Monday, April 24, 2017

Tucson Central Ward South - Week 1

It's amazing how the time flys; I've been transferred again and am now serving in Tucson Central Ward South. I'm right in the middle of the city now (the North elders get downtown, though - darn). It's odd because I'm only over half of a Ward here, as opposed to being over two wards in my two previous areas.

The situation in this area is a little interesting; it was once the
highest baptizing Ward in the mission, and now we only have one
nonmember family that we're teaching. The area Book has no records on what has happened in the past few months. I'm follow up training, and I'm in the projects. We'll see what happens. Right now the main task is cleaning up the area Book and seeing who lives in our area and who doesn't. There are a ton of recent converts and less actives in our records that my companion doesn't know, so we try to go see them and the apartment or the house is completely empty. Apparently, people are constantly moving around here.

The members in the Ward are a pretty interesting mix of people. The University of Arizona campus is within the Ward boundaries, so you get professors from the college and graduate students along with the people from the rougher places in town. There is a nice older man named Roy Salcido in the Ward that is a convert of about twenty years who helps us missionaries a ton, too. He'll go to lessons with you whenever you need him; he'll make you dinner if you don't have one; and he lets us use his washer, dryer, and wifi (all three of which I'm currently using) on P day. Shout out to him!

Oh, I'm back in a car area, too, which is so awesome. I get to miss
out on biking in the Tucson summer now (of course I'll still have to be out in it a lot, though). Can't wait to see what this place has in
store in the next few months or so for me.

Love you guys!

Elder Miller

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Southeast Tucson - Week 17 - Last Week in Southeast

We got transfer calls on Saturday, and I found out that I'm leaving the Bonanza and Tanque Verde Wards. I'm moving into the heart of the city and am going to Central Ward in Tucson to follow up train an Elder Lee. This area has been quite the experience; I feel like I've been here forever, yet for no time at all. There were some big challenges in the beginning with taking over a new ward and whatnot, but I'm proud with what I've accomplished during my time here.
I'll just go ahead and jump into the big news of the week as far as investigators go; that being we finally have a new baptismal date! We taught Jeff the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson toward the begin of the discussion (the first time I didn't extent the invitation at the end of the lesson), and after a short moment of thinking (which felt like an eternity) he agreed! On Saturday, we then taught him every investigators favorite lesson - the Word of Wisdom; although he acknowledged he would have to give up a lot of things, he said he was more than willing to follow it so he could be baptized. Unfortunately, his baptism won't be until May 20th, but hopefully my mission president will let me travel to go see it.
Sometimes I forget some of the people getting this email might not be familiar with our Church's lingo and what I teach people as a missionary. To explain briefly, The Gospel of Jesus Christ are the principles and ordinances (or sacred acts) we live by to follow Christ. Faith, repentance, baptism by immersion, and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost makes up the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. The Word of Wisdom is a revelation given to the prophet Joseph Smith that acts as a sort of health code for us to live by. We believe we have been commended by God to abstain from namely alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea - as well as recreational drugs and other habit-forming substances. These were the things I was teaching Jeff this last week.
Easter was a lot of fun; I never noticed before how truly sacred this time of the year really is. This was the time in which many of the important events of the Saviors life took place - birth, suffering, death, resurrection. As a missionary, you inevitably have these things in mind during the holiday and it adds whole new meaning to it.
I hope also enjoyed it and I can't wait to talk about the events to come in my new area on the mission
Elder Miller

Southeast Tucson - Week 16

I'm going to do something different with my emails to put more order in how I write them. I'm going to try to do a day-by-day account of his week, so you can get a better idea of what a week in Tucson is like for me. Hear it is:

Tuesday, April 4: We spent most of the afternoon visiting less
actives. A good way to get to talk to them is to knock on their door,
look like you're real thirsty, and ask for a drink of water. They'll
give you a glass and then they'll have to stand there and wait for you to be finished with the glass. Works almost without fail. We also gave a single sister a blessing since she was going in for a medical procedure that Friday. And we shared a conference message with a part member family. That evening we had a lesson with Jeff - our new investigator in Tanque Verde. We had a great lesson on the Book of Mormon and read 1 Nephi 4 with him. As always, we had to explain why god wanted to have Laban killed, but we seemed to resolve his concern rather easily.

Wednesday, April 5: Most of the day was Zone Conference where we had trainings from the assistants and President and Sister Passey. It's always a great motivator for us. We then got to teach the story of Easter to the Andrews kids (they never get to go to church because their parents are constantly working). That night we met with our high councilman who's over the missionary efforts in the stake. He has been pushing us to invite as many people to the Temple Open House as possible. It's such a great blessing to be in Tucson at this very special time for the city.

Thursday, April 6: I was on exchanges with Elder Hansen, our district leader. We spent a good part of the day helping an older member unload two tons of sand and gravel from the back of his truck. It was a lot of fun. It reminded of all the odd jobs I'd do with Grandpa Kennedy all the time. That night we went on splits with their Ward missionaries to go see some less actives. The one we were assigned to go see wasn't home, so we just ended up talking to his dad who was an active member. Oh well.

Friday, April 7: Weekly planning day - boring. That night the Bonanza Ward was having a Family History potluck. People brought dishes that had to do with their ancestors and the cultures they came from. Some members brought their nonmember neighbors with them and we sat down and talked to them a bit. The husband asked me what college I wanted to go to and I told him I wanted to go to Hillsdale College. It turns out him and his wife are from Michigan and they had a nephew who went to Hillsdale. They called me a "hero" for wanting to go there and getting into constitutional law, haha. We invited them to the Temple Open House and they seemed to have a lot of interested. Can't wait to
see where it goes from there.

Saturday, April 8: Hit my ten month mark - I'm getting old! Sadly, we had to move a great family out of our ward - the Harris'. That took us clear into the afternoon. That evening we had another lesson with Jeff. A family in Tanque Verde Ward named the Decasters had him over for dinner. We taught the Plan of Salvation and I really wanted to invite him to be baptized, but it just wasn't feeling right. It'll have to wait for another day according to the Lord's timing, I suppose.

Sunday, April 9: Fast Sunday. Jeff came to church for the first time!
We sat him up front so he wouldn't have to hear the crying kids so
much and see everyone looking at their phones and whatnot. It was
perfect, he was attentive to it all, and I could see he was really
pondering the things he was seeing and feeling as the sacrament was being administered. That evening we were discussing what we learned in conference with our investigator Ben Zesch. He is so ready for baptism; due to special circumstances he just can't yet. That night as we were about to go in for the night, one of the neighbors of our complex stopped us. We talked to a very troubled man named Robert. He has gotten himself in a bad situation, and he's not sure how much longer his life is going to be spared. He told us he desperately wanted to get closer to God. I simply handed him a Book of Mormon and said reading this book has brought me closer to God. I put it in his hands and he looked down and stared at it in awe for a moment. "Are you sure you want to give this to me?" I assured him I did. He expressed exceeding gratitude for my gift and said he'd begin reading it immediately. We then said a prayer with him and promised to see him again tomorrow. Dare I say it was the most powerful contact I've had on my mission thus far.

That's it. I love you. I miss you. God bless you all.

Elder. Miller

Southeast Tucson - Week 15 - General Conference

What's up guys!? I hope you enjoyed Conference weekend. I particularly enjoyed the talks given by Elders Renlund, Oaks, and Rasband. Elder Rasband's talk was especially helpful and very applicable to missionary work; I could certainly do better in listening and acting upon the impressions I get from the Holy Spirit. It reminded me a lot about a great talk I heard from Elder Bednar in the MTC (I did't actually see Elder Bednar in the MTC; it was a video). The basic principle taught in both talks is that the more we strive to be like Christ and heed to the prompting of the Holy Ghost in the moment we receive them, the more the Lord will trust us and the more opportunities He will give us to be an instrument in His hands. This week has been a good one, considering we actually got a new investigator in Tanque Verde Ward (our ward that is struggling). Last preparation day I got a phone call from a member in Gilbert who said he had a friend he works with who has agreed to meet with us. He set up the appointment for us and even drove all the way down from Gilbert to sit in on the first lesson! His friends name is Jeff Rosano. He's
39 and single; when he was younger he was going to seminary to become a priest, but he decided it wasn't the path he wanted to take. He comes from a Calvinist upbringing but has always had problems with its teaching of predestination. We taught a great lesson of the Restoration; he was very involved in the lesson and had a lot of great questions about prophets, the priesthood, and dispensations. He is truly trying to find god's truth. It's very refreshing to be able to teach someone who actually wants to learn.

