Monday, December 28, 2015

Week 72

Hi Everyone,
I feel like I just talked to you guys! haha
But yeah so right now I am in Curasao and it’s weird because I am back with my old companion and my old area and it’s fun to be back and to see some of the people! I got to go to church and see all the members too, so that was nice because I got to surprise them and a lot of them wanted to have us over for dinner! So that’s gonna be nice for this week. I will be here until Friday because when the new year hits I am legal again in Aruba. They keep changing the immigration policy because of all the illegal Venezuelans and it makes it tough for the missionaries! We have to fly out about every 30 days until we figure something else out, but Pres. Yuyez is working on it.
 We spent Christmas Eve spending time with some different people who didn’t have plans or family to be with and it was actually really nice to spend time with some people. There was this dutch guy who has major family problems and he is a less active, and we went to his house and just listened to him complain for over 2 hours. We then shared a scripture and talked about the atonement and then we had to leave but he gave us a book as a gift and later he sent us a text that said Thanks for coming and listening, for the first time in 4 years he actually felt good and loved on Christmas. It really struck me hard because sometimes we take all the good for granted. Even out here as a missionary I was more focused on talking to you guys the next day than the work,  but the Lord was still able to use me and help out this lonely guy. I was very humbled by that and learned that we need to be grateful for what we  have and share the happiness we enjoy. And that is pretty much missionary work in a nutshell.
 Anyways in other news, I am here with Elder Walker and it’s so fun to be together with him again! We also sat down and had a war council on how we are going to get the work in these islands booming. I am really excited for these next few months! Also next week we go to Trinidad together for a ZL meeting with President Cornish of the seventy. Pretty excited about that! I hope you all had a merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year! Bon aña nobo!!

Elder Harsh

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Week 71

Hi Everyone!
Well this week is finally over! Being a zone leader in the islands not only means that you have all the normal ZL responsibilities but also you have to do all the senior couple responsibilities for the island as well! It’s a lot of work and on top of that it was transfer week and so we had missionaries flying in and out and I had to get the car from the sisters which they don't like to share even for missionary stuff like that and all in all it was a tough week!
But we were able to get some normal missionary work done as well and we had a great lesson with the Chacon family! The husband was working late so we didn't get to start the lesson until like 8:50 because they wanted to wait for him and he had read the chapter out of the Book of Mormon and he said that he got his answer as well! It was a super great lesson and also super quick because we had a long bike ride home and they had a Christmas party that Saturday so we will hopefully get to meet with them this week!
Also this week we had the absolute strangest branch Christmas party I have ever been to.....It was a dinner but they made us sing like 5 songs with the sisters and then they had a weird skit by some of the members and then a guy who looks like a 1970 casino performer shows up and starts singing these crazy Spanish songs while we go and serve the people their food, all in the chapel! It was pretty strange but the food was delicious so it’s all good.
As for Christmas, my packages are in Curacao but E walker and I have a ZL meeting in Trinidad on Jan 8 so he is going to bring them to the meeting so I will have a late Christmas! Also Aruba is becoming really strict on immigration and so long story short after Dec 27th I am either going to Curacao or Trinidad until Jan 1st, so that will be exciting! Lots of flying! As for the most important thing, We are planning on skyping at 3 or 3:30ish ARUBA TIME. Wooo.
I almost forgot to tell you, I gave my first blessing in Papiamento yesterday!!!!!!!  mi ta prepara semper :)
See you on Friday!!

Elder Harsh

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 70

Hi Everyone,
Welp-first things first we got transfer calls!! We had president come to Aruba and give us our transfer calls in person! Drum roll please......I am staying here in Aruba and training a brand new greenie again in an area I have known for a week, AND I got called as Zone Leader over the three islands!
Every transfer seems to be getting more and more difficult but somehow God always seems to work everything out! I am kind of excited to be a zone leader and E Walker is FINALLY coming back to the islands this transfer! He will be in Curacao but we will be working together so I am pretty excited for that!
We don't really fish anymore because Aruba has bad fishing but we have lots of fun like today we got together as a district and ate pizza at these rock formations. It was kinda sad because E Carrillo is leaving to Trinidad tomorrow. I am really gonna miss that guy. We have been doing tons of finding trying to get this area back into shape but the saving grace is the Chacon family. We brought the Yuyez family with us and talked about the Book of Mormon. Only the mom had read it but she could feel the truthfulness of it as she read and we had a long talk about the spirit and how to recognize it and the spirit was so strong. It was really one of those times where you can see the spirit working miracles in people’s lives. When we left sister Yuyez looked at us and said "Elders, they are ready" They connected right off the bat like they were old friends and they invited them to the Christmas dinner this week and they all committed to read and pray and come to church next week (not yesterday cause he had to work) and I am so excited to see what the Lord has in store for this family!
It’s a really special feeling to be serving the Savior and I feel like sometimes I don't express that very much in the emails because there is so much going on in this mission but it’s the times like that where you see the people changing and getting closer to the Savior that you realize that this is where I need to be to help these families and people. Things happen all the time that I wouldn't trade for the world, and it all comes from letting the spirit guide and developing a love for the people and language(s).
It’s still blazing hot and it doesn't feel like Christmas time, also in Papiamento, the word for Christmas is the word for Easter in Spanish, so I get really confused when people tell me merry Christmas.

Love, Elder Harsh

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Week 69

Hi Everyone,
Well this was kinda a crazy week! We were contacting a ton to build up the area again and we had our zone leader from Bonaire fly in to do exchanges and then for the rest of the week we had an elder from San Nicolas because his comp had to go to Curacao for imigration reasons. But we had a good time with everyone and me and Elder Hunt are having so much fun together! I hope we get more than just these two weeks together! We get transfer calls this Saturday and I am really anxious to find out where I am going. I REALLY hope I get to stay here in Aruba for a while. I absolutely love this island.
Also I have been doing tons of repair work because Elder Hunt's last companion was Elder Atkinson (yeah my old comp from Bonaire) and literally all the members hated him and the leadership now wants nothing to do with missionaries. He is an awful missionary. But I had an interview with the Branch President and now he likes us. Also slowly I have been gaining back the trust of the members but even the sisters have said that members have asked if I am like Elder Atkinson. Luckily I'm not so they all say no and members are becoming a lot more friendly. Some of the stuff he has done is legit ridiculous. Just be a good missionary and don’t mess up the lives of other people! That’s all. 
We found a really great family and we taught the entire family the restauracion(restoration) and the Book of Mormon. It is a mom dad and two daughters, 17 and 4 years old, and they are great! We had a really great lesson with them and the spirit was so strong! They all agreed to read the book of Mormon (including the 4 year old) and we are going back this Saturday with President Yuyez! Also I am kinda trying to get back into the loop of Aruba Papiamento, cause sometimes out of habit I start speaking papiamentU, and people laugh at me. The difference isn't that big but it’s just big enough that people notice! But we are loving our time here and have really been working on finding and building up this area, and for one week we have done a pretty good job!
Also the branch president took us on a hike in the national park today. It was maybe two miles and one of the sisters almost died from exhaustion. I know understand why it’s important to excersize every day. It was kinda pathetic.......haha But the members here are so great and are so ready to help I am loving it here and can't wait to see what this week has in store for us!!

Elder Harsh
ABC Island Zone December 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 68

Hi Everyone
Well I'm back in good ol’ Aruba!  A missionary in Aruba got denied his immigration extension so we are having an emergency transfer because he becomes illegal on basically I am going back to Aruba on Saturday!(This was written on Thanksgiving day)
 I am going to a different area but same old Aruba. Also that means I am not going to be in Curasau so hopefully you haven't sent any packages yet... if you have dangit I will probably get them someday. I'm up in the Oranjestad area so that means that we have a super nice chapel and awesome members! This is the area I have been wanting to serve in ever since I got out to the islands! The members are so great and it’s such a good feeling to be back in Aruba! It is definitely my favorite island.
I am with Elder Hunt who is from Sandy Utah who went to Skyline and he is way chill. He remembers seeing me do my backflip when I went to Skyline's prom two years ago so that was fun to find out! The only problem was he was with E Atkinson before and so they only have 1 investigator....So this will be the third time in a row I will be building an area up from zero. But with E Hunt it shouldn't be too hard because we work really well together.  We are still on bikes but it’s been cloudy and it’s actually rained a bit! So that’s nice to cool us off and it got us in to a few people's houses! Haha!
As for Christmas, I have no Idea where I am going to be for Christmas but I will eventually be going back to Curasau so I guess I will get it whenever haha.
 I'm loving everything about Aruba but now I have to change my papiamento...again. Great. But besides that I couldn't be more happy with this transfer call!

Elder Harsh

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Week 67

Hi Everyone,
Well this week was great! Every other transfer we have a zone conference with Pres. Egbert and so this Thursday we flew over to Aruba for the Friday zone conference and spent all day at the conference and then flew back Friday night! It was lots of fun to see other missionaries because we don't get to do that very often haha. Then President came to Curacao and he FINALLY re-arranged the branch presidency. The branch president we had was straight awful. There are tons of people who don't go to church because of that man. It was pretty bad, but we got all that fixed up and this week alone we had 20 more people than the average come so once we get word out we should start seeing a lot more people come back to church! Even with missing two days we still made a bunch of contacts and made a lot of plans to see less-actives because there are tons that were less active because of the President. Also, here in Curacao we have a CHAPEL! It’s so cool! It’s the first time in my mission I have had an actual church building instead of just a house or an old disco-tech...AND I LOVE IT. The outside is still being finished but it should be finished in the next month or so. The inside is done (mostly) and so we are able to have church in it.
Pres. Egbert had his interview with me and he told me his game plan for the Islands and what he wants me to do as a leader out here. He stressed Working with members, strengthening member's testimonies, and making sure the other elders learn and speak Papiamentu. He leaves today at around 4 but he is going to take us to the rib factory before he goes. Perks of being an island elder :) As for your questions mommy, I think the only thing I really need is a new pair of shoes. I have been on bikes a lot so it’s kinda preserved these shoes but they, like me, are becoming very holy with this whole mission experience. Buy the same kind because the dress shoes you can buy here are NOT made to walk in. Also that is my mailing address and E. Garcia said it should work. Haha! We live in a house with the four of us and it’s pretty nice. When I was cleaning under the sink I found a Hanna Montanna poster and so that is hanging up in my room!! I am getting along with Elder Munoz very well and he has lost 15 pounds! Elder Rios is from Mexico/Texas and Elder Garcia is from Honduras. We all have a lot of fun living together haha and it’s just us on the island. But that’s about all for this week, I hope you are all doing well back home! Send me a picture of our house with Christmas lights! (and snow.) J

Elder Harsh

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 66

Hi Everyone!
Well another week has come and gone and we got lost a little less this week but I'm pretty sure my companion knows the area better than I do! His name is Elder Munoz and he has a really good sense of direction.  It’s crazy to think Caitlin and Jill are in the MTC right now.  Juan David is flying to Provo today to go to the MTC and he called me this morning to say bye. It was great to talk with him! I'm gonna tell them to find him!
Also we made a few really good contacts that are starting to progress and we are getting this area built up! One day we went to an old investigators house who has been investigating the church for about a year but his family especially his wife is pretty against him getting baptized, but he has a super strong testimony! So we went over one day and his wife was home and she started talking with us and next thing we know she is full on yelling at us! I had to hold back my laughter because when people get mad in Papiamentu it sounds hilarious-but my companion couldn't understand anything and he was terrified! She had problems because they have been Catholic their whole lives and she said that if he gets baptized in our church it will ruin her chance for salvation and a bunch of stuff like that. After she was done yelling we committed them to read the Book of Mormon as a couple and pray about it so I really hope they do that. I think we are going to bring a member with us next time we go.....
But as for Christmas, they say the best thing to do is just send it here to the island. Here is the address: #56A Kaya Arana, Mahuma, Curacao. I don't know if I will have to pay to get it but hopefully not!
Also I made the mistake of putting my camera in my checked bag when I flew here to Curacao and now it doesn't really focus so maybe a new camera would be good for Christmas because they are ridiculously expensive here!
But yeah this island is about twice the size of Aruba but only  about half of it is populated, and the rest is sorta desert but it’s the greenest of all three of the islands! We have two brand new missionaries with us so we hear about a lot of things that we have missed out on haha. I feel like I haven't been out that long but they make me feel like I’ve been out forever! But it’s a lot of fun. We are in a 4 man house and its tons of fun. I have only been in 2 man houses my whole mission and it’s kinda boring sometimes but with 4 man houses there is never a dull moment!
It has rained a little bit but usually its early morning or during the night. But one time we were out contacting and we yelled out to this lady and she came out and we had barely gotten her name when we felt a drop or two of rain. She got this really scared look on her face and all of a sudden the heavens opened and it started to POUR! Instead of inviting us in she yelled out "otro biaha!" which means like another time and ran inside, leaving us out in the pouring rain getting soaked. Thanks lady. Anyways that was our week in a nutshell! Hope everything is good back home!

Elder Harsh

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 65

Hi Everyone!
Holy cow tons has happened this week and it went by super quick! First of all I have a story from back in Aruba! I was waiting to get video evidence sent to me but they must have forgot so I will send that later! But Juan David's mom asked me and E Carrillo to do a special musical number with me on the piano and E Carrillo on the Violin for Juan David's farewell. In Utah language farewell means the Sunday before you leave and I was pretty sure I was going to get transferred so I told her of course I would do it! I can't play the piano but I wasn't going to be there anyways! So then 2 Tuesdays ago we stopped by and she asked us how the song was coming. I told her it was a work in progress and she told us she can't wait for us to perform it at their house for his farewell party THAT FRIDAY....I freaked out a little but we ran to the church and E. Carrillo taught me an accompaniment for "I’ll go where you want me to go" and then we stole the piano from the church and for two straight days from 6:30 to 8 in the morning and from 9:30 to 10:30 I was practicing and practicing and I guess the gift of tongues works for piano too because we performed it on Friday and I only messed up a little! I will send you the video as soon as I get it.
 But then I headed out to Curasau which has been crazy! I got my new comp who is a big (or as we say, fluffy) guy from Nebraska but his parents are Mexican so he already speaks Spanish. He is a great guy but we are on bikes and that is kind of killing him. I think he is going to be my size by the end of the transfer. We live up on the biggest hill on the island and the only way up or down is this super steep hill. Its steeper than the streets up in the avenues in Salt Lake! So going down is way fun but going up is awful haha.
 But we were opening up an area this week so we were given a member list, a map, and a "good luck" and we were on our way. So this week was kinda tough! I was legit lost 87% of the time and sort of lost the rest! You know how I am with directions, and now I have a newbie with me so that’s no help! haha Its rough but we did lots of contacts and slowly we will build it up and I will probably get transferred right as I start to memorize the area. It’s huge and we are on bikes haha. But it’s all good.So this week there was a lot of getting lost and a lot of contacting, but we managed to find a few people to teach and we are starting to build up this area! poko poko.
 If I had one thing that I could change about the islands it would be giving them doorbells! We just have to stand outside the gate and yell Bon Tardi at the top of our lungs until somebody comes out. But the houses are all small and the windows are always open because they don't have ac so it works alright. It was better in the DR where people’s houses were the size of the shed or smaller, but here I feel like people have a lot of missed opportunities because of that custom.
It sounds like a lot is changing with the family, with everyone having babies!   I am not going to recognize our family when I get back! But at least they will be grown enough so that mom won't make me hold them!
 Here the Papiamento is SO DIFFERENT. It is ridiculous! Papiamento in Aruba is so much easier and has a lot more English influence but here it is more pure Papiamentu which means more Dutch and more Papiamentu so it’s different and kinda hard to get used to! Every time I get transferred I have to learn a new language or dialect! But I am using Papiamentu a ton! We use Spanish sometimes but unlike the other islands there are a lot of people here who just speak Papiamentu and not really anything else, so my Papiamentu is going to rock by the end of this transfer. Also here it is called Papiamentu,  not Papiamento, and they will correct you on that....
Hope all is good with you guys!
Elder Harsh

