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Monday, January 26, 2015

January 26, 2015 - Where does the time go?

I am really not sure where the time goes every week. Each week feels like a couple of days. I feel as though I was just sitting at this computer writing home yesterday...

Not much happened with the investigators I told you about last week. Larry will be in China on vacation for another week. We found out that he lives in the other ward boundaries in Manassas, so when he gets back we will pass him off. Ana and her kids didn't come to church because the kids wanted to spend time with dad. We will be passing her off to the Spanish missionaries because we feel it would be the best for her to learn in Spanish. It is really hard to pass of investigators - especially when they are your best ones. Hopefully we will be blessed with other people to teach for doing the right thing.

If you remember I told you about a member of our ward that
Elder McInery and Elder Miles
with member in white shirt and tie
wears a spiked black leather jacket and a kilt to church. This week it was our goal to get him to wear a white shirt and a tie. He had a very rough life growing up. He was around gangs, drugs, and death for most of his life. He joined the church about 15 years ago, but went inactive shortly after that. He was not in a good place for many years until finally coming back to the church several years ago. He has made a lot of changes in his life and is doing very good right now. He has a goal to go to the temple and it is our goal to help get him there.

This week we challenged him to wear more appropriate clothes to church and he agreed to step out of his comfort zone. A member donated some money and we went shopping with him. We helped find him a white shirt, slacks, and a belt. Elder McInerny gave him a tie. He wore it to church and everyone was shocked with disbelief! We took a picture with him to show to other missionaries that have served in this ward. They will be very surprised as well. I'll send that picture home.

Dad wanted to know more about my companion so I will try to say some stuff that I haven't already told you. Elder McInerny played football in high school and did some motocross too. He was non-denominational Christian growing up, but never went to church or anything. He joined the church a couple weeks before he graduated and went on his mission right after he turned 19. We get along really well. I have been blessed with a lot of really good companions. We teach great together and both want to work really hard. We also laugh a lot and enjoy doing missionary work!

One of my highlights of the week has been my personal study time. My whole mission I have loved studying the gospel - especially from the scriptures. Being in the office was hard because I didn't get to study all the time and even when I did I was really tired so I didn't get much out of it. I am excited that I get to study everyday again and I am feeling back to normal on my sleep. The last several days my studies have been very enlightening and uplifting. It does not always have to do with what I am studying either. I just love the feeling of the spirit that I feel as I read the word of God!

The theme of our mission lately has been "Be All In". Which means to be fully committed to the work and giving all that we can. Each week at district meetings we get 30 minutes to have opening exercises, give announcements, and share some thoughts/training. I have made a couple of ipad backgrounds to give to the zone, so they can remember to be all in. If you ask me, I think they are pretty sweet. Last week we trained the zone about how to create miracles. Our zone is the Centreville Zone and it is the most rural one in the mission. We had Zone Conference this week and we trained the zone about how to invite. I love serving the Lord!


Until next week,
Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 19, 2015 - First full week in Manassas

It was a great week last week, but this week was even better! I am getting a lot more sleep than before and now I feel back to normal. I forgot what it feels like to be rested (haha). I have been getting up early to work out and it has been awesome! We have one final spraying for the bed bugs next Monday and they should be gone for good. I haven’t seen any or had any bites. Elder McInerny hasn’t been so lucky (He doesn’t have covers on his bed like I do). Other than that the apartment is only 6 months old so it is in good condition. The shower is cold. Not ice cold, but not quite lukewarm either. We have asked them several times to fix it, but whatever they are doing hasn't worked.

In my last email I mentioned that we didn't have any investigators to teach when I arrived. Well this week that all changed. On Monday we got a referral for someone that wanted a bible. We took the bible to the address and it turned out to be a family of 4 people from Ghana. We sat down with them and talked for awhile. Turns out that one of them had searched on Google for a bible and our add was the first one on the list! We taught them and we are going back there to teach them tonight. They really loved us and are excited for us to come back! They mentioned that they want to make us fufu which is a Ghanaian food. That should be exciting!

On Friday we were tracting in a new apartment complex in our area. We chose a building that had the most cars in front of it (because the complex is only partially full) and started on the top floor. On the last door we knocked on the bottom floor we met Ana. She is a mother of two small kids in elementary school. She is from Mexico, but has lived in the states since she was 8 years old. We started talking with her about the gospel and she started getting emotional.  To be honest I don't really remember what we talked about, so it must have been the spirit! She very quickly accepted our invitation to learn more and to come to church. She came to church yesterday and loved it! She told us that for her work they want to her to start working on Sunday, but she is going to tell them no because she wants to "come to church and hear the word of God". She met a lot of members of our ward at church which is always really good. We have dinner and a lesson with her at a member’s house on Wednesday. She is married and told us she would invite her husband to the lesson and to church. We are very excited to teach her! Our ward mission leader was in awe over how great she is!

