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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 29, 2014 - Alejandra's Baptism!

 It was a very busy week for us. With Christmas and Alejandra's baptism we had plenty to keep us busy! It was fun to Skype you on Christmas! After the Skype call, we went to a member’s house for lunch/dinner. They made a ton of really good food. We had already eaten a big breakfast at our Bishop’s house, so we weren't super hungry. I still ate a decent amount - like usual. Elder Raban had one plate and was finished. The member said "There is no way you are done Elder Raban, so I grabbed his plate and loaded him up again (haha). Then they made us eat a lot of dessert too. We were both stuffed after that and it held us over for the rest of the day.

Elder Miles at Alejandra's Baptism
In the evening we went to a Methodist church across the street from where we live to do some service. They had turned the church into a homeless shelter for a couple of days, so we helped serve food and spent time talking with people. I talked with an African guy for a long time, Elder Raban talked to some other people.

We had to teach Alejandra a lot of commandments this week before her baptism. It was a rushed teaching process, but she picked everything up very quickly. She changed a lot during the teaching process and became a lot more open and happy. You may notice in the pictures that Elder Raban baptized her. Her boyfriend didn't feel comfortable doing it. I confirmed her yesterday at church. They came about 15 minutes late for sacrament meeting so we did it at the end.

Elder Raban, her boyfriend, Alejandra, and Elder Miles
I gave a talk on the Holy Ghost for her baptism and I think I did pretty well. Alejandra bore her testimony after the baptism and it was great. She said that she feels strongly that the reason she came to visit was to get baptized. She is excited to connect with the church in Guatemala when she goes home (Jan 2). President Riggs sent an email to the mission president that covers her area, so the missionaries will stop by when she gets there. She doesn't have Facebook, so we will stay in touch with her through email.

With a ward member on splits
Jeff, the investigator I mentioned last week, is actually 31 years old. That means he is barely too old to be in the singles ward. It turns out that he lives in the office elders ward boundary, so they will get to teach and baptize him. He came to church with us yesterday and we will have a pass of lesson this week. Elder Raban and I taught him enough that we still get to attend the baptism. The office elders haven't baptized anyone for years, so I am glad we could contribute in some way.

Elders Miles and Raban
Robert is still set to get baptized on January 10. I will mostly likely be gone by then, but I can come back for it. He asked me last night to baptize him, so that will be a great experience. This has been the busiest time of my mission as far as teaching people who really want to learn about the gospel and I have loved it! I feel very blessed! I have loved seeing these people change as they learn and accept the gospel. I hope and pray that I can continue to learn and change each day. Happy new years! I love you all!

Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014 - Christmas time is here!

Elder Miles and Elder Raban at the DC Temple
We had an amazing week! We had another lesson with Alejandra. She told us that she wants to get baptized before she goes back to Guatemala on January 2, so we put her on date for this Saturday (Dec 27). We are going to have a busy week ahead of us with Christmas, a half mission conference, and a baptism. It will be a really fun week!

Alejandra has a great ability to understand and comprehend the gospel. She understands what she reads from the Book of Mormon and receives a lot of personal insights. She is a more reserved type of personality, but once we got to know her better she opened up a lot more. I am really excited for her baptism. This will be the second person we baptize in this ward that leaves quickly afterwards. Speaking of which, Rachael will be here after Christmas and they are going to take us to dinner.

We had a man, named Jeff, that was passed off to us from some Zone Leaders that we went on exchange with. He knows some members of the church. He attended two weeks of Church before we met with him. We had an amazing lesson with him. After the lesson he told us this is exactly what he has been looking for, that he knows it is true, and that it gives him purpose in life. He then accepted the invitation to be baptized on January 31. He is a very solid investigator! 

Robert is doing very well. His member fellow shipper in our ward is outstanding! They hang out and work out together all the time. He set his own baptismal date for January 10 and is set for that day! Overall we will have three baptisms in the next 6 weeks! The sisters in our ward are teaching two people that will also be baptized in January. All three of our investigators were at church and had a great time. Sundays are always much better when investigators are at church.

Some of the nativity scenes
Yesterday after church we went straight up to the temple visitor center with Robert, his girlfriend, and his member fellow shipper. Alejandra and her boyfriend also met us up there. It was super packed last night and there was standing room only. The performer was a Broadway singer who sang some Christmas songs. The visitor center also had lights and a huge collection of nativity scenes from around the world. Robert invited one of his non-member friends from high school and he met us at the visitor center as well.

The Washington DC Temple
On the 18th we took 6 other Elders with us to help direct traffic at the temple Visitor Center. We chose a night that wouldn't be too busy, so that it wouldn't be a mad house. We had a good time with our reflector vests and "light saber" sticks. It got a little chilly. Toward the end of the night they let us go watch a performance because there wasn't much traffic. It was some strange Ukrainian group. I’m not sure what the point of their performance was... Then we drove home. It is only about a 30 minute drive without traffic.

