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Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30. 2013

First I want to say happy (late) birthday to my little brother Corey! He is now 12 and was ordained a deacon Sunday! I’m so proud of you Corey! Also, sorry that I forgot to say happy birthday in my last email (haha).

We had a pretty awesome day at church yesterday! We were planning on one maybe two investigators at church and two less actives. Only one of each showed up, but another unexpected less active came as well. The investigator that came, Roshan, is from India and I told you a little about him last week. We've taught him several times now, but he hadn't been to church yet. We went by his house Saturday night to get him to church and he wasn't home and didn't answer his phone, so we weren't sure what would happen. Then in the morning at 8:30 just before leaving for church I gave him a call and he was already driving around trying to find the church! We ended up beating him there and I had to give him play by play directions to the church because when I called him at 9 and he was sitting outside a Baptist church. He said that was the only one he could find (haha). He finally got there at 9:15 and had to take a smoke break before he came in and then he took another one after sacrament meeting (haha). He stayed for all three hours. He wasn't shy to ask questions in Gospel Principles or Elders Quorum either and he even cracked a few jokes (haha). He kept asking really good questions throughout and I think he really enjoyed himself. We talked about prayer in Gospel Principles and the plan of salvation in Elders Quorum. Some of the men in the Elders Quorum got a little excited he was there and went a little too deep into some of the doctrine (example: mentioning "first estate", outer darkness, and the 1/3 that were cast out) but besides that it was great! He will be coming again next week. Now we need to get him to quit smoking so he can be ready for baptism by November 2!

We helped another lady move some stuff into her house, for her son that is moving in with her because of a divorce. It was fine and dandy until her ex started yelling and swearing because he thought some of the furniture should be his. That made it pretty awkward for us because we were standing right between them... (haha). It all ended okay and I didn't have to knock anyone out. She is a great lady and she would be perfect for the gospel but we just need her to see that! We have been doing service for her, but haven’t had a chance to teach her much yet. We have also taught her 23 year old son and hopefully they can join together! 

Some other investigators that we've been teaching want to take us to the DC zoo next Monday for our pday, which would be sweet. I’ll have to see if we can get permission to do that first. We've taught them several times, but lately they've been super busy and out of town. That would be a great opportunity to get to know them better and teach them some more. We have quite a few other investigators, but I can tell you about them when they start progressing and coming to church. I've learned that some people seem so golden and amazing when we first teach them, but then we never see them again. So I’ll wait till we make sure they are staying before I tell you all about them. I say this cause my dad apparently couldn't handle the spirituality of my scripture thoughts and he wanted to hear more about the investigators.

We had a half mission conference this week and it was great. I always love hearing President Riggs and the AP's speak. We have a mission goal to baptize 166 before the end of the year, so in order to get there each ward needs 3 baptisms. We will have to pick it up if we want to do our part here in the Algonkian ward! The motto they used as a joke was "hit the streets and talk to haters, fill the fonts and baptize 'gators (investigators)" (haha). He called off a bunch of names of people he wanted to talk to afterwards and I was one of them. Turns out he wanted to tell us that we would be training next transfer, so it’s official I will be a senior companion on Thursday. He told me and Elder Johnson (who is also training) that the Lord has put lots of trust in us. I’m excited to help a new missionary!  We have a couple meetings this week about becoming trainers, my comp has departing interviews and stuff, and our companions will be packing, so this will be a busy week.

Last Monday we rode our bike 15 miles to Leesburg, Virginia to pick up our minivan, but it was pretty fun. There is an old train track that they paved that runs from DC all the way to West Virginia and we rode that all the way there. I can’t think of anything else right now.

I love you all!!!

-Elder Miles

Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 23, 2013

For anyone who didn't hear we went to DC for the first time last Monday. It was awesome to see all the sights that I've seen pictures of my whole life. The most exciting part however is that we were there the same day the shootings took place. It took place at the Naval Yard which was half a mile away from the capital. We didn't know until lunch time when we saw the headlines on the TV. The headline was something about a shooter possibly still on the loose in DC and we were right in the middle of it! They didn't shut anything down and life went on as usual, but it was pretty crazy. 

We saw the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam and Korean war memorials, The Capital, and the American History Museum. Some guy came up and started talking to us while we were there because he was a member. When he saw my name tag, he was like "Braden Miles!? From Lone Peak!?". That was kinda freaky, but turns out it was Kyle Morris' dad, so it was cool to talk to someone familiar.

