Monday, December 28, 2015

Elder Harrison Adams 12-28-15 Newport News, VA

Hello Family and Friends!

Well we had Christmas this week. It was fun opening up presents and other festivities, but the best part of my day was talking with my family at home, and with Hannah. It was nice to see them.

After that our Christmas day was really busy! We stayed a little at the Fraydey's house after we called our families, and after we went to eat dinner at the Ramirez house. We had ten minutes in between that dinner and another dinner we had at the Flores house. At the Ramirez, we ate tamales, rice, ribs, and a jello/nut dessert that was really good. We then went to the Flores where we ate more tamales, and after had a dessert of bread that sits in a batter of honey and some other things. Both dinners were really good, unfortunately it was a little hard to put my belt on after both of those dinners!

We also have experienced a miracle in our mission work. It happened the day after Christmas. We had an investigator, whose name was Belkis. We had taught her once, set up another return appointment, but when we went to stop by her house again no one was there. Well we've been really busy these past few weeks teaching people, so we never had a chance to stop by her again, and we had lots of other people that we wanted to continue teaching because they were progressing pretty well. But during daily planning Christmas night, we felt that we needed to stop by her house the next day. So we went and knocked on her door. She opened it, and instantly said "pasen adelante!" So we came into her house, and taught her the Plan of Salvation. We taught her this lesson because recently her daughter was killed in Honduras, so she was going through a really hard time. But after the lesson was really when we were able to see the hand of God in our work. We asked her if she had any questions, and she told us this. "Last time you stopped by I was entering the neighborhood right as you guys were leaving. I honked at you, and you all turned around and looked, but I don't think you realized it was me." She then explained to us that when she got home she felt awful. And she thought she missed her chance, and that we were never going to come back again. She said that no one has ever taken the time to teach her about Jesus Christ, and she wants to learn so she really appreciates us coming back for her even though she missed our last appointment. We assured her that we were going to come back again, because she was practically begging us to teach her more. We offered a closing prayer to end the lesson. We invited her to say it, and she said she had never prayed before. We taught her how, and then she bowed her head to pray. The Spirit was so strong, and I know she felt it too. Halfway through the prayer she stopped, sobbing while she struggled to get words out of her mouth. After the prayer, we also invited her to church which was the next day. She said she would come but she would need a ride because her license plates had just expired. We told her we would do everything we could to make sure she had a ride tomorrow. The first person we called said they couldn't give her a ride because their wife was in the hospital and they wouldn't be attending church the next day. We only had one more family that lived close enough to give them a ride, so when we called them we knew they were our last hope. Well, they gladly accepted to give Belkis a ride to church! So the next day, it was no surprise when Belkis and the Martinez family entered the chapel. But what was surprising was when she entered the church, she waved at several different members! It turns out that she knew about four members of our congregation really well through work. I kept thinking that the circumstances couldn't get better, but I kept being amazed! The sacrament talk we had planned was about salvation for the dead. Which fit perfectly because she had just lost her daughter. Now she knows that she can live forever with her family in Heaven. We went through the rest of church. During the different classes she was able to participate and sit with her friends. Then during Relief Society, we asked the sister missionaries to sit by her. They did, and after told us that she said she was coming back next week. She wants to meet with us as much as possible. Luckily we can because she doesn't have work until the 24 of January, so she told us to come over as much as we can between now and then! We have an appointment later today with her, and we are all really excited to go and teach her!

The last story this week took place this morning. Every transfer we have the option of going to the beach in the morning to watch the sunrise and exercise there. So we got up early this morning, and went to the Fort Monroe beach! There we played soccer in the sand, and went for a run on the beach. We were able to watch some large cargo and military boats pass by. After, when we were getting ready to go back, we looked where we had parked and found out we parked right by an old military fort! So we looked around a little bit before we went home to do our studies.

Well, that's all that's happened since Christmas! Thank y’all for your Christmas wishes and all the support I get here. I love y’all.

