Benin, Africa

Benin, Africa

Friday, October 28, 2016

October 24, 2016 2 Months!

This week has been one of the best weeks for me, because we worked so hard! i think on thursday we taught 11 lessons!! it was insane! But it was great. My comp has this thing that tracks how far we walk, and on tuesday we walked almost 13 miles!! We didnt have a ton of lessons that day, but we sure did get a bunch of new investigators!
This week we had 2 people say yes to Baptism! One, is a 38 year old man named Benoi, and the other is a very old lady named Martin√®! So they are scheduled for Nov. 19th, so we are very very excited for that! Also this weekend,  we have a family of 8 who are getting baptised!  I have only taught them 3 or 4 times. But I will have the privilege of baptising 3 of them on Saturday!  I can't wait!! 
So saturday was a very cool, yet weird day.. We woke up, studied and ate, and we were going to go out to our lesson, but we didnt dare leave our appartment! about 50 yards from our front door, there was a HUGE VooDoo rally! With about 2000 people.. So there was no way that i, being white, was going to leave.. so we didnt! We stayed in our appartment almost all day.. Because if we would have gone out, and a voodoo "god" saw a white boy,  thats bad bad news.. haha!! So we sat on the roof all day,  and just watched people go crazy!  But at one point it died down for about an hour so we went to check it out. And it was crazy! They have these men dress up in costumes, and run around with drums, and everybody runs from them!! I dont know why, but i think if they touch you, it means that you are cursed or something. But i got some videos and pics that i will add to my Google Drive! 
At the voodoo rally's they get in this huge circle,  and they have these men dressed up in these big costumes. And they dance around,  and randomly chase people, and wack people with these stick things!  And it's fun to watch cause it's just hundreds of people running like they're life depended on it!
I think it was a voodoo holiday,  because the same thing happened on Sunday. But we had a huge meeting with the whole stake (all of Benin) so,  we have a security guard infront of our apartment, and he and 2 other guards walked us through the crowd to our taxi!  It was kinda fun,  everyone couldn't believe that they saw a white boy at a voodoo rally!  I can also say the first time I ever touched marajauna, was on my mission!  This guy handed me this bag and wanted to sell it to me,  and I didn't know what it was,  so I opened it and there was a lot of it..  Haha it laughed and gave it back to him,  and quickly walked away! 
But on a better, more spiritual note, Sunday,  we had a huge conference with all of the members in the country!  It was pretty big,  about the size of 3 normal sized chapels!  So I didn't understand much,  but from what I did,  it was great!  Also,  Africa is very very different..  You wanna know how much different?  At this huge conference,  a lady gave the opening prayer,  and she had a little baby in her arms.  During the prayer the baby started fussing. So,  in the middle of the prayer she lifts up her shirt and starts breast feeding this baby! Everyone kinda freaked out a little it was hilarious!
I love it here,  it's very interesting to me!  The power goes out,  probably 3 or 4 times a day.. But there's a lot of great things here!  The sunsets are beautiful every single night! Most people here love english! All of my investigators ask me to bear my testimony, and pray in english! I have many people ask me to teach them english, so i think this class shoud be getting bigger! One thing I like,  is there are animals everywhere!  Dogs,  chickens,  goats,  lizards, and snakes! At a lesson this week,  this little chicken kept pecking my foot,  and I kept kicking it away.  And after like 30 minutes,  our investigator just picked up the chicken and threw it across the street!  It was hilarious!

Before i end, i would like to share something small that i read in my personal study this week. Alma 32 is amazing! But one thing that really stuck out to me is verse 27. All you have to have is a particle of faith!! All over in the scriptures, it says those who simply believe in christ and repent will be saved. If you have questions or doubts, simply believe in christ, and continue to build your testimont off of that. 
Elder Harris 

This is one of the guys that would chase people. ​
Voodoo Rally

Voodoo Rally

Some of the guys at the voodoo rally wanted a pic with me. Yes they are smoking Weed. But they were super nice! ​

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October 17, 2016

Well i think im getting a little used to africa!

Funny story, we were going to play soccer with a group of investigators, but we had to take a bus. So the busses here are just like a van, that they somehow just pack like 25 people in.. its crazy. But we had to get in the very back of teh van cause it was full. so we get in, and he starts to pull into the road, and we just get smashed by a car! I guess he didnt see us, but it totalled his car, and did some pretty good damage to the van. No one was hurt, but us missionaries got the worst of it cause it was right behind us.. But just some good brusing on the legs and some sore areas! it could have been a lot worse! I know that the lord was really looking out for us! ill attach a picture of the car that hit us! But, i finally saw my first crash here, so thats cool! 

Also this week we had a lot of problems with the water.. i ended up showering with water bottles twice.. that was pretty rough but its okay! 

This morning there were some pretty solid earth quakes too! it didnt do any dammage but it was kinda cool! 

last funny thing. Here in africa people loooove christ. No matter theyre religion. So almost every investigator we teach does this. Whenever someone prays, they just yell AMEN during they prayer!! i was saying a prayer, and i just kept saying stuff cause i wanted them to keep yelling AMEN!! it startled me at first, and i laughed sooo hard in the missle of one of my prayers, but people love to jsut agree with you right away i guess! 

Things are great here. Crazy, but great. We have about 4 solid investigators, and they are doing great! One of them, hes learing english, so i teach all of his lessons in english! Speaking of that, me and my companion might be putting together an english class every wednesday night! Ive had cuontless people ask me to teach them english, so that might happen soon! 

I love it here! Its very very hot, extremely humid, but gerat! I know that the lord loves each and every single one of you, and if you ever ever need help, just pray with real intent. The lord wants you to be happy!! 

Thank you all for the prayers and support.


Elder Harris 
This is Jack! he is so cute!!
this is the car that hit us!
my companion and i! our shirts are both from madascgar! Thanks tosh (;

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October 11, 2016 Things just offically got real

Well, we finally flew out! we ended up flying from utah straight to Paris, and we ran from that flight straight onto the other flight to Benin! We were probably only in paris for about 20 minutes..on the flight to Benin we talked to soo many people! i gt 3 contacts beforei even got there! Once we got there, right as they opened the door, the windows immeadenly fogged up because it is sooo humid here! that night we just met the president and went to bd at the office.
The next day we had training for about an hour, and then they threw us in a taxi to meet our companions!my companions name is Elder Rajamalala! He is just a little guy from Madascgar! he is sooo nice, and everybody loves him! he has been out for about 13 months, and just got dont with being the Assistant to the Pres.! So, he is great, but he has a lot of problems with obedience.. sadly, basically this whole mission does! they all base theyre mission off of a scripture. D & C 10, 4. it basically just says work hard play hard.. SO we will work on that.. He works very very hard, but also breaks a lot of rules.. but love him a lot!!
So, Africa.. its impossible to describe. the only way i can explain it, is just think of the poorest, dirtest, place in the world.. also SO crouded!! everyone here rides Mottos and i mean EVERYONE!! kids, old people, they can fit soo many people on a motto. In the states,  a motto can fit 1 person maybe 2! in Benin, on one motto, a family of 5, a couch, 2 dogs, 12 chickens, and a goat. no joke. yesterday i saw someone had a fridge on theyre motto!! so, im not even really worried about the malaria or sickness, im worried about getting killed by a motto! they dont even care about pedesterians.. they will drive 60 mph 6 inches away from yuo and not even bat an eye.. so we gotta be careful!!
Also, i dont think they speak french here!! its soooo different!! seriously, it doesnt sound like french, it sounds like just an african language... but im starting to understand a little but its goingto take a looonngg time.. Also one thing here is the smell.. i dont mean to be negative but its just so bad.. but its okay!! there are about 100 missionaries in this mission. Only a handful from the states. Most from the Congo, or ivory coast, or ghana or Nigera! For some reason the congos are just..... annoying.. they are sooo disruptive and never want to listen.. but its okay! im glad they came to serve and i hope that they can help us all feel the spirit inthis crazy country!!
yesterday we went to this huge marker in cotonou, and it was so funny cause i ended up buying raybands, a rolex watch, and nike shoes, for 8 dollars... it was so cool there!!

