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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 23, 2015 - Another transfer has come and gone....

Lone Peak Crew - Elder Van Dyke, Elder Miles, Elder Smith, Elder Raban
It was transfer week again this week. Elder McInerny and I are still serving together. There were several of my really good friends that went home this transfer, so that was sad. 

We have zone interviews next week with President Riggs. Afterwards he is going to take us to dinner and come to some teaching appointments.

The weather here his week was insane. We got tons of snow and it was in the teens from Monday through Saturday. On Monday and Saturday we weren't allowed to drive our cars because of all the snow. Saturday we got almost a foot of snow then Sunday it rained and was 45 degrees, so it all melted off the roads.

Things are still pretty slow for us here right now. We have been doing a lot of finding and talking to people. We have been asking members to tell us which houses in their neighborhoods to knock on. This week we visited the Elders Quorum President and his family. His wife ended up emailing their whole street telling them the missionaries from their church would be knocking doors in the snow and told them they should let us in. Four people responded saying they would let us in! It went really well and we have several people who want us to come back!

I wanted to give an update on a couple of my recent converts. Rachael is doing very good. She is still living in Massachusetts and working as a teacher. Recently she helped the sister missionaries in her ward teach someone. She had a great experience and this was the message she sent out on Facebook:

Dear Missionaries and friends,

I wanted to share a story with you all. Today the Sisters invited me to meet an investigator and have a lesson with him. It was a weird and interesting encounter. Not too long ago I was in his seat and all of you
sat with me. He said everything I said to you...EVERYTHING! He was worried about his family, he needed proof, he needed to pray about it. He was me. I do not share my testimony often (as Elder Miles knows) but today I was able to give him answers (well sort of) like you gave me and I felt the way I am sure you all felt at one point (or several times) with me. I couldn’t explain to him why he should do it... He has to figure that out but I was able to explain my journey and why it worked out for me despite all of the road blocks (that I often put up). Anyway I want to thank you all for dealing with me and waiting for me to figure it out. You all mean so much to me and I am so grateful to be able to tell investigators about you. I literally told him about each of you and why I love you all so much!  I hope you all see this and you have a good laugh at all of the trouble I put you through.
(From Rachael)

Robert just got engaged to his girlfriend that is a member of the church. They are getting married on June 20th in California. He has received the priesthood and been to the temple multiple times. 

Zohra is going to school right now and working on some paper work relating to her visa. 

Alejandra has been in town from Guatemala and spoke at a New Member Fireside! Sadly I was not able to attend because of some other things we had going on. I was told she did awesome! She is also engaged to a member of the Braddock Ward and is trying to get a visa to stay here. It makes me feel so good to see them all succeeding and growing in the gospel!

I love you all!
Elder Miles

Guess who stopped by our house Monday night?  
(Former) Elder Raban
Elder Raban!  He said he just wanted to stop by and tell us what an awesome person and missionary Braden is and that he wanted to tell us thanks for raising such a young man. Elder Raban said that Braden was by far the best missionary he knew in the mission, one of his best friends, and the missionary that taught him the most. I asked him how he felt to be home and he said it was strange (he returned home on Friday).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 16, 2015 - Another transfer gone...

I don't have all that much to report on from this week. We
What's that white stuff?
have been working really hard all transfer to find new people to teach, but we can't seem to teach anyone more than once. The old guy Larry that we were teaching dropped us this week. We are still in contact with the lady I wrote about last week (Debbie). We have an appointment with her for this Sunday that we are really excited about. We are teaching an African family that hasn't made much progress yet. They love to listen to us, but sometimes it is hard for them to comprehend everything we are trying to teach them. Besides that we really don't have anyone that we are working with. We have been tracting, street contacting, working with members, and former investigators, but nothing has worked out so far. I have faith that there are a lot of people in our area right now that God has prepared to hear the gospel. We are going to keep working hard and trying new approaches until we find what works.

The day's forecast
Yesterday we had a stake mission prep fireside that we were invited to be a part of. We were on a panel of people to answer questions about missionary work. They didn't schedule much time because we each only answered one question. I talked about the roles of district and zone leaders for a minute and that was about it. If they were like me, then they had no idea what a district or zone even was so I explained that a bit. I knew not that many people were really that interested in the question I had, so I made the most of my one minute of the spotlight and cracked a joke (haha).

The first Thursday of every month we have a mission leadership council meeting. President Riggs does training on relevant issues and we discuss how to make improvements and fix problems. The next Tuesday our job is to train the zone on those topics discussed in MLC and relay any announcements and info that comes from it. We don't have regular district meetings on those days. Instead the zone leaders and sister training leaders train the zone for two hours. The topics that we trained on were being effective teachers, setting goals, and planning. We both feel that it went really well. I had a lot of fun. I have come to enjoy public speaking a lot more than I did before my mission.

Elder Miles' current Zone
Here is a quote about goal setting that I found this morning during personal study that I really like: "If you don't raise the bar, how will you ever know your potential?” That quote is from L. Tom Perry's October 2007 General Conference talk. We all need to continue to "raise the bar" in our lives. If we just try to stay at a comfortable level and never push ourselves then we will never reach our potential.

It is transfers on Thursday this week. Elder McInerny has only been here two transfers, so most likely we will be staying together for one more transfer. We will find out for sure on Tuesday night. I was so used to knowing a lot of information and now it is strange to not being in the loop anymore. It will be sad to see Elder Raban and Elder Van Dyke (also from LP) leave. They are two of my best friends out here. I am going to make sure to get a group picture of all the LP missionaries before they leave. 

I love you all!
Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February 9, 2015 - Miracle Story

I want to start off by sharing one of the coolest miracles of my mission.