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 64

Hi Everyone,
Welp we got our transfer calls and...........I am going to Curasao! I get to open up a brand new area, Train a newbie from the MTC, and be District Leader over there! Not gonna lie I am pretty intimidated with this new call!! You all know how great I am with directions and now I have half an island and nobody to show me where anything is!! So that’s gonna be fun but I don't know anything about my new companion yet except for the fact that he is coming straight from the Provo MTC. Hopefully he is cool. I fly out tomorrow and then the adventure starts again!
Here in Aruba they don't Trick or Treat but this year was the first year they had a huge Halloween Party. There were different resorts for different age groups and some of the members said the kid resort was pretty fun! I actually forgot it was Halloween until the other elders banged on our door with creepy masks on scaring us half to death. It was pretty funny!
This week we were riding along and we found the old lady that ran after the bus!! Before anything else could happen I asked her to show us where she lived! Haha she gave us some lemonade and talked about the need of God and the gospel in our lives. It was a good lesson. Also later that night we had to go to Juan David's house to help him with some mission stuff, but on the way we felt like we should contact just one more house. We did and we found the most golden contact I have ever found in my mission! She had tons of great questions, was super open, and I guess it’s hard to explain, but I was super bummed that I won't be able to teach her again. I am really gonna miss Aruba! Today we went and played Beach Volleyball with a guy from Brazil, Macedonia, and the Philippines! It was tons of fun! So tomorrow I head off to Curasao and I am pretty excited but I am really going to have to rely on the help of the Lord this next transfer! Hope all is good with you guys back home!

Elder Harsh

Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 63

Hi Everyone,
Well this week went by pretty quick and it was pretty eventful! The past two weeks have been the hottest days in Aruba since they started keeping track of the weather here in Aruba! So It’s been SUPER HOT.
Also I am trying to get an extension and immigration just changed their policy so it makes it super difficult and I am not able to go to Trinidad yet because of legal reasons so that’s been a whole big mess we have been trying to figure out this week.
I absolutely love Papiamento. It’s so frustratingly simple but it’s tough because it borrows words from English, Spanish and Dutch. Mostly Spanish, then English, and a little Dutch and I'm to the point where I can understand well enough to say oh hey what does that Dutch word you just used mean? but you have to be on your toes because they throw in English and Spanish words into the middle of the sentence but the grammar is so different that you really have to put a lot of it together in your head, but it’s coming along great
Also something weird happened and knocked out the power in the entire island! It was super weird and it made me trunky for the DR when the power would always go out! They got it turned back on over the course of the day but down here in San Nicolas it wasn't back on for a while!
Also something weird that happened is that yesterday it rained super hard! Streets were flooding, traffic was backed up, the airport ceiling caved in and everything! It rained super hard but the weirdest part was that it was only on the north side of the island! Down here in San Nicolas we were on our bikes all day and not a single drop fell down! It was pretty weird!
Yes we taught the Jamaican and her daughter and we are going back tomorrow to teach them about the book of Mormon! And the guy from the bus was there but something came up and he was busy so we are going there this Thursday.
Also while we were out contacting we met a lady who was a member! She was one of the first 3 members baptized in Aruba, but moved back to Holland for 20 something  years and moved back in December, but has been in the hospital ever since. She just got out two weeks ago and was thrilled to see us! Definitely a miracle that the Lord put us there to find her! She was at church and said it was so good to be back home!
I love it here! Today has been cloudy all day which is nice, but it’s SUPER humid. Oh, also to answer your question, no, I don't have any smarties left....
Love you all!

Elder Harsh

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 62

Hi Everyone,
Well another week is over and it’s been a good one!
We went out searching for a house of a guy that we met on the street last week and while we were looking for it we accidently knocked on the door of the wrong house! It was kinda tough because I had forgotten what the lady looked like so I kinda thought it was her until a little further into the conversation I figured out that she had no idea who we were! So we capitalized on the opportunity and asked to share a message! But, with the whole misunderstanding I forgot to tell her the name of the church that we are after sharing a little bit we asked her what it would mean to her if the true church of Jesus Christ was here on the earth today. She said "oh, I know it is, it’s the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Saints or something like that" She is from Jamaica so she was speaking English and after she said that I was shocked and E Carrillo was confused because he didn't understand. Haha. But turns she comes from a VERY catholic family but her sister is a member in the US and her mom got baptized before she died and sent a letter to her talking about how great and true everything is, and she said that she felt it was true! The only reason she didn't ask her sister for more details is because she said that she didn't want the sister thinking that she was asking questions to make fun of her church.
 I testified of the truthfulness of what she felt and we went on to explain about the Holy Ghost and it was such a powerful lesson! She is living with her 19 year old daughter and we are going back to teach them tomorrow! It’s incredible to me how the Lord prepares his people and if we are on his errand he will put us in the right spot when we need to be there.
It’s been great hearing about all these missionaries coming home and having some of my buddies from the mission leave for home.  But it makes me realize I'm not a newbie anymore! I only have 10 months left and it feels like just yesterday I was hitting 10 months! Time flies out here and it makes me want to take advantage of every moment! This week after interviews with President we took a bus home and I sat by this really angry looking black guy. I really wanted to talk to him, but it  was obvious he wasn't in the mood for anything I had to say so I just asked him if I could practice my Papiamento with him. After asking some questions about his job and family the conversation turned to me and I had the opportunity to do what we do best and testify! I was very proud that I was able to stay afloat with my Papiamento and we got off the bus with a return visit scheduled for this Thursday! It was a great experience when I could really feel the Lord working through me and the funny part was my friend was having to deal with a crazy Dominican Pentecostal lady that whole bus ride. We got off and I told him about the visit and he handed me three little booklets of apostasy. I love the mission. Hope all is good back home!
Also some tourists from Utah came to church! We saw them on the road and they pulled over and talked to us and I guess out of habit I invited them to church and they came! It was really fun to get to know them! One couple was from Orem and the other was from Brigham! They didn't know grandma, but they did know Sheila Benson! She’s part of the family, right? Aunt Sheila has a nice ring to it. Anyways their names were Bryan and Cindy Jeppsen from Mannaway(Mantua) Utah. And the other guys were from Orem.
Also I got my package from the Yuyez family and I have been enjoying putting the smarties into my brand new pockets all week :) If all goes well we will be getting bikes this Wednesday, but we won’t be able to use them because this week Juan David is coming on a Mini Mission with us! It’s where he comes and lives with us and lives all the mission rules and learns what it’s like to work like a missionary! I am really looking forward to that and to celebrate that we bought pizza and wings :)

 It’s been a good day. 
Love, Elder Harsh
                             Tourists from Utah taking pictures of the Elders

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week 61

Hi everyone!
Well this week was good but we had to walk a TON because we didn't have bikes. I never thought I would miss my bike but man, we have walked more in the past week than the other elders who have the car have walked in the past month! haha but I am really jealous you guys are going down to Moab! I love that place.
Today we went to go buy a new camera for E Carrillo because he dropped his in the ocean and so we got to walk around the downtown tourist area which was fun. It’s really different from down in San Nicolaas! We are kind of in the ghetto of Aruba. But hopefully we will be getting new bikes this week.
We are also getting close with an investigator named Victor. He is Dominican and has a ton of faith and wants to change but struggles with the word of wisdom. He is very motivated to stop and says he can feel a difference in his spirituality when he does and doesn't drink. So we are working really hard with him on that. We are calling him every day at 4 when he gets off work to help him and so far it’s working!
Also this week we had a funny thing happen. We were walking and we saw a Dutch lady waiting for the bus, and so we started talking to her and she was really friendly and really interested in our message. We talked to her for a minute longer but we were in a hurry and so we asked her for her address so we could come by later. She told us that the bus probably isn't going to come so she will just show us because it was really close. I ask her what number and right as she was about to tell me the bus passes by and this 50 year old lady in a dress starts sprinting after the bus yelling stop. The bus stops and she gets on and that’s the last we ever saw of her- dangit!!! haha. But I will never forget the view of this 50 year old lady sprinting her hardest yelling after this bus! hahaha.
Oh my goodness I forgot to tell you that this week Vaquero blessed the sacrament!! I got special permission to call him and I talked with him and he is doing so well!! I miss him so much but he is doing so well! Just wanted to let you know :)
Also this week Sister Hanson (an American who lives here) offered to give us haircuts because my hair still looked awful from when that Dominican guy cut it! I guess she just took pity on us but they also gave us dinner and it was great. Bro Hanson coined the Phrase "the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is two weeks, unless you are E Harsh, then its two months!" I didn't think it was funny but whatever.
Have a good week.
Elder Harsh

Monday, October 5, 2015

Week 60

Hi Everyone,
Man! Conference weekend was great!! I had so many questions answered that I didn't even know I had!! And yes we had a few investigators at conference! We had it in English and Spanish so I was with the English people and E Carrillo was with the Spanish ones. Conference was perfect for them. There was a few times where I wanted to stand up and yell "are you hearing this?! This is what you need!!" But I kept quiet and we all felt the spirit very strong.
Also this week somebody went through our gate behind our house and cut the lock on our bikes and stole lots of walking :/ The mission is getting us new bikes, but they are being sent from Trinidad, so it might be a while. We got to drive one day while E. Atkinson was off Island so that was nice. It was good to be driving again but it made me miss Rex. I'm glad you got to meet the Yuyez family! They are great! Also, Sis. Yuyez is a really REALLY good cook :) She’s the best!
 Also I maybe need pants... my shirts are fine for now but my pants are starting to get holes in them so maybe you could send a few more pants? If not, you can send them in a few weeks when I am in Trinidad. But what I really need is smarties. Lots of smarties. The pants are optional but I really do need smarties...
Anyways love you tons mommy!!
Elder Harsh

This is the Yuyez family from Aruba.  They came for General conference.  He is a Branch President in Aruba.  They are very nice people and it was fun to meet them!  They are going to take a package back for Blake.  J

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 59

Hi Everyone,
Well this week was transfers so that meant a lot of running back and forth from the airport but we did get to have the car for two days! That was nice but I can now see why every Elder that goes to the Orajestad area gets fat! It’s literally sit, walk to the door, repeat. So as weird as it sounds, it’s kind of nice to be back on our bikes!
 But we noticed that at the end of the month everybody gets super busy and can't have their lessons and so we spent a lot of this week contacting as well as trying to track down people.
Juan David is still in Colombia until Wednesday so I am looking forward to hearing about his Temple experience! He leaves in November two weeks after transfers...So I probably won't be able to be at his farewell :( Since he had been gone that also means that Sis. Patricia has been gone which means no food for us. Can't wait to have them both back!
But the branch is doing really good and we have a few investigators that have committed to come to conference with us! I am super excited for that!
 Also yeah we did see the moon and it was so cool! We took our mattresses and put them out on our balcony and slept outside and watched the moon. But yeah, hopefully we will be able to have more lessons this week and keep helping our investigators receive blessings!

Elder Harsh

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 58

Hi Everyone,
Well just like that another transfer is over! I will be staying here in San Nicholaas with E. Carrillo to finish his training and I will stay district leader.
 This week was kind of a blur but there was one day that was really weird! We went with the members to go clean up a beach and then after helped another member with a food thingy she was doing and then went and cleaned the church and then ran home to shower and try and make it to our lessons we had! We then had a great lesson with a less active family that is reactivating and on the way to the next lesson we stopped and talked about how we really need more members especially more priesthood in our branch, because we have like 10 Widows. But on the way home, a car waved and pulled over in front of us. Tourists sometimes do that and it’s fun to talk with them, but this time it was a new family! They joined the church about a month ago in Holland and moved back here! They were so happy to see us because they didn't know where the church was, so we told them where it was and they seem like a great family! They said they always have the Elders over for dinner too but we have to wait until they finish moving. So we offered to help and we are probably going to get fed pretty often by them!!
Also this week we had a contact that was very interesting. We sat down with him and he had TONS of questions about the plan of salvation. We were over there for over an hour explaining him things and he kept getting really excited and at the end he said "I am going to be very honest with you, I have studied with over 10 different religions, and you are the first guy that actually makes sense to me!" And that is the light that the Restored Gospel gives. He even came to church on Sunday and liked it. The only sad news is that Juan David and his mom Patricia are going to Colombia for the next 10 days. Sister Patricia is like our mom and so we are going to miss them a lot, but they are both going through the temple for their first time! It was so fun helping them get prepared and they are both super excited! But that’s pretty much this week in a nutshell.
I am so excited for General Conference! It’s kinda like Christmas here in the mission, and Christmas is that one day that you get to talk with your family...
As for getting my luggage, I got tired of emailing the DR office because they would just say "we are working on it" so I talked with Sis. Egbert and gave her a description of my stuff so if all goes well it will be sent to Trinidad where it’s at least in the boundaries of the mission, but I won't get it until I get transferred down there.
Oh yea!   Mommy- I went and bought a new memory card just to make you happy. Also Pres. Buckley is the old branch president and the coolest guy ever. He is the one that reminds me of JJ.
mi ta spera ku boso ta hopi bon.
Elder Harsh
My new address is:
Trinidad Port of Spain Mission
1 Morequito Ave Bldg. #10
Valpark Plaza

Trinidad & Tobago

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 57

Hi Everyone!
Welp, another week has come and gone and I have really been focusing on my Papiamento and I am getting pretty good! I understand almost everything but I am in the "mountain man" phase (duck dynasty) where I can talk, but it’s just painfully slow.
E. Carrillo coming along with his English but this is a tough place to learn English because almost everyone knows Spanish. But I am sure he will get the hang of it soon.
This was a great week, up until Saturday and Sunday! We had Saturday and Sunday completely booked with lessons and EVERY SINGLE LESSON FELL THROUGH! Those days are tough. I am super sunburn from being outside for two complete days but we did have a few lessons off of contacts and we did an impromptu service and cut down this massive tree in this less active's yard. I got to play with a chainsaw for 3 hours and he came to church for the first time in 4 years! It was a win win situation. This is a tough area but we are making the best of it.
 Today we went with Pres. Buckley to eat pizza and after downing 12 slices, he took us to the biggest mountain (hill) in Aruba and said the view is great at the top, so we ran up all the stairs and I almost puked. But you could see the entire island from the top! It was so cool you could see ocean in every direction!
We also have an investigator who finally got her answer that she knows the Book of Mormon is true. It doesn't matter how many times that happens, every single time is special and I feel the spirit so strong! She has tons of questions but loves it when we come over and we always have super spiritual lessons with her!
We had a mission reunion with all the zone (the 3 islands) with Pres. Eggbert and Elder Martinez of the 70. It was great and I learned a lot. Also mom I only have 1 memory card and it doesn't work so that is my excuse for the next little while for why I haven't been taking pictures.
Have a good week!
Elder Harsh