Elder Raban and I feel really blessed with how well our area is doing right now. Prepared people are just falling from the sky! We have several other people that we are hoping to start teaching after Christmas as well. I will most likely be leaving this transfer (Jan 8). I feel ready to move on from all of the office responsibilities, but I am disappointed on what I will miss out on in the Braddock ward. I will still be able to come back for the baptism though.

I have been reflecting a lot on the Savior lately. I am so grateful for the gift of his life and example. I feel extremely blessed to be able to represent Him at this time of the year and share His message with others. I look forward to kneeling and saying a prayer of gratitude on Christmas morning and spending the day celebrating his birth! We will be helping the homeless at a local church in the evening. It will be great serving others for Christmas. Have a very merry Christmas!

Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014

Mission Conference Lunch
This week was the mission Christmas conference! We were trying to gather performances for over a month. We ended up with plenty of performances to make it a great day. We started out the day in the gym with a talent show. There were about 15 performances in total. Most of them were singing and playing instruments. Several of them were really funny and others were really good.

Some were both! One Elder played the bagpipes, a couple of Sisters did a "missionary rap", and we even did a performance of sorts.

Sister Riggs had the great idea that us, the office elders, and President Riggs needed to do something in the show. She wanted us to sing and dance, but there was no way that was ever going to happen. We agreed to be in the show. Elder Raban came up with the idea that we should do a skit where we are all midgets. I will send a picture so you know what I am talking about. Of course we dragged Sister Riggs into it since it was her idea anyways. She was not super excited about that, but she agreed nonetheless (haha).
"Straight A Missionary" skit

For our midget skit, I was Elder Raban's partner. His arms were the feet and his head was the head. I stood behind him and I was the arms. We went through a morning routine of a "Straight A Missionary". We "exercised", "ate breakfast", "prepared for the day", etc. It was pretty funny and the crowd went wild! My favorite part was stuffing a piece of pie in Elder Raban's face for his "breakfast". I threw the bowl that the pie was in and it hit Elder Smith in the face. That got a good laugh from the missionaries.

Elder Miles' original MTC Group
After the talent show we sang Christmas hymns then moved into the chapel. The Mount Vernon Stake President, Brother Studdert, and President Riggs all spoke to us. Brother Studdert is a two time Stake President, a mission president, and helped write Preach My Gospel. Then we took a whole mission photo and ate lunch. The stake that was hosting us did an amazing job. Like usual we stayed afterwards to clean up the mess. It was a really fun day, but like any meeting that we spend hours preparing, it’s a relief when it’s over.

Recently we have been having a lot of success finding new people to teach! People are coming out of the wood work and asking us to teach them! Yesterday at church a sister in the ward brought a friend that we are going to start teaching. On exchanges this week, the Elder that I was with introduced me to a guy they are passing off to us. He is coming with us to FHE tonight.

Robert is still chuggin' along. He came to church again and we are going to the temple visitor center lights with him and a bunch of other people next week after church. While I was on exchanges this week, we had a lesson with Alexandra. We taught her about prayer and the Holy Ghost to set up the lesson, then we read in 2 Nephi 31 about baptism. When we invited her to be baptized she said yes! She never wanted to read scriptures or be baptized until we started meeting with her. Her whole life people always tried to force her to do those things and she didn't like it. The spirit was strong when we invited her to be baptized and she told us she couldn't say no because of how she felt or else she would be a liar.

Alexandra lives in Guatemala and will only be here for a month, so we are trying to figure out how that is going to work. The sisters in our ward also have two people that are pretty solid about getting baptized, so our ward in general is doing very well right now. Thank you for all the prayers! I'm sure they are a big part of the reason for so many people coming unto Christ right now!

A little tennis fun with President Riggs (2nd from left) and companions

With much love,
Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 8, 2014

We just had a fun little experience! After studies this morning we went to the office and started emailing. After about 20 minutes, one of the senior couples that work with apartments had an emergency that we had to go take care of. One of the apartments that was empty needed everything moved out by 1pm because the lease had expired. Us and the Office Elders flew up there and emptied the whole thing. It was pretty disgusting. I'm not sure how some missionaries can live in a place like that... So we spent most of our Preparation day cleaning out the apartment. Perks of being in the office I guess... (haha). Afterwards, we went to a Mongolian bbq place that I used to go to when I served in Sterling. It was super good! That was definitely my favorite part.

We had four days this week (Tues-Fri) with meetings from 9am-4pm. We have to be early to set up for every meeting and stay late to clean up, so you could say we were pretty busy this week. The first three
days were training conferences. Each day 2-3 of the zones would come and we trained them on a wide variety of topics. Elder Raban and I trained the missionaries about the importance of key indicators and setting goals. We feel like it went very well. I feel much more confident in presenting than I did when I first got here. President Riggs did some training on charity and our purpose as missionaries. Sister Riggs trained about following up.

Mission Leadership Council
Friday was Mission Leadership Council. President Riggs did some training, the Zone Leaders talked about their Zones, and then we had an open council about different subjects. Time goes a lot faster when we are super busy. This week went by so quick! I'm writing emails, I blink, then its Monday again. It's kind of scary how I've already been in this area for almost five months.

