Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy Belated THANKSGIVING!! (December 2, 2013)

It has been a good week here in Modesto. I hope all of your holiday was just as great! We were able to go over to yogurt mill for some frozen yogurt this week (delicious salted carmel pretzel!). Then there were two really fantastic church tours. One was with an investigator of the English Elders, but her fellowship (who is in the stake presidency) wanted us to do her church tour. So we did it in Spanish... well I think it was Spanish but she is from Brazil and speaks Portuguese... so maybe I am learning more than I think haha. Then the other one was with a less active and his girlfriend. It was so SUPER!! The spirit was so strong and definitely the guide. I just love seeing people feel the Spirit for the first time in who knows how long. No matter where we are or where we have been we can always come closer to our Heavenly Father and his arms are wide open to welcome us back.
THANKSGIVING!!! I thought I was going to be so homesick and really just sad for the holiday, but really it was one of the best Thanksgivings yet. In the morning after our run we went and met the Zone at the stake center for a championship basketball tournament. I hadn't played sports my whole mission and that was a competitive few hours haha, but it was so fun! (Plus while I was there I ran into a girl from the 2nd ward named Emily who is related to the Hebers ... Bishop Heber who lived across the street from us in Alaska! Small world!). Then we had a wonderful dinner spread with the Grimes. I love them so much, and being a part of their family makes it easier not to be with mine. A second thanksgiving dinner Spanish style was some pozole... there wasn't much room for it after all I had devoured already haha. Lastly after visiting with some different investigators and members we were able to go over to the hospital and visit with a youth in the branch who had appendix removed the night before. It was so rewarding to just be offering thanks by helping others and hearing all of the things that they are grateful for.
Exchanges with Hermana Martinez (yep, my 1st companion). Let's just say that it was a rough night for me, but we both made it out alive. Driving in circles, looking scary, and not having apartment keys were all on our agenda for the night apparently. But that is alright it was a learning experience and I think honestly we got along much better than we ever did as companions... Baby steps right? Plus it made me way more appreciative of where I am at right now ;).
Well I hope that it is a fantastic week! I love and miss you all!!
Romans 5:3-4 "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:"
Hermana Miller

To the Mountains!! (December 16, 2013)

Hello Family and Friends!!
LOTS of news this week! The Christmas Season sure is busy as a missionary!
I finished reading the Bible this morning!! That took FOREVER, but I learned so much reading the Bible from cover to cover. A year later but wow such good stories and examples. God truly is the same yesterday, today, and forever. All I have left to finish up now is the Bible Dictionary but I am only in like the F section so that may be a little bit. BUT I am pretty excited because now that I have finished that project I can start reading Jesus the Christ. I wish I had three hours of personal study each day.
TRANSFER CALLS!!! I am headed into the mountains to serve in Yosemite with Sister Vernon! Sister VanWagoner my beloved trainer is coming here to Modesto 12th East to be with Hna. Parra. Lots of emotions. I really love these people here sooo soo much even though I felt like a lot of the time I couldn't really help them or even understand them. I cried as I bore my testimony yesterday in sacrament. They have so much potential here and they are doing so great. Lots of changes for them in the branch. The Branch's second counselor was released and called as the YM President and just a lot of other leadership changes as well. (I would get transferred to the coldest part of the mission in the dead of winter haha... just saying lol... but I am really really excited too!). Looks like I will be having a white Christmas after all :).
Hna Mertlich (coordinating sister when I first got here) was here traveling training for a few days early in the week! She served half her mission in Modesto so she felt like she was at home. We were able to visit a lot of people that she had taught here. It was so heart warming to see the tears of joy fall as the Meza kids sang "I am a Child of God". She helped that family get baptized... no words can describe it. I just wish you could have all been there.
Making sugar cookies this week with the Fernandez family was so fun!
Christmas Zone Conference was great! We reviewed the historic nativity and then played Christmas Bingo.
Zone Leaders came and visited with us. They are so inspired. They invited us to start the 12 week program again and focus on the fundamentals as a companionship. As a result of that we studied the Doctrine of Christ again. That was the most powerful Spirit led study I have had in such a long time. I came to realize that Heavenly Father has LET me be here. (It reminded me of a talk by President Eyring about when he was allowed to stay in BYU-I presidency when he wanted to leave and take another career opportunity). I don't know how to explain it to you. It wasn't like I heard a voice or anything but I was 100% aware of the fact that this is a blessing in my life. I have learned things here that I could never have got any other way or place. This is where the Lord wants me right now, but more importantly this is where I need to be right now for my own sake.
The Branch Christmas party was also a blast! They had two pinatas and a Santa... what more could you ask for? The kids were loving it all with their adorable little reindeer antlers.
We met a really awesome man tracting this week from Baghdad Iraq. He is Assryian and Christian. The epitome of good people. Sweetest old man of my life. I'm so grateful for those moments to meet these people as they share their history.
Daniela and Jonathan are the most prepared people I've met my whole mission. I am so sad I am missing their baptism on Saturday. But they are going to do great and it will be wonderful. I am just glad that I was able to meet them and teach them. <3
I love you all so much!!!
Hermana Miller

"Act in All Diligence" (January 16, 2014)

ONE YEAR!!!!!!! Stop. Go back and click that link. WATCH IT! It is so perfect for how I feel right now as a missionary.

Wow. What a wonderful year it has been. It seems crazy from the outset. Who would leave it all and choose a "Spartan life of rejection"? And you know it really does sound like insanity to serve a mission when you look at it "logically"... Right up until you add in the fact that it is true. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored on the earth again and this is His kingdom we labor in. A year ago (to the day) I climbed on a plane and flew to Provo, UT to learn how to be a missionary in the Missionary Training Center. I said goodbye to my family and friends. I had my last taste of Coco Bean Cafe and their delicious Irish Caramel Frappe's made from chocolate beans. The MTC instructors and then my future companions taught me Spanish (well, they tried to haha). There have been tears of pain and of sweet joy along the way. I would have never guessed on that day as I embarked on this journey that I would have experienced all that I have experienced or met all the wonderful friends I have met. But now I wouldn't trade it for the world. There is nothing in my life that has taught me more than this past year. There is no amount of education or work experience that could ever compare. I was so blessed to be able to go to the temple this morning and to feel the wonderful Spirit of the Lord in this landmark moment in my life. There truly is no greater blessing than that of the Spirit's companionship. Two things particularly have been impressed upon my mind this morning that I have learned in this past year:  Firstly Obedience, and Secondly Sacrifice. 

An experience that proves this really hit me outta the blue this week. We were trying to make copies at the chapel but the Elders were already in the building. My companion asked me what we should do. No one would really know since no one was there and the Elders were probably on the other side of the building using the computers. But the rule says Elders and Sisters cannot both be in the building at the same time with out other people there. The first thing that popped out of my mouth was "There is NO substitute for exact obedience". I was befuddled. Never in a million years would I have expected that to come tumbling out of my mouth, and especially as an initial response. But it did! I'm still trying to sort through where that change within me occurred, but I am sure that it was somewhere in the process of fake-it-till-ya-make-it... As I have lived striving to become exactly obedient, I have come to appreciate the blessings that only EXACT obedience can bring. 

So news for the past week and a half. I got a haircut! Probably about time, seeing as the last one was in February haha. No worries it was just a trim, nothing too crazy. (She used some Moroccan Oil product which smelled divine... That maybe a product I look into purchasing in the future haha). While leading an exchange here in Yosemite I managed to get Hna. Jorgenson and myself completely lost (with GPS even). Somehow we ended up in the Sierra National Forest... oh dear haha. There were definitely NOT houses there where GPS thought they should be, just these massive redwoods. With some helpful phone calls we managed to get ourselves straightened out and back in the right direction. Sister Vernon and I gave a training on Revelation through the Book of Mormon at our last District Meeting. And I ordered a salad of my own freewill! That is a miracle. I even kind of liked it! Proof that I must be changing haha. We also had Falon come on an all day team up with us. She has her mission call to go to Georgia in February. She was so great. Her companions are going to be so lucky to have her. We just wanted to keep her here with us lol.

 I think that I am really starting to see and think big picture. I can view results that go beyond the end of a transfer or even my mission, even if maybe I can't directly see those harvests in my time of labor. An example of that came as we were filling out stake correlation paperwork. I felt impressed that there should be a multi-stake level training on the four purposes of the church for the Ward Council members. It would be so amazing and have such long reaching effects for these wards and branches. At the beginning of my mission there is no way that I would have felt confident enough to make such a huge suggestion as that, but now that was the only logical thing to do and it felt natural. Idk if that suggestion will be taken and implemented, but I just feel blessed to see the difference in myself and the types of suggestions I can offer now. 

Another miracle this week came in the form of calmness. An investigator was very angry and attacking this week about two unimportant things. Seriously though, we got chewed out for "cartoons" ... or that our presentation on the Plan of Salvation the week before had offended her due to the visuals we used. She felt that she was much above that, that we had "dumbed" it down, and that she was superior intellectually because of the various religions she has studied in the past. And you know I just sat there and took it all in. I didn't break down in tears, I didn't burst out shouting, or storm out; I just listened. I then apologized and explained our point of view. As my companion and I were discussing the incident after the fact I was surprised by the level of calm that I had and still felt about it all. I wasn't broken up about it, crushed, devastated, angry, or depressed. I could clearly sift through the situation and see with perspective that I feel was not my own. I think about how I would have responded to a similar situation before my mission and I don't believe how much I have changed. The atonement is so real... and it helps us to change. 

I love you all!!!!! Make it a great week! 

Hermana Miller 

El Fin (June 2, 2014)

Mark & I... I love this little guy!

This may be the hardest of all the emails to write... Not because I am sad, but more because there is no possible way to summarize everything that my mission has been. So perhaps I won't even try. It has been a good ride, but I am ready for this portion to come to an end and for life to continue on. Really I don't even have any really good stories from this week that I am not going to send pictures of anyhow so maybe I will just keep it short and sweet. I am grateful for the time I have had as a full time missionary and representative of Jesus Christ. I love the gospel. I am so blessed to know that Heavenly Father loves me and each and every one of us, that He has a plan and that families can be together forever. Jesus Christ is my older brother, Savior, Redeemer, and best friend. And with that knowledge life doesn't have anything that we can't make it through. I love you all and I can't wait to see you!!

The Stunning Grape Vineyards of Kerman

When you are thoughtless and taking pictures of the vineyards,
sometimes you stupidly kneel down in a red ant hole.... 
Sometimes we just leave little chalk notes for people... I pretty much love it! 

I would say it is time to retire these puppies.... 

The Worth of a Sole... Soul?

Hermana Miller 

News of Things I Missed in Coalinga (June 2, 2014)

Miguel's Baptism
Bro. Winslow, Miguel, Sis Johnson, Sis Wallentine

Horned Toad Derby 

Bittersweet (May 26, 2014)

The bike is sold and gone! Wahoo! No more of that!!!

I had my last Zone Conference this past week. That was a different experience. All the times I have heard President introduce the departing missionaries before they bear a departing testimony, and I had always been like "man that day will never come".... and then suddenly this past week I was the one sitting behind him holding back the tears. There are such strong emotions that words really can't describe it. There is a deep gratitude for this opportunity that I have had... also joy and jubilation to return home and yet also anxiety and terror haha. In one word I would have to say it truly is bittersweet. 

Funny of the week: some elder swiping my heart! So we have the lock your heart board, you may remember this from the very start of the mission... And when you arrive here you paint a lock and with it you (symbolically) lock (your heart with) it to this board, until the time when you return home and unlock it. Well we had to go through and identify/claim our locks this week and I got up to the board and my lock has been tagged with some elder's name! I was like what the... oh no. hahaha. I was able to straighten it out though and redirected his label to the correct lock and reclaimed my own haha. 

I finished reading the Book of Mormon again this week!! I had gone through and read it looking for and marking all the references to joy, happiness, and rejoicing. It was an excellent project that helped me to identify what things the scripture heroes took joy in. Really so much of their happiness always came back to Jesus Christ. As I reflect on that truth I can see that in my own life. I may have fun or think something is entertaining, but anything that brings true soul deep joy or lasting happiness originates in and radiates out from the Savior. 

Mark and his three cousins were all baptized this week! It was so wonderful. I love ordinances, I love covenants, and I love the Spirit all of which were in abundance on Sunday! 

I love you! 

Moroni 9:6 "And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, leus labor diligentlyfor if we should cease to laborwe should be brought under condemnation; for we have labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God."

Hermana Miller 

Pictures in Kerman (May 20, 2014)

Companionship of Kerman History ;)

Sister VanWie and I

Beloved Milk
The One and ONLY
... I pretty much love laying on the floor.... 
Sometimes my companions even call me Hermana Muerte

Temple Trip

Sister Nehring with the Kerman Missionaries