Sunday, September 24, 2006

Brian Email 9-8-05

Dear family,

Things are going great here. I've been a little sick, just with a sore
throat, headaches, that kind of thing. I'm feeling a lot better, but I
did lose my voice. It's a good chance for my greenie to practice his
Spanish a lot more. He's really making good progress, he doesn't think
he is, but he's doing fine. He gets frustrated sometimes because people
don't understand what he's trying to say, and a lot of times he thinks
English is right and anything different is wrong. But that's ok, every
missionary goes through that stage, at least for a little while. We had
the Spanish Zone Leaders over for exchanges Tuesday night and Wednesday.
One of them, Elder Oxborrow, was my old district leader from Charlotte,
and the other, Elder Marks, was my companion right before I got
transferred out of Charlotte. They are both great missionaries and it
was so cool to work with them again. It's always fun being on exchanges
anyway, it's just something new to break up the routine. Elder Marks
told me that President Noel wants to make me a zone leader before May,
but I don't know if I want to believe that.

Gas prices here are sitting just under $3 now. There were some rumors
that it would hit $5 but they never happened. 3.29 was about the
highest we ever saw, and you can get it for 2.91 now. Good enough for
me. Spanish Zone Conference is happening this weekend, since it was
cancelled last week. I'm excited. I have two Spanish missionaries I
haven't met yet, and I have some old companions and districts to talk
to. We used to have Spanish Zone Conferences all the time back when my
trainer was Zone Leader, but there hasn't been one since I got in the
mission. I'm excited.

Everything is going more or less well. One interesting thing... We had
one lady Elfi who had a baptismal commitment at one point, and we went
over to see her one night and she told us that her husband was in jail
for beating her. A few nights later we were going to follow up with
Juan Carlos, our investigator who came to church a few weeks back. He
told us he couldn't talk to us because he had to go get his nephew out
of jail. Turns out Juan Carlos's nephew is Elfi's husband. Hmmm. It
was really funny and wierd to find that out. It's an interesting

Nancy is planning on being baptized on October 1st, between sessions of
conference. Her son isn't progressing at all, he still won't really
talk to us again, it's pretty sad. Our other investigators have stopped
reading/praying/thinking about God/everything else. We're going to have
to start over with a new set of investigators. We started tracting a
really really nice trailer park. It's the most beautiful setting for
the awfulest homes I've ever seen. I would only live in a trailer park
if it was this one. It really looks nice, and it's really quiet and
calm, no dogs, no KKK, nothing. It's weird, I've never seen anything
quite like it.

It sounds like you're all doing well, I'm having trouble thinking of
much to say, I've got a lot going through my mind, but with my headache
this morning, I'm not really playing with a full deck. I'm taking
Acidopholous and Zinc supplements, don't worry. (Those are Sister
Noel's favorite things to give sick missionaries, and they are great, I
like 'em. Sister Noel is the best) But I'm going to wrap this up.
Have a good week, I still pray for y'all. Take care.

Love, Brian

Inspirational Words for a Future Missionary

Every missionary says when he comes home that those were the best two
years of his life, I can only say that the last 10 months have been
incredible, and the best 10 months of my life so far. I have met so
many people that are so cool. Everyone has a different story, and there
is so much that I have learned from them. It's not always fun 24/7, but
it's always worth it, and it's always exciting to meet people that care
enough about God to change their lives. Everyone is a convert, even
ourselves. I have changed a ton because I am learning how to care that
much more about God. It's really great to see my companions trying to
do the same thing. I love being able to bear my testimony so often too,
I never really did much of that at home, but I've grown a lot from it
here. I feel more deeply that the things I tell people are true, and I
love it. I'm excited to not be the only extended family member on a
mission, the more we have, the closer all our families will be. Best of
luck to you!

Brian Email 9-1-05

Hey fam,

Thanks for the email, I liked all the details. Tell Andy that Mr.
Lawrence is really and honestly the most boring teacher around, but his
personality will eventually make up for it. I've heard that he really
is nice and easy enough to put up with. He really has a good line-up of
teachers. A lot of people like Mrs. Norton a lot, and everyone likes
Bartlett, he's had him before hasn't he? I had Mrs. Alexander one year
for my second Algebra class. She was good, really nice if you're
obedient. I'm sure he'll like her more than I did... That's great also
about Michael's mile time, I never did make it under 6 minutes, he has a
lot more natural ability than I ever did. Keep running every day, even
when you don't have practice.

It's good to know also that the gold Accord is still around and still
alive. That car is older than I am, I hope it lasts a while longer.
How's the Taurus? How is mom feeling? Not quite ready for basketball
yet? I hope that all works out well.

I understand a lot better, dad, about how you grew up with one ward per
two schools. Our branch here covers about 2 hours if you drive fast on
the freeway, maybe more. It's a huge area, and all the youth get along
really well, even though they only see each other once or twice a week.
It's a lot different from anything I'd ever seen before. At the same
time, it was fun to go to tri-stake activities and know everyone there

Our branch is doing really well, we keep getting referrals, and we are
expecting about 6-8 more this month, if the average holds up. We're
excited to be here, I've never been busier. We've been dropping a lot
of investigators though. It's always sad, but at the same time it's
really relieving that we don't have to waste our time there anymore. I
have some good/bad news from Charlotte, (our Spanish Zone leaders are
there, and they gave me an update when I called last night) Remember
Victor? He had a baptismal date, and the day was approaching, and he
had to move for his work. Bummer, he should be back though in a couple
of months. I'm sure he'll go through with it. Same exact story for
Luciano, another guy I taught with Elder Marks. The good news is that
Sebastian, one of my favorite investigators from there still talks about
me all the time. His family is not supportive at all, they are
JWs/Catholics, and they are all pretty anti, but he still remembers the
way he felt when I bore testimony to him the first time about Joseph
Smith and the Book of Mormon. He always asks how I'm doing, and that
means a ton to me. I hope he gets baptized someday. I was thinking a
while back that Sebastian was the reason I stayed in Charlotte for so
long, he was the only person I really felt really close to. Very cool
news to hear that even though his family threw away his pamphlets and
his copy of the Book of Mormon, he got more and is still reading all the
time. Woohoo!

Spanish Zone Conference was going to be this weekend, but they cancelled
it because of the gas prices. The hurricane (hmm, why hadn't I heard of
a hurricane??) broke a major gas line in Mississippi and so gas is
expected to hit $5 a gallon by this weekend. It hit 3 for the first
time yesterday. Bummer, eh? It's all good, we'll go see all our
Spanish companions next weekend.

Well, that's all I've got for now. Everything is going well, and
everyone is doing fine. Thanks for everything, and for your prayers,
they help a lot. I love you, have a great week.

Love, Brian Harris

Brian Email 8-25-05

Hi family,

Thanks for the letter, as always. I had a ton of emails today, but not
very many were interesting. I have a lot of "business" stuff, we are
trying to contact organizations to do service for, and they like to
email us, and I also get a lot of real estate newsletters. One of our
members was looking at houses, and didn't have email, so we gave the
realtor my address, and now I get all that stuff. It's fun to look at
once in a while just to see the houses and prices. I think real estate
is fascinating, but at the same time, I can't do anything about it and
it's pretty boring in comparison to missionary work and studying the

Did Michael show y'all the mountain where we saw the big ol' mountain
goats? That big mountain on the back side of the far lake is really
something isn't it? I would love to climb it someday but I'd probably
die. I miss mountains so much. They just aren't the same here. When
folks refer to "the mountains", they mean the Appalachians (they
pronounce that word different too, I don't know how to explain it in
writing though) and the Appalachians are NOTHING. They are foothills.
They are a child's plaything. I'm looking forward to looking at real,
rugged cliffs and peaks again. Too bad I can't go hiking when I come
home, it will be winter.

That is so wild that Tyler and Jon and Tom and Joe are all home already.
That blows my mind. But then again, Brent and Stephen and Jason and
Austin and my other friends Ryan and Steve and Kelv have already hit
their first year mark too. I figured out last night that out of the 25
Spanish missionaries in the mission, 11 go home before me, and 11 go
home after me. I'm dead center, tied with 2 others that go home with
me. That was wierd to me. I have some questions for Jon Summers about
West Virginia. I've heard a lot about it. Could you get me Tyler's
address too?

I'm doing well here, more or less. We had zone conference yesterday,
and I really enjoyed it a lot. I'm pretty good friends with both our
zone leaders, we live close to them, and I talk to them every night.
They are good missionaries. We talked a lot about listening to people,
and about using the Book of Mormon better. I really love the Book of
Mormon more now than I ever have in my life. I could spend my whole
life just reading it over and over. The purpose of the Book of Mormon
is not to help me understand the storyline, or the history of America,
but to help me strengthen my testimony of and relationship with Jesus
Christ. That's really what it has done for me, in the last year
especially. I always thought I "knew" it pretty well, but there is
always something more, something I've missed time and again. There are
so many verses that are phrased so perfectly for what I need every day.
Every day I read something that I want to share with someone. If I
could share all of the scriptures, I would. That's why we give away
copies of the Book of Mormon, so they can find every verse for
themselves. Missionaries are always supposed to bear testimony of it,
but now I'm more excited to, because I have personal experiences with
it. Now it matters to me. Before my mission I always read it, but it
never mattered so much as it does now. That's how I know I'm growing.
I'm not making very good progress on the goal to read it before the end
of the year. I started it right away, and I read every day, but I can't
seem to keep up. It's roughly 5 pages a day I think, I've been
averaging 3.

We ran into Jose Luis last night, we had an appointment, but when we got
to his apartment he wasn't home, I was about to write a note and put it
on his door, but he pulled up and apologized for not being there. He
was pretty busy, but he told us that we could come back tomorrow
(tonight). He told us he had been reading the Book of Mormon, and that
he liked it. Hopefully he's sharing it with his wife too. If not,
we'll challenge him to. He's got a way cool family, but usually his
wife will take the kids into the bedroom when we come over. Spanish
people are always worried about their kids making noise and stuff, so
she hasn't really heard anything from us. We'll see how they're doing

We also have been getting some referrals. Our branch president ran into
a guy at the mechanic and started a conversation about the Gospel. He
gave us his name and phone number, but he wanted us to wait until he
could invite his new friend to a family home evening before we visit
with him. Then our first counselor called us and said he had a family
from Venezuela for us. We are going over there on Friday to eat with
them, and we'll have a good time and get to know each other. His excuse
for inviting the missionaries is that I have been wanting to meet some
Venezuelans my whole mission, because I wasn't able to go down there,
and haven't met any. It's a good excuse, and it's true. It should be
fun. Our branch rocks here. Their goal for baptisms this year was 12,
and they haven't had any yet, but everyone is pushing so hard to make it
happen. I love it, I've never been busier in my life. I think this
branch can do it, we have one lined up, a less active's 11 year old
daughter. Then we can work really hard with about three families we
have now, and we'll be pretty close then. We still have 5 months to go,
so we'll push as hard as we can until the end. I'm so excited to be
here during this phase of the branch's growth. It's so little still,
but everyone wants to do so much more. We pray every night, morning,
and every prayer in between to be led to a family who is ready for the
gospel. I think it's working. When we find our family, we'll look for
another one.

Thanks for everything, I love you all so much. I only have 2 minutes
left on the computer, I'm in the library. Have a great week, I'll talk
to you next week.

Love, Elder Harris

Brian Email 8-18-05

Hola familia mia,

Como estan todos? I'm doing all right, but things are getting a little
stressful lately. I already told y'all that I'm training, but I haven't
mentioned much about my greenie. He's usually pretty cool, but in some
ways it's a little frustrating. I don't mean to sound negative, but he
has had a very very sheltered life, and the South is killing him. I had
to explain what the YMCA is and Goodwill stores, he had never heard of
either, and I can't even imagine what else he doesn't know about. He
didn't know that Catholics think highly of the Virgin until I told him.
Haha, it's going to be a fun three months. I've had just a little fun
with telling him lies, but I always told him I was kidding. He's
definitely different from all my other companions so far, but he's a
good guy and he wants to learn everything.

This week has seemed really long, we have been stood up a lot, and we've
finished tracting all our favorite apartments, so now we have to look
for more. All that is left is farther away, so we have to spend whole
days up there tracting to make it mile-efficient, but the days seem so
much longer when we spend all day in one spot. It's still mad hot out,
it has been mid 90's all week, I come home soaked every night just from
the humidity and sweat.

