Monday, November 23, 2015

Elder Harrison Adams 11-23-15 Newport News, VA

I'm trying to think of what happened this week but it's really hard to think of things. It feels like I was writing my last letter yesterday, time really flies by here. I'll just go over a few small events for the week.

So this Thursday is going to be Thanksgiving. Last Thanksgiving in the Mission the Missionaries had it off, but our president decided that this year it will be treated like a normal day, with the exception that we can have dinner appointments that are 90 minutes long instead of only 60.

But this Sunday, news got around the branch that we didn't have anywhere to eat this Thanksgiving (we don't know how they got this news), so by the end of church we had about five people set up to feed us. We still haven't quite worked out what we're going to do, although we are allowed to have several dinner appointments that day. So we think that we are going to eat with the Richey family at 12:00. The Martinez family at 4:00. And the Herrera family at 6:30. I have no idea how I'm going to be able to eat that much food! And also we can't fast the day before, because that day is the Birthday of Elder Martinez so we have a dinner appointment with the Frayday family. They are the ones that live on the military base. Last time we went there, we had Korean food, because Hermana Frayday's mom is from Korea, so she knows how to make super good Korean food. We had sushi, lettuce wraps, and a bunch of other side dishes last time, and we are going to have the same thing this Wednesday. But I am really excited for all of the food this week. The Richey family only speak English, and Elder Martinez is super excited to have thanksgiving with them because he has never had a white thanksgiving. So that's what's going to happen this next week.

This past week has been a little rough with teaching people. We haven't had too many lessons, and the lessons we did have were a little difficult. The first lesson we had this week was with a man named Pablo and his family. They are super nice, but they don't quite understand our lessons. That's how it is with a lot of people here. Lots of them have minimal education, and it's rare to be able to find someone who can read. So, a lot of times inviting them to read the Book of Mormon just isn't an option. We ran into that problem a lot this week, and also the problem that Jesus is white. And another one of our fairly solid investigators basically dropped us. That's always hard.

This week though, we did have the chance to work with a lot of new members and less actives. Mainly we met a lot with the Herrera family, because they had the chance this week to go to the temple for the first time. When we went they shared with us really cool stories too. About how they were converted. This was the family that had been investigating the church for fifteen years. They had been invited to be baptized many times, but they still refused to. But they both had dreams after they were invited to be baptized again. Ramon had a dream that he was sitting on a beach. He said it was super calm and he was relaxed, and then all of a sudden a huge wave just came crashing down on him. He was still calm though and remained in a relaxed state the whole time. Belkiz on the other hand, had a dream that her and Ramon were sitting on a dock. Then they both decided to lean back and they fell off the dock and into the water. And that's the reason that they got baptized. They're super strong in the church, and they finally got their van working so now they said they will give a ride to all of the investigators that we have.

Other than that, not much happened this week. Although I did have the chance this week to read the book by Elder Ballard, Our Search for Happiness. It's pretty short, but I enjoyed it a lot. I'd recommend anyone to read it if they have a little bit of time. It brings up really good points and expounds on some key points of doctrine. One part that really stuck out to me was the comparison Elder Ballard made with a house right by a fire station. And this is all taking place in a little town. Now everyone in this town has access to the fire station. Like how everyone has access to the Holy Spirit. But the house right next to the fire station is a lot more protected, because it has the immediate help and protection of the fire station. He then goes on to say how the Holy Spirit operates in the same way. Only those with the Gift of the Holy Spirit have the immediate protection from danger. That's just one thing that really stuck out to me from that book.

Well, it's going to be a little different not having Thanksgiving with my family. Although I was happy to receive a package from Jolie, Clark, and Avery with a few little Thanksgiving treats inside. The picture that Avery colored is currently hanging up in the wall of our apartment. 

I hope y’all have a great week this week, and that y'all enjoy Thanksgiving!

-Elder Adams

We also got bored during one of our dinners, so we set up the Christmas tree we had. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Elder Harrison Adams 11-17-15 Newport News, VA

Family and Friends,

This week has kind of been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. I've had some of the best experiences of my mission so far and also the hardest.

