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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

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014 - Transfer Week

It was another super busy week. It started on Tuesday with district meetings and a meeting for all of the trainers at the mission home. Wednesday we picked up all the new missionaries and were with them all evening at the mission home. Thursday we had a meeting for the new missionaries to meet their trainers and then transfer meeting. After transfer meeting we went with all the departing missionaries to the mission home for the evening. Then we woke up at 4am on Friday to take them to the airport and had a mission leadership council the rest of the morning and afternoon. All in all it was a week of meetings and little sleep, but I am feeling better rested now.

This next transfer is only 5 weeks so it will go really quickly. It is an interview transfer instead of zone conference, so we will have a lot more time to proselyte. It won’t be nearly as busy as last transfer, so I will have time to exercise and teach more. School is back in, so we can do a lot more finding at GMU (George Mason University).
Last night we tracted some town homes just off GMU campus because we were told a ton of students live there. We talked to a ton of YSA age kids and found some people that are interested. Along with tracting there, we are going to go on campus during the day and street contact people. I am really excited to have a successful transfer! Elder Ni will most likely be moving to a new area next transfer which means I will be leading out as an assistant... crazy.
Elder Miles and a blue gill he caught
On Monday last week we went fishing at Lake Braddock which is only about 5 minutes from where we live. We all bought $13 Wal-Mart fishing poles and a one day fishing license. We all caught around 5 fish. They were all blue gill except one was a little bass. It was all catch and release. I even caught a little turtle on accident, but he was fine. The lake had some huge snapping turtles that would come and eat the fish while they were still on our lines!

One thing that was really apparent to me, this week especially, was the change that happens to people when they serve missions. When we pick up the new missionaries, we get to see high school age teenagers. They still act and talk like they are in high school. Many of them are timid and nervous, but excited. A little side note, several of them said that they recognize me. That is still weird to me... Then two days later we take the departing missionaries to the airport. They are all mature, confident, and changed. It is a drastic difference and I am glad I get to see it. It
Little turtle caught while fishing
helps me to see what I want to become. A mission is all about changing and becoming more Christ-like. I have seen a lot of those changes in myself, and I'm thankful that I still have a lot of time to change!

Elder Braden Miles

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014 - Transfer week is here...

The day of Rachael's baptism
Let the craziness begin! We have a jam packed schedule this week which includes picking up all the new missionaries, transfers, and sending the departing missionaries home. Plus many other meetings. I like having a full schedule because it's fun and we get to do a lot, but that just means less sleep than usual for us. I have adjusted pretty well to getting less sleep.

On Saturday we got to sit down with President Riggs for a couple of hours and go through the transfer board for next transfer. It is fun to be involved in all of that and to be able to give suggestions and input. So I already know where everyone is getting transferred to :). People try to pry information out of us all the time. Last night we made calls to missionaries who are going to be training. Both Elder Seely and Elder Oyler (the missionaries that I trained) are going to be training and I got to call and tell them.

We had a new and returning member fireside last night. It happens the Sunday before transfers. There were 7 converts/returning members that spoke, President Riggs, and the Stake President. The whole chapel was full of missionaries, members, and investigators. It was my first time attending this meeting and I was the one who conducted it (haha). I had a good time and the spirit was strong!

Today is our first real preparation day for 3 weeks so I am pretty excited! We are going fishing! I haven't been fishing for over a year and I miss it really bad. There are a ton of good places to fish around here.

Other than that I can't think of a much else to say... We did a lot of office work like organizing meetings and rides. We taught one lesson to a former investigator who is going through a hard time. We have a return appointment this week. It's been hard to find new investigators with so much work to do and because school was out. Now school is back in session and we will have more time next transfer to find people to teach.

<3 Elder Miles