Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Well it has been a week.... which has felt more like a life time. This transfer to Yosemite feels already as if it was a thousand years ago. 

News from last week in Modesto:
More hard goodbyes, eating a pound of See's candy with my companion, learning how to make papusas with Hna. Torres... all in just two days!! I learned a lot from my time there and from that branch and the people in it. I am glad that they could love me even though I wasn't always so great at communicating or understanding what they were saying. I can't wait to have time to go back and visit all of them! Oh also Daniela and Jonathan got baptized Saturday after I left :). 

News in Yosemite:
 No snow here! (phew.) We literally run up a mountain every morning. Some times it makes me feel like Hercules and sometimes it makes me feel like a tortoise as I slowly crawl up the hill behind Sister Vernon. I guess the Lord really does want my mission experience to be on an incline to strengthen me in ALL sorts of ways. It is different being in the Mountains. We actually live in Oakhurst and cover a lot of little surrounding areas including Coarsegold, Fish Camp, Raymond, North Fork, and O'neals. Driving to Raymond makes me want to hurl. Seriously there has never been a road that has made me so car sick before... not even the Alaskan Highway. (Note: no I don't normally get car sick but apparently serving here is an exception). The people are more down to earth though. They have good values and work hard. There are wild deer all over the place all the time and little quails too. Oh man let me tell you... I wish I could just take each of you out on a little star gazing trip each night. There is NO light pollution. It is fantastic. Sister Vernon has been serving here for a while and so she knows everyone and everything. I frankly have no idea how I'll ever find anything on exchanges haha. 

We were able to help Marjorie get baptized just yesterday! She is a suuuper sweet 82 year old woman who was so prepared for the gospel. Another member here (Sister Reali) actually just met her in the grocery store a few weeks back and because of that encounter Marjorie was introduced to the missionaries and now just a few short weeks later is baptized. ( I think we probably knew each other in the pre-existence, because Marjorie thought she already knew me when I first met her). 

We went to the Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall this week. I can tell Sister Vernon and I are going to have a LOT of adventures together. It was a very unique experience and proved to be insightful for me. I so often doubt my own testimony and personal conversion but every time it comes to a trial or a "make or break" type situation I KNOW without a doubt that I know what I know is true. These two elderly women knocked at our apartment door and we agreed to talk to them and that is how the situation kind of happened. We laid out the fundamentals of the Restoration and then had a discussion. No one really walked away "changed" or convinced of the other's position but I think it was an educational moment for all involved.  

So even though I am in an English area again... I realized (was reminded) that the Lord truly has much bigger plans for us than we normally realize. Initially being sent back to an English speaking area felt as if the Lord didn't trust me enough to continue speaking Spanish. I was a little saddened at that thought, but also excited to serve in an English area and feel like a full contributor again. Well little did I know that part of my assignment here would be to help my English speaking companion study/learn Spanish. Wow. I don't really feel adequate for that, but we are chipping away at it.  Hopefully I am not teaching her too horrible Spanish. (Luckily she is pretty smart and already speaks French... so prayer, prayer is always good haha). 

Funny of the week was when one of the Elders here shook up the balsamic vinaigrette without realizing the top wasn't screwed on. There was salad dressing EVERYWHERE.  We were all laughing so hard. The poor member feeding us had to go change and we tried to wipe up her mini-blinds. And the Elder who did it was very calm and not at all angry or embarrassed as I probably would have been. (Don't worry I had him take a picture of his not-so-white shirt before we started cleaning haha). 

Lastly I learned how to split wood this week! I really am a mountain woman now ahaha. I managed to split one round after I don't even know how many swings. (I know you are all wondering who trusted me with an ax... in a skirt and flats.... but again don't worry! I didn't hurt anyone haha). 

Love YOU!! Merry Christmas! Make it a great one!! Remember the birth of our Savior and his Ministry this week. 

Hermana Miller

Sunday, December 15, 2013

GINGERBREAD SHAKES!!! (and Elder Bruce Porter)

Lovely week here in California! Lots and lots going on in the Holiday Season. We have so many great people that we are working with and they all have so much potential. They are just fantastic loving people who really want to come closer to the Savior.
Sad news of the week was the passing of Bishop Lee from Los Banos. After his long battle with cancer he has finally left this mortal life. If you could include his family in your prayers I am sure that they are in need of all the extra love and support right now. Bishop Lee was a stupendous Bishop and a wonderful leader in the community as well. I continue to reflect on the lessons that his example has taught me.
Service painting this week! Yellow kitchens anyone? It was a lot of work but it turned out nicely and it felt good to help out. (We aren't going to talk about how even my sweat pants are getting tight...yikes! Modesto-nians just like to feed us too much!! haha).
Speaking of food... I ate what was probably the MOST spicy enchilada of my life this week! I took the first bite and tears just came flooding to my eyes. Hna Parra was just cracking up laughing at me haha. It was pretty funny. The members said oh this is a little spicy as they ate theirs haha. But it was tasty!
Nativity Festival!! Modesto's Ninth annual Nativity Festival was this week in our gym here in the chapel. It was pretty awesome. Trees and lights and entertainment and hundreds of nativity scenes. I am sending you a picture of one of the coolest ones made out of gourd in Kenya. Then it was topped off by the culminating even of the Christmas Devotional. Basically a great week to be serving in Modesto Stake ;)
New Investigators this week from the Elders!! It is a family of three and they are "Golden". That is it in a nut shell. Single mom and her two kids. They don't really have much a strong foundation and so they suck everything up like sponges. We split teach them and so my companion teaches the mom and I teach the kids. The youngest daughter isn't baptismal age but she is a cutie who wants to show me every thing she owns haha. The 1st time we taught them the kids didn't even know the name Jesus Christ and by the end of the lesson they had all prayed and ahhh it was just so inspiring. Seriously what could be better than that?
Funny of the week? Well it is funny now but at the time I thought I was going to get punched in the face. haha. So we are looking for a referral's house. (Meaning that I have never been there before.) We find it and pull over and this woman walks by the car on the driver's side (my side) and she looks in at us and mouths, "what do you want?". I ignore it and keep minding my own business preparing to go meet the referral. Then this woman turns around walks back toward us and raps on my window looking very angry and says "Excuse me!". I roll down the window, and she demands to know who I work for. I inform her that "We are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints". She then disbelievingly asks if I am sure I don't work for anyone else. I hold up the name tag attached to my shirt and told her yes. She then says, "oh ok then. God Bless." and walks away. I call out the window after her and ask if there is anything we can do for her and she just said to pray for her. So then I asked her name... "Holly". And yes I have been praying for her. (I think I am really learning how to love people... like all people... even when they are mean or strange).
Also this week was a Special Zone Conference with a General Authority Elder Bruce D. Porter from the 1st Quorm of the 70! It was pretty great. Really if you want to know what he told us you can just read the conference talk by Brother Funk. Enduring to the End and Prayer. Don't give up on anyone and don't become complacent! (Also yummmmmmmy Gingerbread shake at Red Robin afterwards may have contributed to how excellent my day was haha).
Romans 8:31 "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can a be against us?"
Ephesians 3:17 "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,"
1 Timothy 6:12 "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." 
Hermana Miller
P.S. Zorro mean Fox in Spanish?!?! That was probably my favorite thing I learned this week. (Just think the Mask of Zorro... mind blown).