-Elder Adams

Elder Harrison Adams Skyping on Christmas Day

Spanish Speaking Missionaries at the Christmas Conference

Monday, December 21, 2015

Elder Harrison Adams 12-21-15 Newport News, VA

Merry Christmas Family and Friends!

This week has been busy, it doesn't really feel like Christmas is even remotely close! But, during this season, I would like to share with y’all some of my favorite Christmas songs.

Here is my list:
1. Oh Come Oh Come Immanuel.
2. I Wonder as I Wander.
3. Carol of the Bells.
4. God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen.
5. What Child is this (Greensleeves)

Around this time of year, the Spirit of the Lord is so strong. I've felt it especially here as a missionary. People are more willing to open doors and hear a message about our Lord and Savior. It makes me think back to the story of the Christmas during World War One. When on Christmas Eve, the men from both trenches came together to celebrate Christmas. There was even a soccer game in one location. No power on earth could have done this, except for the birth and love of the Savior, and the knowledge that we are all brothers and sisters.

Talking about brothers and sisters, I think back to what President Monson said when someone asked him what the best present would be for him to receive on his birthday. Without hesitating, he said "Find someone who is having a hard time, and do something for them." During this Christmas season, I know we can all find someone to serve. I imagine that if we could ask Christ the same question that was asked to President Monson, we would get a similar response.

This week we also had a Christmas program in our branch. We read from Luke 2 about the birth of Christ, and sang songs throughout the program. At the end. Our Branch President got up and said something that really stuck with me. He was talking about how scholars and well learned people argue about when Jesus Christ really was born. He said, "Maybe it was in the winter, in the summer, or in the spring. I don't know. That's never mattered to me. What does matter, when was Christ born in us?"

One more thing, around this Christmas season we have seen many miracles. One of them has been an investigator that we actually ended up dropping, because he said he would never be baptized no matter what. Well, about three weeks ago, we were in church when he walked in the doors and sat down. We were surprised, but we never got the chance to really sit down and talk with him because he had to leave a little before church ended. We stopped by later that week, to ask him how he enjoyed church. Well, a new roommate of his moved in to his house. And we were able to teach him and his roommate again. We invited them to church again. And once again, he came this past Sunday. It's humbled me to see him make changes in his life as he draws closer to God. His attitude on baptism has even changed. He now says that he will be baptized once he knows it's what the Lord wants him to do. That's just a small miracle I want to share this Christmas season.

We as missionaries aren't always perfect, sometimes we misjudge people. But, the Lord doesn't forget about anyone of his dear children. If they are ready, he will do everything in His power to give them the Gospel. I have a testimony that people are prepared by God to hear our message. I have seen it, and continue to see it every week. I am humbled to be called a servant of the Lord. I know I'm not qualified by myself, but through Him and His grace, I am a tool in his hands. We're not perfect. But this Christmas season, let's all try and become a little more like Jesus the Christ. It's humbling to me as well to know that Christ came into this world the same way as each and every one of us. He was born in the most humbling circumstances, and he became the most humble man who has ever lived. He is the gift. That I promise you. Merry Christmas, I love you all so much!

-Elder Adams 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Elder Harrison Adams 12-14-15, Newport News, VA

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been a fantastic week! We had lots of lessons, did lots of service, and also had a Stake Nativity party. I'll be sure to tell y’all about that later in the letter!

But to start off, I'll be honest. It feels nothing like winter here in Newport News. I've heard that last year it was really cold, but it's super warm right now. At night, we walk around in our normal clothes. And during the day, we're sweating a lot of times walking in the streets. But, we are all getting a little bit of the Christmas hype here. This upcoming week we are having a mission Christmas devotional, which will be really fun. Every year they get to watch a movie (the only time on our mission where we will ever watch a movie) and last year it was Polar Express. I'm excited to see what it will be this year!

Well, this week, I was at a place I never thought I would be on my mission. The DMV. One of our less active members, from Cuba, has been having a lot of financial problems recently. And he had sold his car, but hadn't transferred the title over so he was still getting charged for it. He needed to change that of course, but he doesn't speak a lick of English. We happened to stop by, just when he needed our help. So we went to the DMV, sat down in the little waiting room, and translated for him. He was able to get it all taken care of and now he's a lot more open to meeting with us, because before he didn't really like the missionaries.  

Now I'd like to talk about a small miracle we had this week. We were going to contact one of our investigators, his name is Alex, and we knocked on his door but no one answered. There was a for sale sign in their house and all of the things inside the house were taken out, so they had already left. Well, we went to knock on another door across the trailer park. We didn't really know why. We knocked on it, and Alex's wife answered! Turns out they only moved to the other side of the neighborhood. We had never met her before, but before we could even explain to her who we were she told us to come on in. We went in, and taught a really powerful lesson. She recently had her daughter die in Honduras, and I think that she really needed a message from God during this time of her life. We asked her when we could come back again, and she told us that the next day she wanted us to come back. That was really nice to see, and now I have a strong testimony that God does prepare people for His message.

Okay so this week we did get to help other people with service too, and they were all less actives so that's all the better. One lady, recently found out that she had to move. She had three days to move everything she had into a damaged, beat down house. So, of course we helped her! We carried beds and other things out of her house, and then we went over to her new house to see what we could do. The roof had a leak in it, and all of the insulation in the ceiling was ruined. So, she asked us to take it all down. It was one of the weirdest acts of service I've ever given, because I felt like I was just vandalizing a house. We didn't have any tools, or equipment like that. So, we walked into the new house (I had to duck because the ceiling was so low) and we just started punching holes in the ceiling. Then, with our hands, we would grab chunks of the ceiling and throw it down on the floor. We took off her whole ceiling, and all of the insulation that was with it. We didn't really have safety equipment, so after we were all really itchy and irritated from the fiberglass, but it was really nice to help this lady out. She really appreciated it. After, we swept up the mess in garbage cans, then we took off!

Later that night, we had the big stake nativity party. It was really similar to the one we did back home, where everyone brought nativities from different places around the world, and set them all up. Another really cool thing, they had a live nativity outside. With animals and everything! We got to pet them, and also got to watch the youth of the stake play a live nativity of Mary and Joseph. It reminded me of the one we do every year as a family, with an angel, three wise men, and everything else. It was really neat, and they had live musical performances going on inside the church with violins, cellos, and singers. It was really successful.

One thing I am really looking forward to this next week is the branch Christmas party we are going to have. We talk about it a lot, especially in ward council. I'll be honest, I was afraid a fight was going to break out in that room. Hispanics don't joke about their food. For example, we were talking about carnitas. one lady said she would make them, and everyone just started bombarding her with questions about how she would make them. "What do you put in them?" Then she said "Coca-Cola, orange, oil...." "What else?" then she said "That's all..." then everyone in the room kind of scoffed at her and shook their heads. I decided if I ever am in a Spanish branch in the future, I will just leave all of the cooking to them. But, a man named Fautsino, is making his legendary punch. I guess this punch is supposed to be warm, and has just whole fruits in it? It will be interesting to try! Lots of Hispanic food I am coming to love. It has taken me a little while to get used to (for example I'm still struggling with arroz con leche), but after a while I really start to love it! If y’all are interested in what we get to drink a lot, there is a drink that almost every members gives us—it's coconut juice, in a big can. The brand name is Foco. It's a little different because it has whole chunks of coconut in it, but it's really good if y’all every want to try something I have a lot!

Well, that's all for this week. I wish yall some happy holidays, and remember that Christ is the reason for everything! He is the light.

-Elder Adams

A member texted us this photo of Elder Adams and his companions last Saturday
Elder Adams with Hector before he left.
Family Night with the Herrera Family.
Elder Adams with a llama at the Live Nativity.
Elder Adams with a donkey at the Live Nativity.

Elder Adams with a cow at the Live Nativity.
The Live Nativity.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Elder Harrison Adams 12-7-15 Newport News, VA

Family and friends,

All of these days and weeks are starting to blur for me. It's hard to think about what we've done in the past week, but I'll try my best to remember everything I wanted to say.

To start off, we had transfer calls this past Saturday. We received a call from President Baker, which means one of three things. Someone is being called to be a trainer, someone is being called to a leadership position, or they are going to close down an area. Luckily for our case, it was about the old area of Elder Martinez. President Baker decided that for now, we are going to split it up and share it with the hermanas. But,  Elder Berry, and Elder Martinez, and I will be staying here in Newport News for this Christmas season!

Speaking of Christmas, we also had the chance to watch the Christmas Devotional yesterday night at the Frayde's house. I especially liked the talk by Elder Bednar, and now I don't think I can look at Christmas lights without thinking of Christ.

As missionaries, usually one funny thing happens once a week. This week, it happened when we were backing out our car. It was my turn to back out the car, so I turned around and marched behind. Well, our neighbor started his car at the same time, and started to backup before we did. Well, the two cars are the same color, and I wasn't really paying much attention, so I got behind his car and starting making the hand signals to back him out. I backed him out, and he gave me a pretty funny look as he drove off. My companions teased me quite a bit for that one.

This week was a lot of fun, and even though we are staying in the same area this next transfer, I had to say goodbye to two good friends. The first person I had to say goodbye to was a man named Elian. He was an investigator of ours, and one of the most generous men I have ever met. The other Elders before us were teaching him, so when we got her we just continued. It's hard to get a hold of him, because he always gives his phone to people to borrow. Also, whenever he is not working, he is always working on old beat up cars. He buys old cars, fixes them up, and gives them to people who don't have cars. Free of charge. He is from Cuba, so a lot of times I have to ask him to repeat himself. It's crazy how fast they talk. Well, I should get to the reason why we had to say goodbye. Recently his wife divorced him, now he never sees his daughters, he lost his job, his best friend got killed, his niece is about to die in Cuba, and his grandma who also lives in Cuba needs someone to take care of her. I guess, he just doesn't have any reason to stay here. We went over to his house this week, taught him a quick lesson, and said our goodbyes.

The second person we had to say goodbye to was Hector, our recent convert. He was only living in America because he had a heart condition. He has had several heart attacks, and a heart disease, and currently only one fourth of his heart is working. So he was here in America, where he could get proper care for his heart. Well, he has now stayed the duration of his allotted time, and he returned to Columbia this Sunday. Although I didn't baptize him, I had the opportunity to teach him once we became a trio with Elder Martinez. Even though only a fourth of his heart may be working, I pray that I can have a heart as big and loving as his.

A spiritual insight I would like to share real quick comes from Elder Williams. He is a missionary in our zone, and is actually leaving today to go home, after serving a faithful two year mission. During our zone meeting this past Friday, he gave his departing testimony. He paraphrased a talk by Elder Eyring called No Man Left Behind. Or at least that's what he said he thought it was. I'd like to quote a few insights that I learned from his testimony. He said, that on a battlefield, when a soldier gets shot and falls, everyone yells "Man Down!" and rushes to give him help. Even putting themselves in uncomfortable circumstances to help their friend. Why is it then, in this spiritual battle that we all fight, when someone takes a shot and falls we don't help them? Instead, we sit by and say things like "Oh man, they shouldn't have done that." or "They shouldn't have been there." Instead, we need to rush to their aid and help them. When a soldier gets shot, you don't ask them why they got shot. Why is it then, that we do that with the spiritual battles of our friends and families?

Going along with that, I'd just like to share that some of the most joy I've found in missionary work has been working with the less-active members. They have their testimonies, sometimes it just takes a little work to help them remember it. Sometimes we get all excited when we find new people to teach, but we always have to remember that we have our brothers and sisters in the church that might be just a little lost right now. Maybe they just need a hand. Maybe, they've been shot and they need someone to help them. I have a testimony of missionary work, especially by members. I have seen it here, and I know it is possible no matter where you are.