Who Wants to be a Millionaire? question
Saturday night at 8:45 the Chinese missionaries that cover Manassas called us with a referral. It was for a guy named Larry that lived at one of their investigator’s houses. They had talked with him briefly and he was interested in learning more. We called him immediately and he also quickly accepted our invitation to come to church. Usually in a situation like this they NEVER come to church, but he actually showed up! Miracle. Larry is an African-American man in his 60's. Honestly he looks 40, so everyone was floored when he said he was born in 1950 (haha). He played sports in high school and said he did some professional boxing for a little while. We had a lesson with him at our bishop’s house last night. This guy has more real intent then anyone I have ever seen! He is an honest seeker of truth and is willing to do whatever God tells him to do! He assured us that he will read the Book of Mormon, pray, and be baptized if he receives an answer. He is going to China on vacation for two weeks, so he will have plenty of time to read. There is a sad ending to this story... We looked up his address after the lesson. Turns out he probably lives in the other Manassas ward boundaries... :(. We will probably have to pass him off when he gets back in town, but it was an amazing experience nonetheless.

There are several other people that we met that have potential, but those are the most significant finds of the week. On Saturday morning we had a whole mission conference at our stake center. Elder Hallstrom and Elder Perkins of the seventy were there to speak to us. They were in town for something else and had a spare two hours, so they wanted to speak with us. It was very nice not being in charge of setting up the whole meeting. It makes it a lot easier to learn and get something out of the meeting. The main topic that was addressed by Elder Perkins was how to help people gain faith that don't have any faith. That was a question that came up during the week for me, so it was an answer to my question!

I love it here in Manassas and I am having a blast with my new responsibilities! Thank you for your constant support and encouragement!

Yours truly,
Elder Braden Miles

Washington DC South Mission

Monday, January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015 - Transfer Week!

Birthday cake with Rachael and Nefy
This week was extremely eventful! Especially compared to last week. For starters, it was transfer week which is always crazy. On Monday, we played basketball and volleyball as a zone at our local stake center. In the evening we had a lesson with Robert, so we could finish teaching him everything before his baptism. Then we went to have dinner with Rachael and Nefy. I didn't tell anyone that it was my birthday, but Rachael happened to see it on Facebook two hours before we came over. They ran around and bought stuff to throw me a birthday party. When we showed up at Nefy's house they started shooting those confetti things where you pull the string and it shoots everywhere. They had the whole dining room set up for a Spiderman themed birthday party! We had pizza for dinner and they bought me a birthday cake with my name on it. I forgot to take a picture of it all before we were done... They got me a present with some random toys and a Redskin’s hat. Also, thank you for all of the birthday wishes and presents from everyone else!

On Tuesday, we had district meetings and a bunch of preparations for transfers including making transfer calls to all of the Zone Leaders. We had the final pre-baptism lesson with Robert and then went to our Bishop’s house to correlate and say good-bye. He always sits down with all the missionaries before they leave the ward. He thanked me for all of the good that I have done for the ward and complimented me a lot. It was very nice of him.

Elder Miles with President Rasband and 1830s Bible
Wednesday is always my favorite day of transfer week because we get to pick up the new missionaries! In the morning we had meetings with the senior couples in charge of cars and apartments. The missionaries usually arrive about mid-afternoon. We were sitting at the gate with President and Sister Riggs when I see Elder/President Rasband walking through security to catch a flight. I waved at him which caused President Riggs to turn around and see him. We all walked over there to talk with him. He said he was early for his flight, so he got out of line to come talk with us. He was in DC to attend the swearing in ceremony for Mia Love. She was baptized in his mission when he was a mission president, so he knows her very well. The church allowed him to take an 1830's bible to use in for the ceremony. It is the same version that Joseph Smith used to translate (but not the same copy). He let us hold it and take some pictures with him.

When there was a break in the conversation I told him that I know his daughter that lives in Highland, Utah. He looked at me for a second and glanced at my name tag. Then he said "Elder Miles, I know you!" That kind of shocked me (haha). He told me that the Chases had mentioned that I was in DC on my mission or something. He said Brayden is working on submitting his mission papers right now. He asked if he could get a picture with me to send to Brayden, so we took one more picture of just me and him on his phone. You'll have to check and see if he did! It’s not every day that you run into a General Authority at the airport, they know who you are, and want to take a picture with you. :)

Elder Miles with President Rasband at the airport
There were several flights of new missionaries coming in and the first one was coming from the Mexico MTC. They didn't show up until an hour after they were supposed to land. Turns out they missed their connecting flight, but because they did that gave us time to talk with President Rasband. We finally found all the missionaries (13) and took them back to the mission home. We had dinner and had a small devotional before the all went to bed. Then I spent the remainder of the night packing for transfers...