As for good news, we went yesterday and followed up with a lady we had
taught once, and she said she had been reading the Testimony of Jose
Smith and that she had been praying about it and felt like it was all
true. We invited her to be baptized and she said yes. We asked her
when she could be ready, and she said, in a month. We'll see if she
becomes the branch's first baptism in 14 months. We just have to get
her to church and teach her the rest of the lessons, how hard could it
be? All our other investigators have been a little flaky lately.
Silvina hasn't been to church in a few weeks, and Edwin is still hiding
from us. Nancy came to church two weeks ago, but hasn't been as
consistent as she was before her "baptismal" date. But Juan Carlos came
to church. I forget if I've mentioned him or not, but he's a pretty
chill guy. He said he liked Sacrament meeting a lot, and that this week
he is going to come for all three hours. Another new investigator that
Elder Mitchell and I found says he got Sunday off this week and that he
wants to come too. They live right next to each other, so maybe they
can fellowship each other or something. We also talked a little bit
last night with Juan Carlos and some of his neighbors, they seem cool
enough. We're going to try to teach something next time, now that we
have a foundation of friendship.

We have a lot to look forward to, there is way too much work to do
though. When we tract 10 hours a week, we end up following up about 10
hours also, and then we have all the referrals from our branch to
contact, plus two pages of media referrals... We hardly have time for
our other investigators. It's always so hard to make time for everyone.
When we planned for the week on Monday, we already had Saturday full of
appointments, and about 12 other appointments during the week already
scheduled. We are so backed up I don't know what to do. Teaching
people every other week doesn't work very well either because they
forget everything, it's a little frustrating. And President Noel wants
us to teach English one night a week, so we'll have to fit that in
somewhere, I think we'll start it next week sometime, and let our branch
president announce it at church.

I didn't know Andy was 1st assistant, maybe I just forgot though.
Congratulaions! And he's a senior... How did he like white water
rafting? It doesn't really exist here, all the "rivers" are too small
and muddy. Did they go with Bro. Loveland? He always liked going with
my group because there were a lot of us and not a lot who couldn't hack
it. He always said we were more responsible than a lot of other groups
he takes. How did mom end up going, was it Priests/Laurels? Oh, and
speaking of that, I just learned a cool phrase last night from my zone
leader, it's "Double Date District", that's the kind I'm in because it's
two Elders and two Sisters. I thought it was funny.

Congratulations to David on his mission call. He's not speaking Spanish
is he? Then he could talk to Julie and Stephanie and Michael, that
would be cool. Tell him the South is awesome. I have some really good
friends in Texas. Oh wait, only one now, the others are home already.
I forgot. I used to know people in his mission, and I know a few that
will be getting home from missions and going back home to Dallas.

And that's all I have for now. Have a good week, don't have too much
fun in school. Have a good family reunion/BYC. :)

Love, Brian

Brian Email 8-11-05

Subject: From your favorite missionary

Hey family,

Thanks a billion for the package, I really appreciate the ties and the
kool-aid mix. With Spanish people it's nothing but orange juice, I like
to have something else when I get home tired. The chocolate was a
little melty because of my metal mailbox, but it's in the fridge now.
Thanks again.

I met a guy who knows the Claremont Harrises, he's the high councilman
for the Spanish branch, and he told me I have the "Harris look". His
name is Ed Allen. He remembers dad, and Don and Gayle, and Caroline,
but doesn't remember the younger ones too well. He was wondering how
you're all doing. I think he took Caroline on a few dates. He gives
you all his greetings, and wanted to wish Grandma and Grandpa good luck,
he respects them a lot.

And in other news, I didn't get transferred this week, but my companion
did. I now have another greenie (they just keep coming...) named Elder
Olson from Ephraim, Utah. I'm also district leader and I'll be working
with one of the Spanish sisters I knew in Charlotte, Sister Packer. Her
companion is brand new also, and she's from Mexico called to speak
English. They'll be working in the English ward and focusing on English
work, but if they run into any Spanish people they'll be able to help.
Also, when we have single sisters, they can go visit them. I have a lot
of stuff to deal with that I didn't have before, there's always one more
challenge to be added. It's going to be fun though. I have two
greenies in my district, and Sister Packer has only been out one
transfer more than I have. We'll see how it all goes.

My companion seems pretty cool. I haven't had much time to get to know
him yet, but he strikes me as someone who doesn't want to have any
problems in the companionship. He wants to just go with the flow, which
is good I guess. I think he's the kind of person that won't get
offended if I or others correct him. I'll have to write more when I
know more though. Those are just my first impressions.

Everything is going well here, we have had some more cool tracting
experiences, the work is moving forward. I don't know. I'm pretty
tired, so I'm not thinking of anything to write. Have a great week.

Love, Elder Brian Harris

Brian Email 8-4-05

Hi family,

I have some great stories this week. They're not really hugely
important, but they made my week a lot better. First of all, on Sunday
we were driving around trying to find people (investigators, members,
less active members, strangers...) and NOBODY was home, or else they
were busy. We ended up driving 80 miles that day, and couldn't find a
single person to talk to... it was pretty rough, but then my companion
spotted a "deep burgundy Brunswick bowling ball bag" on the side of the
road. We stopped, he ran out in the rain and brought it back to the
car. It smelled terrible! It smelled like some animal crawled in it
and died, and then some dog claimed it for his own. But we took it and
it was pretty heavy, so we assumed there was a bowling ball inside.
There was. We cleaned it a lot, and it smells all right now, and we
have a bowling ball, and some shoes and a polishing rag now. Que

Then, yesterday we were tracting and stumbled across an apartment that
had been abandoned for years, and in the grass there by the door, we
found an old record album. It was totally The Beatles' "Love Songs" on
vinyl, with John Lennon's "Imagine" soundtrack to the movie. Incredible
find. Elder Mitchell is sending "Love Songs" to his mom, "Imagine" is
mine, who has a record player that would enjoy it? Do Julie and Scott
have one?

Also tracting yesterday, we found a cool investigator. We taught him
the restoration lesson, and he gobbled it up. He had lots of questions,
but my favorite one was this one, "So you say that this Joseph Smith
wanted to find the true church, and when he asked God, that God and
Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him there wasn't a true church but
then he restored His church through another living prophet?" He totally
understood everything, enough to repeat it back, (with more details than
this, I just didn't want to type them all). Usually when we tell that
story, we ask about an obvious part, and they just stare back at us and
say something like "anything to do with God is good..." Not this guy.
He asked when we would get another prophet, he seemed a little bummed
that this happened 200 years ago, so we explained that there is a
prophet today, and his eyes just lit up, it was amazing. He said he had
always beleived that God would call another prophet, but the Bible never
said where or when or who. He loved it, and he said how natural it all
seemed that God would reveal another book of scripture to clarify the
lost truths that have been taken out of the bible. He promised us he
would read the Book of Mormon and pray about it before we even tried to
commit him to do it. It was a really great lesson. Elder Mitchell even
did most of the talking, he's getting so much better with his Spanish,
he's making a lot of progress, fast. Then this guy's 6 year old kid
went tracting with us until we finished the rest of the building. He
told us where all the Spanish people lived, and he told us about all of
the people. It was funny, we gave him a couple of pass-along cards and
he was happy. He called them his "Diositos" or I guess it could be
translated God-lets or something like that.

As for our other potential baptisms, they haven't been back to church
yet, they're pretty embarrassed that they didn't go that day, and they
don't want everyone to judge them. I would love to tell them that no
one would do that, but the branch has pretty much no faith in them
anymore. The Relief Society President told us we were dumb for not
dropping them. Hmmm... We'll have to see. Edwin won't talk to us
still, he hides in his room when we go over, so that's kind of hard.
We'll just have to wait for him to cool down.

Overall, everything is going well here. I'm having a blast and having a
lot of fun here. Winston-Salem is a really odd little town, it always
keeps me on my toes. I'm starting to love the South, it's really really
different from back home, but it's got a lot of character.

I hope the bike trip goes okay for Dad and Andy. What did Michael and
the Scouts do this year? Maybe you already told me, but I forgot... I'm
not sure. Tell Bro. McDaniel good luck for me, I still think about the
scouts a lot, and I have some good stories to tell people here from last
summer. Well, that's about it for this week, I'll talk to y'all later.

Love, Brian Harris