I love you all so much, and wish yall Happy Holidays during this time we are preparing for Christmas!

-Elder Adams

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Elder Harrison Adams 11-30-15 Newport News, VA


This week we had the Dia de Accion de Gracias (Thanksgiving). Like I said in the prior letter, we had three different Thanksgiving meals set up. The first one we went over to the Richey's house. There we had our traditional Thanksgiving, with mashed potatoes, stuffing, beans, rolls, and pumpkin pies. After that, we had a little bit of time where we went and taught a few lessons to investigators. Then we had to hurry over to the Martinez's house for our second Thanksgiving meal. There we had, more or less, another typical Thanksgiving meal. Well, they're from Panama, so it wasn't quite an "American Thanksgiving." There was a side of rice with almost every dish, which was a little different for Thanksgiving, and a lot of fruits and greens. Finally after this meal, we had one more to go to before the day was over. At this point, I was not looking forward to this last meal. I was already super full, and at the point of bursting! So we arrived at the house of the Herreras, and they brought out a huge plate of food for us. The nice thing about the first two places was that we served ourselves, but here we had no choice but to eat everything that was on our plates. We each had our own little chicken, a huge side of rice, and another huge side of mashed potatoes. I've never felt so sick from food in my life. I was afraid that I was going to throw up. Not because the food was bad, it was delicious, but it was just so much. So after quite some time, we finished our last bit of food. Or so we thought. After we ate all the food on our plates they brought out a birthday cake from the fridge for Elder Martinez. Once again, they served us so we had no choice but to eat a huge slice of cake. After that, we returned home to our house, did our planning as fast as we could for the next day, and passed out in our beds. It was a different Thanksgiving experience, that's for sure. But all of the food was super good.

A few funny stories that happened this week. The first is about me. This actually happened yesterday. We were in a lesson, and we were talking about Joseph Smith. One of the investigators asked if they had to be young like Joseph Smith to find God. But I only heard them say that Joseph Smith was young when he found God. So with a big smile on my face, I looked at them and said "Yes!" Haha. After they good really quiet and a little awkward. And I was wondering why. But then my companions stepped in and told them that they didn't need to be young to find God, because they were both a little older. After that though we had a short laugh.

One more story happened with one of my companions. We were talking about how the Book of Mormon and the Bible are different witnesses of Jesus Christ. One witness in the Americas and one in Jerusalem. Well, instead of saying the word "testigo" for witness, he said the word "testiculos" (testicles). We got a really weird look when he said that. One of the fun things about learning a new language is looking back at the mistakes that you make. At the time it may be embarrassing, but when we think back to those moments we always have a good laugh.

Last thing in this letter, I just want to write about an experience or two that we had this week. The first one happened yesterday, during sacrament meeting. The Spanish Sisters in our area have been working really hard in our area to activate this less active lady. She's come to church the past few weeks, and she's really progressing. But this week, they were impressed to invite her to take her friends to church with her this Sunday. Well, Sunday came along, and we couldn't find the Sisters anywhere and church was about to start. Then they came in through the doors, looked at us, and said "prepare yourselves!" About fifteen people who we had never seen before came in through the church doors, and joined us for our sacrament meeting. Back home I didn't really think fifteen people at church was a big deal, but looking out at our congregation, it was about doubled! That was a really neat miracle that we all saw.

One other thing, we were having a lesson with a lady named Adriana. As far as we know, she has never met with the missionaries before. But while teaching her the Restoration, it all just made sense to her. Normally we have to clarify points about the Restoration, but she was the one saying the things we normally clarify. At the end of the lesson, we were able to set her with a baptismal date. And she invited us back again, and offered us to feed us before the lesson. For Hispanic people, that's a super big deal! So there is lots of potential with her in the future, and I know that God prepares people to receive our message. I have no doubt about that.

I hope y’all had a good Thanksgiving, and hope that y’all are getting excited for Christmas!

-Elder Adams