Monday, September 30, 2013

Milagros y Chonies! (Miracles and Chonies!)

It has been another wonderful and crazy week as a CFM missionary. I finished out my transfer in Hanford with some more wonderful experiences.  Brother Austin took Hermana Gneiting and I to Superior Dairy for a farewell "lunch". I mistakenly ordered a double scoop hoping to have two different flavors, not really thinking about how huge the scoops there are. That goblet was as big as my head... I felt sooo sick by the time that I finished that icecream. I couldn't even taste those last bites haha. Then our last night in Hanford we had a church tour with the Maldonados. It was crazy because it was youth activity night, but it was also great. When we finished the tour Brother Maldonado (Abuelito) and I made a deal: I will come back and teach him all the lessons in Spanish so he can be baptized and before I return he will read the whole Book of Mormon. I LOVE that family. I can't wait to come back and visit with them all again.
Transfers were a little crazy this time and somehow I spent a whole day running errands in Fresno with Sister Melling. So I missed the baptism that I was supposed to do the halftime show for (it was "our" baptism that the sisters before us had set up & taught). So I didn't make it to Modesto until 9:00 wed. night. The members (the Grimes) that we live with are amazing! And I am also glad to report that Modesto water does not stink of sulfur. There are 6 missionaries in our little branch. That is a LOT, but there is enough work it seems for everone and the branch is fantastic. The sisters before us developed such strong trust with the members that they have welcomed us with open arms and complete trust. All in all Modesto 12 East doesn't feel like just another place, it really feels like another home.
We have had a lot of paperwork here the last few days. However we were also able to help out with another half-time show for one of the English Wards here. (We sang three songs in Spanish.) My funny moment of the week was language related. During the Relief Society Broadcast Dinner discussing the needs of a family I thought the sisters in the branch were saying chonies but they were saying colchon. So basically I thought they were saying underwear, but they were saying mattress. Needless to say my Spanish still needs a LOT of work. But the broadcast was wonderful, and I even got to listen to it in English.
MIRACLE of the week was Julio's Baptism!! When we got here he had a tentative date set for Saturday but it wasn't very solid at all. So when we went over with the Davila's to teach him and Raul he said that he would let us know next weekend how he felt about baptism. Then after sacrament he came up and told us that he had a dream the night before and that he need to be baptized and it was now or never. Thing is it was already 2pm and he had to be somewhere at 4. So basically we filled the font while he got his interview. Then we got permission for him to be confirmed early so he wouldn't have to wait two weeks for the gift of the Holy Ghost. And in the end Julio was baptized and confirmed with just moments to spare. What a great way to start a transfer!
Ecclesiastes 7:3 "Sorrow is better than laughter: for by sadness of the countenance the heart is made better."
Hermana Miller

Monday, September 23, 2013


I have so many wonderful experiences and much exciting news to share with you all again this week! 

One day while visiting with Julie and Kent their youngest daughter called from Nevada and we were able to give a harvesting blessing over the phone. It was such a touching moment. I never would have thought that on my mission I would help unite families through the gospel by praying long-distance over speakerphone. We are so lucky to always have a way to communicate with the ultimate source of power, our loving Heavenly Father, no matter what type of situations we might be in. 

Favorite moment of the week: Grace (a seven year old) telling us that "Sisters (sister missionaries) are like Milk and Cookies!

I just have experienced so much happiness, true joy, and satisfaction this week. I know that this is where my Heavenly Father wants me right now. This is hard work and requires so many encounters with disappointment, sorrow, and rejection... but I know that I am being polished and refined and I am grateful for it. There truly is no greater calling than to be a representative of the Savior of the world. Some highlight moments of the week were receiving sweet texts of gratitude in the form of heartsongs, and drinking rootbeer milk. [I know it sounds strange but rootbeer flavored milk seriously is the BEST! If you have ever had a good blended rootbeer float then you would be able to appreciate the cool refreshing smooth flavor of this divine milk. Thank you Hanford local dairy.]

Abuelito (Little Grandpa) had his birthday this week. (He is the non-member father of our ward mission leader). I made him a card in Spanish (all he speaks) and it said he was the greatest, but asked why he was not baptized haha. Luckily he took it as funny and wasn't offended so it was good. We so love their family. 

We had lunch one day this week at Sizzler with the Gunns (Senior Missionary couple that work in the prisons). I was happy to be able to pair their phones for them and sync their contacts (blessings from growing up in a tech world haha). I LOVE working with and being around the senior missionaries. They are such loving sweet people and have such dynamic Christlike perspective on all types of people and life. They all make me want to serve a senior couples mission. 

Some super glue attacked me this week. I was trying to fix my shoe which had a tear in it, and managed to spill on my dress (which is now spotted in a few places with super glue stains). Then it seeped through past my garments onto my leg and managed to singe me just a little bit, but I'm glad it was just a little drop and my leg is fine.  

Sad news of the week: Danny moved to Albuquerque. Hopefully he finds the church there. 

We were able to introduce Zaldy to the Pagan family this week and hopefully that connection helps them to see members of the church are normal people. 

Well with the first day of Fall also came a wind of change in the cooling air. Big News of the Week: TRANSFER CALLS! I'm headed north again! Up to Modesto 12th East. I'll be companions with Hermana Parra-Ortega (Hopefully I'll spelled that right). So yes it is apparently time that I really learn Spanish! We are being doubled into that area. AND Sister Gneiting and I are being doubled out of this area (she is headed to Barrio 15 in Fresno; so we'll both be in Spanish areas again). The audible gasp and incredulous "what?!" of our ward upon hearing the news during sacrament was reassuring to us that they do love us here. I'm nervous but excited for the change (and I'm not going to miss Hanford Water). 

I hope you are all enjoying yourselves and having a great week! Closing thought: turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.

Psalms 100:3 "Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of his pasture." 

Hermana Miller

PS Pictures of the Maldonado Family (standing) and The Burns (sitting on the couch)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lifting Spirits

It has been another full week here. I was on exchanges for two days leading our Hanford area with the Leemore Sisters while Sister Gneiting switched with them there in Leemore for those days. We went and visited with Logan again and his reading and comprehension is still is so amazing to me. I wish all of our investigators could knock it out like that little nine year old. 

We tried to go and see Zaldy and Ethel again. Their daughter answered the door and then went and got her Dad. We caught them both at home but Ethel wouldn't let us step in to even say hello to her. So we left their family with a Restoration DVD and they said they would call us once they had watched it. It truly is the hardest, most heart breaking thing to see someone who has been touched by the Spirit then say no. Hopefully they watch the DVD and give us a call. If not I am sure we will try by again sometime this week anyhow. 

We also had a Zone Conference this week so that was pretty awesome. The best part? It was in Porterville! AND 6th Branch provided lunch!! That meant that I got to see all the ladies from Porterville 6th Branch that I haven't seen since my first transfer at the very beginning of the mission!!! It was the best. I truly learned so much in that little branch about loving and enduring. They are so strong and faithful and constantly giving despite how little they have. (I might mention that we had the MOST food I've ever had at a conference due to their fine cooking skills). I just love them and was so happy to get to see so many of them. Unexpected blessing for sure. 

Then we had a lesson with Danny. He is an investigator who faithfully attends church and wants to be baptized. The problem is that he doesn't understand the concept of one TRUE church. He thinks that this is the best church that he has found, but his testimony of it's divinity just isn't there yet. He doesn't really grasp the concept of the Word of Wisdom and sees no problem in only stopping drinking of alcohol and coffee for two weeks (long enough to be baptized in theory) but then won't commit to living it the rest of his life. Tentatively we set a date for October 8th, but unless he gains a testimony I don't know if we really should baptize him just yet. Which is frustrating because he does come to church and pay tithing, and from the sounds of it has made huge leaps of improvement from where his life was at before he started investigating the church. Maybe a spiritual experience like baptism would help him, but then again we don't want to commit people to something they aren't ready for either. 

Eston came to church!! That was one of the coolest things that happened this week. We have been working a lot with his step-mom Marissa. Shannon (Eston's dad & Marissa's husband) is a less active member. We committed Eston to coming to church probably three weeks ago because he is gone a lot visiting his mom, but you know what he kept his word! Even though Shannon and Marissa didn't make it this week, Eston got up and drove himself to church. Integrity at its finest. Member support is so crucial to this work and I know that if Eston gets involved with the Young Men that will help Shannon come back to church and Marissa to gain a testimony even more than she already is. I am so excited for their family. 

It was also wonderful to see a few of the other less actives we have been visiting make it to church this week! Just an example of how sweet these experiences are I will tell you about Lexi. She is a young single mother who lives in Armona and apparently became less active not to long after her conversion when she got pregnant. Her son is now three. We just saw her name on the directory and went and knocked on her door. She didn't have time then to visit with us, but we invited her to church and found her a ride for the next day. Lexi came with her son and when I asked her how it was after church she said she didn't know why she had ever left! 

Another great missionary experience happened as we were leaving church. We saw these two young men sitting out on the curb in the parking lot. So we went over and talked to them. we found out that one of them was a young man baptized about 6 months ago and the other was a friend he had brought to church (both from the other ward). Oh it brought back memories of all the times I skipped Sunday School as we talked to them. It was so grateful that I was able to talk with them and relate how important those classes can be even though they may seem boring; that I had been in their shoes. We then taught them the Plan of Salvation sitting right there on the dirty parking lot ground in our Sunday best. At the end as I asked Richard how would he would feel about other missionaries coming and teaching him more he said that he would feel grateful. Truly a moment that makes all of the "work" worth it. 

I love you!! Make it a great week! 

Psalms 31:7 "I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;" 

Hermana Miller 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Crank, Charity, and Christ... all in a week's work

Another wonderful week as a missionary! Ok I won't lie, as always it had it's ups and downs but truly it was good. 

I got to eat Hmong food this week! Cabbage and chicken with rice is actually not all that bad... I liked it! haha. Plus visiting with that family makes me soooo grateful I got called Spanish speaking. At least I recognize most of the Spanish alphabet... Hmong is all tonal it is so different. It would be so hard to learn. 

This has truly been a touching week of service for me. We got to read with Artie from the Children's Book of Mormon Stories. She started it back in 2010 with a set of Elders, and has been working her way through since. We are the 3rd set of missionaries to help her with it. (She has had all of us sign the inside cover of her book.) I just feel so blessed to have literacy as a part of my life that I constantly take for granted. If I had nothing else that I learned in my childhood I am glad that is there. I am blessed beyond measure and my cup runneth over. 

We also were able to go and visit a member and have lunch with him in his retirement home this week. The people there were all so welcoming and nice. I wish all the people we tried to visit throughout the week were that excited to see us. [Oh and it had been a long time since I had been on an elevator (I think since the airport) haha.]

Zaldy and Ethel are a great family we are starting to work with! We watched the Testaments with them this week and by the end of the lesson I invited them to be baptized. The Spirit was there and Zaldy was about to say yes and then his wife surprised us when she just flat out said NO. I'm sure my face was priceless as I tried to comprehend that moment and questioningly repeated her "no" aloud. It would have been a "the district" moment for sure. But we were able to keep talking with them and expounding truth from the scriptures so the Spirit was re-invited in.  (Zaldy was asking how baptisms happen even... to the point his wife looked at him and asked if he had decided he was converting). But Ethel is just fighting it... she would get up and go to the kitchen whenever she felt it touch her heart. She even cried while we were there. So any prayers for their family and the softening of their hearts would be greatly appreciated. [Don't worry I don't think Ethel dislikes us she even asked us to come over and eat lunch or dinner with her family]. 

Another great moment this week was when Julie and Kent told us that it has been 8 days since they saw us and that was unacceptable haha. I just wish they wanted to do more than just chat with us... and that they didn't have health concerns that keep them from church. 

The Lemoore sisters called and asked us to do a presentation at their baptism 40 minutes before it was to happen. We were sweating some bullets over it, but in the end we were just fine and presented the message of the Restoration. We even had several people like their ward mission leader and the stake president come up and tell us how strong they felt the Spirit. Luckily for us the Spirit can cover a lot of the gaps we have as humans. Because still even after all this time I don't have the 1st vision down word for word. 

I am growing so much... I am so much more bold now. This week I asked a less active man to stop doing meth/crank and to throw out all his beer. I just candidly and directly asked him. As we climbed back into the car after that lesson I was so surprised with myself. 

