Friday, November 29, 2013

Sprinting thru the Sprinkles

Well Family and Friends.... I once again have forgotten my nifty little stickynote and planner with all of the things that happened this week :/. So I will try to remember what I wanted to tell you all about.
So this week was Hna Parra's Birthday, and we were soooo busy on Wednesday. It was craziness. I think for the first time I literally did not even have a moment to think of any type of distraction whatsoever; I was a missionary machine and we were working on overdrive. I went to bed that night exhausted and woke up still tired from all of the energy we exerted. It is a great feeling to know that you really have given 100% of yourself to the Lord, even if it was just for one day.
We've had some really great help from a member of the branch presidency here and it is completely changing the work. We now have seperate dinners instead of 6 missionaries all eating at one house and it is relieved a huge burden on the members and blessing more homes at the same time. That in conjunction with some other things we were trying out it helped us to double the number of our quality lessons this week! We went from 12 to 24 in just one week! We also were able to have a church tour with the two members of our stake presidency. When some elders saw us with the Stake President and one of his counselors they asked if we were in a test haha. 
We had a fun little activity for Thanksgiving this week called "accion de gracias". A family of former investigators we had taught actually came and a less active couple that we have been working with; so that was great!  
It was also a week of service. We were enlisted to clean up cockroaches twice... lech. I still hate bugs. It was probably the most nasy thing when I moved the curtains back in the one house and the roaches when running in all directions. Bleh! But it felt good to be able to help others, I feel like we don't do enough service. And both of the families really did need our help. One of them the mother is wheel-chair bound and so that makes it difficult and the other is a mother just coming out of living in homeless shelters. [I was sad to lose one of my favorite skirts to a bleach stain, but really in the service of the Lord what's the worth of one lousy skirt?]
It has finally started to get chilly here. I even took out my tights and sweaters!  Well with that cold front came some rain one day. I was dashing through it to get into our nice heated car. It was funny because it wouldn't be raining as we went inside for our appointments so I would leave my coat in the car, but then as we came out it was just pouring haha. So the first time it happened that morning Hna Parra and I decided we would run as fast as we could after I unlocked the car. We took off at a full sprint only to run right through a deceptive puddle and splash water all over each other haha. It was awesome we both were laughing.
Five things I was reminded of this week:
1. Ask (even when you already know the answer)
2. Give Freely (others need your help)
3. Empower Others (notice and express gratitude for other's talents)
4. Watch Your Tone (it conveys more than actual words)
5. Try Back Later (situations and circumstances change)
I hope all is going well! Remember I love you! Have a great week!
D&C 58:2-3 "For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven. Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. "
Mucho amor,
Hermana Miller

"The Lord's Rugby Team"

Family and Friends!
It has been a good week here... so many eye opening experiences here that are helping me to keep learning and growing. There was a mother and daughter who got in a major fight after/during our lesson with them. It caused me to reflect a lot and think about relationships, how I act and respond to others. As I was considering all of this I was thinking that maybe I don't want to become a counselor... that is a LOT of stress. I also made a decision that I never want to raise my voice; that is the surest first sign that the Spirit is not there. Other conclusions/thoughts: In the heat of an argument can I compliment or appreciate the person that I am disagreeing with? STOP comparing people! Everyone is unique and has there own struggles and strengths. We can only look to see if they are trying to improve each day. Am I really listening? Be humble not right!! Lastly remember to put everything else aside and look for the love and exemplify charity.
Miracle experience of the week: The miracle of the change of heart! A certain sister in the branch has been struggling with an addiction to cigarettes and a slew of other problems. She has soooo much faith though and we were able to witness that first hand this week. We went over and shared the John Tanner video with her. Once it was over we were discussing it and we knew that she had felt the Spirit. Sister Parra was doing a lot of the talking (this member is particularly difficult to understand due to her very fast Spanish lol). As they were talking Hna Parra asked her if she would like to give us her cigarettes. This member responded with an excuse. I felt prompted to open my mouth. I vaguely knew what direction the conversation had taken... but really I didn't understand a major portion of it, yet as I opened my mouth the Lord's promise really came true and my mouth was filled. I reminded her that she had felt the Spirit while watching the video. I then asked her what happened after John said he believed that Jesus had performed miracles in Bethesda. (This is the part of the film where John's leg is miraculously healed as he acts on his faith and throws down his crutches and begins walking). It took her a minute to think it through, but as she realized her answer and began telling us in her own words she got up mid-sentence and went to her bathroom and brought out all of her cigarettes and matches. Wow; It was so beautiful. And she's been clean for almost a week now. She is such a pillar of strength and a wonderful example to me of faith.
Other exciting news of the week was that the branch temple trip had a turn out of 85 people!!! YAY! We are so excited for them and the spiritual momentum that they are building.
"The Lord's Rugby Team" was just something I overheard the Elders saying and I liked it...  ;)
And I remembered my camera cord this week to send you the photo's from George's Burger too haha....
Matt. 14:31 "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith , wherefore didst thou doubt ? "
Love and Miss You All! Make it a great week!
Hermana Miller

