I think having a Spanish-Spanish would help a lot. I can't find one
anywhere, could you look for one for me, and send it to me please?

I'm not sure if I told y'all yet or not, but the address for the mission
office is:
6425 Idlewild Rd. Ste. 104
Charlotte, NC (28212?)

I'm not sure on the zip code, but everything will get there anyway. Zip
code doesn't matter all that much. I think.

This is my last P-day in Charlotte, so I'll get the new address to you,
I'll be at the next one for at least 4 1/2 months. You'll have to send
all my birthday packages there...

Well, I love you all, have a great week, I hope you all had fun camping.
Did you make it out early enough? Thanks for the letters every week, I
love hearing from you.

Brian Harris