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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