Benin, Africa

Benin, Africa

Thursday, March 9, 2017

March 6, 2017 Best weekend activity: Being in a baptismal font!

Well this week was so dang full of ups, with a dash of downs. A pinch of tiredness, added with a couple bags of happiness! 

First of all, Happy Birthday to my beautiful sister Sydney this week!!!! I am going to be honest, i dont even know exactly how old you are, but youre getting old!! You have 2 beautiful childern, and a little less beautiful husband (; I love you so so much Syd!! 

Well, like i said, this week was more or less crazy! Lots of great things hapened, and thats all i really want to focous on! Benin is a very different place.. I very very rarely teach a lesson inside of a house, with a couch, and a tv. Most little houses that we go in, are 2 rooms. The front room is like a jail cell. No windown, no lights, and almost nothing.. Ususlly a few fold up chairs, and a coffee table is it! Not to mention, it feels a hundred times hotter in the houses because there is no wind! So, i would say, 97 percent of lessons are taught outside, sitting under some shade, sitting on some buckets or rocks. Well, this week i had a very spritual moment. Inside a one room house, we were teaching a lady named sophie. We taught for a long time, and as we were getting close to the end, i realized that i couldnt even read my scriptures because it was so dark! But we kept teaching. And we talked, until the inly light was from the moon! At the end of the lesson, we both bore our testimonies, and we invited her to be baptised. Even though i couldnt see her face, i could tell she was so excited! That pitch black room with us, a few members, and this poor lost Sister sophie, was absoutley filled with the Spirit. With no sight, it is so much easier to focus on the Spirit, and it was amazing!! Sophie came to church, and is planned to be baptised in 3 weeks

Speaking of Baptisms, Elder Kola and I got to baptise 4 people this weekend!! A man named Fabrise, his wife Vanessa, and we baptised a little boy (not their son) james, and a little girl (not their daughter) named Gracie! My companion didnt want to for some reason, so i was able to help them enter the waters! 

Words cant explain the happiness that was felt on saturday afternoon as all of these amazing people made this covenant! 

I hope everybody has a great week, i hope that you all know that God is watching over us. No matter what might happen in life, weather we want it or not, God has a plan. All we have to do is have faith in him, and our lifes will be filled with happiness! 

Je vous aime de tout mon coeur! 

Elder Harris 

February 27, 2017 6 MONTHS!!

Well mom, and anyone else who reads these, it has offically been 6 months since i have left, and it has been life changing!! in these past 6 months, i have been in the MTC, the CalaviĆ© sector and the Menotin Zogbo sector. i am on my 4th companion (counting the mtc) and i have loved all of them! A lot of things have been thrown my way, and i am sure the throwing wont stop. And neither will i! Just like all of the other missionaries in the world, i will always continue to push forward and put my trust in the Lord! 

Not a whole bunch to report on for this week, but it was a great one! We had a baptism set up for this sunday, but it was our ward conference so we had to push it back..but what a ward conference it was!! I cant even begin to explain how much i love my new ward! There are not a ton of people, but they are all so nice. We have this group of like 6 old ladies, and they are so funny! they have their own 'click' in the ward! they sit in the exact same spots every week, and people basically line up to say hi to them! This week, we were super busy before church, and i didnt get a chance to say hi to them. Well, as soon as sacrament ended, they all got up out of theyre chairs and got 'mad' at me because i didnt say hi to them! i felt bad, so i gave them all hugs! (dont tell president!) 

One other thing i love about my ward is the kids!! This week they definately made themselves known by all going crazy during sacrament! They all just randomly started howling in the middle of the meeting! (it was like on zootopia! "dude, youre going to start a howl!") So that was hilarious. Plus they are attracted to me because im white. But i dont even care why they love me, as long as they do! 

Not too much actually happened this week though. Lots of extra responsibilities because of the new calling, but i dont mind!

I read in D&C 84 this week. I loved the part where it is talking about the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood. Do you want to feel the spirit?? Read D&C!!! 

Thank you all for you Love and support over the past 6 months! I cant wait to see what these next 18 have in store! 

Elder Harris 

February 20, 2017 PICS

11-14) this is one of the houses on the water that we got to teach at!  

