Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hide & Seek, More Fire, and the Stomach Flu

Hello Family and Friends! 

Another exciting week in Los Banos. 

At our district meeting this last week we played hide and go seek and then related it back to how it is kind of like finding investigators. It was hilarious though to crawl under the table in the high council room with one of the senior missionaries. Those poor elders couldn't find us. (Haha who would have thought the highlight of someone's week could be hide and go seek?) 

I had fish for dinner this week! I was definitely apprehensive when I heard "fish" was on the menu. But the tapia was surprisingly good and tasted a lot like chicken with just a different texture. But my favorite meal of the week by far was homemade taquitos!! Beef and potato goodness served with sour cream... what more could you ask for?? (I will say another top pick would be tri-tip... it is a special cut of steak that is unique to this area, and it's pretty delicious). 

I burned off some of Sister Sorensen's hair this week... COMPLETE ACCIDENT! haha I don't know if I have mentioned "ear candles" before... but anyhow she was doing some ear candles and needed my help to trim the ash of the candle off every couple of inches. Well some of this ash dropped off and landed in her hair and well a few strands were lost. Luckily she just laughed about it and you can't even tell that there was any hair lost. 

A difficult investigator this week. He is the son of a former investigator, and was introduced to us through our ward mission leader. He says he wants to learn but he really doesn't. He just bashes on us the whole time. He believes that women are inferior and that we can only communicate to Heavenly Father through a man... He also believes that he will become a tree after this life and communicate through telepathy.  We try and explain concepts to him but he only believes in the New Testament and just starts going off about random things probably snippets from Revelations but we aren't really sure. Anyhow it makes me really grateful for my knowledge and testimony. Also I think I have grown a lot... I didn't lose my temper with him even while he was goading us on. 

But on a good note we taught a lot this week! And Howie is going to be baptized on Sunday!! We are so excited for him. 

Lastly yesterday I was super sick. I caught a nasty stomach bug somewhere. We didn't even make it outside. I'm doing better today and hoping to be over this soon. 

This picture is out in front of one of the members home... we really do serve out in the boonies ;). The worker man with his sombrero was looking at us like we were crazy for taking a picture with the cows. 

Jacob 2:8 "...pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul"

Hermana Miller 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Scabbies vs. Shingles

Hello Family and Friends!! 

A MUCH better week!!! Such a better week than last. (I guess in light of what last week contained that is not a hard concept haha). I am so glad to hear that everyone at home is doing so well too! Thank you for all your continued support and letters. 

I went to Atwater on exchanges again this past week. I am still learning sooooo much! Wow. Sister Jensen and I were out and about teaching and finding and it was a wonderful day. She is an English speaking sister, so for once I got to use my Spanish as we contacted. I think I probably gave 2 or 3 Harvest Blessings in Spanish while we were over in Winton for the afternoon. My favorite was when talking to Ismael, about 3 minutes into a conversation and mid-sentence he stops and looks at me and (in Spanish) asks if I understand Spanish hahaha. I don't know why it was so amusing to me other than in my head I was like, "yes I am ultra white and yes I am speaking in Spanish". 

The other experience while on exchanges was a very strong reminder to me of something that happened back around Mother's day on a different exchange down in Fresno. We went over to a very nice family’s home for dinner. They were lovely people and although they’re an older couple they had a newborn baby daughter.  I thought to myself oh they must have waited till later to have children because they wanted to be secure in their careers, or wait till they could by a house, or something of the sort. Then as we chatted over dinner I found out that they had suffered from infertility and their child was adopted. Instantly I thought back to Mother's day and that 15 year old girl who I had so harshly judged on her doorstep, who then had broke down in tears as she told us of her mother's death. I was so humbled to again realize my major shortcomings. Who am I to judge? I do not know what I think I know more times than not and obviously I know NOTHING about the trials that other people face, or how the Lord is preparing them. I had to remind myself to just STOP judging people!! Don't do it! I have such a long way to go. I need to develop so much more love for people, to truly love them unconditionally as the Savior did and does. But I am so grateful for these experiences and the things that I am learning as I serve. 

This week we also had a few run-ins with some nasty illnesses. A spouse of one of our investigator's had shingles. (From what I remember of getting them in middle school, that is so painful!! I hope to never get it again.) Then we went over with some priesthood to a friend of a member's to give her a blessing. While there we learn that she has scabies! Eeek. That is like lice of your skin! lech. She shook everyone else's hand but mine, and at first I was a little offended but then as we talked with her and we learned that she had scabies I counted it as a blessing that she hadn't shaken my hand. (Sister Sorensen didn't know what scabies was, so that caused a minor panic attack for her as I told her it was NOT eczema.) But all in all luckily so far we seem to be disease free and building our immune systems haha. 

Other good news for this week is that we won 3rd place in our quarterly car inspection this week?! Hahaha we so did NOT expect that one. Our poor malibu is covered in so many hard water stains from the sprinkler we were worrying about losing miles, but instead we won 50! I guess all that scrubbing we did last week was worth it. Then also this week a door to door pest control salesman called and gave us a referal, so that was different. Plus we have a new investigator who wants to be baptized, but 1st we will have to help her and her "husband" to get married, so it looks like we get to plan a wedding! 

Brother Tauheluhelu was called as our new ward mission leader in the Mercy Springs ward! We are so excited for that. We were able to have dinner with his family this week and thus I was blessed to try TONGAN FOOD! YUMMMMM! It was so good!! Huge steaks for each of us, plantas (bananas) covered and cooked in coconut milk (they taste kinda like potatoes), potato salad, and shrimp curry! After not having dinners for almost a week due to cancellations and holes in our calendar it was so awesome to have such a wonderful meal. And they are SOOO excited to share the gospel! They have met all of their neighbors (they moved in a month ago) and have given them all food. They also have talked to some of their friends from San Jose and now they are moving into the ward!! (Who would have thought that was the way to increase ward size? haha)

So all is well for us here in Los Banos. We are working and learning together. 

Alma 37:45 "... the words of Christ if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise"

Hermana Miller 

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Tough Week

Hello Family and Friends,

It has been a challenging week for us here in Los Banos. We went and did a lot of contacting and knocked a lot of doors. We had someone while street contacting covertly bash us... he said he was trying to teach us how to teach with the Spirit and just kept demanding to know if and when we were "saved". Then a different day we were informed (at the last house on a street) that this street had been contacted by Jehovah Witnesses the previous day... explaining the strong no's we kept getting (more than the usual amount). My favorite rejection line I've decided is "Sorry, I'm on a buisness call", I should use that more when I get home. This week I also experienced my first door SLAMMED in my face... the whole house shook, and as we walked away the door re-opened and the man yelled at explicitives at us and told us we couldn't read. I just have to keep going back to what Christ and his disciples experienced, and none of this comes anywhere near that. 

BUT on a good note we got dinner from a taco truck one night. It wasn't very delicious but now I can say that I have experienced it. And getting to do a new member lesson with Anthony was probably the highlight of the week for me. We got to read The Children's Book of Mormon Stories with him. He is just always so excited to learn. 

Please keep us in your prayers.  

1 Thes. 5:16 "Rejoice Evermore"

Hermana Miller

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bringing in July with a Smile

Lots and lots happening here since I wrote last. 

Crazy to think I am 22 now... so old haha. Celebrating a birthday as a missionary was different but actually really enjoyable. I woke up and my companions had covered the bathroom mirror in a happy birthday note with dry erase pens and hung streamers and balloons over our study nook in the kitchen. It was so sweet of them. Then we went out and got to work. We found two new investigators that day. And one of them now has a baptismal date! Georgetta is so prepared. Her mother was and her husband is a member, but she never joined the church because she was too busy raising her kids. Their name just appeared on our ward list when we printed a new one and so we called them up and asked if we could come visit. They said yes but then called back a few days later before our appointment and asked if we would join them for lunch too. Of course we did, and that 1st lunch appointment happened to fall on my birthday. Slim and Georgetta are some of my favorite people since coming on the mission. He has the greatest stories and I just laugh and smile so much while we visit them (plus I think Slim-pa is the greatest grandfather name ever invented haha). In addition to that Georgetta feels that her mother led us to her, that her mom wants her to be baptized and have the opportunity to go through the temple. I am just soo so excited for them and I can't wait to come back a year from when she is baptized and see them get sealed in the temple.  We had dinner with the Andersen family that night and I just love them so much as well. They are such good people. I hope to model my future home and life after them. They are like my member hero's here. Sister Andersen made me a cobbler for my birthday at my request. The funny thing is though that I guess the text we sent her said something along the lines of "cobbler over cake" meaning preference wise, but she took it literally and thought I wanted some fancy type of recipe. She looked for a recipe that matched that description and ended up making cake over cobbler. We had a good laugh about that one haha. She asked if this was like some family tradition and I was like "huh?, oh no" hahaha that is how we figured it out. 

Anthony got BAPTIZED! Yay yay yay. He is so cute. I love that kid. However, I never thought I would have to teach why egging someone's house is wrong on my mission, but a few days before his baptism Anthony got caught with his friends egging a house...  geeze lol. He is just loving church so much though and him and Zachary pal around and now he is getting involved in scouts too! I felt like a proud momma to see them figuring out rides and which activities he wanted to do at their day camp this week.

4th of JULY!!! My second favorite holiday was also a good day here in Los Banos. I think I am finally starting to get why Dad always told me I should be more grateful and appreciative of the freedoms I have being born as an American citizen. So many things that I take for granted that other people try and obtain their whole lives. I think this especially hit me this year as one of our members here is being sent back to Mexico to await pardon before he can come back to be with his family here in America. His wife and children are all citizens, but he wasn't and so part of the process they are going through trying to get him citizenship includes this leaving the country for MONTHS and not returning until he is given the ok by the government. It is so sad and my heart breaks for them, but it also has made me stop and realize all that I do have. Also on the 4th we were invited to a party with the Laguna family. Great food (I even tried the little mexican corn with mayo and chili pepper), I lost horribly at ladderball to Sister Sorensen, there were minifireworks, and I talked about the gospel. One of the cousins at this block party was Catholic and had tons of questions for us. I hope that we were able to help her a little and that the literature I gave her can continue to help her as she travels home. After it was all over Hermana Sorensen and I laid in the grass and just looked up at the stars, talking about how grateful we are for the plan of salvation and our knowledge of it. 
We also met the MEANEST lady of the mission so far. She was awful... Yelling at us through her front window about how we aren't Christians, that we are brainwashed parroting liars... I am sorry I don't care what religion you are or what your beliefs are I don't think that is the "Christian" thing to do. I was really upset about it for about two more doors and then I got over it. 

Bishop Lee (the one with cancer) is getting sicker still. The cancer has spread to his shoulder and spine. He looked really bad this past Sunday at sacrament meeting. It makes it hard to coordinate everything in that ward, but we are still praying for him. He is still fighting and has started a new round of chemo and targeted radiation. So if you wouldn't mind including him and the work in the Los Banos ward in your prayers we would really appreciate it. 

I also just wanted to mention one more member before I close this week. Brother Tualau (said like to allow) is awesome. He got up and bore his testimony on Sunday and Sister Sorensen and I both think he will be called as the new ward mission leader in Mercy Springs since Brother Betham our current leader has now been called as 2nd counselor to the bishop. I am so amazed at the love that Island people have. It is something cultural that we white people just don't have sadly. They have such big hearts and such strong love and testimonies. I am so excited that a large group of the Tongan people have started attending our wards here (instead of their other Tongan ward in San Jose). They bring new life into this area and I am so excited to work with them. 

It is such a blessing to serve here and to see the miracles I do. I am grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow. 

Hermana Miller

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Week of FIRE

Family and Friends! 

Lots happening here this week. Last week after emailing we had no letters to write so Sister Clawson got ear candles from GNC and Sister Sorensen got hair dye. So that is why there is fire coming off a stick stuck in her ear and we look special watching the district haah. Apparently the heat sucks the wax out of your ear... Kinda gross but cool at the same time. I gave my 1st church tour this week. That was fun. It is crazy how after 6 months I am still learning so much as I serve others. I love it. 

Other incident with fire makes me feel a little sheepish to admit. BUT it was amusing and so I figured I'd share it all with you. (Kail & Austin it really reminded me of something you would do). Sometimes as missionaries we get a little bored, well at least I do. So I decided to take my lighter (I carry it for an object lesson with tea bags) and thought it would be entertaining to try and light hand sanitizer on fire in my hand. Either I heard that story wrong or I have defective hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer puddle in my hand turned into molten lava and did not light at all. I tried to hurriedly drop it off my palm but just then the wind caught my skirt and this molten lava hand sanitizer melted a hole in my skirt.... oh dear. Yes I really did that. Like a teenage boy. Maybe that is a sign I'm not focused enough haha... or maybe it means I'm really becoming a missionary... I can't decide which haha. I just kept thinking to myself afterwards how stupid that was and that I couldn't believe I had really done it; but I had... my skirt bears the scar to prove it. 

This last week I also went on my first member splits team up. So basically I taught the whole DeHerrera Family SOLO! My companions went and did our cleaning check after dropping me off at their apartment. That was scary. Needless to say I didn't go over the Word of Wisdom or Law of Chastity as we had planned. I didn't feel confident doing those by myself so instead I opted for the much safer object lesson about the Spirit with pepper, water, and dish soap. I think it went alright all in all. 

I'm still a back row sitter. It took me back to my Young Women's days when we were reprimanded for sitting in the back row during a Zone Meeting and "asked" to move to the front... I guess somethings never change. 

We've been working a lot with less actives and trying to get to know everyone in this area. It is hard. One of the wards for sure is technically the size of a branch. Everyone moved out of this area right after the ".com bust" and the economy got hit hard. There are all these streets with no houses and just lines where the houses were going to be built. But we are making progress despite the HEAT! It is just so ridiculously hot here. Alyssa had her sweet 16 this weekend. We helped a LOT with all of that. We helped make decorations and then set up the whole gym (it almost looked like a wedding reception it was so fancy). That night we made a brief presence to support her and her family. We almost made it out of there before I heard the Adam Levine song. ALMOST. I miss music sometimes... especially Adam Levine haha. 

Transfer calls this week! Sister Clawson is leaving to Fresno/Clovis area,  AND Sister Sorensen and I are staying here in Los Banos with both wards. I am really happy for this next transfer :)) It should be good. 

Also this week we contacted into an unknown member. We were out offering blessings door to door and walked up on this moving truck. The ladies immediately asked how we knew they were there! Haha we had no idea they were there or who they were. We had actually been contemplating knocking only a few houses in the other direction on our way back to our car but felt we should do their little cul-de-sac. They seemed surprised when I wouldn't take "no" and "we don't need help" for an answer and just climbed up in the moving truck in my skirt and started hauling stuff... But hey it worked, the lady sat down and talked with us then ;). Come to find out the lady who we shared the message of the restoration with is a cousin to the girl moving in (who happens to be a member). It is no coincidence that the Lord knows where each of his children are and when to send help to them. 

We also have been working with Taufu a Tongan girl in the ward who is preparing to go on a mission. It is so funny to think how little I knew about mission life before I got here. I can see that in her. I hope that the things we are sharing with her are really helping her to prepare. She is so sweet and eager to learn. 

Love and miss you!!! 

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Hermana Miller