Thursday morning we had Sister Riggs' famous pancakes with buttermilk syrup for my last time. Then we had a meeting where everyone met their trainers and had lunch. Transfer meeting started in the afternoon and was strange because this time I already knew where I was going. Everyone kept asking me if I was going to be their Zone Leader. I got transferred to the Manassas 1st ward with Elder McInerny.

The ward I am in is one of the top baptizing English speaking wards. I have heard great things about it. Elder Ni, Elder Raban, and Elder Josh Smith all served in this ward. Elder McInerny is from California and is a convert of less than three years. He was baptized just before graduation of his senior year of high school. None of his family was part of the church. He was dating a member who invited him to church. He got baptized and left on his mission just over a year later. He came out 2 transfers after I did. Since being on a mission his mom has joined the church. I am excited to be companions with him.

I knew this prior to being transferred, so I prepared well. Our apartment in Manassas had bed bugs... Yes they do exist. I always thought they were just a myth meant to scare little kids. I bought covers for my bed, box spring, pillow, and luggage to prevent them from spreading. It has worked so far because we haven't seen any since I got here. We have someone coming to spray our apartment today, so everything should be good. We have a nice apartment that has only been open for six months. They think they got the bed bugs from someone that they visited. We also drive a Ford Fusion! It is one of four in the mission (including Sister Riggs'). Somehow I have never had to drive a regular mission car (Cruze/Corolla). I've only had a minivan, truck, and a Fusion.

We only have one investigator right now, but we are going to change that this week! This area is one of the most ghetto areas of the mission. There are a ton of Hispanics. There is one apartment complex that sister missionaries aren't allowed to go to. The Singles Ward covers this part of the mission so I am already very familiar with it. Alejandra lived here while we were teaching her. It is about 30 minutes away from the Mission Office. It does have very nice areas as well. A couple of the members we visited yesterday are very wealthy. I met a lot of members at church yesterday. One is a convert that wears all black to church including a kilt and a spiked leather jacket (haha). In second hour a lady got really upset when she found out she can't be sealed to her daughter because she isn't married. She started bawling and ran out. I felt really bad for her and it was pretty awkward. The ward is great and I am excited for the next several transfers in this area!

Elder Miles with Robert at his baptism
On Saturday was Robert's baptism. The senior couple from the Braddock YSA ward took us to the baptism. Robert asked me to perform the baptism for him. There were a ton of people that came to support him which he was very grateful for. They must have run out of hot water because it was freezing cold! Elder Raban filled it up, so maybe he was just trying to play a joke (haha). Everything went very well and he loved it. We said a prayer together after changing because he wanted his testimony to touch any non-member’s hearts that were in attendance. He will be a great missionary! He shared his testimony and it was very powerful. He talked about the blessings of letting Christ back into his life. His non-member parents watched the whole thing over Skype and his mom even started crying. He said his mom might take the missionary lessons at some point. He was disappointed that I am leaving, but said he will come take me to lunch at some point. It was an amazing week!

I think that was the longest email I have written on my mission! You're welcome!

Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, January 5, 2015

January 5, 2015

Not too much has happened this week to report on. We had three meetings this week. I think my favorite meeting of the transfer is what we call "Return and Report". All of the brand new missionaries and their trainers come back at the end of their first transfer. It is a ton of fun and we have a lot of good laughs! We had Mission Leadership Council on Friday. We went to the temple with all of the departing missionaries and had Cafe Rio afterwards.

On New Year’s Eve we got watch movies as a zone. We watched "How to Train Your Dragon 2". After we watched the movie we spent some time playing lightning and other games until about 10. Yesterday we had the "New and Returning Member Fireside". Zohra said she was going to speak at the next one, but then she was unable to come. It was a great meeting. The spirit is always very strong. We had 6 recent converts speak about their conversions. Last night we also got Elder Raban's next companion. He is a great missionary and will do really well as an Assistant.

I have mixed feelings about being transferred. I am excited to have some change and a new area. I have been here for 6 months now. I do know where I am going already, but I will tell you next week after transfers just to make sure there is no leaking of information... It will be nice to get on a regular sleep and workout schedule again. I also look forward to having more time to study because I won’t be at meetings all the time. I'm thankful that I still have six months left to get back out there and have more time to work.

I will miss being around President Riggs. I have loved spending time around him and learning from him. I will miss knowing so much about what is going on in the mission. I will feel so out of the loop! It has really been an amazing six months, but I am excited for what the future hold for me! I am going to make the most of the time I have left so I won't come home with any regrets. I’ll be coming back to this area on Saturday for Roberts baptism! That will be great.

Thank you for all of the birthday wishes!

Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission