Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 20

Skyping on Christmas!

Well hey everyone!
 I kinda like this whole talk to you twice a week thing! Christmas here is weird. On Christmas eve we actually didn´t have very many lessons fall through and were able to teach quite a few people, but then we had to come back home before it got dark, and we were under house arrest until 3 o clock Christmas day. It was really boring and we couldn´t sleep because the colmado(store) underneath us was playing music ALL NIGHT.
 Dominicans pretty much celebrate Christmas by eating a big meal with their family and then going out and drinking all night. Then Christmas day they sleep all day, which makes it really hard to teach lessons, and then we had to head back a little early that night too because Dominicans do it all over again and drink all night on the 25th too.
So we have kinda had a slow week but we found this new investigator named Mariabell. She is blind and so we thought she just wanted us to come over because she was lonely, but when we came she had her mom and daughter there too and they all had really good questions and we started teaching them about the plan of salvation and they loved it! They didn´t even hesitate to say yes when we invited them to come to church on Sunday and they said they loved it! I´m not looking forward to new year’s because that means another two days of house arrest (this time without presents to open) but we have enough snacks that I think we will survive :) I hope you all had a good Christmas!

Elder Harsh
His apartment- Not too bad.

This is their Branch building- It used to be Disco tech night club....interesting!
Elder Granada and Elder Harsh getting ready to kill this spider below!

This is the spider from a few letter's ago that was in their apartment!  It was bigger than Elder Harsh's hand.  And yes, they killed it!
Parts and pieces!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 19

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

This week was a good one! We had the Christmas activity last Thursday and we had a great turnout!! We easily doubled the amount of people that usually show up on Sunday and over half of them were investigators! We got tons of references from the members and so if we weren´t busy enough now we have tons of new people to go find and teach! Also yesterday we were walking to an appointment and this girl stops us and starts talking to us. At first I was nervous because she was our age and the girls here are....uh....outgoing.....buuuuut turns out her family was taught by missionaries a few years ago but the missionaries got transfered and they lost contact with them but they are still interested and we made a return appointment with them this Thursday!

 Also we had the Baptisms this Saturday!!! I love baptisms even though they are usually really stressful! We still didn´t have a plug so we used the plastic bag again and just left the water running so we had plenty of water this time. My companion baptized them and all was going well until it was time for the Branch President to give his welcome to the church talk and him nor any of his councilors showed up! So E. Zetina went to go make a few phone calls while I had to give an impromptu talk in Spanish! I don´t really remember what I said but I definitely had a lot of help because I ended up talking for 15 mins. while the ward mission leader came to fill the place of the president. But they were awesome and both of them were so happy afterwards! As for Christmas, I got my packages!  Thank you! I can’t wait! We get to eat with a member which is usually against the rules so I´m excited for that! But besides that we are confined to our houses from 3 in the afternoon Christmas Eve to 3 in the afternoon on Christmas. But we can leave to go call our family and we finally found a place that we can skype! Hopefully it all works out! Will you have Dad make me a skype account so I don’t have to waste time on Christmas doing that? We will be calling around 1:30 in the afternoon DR time so make sure you figure out the time difference! If all goes well we should be able to skype! I can´t wait to talk to you guys!!

Elder Harsh

What Christmas looks like in the Dominican.
My Christmas tree and decorations

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 18

Hi Everyone!
Well transfers were this past week and both me and my companion are staying here, which is good because we have two baptisms coming up this Saturday! One is a ten year old boy who his whole family is active now, but when he was 8 his family wasn´t active so he was never baptized. I gave him one of those CTR rings you sent me and every time I see him he sticks out his fist and says haz lo justo(Do the right)! He really liked that gift so… way to go mommy!
 The other one is a lady named Alba. She is really timid and at first it was hard to teach her but the lesson after we taught her about the book of Mormon (and to pray to see if it’s true) she said she felt really happy and peaceful when she read the book! So I quickly broke out the scripture in Gal. 5:22 about the fruits of the spirit and ever since then she has been super interested and she has progressed really well! Both of them are very ready for their baptisms!! This week we had the baptismal interviews with Alba, and during the interview it was just me sitting with a member away from the interview. I thought it was going to be awkward just sitting there but he started talking to me and before I knew it 30 minutes had gone by and the interview was over! I had a one on one conversation with no help for almost 30 minutes !!!  It was a great realization afterwards!
We also have an activity coming up this Thursday where we will show a part of the Christmas devotional and have food. On Sunday we gave book of Mormons to members and made them promise to highlight a few of their favorite scriptures and bring them on Thursday, along with a friend and so if all goes right it will be a really good finding activity for us!
 Also this week this crazy guy runs up to me and he thought because I was white and dressed up that I was Jesus. I tried to explain that I´m just a missionary, but when I showed him my missionary badge, the second biggest name on there is Jesus Christ, so that didn´t help. I wasn´t getting anywhere with him so I just told him I have people to teach and lives to bless and he grabbed my hand, bowed down and started kissing it over and over again. I don´t know why Jesus is ok with that because I thought it was really weird! I kinda walked off and he kept shouting different prayers and stuff. It was very entertaining. Anyways I´ll be sure to fill you in on how the Baptisms go this week! Hopefully we can get more water in the font!

Elder Harsh

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 17

Hi Everyone!
This week I had my baptisms!! It was such a good experience to see how the choice of being baptized has influenced both the families! The inactive mom has attended 4 Sundays in a row now, and the other parents have a new sense of urgency to get married so they can be baptized and eventually sealed as a family!
 It was such a neat experience but the situation was kind of funny. First off,  the font takes 3 hours to fill, and since we have to travel 45 mins to the stake center to use the font, we had to sit around for three hours and after all this time of always doing something, it was really weird to have nothing to do! Luckily I brought a Liahona to read or else I probably would have died. Also, we couldn´t find the plug for the font, so we had to shove a plastic bag down the drain to try and stop the water. It kinda worked, but Juan Miguel is really tall and so his knees popped out of the water so I had to redo his baptism. Somehow I remembered all the names and we ended with the youngest kid Dioveni. He is 8 years old, and after they shut the doors to the font we were walking up the stairs, he noticed that nobody could see him because the doors to see into the font were shut so he jumped from the top stair and started swimming around in the font. It probably wasn´t exactly appropriate but I was laughing so hard there was nothing I could do about it!
                The next day they were confirmed and again, there isn´t any way to describe the feeling of joy I had! It kinda gave me a new view of Moses 1:39.
I´ve seen the video “Share the gift” in Spanish and it’s really good! We encourage investigators to go watch it, but nobody here has computers so I don´t know how many actually go to an internet place and watch it.
 I´m literally always hot, but this week it rained and the temperature might have dropped below 80, so you could say its winter here too! The mosquito’s aren´t too bad, but I always have at least one bite somewhere on me.
Quick story, I saw my fist voodoo thingy the other day! Haitians were playing bongos and doing this weird creole chant around this fire with candles around it and they were throwing sawdust in it to make it flash and this one guy was like having a seizure and the spirit was gone and it was super sketch. When we walked by an hour later after the lesson everyone was gone but there was a wooden cross dressed up like a person with three candles in front of it. Crap is weird here!! I love it!
We do service projects about once a transfer with the zone and whenever the ward organizes one or someone needs our help.
I got your package and I really enjoyed decorating for Christmas and my companion enjoyed taking a nap before weekly planning haha. We have the little train set up and we wear our Santa hats during planning every night haha. I really liked reading the notes from everyone, so thanks for that! I hope everything is good back in Utah!
                Things are going good and if everything works out we should be having at least two more baptisms in the next month! I’ll tell you more about them next week when we firm up the details!
 It was such a good week!

Elder Harsh

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 16

Hi Everyone!
Well its T minus 5 days to my first 4 baptisms and I couldn´t be more excited! It’s the 3 kids of the investigators who are waiting to get married, and the other one is the son of the less active lady, who is now active in the church! During the interviews, Elder Zetina asked who they wanted to baptize them and they chose me! I am really excited but now I have to learn how to baptize in Spanish, and memorize all their full names. People have like 7 names here! But I am really excited and am really looking forward to that!
 We didn´t have any kind of thanksgiving here. I didn´t even know it was thanksgiving until one of the sisters told me at the zone meeting. I have the conference report magazine so you don´t need to worry about sending me any conference talks. Do you know what zone Schlyer is in? We walk everywhere, but when we have our zone meetings we take a cab to get there. The taxis here are really really scary to ride in. Picture my Demolition derby car with windows, and you have one of the better looking taxis. Also the streets here are straight nuts.  Luckliy most of my area is in the boonies so I don´t have to deal with that too much. I can´t wait for my baptism and I will be sure to tell you all about it next week!
Also if you haven´t already sent the other package –could you put a few baseballs in there that would be great. Kids here don´t have baseballs and I would like to have a few to give away over the course of my mission. For example there is this six year old member that every p day comes and we play catch for a few minutes while he walks to school. He has a mitt but no ball and I would love to give him one for Christmas!

Elder Harsh

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 15

Hi Everyone!
Well it happened!  I finally found a woman who can grow more facial hair than I can. That was a blow to my self esteem.
                Anyways… this week was very good. My companion is from Mexico and this week he cooked a bunch of Mexican food! It is a well known fact that if you cook me yummy food I will literally do ANYTHING, so I’ve been on kitchen duty all week and because the food was so yummy I didn´t even mind! Also we don’t have cupboards so after you wash the plates all I have to do is put them in the basket thingy haha.
Also it’s so hot here that I didn´t have ski fever at all until last week when Hayden told me Solitude is opening, and I unpacked my olympic ski tie and daydreamed about skiing all last week.  I´m not saying it’s a problem, but I have been having some serious adrenaline withdrawls! haha.
 Last week on P day we went and explored the jungle, and it was SO COOL! I forgot my camera, but no worries, we are going back to take pictures today after I play baseball with an investigator! But let’s just say I can now cross off ¨swing from a vine in the jungle like Tarzan¨ off my bucket list. I love it here.
 President Corbit has a rule that he only allows us to listen to music appropriate for sacrament meeting, so I don’t think you need to bother sending me any music.
 As for my investigators, this week was so good! Elder Zetina has been making me lead all of the lessons and extend all the commitment invitations and it is really helping my Spanish! Rarely do I have to ask for his help when explaining a concept! Also we have been really pushing to get investigators to come to church, because people here are lazy. Usually we would just have Alejandro y Jubelis and their family, and maybe one other investigator, but we really worked hard on explaining why church attendance is important and last week we had 8 investigators attend, and this week we had 13!! We have 4 baptisms coming up on the 6th of December. The kids of Alejandro y Jubelis, and one other that I don´t think I have told you about. He is 14, and the son of a less active lady. We re-taught the lady the restoration one day, and left a little booklet for her to study, but honestly I didn´t feel like she had much desire to return to church. The next lesson we show up and her son read the booklet, prayed about it, and he wanted to learn more and be baptized. He is very ready for baptism on the 6th, and he and his mom are attending church now!  We have a few others that have a goal for the 12th and 20th of December as well, so we will have to see how it goes! Well that’s about everything that’s going on with me!
Until next week!

Elder Harsh

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 14

Hi Everyone!
Well it finally happened. It was last Monday night, I was still with the zone leader who speaks English and we were just chillin in our room talking when A SPIDER THE SIZE OF A MID-SIZED SEDAN RUNS INTO THE ROOM. This sucker was bigger than my hand!! My comp saw it first and he said ¨Wow that’s a big cockroach¨ I was pumped to see a massive cockroach and I peek over the side of my bed and it was a SPIDER! So I calmly squished it and went on with my night. PSHYCH!!!  I freaking lost my mind and it crawled under my comp´s bed! My comp moved the bed and it climbed up into the corner against the ceiling. I was a little distracted at the time, but my comp grabbed my camera and filmed us taking care of it, so I’ll send that home to you soon. It was not a good day.
 Anyways I got my new companion and his name is Elder Zetina. He is a really nice guy from Mexico and yeah, you guessed it, He doesn´t speak English. In this week I think he has said 2 words in English haha He speaks really really fast too. It’s really difficult to understand him, but it’s also helping me understand the Dominicans so it’s all good! This week I started actually understanding a lot of what was being said. I am teaching a lot better and I even led a few lessons this week!
 I haven´t used my mitt yet because if the kids have a ball, it’s just the stringy insides and its usually mildewy and gross, so I just borrow their mitt for a few minutes in between lessons. But today I am going to use my mitt when we play baseball with a less active and his buddies, so I´m pumped for that! We go to this internet place to email that has 3 computers that work (on a good day) and usually the power lasts long enough for me to write everyone! 
We are in the same apartment and I don’t really know where to get the ingredients to cook any treats, but Elder Zetina knows how to cook Mexican food and he really wants to cook it this week. HECK YEAH! If all goes well this will be the first week in 3 months I haven´t had rice! Elder Zetina really likes to cook, so while he cooks lunch I read out loud from the Book of Mormon in Spanish and he corrects my errors. It works out really well.  I’ve read the Book of Mormon twice since I’ve been out here, and each time I feel like it’s brand new. I am studying Jesus the Christ right now to help me understand the life and ministry of Christ because the people here are mostly Catholic so I figure it will help me. But that’s about everything for this week!
Love you!

Elder Harsh

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 13

Hi everyone!
This week has been different but very good! The first part of the week I was in a trio in a city called Yamasa. It´s about an hour away from my old area, and the houses are nicer. We had power a lot more often but we only had running water on the back porch. On the bright side I am now a champion at bucket showers! So we served in that area and most of it was more city- like but part of it was out in the boonies. We had to hop across rocks to cross a river to get to one of our investigators houses. It was awesome. Also coming back from that house at night I saw fireflies! So that was dope.
The plan was to serve with them and work in Punta with our progressing investigators once a week, but that got changed and now I am with one of the Zone Leaders in Punta until tomorrow, when I get my new companion and work permanently in Punta. The Zone Leader is from Utah, and it has been the best three days of my life with him, because I finally have someone I can have conversation with! It also helps because my Spanish is getting to a point where I have very specific grammar questions or need to know how to say a phrase where a direct translation doesn´t work, so it’s nice being able to ask him.  I really hope that my new companion speaks English, because none of my other companions have and it’s difficult!
 We have 4 people with a baptism date for December 6th! The kids of Alejandro and Jubelis are going to be baptized while they wait for their parent´s to get married, and then after they are married the parents will be baptized too! The 4th one is the son of a less active lady. We taught her twice and on the second lesson we gave a very powerful lesson about keeping the Sabbath day holy and I committed her to come to church and she did! After sacrament meeting she came up to me and told me she wanted me to baptize her son.  So we went to teach him and he is very interested and wants to be baptized!
Today since I had an English comp I figured he could help me find a place to get a good haircut. We searched all over town to find someone that sort of knows how to cut white people hair, and the entire time he was bragging to his buddies that he gets to cut ¨perfect hair¨. That’s what they call white person hair haha. It wasn´t that bad of a haircut but I hated every second of it!  haha, as for me, I´m doing good. It has really helped having an English comp these past few days.  He has helped my teaching a ton. I really hope that my next companion speaks English. But I’m doing good and I´ll try and take some pictures to send home to you.

Elder Harsh

Week 12

Elder Harsh was transferred this week and didn't write a letter.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 11

Hello Everyone!
I GOT MY PACKAGE!!! It was like Christmas except I was hot and didn´t have skis on my feet. I´m starting to get ski fever already! But the package was awesome and I am enjoying the treats!
This week was kind of a bummer though. We had two families with a baptism date, and one family the wife is progressing really well but the husband refuses to get married because he says he doesn´t know if he loves his wife and son enough. That was a really awkward lesson because the wife was right next to him on the couch as he was saying all that! So until they get married they can’t be baptized. Also, our other family who had a baptism date were going to get married, but the husbands birth certificate has the wrong date on it so he has to get a new birth certificate and ID before they can get married, and I guess that is a long process here. So they are a no go for now, but the kids really want to be baptized so we might baptize them and then just wait to baptize the parents later. On the bright side we found two other families who are very interested and are progressing well. As for your questions, my companion told me I needed a haircut this morning, but I refused and told him I will next week. I’m not looking forward to that!
My stuffy nose is the same here, so that’s kind a disappointment. I was thinking I might have a normal sinus system for two years but nope! Haha We usually eat rice and beans with either chicken, beef, or pork. The meat here is really different and it makes me really miss Texas roadhouse. We also cut up onions and tomatoes, mix with a little vinegar, and dump that on our rice. It sounds gross but it’s actually pretty good! As for our branch, it’s really good! These people are really dedicated and always have references and are willing to come along for teaching and everything. The branch president was really good, but he just got called as 2nd counselor in the stake presidency, so we got a new president yesterday. Hopefully he will be good, but he has big shoes to fill. I ALMOST had to give an impromtu talk in church, and I was terrified out of my mind. They told me before it started that I need to talk for 5 or ten minutes and I was freaking out, because if I said every word I know in Spanish it probably wouldn´t be 5 minutes, but luckily the meeting was running late so I didn´t have to speak! That’s a tender mercy right there!  The language is progressing good and me and my companion get along very well, except for the fact that he is obsessed with primary songs. He has them on CD and plays them every morning and I swear if I have to hear a little kid sing follow the prophet in Spanish one more time I might die. That song has like 20 verses! But life is good and this week marks the end of my first transfer!
Elder Harsh

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 10

Hi All,
First off to answer your questions! No I didn´t get my package but I am really excited for it! There are a ton of inactive families, almost a fourth of our teaching bank are in-actives!  The families we are teaching are doing very well. We have 2 families with a baptism date, and one is doing so good and is completely ready. The other family the husband is kind of apprehensive but the wife is really interested. They didn´t come to church last week so this week we committed them again and went to their house Sunday morning and they were ready! It was awesome! We had two brand new investigators come to church too. We also contacted this one family that was really interested in our message. They asked us when we could return, the dad offered to say the closing prayer, and when we left both me and Elder Palomino said that we feel good about that family!
 I sleep fine except for a few days ago our inverter broke so we don’t have power very often. I´m getting really good at cooking dinner with a flashlight in my mouth, and the only time it really sucks not having power is trying to sleep without a fan because it’s so dang hot! No I haven’t bothered setting up my mosquito net and I don’t really need to in this area. We have a stove and oven but the oven doesn´t work.  Also we get to light the stove with matches and you know how much I like playing with matches!
The Spanish is coming along but it is definitely the hardest part of the mission. I feel like once I learn this Language I won’t have a dang thing to complain about.  I can almost always clumsily express my ideas in Spanish now but understanding people is a whole different story. I try and study Spanish every day and I have been reading out loud from the Book of Mormon in Spanish to improve my pronunciation. It’s tough but it’s slowly getting better. 
It rains a crap ton here but only for 10-20 minutes at a time. The flooding usually isn´t deep, but if it rains really hard our kitchen floods so that’s cool. We have a branch out here of about 50 people on a good day, and it’s just up the street from our apartment. We have zone and district meetings every Thursday, and I’ve seen my mission president once so far.
 I’ve got plenty of funny stories haha one that happened yesterday is I was walking on the street and my comp was walking on the sidewalk. It was dark and the sidewalk ended in a 4 foot drop but we couldn´t see it, so out of nowhere my companion falls into Narnia and I was so confused where he went! We had to run home and change because he got all muddy haha. It’s awesome here and even though I rarely know what’s going on, I love it!
Also we had the best numbers in the mission this week and got neat hats and pizza! 

Elder Harsh

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 9

Hi Everyone!
Well just like that it’s been two months! It feels like I was in the CCM forever ago, and I’ts weird to thing only two more weeks until my first transfer is done!
To answer your questions, Our grocery store is a small store that we live above, but every Thursday after zone and district meetings we travel into the city to buy meat and other  things that if we bought at the store at our house we would probably die! Yes mom I’m taking my vitamins and the mission office is only about 45 minutes from my area. I think my zone is called Villa Mella or something like that… and its one state above the state that Santo Domingo and the CCM are in. I´m not really close to the ocean and the mosquito’s aren´t too bad here, but I do have a few bites!  Me and my companion get along because it’s literally impossible for us to fight.  It’s kinda hard to insult someone when you don’t know any insults in their language, ya know_ anyways the language is coming along slow but sure. I am to the point where if I need to say something, 90% of the time I can get my idea across to the people, so this coming week I will be working a lot on understanding people which is a daily struggle.
We have a family who has a baptism date and they came to stake conference this week! That meant they had to save enough money for a concho (taxi) ride to get to the stake center 15 minutes away! It was so good to see them there and see their dedication! I can’t wait for their baptism!! They are so ready for it! We have a few other families who are considering baptism, so I will let you know how that goes!
I won’t have a chance to see meet the Mormons but it sounds cool!
This week there was a lizard in my apartment so I caught it and used the trick to put it to sleep and that killed it and now my companion thinks I’m a crazy lizard killer. So there’s that.
Talk to you next week!

Elder Harsh

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 8

Elder Keven Blake Harsh
Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission
SDQ 4102
2250 NW 114 Ave Unit 1A
Miami FL, 33172-3652
Hi Everyone!
     Well my first full week is behind me and its awesome here! Everybody is so nice and everyday feels like an adventure because of the tin shacks and stuff. I am in an area called Punta, we cook out of old pots and pans, and have running water most of the time! We have a fridge, but usually the power is out so it doesn´t keep things very cold. I've had to use powdered milk for cereal which basically dyes the water white but still tastes like water! We eat rice and platanas and some other stuff a lot and its different but good!
      I've gotten very good at teaching lessons by candlelight because it seems like the power goes out whenever we have a lesson at night! I still am having trouble understanding people, but I am able to participate in the lessons a lot more! My companion is from Nicaragua so that's sick!
     We got to watch conference in English!!! I was so relieved! Me and five other missionaries huddled in the clerks office at the stake center to watch it on his little computer! and HOLY CRAP! If conference was always that good, I wouldn´t have slept through it back at home so much! Haha!  I took pages and pages of notes with thoughts and scriptures that came to mind and have been studying that as part of my personal study! I never though conference could be that good! Tell sister Gilmore I finally know what it means to be truly edified!
     We have a family of 5 investigators with a baptism date! We had to bump it back to November 15th because they weren´t married yet, but they are working on that and truly want to live the gospel! The first visit we had we met with just the parents and taught them how to pray, and a few visits later all the kids were there and they said the opening and closing prayer. The parents taught them how to pray very well and I was so happy to see their progression!
Elder Harsh

Friday, October 3, 2014

Typical Meal in the Dominican

Rainstorm in the Dominican
Arial view of the CCM and the Dominican Temple.

Blake at the Temple

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 7

Holy crap this week has been crazy! Last Tuesday we left the CCM and all of the friends we had made and drove out to the mission office. There we met our companions and aye mi madre, MY COMPANION DOESN´T SPEAK ENGLISH!!! He speaks about as much English as I do Spanish, So I have to walk by faith a lot and basically copy everything he does. He is a really nice guy but that language barrier is a doozy! Something he does a lot- is try and ask me a question, but only asks half of it and then expects me to answer.  For example- he will say "before we leave..." and then look at me like I´m supposed to say something!  Haha it’s tough but hopefully this will help me learn Spanish!
We have a pretty nice house, but we don’t have power very often. We do have a gnarly generator thingy though! its two car batteries chained to our porch! It keeps one light on and runs the fans so what more do you need! 
Oh, I didn´t want to tell you, but I got strep in the CCM and that sucked! But I got a Priesthood blessing and it went away in 3 days so it ended up being a testimony builder to get strep! Imagine that! Haha It’s crazy here! I don´t have much time, but it’s really poor. We have one of the nicest places in the area and it’s a small apartment above a sketchy store. We have a pretty nice house and we clean it every p day so don’t worry! Yes I eat and its chicken, potatoes, rice, beans, and a bunch of stuff that I don’t know what it is and I can’t ask because my comp doesn´t speak English! Haha. Our next door neighbors live in tin shacks. Our area is about half paved roads and half dirt roads. The more wealthy people live in concrete houses, and the poorer people live in tin or wood shacks, and again, about half live in concrete houses and half live in shacks.
The people are really nice and always invite us in to hear what we have to say. Because we can’t communicate well I´m not sure if we opened the area or just both got here but me and my comp had to start at square 1, but we already have a family with a baptism date! We have two others that are close, and a bunch of others who are interested that we need to teach more! Even though it’s hotter than Satan´s armpit, I absolutely love it here!
Yes please send my baseball glove! After this, we are going to play baseball with some kids and I´m  pumped! Also send clear packing tape, because it rains a lot and I need to laminate my planner.  Also scissors, smarties, smarties, and hmm I think that’s it. Oh and smarties. Hold off sending the package for a week so I can see if I forgot anything!

Elder Harsh

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Week 6

Elder Harsh and his Mission President and wife.  Another picture of  him and his companion!                                                                                Lookin'Good!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Week 5

