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Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013 - Seasons Greetings :D

Merry Christmas from Elder Miles
It was awesome to be able to Skype everyone on Christmas!! That was definitely the highlight of my Christmas... even though I got some pretty sweet new ties! On Christmas Eve we had dinner with a member family and watched "Joy to the World". On Christmas we ate breakfast with a member family, opened some presents from them, read the Christmas story, and Skyped. Then we went to Denny’s for lunch with the Zone Leaders. A random lady that wasn't even a member paid for us! We all really appreciated it! When she saw the bill she probably had some second thoughts (haha). Then we had dinner at another families house and played Jenga - that was probably one of the more intense games of Jenga I’ve ever played.

Christmas was over all really fun, but it went by way to quickly! Everyone was under the impression that we got to watch movies on New Year’s Eve, because they did last year, but they told us we don't get to. I was super excited to see Despicable Me 2, but it will have to wait until Halloween next year!

Mount Vernon Ward Church on the Potomac River
We had a trainers/trainee meeting the day after Christmas. During our lunch time President Riggs decided he wanted to play a game of Lightning (Speed, Knockout, Tornado, or whatever you call it). We had a line of probably 30+ missionaries playing and I came away victorious :). There was also a football people were throwing around and President Riggs knows I played QB (so did he), so he challenged me to a little game. He called it "Burnout", but I had never played before. The game is you line up across from each other and throw the ball as hard as you can at the other person. Whoever drops more loses and you are supposed to move closer and closer. I haven't really thrown a football in a long time, so that was pretty tiring for my arm (haha). I’m pretty sure I won cause he dropped more than I did, but he could sling it pretty hard!

My birthday is coming up this week - be creative and I will appreciate anything!

I mentioned while we were Skyping that we ran into some drunk guys on Christmas Eve. They wanted Elder Van Dykes jacket (haha). I hope I didn't scare anyone (mom or grandma) because everything was fine and it was pretty funny. Speaking of which there were some drunk guys outside our apartment the other day (haha). Thank goodness for the word of wisdom, so we don't make fools of ourselves!

Some apartments where Elder Miles has been tracting
We took a recent convert/less active member to the Christmas lights this week. He is a cool black guy. We watched a violin performance and after one of the songs while everyone else was clapping he stood up and put his hands in the air (haha)!

I love you all. I’m getting kicked off the computer (public library).

-Elder Miles

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23, 2013 - Transferred!

Elder Miles and Elder Oyler
I got transferred this past Thursday for my first time! I spent 6 awesome months in the Ashburn Stake - Algonkian ward and now I've been moved to the Mount Vernon Stake - Mount Vernon ward. My new companion is Elder Oyler from Filer, Idaho. He just turned 19, so I am yet to be older than any of my "junior" companions (haha). He has been out for one transfer, so I am finish training him. He is a great kid and we are getting along great. I was also assigned to be the District Leader for the Mount Vernon District. We have five other companionships in my district (12 total missionaries) which is a pretty big district. The zone leaders are in my district, one set of sisters, and 3 sets of Elders. When I found out who my zone leaders were I got super pumped! They are both from Lone Peak! Elder Jeremiah Van Dyke and Elder Allen Hawks. Elder Hawks graduated in 2011 and Elder Van Dyke in 2012. We live really close to them and we get rides with them, so it’s crazy to have 3 people all from LP together. This will also be my first transfer without a car (of course right when winter is starting).

It actually has been very warm here for the last several days. It got up to like 67 degrees and sunny, so it definitely doesn't feel like Christmas time right now. The area that I have been moved to is known throughout the mission as being very ghetto and packed full of Africans (mostly from Ghana). There is even an apartment complex known to missionaries as "little Ghana" because it is like 90% African. 

Elder Miles' apartment in Alexandria
My apartment was definitely a down grade. When I first got here it was super dirty and messy, so I assumed it was one of those missionary apartments that has been open for years. Turns out it was only opened less that 5 months ago! That's what can happen when you don't clean for 5 months I guess... I’ve cleaned it up a little and it’s looking better (haha). The worst part about it was when I looked in the fridge and the cupboards and saw nothing... I was used to my last area and having a fridge and pantry so full that we were stuffing food into whatever space we could find. Now I don't think that will be a problem. We don't shop till Mondays, so I’ve been surviving on what little stuff there was. I’ll be buying plenty of food today to make it up! I might just waste away.