First off, this week he had a branch activity called "Noche de Hispanidad." So we invited all of our investigators and branch members to this activity we were going to have. We had it inside the chapel, and we had people from our branch make different foods from their countries. We had food from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Panama, Peru, and a bunch of different places! After we ate all of our food, we had dances from their different countries, and we also played some games with the children after that. I was only able to see a traditional dance from Mexico, because we were busy serving and helping to prepare the food. But we saw a lot of investigators there. Two of our investigators, Manuel and Ana Calix, were able to come and the Sister Missionaries also brought a few of theirs as well! This Noche de Hispanidad was a huge success, and super fun. At the end they had a few partner dances and all of the couples in our branch got up with their wives and children and danced. It was super neat to see!

For the hard part of my week, we had to drop one investigator that I truly loved. His name is Don Raffael and he is such an amazing man. He was probably one of the first people I have ever taught on my mission, so it was super hard to have to do that. He wasn't keeping his commitments and wasn't progressing, so we decided it would be best to give him a break for a while. Hopefully there will be chances for us or maybe other missionaries in the future to teach him again. But when we were in his house, letting him know where we stood, my voice started to crack and I was on the verge of crying basically the whole time. It's so hard to see someone you love so much not have the same happiness that you have, and not progress.

Okay so another great part about our week is that we had the chance to hear from Elder Arnold of the Seventy this week. We actually had the chance to meet with him on two separate occasions. So he and his wife are practically fluent in Spanish, and so they had a meeting with all of the Hispanic branches in the Mission. (So only two or three). But we had that on Sunday after church. And something really cool, he promised us that in six months, these branches will be wards. If we each do our parts and invite others, then instead of having zero Spanish wards in our mission, that we would have two or three. The next day we also got to meet with him with all of the other missionaries on the eastern seaboard. Before the meeting started, I also had the chance to finally see Elder Haslam. We got to talk for a little bit and we talked about Bingham and about Lacrosse. But after that we had our meeting. It was probably the best church meeting I have ever been too, and I learned so many good things from that. One thing that really caught my attention is the very last thing he said before he ended. He said something along the lines of "You know, every time I got out on an assignment to see the missionaries. President Monson always meets with me. He always brings me in and tells me, make sure you tell them how much I love them." Then he said. "So, I need to let you all know that President Monson loves you. He thinks about you, prays about you, and loves you all so much." It was really powerful. I'm so grateful that we have a living Prophet today to guide and direct us.

I'd like to share a few more little thoughts really quick. I heard a story a while ago, and it really got me thinking. I've been thinking about this for a long time, and maybe y’all would like to hear it too. I don't know it exactly but I'll do my best to paraphrase it. So there are two men sitting in Heaven after their deaths, and they are waiting outside of an office room. The door opens and the first man is called into the room. In the room, he sat down. And there was a man across the table that started talking to him. He said. "So tell me how you know Jesus Christ." The man responded "Well, His parents were Mary and Joseph, he was born in a manger." Then the other man said "Yes, but tell me how you know Jesus Christ." The man answered again "He grew up, taught the Gospel, was baptized when he was thirty..." The other man said "Very good, but how do YOU know Jesus Christ." The man responded again "He was crucified when he was thirty three, and after three days he was resurrected." After that, the other man said "Thank you, you may leave now." The first man left the room, and the second man was invited to enter." The second man entered, and the man started to ask the question "How do you know...." but he was interrupted by the second man, who fell to his knees and said "My Master!" That really has had me thinking these past few weeks. How well do we know Jesus Christ. Do you just know about Him? Or do we truly know Him.

That's all I have for now, I love you all so much, and Happy Thanksgiving!

-Elder Adams
My plate of food during our activity

Me at our newest convert's house, Hector.
He has a snake collection going with over 40 snakes! 

Me holding one of Hectors puppies. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Elder Harrison Adams 11-9-15 Newport News, VA

Hello y’all, this week has been really eventful!

So to start off, we finally got to meet a family that we've been trying to meet for basically my whole time here. Their names are Angel and Judith. Angel is a member, less active, and Judith isn't a member. But it's interesting to see how the Lord works in their lives. So they had been wanting to go back to church, at least Angel did, but he didn't feel comfortable because he didn't know anyone, and didn't know the missionaries. (Little did he know we'd been trying to contact him for weeks.) But, actually the morning of the day we went to see him, he got a call from the sister missionaries that converted him. He expressed how he had wanted to meet with other missionaries again, but he didn't know how to get in contact with us. Well, that night I'm sure he was surprised to see us knocking on his door! But we had a super great lesson with them, and we actually have another appointment with them tonight and they're going to feed us dinner.

Also we have dinner planned this Thursday with the Florez family, and I'm worried because supposedly every meal they feed you mealworms. And all of the other missionaries say that they're horrible. One of them told a story how after he ate it he ran into their bathroom and started throwing up. Wish me luck!

I also feel that my Spanish has taken some really big steps this week. I finally learned how to roll my R's, and I can talk to anyone about pretty much anything. (Anyone minus Cubans that is, I'm still working on understanding them.)

Another weird thing about this week, I'm now in a trio! It's honestly super fun and I love it. But I guess I should tell y’all how that came about! So this Thursday, me and my companion, Elder Berry, were knocking doors, and we got a call from the President of our mission (which usually is never a good thing, so we were both a little worried). Any who, he told us that one of the Spanish Elders in our zone had to go home for medical reasons, and that Elder Martinez would now be staying with us for an "Extended period of time." We think he'll probably be with us the rest of the transfer. So we had him move into our apartment. For the first few nights we took turns sleeping on the floor, because we were short one bed. We also only have one shower, so it's hard in the morning after we exercise to find time to shower. But luckily the zone leaders had a cot, so now we each have our own beds. But I love Elder Martinez. He was originally born in Guatemala, and moved here when he was three. He was raised in Idaho, so that's where he learned English. (He has a super funny western accent thing going). And also, he is REALLY short. As is common for most people from Guatemala.

Umm. I'm trying to think what else happened this week but I'm struggling because it honestly feels like I wrote y’all yesterday. Time flies by so fast. Oh. This might be some good information to know (mostly for my family and Hannah). So next week a member of the Seventy is coming and he's going to have a meeting with us all next Monday. So our P-day next week will be on Tuesday instead of Monday, I just don't want y’all to freak out when an email doesn't come, haha. And this Sunday, because he speaks Spanish, he is doing a special meeting with just all of the Spanish branches. So we will get to go to that as well.

Oh, I remember another story I wanted to share. This is something that a less active we are teaching said, and I just loved what he said. He said "Tenemos la Santa Cena cada semana, pero no porque somos perfectos personas. Tenemos la Santa Cena cada semana porque somos perfectos pecadores." (Translation: We have the sacrament not because we are prefect people, we have the sacrament because we’re perfect sinners.)  I just love that. God knew that we were going to make mistakes, every week, and every day. And we have the chance to take the Sacrament every week to make up for our shortcomings.

One more thing I'd like to mention is just how loving all of the Hispanic people here are. I remember someone telling me in the CCM (MTC). They had a friend that served in the same mission, Spanish speaking, and they said "Serving in that mission, my feelings towards illegal immigrants totally changed." Which I understand why. These people are they nicest, most generous people I have ever met in my life.

One family especially caught my attention this week. The Herrera family are fairly recent converts. They're been in the church for about a year now. But beforehand they were investigating the church for over 15 years. Well they are some of the most spiritual people I know now. They don't have a lot, they live in a small beat up house and are just barely scraping along. Which was why me and my companion were surprised when we passed by their house and saw a van. It was an old van, pretty mangled. So we went and talked to them, and they had sold a bunch of valuable, sentimental things they had in order to buy the van. We then asked why they needed the van, and the only reason they bought it, is so that they can drive investigators we find to church. And they can't really afford to drive that van any other time because they don't have money to pay for gas really. I mean, the dad, Ramon, bikes to work every day. They don't have enough money to buy a car....but they sold some things so they could. And the only reason they did that was so they could drive investigators and their friends to church. Thinking about them almost brings tears to my eyes, that's how much I've grown to love them these short few weeks I've had here.

Other than that, this week has been pretty uneventful. Hard, we got dropped by a few people, as always doors slammed in our face, and walking down the road people roll down their windows and curse at us. At first that was hard for me. But I've realized now all the good in people as well. We'll talk to someone on the street and just talking to that one person will give me enough happiness to last the week. People here are truly amazing. I see miracles of kindness every day. So with all the good and the bad. I'd say, there is a lot more good in this world. Without a doubt.

I love being a missionary, and my testimony has grown so much. Especially about the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. Literally everything is possible through him. One attitude people here have that I've kind of adopted, that everything is because of God. The leaves move in the trees, because of God. The birds sing in the morning, because of God. Everyone has so much faith, and everything they see in front of them, they know it's from God. I love my God. I love my Savior. I love my family, my friends, and I love the people here. The church is true. I know without a doubt. I love being a missionary.

Love, Elder Adams

Me, Elder Berry, and Elder Martinez

Monday, November 2, 2015

Elder Harrison Adams 11-2-15 Newport News, VA

The Week of Halloween,

Well this week I had my first official holiday while out on my mission. All of the missionaries say that Halloween is like a reverse normal day for a missionary. Normally we're out knocking on doors and people are hiding from us. But on Halloween people knock on our door and we don't answer.

Well, my family sent me candy for Halloween. So I was ready to handout some of that candy if anyone came to our door (and maybe a picture of Jesus to the parents), but no one knocked on our door so that was a little disappointing. But I guess that where we live is pretty dangerous, so no one around our area really knocks on doors. Instead, they go to the city center and all of the stores hand out candy. But we didn't know that until after the fact!

We had a rule in Halloween that we needed to be in the house at 7, for our safety. So we did a little bit of area book, made a few calls, planned for tomorrow, but then we were done with everything. So for Halloween we sat around a small table playing Uno. And also, we had forgotten that it was Halloween, so we had started our fast for fast Sunday then realized we couldn't eat any of the candy we had—haha. So that was my first Holiday on the mission!

We are currently planning a "noche de espanidad" (Hispanic Night) and I am really looking forward to that, mostly for the food. Spanish food is so good. I don't know how I ever didn't like beans before my mission, because it's one of the main things I eat now. Some fun stories this week. We kept passing by a house, and this cute little girl (she was probably about 5), would always run out when we walked by and say "Hi church people!" And then her mom would grab her and take her back inside because she didn't want to talk to us. But whenever we would pass again she would do the same thing.

Also, I found out I am going on exchanges either this week or the next with a missionary that only speaks English. But we will be here in our Spanish zone. So it will be me and him, which means I will have to translate back and forth, and I won't have anyone there to help me. So I'm looking forward to that! It should be fun.

The people in our branch are so nice. There is a lady that makes us banana bread every week, and also marshmallow fudge. We always eat at "Abuelita’s" (Little Grandma’s) every Tuesday, and she is the lady that feeds us impossible amounts of food. We never eat dinner the day before or breakfast that morning, and we always pray that we can eat it all before so we don't offend her. Also, the Martinez family has us over each Thursday for dinner. They are super loveable, and are from Panama. Their son, named Aldo, always loves to talk with us. He is about thirty-five years old if I remember right, and he always comes out with us whenever we need a lesson with another member. But while we were over there at dinner this week he was telling us a bunch of riddles. Here is one that I liked a lot. "What's bigger than God, more powerful than the devil, rich people don't have it, but poor people do. And if you eat it, you'll die?" The answer is, nothing.

Other than that, this week hasn't been too eventful. We've been struggling to get lessons, and to get people to church as well. But we'll continue to work hard.

I realize that I haven't said much about my companion, Elder Berry. He is twenty-three years old, and is from American fork. His dad is a veterinarian, so he always goes up and plays with any animal we see. He is always happy, and we get along pretty well. He is really big into running, so we do that quite a bit. 

That's all I have time for right now. I'd just like to share a quick scripture that really impressed me this week. Moses 1:39. It's incredible to think that we can help in many ways to bring to pass His work and His glory.

I love you all so much, and love hearing about everything that's going on in your lives back home! Sorry if there are some days I don't get to respond to everything, I have very limited time.


Elder Adams 

This is me with the old zone leaders and other set of Spanish elders. On the left is Elder Berry, me, Elder Edwards, Elder Wardell, and Elder Martinez.