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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 27, 2013

I hope everyone wasn't freaking out too bad yesterday when I didn't email (haha). We couldn't find any computers yesterday, but we are allowed to take time later if we can’t do it on Monday. We have a computer lab in the apartment complex with four computers, but two of the keyboards don’t work. The two that work were being used by some ladies who were mostly talking... We might buy a couple keyboards at the thrift shop down the road to use in emergency (haha). We've done service there (the thrift shop) several times and last time I found a Mormon Tabernacle Choir vinyl.

For service we've also helped some members move stuff around. Also, this week we found a lady who had a huge pile of dirt on her driveway that she was taking, by herself, in a wheelbarrow to her backyard. We volunteered to help and we came by the next day and it took us three hours to take back there and spread out. That was with four of us and she was planning on doing it on her own! She was very grateful and said "Maybe I’ll have to convert now". She was mostly kidding... for now.

I have a request for a shout out for the blog. So I would like to give a shout out to Chase Armstrong. He is a studly football player and a great friend. He said he wanted to be famous, so there you go (haha)! If anyone else would like a shout out to be famous let me know!

Transfer meeting was last Thursday and it was my companion’s last transfer, so he is home right now. He gave me tons of his stuff because he was just going to throw it away. My new companion is Elder Aland from Alpine, California. He is also on his last transfer! So I’ll be "killing" my second companion in a row. That is just slang people use in the mission. Also according to the mission slang Elder Littledike was my dad and Elder Aland is my step dad.

Elder Aland is much quieter than Elder Littledike, so I talk a lot more than before, which will be good practice. He played football and tennis in high school. Since he is leaving after this transfer that means I will be here for at least another transfer after that, so I can pass off all the investigators. That’s fine because I would rather stay here longer anyways.

What good-looking ties!

The scripture I am memorizing this week is Ether 12:6. It talks about how we "receive no witness until after the trial of our faith". Many people out here want us to show them evidence of God, the gold plates, or something to prove our message. Later on in the chapter it talks about miracles from the Book of Mormon that happen after faith. In the mission (or life) not much is going to happen unless you have faith and then go out and do something about it.

-Elder Miles

The New Companion

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013

Happy Birthday to Kyson!!! I can’t believe he is getting baptized in a year.

There has been a change in the mail policy, so instead of sending stuff to the mission office you can send it straight to my apartment (This means I expect packages now). Our address is 20679 Glenbrook Terrace #201 Sterling, VA 20165. So you can send me stuff straight off Amazon, too. You could send me some church music to listen to in the car! That would be appreciated. I’m also out of vitamins, so you could send me a supply unless you want me to get frail and unhealthy. Please send me a picture of my state ring too! Speaking of that several people have known I was on the LP basketball team (missionaries, ward members). One guy in the ward had his dad visiting from Utah and he came over and talked to me about it. He also said he watched the Bingham football game and was at the bball game against American fork at UVU.

Last Sunday the bishop had all of the missionaries bear testimony in sacrament meeting because we had extra time and it went really well. We also got our first investigator to sacrament meeting! He came with his 20 year old Autistic daughter and one of the members asked him if she was his wife (hahaha). He also brought a cup of tea with him... hopefully it was herbal (we haven’t got to the word of wisdom yet - haha). It went pretty well and he sat with a member family we had taken to a lesson with us earlier, but he had to leave after sacrament because he has been really sick lately.

Transfers are this Thursday and my companion is headed home. He lives in Kamas, Utah and his dad owns a pizza place called Summit Inn. I thought dad might know where that is. I’ll be getting a new trainer, for my last 6 weeks of training on Thursday as well. It should be good because I will be able to get help from two different points of view. Everything is improving every week and I am feeling ready to show my new companion around when he comes in this week. I know my way around and we have a pretty solid teaching pool.

I’ve decided to memorize a new scripture every week just to help me get to know the scriptures even more. The one I memorized this week was Mark 9:23 "Jesus said unto him: If thou canst believe. All things are possible to him that believeth." This was a great scripture that I hadn’t heard of before, but is now one of my favorites. It really is true, especially on a mission. If you have pre-formed opinions about an area or people then that limits you. You can only achieve what you believe is possible. If you go into an area on your mission and tell yourself that it is a bad area, then you won’t have success. We had interviews with President Riggs and he shared some parts from Alma 48. It talks about how Moroni strengthened the weakest cities in order to defeat the Lamanites. He said that we need to focus on strengthening our weaknesses, so that when the adversary attacks he will be "astonished". The Lamanites were shocked when they attacked the cities and they went from really weak to strong. They knew the weak places because they had attacked them before. Satan knows our weaknesses and he is going to keep attacking them, but if we strengthen them we will "astonish the adversary". That is a motto President Riggs is using. He also uses 1 Nephi 22:26 a lot. It talks about how Satan had no power because of the righteousness of the people. So if we live as righteously as the Nephites did then Satan will have no power over us. This is another reason we are doing this 40 day fast. To strengthen our weaknesses so we can "astonish the adversary".

One of the missionaries in our zone just got back from home because of medical reasons. He was talking to me and was shocked to find out that I had just gotten here because he thought I had been out for awhile. He said I don’t seem/act like a greenie. I forgot to tell you last week that the museum that we went to was in transformers 2. The part where Jetfire attacks them was filmed there. Apparently bed bugs and ticks are a huge problem out here. Some of the missionary apartments have bed bugs and they take forever to get rid of. The ticks carry Lyme disease which causes long term joint problems and short term sickness if you don’t get on an antibiotic. One of the sisters in our district has been dealing with it for the last several weeks, but is better now. I haven’t seen any ticks yet, but I’m looking out because that would put a damper on things. It’s been in the 80's a lot and not to humid lately which has been pretty nice. It has even been kind of chilly in the morning when we jog to the gym.

The other day while we were teaching a lesson the words of a scripture popped into my mind, but I had no idea where the scripture was at (turns out it was 2 Nephi 25:26). I just thought I would make a desperate attempt to find it, so I flipped open the Book of Mormon (an unmarked copy). I just flipped open to a random page and it was right there! I took that as a pretty good sign that I should read it. I shared it with him and he liked it a lot. I’m not sure how much it helped him, but it was pretty awesome to me. We also gave a woman a blessing with oil because her foot has really been bothering her and they don’t know what’s wrong. That was cool.

We've been making invites for members to pray and find three names of people to share the gospel with, so we should be getting a lot of referrals soon. We haven’t been getting any and so we are really trying to push the members. Love you!!!

-Elder Miles

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Aug 12, 2013

Sorry I don’t have much time to write today either! We spent time at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum today. The space shuttle Discovery is the main thing there, but there was also tons of other smaller ships, missiles, planes, gliders, and satellites. We also got to go up on the observation deck and got my first good view of Virginia (besides the plane flight here). We also paid 8 bucks to go on a plane simulator thing that spun us upside down and we shot at other planes. Not sure if that was allowed, but lots of people did it and I didn't think about it until after (haha) whoops.

Elder Miles and Elder Johnson

Birds eye view of Virginia

So the talk about the 40 day fast is titled "Thy confidence shall wax strong in the presence of God" by Robert E. Quinn in 2011 at a BYU Hawaii devotional. You should check it out because it is really good. One other thing that we talked about is that our prayers should be led by the spirit, which was a new thought to me. I always thought of it as us just saying whatever we wanted. We should follow the promptings of the spirit as we pray and if we believe, they will be answered. In the bible dictionary it says under prayer that many prayers aren’t answered because they don’t align with God’s will. Also I totally forgot to say that after this 40 day fast is over all the missionaries are going to the Nationals game on September 13 or 14th! It is the kickoff for the National Day of Service and in the past some of the general authorities have thrown the first pitch.

Speaking of sports - Brian Kehl (former BYU player, now on the Redskins) lives in our zone and the zone leaders get to go on exchanges with him in September. Also RG3 (Robert Griffin III, starting QB for the Washington Redskins) lives in that same area. The other day we started talking to some guy who was on his way to play some basketball and I jokingly asked if we could play and he said no way. He saw a video on YouTube of some missionaries dunking on some guys in a street ball game (haha) . The next day a member showed it to us and it wasn't that great. I still haven’t had a chance to ball it up with any homies yet, but I’m looking for an opportunity.

We did some service for a lady the other day and we trimmed her hedges that were very over due for a trim. All the practice at Grandpa's house paid off and I think it looked pretty good. She said we were an answer to her prayer. She had just gotten divorced and needed some help. I felt pretty bad for her and we plan on trying to teach her some more in the future. Also she said she posted on her Facebook page that the Mormon missionaries are awesome and helped her out.

I've been on two companion exchanges this week - one with Elder Gorton (roomie/elder Johnson’s comp) and one with Elder George (a Zone Leader). That was a pretty good experience to see how other missionaries do stuff and to get a different perspective on how to do things. Elder George said that I’m doing great and that I will see tons of success if I keep it up. Elder George is the one in RG3 and Brain Kehl's ward.

I got the middle finger salute/ the bird for the first time so far. Some college age kid honked and I look up to see him waving at me! (haha)  I laughed pretty hard. The water here is really gross, so anytime people offer me bottled water I take it. I bought a huge thing of Gatorade powder to help cover the flavor too. Donald Trump has a really nice golf course in our area that you have to be a millionaire just to get into the club.

We gave a church tour the other day to an investigator and it went really well. He said the chapel felt "quieter" then the rest of the building. Then we talked about the Christ and the Book of Mormon. He is one of several investigators that are the farthest along. We are getting better each week and I feel like there are some big things ahead of us if we can keep it up. I’m feeling way more comfortable with teaching and talking with random people. Some guys that are a year in are still super awkward about it, but I am doing great. I can’t believe I’ve been gone for almost two months already and it’s flown by. I’m having a blast and things can only get better! Love you all!

-Elder Miles

Elder Miles and the space shuttle Discovery

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5, 2013

I don’t have much time!

Another great week. Here are some updates on people I’ve told you about. The Egyptian family is really nice and loves listening to us, but doesn’t want to change. The lifeguard who wanted to find Jesus won’t talk to us anymore. Jose and his daughter Ashley are probably going to need the Spanish elders, but they are doing pretty good. Jorge is still meeting with us and is very interested, but he loves all religion, so he doesn’t really want to limit himself to one church. Matt and his wife became our first progressing investigators because they are keeping their commitments and I’m pretty excited for them. We met another 24 year old guy who is pretty much in the same spot as Jorge because they love all religion and don’t want to be "limited" to being Mormon.

It’s rained pretty hard a few days this week. We got completely drenched one of the days on our way home because we were riding our bikes in a down pour. We had a member with us for a lesson and he offered to take us and our bikes home because it looked like it was about to rain. I gladly accepted the invitation, but Elder Littledike, for some reason, decided we would just ride our bikes. It started pouring right as we left, so we rode 20 minutes in a hurricane and were a little bit wet when we got home.

We are starting a 40 day program based on a talk given at a BYU Hawaii devotional in 2011 that is going to be awesome! The talk was about being constantly in the presence of the Holy Ghost, so that we can teach with more power. We fasted yesterday, wrote a list of specific things that "poke at our spirits". This could be actions, negative thoughts, and feelings. We pray about the list every morning and night and do all we can each day to not do the things that "poke our spirits". The end result should be that these negative thoughts will be eliminated completely and we will live constantly in the presence of God. I forgot who wrote the talk and the exact title, but I will try to remember to include that in my email next week so you can look it up and read it.

Yesterday we have a super fancy dinner with an older couple in the ward and the day before the ward mission leader and his wife took us to Longhorn Steakhouse. They said we could have anything we wanted, so I took them up on that. Meat is kind of in short supply around the apartment, so I got a 12 oz steak and it was amazing.

We are seeing more success every week and I can see tons of growth in me and my companionship. I love it here and I know this is the best thing I could possibly be doing with these two years. My testimony grows everyday and I am learning to recognize the spirit more and more. Time is flying by, but that’s what happens when you have fun. Some days are hard, but never bad! Wish I had more time to write! Love you all!

-Elder Miles