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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