My awesome new Lava Lamp
Elder and Sister vincent with the Benin Missionaries
Me and Elder Kanda (from the Congo)
Me and Elder Ravyvo (from madagascar)
The Zone larders and our companions with Elder and Sister Vincent
Elder and Sister Vincent with me! 
My companion Elder Kola with us
random, but this is our taxi! Its like a 3 Motorcycly with 3 wheels and a cover
Elder Jayne and Alexander are some of my best friends! 
Elder Jayne and Alexander are some of my best friends! 
this is one of the houses on the water that we got to teach at! 
this is one of the houses on the water that we got to teach at! 
this is one of the houses on the water that we got to teach at! 
this is one of the houses on the water that we got to teach at! 

February 20, 2017 Spritual Overload!

Twas a week that the spirit of the Lord was Proufoundly spoken! 

First off, me and my companion were in this market one night, and there was a booth that was selling the most random stuff. I started looking through it, and i found a Lava lamp!! I kinda freaked out cause i was so excited! So i bought it as quick as i could, and that it my newest ammusement! 

Okay, this might have been one of the most spritualy uplifting weeks of my whole mission! Elder Vincent, is a member of the 70, and he came and visited the mission for a few days! He was in togo for 3 days, and spend 3 here too. On wednesday, we got to the church at 12:30, and didnt leave until almost 9:00!! He came and spoke to everybody, starting at around 3:00 and he ended at around 6:30 pm.. very long meeting. But the craziest part, is he doesnt even speaks french. Well, he does a little, but he has only been learning for the past few months, and he just basically talked for almost 3 hours straight!! Before he talked, i was given the oportunity to also give a talk. I talked about Faith in Jesus Christ through obedience. It went very very well! I got to talk to him after for a very long time, and we talked for a long time on how much the savior loves us. Life changing day that day!! 

The next day, i got a call from my president. So i had a meeting with him, and Elder Vincent sat in too! They told me that they needed a new Zone Leader in the mission, so he asked me to do it! I was so happy, yet so worried.. Zone leaders have a lot more things to do, and a lot more missionaries to deal with sometimes, but i am so grateful to be able to serve as a ZL! My work started about 10 minutes after i revieved the calling, we had a meeting with all of the zone leaders, the assistants, My President, and Elder and Sister Vincent! They gave us some amazing advice on how we can improve our Zones. So once again, i have been so blessed to work very closely with some amazing people!! 

Well, that was probably the best part of this week! Also these past few days we have been looking for some new investigators to teach. Part of our sector is the shore line of a huge lake, so we walked down there, and taught many lessons in houses that were on stilts! some of the houses we had to walk down a little pier kinda thing, and 3 or 4 of them we took a small boat out to them! Sadly, we had to have someone translate because they dont speak any french! But the spirit taught them, even though we dont speak "Faun". I will add some pictures that we took because it is so cool! 

I cant explain how much Love that i have for my Heavenly Father. He is my Best friend.

I love you all!! 

Elder Harris 

February 16, 2017 Your Missionary

Dear parents of Elder Harris,

We thought you might like to know that your missionary son is doing great in Benin. My husband, ElderTerence M. Vinson of the Seventy and I have spent the past 3 days touring the Benin Cotonou Mission. Today we held a Mission Leadership Council meeting where your son, was in attendance. During the meeting, as the needs and successes of each Zone were discussed we could feel of your son's commitment to the Lord and to his mission. We were impressed and grateful to be there with these very fine Elders and Sisters.

Our youngest son is currently serving in Jackson, Mississippi, so we know how you feel as you wait each week for news of your son, and thought you might enjoy this brief report and photo.

We pray that the Lord will bless your family and your missionary son as he continues his faithful service in Benin.

With love,

Sister Kay Vinson

I would just like to add that I really enjoyed the interaction I had during the Zone Conference with ElderHarris. He expressed some tender feelings in a comment that he made.

February 13, 2017 SO Blessed!

What an insane week it has been for so many great reasons! 

