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Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014 - Elder S. Gifford Nielson

We had a full mission conference on Saturday and we had the great opportunity to have Elder S. Gifford Nielson come and speak to us! He spoke in this past General Conference. He played quarterback at BYU and in the NFL, so that got my attention too. One thing that I came away from that meeting with was a testimony that God does call men to lead and guide his church. I have a stronger testimony of the leadership of our church because of the spirit that bore witness to me as he talked. You could just feel it. His presence in the room and the way he talked was incredible. I'm grateful for the opportunity we had to listen to him talk for a couple of hours. If you don't remember from General Conference, he talked a lot about the use of exclamation points in the scriptures. His punch line was "Exclamation point!". He was still using that punch line when he spoke with us (haha). He talked a lot about how we need to use every minute we have been given and not waste any time. Serving a mission is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we need to make the most of the time we have to spend with Christ. I came away spiritually uplifted and motivated. Here is what president sent us about the notes he took at the meeting:

1) Do we realize what we have? We can't waste a minute. Each of you have a story. Each of you has a call from the Lord, Jesus Christ, and it's up to you to decide what you're going to do with that call. This is the only time in your life when you can have this one on one time with Jesus Christ. This is training you to be great fathers and mothers. It is a unique time. This is your time and you will never have another one like it. You can overcome all things because this call was heaven sent -- I know that!

2) This is the time to develop your testimony for your children and grandchildren. Do whatever it takes to secure your testimony right now. You are a prophetic priority. You are the future of the church.

3) This is not a negotiation. God sets the covenant. We gain power over the evil one when we are obedient and are able to participate in the sacred ordinances.

4) If you really want to be a great missionary, you will live as a Preach My Gospel missionary.

He also went into some deep doctrine about ordinances and covenants. He gave us this equation. Ordinances + associated covenants = exaltation and eternal life. He then proceeded to describe what each of the saving ordinances gives us when we keep our covenants. Speaking about using the priesthood, he said we need to "always be ready to act in the name of Jesus Christ".

I've learned so much on my mission, but one of the greatest things I’ve learned is to recognize the feelings of the Holy Ghost. I feel the spirit so strongly when I study, teach, and testify. I can’t deny the spiritual witness that I have of the truthfulness of this gospel. I know that this is the church of Jesus Christ and as my testimony has grown, so has my desire to share the gospel. I am grateful for these two years I have to spend with my savior Jesus Christ!


Elder Miles

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 22, 2014 - Delayed

Snow in Alexandria
Sorry - it has taken a couple extra days to email this week! It was a holiday on Monday, so the library was closed. Then yesterday there was a snow storm, so it was closed again! We got about 4 inches of snow yesterday and we trudged around in it all night! We had a baptismal interview I had to get to and nobody was allowed to drive in the snow, so we walked 4 miles to get there (8 round trip) in the snow! It was a long cold walk (haha).

Elder Miles' Birthday Socks
We got word on Saturday that we will be having a full mission conference this Saturday and we will be having a guest appearance by Elder S. Gifford Nielson! That will be really awesome to meet him. I don't know this for sure, but it could be for our new ipads and iphones we still haven't gotten yet. He gave a really good talk in conference about missionary work that I will be rereading before he comes.

We have been having a great week! We found a new investigator while tracting the other day and she is great! She has been going through a really hard time with a divorce and we had a really spiritual talk with her at her door. She started crying and we came back to teach her the next day. She doesn't have a Christian background, so it will be different teaching her. There have been lots of miracles go into her story that I will have to tell you about later! She came to church and wants to keep coming. She is golden!

View of Alexandria with DC in the background
This past week in District meetings I taught the District about worrying about the things that we can control. We can’t worry about the number of lessons we teach or if other people don't choose to listen. Those things will happen if we just do what we can control (attitude, faith, hard work, etc) Sometimes in life we worry about the things that we have no control over. If we worry too much about those kinds of things it will negatively affect other areas of our lives. On the flip side, if we worry about what we can do and work hard at it, then the things we can’t control are positively affected. If we have a great attitude, faith, and work hard through difficulties, then it will help us with the problems we have no control over.

Love you!

Elder Miles

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13, 2014 - blah blah blah

It has been a very cold and wet week! It rained and snowed for a good part of the week. To make it even better it was windy and in the single digits for a couple days. One of those days I was on an exchange with a missionary in my district and we walked around outside for the night on the coldest day. I had to wrap my scarf around my face cause the wind chill was brutal. We have been doing lots of walking because riding bikes would not be so smart in that weather. The other day we walked to a missionary correlation meeting in the rain and I assumed my coat was water proof. Turns out it was only water resistant because after walking for a little bit it started soaking through (haha). It was much warmer that day, so it wasn't bad. Today it is supposed to be in the 50's which will feel really nice.

TC Williams High School
In the area I went on exchanges are some pretty cool sites. One of them being TC Williams High School (from the movie Remember the Titans). There is also a Free Mason’s Temple that I want to get a picture of at some point! Joseph Smith was a Free Mason, but that probably won’t get us in. There are tons of historic sites around here that I want to visit, like Mount Vernon, but the other missionaries don't want to pay to get in. It’s like $17 to get into Mount Vernon for one day.

The Zone Leaders have moved in with us temporarily because one of their neighbors is leaving creepy notes on their door. They told President Riggs and he told them to stay with us until it gets sorted out. So for now, there are four of us in a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment. The couch has a fold out bed that one of them will sleep on, but the other one has to sleep on the floor (haha) (the white handbook specifically states not to sleep in the same bed as your companion...).

Today will be the first day that we don't play basketball for preparation day since I got to this area. The Zone Leaders have to be somewhere at 2, so we are just going to walk around and check out the stores. I’ll probably spend a little of my Christmas/birthday money :). All four of us are pretty good at basketball, so we have some pretty good games every week and it has been really fun. President Riggs and his son came and played with us last week and they were both pretty good.

We had interviews with President Riggs this week. I love anytime I have to listen to him, especially one on one. One thing that he mentioned to everyone that I really loved was to never settle for mediocrity. That is something that I have always tried to live by. It is too easy in life to get stuck going through the motions. Way too often there are missionaries that do the same thing. They just settle for being good, but being good is the enemy to being great! It is much easier and less tiring to just "go with the flow". We have been told repeatedly that we have been saved for these last days. I know that Heavenly Father didn't reserve each of us so that we could just float through life and take the easy road. We were sent here at this time because we were choice spirits who were valiant in the pre-earth life. He needs us more than ever to prepare the earth for the second coming! The road to greatness is always going to be uphill!

The improvements and experiences I've had in the last six months alone have been incredible.

Love you!
-Elder Miles

Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6, 2014 - New Years

Happy 19th Birthday, Elder Miles
Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes and to everyone who sent me mail! I had a rather normal birthday (haha). It was Fast Sunday, so I didn't get any big meals and then for dinner I had PB&J's and cereal (haha). I’m finally old enough to go on a mission! Yay! I told a member I was 21 and they believed me (haha). For New Years we didn't do anything different except we had to be in an hour early. We watched The Testaments (church movie) with the extra time that we had. Too bad we didn't get to watch other movies. Oh, well.

I got to eat some pretty diverse foods this week! On Tuesday an Ethiopian lady in the ward had us over for lunch and fed us Ethiopian food. It was pretty strange, but actually pretty good. They don't use silverware. Instead you just tear off some weird spongy bread stuff and pick up your food with that. We had some meat of some sort cooked in some stuff... You just scoop it out of the pan that still has the bones and everything still in it. Some of it was really spicy. That was a fun experience and then while I was on an exchange we ate with a Jamaican guy and he made us Jamaican jerk chicken and rice with beans. That was really good and I ate lots!

While I was on exchange with another missionary in my district we helped a guy change a flat tire. I’ve only changed a flat once before (when mine went flat in the school parking lot). That was a helpful experience because this guy had no idea what he was doing (haha). We helped him out and he tried to pay us, but instead we just asked if we could teach him sometime and he said yes! Also, we found some other really cool people to teach. Good stuff always happens on exchanges!

The other night while we were riding out bikes, two dogs were chasing us and barking at us. They were super annoying. One of them charged us from the front and Elder Oyler pretty much ran over it with his bike! It yelped and ran away. It was fine and left us alone after that.

I didn't even think about this before, but George Washington's house (Mount Vernon) is right up the street from our church. We passed it the other day driving to a meeting. I want to go see it, but the other missionaries say it’s like $20 to get in. I think that is where they kidnap the president in the movie, National Treasure.

Elder Miles and the Spirit of Christmas
It has been rather cold her this week, but it has been awesome! It has been in the teens a few times and it is supposed to get down into the single digits tonight (yay!). We have been teaching a man from Ghana and he is getting baptized on February 1st. We taught him several times with his roommate. Turns out his roommate is a less active member who was baptized in another ward several years ago! We have been teaching them a lot and it is really fun. You can never tell how old Ghanaians are though! I thought this guy was like 40. Turns out he is 55! I could feel the spirit really strongly as we taught them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and about repentance. We do lots of street contacting on the busy road in our area and talk to lots of people waiting for the bus. It is really fun and you never know who you are going to run into.

Things have really started picking up this week and I’m excited for this week!

Love you!

-Elder Miles