I had the opportunity to give a baptismal interview less than 24 hours after becoming a District Leader. It was an investigator that was being taught by the Zone Leaders. He was a guy from Ghana and he didn't have a car, so we did it at his apartment. While everyone waited out in their front room, we went into his bedroom and sat on his bed to do the interview (haha). It went really well and I’m glad I was able to do it. It was a great chance for me to teach and testify. We weren't able to attend the baptism the next day because we couldn't get any investigators to come with us. We have several investigators who have said they want to be baptized. One needs to quit smoking first and the other works on Sunday, so he needs to come to church a few times. This area has some very humble people looking for help and I’m so grateful that I have the blessing to be able to share the gospel with them. I also gave another blessing to a less active member who has some health problems. At first I was thinking "I don't know this person", but it was better that way because I was able to go by the spirit instead of relying on me knowing their needs. It was a great experience.

This past week we had a couple of meetings for trainers. One of the meetings was at the Mission Home with President and Sister Riggs and the Assistants. There were only 14 trainers at the meeting which made it a great opportunity to learn from the mission leadership in small groups. We split into four stations to learn different things and then we would rotate every 45 minutes. I love anytime we have to listen to President Riggs and this time it was even better because we were in such small groups. He talked about how to treat your new companion and the need to set a great example for them. When this portion was done, President Riggs said "Hey Elder Miles I was looking at your thighs. How much do you squat?" I told him I didn't really know (haha). He was just blown away at how muscular my legs are I guess :D (haha).

The second day I was here we got to go up with the office Elders and a few others companionships to direct traffic at the DC temple! We got there, they strapped some reflective vests on us, told us where to go, and gave us lightsabers! Not really :(, but they did give us light sticks to direct traffic. It was super busy that night and they filled the Visitor Center, temple, and church parking lots all the way up (over 700 parking spots). The road to get to the temple is just a little two lane road and it was packed and pretty crazy!

Have a Merry Christmas! Love you!

-Elder Miles

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013 - Christmas Conference

O Christmas Tree
We had our mission Christmas conference this past week. It was the first time that I have been together with the mission all at once. It’s interesting how many people I have never even seen before (haha). That’s probably because I’ve stayed in the Ashburn zone the entire time... but not anymore! 99.9% chance I am moving to a new area on Thursday (so don’t send any mail to my apartment at this point). I got a call from the AP's last night. They informed me that I will be a district leader next transfer and also finish training a missionary. That was pretty shocking. I have a feeling not to many 18 year old missionaries have been district leaders. I’m grateful for the opportunity, but it will definitely be growing experience. I’ve been in the same ward for six months (4 transfers), so it will also be a great experience being in a new area. Change can be scary because it’s not always comfortable, but I know it will be really good for me! I’m excited for new experiences and opportunities.

It has been pretty cold here (usually in the 30's), but it’s been fine because we have the minivan and we don’t have to bike. Hopefully, when I get transferred I will still have a car.

Elder Miles and the DC Temple Christmas Lights
So, at the Christmas conference we had a talent show (mostly singing), lunch, and the departing missionaries spoke along with President and Sister Riggs. It was fun and we even got some early presents. We got a "yearbook" with everyone’s pictures and info in them. Let’s just say I wouldn’t mind if I could retake my picture (haha). We also got some Christmas music, a letter from the First Presidency, and Washington DC South key chains. Along with that, we each received a "man card" (haha). I’ll send a picture of it. President Riggs said he will pull people’s Man (or Woman) Card if they break rules. We had the Ward Christmas party on Saturday and we had one investigator come.

Elder Miles and Elder Seely
Along with the Christmas season comes the opportunity to take people to see the temple lights. There are Christmas performances every night and nativity scenes set up from around the world. This has been a good way to start talking to people either on the street or while tracting. I think everyone in this area has seen the temple at one point or another. It is just right off the freeway coming from Maryland. Everyone we talk to has seen it, but might not know what it is. After we tell them the huge white castle on the beltway they know what we are talking about. That has been a good starting point of conversation with people. We were able to go twice this week to the temple - once with an investigator and once with a less active member. The first time it only took us about 40 minutes to drive each way but the second time it took us over an hour and a half thanks to traffic. The first time we were pretty much the only ones there and the show that night even got cancelled because of weather from earlier in the day. It was awesome and I got some cool pictures. The second time I went I ran into a DC North missionary that I knew - Kenny Schoemig. He helped coach football my junior year. It happened to be the night he was assigned to help with directing traffic at the Visitor’s Center.

The Christus Statue in the DC Temple Visitor's Center
I am doing awesome! I am eating good and sleeping good (I wouldn’t mind a bit more though). I haven’t got sick at all, but I've felt a little under the weather here and there. Could you say thank you to these people for sending me letters: Troy Gagon, Steve & Gina Brown, Larsens, Ryan and Maria, and Greg’s family. I would love to reply to all of the letters, but I don’t have much time to. Please tell them I appreciate it a ton and love getting letters :). I did get the package from you and both from Grandma. Also I got one from Greg and Nicole.

It was a great week and this next week should be even more interesting with transfers. I’ll let you know how that goes!
Elder Miles and DC Temple
I can’t wait to Skype on Christmas! I’ll probably have more details next week! Merry Christmas!

Love you!

-Elder Miles

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9, 2013 - Winter is here!

Freezing Rain
Yesterday we got the first snow storm of the season! It didn’t snow a whole ton and it wasn’t too cold, but it was very icy. We had church in the morning and got there safe and sound. In the morning it was just snowing, but later on in the day it turned into freezing rain. It was raining, but right when it hit the ground it would freeze, so it was very icy and not good conditions to be outside in. The Assistant to the President sent out a text saying to stay inside unless you really had to be somewhere and in that case just to get a ride with a member. We had a member pick us up for dinner and then we stayed inside for the rest of the night. Time goes really slowly when you’re stuck inside all day (haha). It is still icy and raining today, but not as bad. We will see what will happen tonight.

Winter in Virginia
The usual office we email at wasn't open today for some reason, so we are emailing at the library and my computer has been really terrible so far.

Thanks to anyone who has sent me a letter/card in the last couple weeks! Thanks mom for the package this week! I really love getting stuff in the mail. It’s nice to get stuff during the week and not just on Mondays. :)

We had zone conference this past week with President and Sister Riggs. It was a lot smaller than the last zone conference probably because they have more zones to visit because of the zones being split recently. It was shorter and the AP's weren't there. We learned about repentance and how we receive forgiveness because of the merits, mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. We can receive these things through repentance. Repentance isn't just for huge sins we commit, but it can simply mean change (bible dictionary) - changing our actions, thoughts, and desires is important. Through repenting daily of our mistakes we become more Christ-like and will eventually be able to return to God’s presence!

We were able to give a less active woman a priesthood blessing this past week and that was the first time I’ve done it. It was kind of shaky, but it went well and I’m glad I had the opportunity! From all the studying this week my testimony has been really growing! The Book of Mormon and the Bible are meshing much better and I can see that they preach the same gospel! The restoration and the plan of salvation are making so much more sense and the spirit has testified to me that this gospel is true! As my testimony increases it gives me a greater desire to share what I know with everyone around me! 

Elder Miles and Companion on the go
A great quote that we learned about this week says "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign tasks, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea" - Antonine de Saint-Exupery. We need to help people to desire eternal life (the sea) instead of just making them do things to get there (baptism). If they have a desire for eternal life then they will do what it takes to get there, baptism being part of that. Mosiah 2:41 shows exactly what we need the investigators to desire - "never ending happiness"!

Hopefully, that all made sense (haha). I’m running out of time. Thanks for everything you do! Love you!

-Elder Miles

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013 - Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! We had a great Thanksgiving out here in Sterling! We ate dinner with the new ward mission leader and his family. They are really awesome. We have done lots of work with him in the past and he is super excited to do missionary work. It gets me excited when people in the ward are excited to do missionary work! We weren’t supposed to go out and do any work besides with members on Thanksgiving, so we played some games and did some puzzles with the members. It was nice to have a little break. We got some left over Thanksgiving food to which it always great!

We have a zone conference tomorrow and along with that comes car inspections. So we cleaned the car out, filled the tires, and took it to a car wash. Only problem is that halfway through the car wash it stopped. We sat in there for like 10 minutes until someone came to the rescue. (haha) We got to redo it for free and it worked the second time. We have also been trying to contact a new investigator that we tracted into a couple weeks ago and he never answered the door. We went back several times and we could see him looking out the peep hole and he just wouldn’t answer it. So we were going to try one last time last night and some lady opened the door really quickly and said she wasn’t interested really quick and shut the door. Me and Elder Seely just stood there for a minute and were in a bit of shock. We checked the address and turns out we were knocking on the wrong door for the last couple weeks. (haha) We tried his actual door and he answered! Turns out he has been gone on a business trip for the last couple weeks anyway. We've probably been freaking that lady out by knocking on her door so much. (haha)

I don’t remember if I mentioned this in a past email... We had a General Authority come and speak to us a couple weeks ago. It was Elder Teh from the First Quorum of the Seventy. If you look in the conference Ensign his picture is in there. He was really interesting to listen to. We spent the morning listening to him talk. He talked about how we as missionaries can’t get caught in the "current" meaning that we can’t get caught in the habit of just getting by each day. We need to give it all we can each day and be the best missionary we can be. I’ve always liked the saying "good is the enemy to great." We can’t just settle for being good as missionaries or as members of the church. We need to rise up and be the best we can be. Leave a legacy!