Before I left the Armstrong’s gave me some gifts and one of them was a plastic card titled My Missionary Commission. I read it the other day and I really like it. It says: 

"I am called of God. My authority is above that of the kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Master and he has chosen me to represent him. To stand in his place, to say and do what he himself would say and do if he were ministering to the very people to whom he has sent me. My voice is his voice, and my acts are his acts; my words are his words and my doctrine is his doctrine. My commission is to do what he wants done. To say what he wants said. To be a living modern witness in word and deed of the divinity of his great and marvelous latter-day work.” -Elder Bruce R. McConkie 

That really gave me more confidence and motivation! I carry that in my pocket now and I read it anytime I need some motivation.

I finished reading Mosiah today. I love the story of Abinadi. He stood in front of kings and priests and testified boldly of their iniquity. He told them to repent or they would be destroyed. He knew he would die and yet he did what the Lord commanded and didn't back down. That ties in great to missionary work. Sometimes we don’t invite people to be baptized because we are afraid they will say no. We aren't going to be burned to death (maybe ) and yet sometimes we get nervous to invite people to repent. I love when it talks about people who fear God and not man. We should all care more about following Gods commandments then worrying what other people think of us. In the end, who really cares what other people think of us?

Our minivan has been in the shop for the last several days getting fixed up, so we got a ride across our area to a member’s house for dinner. After dinner they dropped us off at an appointment and we planned on just walking home afterwards. The appointment fell through, so we decided to head home and do some street contacting as we went. Right as we started back, it started to rain (of course... haha). We walked in a down pour for about a mile before a member saw us and picked us up. We were soaked, but it wasn't cold and I actually enjoyed it! The Gundersons are the ones that picked us up. They said they are going to Utah in a couple weeks to stay with some friends in Cedar Hills! I told them they should stop by my house and meet my family. They know a bunch of people from LP and Ricks College that we know. So you can expect that in a few weeks!

Another scripture I found this week, that I really like, is Mosiah 23:21. This takes place when the people of Alma are being really righteous and living how they should. It reads "Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith." The people are then captured and put into bondage to the Lamanites. Even though we are doing all we should and living righteously, God is going to try our patience and faith. Sometimes people wonder why they have trials even though they haven’t done anything wrong. It’s because God wants us to progress. "This life is a time for men to prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32) and so we can’t just stay "good" because he wants us to be great. He forces us to show our faith to get through adversity. The people of Alma "submit cheerfully and with patience" and continually pray for the Lord’s help. He helps to ease their burdens and eventually frees them from bondage. If we just show our faith and trust in the Lord he will he ease our burdens and help us out of our trials. It seems bad at the time, but it forces us to learn and grow. We become better because of it as long as we don’t give up. I hope that all made sense because I had tons of ideas running through my all at once (haha).

We put an investigator on date for baptism yesterday! We taught this guy’s wife once, but then we could never contact her again. We ran into this guy on the street and later when we showed up to his house I was thinking "I've been here before..." Turns out they had just gotten divorced. They have been here from India for 15 years and he used to be Hindi, but he says it didn't feel right. He has turned to smoking and drinking because he has been depressed and lonely. His only joy comes from his 14 year old son who comes over occasionally. We've taught him twice now and he really wants a clean start and true happiness. We promised him that he will get those things in this church. He knows the basics of Christianity, but that’s easier to build up his beliefs instead of change them. We all have some work to do before he can be baptized, but he will get there.

Elder Miles
The White House
Arlington Cemetery

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16, 2013

As you know we went to the Nationals vs. Phillies baseball game on Friday night. It was awesome! The DC North Mission was also there, so there was 500+ missionaries at the game. Besides knowing that the Nats won, I can’t remember much else about the game. I guess I was too busy having fun and enjoying being at a sporting event again (haha). Brother Harper (Bryce Harper) didn't do too hot in the game. Probably cause he was nervous about all of us being there ( haha). There were people from the church media at the game taking pictures and several of them stopped me and Elder Johnson and took our picture in front of the field, so maybe we will be on an article or something!  

Elder Miles and Elder Johnson at the Nationals baseball game.
The game was at 7 pm and we didn't get back until about 12:30, so we got under 6 hours of sleep. I felt fine the next day and not too tired. President Riggs sat near us at the game and was saying that the Brethren are excited to see how our week was. If the work didn't struggle, we will get to go again next year because we were well behaved, and an apostle will throw out the first pitch! The metro was pretty cool to ride on and there were tons of people taking that to and from the game.

This week we went on an exchange with a ward member (Brice Bunker) who is related to Tanner Hafen.  He is siblings with Tanners mom. I've talked to him before and he mentioned he had some family out in the same area that I lived in, but forgot to mention it was a good friend of mine (haha). There are so many kids from Lone Peak out here. My district leader Elder (Jeramiah) Van Dyke played baseball at LP. I went on exchanges with him the other day and it was pretty cool to talk about it with him. Besides him and me there are four other Lone Peakers. Plus Josh Smith is coming soon and that will make it 8.

Funny sign on a door.
We found a super funny plaque on a door the other day (see attached picture) it was directed at missionaries and said they don’t want anyone knocking on their door for religious purposes, but we did anyways :D (jk). We didn't because they would have gotten angry (haha). Pretty much everyone has a peep hole on their door. They think they are invisible behind it or something. We can see them through it because there is light that comes through it and when it goes dark that means they are looking out. When we see them looking out we just smile and wave!

I love the study time we get in the morning! We get an hour but it goes by so fast and I wish we had more time! Before my mission I could barely read scripture for 10 minutes without dozing off or losing focus. I’m about halfway through Jacob right now and I love studying. We shared 2 Nephi 32:3 with some of the families and less actives. It is about "feasting upon the words of Christ". I love the word "feast" because it means we shouldn't just read, but take it all in, study it out in our minds, and apply it to our lives. Then it gives us a promise. It says "The words of Christ will tell you ALL things what ye should do". President Riggs is big on finding "absolutes" in the scriptures. (Like the words all, must, cannot, etc.) The scriptures will always tell us what to do, not just sometimes. I love reading the scriptures and my knowledge of them has grown a lot even in the last couple months. When we talk to people I always have scripture references pop into my mind and I am trying to follow those promptings to share them with the people. I love this gospel and I encourage everyone to FEAST on the scriptures and not just read them!

-Elder Miles

We just got back from DC and I thought I'd send some pictures.  Have you look on CNN?  There was a big shooting in DC today and a manhunt was going down while we were there.  No big deal.  The FBI was questioning some guy outside while were eating lunch.  It was pretty crazy.  The shooting took place just outside the Nationals Stadium that were we at a couple days ago.  I took a pic of the FBI cars and the CNN report we say.  Beside that it was pretty cool.  We also went to the American History Museum and talked to Kyle Morris' dad.  He just cam up to us in the museum and started talking and he was like "Braden Miles from Lone Peak!?"  It kinda freaked me out (haha).
Elder Miles and Elder Aland at the Lincoln Memorial

Elder Miles in front of the Capitol Building

DC Metro Station

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 9, 2013

I know where all our food comes from now! We get tons of food from members and it has started stacking up on our table. We got pork chops and steak this week and that was pretty sweet. Apparently Kyson has been praying for me to find plenty of food to eat! (haha) His prayers have been answered and I’m grateful! Thanks Kyson!

We had a zone conference this week. It was all morning and afternoon and president Riggs, the AP's, and the zone leaders spoke. It was really good. We talked a lot about the importance of getting investigators to pray and understand why and how to do it. 1st Nephi 15:3 talks about how some things cannot be understood unless "a man should inquire of the Lord." Investigators won’t be converted unless they pray. We also talked about the importance of asking them "inspired questions". That is when we ask a question that makes them think and give answers that help us understand them more. Lots of times they can answer their own questions by us asking them to explain their thoughts. The more we know investigators, the easier it is to teach them what they need to know.

After Zone Conference, I was shooting hoops with the AP's and President Riggs was getting my companion a temple recommend. After they finished, President Riggs was smack talking me and saying I was scared to play him (haha). I've heard he is pretty good and I’m excited to play him in the future sometime. Also his son just got his mission call to Dallas, Texas Spanish speaking.

I can tell my legs are getting bigger from all the biking because my slacks are feeling tighter around the thighs (haha). Elder Johnson wanted to get an odometer super bad and told his dad to send him one, then he couldn't wait and bought one. Then he got the one from his dad, so I bought it from him for $20. It is pretty sweet. It shows speed, distance, and time. My max speed so far is 35 mph and we go about 10 miles a day. I’m getting pretty good at riding with no hands too. Everyone stares at us when they drive by too. I don’t blame them cause we are pretty good looking (haha). Plus we ride with no hands and wear church clothes while biking in the middle of the day.

We had lots of college age investigators and now they are either gone or super busy, so we have been focusing a lot on finding new investigators and we found 4 news ones this week. I try to think from the other person’s point of view when we are talking to them. It’s uncomfortable for us, but it’s much worse for them. I think about how I would feel if two weird guys came up to me and started questioning me about religion. That helps to make it better for all of us. If we can just help them open up a little bit by talking about sports, family, school at first then it opens them up more to talking about the gospel. Yesterday, after we got out of a lesson, there were a couple of guys looking at the moon through a telescope. We just talked about that with them for a little and it opened them up, so we could share a little with them. They weren't interested in hearing more, but it makes it much easier. The moon was sweet by the way. It was crescent and orange. Venus and Saturn were also right next to it. They let us look at all of them through the telescope and it was pretty amazing. That just reaffirmed my own testimony about the existence of God. Lots of people want evidence, but all they have to do is look around them!

One of the college age investigators we had that was super awesome left for college a couple weeks ago, but last weekend I had a feeling we should go to his house anyway. He answered the door and said he was home because of the long Labor Day weekend. We got an appointment for the next day with him. The next morning we were studying and trying to figure out what we should teach him, but nothing felt right. He is catholic and doesn't believe the apostasy happened and we've talked about it a lot with him. Like it says in Preach My Gospel, any concerns can be resolved through gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. If it is true then obviously the apostasy happened. We prayed to find a good passage to read with him and right away Alma 32 came to my mind. It felt right so we shared Alma 32;26-28 with him. I don’t know how much it helped him, but I felt the spirit so strong in that lesson and I know that what we shared was the right thing to share. We referred him to the missionaries on the George Mason campus so they can teach him. Hopefully down the road we will hear he was baptized.

I recently re-read 1st Nephi and I always learn something new each time. This time it stood out to me that Nephi had incredible faith. 1st Nephi 3:7, 17:50, and 4:6 are the best verses. He was willing to do anything he was commanded and didn't question it even for a second. In 17:7, God commands him to go into the mountain, so he does it, not knowing why. He also never once complains about the hardships they go through. He was tied up for three days on a ship and in 18:16 he says when he was released he praised God and didn't murmur because of his afflictions. We can learn a lot from him. How many times do we complain about small things that don’t really matter? We can do anything God commands because he "has prepared a way" that we can accomplish it and we should do it willingly and with a grateful heart.

We have meetings every single day this week and the Nationals game on Friday, so this week will be super busy. You should try and watch the game cause I’m sure with 200+ people sitting together wearing shirts and ties is bound to get on the camera.

I've learned a lot in a small period of time and I hope I can continue to improve each day. President Riggs, the AP's, and my companion have expressed how impressed they are with me so early in my mission. I know I have a long way to go before I become what I want to be, but I’m thankful for how far I've come already. Thanks for all the love and prayers! Love you all!

-Elder Miles

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 3, 2013

We didn’t get to email yesterday because of Labor day. The libraries and the office that we usually email in were closed for the day. I had a chance to look at my blog for a minute. You should change the main picture of me to one that I don’t look terrible in (haha).

On Saturday it was super hot and we were biking. We had been out for like 3 hours and we were out of water and super sweaty, so we decided to take a little 7 Eleven break and get some water. We were paying and the guy behind the counter asked us if we could teach him (that doesn’t happen much). He is from Pakistan and is Muslim, but is looking into Christianity and has been reading the bible. Here is the best part - he gave us free Slurpees! The other day we were stopping by a less active’s house and we parked on the street in front of a random house across the street. As we were walking up the driveway the owner of the house pulled up right behind us until his bumper hit ours, parked it, and went inside. So I left a card in his wind shield (haha).

One of the AP's came with us yesterday to our appointments, which was pretty awesome. He was very good at teaching and knew the gospel very well. Even just by listening to him I learned a ton and I know what areas I can improve in. It was a humbling experience to see that I’m not nearly as good as I thought I was (haha). It also gave me a good idea of what I want to become on my mission. I want to become really knowledgeable about the scriptures because using them in teaching is much more effective. Elder Aland said he told President Riggs that I am ready to train a new missionary next transfer. The AP also told me that I will be training next transfer. That will be a great experience.

We’ve had several Catholics that we’ve taught and they all seem to have the same concerns. They don’t believe there was an apostasy because they believe the priesthood was passed on through Peter to Linus all the way to the present day. We also are teaching a man who is Jainist, which means he doesn’t believe in killing anything - not even bugs.

We got to play some basketball yesterday with the whole zone and the AP's. It was way fun. It was actually pretty intense and some of the missionaries were pretty good. My shot was the first thing to go and it took me awhile to get it back (haha). I want to try to play more on p-days cause that was probably my favorite thing we’ve done so far (on a p-day of course).

The pictures I sent are ones I took of the sunset the other day. The pictures don’t look half as cool as it did in person, but I will say I think I’m a pretty great photographer, as you can see (haha).

Sunset in Virginia
I want to give a shout out to my buddy Braden Crist who is going on his mission to Long Beach. He is awesome and a killer Blops player.
A great scripture that we have been sharing with families in the ward is D&C 136:31. We are always going to get trials, but we are never given too much to handle.

Sorry for the short email once again, but I didn’t have tons of time! More will come in a week!

-Elder Miles