It took almost an entire year, but finally the member followed through on his promise! Last year when I was in the Burke ward one of the members offered to take us on a White House tour. When the day came, he had to cancel because something came up. The same member is moving in a couple weeks and he wasn't busy today, so he took us on a VIP White House "tour". It wasn't much of a tour actually. He signed us up for an "appointment" to meet with one of his buddies as a cover so that he could show us around. We had to walk about half a mile from where we parked on a sunny, humid, 90 degree day all while wearing our suits. It was super muggy and hot.
In order to go in we had to take off our name tags and go by our first names. That was really strange. He also told us he wouldn't be able to be much of a tour guide since he wasn't technically supposed to give us a "tour" today. We had tags that showed we had an "appointment". He did show us around a little bit and gave us some background story as we walked around but it was very low key.
We started off in the west wing where all the important people have offices - including the President. We were unable to go in the oval office because President Obama was in there working. We walked past the door and there were several tough looking secret service guys. He was literally just on the other side of the door from us! That was pretty crazy. We walked through the rose garden (which is where the President has tea with all the famous people when they visit) and several other really famous rooms.
We got to step into the press conference room for a moment and see where the President speaks when he is on national television. The room was much smaller than I thought it would be. There were a bunch of people from the media in there, so we weren't able to get a picture at the pulpit. :'(. We met the member’s friend briefly. He is the head communications guy for the President and basically follows him around 24/7. We had lunch in the Dwight D. Eisenhower building next door and then took off. All in all it was really cool. It was also a lot smaller and less crazy/intense in there then I thought it would be. We just walked around like we belonged there and nobody cared. We got a few pictures on the member’s phone. I will send those home next week once we get them from him.
This week we trained the whole mission on how to plan for lessons. There were four different conferences and we went to each of them to train the missionaries. It was pretty fun. During our Zone’s Conference on Friday President Riggs took about 90 minutes and told stories from his life and a lot from his mission. It is cool to see how he is a normal guy and went through a lot of difficulty just like everyone else. We also went on several exchanges with Elders during the week. It is strange that missionaries look to us for advice and training. I don't feel qualified. I still feel like a new missionary half the time! (haha)
There is no way that I have been out for 23 months... It is a blast being with Elder Johnson and traveling around the mission. I am so grateful that I have had this opportunity to serve a mission. It has been a huge blessing.
Elder Braden Miles
Washington DC South Mission