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Monday, June 30, 2014

Jun 30, 2014 - Did you tell him I was coming?

We had one investigator come with us to church this week. His name is Ben and he has been my favorite investigator to teach! We found him when we stopped by an inactive member of our ward. He was sitting outside the house smoking and we started talking with him. Turns out he is the cousin of the member we were stopping by to see. He technically lives in Sterling and is in his 20's, which means we need to pass him to the singles ward. The problem is he just sits at his cousin's house ALL THE TIME and smokes Hookah in his car (haha).

He pretty much lives out of his car in his cousin’s parking space. We are trying to figure out who to pass him to, but in the mean time we have been teaching him. He loves basketball and is super funny. He has two cousins who converted to the church and he really wants to know why. We have been teaching him outside while he sits in his car. He pulls two folding chairs out of his trunk and we sit in the parking space next to him while we talk. It is probably a really funny sight. He has been reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and yesterday he came to church.

We went over early to his house to give him a tie and Elder Gledhill tied his knot for him. We caught a ride with him to church. He was a bit nervous, which is understandable, because he hadn't been to church in 5 years. He met some people and it was a good sacrament meeting. One question that the last speaker asked really hit him hard. The question was "What are you willing to give up in order to be happy?" After the meeting Ben asked us "Did you tell him I was coming?" He said he felt like he was talking directly as him. We explained that was the spirit talking to him. Earlier before leaving for church I asked him if he had stopped smoking yet and he told us he probably never would. The spirit really touched his heart when he heard that question.

He loved Sunday School and then he had to leave for work. Before he left he said "Based on what just happened at church I am going to significantly cut back on smoking starting right now." I gained a stronger testimony of the power of the spirit in changing people’s hearts. He definitely experienced what Alma calls "a mighty change of heart."

I'm grateful for the opportunity to have spiritual experiences everyday and to share the gospel that I know is true.

Love,

Elder Miles

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014 - !!!

Washington DC South Mission: Braven Your Stride  Here's a link to a video made by the mission.  Braden is in the upper left at about 1:05 into the video.

videoI am emailing this from a laundromat because our washing machine still doesn't work. We got the AC and plumbing fixed, but now the shower upstairs is leaking and it's dripping through the ceiling into our dining room. Just another thing to fix! President Riggs said they will try and get us out of the townhome. It was his birthday this week and he invited over us and the sisters from our ward to have cake with them after church yesterday. They invited some non-members but they never showed up, but it was fun to talk with the Riggs family a little bit. They are pretty awesome.

We had a great week in our area!  When I got here last transfer there was nothing going on. They had one investigator who has been really flakey anyways. Elder Mathews and I worked super hard last transfer and we didn't start seeing too much from it until the last week before he left. Now we have a solid teaching pool and people coming to church. We haven't had very much time because we have been busy teaching and we had three people at church yesterday. It all started happening when we started the #talkto20. It took a lot of miracles to make that big turnaround happen.


Service project (and workout!)
The most recent miracle came when we had a dinner with a less active family on Saturday night. When we talked with him on the phone the
night before he said there was someone that rented out there upstairs that they gave a Book of Mormon to and she wanted to know more. She (Marina) wasn't there when we ate dinner, but she got home from work right before we left. We all sat down and had a great discussion about the restoration and how she can know the truth for herself. We invited her to church and she brought her son and husband. Plus the less active members came with them!

The same less active member also referred the

Baptist family (Peter and Monica) that we are still planning on church swapping with. The mom has been nice when we have gone over but for the most part she has just sat back. She is very religious and not looking to change. She told us she read the Book of Mormon once and didn't learn anything. This past week she left us a voicemail saying she read from the Book of Mormon and wants us to come back! It sounds promising and we are going over on Wednesday. Hopefully she isn’t setting us up with her pastor or something (haha).

Joel, the older man that we have been teaching, came to church yesterday! He is really sincere and wants to really seek out if what we are teaching is true. We had a great lesson this week with him after we helped him dig a drain in his backyard. He also made us wooden signs that say "JESUS" that are really cool. He says he really looks into something before he buys, but for now he is doing well.

Wood carving by Joel

We started teaching a family that lives in President Riggs' neighborhood this week. We found them several weeks ago but we just sat down for the first time a few days ago. They have 9 kids and five are adopted from China. Elder Gledhill can relate to them a lot which is nice. One son knows several kids in the ward including President Riggs' daughter. President and another lady in our ward said he told all the kids in our ward about us and said he is excited to talk to us again!

We have been having so much fun. It is definitely more fun to teach people then to be knocking on doors all day.

It's hard to believe that my year mark is this week. The time has gone quick. I have learned so much about myself and the gospel. I am glad that I have another year and I wouldn't trade his past year for anything.


Love you!
Elder Miles

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 16, 2014 - Transfer Week

We had transfers on Thursday. Sadly both Elder Mathews and Elder Smith got transferred. It was a great transfer, but all transfers have to end at some point. In our town home there are pictures of each group of missionaries from each transfer. For our transfer picture we took some GQ photos at a parking garage near our house (haha). I think we look pretty good!
"Lookin' pretty good!"
  
The last week of the transfer the AP's got switched into my district. That week I had been really pondering and praying about what I could do to "make something happen". In the leadership meeting a few weeks ago President talked about making things happen and causing change. I felt inspired to focus district meetings on something that Elder Ballard said at the mission conference. He said "if you want to baptize more people, talk to more people. Missionaries should talk to at least 20 people every day outside of planned activities." I started an initiative called #talkto20 and as a district we started counting how many people we talked with each day and I would text the totals out to the district. We saw lots of success from it. The AP's really liked my idea and so this week at transfers they introduced it to the whole mission. I gained a stronger testimony of the need to seek for personal revelation and inspiration. I don't think I have done enough of that in my life or on my mission. I have made it a goal to seek divine guidance more in my life.

My new companion is Elder Gledhill. He was born in Ukraine and lived in an orphanage until he was 16. He was adopted into a LDS family in Sandy, Utah and went to Alta High School. We both came out at the same time, but he was in a different MTC district, so I didn't really know him before. Elder Smith was replaced in the town home with Elder Raban who also went to Lone Peak. He was a year older than me in school. Now I have served around all the Elders in the mission that went to LP (Elders Smith, Raban, Van Dyke, and Hawkes).
New roommate? New mission mascot?

Right after transfer meeting I got to eat dinner with Sam Campozano, his sister, and her fiancĂ©! Sam had asked me before if I thought I could meet up with them, but I didn't think we could. His dad called the mission and we got permission! We ate at CafĂ© Rio just up the street just like old times. It was really fun, but way too short. I wish we’d had more time! One of the first things Sam mentioned to me was that he thinks I’ve grown :). It will be awhile before I see him again because he said he is going to leave for his mission around December sometime. It was awesome to see a familiar face!

We got the plumbing in our kitchen fixed this week and we got temporary AC that sits in the window. This week was the first time that our town house was under 80 degrees! Before the plumbing got fixed we had to put a big bucket in the sink to wash stuff in and then throw the water out the window when it got full (haha). One day Elder Raban threw out the water and hit a little baby bird sitting in our backyard! We didn't know they were there. He killed the one :'( but we still have another little friend who made it.

We got to teach Joel (the guy we found smoking in the park), Peter and Monica (the Baptist family), Canon (member’s 10 year old son), and some other people. One awesome guy that we've been teaching is the cousin of a less active member in our ward. His name his Ben and he just sits outside in his car and smokes Hookah all day (haha). He really wants to know why his cousins joined our church. He is really funny and sincere in wanting to find something more in his life.

think the weekly average for our mission is 7.2 baptisms, so about 30 each month. We aren't on track to reach the goal right now, but we still have time to catch up. It’s a pretty huge goal to reach.  I’ll tell you more about investigators next week!

Love you!
Elder Miles

Washington DC South Mission: Braven Your Stride  Here's a link to a video made by the mission.  Braden is in the upper left at about 1:05 into the video.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 9, 2014 - What else could go wrong...?

Elder Miles at the NRA Museum
Last week for preparation day we went to the NRA (National Rifle Association) Museum. It is only about a 15 minute drive from where we live. They had guns from as far back as the Mayflower. It was really interesting, but there were almost too many guns to look at.

We have been washing our clothes at the public Laundromat recently... I never thought or wished I would ever to do that, but we are pretty desperate with no washing machine. As if not having an AC or a washing machine wasn't enough, the drains in our kitchen are all backed
Doing laundry
up now.

The other day we got a text from the other Elders saying "DONT COME BACK!” The sink filled with water and a pipe in the pantry started shooting out nasty water and rotten food. They cleaned it up, but now our house smells bad and we can’t use the sink or the dishwasher. Yay! It’s been pretty crazy, but we have had some good laughs. Turns out the owner had 3 family members die, which is why they haven't been able to get a hold of him. Hopefully now something will get fixed or else I hope we can move. We are all still sleeping down on the main floor under all the fans and it will only get hotter... The town home is just falling apart.

We had a great week and found some cool new people to teach. One of them was an older guy we found smoking in a park. I saw him straight down the path, but we needed to turn left to get home. I felt like we should go talk to him anyways. Turns out he was awesome! We ended up talking for about an hour right there in the park. He was really intrigued about our beliefs about life after death. We are going to help him with some service this week and he wants to come to church on Sunday. We talked to another great family with six kids. We are going to go to their Baptist church next week and they will come to ours after. Things have started picking up and we just got a new ward mission leader. He is really cool and very excited to get to work.

We had to move the lesson with Canon to this week. His dad was out of town. (From last week – they were going to draw chalk pictures on the driveway with him about the Plan of Salvation.)

This week I hit 100 hours and 1,000 miles on my bike! That's not counting my first transfer because I didn't have the odometer then. Biking is fun for the most part, but with the summer hitting, I really wish we had a car! The transfer ends this Thursday. Each one goes by faster and faster.   I hope Elder Mathews stays. Elder Mathews and Elder Smith have both been here for three transfers, so they both might be leaving.  We have worked really hard together and had lots of fun. It will definitely be a memorable transfer with everything that has happened.

The ward is great and it’s fun to see President Riggs at church every week. I’ve played basketball with him a couple of times. He is really good for being 47. 

I miss you guys, but I know I’m doing the Lords work. Love you!

Love,
Elder Miles

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June 2, 2014 - I don't know what to title this

It was a pretty good week. We found some new investigators and had an awesome leadership meeting with President Riggs. I told President that the Larson's are my next door neighbors and showed him the picture you sent from his mission. He loved that and said they are great people. The best part was when I found a five dollar bill on the ground! (haha) The weather was nice, so even though we STILL don't have an air conditioner it wasn't bad. I went on an exchange with the office elders (they are in my district) and we helped a senior couple move in. Hard to believe it’s already June. March, April, and May were definitely the fastest months so far on my mission. It has been awesome serving with Elder Mathews and Elder Smith.

We taught Canon this week (the member family's son that I mentioned in another email). We have had fun trying to think of interesting ways to teach him the lessons. This week we are going to teach him the plan of salvation by drawing it really big on their driveway with chalk. It has been good for me to teach simply. Sometimes we over complicate the gospel when in reality, it is meant to be understood by children. A lot of our other investigators have been hard to contact, so we've been doing a lot of finding. We are trying to do more finding through the members. That has gone pretty well so far and hopefully we can get some referrals. I have made a bigger effort to get to know the members and that definitely helps the work.

We work out in the mornings at an apartment complex across the street from where we live. The other day when we jogged over there, we found a sign in the window that said the code for the gym had changed. Somehow we had the code before and I don't know where we got it. We were really disappointed and weren't sure what we were going to do to work out in the mornings. We have a few weights in our basement, but those just wouldn't do. That night we decided we would still get up at 6 (we don't have to get up until 6:30) and hopefully someone would be at the gym to let us in. As we were leaving our town home Elder Mathews found a dollar bill on the sidewalk, so I took that as a sign. To our dismay, there was nobody there and we had no way to get in. We started walking back pretty annoyed and disappointed. Then (at 6am on a Saturday) a member of our ward who lives in the apartments ran out of his house. We had just introduced ourselves to this member the Sunday before. Turns out he was helping the young men with a fundraiser that day. We told him that we use the gym and that the code had been changed. He whipped out his phone and said they sent him an email with the new code the night before. We got the code and had a great work out! I tell you this story to show that miracles do happen! (haha)

I wanted to relate this story to faith. In the book True to the Faith it says, "Faith is a principle of action and power." In James 2 we learn that "Faith without works is dead" and Ether tells us that "if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them." Faith is more than just believing. True faith leads us to act and that is when miracles happen. We had faith that somehow we could get into the gym even though we didn't have the code anymore. We showed our faith by acting and waking up early just like any other day. When we got there, nobody was there to open the door for us, but we still got in. We got in in a better way than we had even thought of. Even when we have faith, God doesn't always answer our prayers. At least not in the way that we want them answered. I know that as we have faith in Christ and act upon that faith, God will answer our prayers and guide our lives. I see that in missionary work all the time. I love this gospel and I know it is true.

XOXO,
Elder Miles