We are still teaching Robert and he is still really solid. He came to church again and then we had dinner and a lesson at a member’s house. We also started teaching a recent convert’s girlfriend named Alexandra. She is from Guatemala and she has come to Church several times. We taught her the restoration on Wednesday and invited her to read the Book of Mormon. At church she was really excited to tell us that she read the chapter we gave her and she really liked it! We have another lesson this week.

Some free time apparently...
I had a neat spiritual experience a couple days ago. We have been showing the Christmas video called "He is the Gift" that the church recently put out. As we watched it with one of the members the spirit was really strong and it testified to me of the divinity of Jesus Christ. I felt a big change of heart about Christmas. Every year of my life I looked forward to Christmas because of the fun and gifts that came along with the season. On Christmas morning I would always run upstairs first thing to see my presents. This year I am looking forward to waking up, getting on my knees, and thanking Heavenly Father for the gift of His Son. I love this time of the year and I now have a much better perspective. I'm thankful for the testimony that I have gained and for the spirit that I feel each day.

Elder Braden Miles

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 1, 2014 - Happy Thanksgiving!

In the Subway Tunnel
Happy turkey day everyone! That is what Hispanic people call it apparently. Recently President Riggs had approved missionaries to start playing touch football on preparation days. Yay! We played zone football last week for preparation day because it was 70 degrees. I was really looking forward to playing in a turkey bowl, but sadly our ward didn't have one... We spent most of the morning and afternoon time doing menial chores in the mission office. Such as updating all of the missionaries transfer board cards to say where they have been assigned and who their new companion is. We had dinner with a sister in our ward who has recently returned to activity in the church and her boyfriend. She invited us about a month ago because she had a non member friend who she wanted us to talk to at dinner. He lives in Florida and was only up here to visit for Thanksgiving. We had a really yummy dinner with all the usual items, but my favorite part was the strawberry cheesecake pie that was for dessert :).

Elder Miles and Gang
Because it was a holiday we were allowed to stay longer for dinner. We answered questions that the non-member friend had while we ate dinner. After dinner, we taught him about the Plan of Salvation. He had some very similar opinions to what we talked about. We gave him a Book of Mormon and several chapters to read before we left. He came to church yesterday and flew back to Florida last night. We are hoping to stay in touch with him on Facebook. We didn't really eat too much food - partially because we were talking and answering a lot of questions. Plus everyone else didn't eat all that much. It was not the most eventful thanksgiving of my life, but it was a good one. I think sharing the gospel is the best way to spend our time anyways! 

Young single adults are a lot more open to inviting their non-member friends then most other people. There are usually several non-members at church each week. Yesterday we had Robert with us at church again. He continues to be really solid. We don't even have to do all that much for him. He introduces himself to people and then sits with them without any help from us. He raises his hand a ton in class and volunteers to do things too. There were a couple other non-members there. One was a girlfriend of a recent convert that we set up a lesson with for this week! Our work has been picking up lately, but it is still more difficult to find people to teach in this ward.
The Missionaries at Zohra's baptism

It is already December again! Wow. We have been rounding up performances for the mission Christmas conference that is next Friday. The whole mission gets together for the day and we have a lot of fun! There will be singing, talents, and presents from the Riggs! We are going to see the festival of lights at the temple at least three times this month. We get to help direct parking for one night and the other two nights we are going to take Robert and then Rachael. Rachael is going to be back in town for Christmas. Directing traffic at the temple visitor center during the festival of lights can get pretty crazy... but it’s a ton of fun! We had to assign 80 missionaries from our mission to help out over a 10 day period.

At the end of each month we turn in a mileage report. Today we turned ours in for November and we drove 2,100 miles. Our average is probably about 2,000. I've driven 8,000+ miles in our truck since I came to this area. In case you were wondering. The reason I tell you this is because we are almost at the point where the mission will get a new truck! Hopefully that will happen while I’m still around. President Riggs asked me today about how long I should stay in the office and I told him I would be fine with whatever the Lord needs me to do. I’m sure that wasn't the answer he was looking for... (haha). At this point I am struggling to find things to write about, so I’m going to end it. Love you!

Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 24, 2014 - Transfer week. Again.

Elder Smith and Elder Miles at the mission home
I feel like I write something about transfers every time I email home. I've already been involved in four transfers since I came to this area and they all seem so close together. Like usual, it was an extremely fun week. There were 26 brand new missionaries that arrived, which is the biggest group since I’ve been in the office. President Riggs, Sister Riggs, Elder Raban, and myself each had to drive a different vehicle (including a 12 passenger van) in order to bus them all around. We had to take the sister missionaries to a hotel for their first night because they couldn't all fit in the mission home. Seeing how much work it takes to bring in 26 missionaries makes me feel compassion for the Assistants who had to organize everything last summer. My incoming group had 37 and the transfer after mine was 42, so it must have been a ton of work for them. 

Elder Miles and missionaries from his previous district
I think we averaged around 4 hours of sleep each night from Monday through Thursday. On Wednesday night after we tuck all the new missionaries in bed and kiss them good night, we go to the office to finalize everything for transfer meeting the next day. We didn't get to bed until around 3 and then had to get up at 6. Though it was the first transfer cycle with me leading out the area, I feel it went very smoothly. This transfer will be seven weeks long, so it will end on January 8, 2015. There will be a lot of significant events including Thanksgiving, Christmas, my 18 month mark, New Years, and my birthday. I look forward to a great transfer!

Robert, our new investigator that I mentioned last week, is awesome! We had a lesson with him on Saturday morning at his house. We brought a member of our ward who got off his mission a couple of months ago. As I mentioned, Robert wants to finish the Book of Mormon and the New Testament before he gets baptized, so he reads for 2 hours every day! That is some dedication! His girlfriend is the one who introduced him to the church and many times that is the reason people join the church. His girl friend attends a family ward in Arlington that he has been going to for a couple months. He told us that even if things don't work out with his girlfriend, he still wants to join the church. Robert wants to come to our ward by himself, so that he can get integrated with the rest of the members. It is crazy how solid he is on joining the church and it is all for the right reasons.

Robert came to church with us after already attending a couple hours at his girlfriend’s ward. He participated more than most of the members. He would raise his hand in class and get really involved in the lesson. Many people came up and introduced themselves to him and he would also approach others and start talking to them. I almost don't feel like he is an investigator (haha). We are really lucky and excited to be teaching him.

We had to be President Riggs' "brute squad" this week. There had been a man who had been bothering some sister missionaries. One of their neighbors has been leaving them gifts and knocking on their door all the time. They have been feeling pretty uncomfortable about the whole situation for awhile. They asked him to stop, but he kept bothering them. President Riggs asked us to go talk with this guy and ask him to leave the sisters alone. We had a nice short talk and asked him to stop bothering them. He told us he would leave them alone and then we left. I love the random little chores we get asked to do (haha).

I really look forward to the coming week! We are having Thanksgiving dinner with a member of our ward and a non member friend of hers. It is a win-win. Dinner and a lesson! Happy Thanksgiving!

With love,
Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014

We had an amazing lesson this week with a member that is returning from inactivity. After he came back from his mission, things went downhill and he made a lot of mistakes. We have been working with him a lot and he has been turning things around. He has come to church five weeks in a row and been listening to the Book of Mormon while he drives to work. Prayer has been the most difficult task for him to face. He has been really worried about facing God because of all the mistakes he had made. We visited him on Friday and it was our goal to get him to pray daily on his own.

This transfer at zone conference, Elder Raban and I had 30 minutes to teach each zone about prayer, so we were very prepared to teach a powerful lesson on prayer. We taught using many scriptures as the spirit directed, we taught to his needs, asked inspired questions, and shared personal experiences about prayer. He explained that the problem he had was praying with real intent and sincerity because he had prayed with us before, but his heart wasn't in it. We tried committing him to pray with sincerity that night before he went to bed, but he told us honestly that he probably wouldn't keep that commitment. After several minutes of trying to commit him to pray, I had a prompting to ask him how he felt at that moment. His response was that he could feel the spirit really strong, so we immediately knelt and invited him to pray right then. We reminded him he needed to be sincere before he began.

He started praying and immediately began to weep. We continued to kneel for a couple minutes until he composed himself enough to go on. The prayer he gave was very sincere and powerful. You could tell that he was communicating with God. It wasn't your usual blessing on the food routine prayer. The spirit had a strong presence in the room. When he finished, we sat in silence for a moment. He told us that he felt much better and a weight had been taken off his back. He committed to pray every day with sincerity and then we left. The power of prayer, being led by the spirit, and preparation were several aspects of missionary work about which my testimony was strengthened.

We received an amazing referral from some missionaries in a local family ward. His girlfriend is a member and he had been attending church with her. He accepted to meet with missionaries. After they met with him once they realized he lived outside of their ward boundaries and he was a YSA so they passed him to us. His name is Robert and he grew up in the Episcopal Church. When we sat down at the pass off lesson we could tell he was pretty solid. He wants to join a church that lives the doctrine and can help him to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. He wants to read the entire Book of Mormon before he gets baptized, so he accepted a baptismal date for January 3. He is already through 1 Nephi and we will be encouraging him to read quickly (haha). Robert came to church yesterday with his girlfriend and had a great time. We had several members of our ward fellowship him and help him feel comfortable. Our next lesson is on Saturday. I love finding prepared people! It’s great!

It is transfer week again, which means little sleep and lots of fun! It is definitely the most stressful week of the transfer, but also the most fun. Elder Raban, Elder Smith, and Elder Timmons are all staying for the next transfer, so I will have all the same roommates again. We have had a lot of fun this transfer together. If I leave next transfer, I will have been roommates with Elder Timmons for 6 months and Elder Raban and Elder Smith each for 4 1/2 months (including when we were in the Burke town home together). We already know where everyone is getting transferred which is definitely a perk of this assignment. Missionaries ask us all the time to tell them where they are going or to give them clues. That makes it fun to joke around with them a little (haha).

I'm extremely blessed to be serving a mission right now. I don't have anything to worry about besides missionary work. Missionary work brings a ton of serving, teaching, learning, growth, fun, joy, etc. Basically all I have to focus on right now is serving, teaching, learning, growth, fun, joy, etc. It’s the best! Love you all!

Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014 - Zohra's Baptism

Zohra, Elder Miles & Elder Oyler
The time finally came! Zohra got baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday! Elder Oyler and I originally knocked on her door nearly 10 months ago (Jan 16). She asked us if she could get baptized about a week after we met her and it finally came. She was really excited and happy to see everyone. There were so many people there that we had to move the program into the chapel. Tons of people from the Mount Vernon ward were there, so it was good to see some familiar faces. All of the missionaries that have taught her were there too.

The first family that she lived with was from Ethiopia. The husband was a non-member and Zohra asked him to say the opening prayer. He got up and decided to say a few words before praying. He talked about how great it has been to see how Zohra has changed. Then I spoke on Baptism and a sister missionary spoke on the Holy Ghost. Then everyone filed back into the baptismal font room. There was standing room only. Elder Oyler performed the ordinance and we went back to the chapel.

After she got ready, Zohra got up to speak and share her testimony. When she got up and started speaking Elder Raban leaned over to me and said "She looks like a Mormon" (haha). It's true though. She looked so happy and confident. As she was speaking I was thinking about how far she has come to get to this point and all the miracles that have happened to allow her to be here. She grew up half way around the world in a Muslim country and now she is here. As she bore her testimony of Jesus Christ and the restoration, the spirit again witnessed to me the power of the gospel in changing lives.

When we first met her, she was so emotionally distressed to the point where she would have severe panic attacks. She has turned things around and now she is so bright and happy! I'm sure she has challenges ahead, but at the same time she has a very bright future. She is going to nursing school in January. When she was at the pulpit she told everyone about how excited she is to share the gospel with her family when the time is right. Her family is all in Afghanistan and Muslim, so it could take some time.

After the baptismal service we went to a member’s house for some dinner. Zohra is going to speak this Sunday at a new member fireside that we hold every transfer. All of the missionaries bring investigators to listen to the recent converts speak. It is going to be awesome!

Another fun experience from the week is that I got to spend time with one of Utah's (former) Most Wanted! This guy was out here for several months building a gun range for a police station. He needed some help moving some stuff before he left. Being the only people he knew with a truck he asked us. He took us out to IHOP afterwards. As we ate he told us about his life. He never touched a cigarette or alcohol until he was 34. Before long, he was on the top of Utah's Most Wanted list because he was the biggest meth dealer in Utah county. He has been cleaned up for over five years now. Even though he was at the bottom, the gospel and the Atonement could still change his life.

It was a great week! Thanks for everything! Love you!

Elder Braden Miles

Washington DC South Mission

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014 - Halloween

Aerial view
 It never really felt like Halloween on Friday. Our entire zone, a senior couple, and the Spanish missionaries in the area (38 missionaries) all spent the evening at a member family’s house in one of the wards. We had dinner first at around 5 and then watched Frozen and Despicable Me 2. We went home at 10. We never saw any trick or treaters because we were in their basement the whole night. The movies were pretty good but not as good as I had anticipated. It was a lot of fun.

On Sunday, we had about half of the Mormonism class from GMU come to all three hours of church. Being Fast and Testimony Meeting we were a bit worried about how it might go. It actually went really well. One of the recent converts in the ward told the story about how, after he got baptized, he had to pull the plug, but he pulled so hard it came up and smacked him in the face (haha). It was pretty good. There was also a member who brought a friend that we are going to start teaching this week.

National Catheral

Carving of Joseph Smith receiving the 
Priesthood in National Cathedral

We just got done visiting the National Cathedral in DC and I am writing this email on the metro ride back to our area. It was really big and detailed. They are still in the process of fixing it from the earthquake from three years ago. It is pretty interesting to see how different religions and denominations approach religious worship. I still haven't attended a different churches service, but I would like to at some point. It always seems to fall through whenever we try to set that up with someone.

There isn't too much to report on because I sent my last email like three days ago... We have the last three zone conferences this week. On Thursday we hit the half way point of the transfer.

Zohra's baptism is finally here! She is getting baptized this Saturday (Nov 8) at 4. She asked me to speak on baptism. It has been a really long process but the day has come. Elder Oyler and I tracted into her back on January 16. So almost 10 months ago. It will be a really great day! I'll tell you all about it next week.

Love you!
Inside the National Cathedral

Elder Braden Miles

Friday, October 31, 2014

October 31, 2014 - Elder Kopischke visit

Elder Kopischke, Elder Raban, Elder Miles, Sister Kopischke
Elder Kopischke of the First Quorum of the Seventy came to visit our mission this week. He was here Sunday-Wednesday. On Monday and Tuesday we had half mission conferences that took most of the morning and afternoon. He was very laid back, so both conferences were completely different. He just taught about whatever questions missionaries would ask. He taught some doctrine from the scriptures very well. He had scriptures for every question asked. I would love to know the scriptures as well as he does.

Fall Colors
On Wednesday we had a mission leadership council with Elder Kopischke. Once again, he just taught as the spirit directed him and it was really good. After each meeting he would interview several missionaries that President chose. Elder Raban was interviewed on Monday and I got to talk with him one-on-one yesterday. He asked about where I'm from, about how my family was doing, and what my plans are for after my mission. We talked about what I can do to make the biggest difference in our mission right now. He told me that I will need to be good at using the principles he taught me so I can be a good leader in the church. At the end he prayed for me and also for my family. He prayed specifically for my little brothers to be prepared and ready to serve missions.

This semester at George Mason University there is a class on Mormonism. The teacher is a Lutheran, but he probably knows more about our church then most Latter Day Saints. He has taught this class before at different colleges. He has written a book on Brigham Young and the pioneers. He also wrote an article titled "Mormon Envy". You might ask, "Why is he not a Mormon?" It's because he really loves our church but has a few doctrinal disagreements. The reason I tell you this is because we were invite to their class yesterday. Both us and the sisters in our ward sat in front of the class and did a question and answer with them. There were 13 students and they asked a lot of good questions. They ranged from "how do you pay for your mission?" to "what are your thoughts on plural marriage?” It was really fun! For part of their class they are also required to come to church this Sunday! Hopefully we can get some new investigators out of it!

Happy Halloween everyone! Tonight we are watching Frozen and Despicable Me 2 at a members home in the stake. They are having nearly 40 missionaries over for dinner and movies so I'm guessing their house is quite large. Have a great night and stay safe!

Love you!
Elder Braden Miles

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October 22, 2014

Sorry for the late email this week! We had an Expectations Meeting for all of the new missionaries on Monday. We usually have this meeting on the Wednesday following transfer meeting, but President and Sister Riggs were at a Mission President Seminar in New York. Elder Jeffery R. Holland was the presiding authority at the seminar. President Riggs has told us a lot about his experiences with Elder Holland. He said he ran on the elliptical right next to him in the gym. One of the days they got to go to the sacred grove with Elder Holland. We were nervous they wouldn't come back because they might all be translated (haha). President showed us a selfie that he took with Elder Holland. I don't think any other Mission President would do that except for President Riggs (haha).

Mission truck almost doesn't fit
While President was in New York we had two visa waiters come to our mission. Elder Raban and I had the privilege to go pick them up from the airport and take them to dinner. We took them to an awesome burger place in Arlington. The truck almost didn't make it into the parking garage cause the roof was really low. Elder Taylor is one of the missionaries and he went to Lone Peak and graduated in 2014. We don't know how long they will be here but for now they get to be trained by zone leaders.

We have started doing zone conferences again. We have them four days in a row this week. This round of zone conference we are teaching missionaries about the importance of prayer in conversion. President Riggs is focusing on the Atonement. When we truly understand the Atonement and experience its power in our own lives then we naturally will have a desire to share the gospel. The gospel is how we can access the blessings of the Atonement and receive Christ's grace and mercy. The Atonement redeems, strengthens, and sanctifies us. I'm grateful that we get to attend all ten zone conferences so we can continue learning about the Atonement and feel the spirit.

Elder Raban and Elder Miles
This Monday, after we finished the meeting for the new missionaries, we spent some time with President. We played two games that I have never played before. The first game was called bolf. The game is golf, but with a bowling ball. We went to a wooded area near a lake to play. You dig a hole in the ground with a shovel and see how many shots it takes to get it in. You can throw, bowl, or roll the ball however you want. I tied for second. President Riggs got first by a one point win. The second game was frisbee/disc golf. Apparently it is actually a big sport in some places. There is a course near the lake that we played on. It is the same type of rules except you try to get the frisbee into a chain basket. Once again I got second behind President Riggs. He is honestly good and wins at everything. It's pretty crazy.

Elder Raban and I are having tons of fun and getting a lot of work done. He is into guns, paintball, war history, and other stuff. He is not to into sports, but he likes to play. He was a trainer when I came out and he said he was really hoping to train me. Ironically he was actually the first missionary I talked to when I got out here. He came up to me and started asking about Lone Peak basketball (haha). When I was training I was hoping to train Elder Smith and now he is my roommate. Elder Timmons is from St. George and likes shooting guns and stuff like that. He went to SUU before his mission.

Next week we have a general authority coming to visit our mission for four days. His name is Elder Kopischke. He is from Germany and has spoken in General Conference twice. We will be having two half mission conferences on Monday and Tuesday, so once again there is no telling when I will have an opportunity to email you. I will do my best to find the time! It will be fun to spend time around him and get to know him.

Have a great week! Love you!
-Elder Braden Miles

Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13, 2014 - Transfer Week... again

Elder Miles
Being that it's transfer week and Elder Ni is leaving, I have another companion! It is Elder Raban! He was my roommate in my last area for one transfer and he also went to Lone Peak! He graduated the year before me and I didn't know him at all before the mission. I am really excited to be companions with him! Elder Ni still has two transfers left until he goes home. Elder Raban has three left in total, so I will probably be with him for 2 transfers. My new roommate is Elder Josh Smith again! He is going to be an Office Elder with Elder Timmons.

Another transfer week has come and gone even quicker than the one previous. I am already in my third transfer here (as an AP) and I’m now leading out the area. Especially now because we are so busy every day the time moves extremely fast. There really isn’t all that much to report for this week. We picked up the new missionaries and sent the older ones home! We had a special transfer meeting this time. The whole mission was invited to come and we watched the new movie "Meet the Mormons". I thought it was pretty well made and everyone enjoyed it. Any movie we get to watch is amazing anyways.

Elder Miles and companions in front of the White House
This is going to be a great transfer. I am really excited to be with Elder Raban. We will most likely be together for at least two transfers. We are having a lot of fun so far. We have Zone Conferences starting this week. Our assignment this go-round is to teach about prayer for 30 minutes. Last round of Zone Conferences Elder Ni and I had to practice teach in front of everyone... I think I am going to like the teaching a lot better this time.

It is starting to get cold here in NoVA (Northern Virginia), the leaves are starting to change color, and fall down. It has been in the 50's and rainy lately. I’m going to need to start pulling out my sweaters and coat pretty soon. I’m just glad we have a truck for when it starts snowing!

We get to watch movies again this year for Halloween. It has to be an animated PG movie. Next week send in your suggestions of movies that we should see! We are already talking about the Christmas conference. Our mission theme right now is to give Christ "our finest gift" for Christmas. It is based on the Little Drummer Boy Christmas song. We are going to collect ornaments based on how well we do and then decorate a mission Christmas tree at the Christmas conference.

Sorry that I don’t have that much exciting information to give you this week. To finish up this email I will give you a funny quote that I found. It says "You don't lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership." - Dwight Eisenhower (haha - got a chuckle out of that one). Anyways love you all and have a great week!

-Elder Braden Miles

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014 - Hello family!

We were very busy with meetings this week. We had online proselyting training for all the leadership of the mission. A couple missionaries that have been very successful trained everyone on techniques they have learned to be effective. On Friday we had another leadership meeting, but this one was a council. Every month we meet as the leadership and train and discuss the needs of the mission. I really enjoy this meeting. It gets pretty funny at points but it is also very spiritual. We also sat down with President and Sister Riggs for a couple hours on Tuesday after district meetings to discuss what is going to be happening in the next transfer. At the leadership council, we came up with goals and a vision for the last quarter of the year. We are going to finish off the year strong!

We had a sweet pass off lesson this week with some other Elders who found an investigator that is YSA age. When we got there they were already talking. The guy started asking a question by saying "so in your church, do you believe..." Then he corrected himself and said “I mean in our church, do we believe..." As you can guess he is pretty solid. He hasn't agreed to be baptized because he is still searching for an answer, but he is definitely sincere about it. Our best sources for finding new investigators has been pass offs, former investigators, and less actives who are dating a non-member.

We are now entering another transfer week. Wednesday we will pick up the new missionaries, Thursday is transfers, and Friday we ship off the departing missionaries. I am excited for the upcoming transfer and I hope our mission can have a great last quarter of the year.

The temperature is already dropping and the leaves are beginning to fall. I think it's going to be an early and cold winter... We have zone conference this transfer again. I feel like we just finished those not too long ago.

I am having such a great time! Even though we have a crazy schedule and don't get much sleep, I am really enjoying each day. I love learning more about the gospel through close association with President Riggs. I love serving a mission and I love the Lord!

Elder Braden Miles

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September 29, 2014

I don't have anything really exciting to report from this week. 

Jimmy had surgery, so he couldn't come to church and we didn't meet with him. This week he should be feeling better. 

I went on three exchanges this week with zone leaders. One of our responsibilities is to go on exchange with the zone leaders from all ten zones every transfer. We only have a five week transfer, so we have to do them all in 4 weeks this time. On Tuesday and Wednesday we had back to back exchanges. On Tuesday I was with Elder Josh Smith(from Lone Peak) and Wednesday I was with Elder Johnson(from my MTC group), so that was awesome.

This week is when all of the craziness starts for transfers. A lot of sleep will be lost in the next two weeks! Yay... We have several meetings and we sit down with President Riggs to discuss the upcoming
transfer. We will give him our thoughts and suggestions on who should go where. I will probably be getting a new companion, so I can give him a lot of great suggestions on who it should be! (haha) It will be a great experience to lead out an area again. Hopefully I can remember everything we need to take care of over the course of the transfer!