Lets just get the bad stuff over with real quick. Had Malaria, and with doctors and meds, i can finally say its GONE!! Well, at least i feel better! i hope its gone for good this time! But it started feeling bettter saturday, but i had a doctors appointment that day so i went anyways. The doctor was still a little bit worried, so he made me get a few x-rays. Good thing, cause ironically, because i have been taking so much medication, guess who has a few stomach ulcers?? well, better than malaria! So, they hurt, but its not too bad. Im supposed to eat foods that are easy on my stomach, like bananas, so i aint mad! 

okay this week ended off being so great! i LOVE my new sector! my last sector was more of a village, and now im a little more in the city. So within 5 minutes i can walk to almost everything i want! Our apartment is nice too, it shares a little courtyard with a family, and their kids are so cute and fun. They always just stand in our doorway and wait for us to come and play with them! There is a little boy, and two little girls. The youngest girl, lily, loves me and Elder Argien (from the reunion island). Shes probably 2 1/2 maybe 3. 

My new companion, Elder Kola from the Congo, is great too! we didnt get to teach much this week, but when we did, he is amazing! He is very spritual, and teaches very clearly. We met with multiple investigators, and famlies of members on sunday, and it was so much fun! So that brings me to the best part of this sector, is the new ward. There are probably 50ish people who come, and all were so welcoming and loving. Plus, our building is the stake center (the only one in the whole country) and its fairly big. We had 5 random people just walk in and asked for the lessons! Of course we were more then happy to talk to them, and we have already filled up our schedule for this next week! 

Already, i can see the lord blessing me in this new city, with everything i could ask for and more! I can not wait to finally be able to teach fully! 

Lastly, this sunday was a missionay sunday in our ward. All 4 of us gave talks in sacrament, we even taught a lot of the classes too. My talk was on faith in Jesus Christ, and it went great. Our mission President randomly showed up, and got to watch all of our talks, so that was stressful! But it went so well, my french seemed so much easier, and i could feel the spirit so strong. I also got to teach the primary, so that might have been the funnest hour of my whole life. We talked about baptism, and i dont think i have ever smiled so much! 

Well, twas a great week. I love this gospel more than i ever have! Thank you to everybody who has been fasting and praying for me and my health. I can promise the Lord will bless you for your faith. 

Elder AIRis (french doesnt believe in H)

February 13, 2017 PICS

Elder Nubert came to visit me on his way out to Togo.. really going to miss him!
Elder Argien and I teaching some lessons late sunday night
Elder Argien and I teaching some lessons late sunday night

The rest) People i had to say goodbye to in my last sector.. Love them SO much! 

January 23, 2017 Light ALWAYS overcomes darkness

This week went by so fast! But, sadly w didnt have a whole bunch of success..My companion and i have both been feeling a little off this week too. He has been having problems breathing, and i have been running a small fever for the past few days, but its all good! Hard work always helps right? 

This week we had another incounter with some Voooo in our Village. (We are in the most North sector in the counrty so we see more than most missionaries) We were walking home from a lesson, and it was pretty dark outside. We heard the drums, so naturally we took different roads to avoid it. But, three men came out of no where! Honestly i was ready to start running, but my companion just stopped. We stood there as these three man, is huge costumes walked up to us yelling "Yovo Yovo Blanch Blanch" Which means they were talking to me.. the only white person.. One of them came up to me and looked e straight in the eyes, and after 10 seconds or so, they just all walked away. Honestly, after i saw my companion, not scared, just standing there, i wasnt scared either! Later he told me that the powers of the Satan are real, and very powerfull. But the powers of God are real too, and way more powerfull than him. So that was a testimony builder for me, and it teaches me how powerfull the Priesthood is. Those men could have started beating on us with their sticks, but for some reason they didnt. And that reason is our Heavenly Father who was watching over us. 

I hope you all realize the power that the Lord has, and the power that he has given to missionaries, leaders, and everybody in this church. 

Light ALWAYS overcomes darkness. 

Elder Harris 

PS Happy Birthday this wek Mom!!! You are the greatest mother in the whole world. I could not ever serve this mission without you, you are my biggest supporter and my best friend! You are a great Mother, Grandmother, wife, and daughter! plus, i know im your favorite son.. I love you so much!! 

PPS Happy Birthday to my nephew Calvin this week too!! He turns 3 this week, and i love him so much. Ya gotta cute kid Syd and Dave. 