Elders Miles and McInerny at temple with ward member
Yesterday we had dinner with the Sandstrom family (No, they don't have any relation to our cousins that they know of). After finishing dinner we moved into the living room to share the thought for the night. We shared a scripture about missionary work and had a small discussion. The night before we had planned to do some tracting in their neighborhood after dinner, so we asked them if they knew anyone specifically in the area that we should try. After giving the usual "None of our neighbors would be interested" spiel, the dad had a bit of revelation. He remembered a lady on the street over that had recently been in a nasty divorce. He suggested we go and try knocking on her door. We ended with a prayer and asked them to pray for us.

Temple model at Visitor Center
We went straight over to the house they had indicated and knocked. The street was a dead end and her house was pretty dark. After a minute a lady came and looked out through the glass on the door. As is the usual procedure, we smiled and waved. She slowly cracked the door open and after briefly introducing ourselves she tried to push us away. In part of her excuse she said "I know I need it, but now is not a good time." Obviously she had left her self open and we jumped on the opportunity. We asked her what she meant by "She knew she needed it". She immediately began sobbing. To try to lighten the mood she asked "How many people do you make cry at the door?" In my head I thought "Well, actually you are only number three".

Elder Miles with mission car - a Ford Fusion
Knowing beforehand that she was going through a very hard time, we began to testify to her about how through Christ we can overcome any difficulty in life. Her countenance had changed a lot from the time she first opened the door. I don't even remember much of what we talked about because it was the spirit speaking to her through us. I could feel the spirit guiding everything I was saying. She accepted our invitation to take a Book of Mormon and Elder McInerny kept talking to her as I was trying to think of a chapter to have her read. I sat there momentarily and mentally scanned all of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon trying to think of one to give her to read. I knew it was important because she really needed a lot of comfort at that moment and I wanted to choose the right one. I said a silent prayer in my heart and instantly 3 Nephi 17 popped into my head. That was unusual because I had never given that as a chapter to read for someone. That chapter is about Christ ministering to the Nephites, healing the sick and afflicted, and calling the little children unto him. I felt strongly that was the chapter I needed to give her. 

We gave a brief explanation of the Book of Mormon as she continued to sob quietly. We handed her the book and a Plan of Salvation Pamphlet. She accepted a return appointment for two Sundays from now and said that she was going to read for sure. We left with no doubt in our minds that she was going to go read it immediately. We have such a good feeling about her! We went back the Sandstrom's house afterwards to tell them about our experience with Debbie. The members are the best way to find because they know way more people than we do! That was one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. I know that the spirit was guiding us the whole way and we were simply instruments in Gods hand to bring comfort to her in a time of need.
Door sign

Our other investigators are doing well, but not much to update you about. We did a lot of door knocking this week because we really need to find more people to teach. We found several cool people including the one with a crazy sign on her door (see attached picture). Elder Raban came on exchange with me to our area this week. It was fun to catch up a bit and talk about the good ole' days. It will be sad to see him and others in his group leave next week. We also went to the temple with a returning member on Saturday and we had a mission leadership meeting on Friday. This upcoming Sunday we will be part of a panel to answer questions at a stake mission prep fireside. I will update you next week!

Elder Braden Miles

Washington DC South Mission

Monday, February 2, 2015

February 2, 2015 - Super Bowl Tracting

To my loving fans,

We spent a lot of time this week finding due to the fact that we had to pass off a couple of our investigators to other missionaries. We had several interesting experiences. That is to be expected when you are tracting here in Manassas. For example, we were let into houses on back to back nights so that people could "bible bash" with us. Saturday night the guy let us into his house and the first thing he said to us was "Here is what is wrong with the Mormon church." He then proceeded to rip into us for a while. He got pretty animated and passionate about it. I saw that it wasn't going to go anywhere, so I changed to topic of conversation. He had mentioned that he was a high school football coach, so I mentioned how we both played football. We talked for a few minutes about football and he began to soften up a little bit. At the end he asked a little bit about our missionary service and we ended up leaving on a much more positive note!

Last night was even more strange... We were tracting (on Super Bowl Sunday) and we were let in by a group of 6-7 African-American males in their late 20's. Right away they pulled out their bibles and started to "teach us". They then spent a long amount of time proving to us that Jesus was black and that black people are the real children of Israel and the chosen people. It was one of the most bizarre moments of my entire mission... It was a great example of why we need the Book of Mormon and Prophets. People can interpret the Bible in just about any way they want and have it mean anything they want it to.

On the better side of things, we have started teaching two former investigators this week. They were both taught in the fall of 2014 and we felt inspired to visit them. The first guy’s name is Jeff and he is an alcoholic and smokes a lot. He was very passionate (to the point of using a sailors vocabulary) about how much he wants to change. He said he feels like he has no purpose and feels empty inside. It will be a lot of work to help him overcome his addictions, but he has a very strong desire and that is huge.

The other one is a 77 year old man named Larry. He is Methodist, but for 20+ years was a member of the RLDS church because of his wife. He has met with the missionaries on and off for about a year. This time something is different with him. He told us the reason he never went anywhere with the missionaries in the past was because he wasn't willing to do anything. For some reason he is ready to change now. He told us he doesn't want to die living how he is right now because he wants to keep progressing. This new realization has caused him to want to act on our invitations and give a real effort to finding the truth. He set goals for himself to read, pray, and come to church. He will also be pondering and praying about when he should be baptized!

To go along with the events just mentioned, we also had many people slam the door in our faces. Several of them were because "we are watching the super bowl!" (haha). One guy told us to come back the next day, so we did. When he answered his door this time he pretended that he never met us or told us to come back then slammed the door. We had several of those head scratching moments this week. I just don't understand people sometimes. We just shrug it off, laugh a bit, and move on. If you get offended easily in missionary work then you are going to have a rough time!

Have a spectacular week!

Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission