Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Festivus!

This is truly the most wonderful time of the year. I used to wonder from time to time why it is our church - the true church of Christ - does not discourage the celebration of Christmas: a tradition of Pagan origin, Christianized by Constantine during the age of apostasy. In the end, although Christ certainly wasn't born during this time of year, the anniversary of His birth is worthy of the most joyous of celebrations! And how strong is Spirit all around us as people reflect on the importance of family, their goals in life, and possibly even their relationship with God and His Only Begotten! As a missionary, I do believe the tradition of Christmas is an universal tool the Lord likes to use to soften the hearts of His children and bring to pass His Work. Our district's Living Christmas Cards are still working wonderfully. We've been getting into more houses than ever, spreading the story of Christ's birth and bringing His Spirit into family's homes. The Cub Scouts in one of our wards made a bunch of Nativity Christmas ornaments that we've began to pass out while we carol; the people absolutely love it!
On Thursday night this week, just a few of us Elders when out to Bonanza Ward (my old area) to carol to a few houses there. The Bonanza Elders decided to go see an old couple they only ever talked to once before very briefly - no member's that sent them or anything. They answered the door and we sang our very best "Silent Night" we had ever sang. We greeted them and gave them their nativity ornament; we asked if we could step in to share the story of Christ's birth, and they gladly invited us in. They hang up the ornament on their tree as we recited the beautiful words of those scriptures to them. By the end they were in tears, telling us how wonderful it was to see young people like us sacrificing our time to share what we believe with them. It was a powerful experience, paralleled by very few on my mission so far. Now whenever they look at the nativity ornament, they'll think back to the time the missionaries came to their house and brought the Spirit into their home. I don't know if this will be the first of a chain of events that will lead to their conversion (and it just might be), but at least I know there will always be that. When we first came up with the idea to do this, it was the kind of experience that we ended up having at Harold and Sheryl's that we were hoping and praying for. We got to testify to many more families beside them, but that was really something special I'll never forget.
On Wednesday, we had our annual Christmas Conference in the mission. We got to play Family Feud with questions about the Book of Mormon and the missionary handbook. It was, sadly, Sister Spencer's last mission conference, and she got to go up and share her "dying testimony" with us towards the end of the meeting. It's hard to believe that her time has come to an end (and I'm not too far behind). It's been wonderful serving with her (counting the MTC, we've actually been in the same district three times!!), and I've been able to see a great, positive change in her.
We got news about transfers on Saturday. President Browning called me early to tell me that I'm going to be the new district leader and that I'm getting a new companion - Elder Esplin.
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy this time to dwell on God's greatest gift to us all - His Only Begotten, Jesus Christ.



"For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace; good will toward men." -Luke 2:12-14


"IT'S A FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!" -Frank Costanza

Elder Miller   

Monday, December 11, 2017

Since Elder Maynes training last week, we’ve been making an effort to talk to more people than we usually do. We’ve set a goal to talk to 13 people everyday - who we aren’t already teaching. From Wednesday to Saturday we spent some time in parking lots of Target and Walmart and other places just passing out cards for LighttheWorld to hit our goal. It’s difficult to stop people sometimes and when we do, the conversations aren’t really of high quality. We’re thinking we should just try to spread our contacts out throughout the day rather than packing them in all at once.
We’ve also continued our caroling and presenting of the living Christmas Cards. Tonight we’re doing our wards as a district and we’re really looking forward to it. Our ward mission leader just yesterday sent us eleven names to do. The members in our wards really like this idea.
Sorry the letter’s short this week. We’ve just been spending a lot of time finding, but a lot of people just haven’t planned out the way we hoped. Hope you all have a good safe week!
Elder Miller

Monday, December 4, 2017

Living Christmas Cards

I’m very excited for this holiday season. It’s about this time of year most people are taking the time to ponder on the things that matter most: their family, their lives, their goals, and perhaps even their relationship with God Himself. Our district is doing something super fun and special to take advantage of this. We’re delivering Living Christmas Cards on the behalf of our members to their neighbors and friends. What we do is we knock on their door and carol to them (Silent Night, First Noel). After the song we say “John and Mary Smith, this is a living Christmas card sent to you by your friends Steve and Kate Johnson. May we come inside and share the story of Christ as recorded in the Bible.” We would then recite Luke 2:7-14 and bear out testimony of the Savior followed by a quick prayer. We tried it for the first time last night in our district leader’s area. It went super well; the first family we did it to was actually Jewish, but they loved it so much and invited us right in. We presented it with great confidence and that made the Spirit strong. Another house we went into was in the middle a “mental meditation class,” so there we a ton of people we got to go and share it with during their break.
This past Thursday we had our mission conference with Elder Richard G. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy. He spoke to us for over two and a half hours and just about every minute was wonderful. He focused a lot on the importance of giving our investigators the opportunity to read the Book of Mormon themselves, rather then read and preach at them. He talked of instances while he was a mission president where people were convert just from reading the Book with no missionaries around. Early church History has many examples of that as well. He also focus on how we need to make our purpose as missionaries a part of our “inner fabric.” Looking at data from missions in the US, we need to be having quality gospel conversations with at least twenty people a day to maintain productivity and regular baptisms in our areas. It was very eye opening the way he presented the importance of talking to pretty much everyone and anyone. We can’t just say hi, but we need to try to actually stop them and give them something to ponder on and learn from. That can be hard, but it’s very important.
In my studies, currently, I’ve begun to do something super fun. President Nelson gave a great talk last Conference about making lists during his Book of Mormon reading; I’ve started to make one of my own of the many phrases that we owe to the Book of Mormon. Not so much a list of doctrines in the Book, but phrases and expressions that are unique to it. Some are doctrinal like “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17) or “It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). Others are just expressions like “great and abominable church” (1 Nephi 13) or “tight like unto a dish” (Ether 2). It’s been super fun seeing how many different ones you can find and it has helped me appreciated it even more.
Will go for now, but hope you guys have another fantastic week and a wonderful December!
Elder Miller

Monday, November 27, 2017

First Week on Bikes

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. Mine including a ton of biking (as did the whole week), so needless to say I'm glad it's our week to use the car. We were invited to three homes for dinner. The first one was a less active member. We went over there and he ended up being sick; the rest of his family wasn't members and didn't really know who we were, so it would have been weird for us to stick around. We just filled the time by giving quick visits to a few members and making them aware of the #LighttheWorld initiative (go to mormon.org to learn more - share it with your friends!). That ended up making us a little late to the other two places, so our dinner was a little cold, but still pretty good. We just about had to roll ourselves home by the end of the day. We also got a little bit of football in that morning, too, so that was fun.
I was on exchanges with our district leader on Saturday and that morning during studies we came up with a wonderful idea for contacting people this December. We memorized the story of Christ's birth in Luke 2:7-14 and practiced retelling it during lunch. We also saved some photos on our iPads that went along with the story. We then went out a tried to share it with the people we met. Most people only took cards from us and didn't want to hear our story. We got to the end of the street and decided to start walking back to the car, when we saw an old man in a wheelchair checking his mail. We offered to help wheel him back into the house, and once we were in we offered to share the story of Christ's birth with him; he told us to go right on ahead (our first customer!). Once we were done reciting the scriptures, he was just staring at the picture of the Savior on our tablet. He then asked "How can I get closer to God?" We about fell over; we told him about how to follow Christ's gospel and about how his Church is restored. We set up an appointment for the next day (I just wish it was my area it happened in). My companion and I are definitely going to try to do this this December!
I really love and miss you guys. I appreciate the emails as well. It's always wonderful to hear from you.
Elder Miller

Monday, November 20, 2017

Lakeside Week 1

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m back in the Tucson Rincon Stake. My second area on the mission was part of a “car share” with another ward and now I’m in that other ward. Luckily, this week was our week to have the car. Saturday, however, we did have to be bikes for a good part of the day. It hadn’t ridden on one since April, and we had to go all the way out to the other ward we cover. Did I mention the hills out here are ridiculously huge? We think the hill down the road from Riverview huge, but that’s a pretty regular occurrence down here. Needless to say, I couldn’t feel my legs by the end of the day; it’s going to take some adjusting - once again.
We have some wonderful investigators in this area (if only they’d come to church). We met with a guy named Matt who said Christ was supposed to be the last prophet according to the Bible, I showed him a fun verse in Acts 11 the talks about “prophets coming out of Jerusalem” - one of which was named Agibus. Here as Matt’s response: “Well, you got me on that one.” Aren’t the scriptures great? After that he said he will look more into the Book of Mormon.
I was also blessed to walk into a baptism this Saturday. It was a nine year old girl who’s parents are currently inactive (they did come on Sunday for the confirmation, though). Although it wasn’t what you typically think of being a “convert baptism,” it was still one more person making those sacred covenants with the Lord, which is a wonderful thing to witness.
Yesterday night we had a great experience. It was late at night and we had no appointments (the typical set up for a miracle). Elder Terry decided to try this less active he saw only once. We knocked and he answered and received us joyfully. He was in the middle of hosting his annual “Friendsgiving” party and invited us to join in. I took a seat with a little food when a young man named Zarick sat down next to me and asked me what I want to be when I grow up. This led to a long discussion that ended with - of course - me giving him a Book of Mormon and testifying of its truth. He said he’d take it only if I could promise him it’d change his current beliefs. Whiteout hesitation I said it would change not only that but his life. It’s uncertain if I’ll ever see him again, but I’m satisfied with the great things he allowed me to share with him that evening. It was a good ending to the week.
Love you guys and hope you have a great holiday. It’s a good time to reflect on the many great things the Lord has given us and the opportunities He may have put in our paths this year. I know for one, that I’ve seen hundreds thus far on my mission, and I know there are so many to come for the remainder of it and the many years to come after.
Elder Miller.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Got Transferred

On Saturday I found out I’m going back to my old district in Southeast. It’s Lakeside and Suagro Park Wards. I’ll be on Bike part time and I’ll be with Elder Terry, who just got done being trained.
I’m a little sad about leaving La Canada and Rancho Vistoso Wards. I put in a lot of good work here and have taught a lot of great people. I’m so grateful to have seen a great baptism here, too. My companions and I tracted almost all the houses in La Canada boundaries as well. It was hard, but I will look back on my time here with fondness.
We had our lesson with Frank that went pretty well; he’s a funny guy. When we invited him to read the Book of Mormon, but he said he’d read the Gospel Principles Manuel instead and pray on it since it teaches the same stuff as the Book of Mormon. Can’t say I’ve had someone say they’d do that before. I supposed that’d work, too.
I’ll be turning 20 tomorrow. I can hardly believe I’m so old now. Time seriously goes so fast out here. You first come out here and wonder how in the world you’re to do this for two years, then before you know it it’s almost been a year and a half.
Love and miss you guys!!
Elder Miller

Monday, November 6, 2017

It was a little bit of a slow week. The Bonilla family was a cruise, so we couldn't teach them and they didn't make it to church! We got straight zeros on our key indicators (the numbers we report to our leaders: people on date for baptism, people at church, and new investigators). That's okay though, it doesn't happen very often (this was perhaps only the second or third time on my mission it's happened and the first time in this area), and it won't happen this week!
On Halloween, we had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Tucson Temple for a session, since we couldn't really proselyte that evening. It's the first time I've been since its dedication; it was a long overdue visit and it was so recharging to be in that sacred place. I truly do feel renewed after that visit.
Saturday I was on exchanges with our district leader's trainee in his ward. It took back to when I was in Central Ward (because this ward was also in the hood). The people there are so receptive; it's like night and day compared to the area I'm in now, with all of its big houses and not an apartment complex in sight!
I am excited for this week though, because we get to go on a teaching visit with one of our bishops to go teach a man named Frank. His daughter is already baptized, and his wife wants to be baptized but only if he commits to do it as well. He just finished studying the Bible with the Jehovah's Witnesses and now he's curious as to how the Book of Mormon fits in with the Bible and he has a lot of question about our understanding of the Bible (the the Jehovahs understand it a little differently than we do).
I love and miss you guys! I hope you all have a good week!
Elder Miller