Me, Elder Jayne and Elder Uaua just balled it up in football. 
Me, Elder Jayne and Elder Uaua just balled it up in football.
We were playing football, and these kids asked to come and play with
us, and one of them was wearing a Tom Brady shirt! So i thought that was 
cool. (I never have, and never will EVER support Tom Brady or the Patriots
in my whole life. Just cool that he had a football shirt on....)

We were playing football, and these kids asked to come and play with
us, and one of them was wearing a Tom Brady shirt! So i thought that was 
cool. (I never have, and never will EVER support Tom Brady or the Patriots
in my whole life. Just cool that he had a football shirt on....)

just kind of a cool pic we took sitting in the middle of the freeway! 

February 7, 2017 Forward from Gavin

Hello everybody!  How are ya? Good?  Good.  I'm good too! This week was a little bit rough,  for a couple of reasons, but happiness is still the focous of this mission for me! 

Well, to start off, last week I was feeling a little bit sick. Mostly just fever and stomach problems. I think it was Tuesday night, where I threw up 4 or 5 times, and decided to get some real help.. we took a taxi to the hospital, and sadly I have malaria.. again. So! I spent the next few nights in the hospital until they thought I was okay to go home. But the doctors prescribed me with the wrong medicine! Obviously I didn't know that, so I took it. It was sleeping pills and a liquid to help me sleep. And I did sleep! I slept all night, and I woke up at about 7:30 at night!! And still was pretty drowsy when I woke up. Apparently that medicine is for people with insomnia, and missionaries aren't allowed to take that.. anyway,  I have been in bed for the past week, and sadly, I dont feel better at all.. 

From what my parents have told me, a lot of you guys back at home have been fasting for me. I can't thank you enough for thinking of me, and adding me in your prayers! You have already helped me more than i can imagine! So, thank you very very much. 

This week was also transfers! We got our calls on Saturday night,  and I got moved to the "Menotin" sector. My old sector was a total village, and not I'm in the city! In facrlt, across the street from my house is the Benin national soccer staidum. So that's pretty cool!  My new companion is elder Kola. He is from the Congo, and from what I've seen so far, he is a very hard worker! I don't really know him too much,  but I'm sure we will get along just great and hopefully have a very successful transfer. 

I don't have a whole bunch to write about this week, because I have spent most of it in the hospital, and my bed.. but, I want you all to know how grateful I am for your love and support! When I get down on myself, all I have to do is think about you all at home and it makes me so so happy! 

I love this gospel more than i can explain in words. 

Elder Harris 

January 16, 2017 The Lord is Cheeky.

This might have been one of the busiest weeks of my mission! I dont think i have ever taught so much, and worked so hard! Even though we didnt leave our apartment for 2 days.. Tuesday and Wednesday was ''Days of Voodoo".. So we got a call from our President, telling us we werent alowed to leave our front door.. So we didnt! We had to have one of our secuirity guards, Patrick, get all of our food for us! Other than that, a very busy week! Im finding that i am so much happier when we work hard! 

Arm from surgery is feeling okay. Nothing new! 

On Saturday we got so blessed! We had our daily planning on Friday night, and we have an investigator who we sadly were talking abuot dropping.. We had taught her for 4ish months, and she never even comes to church. But we decided that we would go over one more time! So, we went. And she was busy, but she said we could come in as she cut another lady's hair! As we started teaching, the lady getting her hair done statred getting really interested! To the point that she was the one asking us tons of questions! She said that she was having a hard time with prayer, so we taught her about that, and about when Joseph Smith first prayed. (READ Moroni 10:4-5) By the end of the lesson, they didnt want us to leave! She talked a lot at the end, and she told us that she is positive that God sent us, on this day, at this exact time while she was getting her hair done. Heavenly Father might work in strange ways sometimes. But his goal is always to bring his children back to him. 

I dont have too much to share this week, but i always have my testimony. I read 1 Nephi 14: 10 this week. And i had t read it a few times to actually get it. But after, its now one of my favorite scriptures! It says that you are either in the church of God, or you aren't. No Grey areas. There are a lot of really great churches in the world! And they do, and believe great things! But they dont have the FULL truth. We, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, have it. And for that reason, is why me, and thousands of other missionaries sacrifice this time for our Savior. As hard as it is, i wouldnt trade it for the world. 