I love you guys. Have a good week,

Elder Miler

Southeast Tucson - Week 14

Hey everyone,
With the simplified key indicators - meaning we no longer report our amount of lessons - I technically got my first week of all zeros this past week - no new investigators, no one at sacrament, and no one with a baptismal date. We did get a lot done though, just not in those regards this past week. The week before was a lot better - probably one of the best I've had in this area. We had two new investigators - including a former investigator named Norm who called us out of the blue and asked us to come over. We also had three investigators come to church as well. One of those investigators was Michael Tebo, who came for the first time with his less active wife and mother-in-law. It was a pleasant surprise; we were a little unsure as to where their desire was.

I hardly ever share pictures in my emails, so I think I'll throw a few
one here for your viewing pleasure. Have a good week guys! Elder

Here's the one and only Tucson Arizona Temple. The Open House is scheduled for June 3-24. The dedication will be on August 13. I believe President Uchtdorf will be the one officiating in that.

An old zone portrait.
This is the Andrews, a Native American, recent convert family in Tanque Verde Ward that we teach each week. We taught Lehi's Dream of the Tree of Life, and we had the kids draw a picture of it together.

Here is a way over due, yet awesome Christmas photo from when I was still in Silver City. From left: Elder Thomas, Elder Bangerter, Elder Wilcox, Captain Awesome, Elder Stephenson (my companion at the time).

Southeast Tucson - Week 11

I'm so excited to start a new transfer with Elder Plaizier. He'll be the first companion I've had longer than one transfer since Elder Coyne - my trainer (training is always 12 weeks). I feel like we'll have a better six weeks than the last six. We have a clear vision of what we want to accomplish with the people we're teaching now, and we're excited to put our goals in to action. I will be saying good by to some good friends in the district as well - namely my district leader Elder Cox (the only person in Tucson who like Seinfeld as much as I do). 

We had a great lesson with our new investigation Micheal Tebo and his family Saturday night. Elder Plaizier had the opportunity to teach and recite the first vision, and he taught how we're supposed to pray. It's great to see not only investigators learning, but my companion as well. Our new ward mission leader was there as well to share his testimony of the Book of Mormon and how we get one. He shared a story from the life of Christ that goes perfectly with the subject: After the Resurrection of the Savior - in Luke 24 - Christ walks and talks to two people on the road to Emmaus about the things that had just happened to him. Christ told them about the prophets from the time of Moses and how they prophesied that such things were going to pass. He sat and with them and broke bread with them, and once they realized who he was, he vanished from their sight. One man said to the other "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" Those people talked face to face with the Savior, but their knowledge of the divinity of the Him only came through that witness or burning from within that comes from His Holy Spirit. What a marvelous blessing that the Lord has given us a way to know these things with a surety. It's only through the prayer of faith and true intent that we can have the witness, but I testify of it's reality. 

I love all of you and I hope you have an other good week,
Elder Miller

Southeast Tucson - Week 9

Hello everyone,

This week has been good, and we've had a good amount of success. We had a new lady move into our ward who needed to be visited on
Wednesday. It turned out that she moved from California to live with her daughter - who was a less active we didn't know before. The mother and the daughter both asked for blessings of healing for their health problems. Elder Plaizier and I both got to give one. As we gave them blessings, the less active daughters husband - Michael - sat in and watched. When we were done he asked if he could have one as well even though he's not a member. We agreed and gave a simple blessing to help with the trials he is going through in life. He said he felt the Spirit while we were giving, and asked us when we meet for church on Sundays. He expressed that he has felt that Christ is missing from his life (he is a Catholic from Germany, but hasn't practiced in years). Needless to say, we asked him if he'd like to learn more about our church, and he agreed. We're so excited to get a promising prospect after a few weeks of slowness.

On Saturday we did a "district Blitz" in Sister Spencer and her
companions area out in Corona de Tucson (about twenty minutes away from town). A Blitz is where all the missionaries in a district go to the same area and knock doors there for an hour or two. While we were doing it, Elder Taylor (another missionary in the district) and I found a new Family for them to teach! They had already met with missionaries in the past, but their work schedules got in the way. We certainly knocked the right door at the right time, too. The husband was talking about how his wife just quit work and they'll be able to start getting back into it again. That was an other exciting event that happened.

Have a good week. I love you all,

Elder Miller

Monday, February 6, 2017

Southeast Tucson - Week 7 - Training Week 2

This week has been a little harder than most. We've had a few more appointments fall through than usual and have had a couple of investigators who have decided to stop meeting with us, unfortunately. I ask for the prayers of all of you to help Elder Plaizier and I as we are stuck in a bit of a rut with no clear way out. Pray that we may be fruitful in our finding efforts this week.
Now don't think that's it's been all gloom and doom over here - we all have our ups and downs. I don't know if I've already mentioned this in my letters or not, but the dates for the Tucson Temple open house have been announced! It will be from June 3-24 of this year, and the dedication will be on August 13 with a cultural celebration the day before. I don't know what the missionaries role in all of this will be; we probably won't know until it's about that time. It is still very exciting to be serving the people of Arizona at such a special time. We've been encouraging all of the members in our wards to start thinking now of people to bring to the open house; this will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for so many people; to be a missionary during all of this is a marvelous blessing for me. An other thing I don't think I've mentioned is that the there is also going to be a new mission president coming in this year; the Passeys will be going home this June or July and the Brownings will be "taking over." Lots of big changes taking place this year.
Yesterday, we went to mission prep class like we do every Sunday morning, however, the regular teacher wasn't there; which meant that my companion and I were called on to teach the Great Apostasy on the spot. And by my companion and I - I mean just me. It came completely unexpected, and i just got up and rambled on for about 40 minutes while Elder Plaizier just kind of stood there, looking like a deer in the headlights. Eventually Brother Neilson in our ward told him to sit down, and at that point I felt like a complete windbag. The lesson is, teaching in unity is important; otherwise, it just looks weird.
Hope you all have a good week; I love you and miss you all,

Elder Miller

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Southeast Tucson - Week 6

Elder Miller and his new trainee, Elder Plaizier
Very exciting week this past week; so much has happened. First off, on Tuesday, I picked up and met my new companion and trainee. His name is Elder Plaizier (plaz-ear); he's from Nampa, Idaho (my second companion from Nampa and my third companion from Idaho). His 6'5'', so it's nice to have him around during basketball. It's pretty fun to be training; I can just watch how he reacts in certain situations, and I can remember how I would do the same thing when I was being trained, which really wasn't that long ago. It's funny how fast the time flies. Anyway, he is adjusting to mission life pretty good, and he has a great desire to be the best missionary he can be. I'm so glad to be able to help him do so.
January 25 marks a big day for everyone who is in or will be in the mission field. We got to watch a worldwide broadcast from the executive missionary council in Salt Lake, which including Elders Oaks, Bednar, and Anderson. In the broadcast they announced a new daily schedule from missionaries to live by. Basically, we now have more freedom to choose when we want to do certain activities in the day. Prep time in the morning has been lengthened, while lunch brake and certain studies have been shortened. Plus we have simplified the "key indicators of conversion," which are just the numbers we report on every week to our leader. We used to have nine to report on, but they have been cut down to four now; it's sounds like it's nothing, but it's a huge change from someone who's been doing the same thing the same way from eight months like myself. To have to train someone to do all this while adjusting to it myself is also interesting. 
Our most recent baptism, Steve Wilson, was interviewed to be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday, and he has asked me to do the ordination next week! I'm so honored to have the opportunity, and I can't wait to do it. We also have an other baptism schedule for a part member family named the Cluffs for February 18th. Lots of good stuff going on in our area. 
Yesterday after church, I wanted Elder Plaizier to get some practice finding people to teach, so we went over to an apartment complex next to ours. We knocked on a less-actives door and he wasn't home. His apartment was on the second floor, so we went downstairs and saw a door on the first floor that was wide open. So we just went up and started talking to whoever was inside. She was an older lady recovering from two back surgeries who just moved to Tucson. She said s

he's been looking for a church to go to and asked us from the time of our meetings and whatnot. We gave her a card and she said when she starts to feeling better, she wants to have us over to teach her. It was a great finding experience; another one of those small events that shows you what can be done when you act on your faith in Christ. If you haven't read President Uchtdorf's talk "Fourth Floor, Last Door" I recommend you take the time to read it. It's pretty much my go to talk when I meet and talk to less active members - it's so wonderful. 
Elder Miller doing his weekly shopping (courtesy of Sister Kamrowski,
who sends most of the photos we have of Elder Miller) before going
fishing for P-Day.
I love all you guys, and I hope you have a good week,

Elder Miller

*Mailing address has been updated.*

Monday, January 23, 2017

Southeast Tucson - Week 5 - I'm Training!!

Hello everyone,

As you could probably guess from the subject line, I'll be training a new missionary starting tomorrow. I could have sworn I was just getting trained myself. It really wasn't that long ago. Our mission is getting pretty young; the oldest elder here doesn't go home from another three transfers, so there is going to be a long of us young guys taking on leadership roles. In fact, my last companion Elder Stephenson was just called to be a zone leader - good for him. 
This week has been pretty great. We had the baptism from Steve Wilson this past Saturday; my companion Elder Barr baptized him. Then yesterday, I got to do the confirmation during sacrament meeting. I had never done anything like that before. I guess I did alright; everyone said they enjoyed the blessing afterwards. 
During our Elders Quorum on Sunday we were looking at a talk by Elder Cornish entitled "Am I Good Enough? Will I Make?" It was from last conference - I would recommend everyone to take a look at it sometime this week. It presents an honest question that I'm sure we've all asked ourselves from time to time. I may not be a mass murderer, but I'm I really qualified from exaltation? What's I like about Elder Cornish's talk is that it talks about how there really isn't a such thing as being "good enough." We all fall short, and none of us are worthy of God's grace and mercy (of course that's exactly what mercy is - forgiveness we do not deserve). We could never possibly hope to "earn" our salvation; we simply aren't good enough - none of us. That is why an infinite Atonement was necessary on our behalf - so that we could all have access to that mercy. As long as we choose to not rationalize our behavior and decide to willingly and knowingly rebel against God's commandments we can receive and retain a forgiveness of our transgressions as we live according to the Gospel - even for the ones we commit over and over again. This is something that gives me hope for my eternal salvation. Wholly through the merits of Christ will I be able to live with my Heavenly Father; my works in this life are and will be an EFFECT rather than the cause of my salvation.
I hope everyone will enjoy their week and be safe. Love and miss all of you!

Elder Miller

Here are some photos we have gotten that I have forgotten to share.

- Hugh's Dad

Elder Miller and his most recent companion, Elder Barr

Elder Miller and Sister Spencer at the Temple.

Southeast Tucson - Week 4

Hello everyone,

It's hard to believe that this transfer is coming to an end. It's
probably going to end on a big note as Steve Wilson baptism will be
this Saturday. It's so incredible to have two baptisms so close
together. Steve's progression has been so quick, and he is so ready
for the baptism. It's been great to be able to teach him all the
lessons as well as being at his wedding a few weeks ago.
The work in Tanque Verde ward is starting to pick up since we took it over. We got a media referral for there that we taught on Saturday. His name is Chris; oddly enough he wanted to learn more about the church after listening to Lindsey Sterling music, haha. What ever leads people to the church is fine with me. He recently left the Marine Corp and told us about all the strange "visions" he's had since (clearly a result of PTSD). He was pretty uneasy at the beginning of the lesson (it kind of scared the member we brought with us to the lesson), but he eased up as the lesson went on. We invited him to church he was there the next day! For those of you that aren't aware, it's basically impossible to get people to church, so that was a big deal to come the first time you're invited. He's one of the more interesting people I've taught, but he seems pretty promising, nonetheless.
I have a feeling I could be training next transfer, but I won't know
for sure what's happening until Saturday. I do no for sure I'm staying in the area I'm in now.
Enjoy your week. I love and miss all of you

Elder Miller

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Southeast Tucson - Week 3

Hello everyone,

Hope you all had a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (I think New Years was the last time I wrote to everyone). I've been missing New
Mexico at times, but it's been exciting working in my new area in Southeast Tucson. On Saturday we had a great baptism for an
investigator (if you could even call her that) named Noe Austin. I say that because she has been going to church for a year and a half now
and probably knows the gospel just as much as I do; she has just been waiting for parental permission all this time. This was one of the
biggest baptismal services I've ever seen; we actually had to go out
to the chapel to fit everyone as a part of the ward and a lot of her
family came to witness it. For a 15 year old, she is quite a spiritual
individual; after the ordinance she talked about how much it meant to
her that her family decided to come. There was not a single dry eye
I've come across some great people in this area since I've been here.
We have a solid investigator named Steve Wilson we've been working
with, who will be baptized in two weeks. He has zealously read
everything we ask him to (twice), has come to church every week, and
even got married to the less active he's been living with. Every time
we teach him a new commandment to him (including the Word of Wisdom)

and invite him to live it he simply replies "consider it done." I've
never seen anyone make the necessary changes in their life so rapidly;
it's amazing to witness the converting power of the Gospel in such a
short time frame.
There are some pretty cool member in both Bonanza and Tanque Verde. We
visited with a member named Floyd Bailey, who was a professional
musician before he was a member. He was a drummer for the Ohio Players
(who did the original version of "Love Rollercoaster") as well for
Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson among others. I'll see if I can
include a video of him banging around a bit. We had dinner with a
family in TV named the Trepaniers (pronounced "trap-en-yay"). It turns
out Bro. Trepanier served his mission in Indiana and was in Fort Wayne
for six months! It was so cool listening talk about all the different
things that happened while he served there (was talking about how his
zone leaders were in Huntington and they got into a fist fight in
their apartments once and they had to get white washed, haha).


I hope you all have a good week. Love all of you. Take care. Sister
Spencer says hi as well,
Elder Miller

Southeast Tucson - Week 1

Moving to this new area is so exciting. Tucson is a lot different that Silver City, New Mexico; it's a wonder that they're even in the same mission. The people, the scenery, the weather - it's all a bit different. My companion is Elder Barr now. He just got finished being trained, so that makes me senior companion for the first time. Things are just a little crazy for us right now. We have five investigators on date for baptism this transfer - incredible. They're all super solid and have been thoroughly changed by the power of Christ and His Gospel. In addition to that, we took over a new ward at the beginning of this transfer - the Tanque Verde Ward (just north of Bonanza Ward, which elders have always covered). The sisters there were taken out and we've been giving an additional ward we really don't know anything about. We got an email from the previous sisters that talked about everyone they've been working with, but forgot to put in any contact information for anyone of them! So we're going to have to depend on the ward and hope they were actually listen to the missionaries in Ward Council this past few months to see how we can find all these investigators.
This bike area has really been killing me by the way. It's probably been two years since I've ever had to bike anywhere, so I've got no muscle at all. My companion always has to wait for me to catch up with him, which I'm sure he finds irritating at times. Luckily, we in a "car share" with some elders nearby, and we get it certain days of the week to make it out to far away areas.
I'm very excited for this holiday season - my first from home. I really find my self more excited for the holidays out on a mission than I did back at home. I hope you all enjoy your Christmas this year and keep in mind that this, indeed, a time to commemorate the birth of our Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 

Elder Miller