I just want to share a crazy, but spritual story to end. So, like i said my comp is a little me and elder Jensen wanted to work but our comps just wanted to sleep.. so even though elder jensen and i had only been in the country for 1 day, and new zero french, we decided to go tracting! so we left, and it was funny because we were the only 2 white guys in this huge city. So we talked to a whole bunch of people! But about an hour in, we had a group of abuot 8 or 9 guys stop us.. and basically they just robbed us..  they took our watches, glasses, and all of our money.. as they did this they pulled our a panphlet out of my backpack! and asked what it was, i began to explain that we were missionaries of jesus christ,  and i asked them some questions and long story short, i asked them to come to church with us and they ended up giving us all of our stuff back and just walking away!!! but they didnt come to church.. i just thought that was a cool story, and an example that the lord is helping me.
i love this mission, and i am so happy to finally be here!!!
Elder Harris

October 10, 2016 An Email From President Morin

Good Morning,
We would like to inform you of the arrival of your wonderful son in the mission field October 4th, 2016. He will be serving in Benin in an area called Universit√© with a great companion named Elder Randriamalala from Madagascar. His next preparation day, the day he will be able to write home, is Monday, so you should be hearing from him soon. We also attached a picture of your son with my wife and I. He is looking great and is happy to finally be here, and you can be proud of the service your son is doing at this time for the Lord. May God bless you.

President and Sister Morin.

October 1, 2016 HAD SO MUCH FUN!!

LOVE YOU ALL!! had so much fun at conference today!! 

September 30, 2016 ALMOST TO AFRICA!

These are the "Benin Boys" All of us fly out on tuesday! 
Wow, what a week! This is my last week in the MTC, and on tuesday i fly out to AFRICA!

Choir is awesome! I am singing a Tenor 1.. so basically i sing as high as i possibly can the whole time..but its great! Just in case you didnt catch it, i will be singing in the MTC Choir for General Conference for this Saturday Afternoon session! I actually got a really good seat too. I will be on the 3rd row, almost right smack in the middle of the whole choir!  There is only one Elder to my right, and then its the sisters. So, if you would like, look for me. Who knows, i just might give the camera a little wink (; JK i might get excommunicated if i do. My Director would snap my badge right in half.. We have had practice twice daily! In 8 days, we had almost 23 hours of choir practice.. about 2 hours every morning, and 2 every night, and on tuesday we had almost 6 hours of practice! So its really been wearing me out.. but so worth it! 

So, this has been such a great week, but soo long.. Our whole zone is so excited to get out into the field, and classes seem to be twice as long.. Plus, yesterday, we had 'In-Field Orientation' and what that is, is 'Sit in class for 8 hours and learn about absolutely nothing' just kidding, it was great but soo long.. They just taught us how to work with Members, and what to eat from street venders, and what pills to take if we get really sick (that part was sketchy) and just random things about how to always act like a missionary and not like a tourist.. So that was fun kinda. 

This week has also been awesome because i feel a little more comfortable with my french. I know once i get there, i will basically forget all of it, but thats okay! because the lord will provide! 

I dont have much more to write about, Other than one small experience that i had last night:
So every night from 9:30 to 10:15 we have a little time to get ready for bed, and to write in journals, and talk with our zone. Well i was walking down the hall just going back to my room, when i had the weirdest impression to knock on this door.. i didnt even know who lived there! So i knocked, and Elder King answered the door. Elder king is a district leader of a very very small district, and more or less, a kind of odd kid. But he opened the door just bawling, and i started talking to him, and he had been having problems with depression and home sickness, and physical sickness, and he told me that every time he asked his companion to give him a blessing, the companion would always make up excuses of why he couldn't do it right then.. Long story short, I talked with Elder King for a long time, and he asked me to give him a blessing. So me and my companion got dressed in our sunday best, and I was able to give him a blessing. Now i know this story isnt really huge or exotic, but it is one of the only times in my life that i have felt the spirit so strong! It guided me into that room, and i was able to relate, and help elder king! 

I heard a quote this week, it says "We follow gods commandments not because we fear him, But because we love him" I know that this church is True. I love it with every ounce of my little heart, and cant wait to share my happiness with the amazing people of Benin! 

Love you all so much! 

-Elder Harris 

p.s. congrats to Connor for making the football team, and Tosh for skydiving! Love you two! 

 Elder Baker and i getting ready for Choir practice! (look at my sick shoes)

September 23, 2016 Such an amazing week in the MTC!

Before i start my email to everyone, i just want to congratulate my Beautiful sister Sydney for having her baby this week!!! On September 20th, at 8:00 Pm (i think) Lewis Jay Raynes was born!! CONGRATS SYD AND DAVE I LOVE YOU GUYS AND I CANT WAIT TO MEET LEWIS! 

Anyway, there wasn't a whole lot that happened this week.. But there are some exciting things! 