I love you all, have a great week! 

P.S. CONGRATS KYLE AND DEANNA!!! I am sure that your wedding on saturday was so beautiful! Kyle, i look up to you more than you know, and Deanna, you are by far my favorite sister in-law (; Love you!! 

This is one of my best friensd in our branch! Johanas is preparign for a mission.

This is one of my best friensd in our branch! Johanas is preparign for a mission.

Elder Argien is from Renion island Madascgar, Elder Uaua is from Tahiti
Elder Rgien again, and Elder Jayne in the back
The Elder in the middle, Elder Gozallo, is the Zone leader! This is at one of our investigators little shops! We set up charis, and teach her there. 
1 and 2) This is one of my best friensd in our branch! Johanas is preparign for a mission.
3) Elder Argien is from Renion island Madascgar, Elder Uaua is from Tahiti
4)Elder Rgien again, and Elder Jayne in the back
5) The Elder in the middle, Elder Gozallo, is the Zone leader! This is at one of our investigators little shops! We set up charis, and teach her there. 

January 30, 2017 From Elder Harris

Problems with email again!  Here's what he said:

I dont have much time to write this week.. plus not much happened! One thing was last saturday we were playing baskatball with some investigators, and long story short my left middle finger got broken.. so that will be wrapped up for a little while! But that shouldn't affect anything, except my amazing jump shot! (By the way, we ended up winning that game so our investigators and their friends had to come to church with us!) 

I also just wanted to say how amazing this church is. Wow. Every Sunday we teach the same exact lessons that you teach! Out here in a little village in Africa, we are learning and teaching the same lessons that you all are in the states! And Its like that for the whole world. God has planned this so perfectly it's unreal! 

I hope you all know that Heavenly Father loves you more than you can comprehend. 

I'll talk to you all in a solid 7! 

Elder Harris

January 9, 2017 From Elder Harris

Gavin can't get his email out because the recipient list is too long!  Here it is :) 

I learned a lot of good lessons this week! But sadly, i didnt get to teach a whole bunch of them.. My new companion is so great! Elder Ouizan Bi is from the Ivory Coast. He has been out for 16 months, and loves to work hard! Usually.. Sadly, this week was not one of those weeks where he wanted to work a ton..But we still did teach, and our lessons went really well! Its nice to get a new companion, because you get to see different styles of teaching. And his style of teaching, is not talking a lot.. So, that means i get to practice my french more! We have 3 people commited for baptism this month, and i pray that they will all follow through! 

Last week i had a very different experience with a surgrey that i hasd to get.. I had a small infection, and it had to be taken out. But, its doing better now! I almost always keep it wrapped us, with lotion or something on it to keep it wet. One day i left it dry, and couldnt move it fast, and basically couldnt move it at all.. I was actually really scared that the stitches would rip if i kept moving it, so i didnt.. But its doing better, so hopefully it can blow over soon.

One of my best experiences this week happened on wednesday. We had a ton of random trashy and pointless things in the apartment. So we got a huge pile of usless things and threw it away! Here, we just put all of our garbage infront of our apartment, and there are people who get paid to come picl it up. So we threw everything away, and didtn think much of it. As we left to go to a couple of lessons, a man was digging through it! As we walked past him, all he could say was Thank you! Wekk, we came back about 5 hours later, and he was still going through it!! He had set aside a huge pile of things that he was going to take home with him.We helped him carry it to his house, and he thanked us like 200 times. But he showed up at our door the next morning. We didnt know, but he had found a ton of brochures in the garbage! He read all of them, and wanted to know more. Now, Sylvestry is our newest investigator, and he is so ready for the gospel! The Lord works in very strange ways sometimes. But I am glad that this man is finding happiness in our message! 

I wanted to share a chapter that i read this week. Moroni 7 is an absolute life changer!! It talks about Faith, Love, and Charity. It also lists many other christlike attributes. Actually, it was so good that i spend 2-3 hours reading and marking it!! If anyone who is reading this has time, read it please. And look for the attributes that are listed in it. Try and live one of those things better every day, and i promise that your life will get so much easier and better. 

I love you all so much, and love serving the Lord ! 

Elder Harris