Today, one of the Spanish zones is having a BBQ and they convinced us to pick up a members grill for them since we have a truck. We are going to grab some lunch there and then play some volleyball and basketball at the stake center. People always ask Elder Ni to play the piano when they do musical numbers in meetings. Sometimes on Monday he practices while I shoot hoops (we drag a piano into the gym).

I'm not really sure what else to write about this week... Yesterday we took the sacrament to a senior couple at their apartment. The Sister had surgery and wasn't able to go to church. It was a very neat experience and it was great to see the respect that they have for the sacrament. They had it all set up very nice when we got there. We get to see the senior couples a lot and it is great to learn from their experiences and examples.

With best regards,
Elder Braden Miles

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 22, 2014

Elder Miles and the other Elders from his apartment
I am really sorry that I didn't send any emails last week! Last Monday we went to DC. The first stop we made was at the Holocaust Museum.  It was a pretty solemn place, but I wanted to see it at least once. After that we were planning on seeing the aquarium. We walked all the way over there to find out that it doesn't exist anymore. For my whole mission, up to this point, the Washington Monument had been covered in scaffolding and was fenced off, but it has recently been reopened to the public. We knew that you could go up to the top and get a great view of DC, but you needed to reserve tickets in advance. We started heading towards the monument just to get a close up view and as we were heading over there someone called out "Elders!" The guy ran over and told us he was from Springville. He had printed out 4 extra tickets because he figured someone might need them and he gave them to us! The problem was that the
Elder Miles in the Washington Monument
time he reserved didn't give us enough time to get back and email before preparation day was over. After waiting for over an hour it was our turn to go to the top. There was a big elevator in the middle of the monument that took us all the way to the top. At the top of the Washington Monument there were tiny windows on each side to look out over DC. It was a great view and a really awesome experience. Sadly it gave me no time to email when we got back... So sorry about that!

The Washington Monument
Last week we had an amazing lesson with one of our investigators. One of our zone leaders came on exchange with me to the lesson. The investigator’s name is Jimmy and he was taught by the missionaries over a year ago. He has family members that are part of the church. In previous lessons, he had brought up several concerns when we would invite him to be baptized. He has been dealing with a lot in his life and as we were walking up to the door for the lesson the spirit told me that we needed to share Mosiah 18:8-10 with him. I’m not sure why I hadn't thought about it before because that scripture applies directly to his situation. Towards the end of the lesson, we started teaching him about the feelings of the Holy Ghost. One of his concerns was that he hadn't received an answer to his prayers yet. We read in D&C 9:7-8 about the "burning in the bosom" feeling. Then I had him read Mosiah 18:8-10 out loud.

As he read, the spirit began to fill the room. He began to read very slowly and intently. Then he reread the scriptures to himself. The feeling in the room was unmistakable and I was feeling the spirit so strong! After he finished reading, we just sat there in silence and the spirit continued to burn within me. He was obviously feeling it too and sat there to think for a moment. I wanted to speak, but the spirit constrained me from saying anything. He finally broke the silence by telling us he was feeling very strange, so we asked him to describe how he felt. Jimmy told us he felt like he was on fire and there was a big weight/pressure inside of him. He also said he felt very peaceful and calm. We testified of that being the spirit confirming the truth of what we were teaching him. At that point the spirit was the strongest I have ever felt it! Right at the strongest point of the spirit, we invited him to be baptized. I had no doubt in my mind, as I extended the invitation, that he would accept it. He said yes to the invite and kept talking about how crazy he felt.

We are currently working with him to choose a date to be baptized. As I reflect on that experience there are several things that stick out to me. First is the power of the spirit. We didn't do much in that lesson besides have him read some scriptures, testify, and invite him to be baptized. The spirit is what converts people. Even though he had concerns and questions, the witness of the spirit was all he needed. The same is true for us as well. Even though doubts or questions might arise in our lives, the testimony that we have gained from the spirit is enough. The spirit led us to what we should say and what scriptures to share with him in order to bring the spirit into the lesson. Second, is the power of the Book of Mormon in conversion. The scripture we shared was exactly what he needed to hear. Third, the church is true! That lesson also strengthened and renewed my own testimony of the Gospel and this church.

We had Stake Conference yesterday and a "Why I Believe" fireside. The speakers at the fireside were a couple from Maryland who used to be ministers in other churches. They each had a congregation that they led. They shared their conversion stories and it was awesome. They talked about how even though they were preaching to others they still felt "hungry" and that they were missing something still in their lives. They eventually found the church through some members and after several months of meeting with the missionaries they were baptized. Each of them gave up their careers to join the church! Both of them were very good at public speaking. It was a great fireside.


Elder Braden Miles
View from the Washington Monument of the Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool, and WWII Memorial
View from the Washington Monument of the White House
View from the Washington Monument of the US Capital, the Mall, the Smithsonian Museums, and the Smithsonian Castle
View from the Washington Monument of the Jefferson Memorial and Potomac River