So Being the district leader is getting harder and harder.. Ive had 5 elders come in and talk to me about other elders in the district.. So ive had to try and help them out, and thats been great! But its just a lot more that me and my Branch president have to think about.. I also get to attend 5 meetings a week! I actually dont mind the meetings, but i do have to really prepare for them.. Dont get me wrong, i love being the DL, i get to pray for the elders in my district and help them as much as i can! 

On sunday we had choir practice, and then the devotional. After the devotional they were handing out flyers to come and audition to be in the MTC Choir for General Conference! So our whole district decided to try out! So on monday, we auditioned and we got to pick any song we want! So i picked the song "I Lava You" its like off of a short film made by disney or something... But this elder in my district played the Uke with it and it went well! But there were just over 1,900 missionaries that tried out so i wasnt getting my hopes up.. haha, but on tuesday, i got a letter in the mail inviting me to sing in General Conference!! I will be singing with about 200 elders and 200 sisters, for the Saturday Afternoon session! So, maybe look out for me? And if you are coming to conference, id love to hear from you before hand! 

We had our first practice on tuesday, and we have 10 days to memorize and perfect 4 songs... so please pray for us! They gave me a new suit to wear, and its so nice! The lady said it was a $500 suit! So, gotta be careful.. Also, this morning, me and this other Elder n my district, Elder Baker, got asked to be the section leaders for the Tenors! So, basically just more work.. BUT its good cause the MTC is flying by cause im so busy! 

That was basically the huge news for the week! Our investigators are progressing, and the lessons are getting a lot better! Our french is good enough to teach on almost anything we want without notes! But i dont want to say that i speak good french, cause i know if i do, then i will have to take it back in a couple days in africa.. So! 'Bonne Chance' (good luck) to me.

I cant even begin to to explain how much i love my whole district and zone! Every night in the Dorms, we have spiritual rap battles! Elder Dorsey (an African american Elder) Always battles against someone else! They are actually really good!! 

Lastly i would just like to share something spiritual. This week i was digging deeper into the subject of Faith. And i came across Ether 12:6 in my personal study! If you are ever having problems with faith, read this! It talks about faith are things that are not seen, and faith will NEVER come until after you have received a trial of faith! So if you are ever going through any trials, its because the lord knows that you can handle it, and he knows that you can learn from it! 

I love this Mission with all my heart, and i cant wait to Fly out to Africa in 9 days! 

I love you all, and thank you for your support! 

Elder Harris 

This is my song book for General Conference! 

September 16, 2016 I LOVE MY MISSION SO MUCH!

This week was by far the best week yet!! So many amazing things happened! 

To start off, on sunday we were in our classroom studying, and our Branch President came in and asked to see me in the hall! So we went out and talked for a while, and finally at the end of our little meeting, he extended an invitation to me to be the new District Leader! and of course i said yes! I was so excited!! So, basically i pick up all the mail, and attend a ton of meetings throughout the week, and i get to conduct all of our district meetings, and its fun! Plus, now i can pray for my district more, and hopefully be able to help them as much as i can! 

Also on sunday, we always have a devotional, and usually the sunday devotionals are just someone thats not very widely known throughout the church, and we knew we werent going to get like an apostle or anything cause we had elder Christopherson last week! But we thought wrong.. As we sang in the choir, Elder M. Russell Ballard walks in the building!!  It was so amazing to hear him talk! He just talked about how important  it was to have a good attitude as a missionary, and what things we can do to make the mission more enjoyable! a few cool things that he said were: 
"as a missionary, you are literally standing in for the lord" 
"Christ is our Hero! Act like it in every way!" 
and last, "Its not about teaching knowledge, its about teaching the spirit" 
So that was amazing experience! 

Then came Tuesday, and we knew that an apostle wasnt coming cause we had already had 2 in the past week! well.. To our astonishment, Elder Quentin L. Cook walks in, as the whole place goes silent! He talked about The 4 ways to love your mission more! Love your companion, the people, your mission Pres, and mostly the lord! He also asked us to all read d&c, so i will be doing that soon! 

So, in one week in the MTC, we had 3 apostles of God Come and speak to us!!! 

That was probably the best part of my week! Other than that, The french is still really hard, But its coming! We have 2 'investigators' that are progressing really well! Alice, commited to baptism, and is doing great, and Hospice hasnt commited just yet but i think he will soon! 

Teaching in french is actually really really fun! I love the language so much! Something cool that my teacher said, is basically that the language shouldnt ever be a barrier in our lessons.. he said if you teach with the spirit, and are very prepared, then the lord will always help the lesson progress! 

Speaking of, I love my teacher! He just got back from Benin, and He says that he compares Benin to Haiti! The people are basically the same, they are just as poor, and everything is pretty rough over there.. But he said you just get used to things not ever working! haha like the water, or the power.. he said you cant really rely on anything.. so. CANT WAIT!!!! 

We had a Malaria Appointment yesterday with the MTC Doctor guy, and he said he has been to every single country in africa, but not Benin!! He said that Benin is the Malaria Capital of the world.. He scared the crap out of our whole district! But then he said that everything was going to be okay cause the church is really really good at treating it.. haha He said dont be scared of malaria, but we HAVE to respect it! whatever that means.. 

I love this mission, its so hard, yet so dang good! I miss everyone so much, but thank you all for your prayers! S/O to Connor! Happy 16th Birthday buddy i love you so much dont kiss too many girls!!! And Special S/O to Sydney!! Good luck with everything!! I hope that the baby comes this week!!!!!! 

-Elder Harris 

Quote of the week: How do you bring people Heaven? Teach the Hell out of them.

September 9, 2016 LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!

The provo MTC is the weirdest/coolest place! Last saturday we had a class with our whole french zone, and i had to go to the bathroom so elder slade and i walked out of the room and there was like 10 elders huddled around something, so we went to check it out. And there was a BAT!! it was just a lil guy, but it was like walking around, and we were all taking pictures and stuff. So that was interesting! On of the Sisters dorm buildings had to be evacuated because of a huge bat problem! 

As missionaries we dont have too much to talk about.. one of our conversations this week was "Do Celestial beings fart...? and if so, does it smell good...? seeing as how no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of god..." so yeah that was interesting... 

another funny thing, was we were planning our district goals. and our teacher wrote "Big Goals" on the board. but it was funny because she wrote it in french, and in french 'big goals' is "Grande Buts"!! So it was funny cause she had no idea why there were 11 elders laughing soo hard cause she just wrote big buts on the board really big!! 

one last funny thing. Its funny at the MTC, you can always tell where a bathroom is, because there will be like 20 elders just chillin in the hall! and its funny because they're just all waiting for they're companions to get out of the bathroom!! so its always funny to walk past them and just know why they are there! 

Every sunday night we have a devotional, and it was great cause our whole district joined the choir, and so we got really good seats for the devotional! And we had the treat of listening to Chad Smith!! Chad played for BYU football, and eventually went on to play 10 years in the NFL! mostly for the Phili Eagles! it was so great listening to what he had to say to all of us missionaries! 

So every sunday and tuesday we have devotionals, and sunday devotionals are usually someone who is not as widely knows as the tuesday speakers! so. On tuesday, we were in the choir, and i just had this feeling that we should get there extra early.. so we got there waaay early and got front row seats! so we practiced with the choir for an hour, and waited for about an hour in our seats for the devotional.. and in walks Elder D. Todd Christofferson. and the whole place just went dead silent as he walked in.. SOOOO COOL!! He mostly just spoke about repentance,and why its so vitally important in the church! and at the end, he said a few things. He said "As an apostle i know how much the church loves the missionaries. The quorm of the 12 and the first presidency consider you guys to be our companions. And you need to go all over the world and invite people to repent! Because as a missionary, You truly hold the kingdom of heaven in your hands.." mind. blowing. He was such a great speaker!! 

Other than that, the week has been pretty much the same! French is so hard. Being with a companion is so hard. And having a 16 hour day, with basically no free time is sooo hard.. But this Gospel is worth it. I know that there is people in Benin who have been praying for me, and need to hear the message that i have prepared for them! 

My goal in the MTC, is to just be that elder that everyone wants to be around!  I talk to everybody. I ask everyone where they are going. and i simply just try and be friends with everyone!! Its so much fun! At one of the devotionals, i sat next to this kid, and right away started talking with him! He was from argentina, got called to serve is Turkey. Before the MTC, didnt know any english, and he had to learn turkish which is a 9 week mtc stay!! SOOOO COOL! He was so nice amd just had a great testimony. Ever since i met him, i knew that i could do this! If that elder can learn 2 languages, and have a great attitude, then why cant i?! so, my mission goal, is to be the elder who is always happy, and just loves everyone!  

If you want to have a good life, Simply serve. Always. 

I love all of you, I pray for you every single day, and im thankful for your prayers! 

Elder Harris 

p.s. want to have a good week? Read 2 Nephi 31-33. It will change your life.