We got to tour a catholic church with our ward mission leader yesterday. He wanted to take us to see it because he said it was really cool and it would help us to learn about Catholicism. We showed up and it was closed, but the father let us in, showed us around, and explained some of it to us. It was pretty interesting to see and learn about another religion. There are lots of Catholic people around here and it helps to know where they are coming from and what their beliefs are. The Catholic Church is called Our Lady of Hope and it is right off the main road in our area. The first thing you notice when you walk in is the huge cross hanging from the ceiling with Jesus on it. I just felt strange looking at it. Catholicism is similar in lots of ways, but also very different in others. It’s interesting to learn about other’s beliefs and it helps to affirm my own beliefs.

I was going to write my Christmas wish list but I’ll have to think about it and post it next week! Anything is appreciated though! :)

Love you!

-Elder Miles
Elder Miles and Elder Mathews - Jedi Masters

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013 - How do I get in!?

We had a very interesting experience with an investigator this past week. It all started on a brisk November night in Sterling Virginia...
We were stopping by an investigators house to see if we could teach him about the plan of salvation. As we approached the house we noticed that it was completely dark inside and we would have assumed he wasn't home except for the fact that his car was in the driveway. We rang the doorbell and waited. We heard no movement. After ringing again, we were about to leave when we heard some movement inside. This went on for a couple minutes and then we could hear someone trying to open the door. It finally opened and our investigator was standing there in the dark, with messy hair, and holding his head. Before we could say anything he inquired "What are you doing here in the night!?" This was strange to us because that was the usual time we stopped by his house. We then told him that it was only seven. We could tell he had been drinking and was pretty hung over. He kept hiccupping and holding his head while we talked. We explained to him that it was only seven and then told him that we would be saving a seat for him at 9 for church the next day. We left laughing and thinking that was a pretty funny experience, but that was only the beginning...
We finished out the night, went home, planned for the next day, while getting something to eat, the phone started ringing at about 9:45. It was the same investigator. I assumed he had a question about church or needed a ride or something. When I answered he asked "How do I get in?" I wasn't quite sure what he meant so I asked again and put the phone on speaker because I could tell it was going to be an interesting conversation. He then asked "How do I get into the church?" That really through me for a loop. I asked if he was at the church and it turns out he was. I proceeded to explain to him that church wasn't until 9am the next morning. He thought that we had stopped by in the morning and so he decided to go to church. He got ready and drove down to the church and tried the door. Somehow the fact that it was dark outside and there were no cars in the parking lot didn't mean much to him. Once he realized that he had made a huge mistake he started laughing and said "I thought it was weird the sun wasn't up yet" (he thought it was 9:45 am!) We told him to come back in the morning to church and ended the call. When I hung up all of us in the apartment busted out laughing.
The next morning we called him an hour before church to make sure he was coming, but when he answered he said something about being in Richmond (a pretty far drive) because his son missed a bus or something. Turns out he had driven to Richmond during the night for some reason and wasn't able to make it to church. (Hahaha) I thought that was a pretty memorable experience that you would all love to hear about!
There were several people this week that talked about the spirit that they could feel because we were in their homes. The first was a member of the ward. We were over at their house eating dinner. The father talked about how we bring a spirit with us and asked his family if they could feel it. Another was a less active family that hasn’t been to church in over a decade. They were all converted a long time ago and stopped going for one reason or another. They are Spanish and the mother couldn't speak English very well, but she started talking in Spanish and crying and her daughter had to translate for us. She was talking about how she could feel the spirit so strongly every time we were around. That is a testimony to the call of being a missionary and being set apart as the Lords messengers. Those were both humbling experiences.
It has been great serving a mission during this hastening of the Lords work. With the lowering of the age of missionaries, the use of iphones, ipads, and facebook, we can see how the work is being hastened. These are the times that have been prophesied by prophets. In Doctrine and Covenants is says "The Lord will hasten his work in its time."  During a seminar for new mission presidents Elder Perry compared these events with others like the first vision and the translation of the Book of Mormon. That is an incredible statement. It’s exciting and humbling to be a part of this hastening. It is so much more apparent to me the happiness that this gospel can bring into people’s lives. I know this is the Lords church and his work.
Early in the week when we were on exchanges with a member a lesson fell through and so I pulled out my planner to see what we had planned as a backup. The member then asked if we could go tracting. That was pretty surprising because I’m pretty sure most members wouldn’t volunteer themselves to go tracting in the cold, but he was totally excited to do it. That got me pretty excited. This member went to Russia on his mission and still speaks it for work, so he is pretty fluent. I made a little prophesy that we would tract into someone who also speaks Russian. We only had about 30 minutes to tract. So we get to the very first door and guess what? Nothing. The next one, nothing. After about 20 minutes we knock on a door and the guy who answers had a thick accent and so we asked where he was from. He was from the Ukraine and spoke Russian! They talked in Russian for a minute and I was sitting there thinking he’s getting baptized! Turns out he wasn’t interested. (haha) It was still cool.
It’s getting pretty cold around here. It was 25 degrees last night while we were out tracting. I was bundled up about as much as I could be and it was still a bit chilly. I’m not looking forward to January. (haha) I got to see the BYU football game on TV for a second before I asked if they could turn it off (that was probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do yet! (haha) It was exciting just to see it on TV for a second. We had a pretty successful week and had lots of fun!
Love you all!

-Elder Miles

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013 - Facebook!

We started using facebook this week. It was really strange to be getting on facebook again (haha). We started on Tuesday and we get to be on for one hour each day usually in the early afternoon. If you want you can add me on facebook (Elder Braden Miles), but please don’t write on my wall or tag me in anything! We are supposed to focus mainly on our assigned areas and use it for contacting people coordinating the work. We can also teach people outside our area, including back home, and have lessons with them on facebook or Skype. If there is anyone you want me to teach let me know! The goal is to teach people until they are comfortable enough to meet with missionaries in person. We also found out that each missionary will be getting his/her own ipad mini that we will be taking with us for our whole mission. Then, between each companionship, we will get an iphone 5s. All of our area books, planners, and teaching records will be on them. The Bishop and Ward Mission Leader can also access them. If you go on I've heard he talks about it and explains it all.

Elder Miles and Companions at the Washington DC Temple

The transfer just ended this past Thursday, so I’m into my fourth transfer now. This transfer is a week short because of Christmas, so it ends December 19. That is most likely the day I will be heading to a new area. It will be interesting switching wards and apartments right before Christmas. It is possible I could stay here longer, but most likely not. Since we just finished a transfer I thought I would update you on my bike stats. Also, I don’t have much else to write about. I got my odometer a few days into my second transfer, so these are all for the last 3 months and don’t include my first 6 weeks. I’ve rode my bike about 500 miles, average speed 11mph, max speed 40mph :) - just thought you’d be interested in knowing. My jeans that I brought don’t fit to well anymore and are skin tight thanks to all the biking.

 We were going to go with an investigator to catholic mass yesterday, but the zone leaders shot that one down without much information. Our investigator sings in the choir and invited us to come watch their performance and go to mass with them. We were going to still go to the first two hours of our church and then head to mass. I was pretty interested to see what it is like because we talk to lots of people that are catholic. I’ve never been to another church service either. People ask us a lot if we have ever been to another church and I have to say no. Maybe we will be able to go in the future sometime.

I’m learning a ton each week. It’s crazy to look back at where I was four months ago and see how much I’ve improved! My understanding and knowledge of the gospel, my testimony, and my confidence have gone up a ton. I’m so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve a mission! Love you all!

-Elder Miles

ps I would love to hear from more people! (cause I didn’t get many emails this week)

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013 - DC Temple

Washington DC Temple
We went to the DC temple today with a member from our ward! Today was a special opening since its not usually open on Mondays. When we found that out we had to make it! The DC temple is super tall and pointy. When you are driving down the freeway it pops up right in front and it looks like you are driving right at it. That’s if you are coming from the Maryland side though. People we talk to always ask if it’s the "huge white castle off the 495". People also compare it to the Disneyland castle (haha). It was a great experience and that was the first time I've been to a temple other than the Timpanogos temple. There are Christmas lights and stuff at this temple during the holidays just like in Salt Lake. We are allowed to come with investigators to see them and we already have one that has said he would love to go. Hopefully I’ll be able to come see them a few more times over the next couple months. 

After the temple we went to an LDS bookstore place and then to a Chinese buffet. I ate tons of food and I even ate some sushi (hope you’re proud of me, Dad).

I forgot to mention last week how day light savings has affected us. We eat dinner from 5-6 and it used to be light when we left our apartment to work at night. Now we leave at 6 and it is pitch black outside and cold. We work from 6-9 in the dark now and people just absolutely love us knocking on their doors when it’s dark (haha). 

The weather hasn’t been too bad, but a couple nights it has gotten down in the low thirties when we were riding out bikes home at night. I've been pretty bundled up, so it’s not bad. My face just freezes with the icy wind. Then after our 3-5 mile bike ride home I’m sweaty underneath all my clothes which isn't too enjoyable (haha).

I’m going to need a new camera! My 10 year old, 4.1 megapixel, ole reliable finally had its last breath. Elder Mathews loves how huge it is (haha). I didn't break it on purpose just to get a new one (if you were wondering), I pulled it out to take a picture the other day and the screen doesn't work. It is just a white screen now when I turn it on. So would you like me to buy one here? Or would you rather buy one and send it to me? 

The fan in our bathroom also broke this week. I was using the restroom and I heard a flapping noise in the vent. I think it was a bird that got lost. There are vents on the outside of the building that birds nest in. So all of the sudden there was a loud noise and the fan stopped. I think the little guy’s body is still stuck in there because the fan won’t work. We told the front office and they will hopefully be fixing it here pretty soon.

We had an investigator with us at church yesterday. That’s a great thing, but the meeting was not so much. You never notice how terrible everyone is at singing until you care what your investigator is thinking. Plus he is in his church choir, so he started out singing loud and proud. Then once he realized how bad everyone was he got softer and softer (haha). Also the topic for the meeting was tithing which made it even better. He could only stay for sacrament, luckily, cause gospel principles would have been awkward as well. We have been teaching this guy for a little while. He is super awesome and we are pretty good friends. His name is Blair and he is Catholic. He was the only black guy in the whole chapel as well, so that might have been a little uncomfortable. Our two black members weren't there for him to see that we aren't just a bunch of weird white people. At first he told us he had no intention to change religion, but we could come and teach him if we wanted to. We've taught him a few times and become pretty good friends. He is now looking into it and praying to know if it’s true. We taught him the plan of salvation last week. When we came to the three degrees of glory, I read 1 cor. 15:40-41 to him, and he was like "it says that in the bible!?" We also went by a former investigator this past week and they let us right in and they are really excited to learn more and get involved!

One thing that I've learned on my mission is how great the bible dictionary is! One of the great ones to read is prayer. It talks about how prayer is not to change the will of the father, but to align our will with his. It also says that when we pray, truly pray in the name of Christ, that we pray according to his will. Prayers go unanswered because they don’t reflect his will, but come from our selfish desires. Sometimes I wonder why my prayers aren't answered even though I've been praying for the same thing for a long time. Just because we pray a lot for something doesn't mean God will change his will. When I pray with the spirit and I pray for things that I feel inspired to say I know that it is my will coming in alignment with his. It says in 3 Nephi 18:20 that when we pray with faith, IF IT IS RIGHT, then we will receive it. The bible dictionary has lots of other good topics to read as well.

Love you all!
-Elder Miles

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 11, 2013 - National Zoo/Arlington Cemetery

Check it out - Miles Avenue!
The last two P-days have been pretty jam packed with fun stuff! Today we went to the National Zoo in DC.  It was strange because it was free and you can just walk straight in and see everything right in the city. It was a little chilly and we didn't get to stay too long, but it was great! We took the metro this time and that takes longer than just driving. Last week we went to the Arlington National Cemetery. It was way bigger than I imagined it being! It was fun to see the changing of the guard and John Kennedy’s grave. Those are things I've only seen in pictures, but it was cool to be there. My feet hurt because it was a lot of walking and it felt like a day at Disneyland! Next week we will probably take it easy and play some basketball or something.

Washington DC View (in the background) - from Arlington National Cemetery
We are going to start using facebook next week! We won’t get the ipads and iphones until mid December. We will be able to teach anyone back home, through facebook or Skype that isn't a member of the church. If you have any referrals for me let me know!

Also I’d like to thank Grandma Sparks for the awesome homemade rolls I received recently! They were amazing and my roommates loved them as well. Halloween was fun. We didn’t end up watching Despicable Me 2 cause I guess it’s not on DVD yet or something, but we will probably watch it for Christmas. We watched Monsters University and the Emperor’s New Groove. We pulled all the couches from the foyer and watched them on a projector in the gym. We had lots of good food too!

Fall colors in Virginia
We didn't do as much tracting this week as usual. We've been trying to do a lot more member work to get referrals. President Riggs as introduced "Family Fun Nights" where we can go to a members house, teach a Family Home Evening type lesson and play a game or something. The goal is for the families to have fun and then feel comfortable inviting friends over to do the same thing at some point. One of the scriptures we've been sharing with the members is D&C 88:81. It says that for those who have been warned to warn theirs neighbors. We as members of the church have been "warned" and it’s our responsibility to share what we know with others.
Elder Miles

I've started reading the New Testament recently because I've never read it all the way through before. I felt like I should in order to gain a stronger knowledge of what the people we teach have been reading. Lots of people study the bible and it’s important to be able to use a few references from the bible in our teaching. The New Testament is really good and I wish I would have read it earlier! Any of you out there that haven’t read it I encourage you to do it! It’s really interesting seeing the similarities between it and the Book of Mormon. It’s awesome having time to study and learn more about the gospel!

Love you all!
-Elder Miles

Elder Miles at the Arlington National Cemetery

Elder Miles and the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013 - Halloween Party!

We had our ward Halloween party this last Friday and it went really well! We had three investigators show up and one less active! It was a chili cook off and then a Trunk or Treat. I only had one bite of chili and then everyone started showing up and I got busy talking. It was really great to introduce the members to some of the people we are teaching and to get our investigators more comfortable with the church. We also had the primary program yesterday and one of our investigators (who also came to the party) came and brought her daughter. She had been to one in the past and said that this year wasn't as good as before (haha). Her daughter is 18 years old and pretty severely autistic. She is really great. She always brings us sodas when we come over (haha). She came to the party and when we were all cleaning up she started shooting a basketball and she couldn't miss! It was pretty crazy (haha).

I’m not sure if I mentioned this earlier, but at the beginning of this transfer they split several of the zones including ours and now there are 10 zones. This last week at district meetings it was announced that we will be getting Ipads in mid December!!! That was pretty exciting. We will be able to get on Facebook and stuff too. We don’t know too many details but the Zone Leaders are being trained on how to proselyte online. We were all super stoked, then they announced something else... After the new year, all missionaries will be required to wear man purses (shoulder bags). The 12 say that backpacks make us look like salesmen. I’m not too excited for that one to say the least (haha). We had interviews with president Riggs this week. He talked mostly about how the work has been hastened and we have been saved for this time. It was pretty cool. He is coming up to our zone to play basketball today, but none of my roommates want to go. We are going to the Arlington Cemetery today instead.

We seem to have very good timing cause we always run into people as they are pulling into their driveways, which makes it kind of awkward (haha). We haven’t had too much luck this week besides the Halloween party. We didn't teach too many lessons or find new investigators, but we've stayed positive. All we can do is keep working hard and being obedient. There is no use in being negative cause that just makes things worse! I can’t think of any really good stories from this week to tell, but there are always interesting conversations. Some people won’t open the door so we just talk through the door and Elder Seely got a rejection when he tried to shake a guy’s hand (haha). People weren't too interested in talking during the Redskins game last night either.

We haven’t been having too much success in terms of numbers lately, but the work is definitely going well. It talks about success in Preach My Gospel as being your commitment, obedience, and progress. We are doing all of those things and I know we are being successful missionaries. I’m learning and growing a ton and having fun. I know if we just keep working hard and doing all we can to improve that we will be blessed with people who are ready to accept the gospel! I've been reading in Ether and chapter 12 verse 6 is very good. It says miracles don’t happen until after the trial of our faith. Our faith is being tried, but I know we will see miracles. They won’t come when we want them to cause everything happens in the Lord's time!

Chase has told me his playing time has gone up slowly. Sorry if I can’t write much today. My computer is being super slow. I have heard BYU is looking better and I can’t believe Hoffman is passing everyone. We are still teaching the Indian guy but he is super busy with work. The Syrian family moved to New Jersey and we are trying to get their address to refer them. We teach between 3 and 10 lessons a week. We tract for about an hour a day. I will probably be in Sterling until Dec. 19 which is the end of next transfer. We have like 10 regular investigators.

Love you
-Elder Miles

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013 - Sweater Weather!

Elder Miles and Elder Smith from LP
It’s been a little chilly around here lately. The last few nights I got pretty cold riding my bike, so today it was time to break out the sweaters! The leaves here are changing color, but not as much as I would have thought. It’s going to be really pretty when they all change. It’s coming up on Halloween and we aren't allowed to go out to work on Halloween night. I guess people wouldn't like our missionary costumes. Instead we get to go to the stake center as a zone and watch some movies! We are going to watch Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University. I’m pretty excited for that. Also, we have our ward Halloween party this Friday night and we are hoping to have some of our investigators there that have little kids. Our Bishopric changed a few weeks ago and the new bishop is awesome. I think that it will be a great change and I think we will see some great progress in the missionary work.

I've learned a little bit more about the cost of living out here and its crazy... One of our investigators is moving and he is selling his house for 600k. It’s a nice house, but not too big. Another investigator was saying that her town home cost over 400k! So even the poor people out here are rich! She wants to move somewhere with mountains and I suggested Utah would be a good place! The guy that’s moving has been talking to missionaries for a long time, but hasn't been too interested. He loves talking to missionaries and being friends, but he’s never really progressed. We've been working hard with him the last few weeks and we've seen progress. He has started reading the Book of Mormon and says he will definitely keep reading it. He thanked us for helping him come closer to God. He also said that I have pushed him the hardest of any missionaries in the last several years (haha). He is a really great guy and I had him add me on facebook.
Elder Johnson, Elder Mathews, Elder Miles, Elder Seely

A little more info on our greenies. Elder Seely likes golf, baseball, and basketball. He worked for a bee keeper in Mount Pleasant. He turned 19 in September, so he is actually older than his dad (Me) (haha). He has improved a lot in the last few weeks and is doing great! Elder Mathews (Elder Johnson's companion) is from Mesa Arizona. He played football and is pretty cool. Not sure what else to say...

We've had some fun tracting experiences this week, but this one was definitely the funniest. This guy answers the door and he is pretty crazy looking. He squints at us and sticks his head out the door and says "oh my gosh... what kinda cult are you? I’m just kidding i know you’re Mormons. I really like Mitt Romney. Also, I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.... and another woman.... (as he’s backing away) and another woman... and another woman... jk I’m just yankin your chain. I’m atheist." then he slams the door and locks it. Me and Elder Seely busted out laughing (haha).

The Transportation
One thing that the mission has really been emphasizing in our teaching is talking about the spirit. When we teach the restoration we are supposed to first talk about the spirit and how to recognize it and how it feels, so that they know they are feeling it during the lesson. We tell them that when they feel it that is the spirit telling them it is true. Then we teach up to the first vision and remind them about the spirit. Then we give the first vision and pause. During the silence I can feel the spirit so strong and I know they can feel it too!!! We then talk about how they feel and invite them to be baptized right then when the spirit is strongest! We haven’t had too many opportunities to use this yet, but I have definitely felt a difference. The spirit is so thick in the room after we talk about the first vision and I love it! Things are looking up and I’m excited for what’s to come!

Love you!

-Elder Miles

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013

It has been a pretty exciting week! The other day I ran over a squirrel with our minivan. That was a neat experience. I had my first crash on my bike and it rained for 4 straight days!

We were driving back from a meeting on a two lane road through a cool area with tons of trees. It was a nice October day and the weather was splendid. Then I see a squirrel up the road on the other lane. There was a car coming fast at it so it decided to come my way... RIP. That was the first time I've hit an animal with a car and it was pretty gross (haha). It’s been raining for 4 straight days and we've been in a continuous state of getting soaked, drying off, and then repeating. There are several small wooden bridges in our area and thanks to the rain, they are pretty slippery. I slid on one and had my first crash (haha). Don’t worry - the bike is fine! Also Elder Seely did an "over the handle bars" crash right into the mud. It just happened to be right next to a super busy road and everyone probably saw it. The other Elders crashed as well (haha).

We have done a lot of tracting this past week. It’s been raining, so the hope was that people would let us in because they feel bad. Also, tons of people are off work because of the government shut down and we were hoping that would increase the teaching opportunities. That wasn't really the case. It has been really good practice for the both of us. Tracting is great because we can evaluate and get better at each door. We had some funny stories and we found a couple of new investigators.

Elder Miles - looking good!
One night it was raining and we had been tracting for almost two hours with not much luck. We were about 5 minutes from needing to head back home. I had the impression we needed to pray. After praying we knocked a couple more houses and still got nothing. Then as we were about to leave we saw one house with a TV on inside. We decided to knock one last door. We ended up with a new investigator and came back the next day and taught her another lesson. It was a great experience and testimony builder on following the spirit and the power of prayer. We also tracted into another family from Syria who we taught the first discussion to on the door step. When we got to the first vision he said "keep going! This is so exciting!" They loved it so much they agreed to be baptized right there! Then we asked them when we could stop by again to bring them an Arabic Book of Mormon. He said it would have to be the next day because they were moving to New Jersey in a couple days. Bummer. We took them the book and they were really excited about it. They had gone on, read the pamphlet we gave them, and they said when they get to New Jersey they are going to go to a Mormon church. We are going to refer them to some lucky missionaries there pretty soon (haha).

Last night we knocked on a door and some lady yelled "Who is it" through the door. We told her "It’s the missionaries!". She then told us to go away and that she wasn't interested. I told her that what we have to share would bless her and her family’s lives so much. In response she yelled back "What would make me the happiest right now is if you would leave." (haha). The day before that, an older African American guy answered the door. We were being friendly and asking how his day had been. Then I noticed a big happy birthday balloon behind his head, so I asked whose birthday it was. He didn't like that. He said "Why are you being all inquisitive and lookin in my house!?" We ended up talking for awhile longer but he wasn't interested.

-Elder Miles