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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 14, 2017 - Suicide Race

This week has been a pretty awesome week! Full of a lot of
neat experiences and a lot of exciting things. 

The 4 elders at the stampede. Me,
Elder Shoemaker, Elder Nielson (my comp),
Elder Woodfield
To start off here in Omak there is a stampede that is pretty well known throughout the world (I guess). It's famous because at the end of every night, they do what they call a suicide race. Basically, they take 20ish horses and their jockeys and run them straight down a super steep hill, across a river, and into the rodeo arena. It's apparently pretty wild, and there are no rules, so there's punching and fighting the other jockeys, and no one is going to stop if you fall off your horse. I guess they have had to put some horses down because of broken legs, and a lot of people have been sent to the hospital to get some serious surgery done.

So, this week there have been so many people in our two small little towns. I've been amazed at how crowded it's been up here. I feel like the population has doubled since the stampede started. Well we asked President Lewis if we could go check it out, and he said yes!! He gave us permission to go see the rodeo and the Suicide Race. We went on Thursday evening and it was super cool. It was definitely a different experience but it was a lot of fun. I took a video of the suicide race, but it's not great quality. You may have to look one up online for a better vid.

This week we also got to teach Josh and Angel some more.
​This a pic of the suicide race hill.
Sorry you can't see it super well.
Angel is doing super well! He's progressing towards baptism really nicely and has really been changing quite a bit. This week we had to move his baptismal date back a week to the 26th of August because he's going on the high adventure this weekend with the boy scouts. It'll be super good for him. He'll get the chance to have some nice father figures in his life, and he'll get to meet a lot of the other boys. We had a chance to talk with his mom yesterday and she says that she has seen a lot of changes in him, he doesn't get angry as much, and when he does get upset he doesn't react as intensely as he used to. So, he is looking super promising for the 26th.

Josh is doing awesome! We had a church tour with him this
A huge hornets nest that was
bigger than my face.
last Wednesday, where we got to show him around the building so he could feel more comfortable. Then he came to church on Sunday! He said he liked it quite a bit and he told us he is planning on coming back. We also had an awesome lesson last night with him at the Berthelson's home, where we taught him the Restoration and committed him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. With him having more of an agnostic/atheist background we focused more on him being able to receive an answer that God exists by reading and praying, rather than knowing that the church is true. He told us last night that he's been having an inner conflict with himself with what he should follow. Should he return to his old ways? Or should he follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Pray for him to be able to choose God!

This was at the stampede. They did this wild horse
race thing. I guess none of those horses had ever been
ridden, and the had to stop them, and mount them and
ride through some barrels. One guy got stepped on
real hard and probably blew out his knee. It was gross.
Oh, Angi is doing better. She still hasn't come to church, but she's picked up praying again, and we had an awesome lesson last night with her about reading and she really committed hard to reading every day. She seemed a lot happier last night as well. Hopefully with time and patience she'll turn things around and find the path again. Keep praying for her! She needs it!
Elder Miles
Washington Yakima Mission

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August 7 2017 - A Lot Happened

OK so a ton of stuff happened this week and I'm honestly not sure if I have enough time to write about it all. 

This week we had another MLC down in Yakima but it was a little different than usual. We spent the night before in Wenatchee, but instead of returning to Omak Tuesday night after MLC, we stayed in Yakima to go on exchanges with the Assistants. So that meant I got to be companions with Elder Allsop again for the day!! It was so cool. It felt like nothing had really changed except I had no idea who any of the people were that we taught.

So, because of MLC and exchanges, we didn't do any work in our area until Thursday. Monday was P-Day, and then we drove to Wenatchee, Tuesday was MLC and Wednesday was exchanges and driving. So, the beginning of the week started off very different, but the weekend finished out with a lot of surprises. 

First off, Angel is doing super well. I guess he has been changing a little since we've started working with him, and now his mom is starting to investigate the church as well!! She even came to church on Sunday! It was so awesome to have them at church. They both really enjoyed it and we're super excited for them. We had an awesome lesson with them on Friday at a member’s home and taught them all about repentance and change. After the lesson Angel's mom, Alayna, thanked us for the lesson. She said it was perfect for Angel. Teaching them is super interesting. Angel definitely prefers to speak English, but his grandparents, who are the members, speak little to no English, so our lessons are kind of mostly English with a little mix of Spanish. 

Josh is still doing well. He was sick all weekend and we were gone at the beginning of the week, so we haven't seen him at all this week. He's a cool kid though. He has a lot of good desires. Hopefully I have a better update on him next week. 

The biggest and craziest stuff from this week has to do with Trinidy and Angi. On Saturday, we had a lot of lessons fall through in the evening and we thought "We should see if Trinidy wants to have a lesson." So we sent her a text and her response was "My mom just kicked me out of the house." We were shocked! Thankfully she went over to the Bauer's house, who are basically her second family and also members, and we were able to meet up with her there. We talked for a little and she told us her mom and her got in a big argument and she was "kicked out." So, we had a short lesson with her and watched the video "Live by Faith, Not by Fear" on lds.org. Highly recommended by the way. Then her brother's girlfriend showed up, picked up Trin, and they left. She stayed the night in Omak and came to church on Sunday, but after church she left with her brother's girlfriend to Cheeney, which is a city over by Spokane, and out of our mission boundaries. We aren't quite sure how long she'll be over there but we know that she should be coming back after a week, at least for a little. It doesn't seem like her mom actually kicked her out but Trin seems to be overreacting about something. She is going to try and get an early emancipation, which would be absolutely crazy. So, keep her in your prayers! She's super stressed right now and could really use the help.