"Stuffed with the Spirit" -Elder Dawe

Hello Family and Friends!!
Happy Veteran's Day! Ia m so grateful for Vetrans who preserve my freedoms. Thanks Dad for always being a great example of fighting for the cause of liberty!! How was everyones' week? Things are still great here! Last Monday we went bowling and that was fun. Don't worry I still stink at it haha. (Austin remember the song "I'm so great at bowling?"... I pretty much sang it the wholetime! haha).
I also learned a valuable lesson about NOT caving to peer pressure this week. So before bowling the Elders had some burger place they wanted to go to for lunch. We get there and order our food and out it comes... my burger weighed 15 ounces.... yeah almost a whole pound. I started in on it and was doing pretty good... then I hit the last quarter and was not so enthusiastic about the whole idea anymore... haha But the Elders start chanting me on... the epitome of peer pressure "Do it! Do it!" and "You're on the edge of glory Sister Miller, just finish it!".  So of course I couldn't be a "quitter" and I had to finish all my food. In the end I did consume every bite of that burger and every last fry. However the rest of the day as my stomach reminded me of my unwise choice I thought to myself "never again!". Even great people with the best of intentions can be a source of negative peer pressure. We need to remember to always look to the Lord remembering His instructions to us to guide us in EVERY aspect of our lives... ie moderation would have been a good reference here lol. (PS That receipt now hangs on my cork board with a note to not cave to peer pressure.)
We saw some more great miracles this week!
One day Sister Parra and I had got into a disagreement and weren't really very pleased with each other one morning, and then to top it off as we drove to our appointment on the OTHER side of town the potential investigator calls us to cancel. I pull over to the side of the road and Sister Parra consults our branch directory. She picks a family on  the list who lives near the middle of town about where we are stopped. We drive over there and we go in and teach her a lesson about prayer and the importance of prayers. As we prepare to leave and ask if there is anything we can do for her, she asks if we can have missionaries sent to bless her brother in the San Fransisco area who is in the hospital for surgery. We readily agree and aren't thinking much of it when she begins to tearfully tell us that in reality she had been praying that her brother would be all right and that Heavenly Father would grant her a sign to know that he will be by having the missionaries come over. WOW. We had never visited this member before, we hadn't had any intentions of visiting her on that day or time... Yet Heavenly Father knew how to get us there at precisely the right moment. As we walked out of the appointment and climbed into the car we recognized the miracle that we had just been privileged to be a part of and all of our feelings of contention were washed away by the bigger picture of the Lord's work and his errands for us.
Then on another day we didn't have a dinner appointment scheduled so we called and asked a partially less active family to feed us. They agreed. Then as the day arrived for that dinner appointment we learned from another member that a member of that family we had scheduled dinner with posted on Facebook that it was their favorite day of the week because the missionaries were coming over to dinner!! Plus while there the Elders were able to share a Book of Mormon with the non-member Grandfather who was visiting from out of town! (Oh, and did I mention the delicious food!) We truly don't know all the lives that we touch each day. I am grateful for those moments when I catch a glimpse of it!!
One of my favorite moments of the week was having Angie and Maria teach their older sisters the song of the wise and foolish man building houses. I taught them that primary song a few weeks ago and they were so excited to share it with Jenni and Candy! Primary songs teach such powerful and profound principles in such a simple straightforward way. I love it. I constantly find myself being reminded of them as we teach lessons (From Saturday is a Special Day to Head, Shoulder, Knee's and Toes).
There was an EXCELLENT Stake Fireside this weekend titled "Why I Believe". It was so charged with the spirit and just what I needed to reboost my batteries. Recent converts shared their testimonies and conversion stories, there was a primary choir, and as a missionary choir we sang "Because I Have Been Given Much". My favorite quote from the fireside was "I'm all in!". I want to always have that attitude about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am all in. That is what I covenanted when I entered into the waters of baptism. That is what kind of mood I want to apply to my mission as I strive to serve the Lord by serving his children in the Modesto California area.
Funny moment was being the ward chorister... How did that happen I am not sure. Waving my arm around in front of the branch during sacrament pretending I have a clue at how to direct music. But you know the great thing is the Lord doesn't call the qualified... he qualifies those he calls. (And it might have helped that most people in the branch aren't very musically inclined... haha but hey I still love them... maybe even more so for it).
Make it a great week! I love and miss you all!!!
Micah 6:8 "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
Micah 7:7 "Therefore I will look unto the Lord ; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me."
Hermana Miller

An Email from President Gelwix to the Families

Dear family and friends of CA Fresno missionaries:

With 300+ missionaries serving with us in Fresno, we face some challenges. Realizing that we all want to make the Christmas experience in the mission field a memorable one, we have a few suggestions:

1. To avoid theft or incorrect address because of transfers, we remind you that our mission policy continues to be: ALL cards, letters and packages are to be sent to the mission office: 1814 N Echo Ave, Fresno CA 93711.

2. Our Christmas Zone Conferences (where most Christmas packages are distributed) will be earlier this year - Dec 11 and 12th to accommodate transfer day scheduled on Dec 18. We will do our very best to deliver packages received between Dec 13 and 24.

3. Smaller and more compact packages are easier for the mission office and missionaries to transport. We can accommodate only a limited number of packages requiring immediate refrigeration.

4.Below is a list of possible gift items suggested by missionaries: 

Gift Cards: Wal-Mart, fast food etc
Cold Hard Cash
Visa Gift Cards
White shirts and garments
Approved books:
The Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clayton Christensen 
CDs by LDS artists (music policy: by LDS artists only or classical music in traditional arrangements)
Office supplies: notebooks, white out, pens etc
USB drive to back up pictures
Voice recorder: faster than writing in journal when short on time
Books of Mormon with personal testimonies written in them
Pocket size copies of the Book of Mormon
Thank you cards: simple, professional looking
Ring or keychain: CTR or ETT3 or RWH
Beef jerky
Breath mints
Mormon MessagesPictures of siblings or parents as missionaries
For sisters: no show socks, shoe liners for flats

Instructions regarding a 40 minute phone call to your missionary will be sent at a later date.

We appreciate the privilege of serving with your missionary and wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and all the best in the coming new year.

With our love,

President and Sister Gelwix

Faith, Desire, and Texas Roadhouse

Hello Family and Friends!!
I hope that it has been a wonderful week for you in all the many parts of the world where you are! It has been another fabulous week here in the California Fresno Mission for me. I wanted to share this great quote with you that our mission President sent out this week:

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” - Thomas Jefferson
That is so true. Throughout my mission I've still struggled with different things, all minor and petty but nonetheless things that cause me emotional turmoil from time to time...But this week while I studied I felt like I really should look at the purification challenge again. I have never actually attempted this activity before (a type of fast from things for 40 days). I always resented the idea of the purification challenge feeling like it was more rules that someone else would be putting on me, more do's and don'ts upon the very long list that already exists. Then as I am fasting on Sunday the thought hits me to take out the resource binder and read about the purification challenge. I thought to myself now that is just dumb. Yet, the thought didn't leave as I flipped through my mission study journal notes. When suddenly I came across notes from a blessing I received in Hanford. Listed among the words of comfort, caution, and encouragement I was promised that I would be rewarded for my faith and my desires. This struck me at the core. I thought to myself I still struggle with desire... Just like in the talk of the 4th missionary I do what I know I am supposed to do, I am mostly obedient, but in the end I still want to do what I want to do. I have not let myself become changed by my mission yet. Sure I am going through the motions and I am doing good things but in the end when I stand before my Savior and Heavenly Father what rewards will I have for my desires? With this in mind I took out the resource binder, still somewhat begrudgingly. I read through the Purification Challenge and was like mkay that is great, but I don't think that'll help me at all. The Spirit directed me to write down the things that poked at my spirit. I resisted this idea. Again the Holy Ghost directed that I should write the list of things I knew I could improve on to serve as a more faithful missionary. Finally I took out my pen and started jotting down a list, but as I did so I told myself it was only a list and that I wasn't committed to actually doing any thing I wrote down just yet. After I finished the first list of ten things that pertained to missionary service there were five more things that came to mind about health habits and so I also wrote them down. I looked at the list and knew they were all things I COULD do, and that I was just not applying effort to reach them. I then felt that I should just start writing. So soon enough I had a letter to myself. That letter is directly from heaven. There was no way that I came up with all of those words. As I reread the note I had just written my soul was pricked and I knew that I was supposed to implement the list for the purification challenge. I began to cry as I saw the blessing from the Lord in my life. He truly wants me to be happy. He knows how to help me get there. He will help me to realign my desires so that they can match his desires. He alone can help me become the kind of person that he sees I can be.
I have been loving my time with the Old Testament each morning. I truly love the scriptures and how they all work together to testify of Christ. We also had an excellent training during district meeting from Hno. Billikopf about "Rain in Due Season" and how the Lord sends his blessings in the moments that we need them and not necessarily in the moments that we think we need them or want them. Meetings in the Modesto Zone are truly inspired.... Ive loved each of them and continue to learn so much from them.
Halloween was this week! I very much appreciated the extra time to sleep from this and day-light savings time haha. I had some favorite moments at the combined ward activity for Halloween as well. One little girl dressed up as a cowgirl with a pink hat had to come over and say hello to the sister missionaries (she just discovered our existence not too long ago haha) and it just brought the biggest smile to my face. Then another little girl came up to us with her big sister and asked if Hna. Parra and I would go through the haunted hallway with her. That was the BEST! I felt like I was the Lord's personal body guard as we flanked her through the spooky hallway. Sister Missionaries really do have superpowers with the help of the Spirit ;). Poor big sister was a little upset that baby sister wanted the missionaries to take her through though and not her.
Another Highlight of the week very well may have been TEXAS ROADHOUSE!!! WAHOO!!!!! Oh thank you state-side mission!!! I was sooooo happy when I found that texas roadhouse in the corner boundary of our area. So when our dinner cancelled the next day... well lets just say that I enjoyed what may have been the best steak I have had in 10 months haha. Even if I had to eat it in a to-go box with a wendy's fork. It was still delicious. Plus we met some members from Ripton (Sacramento Mission) while we waited for our food and I was able to give the cashier a pass-a-long card with my tip. Missionary work, a good steak,and rolls always go together!
TRANSFER CALLS!! And the big news of the week? I AM STAYING!! YAY! Hermana Parra and I get to both stay and keep working with Modesto 12th!! I am so glad. Our District Leader is changing but other than that pretty much is still going to be the same here. It feels good.
MIRACLE of the week! Angie, Maria, Candy, and Jenni's mom came to church!!!! I don't even know how to tell you how HUGE that is. Her daughters are all recent converts (the one's older than 8), and they are the most loving sweet girls EVER. I love them. Angie (10) has been praying for two months for her mom to come to church. Finally after many weeks of broken promises she came!! It was so heartwarming to see their whole family together filling up a pew. Then because it was Fast and Testimony meeting Angie and Maria both went up and bore POWERHOUSE testimonies. Hna Parra and I were both crying. She loved the service, asked for a triple combination, met with the branch president, and told us she is going to keep coming!!! We are soooo EXCITED for this family and the miracles that they are seeing.
I also translated for the first time this week!! BUT thing is it was Spanish to English which is like a zillion times easier than the other way luckily haha.
Basically life is wonderful. I truly hope that each of you are doing well. Just keep going and in the moment that you truly need it the Lord will always be there to lift you and guide you.
D&C 112:10
Daniel 10:12 "Then said he unto me, fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, they words were heard, and I am come for thy words."
Much Love,
Hermana Miller