Its T-5 days until game time and as much as I love it here, I can't WAIT to get out! Its like Prison except you feel the spirit all the time, take showers alone, and absolutely love it. So really its nothing like prison. Last week we went on splits for half a day with Elders from the east mission to get a taste of our future and its gonna be tight!! Besides not understanding anybody I was killing it out there! All I could do was pray and bear testimony, but it was a blast and I cant wait for tomorrow to go on splits again, and then next week when its game time!
 Also I think P-day is different out in the field so it might be a while before you hear from me again. No mom that doesn't mean I died. But today the absolutely unspeakable happened!!! President Freestone told me I needed a hair cut.... Mommy I have never missed your salon more than about an hour ago when this strange man was cutting my hair with strange clippers. I hated everything about it. One of the elders asked me if I was doing alright because I guess my face looked terrified. Its gonna be a long two years without your salon mommy. 
Anyways the other night we were chilling in our room and there was an earthquake! It was small but our building is made out of concrete so it was shaking a lot and it was so much fun! 
Also while we were scavenging through this storage closet we found a tag that said "Hermana Walker". We have an Elder Walker and so we did what any missionary in training would do and stole all of his tags and left the Hermana one on his desk! We made him wear it for 3 days until President noticed.
 Also this week I had the first time where I instinctively spoke Spanish without thinking about it! It was kind of a big deal. I dropped my fork in the garbage can, and so I had to reach all the way down to the bottom. One of the workers was sitting there laughing at me, and when I came up I held up my tie and showed him my shirt and asked him if I was clean.....In Spanish! This week has been fun buts its going to be hard to say goodbye to some of the friends I've made here! We are all kinda sad that we have to say goodbye to each
other but we are all ready to get into the field. Next week I will be a full time representative of our Savior! Its gonna be tight!!
Elder Harsh

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Week 4

This week was pretty good! We said goodbye to the older set of missionaries that were here which means we only have two more weeks until game time! It was weird because we only had 15 people in the CCM, and it felt really empty! A big batch of newbies came in last night and its kinda sad because I know exactly how they are feeling and it sucks! I always tell them it gets better! With the old batch of missionaries there were about 44 of us, then we dropped down to 15 for two days, and now we are super full with around 50 missionaries!
 Funny thing, one of the new sisters bumped into Mitch Plant at the airport while he was heading to Mexico, and he told her to find me!
 We don't meet with the president, but we write him a letter once a week that I'm almost positive he doesn't read, and I shake his hand every night so that he will give me chocolate! My hair is getting longer, but its still within mission guidelines and I'm not about to let a strange person touch my hair until its absolutely necessary.
 Besides Smarties, Chulula, and a nice warm hug from someone of the opposite gender, I don't need anything! We go to the tienda every other week and so I buy oreos and gatorade to get me through the week! What more do you need? But I talked to my Mission President the other day and he said that he would be fine if we brought baseball gloves out on our mission, so if I cant find one here you might have to send me mine!! 
This week we were supposed to go contacting at the university again but there was a huge strike going on! There were people in those Nacho Libre masks yelling and lighting stuff on fire and everything! It was pretty cool, but we had to stay away. Not that it was dangerous or anything, there's absolutely no reason why you should be worried! I'm safe! Its probably more because the spirit cant dwell in a state of contention, and if "ye have not the spirit, ye shall not teach". It wasn't dangerous don't worry! But tomorrow we go out on splits with REAL elders to go and teach REAL people, so I'm super excited for that!
 I'm kinda sick of the CCM, but we think of new ways to keep our spirits high. For example, yesterday this kid is always bragging about how he has so many ties, so we stole all of them and distributed them to every single elder in the CCM. Everyone. So he comes down to breakfast and slowly realized that we are all wearing his ties! haha As for pictures, yeah...I've taken some...I need a card reader or something to put them on the computer so I can send you some! Let me know when you want me to mail home the card!
Elder Harsh

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Elder Harsh being his usual goofy self!  Gotta love down time!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Week 3

This week has been awesome!!! Time is starting to all mush together and its weird because the days are really long but the weeks are really short. Does that even make sense? Anyways I've learned a lot about prayer these past few weeks and how willing God is to answer them and help us out. He isn't only willing, he wants to help us, and all we need to do is ask. I have had multiple occasions where my prayer was very clearly answered over night and its really cool to see how prevalent the hand of God is in my life. It was always there, I just don't think I noticed it as much as I do now. As for the rain, yeah, it rains a lot! It has rained more these past few weeks than the president has ever seen! We don't usually leave the CCM/temple grounds, so I didn't see any flooding but with how much it rained, I am sure there was tons. We played some hard core volleyball in the rain. The CCM is a building right next to the temple that doubles as a cheap hotel for people who travel across the island to visit the temple. The temple is right next to the CCM, and so we go on night time walks around the temple a lot and it is really cool! I've become a champion at ironing, because I always forget about my shirts in the dryer and they come out really wrinkly. One of the guys in our room accidently left the iron on his shirt and burnt it and we have given him a lot of crap for that -haha. This week we walked down to the University to talk with people. REAL PEOPLE. My companion knows a LOT more Spanish than I do, but he is kinda socially awkward and so he freezes up in social situations and so I had to do all the talking in my awful broken Spanish. On the bright side we gave away 2 Book of Mormons and 6 restoration pamphlets!! Well technically just 5 pamphlets because this one guy as we were talking with him he says he doesn't believe in God or Jesus Christ, so being the extraordinary missionary I am,  I told him to read the pamphlet and ran away! In other news, THEY HAVE BLUE GATORADE HERE!!!! Best day ever!! They have the big bottles for less than a dollar, so I stalked up. The food is good, but its always the same and it is causing certain problems we don't need to mention. So depending on your definition of sick, I have not been sick yet! but on Saturday we get cookies and Sunday dinner is pizza because  they love us. In the city here the power doesn't go out for long periods of time, but it goes out for 30 seconds -5 mins at a time at least once a day, and lots more if its raining! The temple is awesome. It is SO much better as a missionary! The Endowment and everything is in English, and is incredible, but the initiatorys are in Spanish and so I just sit there really confused while they did their thing. Breakfast is this weird toast with the most delicious jam you've ever tasted, with cereal that is soggy before you put it in milk, and occasionally brownies. Yes, brownies for breakfast. Sorry Mom! They used to give us eggs, but they weren't very good and one elder got a bacterial infection in his stomach from them so we haven't had eggs since! I love it here but am ready to get out into the field! Halfway done with the CCM!!
Love you!
Elder Harsh 

Week 2

AAAAnnnd just like that my first full week is done! The MTC/CCM has a weird sense of time to it. The first two days were so hard because they were so long and we were jet lagged and they felt like they were two weeks!! It kinda sucked haha but then we got into the swing of things and now the last 2 weeks have felt like a couple days! Don't worry I've actually taken a few pictures! I took one of my bed and no, I didn't just make it for the picture. Alright, as a servant of the Lord I cant lie, but I only use one small sheet at night so its not even a big deal! Haha the CCM has air conditioning so that is very nice, because let me tell you, it is HOT outside. The humidity is probably twice as bad as it was in Fiji, and I'm not in a tank top and shorts here! After 45 mins of ultimate frisbee it feels like my lungs are full of water and my clothes are completely drenched with sweat. Its kinda nasty, but it doesn't smell that bad probably because most of its from the humidity. I dunno. but stuff takes forever to dry. my shower towel is always wet, so periodically through the week I'll sneak into the laundry room to dry it or else it would just be wet always! Also the CCM has really nice living quarters, but the AC is always on in the morning and the showers aren't heated so I'm actually freezing cold in the morning. I should probably enjoy that while it lasts. Me and my companion get a long really well and the other two guys in my room are way chill, and we automatically became friends when we met! We always have a good time together. I'm running short on time, so I'll talk to you next week! 

Elder Harsh

Week 1

Hi All-
Here is Blake's first email!  He sounds great!
Thank you for your support!

Sorry if i make typos, they don't give us much time to email! Things are going very good for me and its kinda weird/nice to have a routine in my life for once! I am eating great! They have huge portions here at the MTC! Lunch and dinner are always the same, white rice with a bean soup to pour on it, some kind of brown rice with beans in it, chicken and a mystery meat. The meat is good, but very different from the meat we eat back home! Also the food has not completely destroyed me if you know what I mean, which is kinda surprising! My Companion is way chill! He is from this small town in Cali and is definitely not afraid to be himself! We get along great! We share a room with another set of elders and we are all way tight! there is one elder, elder Parker, who me and him have gotten so tight! he lives and Spanish fork and knows a bunch of my friends down there! also he is 6'9 so its kinda funny to be around him haha. Sundays are very nice because you take a break from learning about the language, and its all about the gospel. A regular day goes: breakfast, personal study, companionship study, language until lunch, after lunch you do more language until 345 then its gym! after gym its dinner and then you teach a fake investigator in spanish and its really difficult! The language is tough, and I frequently feel behind because i haven't had any prior schooling in spanish, while everyone else in my district has had 3-6 years of it! so that can be frustrating and the teachers hardly ever speak english so it can be tough to understand things. but its a lot of fun and i have come a long way!

 Then we do companionship planning, group prayer, and then off to bed! all the teachers speak only spanish and its really confusing! ok i have a question, do you wash whites in hot or cold? what about darks? i did them both and cold and the world didn't end so that good! Its great here and at first the days were so long, but now they speed by! it seems like yesterday I was just getting here! I love you lots and hope you are doing well!
Elder Harsh