I also learned a great lesson on charity this week. We went to visit an investigator whose 16 yr old granddaughter had been in a severe car accident (she is still in the hospital in critical condition). It wasn't a set appointment but we felt like we should go see how she was. When we got there she opened the door and asked "Can I help you?" with an angry tone, but we honestly thought she was joking at first. As she continued to chew us out we realized she was actually angry with us. I had the thought in my head that I could either say sorry and walk away (taking offense at her response), or I could offer her service and be genuine while I did it. Next thing you know the words are tumbling out of my mouth, right in the middle of her rant, "Is there anything we can do for you?". Amazingly her tone and attitude shifted almost immediately. Pure love truly overcometh all, and Charity is that Christlike love. It is so amazing to see how people want to be loved and that they respond to it so drastically. By the time we left Liz's doorstep she had apologized for her initial reaction to us and invited us to come back even before our next set appointment. I had offered to get her granddaughter a priesthood blessing and she was thrilled with the idea. I wish I could remember this lesson in every moment that I am tempted to feel hostility or offense. 

Alma 48:10 "...that they might live unto the Lord their ...God"

Job 37:14 "...stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God"

Make it a great week! And remember I love you! 

Hermana Miller 

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Path Less Traveled

Another week come and gone....and already it is September. How much things continue to change as I learn and grow while this journey carries me along a path I never expected to take. 

I discovered this week that there is a way that I like mango's... you just get it really fresh and serve it with coconut milk rice and it is fantastic! I learned this Tai delicacy while eating dinner with a member couple who served a mission in Thailand for two years. Their faith filled stories were an inspiration in this seemingly unsuccessful time for me here in Hanford. I know that even with the struggles I now grit my teeth at enduring that someday will look back and appreciate this time of growth. That is a point that has been reiterated to me again and again this week as I read over the conference talks from Apostles like Elder Holland, Elder Oaks, and Elder Uchtdorf.  

A wonderful experience this week was hearing a less active member pray in her native language of Hmong. They are a beautiful family and though they have struggles their testimonies are so shining.  

Funny of the week was realizing after three days of walking everywhere in 100-degree heat that we were in fact NOT out of miles for the month... Bittersweet moment. I was glad to be able to use the car more fully again, but I couldn't help but fill a moment of frustration at all the extra sweat I had incurred in those three days. Even as I type that though I think of the Savior and every drop of blood that he incurred for me... that he continues to feel in my moments of error and rebellion. 

It has been a struggle for me to serve as a missionary. Many of you know that this was never a path I had envisioned for myself. Yet, here I am serving as a full time representative of Jesus Christ. In moments of desperation and sorrow I have begged to know why is this where the Father wants me, why is this where he needs me to be, what am I learning? He always so lovingly has answered my petitions. But still in moments of struggle I turn to these questions and ask them again and again. In a meeting with my district this week we discussed desire and vision; that before we have desire we must first have a vision of where we want to be. So this week I thought why am I here? And the answer again was because I felt the Lord asking me to come here, I felt an obligation/duty to serve. Despite the many times I have thought this before though, this time that answer was not enough. It is still true and those were part of the main reasons I came on a mission, but I realized that I want, actually I need, to get more out of this time than merely a sense of fulfilling an obligation. So I pondered what are my goals? I came here out of duty, but I want to use my time wisely and maximize its potential. So I set five goals:

1. Return with Honor
2. Temple Marriage
3. Christ Centered Home
4. Learn Spanish
5. Master Forgiveness 

They encompass so much and I can't do them justice in explaining them thoroughly with my limited time emailing today. But I know that as I work towards these five goals (especially the first three) that I will find the joy and happiness that I have been promised. (It only took half my mission for me to figure out my direction, but better late than never).  I encourage you each no matter what your position in life currently is to think of at least three goals that you have for yourself/your family. I know that as we set a vision for ourselves it is so much easier to have a desire to work towards these objectives. Our focus becomes more clear and directed. 

I love you and know that the Lord truly is mindful of each of us and in the details of our lives. Turn to him and let his power and mercy lift you up. 

2 Chronicles 25:9 "Man of God answered, The Lord is able to give thee much more than this"

Romans 8: 38-39 Nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ

Esther 4:14 "...and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for a time such as this?"

Job 11:16 " Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as water that pass away" 

Hermana Miller