Internal Peace Despite External Turbulence

First order of business... NO MORE CANDY.  PLEASE don't send me sweets!! I have gained way too much weight and I am trying to be more healthy and that is hard enough only being in control of what I eat for breakfast and lunch. So thank you for your love, but just don't do that to me haha.

Interesting week this time around. We were asked to help with a rosary this week... I've never even owned a rosary so that was a little interesting. Needless to say we politely declined. 

We also had the most unique dinner experience this week. We went to a part-member less active family's home. Her son is a gang member and well that pretty much summarizes it. He was very rude and we all felt uncomfortable. He was calling everyone a fool and just being so obnoxious. Then as we sat there one of the Elder's has his bag stolen by another brother of the family. No worries though we recovered the bag and there was no fights. I just was so surprised that in spite of the external worry that I had I felt such a surreal internal peace.  It is so wonderful the calm that the gospel can bring into our lives as we move closer and closer to the Savior. 

The most fun I have had on my mission was playing JENGA with another less active family. Their two children were so good! haha. WE managed to stack that tower pretty high before I time was out and we had to go. 

I've also been really loving the John Tanner story this week. I think we watched it twice with members. Faith is so crucial to everything else. We have to have faith before we can see and receive ANY miracle. We must have the faith which we act on to then receive the promised blessings we so need and desire. (If we want strong muscles to dig a ditch... dig the ditch and the Lord will bless you with strong muscles!) 

We also had the most blatant direct rejection on my mission this week. A very nice older woman told us "I reject your teachings". I just thought to myself wow... I mean I was appreciative of her direct truthful manner but I was also caught off-guard. People will reject your teachings, they will reject your invitations, but really they aren't rejecting you... they are rejecting the Savior. As I thought about that while we walked away I felt sad for her. 

Gross moment of the week? Laughing so hard last night that pizza throw-up came out my nose.... I'm sorry that is disgusting, but truly it happened just like that. (Someone will appreciate the humor of it I hope haha).

One of my favorite dinner experiences was last night at the Billikopf's. I may have already told you how they have us each prepare two doctrinal questions from the scriptures that we can ask each other during dinner (you must know where the answer is before you ask the question), but truly that is the BEST dinner conversations I've ever had. I always come away feeling so uplifted and enlightened. 

I hope all is well!! 
Love and Miss You!! 

Ezek. 36:26

Hermana Miller