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 56

Hi Everyone
Well just like that another week went by! This week was a lot better, we were always super busy! I am really having troubles thinking about the details of this past week. We had a really good lesson with one of Juan David's friends. He is a 17 year old kid and is way nice. We had already talked about the Restoration with him and so we come with Juan David and we talk about the importance of the Book of Mormon in gaining a testimony. It was a super spiritual lesson and Juan David bore a very powerful testimony because he is a convert (like everyone on the island) and he is also preparing to go on a mission so it really helped his friend and afterwards Juan David said that now he knows why missionaries are always so happy, because we get to do that every day! And it’s true! I love sharing the Gospel!
Speaking of that, we were out contacting last night and it was getting late, but we decided to try one more house before going home. We offered a short prayer and then I kind of had the feeling we should go up to this one house, but it was completely dark and nobody was outside, so Instead we tried the house next door. The front door was open but nobody answered so as we were walking away, I heard a guy cough from the dark house. There weren't any lights, but there was a super dark Jamaican guy sitting there that I couldn't see! I thought I was talking with nobody so I quickly made him laugh and then I saw teeth, so I started talking with him and he said that he is recently married and he made a promise that if God would let him marry a beautiful girl, he would turn his life around and go to church. He said he had been looking and praying for help to have the courage to go to church! He is a very humble guy and we have a lesson with him later today! I can't wait! So I guess what we learn from that is even if you are a super black Jamaican trying to disappear in the dark, God still hears and answers your prayers. Have I mentioned how cool Jamaican accents are??
 I came to a very interesting realization this past week, and it’s that every good story on your mission comes from contacting! Or I think you guys call it tracting, but in Spanish it translates to contacting. But anyways the good, the bad, and the funny stories come from contacting and I love it! This week we had an afternoon with all three! We had a really good contact that we will visit again tomorrow, we had a really funny one where the daughter was trying to flirt with us and her Dad kept saying things to her in Papiamento to motivate her because he thought we didn't speak Papiamento,
We contacted this one house and this freaking GIANT came out! He was like 7 feet tall but not skinny! He was super muscular and had really broad shoulders and after I introduced myself he said I can't talk to you. I asked him why and he said "Porque tu eres de Jesucristo, y yo soy de SATANAS"(You are of Christ and I am of Satan) and his voice got all deep and creepy when he said that I said oh ok, bye and I freaking turned tail and ran! And my companion couldn't stop laughing. So apparently we had a run in with a devil worshiper.  Haha there is never a dull moment with us!
 I am really enjoying the mission but it seems like the more you enjoy it the faster it goes! I guess that’s just the way it is though.
Anyways until next week,

Elder Harsh

                                                       Blake on top of a cave in Aruba

                               Juan David just after he received his mission call to Paris France

Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 55

Hi Everyone!
To start off by answering your questions, no we have not felt any effects of the hurricane. Aruba is a DESERT. It has rained once in the middle of the night the whole time I have been here. So the days are all super hot and humid. Ya know, serving in paradise haha.
My companion is doing good, but it’s kinda hard for him to learn the language because whenever anyone sees him struggling with English, they all say "I understand Spanish, just talk in Spanish." The problem is that if he never goes through that tough struggle phase he will never get the language. But from experience, that struggle phase is tough!! So it’s kinda good and bad for him at the same time. As for our meals, from time to time we help this member with his work of putting fish in a freezer whenever he gets a shipment too big to handle, and afterwards he gives us these frozen swai fillets that are delicious!! So apart from the exception here and there, I have been living the past 2 months on lucky charms and swai. And I love it!
 But apart from that this was a kinda slow week. We had a lot of lessons fall through and that means lots of walking in the sun. E. Carillo kept saying that we must be doing something wrong, so we took out the mission manual and after reading some of it I asked him if we are being obedient why is it still hard? This was a question I asked myself in Bonaire so I was prepared to help him. He couldn't come up with anything so I just told him that’s the way it goes. It’s not supposed to be easy or else it wouldn't be worth it. Sometimes the struggle is the part that makes it all worth it. I learned that myself while working with Vaquero in Bonaire and that was sure worth it! I told him as long as we are working hard and doing what the Lord expects of us, blessings will come. Maybe not tomorrow but they will always come. So we decided to keep working hard and have a special fast.
Anyways I'll end with a less serious story. We were biking home and we saw a massive python on the side of the road, and it look like it had been hit by a car. This sucker was over 4 feet long, so of course we stopped to mess with it. It was dark and we thought it was dead so we fearlessly went up to it and I started doinking it with my shoe. Welp that sucker was NOT dead and it jumped at me and I was caught so off guard that I just dropped my bike and jumped back. Well then my bike landed on top of it so we then spent the next 15 minutes poking it with sticks trying to get it to slither out from under my bike so that we could get home!
Have a good week

Elder Harsh

Here are a few pictures of the baptism of Vaquero.  He really means a lot to Blake.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Week 54

Hi Everyone!
Well this week went by pretty quick! Elder Carillo is doing good, but he is in what I like to call the CCM Hangover. It’s something that every missionary goes through sometime in their first transfer where they realize that missionary work is hard. This week the schedule, the heat, the rejection, and everything else seemed to come down on him! The poor guy was literally falling asleep while reading during our study and it was really funny. After lunch I was trying to help him memorize words one day and he kept falling asleep, so I would throw the nearest object at him and he would wake up and keep going. This went on for about 15 minutes until I ran out of things to throw and I decided to let him sleep. But he is still very motivated and he is working hard, so thats good. Luckily for me he isn't homesick, because i'm not so good at giving comfort. I would tell him "tu tienes que crecer tu pelotitos. Vayate afuera hasta tu puedes ser un hombre." or something like that. So it’s good that that isn't a problem for now.
But this week we had something incredible happen! There is a family that lives next door to Juan David. The three kids are 12, 10, and 9 and Sister Patricia always takes them to church and they love it. Tons of missionaries have taught the mom and the kids, but the mom kinda has her other church and the dad never talks to anyone that comes to talk about religion. So we were kinda stumped on what to do with them, so we would just go and teach them a little lesson to practice my Papiamento and them talk with the mom in Spanish. But one day the mom was sick, so she sent the dad to go tell us to come back another day. He came out and he was just drunk enough to want to talk to us, but sober enough to remember what we said. Perfect! So turns out he likes to read and has read a lot of stuff online about our church. He said he didn't have a problem with his kids going, but he had some questions because of some false things he had read online. We talked with him for over an hour and shared all about the restoration and answered his questions and we left on a really good note, and he agreed to let us come back to talk to him! Later that week he was at work, but we were talking with the mom and she said that not only was actually interested in hearing more from us, she was starting to think that maybe there might be something about "us mormons". Funny how the truth does that to you! But it was a very big step for this family and it was incredible because missionaries have been trying with them forever. I guess now is just their time so we are going to have to work with them a lot! It’s incredible how much the gospel would bless their lives. It would solve almost every problem they have. I love this Gospel!
 In other news, I asked Juan David where to get my hair cut, and he told me this place to go to today. I asked him very clearly "Do they know how to cut white people hair?" and he said yes. Welp they don't and now my hair is pretty messed up. So to sum it up this week was great spiritually but now there's a funny looking white guy wandering the streets of Aruba with a blue book in his bag. And I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Love Elder Harsh

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Week 53

Hi Everyone!
Well this week we went to the airport and a very lost looking kid from Equador came through the door...without any bags! To start off this poor guys mission -the airline lost BOTH of his bags!! But his name is E Carillo and he is incredible! He got taken from the MTC after only 2 weeks of learning English and he actually learned quite a bit! But it is SO NICE to be able to speak Spanish all day. I really did miss it! But we still teach in all three languages so we both have work to do!
We have been having so much success contacting which is good because we needed to get more people to teach! But the best thing that happened this week (besides finding a huge hidden cave on the south tip of the island) was this! We were going to go contacting but then I felt like it would be better to visit a really old member who is very lonely and lives in the area. So we went and visited with her for a while and afterwards as we were walking back home, a man came up to us and told us that he had received lessons from other missionaries and wasn't ready to quit drinking, but now he wants to and he showed us where he lives and told us to come by this week! Also the old member was very grateful that we stopped by because she is very lonely (28 cats lonely).
 It just goes to show how much good you can do if you listen to the spirit. It’s very important and I love having E Carillo who helps keep the spirit with us so well!

Elder Harsh

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Week 52

Hey Everyone!
HUMP DAYYYYYYYY. Almost. Is that still funny to say or did that go out of style?
 Anyways tomorrow is transfers and I have big news!! I am training!! I'm getting a newbie from Ecuador who only speaks Spanish, and I am going to have to teach him English and Papiamento!! Wooo. I hope he's cool.
Also E. Foote goes home tomorrow which is a bummer because we had a lot of fun together but on the bright side I will send him home with my SD card that has about 500 photos on it! Your welcome mom!
 As for this week there was a lot of people who wanted to feed us to say goodbye to E foote so it was awesome! One day we had a late breakfast after a service, a lunch, and two dinners! We were DYING at the last dinner but it was red snapper with this coconut sauce and it was so good!! We haven't been fed all transfer but now they are all making up for it!
Also today we went and saw a really cool WWII bunker and went exploring and found a cave! We didn't have a flashlight so we couldn't go in too far so we will go back next week with the new guy. Also we went up to this big hill on the very southern tip of the island and we could see Venezuela! I tried to take a picture but it didn't really work. But it was really cool.

Elder Harsh

Monday, August 3, 2015

Week 51

Hey Everyone!
This week was good! First things first I finally found out our mission address! Its going to be the same deal as last mission, it gets sent to the mission office and when president comes he will give me the stuff.

Elder Blake Harsh
Trinidad, Port of Spain Mission
PO Bag 543
Trinidad and Tobago

Also this week we had the two less actives we had been working with at church again!! We meet in a house and it is getting pretty full! We also made a very cool contact. It is a guy about our age and he started off by saying he wasn't very religious but he let us in anyways and we started talking with him and he was such a chill guy! We spent an entire hour talking before we started teaching anything. He said that his family has talked with missionaries before, but he was never interested because he didn't want to be forced into anything. He also asked if all Americans are as nice as us haha I told him yes. He said he wasn't that religious but he has actually given a lot of thought about his relationship with God and the world. He told us what he thought and most of it was pretty accurate! It was a really positive lesson and we are going back there tomorrow!
 As you know we live on an island so last week we did what every missionary should do which is go have family night on the beach!! We did it with Juan David's family which is good because only him and his mom are members so we had a great time and like always, I did a backflip by the ocean (turns out I can still do one!). I will probably send my memory card home with E Foote who goes home next week but the family took pictures of the family night so I will send some of those in another email to calm my mom down a little. Hope all is well back home!

Elder Harsh