Angi also has had a rough go recently. Still hasn't come to church since she was baptized, and she has  been trying to avoid us, but last night we finally caught her at home and sat her down to have a good chat with her. We told her to be completely honest with us and that she didn't have to worry about offending us. She explained to us that she feels super empty and depressed and had been looking for instant gratification. She said she doesn't care about life anymore and that she feels like she has no reason to care about anything. It got pretty intense. The spirit was super thick and we had the chance to share some serious testimony last night with her. We bore testimony on the importance of keeping the commandments and how that makes us happy. How she is a daughter of God, and a ton of other things. The spirit was super thick in that room and my testimony grew tremendously. It was probably one of the most spiritual lessons we've had with her. The last time we had a deep conversation, like we did last night, was a turning point for her in the investigation process, so I'm praying so hard that it's the same right now. Please keep her in your prayers as well. She desperately needs it. 
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 31, 2017

Well this week was a good one as usual. We've had a lot of success this week with the people we've been working with and we found another super good investigator that we are extremely excited for. 

We've spent a lot of time working with a young man by the name of Angel. He is the grandson of a recent convert family called the Lopez's. He came up here this summer because his mom was worried about him getting into trouble down in Arizona. She's a single mom and she is worried that because he lacks a father figure that he isn't learning the lessons he needs to. He struggles a little with disobedience issues and some anger control but in reality has a really good heart. He wants to do the right thing, but he can get frustrated really easily and often lashes out at his mom. So this last week she allowed us to start teaching him and so we've taught him 3 times so far this week and are going to visit him again tonight. 

On Saturday we went through the Plan of Salvation with him and invited him to be baptized. He said yes!!! But we had to confirm with the mom. He went and got her and at first she just kinda stared at him after he asked her if he could get baptized. Then maybe after a minute or so of silence she said that he could get baptized but that he had to change first. She wants to see an improvement in his behavior before she allows him to be baptized. So currently he is planning to be baptized on the 19th of August so please pray for him to be able to change his attitude. If anything can change him it will be the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He already seems to have made a little bit of progress. 

Last night we had a lesson with him about honoring his mom and he committed to be better at listening to what she says. We're really excited to see his progress. He is a really good kid, and his mom at some point, I could see her getting baptized, especially if she can see how much it changes little Angel.

Also this week we knocked into a 15 year old boy by the name of Joshua. It was a super neat experience the first time we met him. He explained to us that he believed that God was a possibility. He wasn't sure if God existed, but he wanted to know if he was really there. So we taught him a little about how through prayer we can receive answers to our questions. Also, as it turned out he was basically best friends with one of the members of the ward. So for the next lesson we took Brother Berthelson and his son Tristin (who is really good friends with Josh) with us. It was an awesome lesson on the Plan of Salvation and Jesus Christ. 

Then last night we had a lesson in the Berthelson's home and we read Alma 32 with him so that he could see the effort necessary to know if all of this is true. It was such a good lesson. Sister Berthelson connected with him super well, as her story was super similar to his, and she bore such a strong testimony about faith and how it takes effort on our part. The coolest part was Josh said he was willing to give it all a shot. He wants to know if it's all worth it. And he understands that he's got to put effort into it. So we're super stoked for him.

Angi is doing well, but still isn't coming to church. I'm worried for her and her kids. They need this a lot, but she just doesn't want to make this a priority in her life anymore. It's really sad to see but with patience I strongly believe she'll come around. 

Trinidy is doing well. We saw her once this week and had a nice lesson on forgiving others. She's a great kid and this Gospel can really change her life. 

The guys in the cabin are slowly fading. We only saw one this week. The rest were all sick. They don't do a great job of keeping their commitments to read, and we've been trying for several weeks to help them read and they keep making the excuse that they're too tired. We may have to stop visiting them, which would be really sad.

Love you all!!
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 24, 2017 - Happy Pioneer Day

This week has been a good one but as most transfer weeks it's been quite different. The weirdest part was knowing that all of the sisters that came out with me are now home. They all left his week. It's super weird to think that none of them are now in the mission. It makes me feel old.

I love my new comp! He was serving as my district leader last transfer, but now is my companion! His name is Elder Camden Nielson. He's from San Diego California, and is the second of five kids - with one older sister and three younger brothers. He went to Utah State before his mission. I've already really enjoyed being companions with him. He came out on the mission a transfer after I did. 

This week our group of investigators did a little flip flop. We're still working with some of the old people we were working with, but the focus has changed to some of the new investigators we've found recently. This week we went to visit a recent convert Spanish speaking family in our area (the Lopez family), and as we were sitting there their grandson told us he wants to be a missionary and be able to pass the sacrament. His name is Angel, he's 11 years old, and he's not been baptized! His mom is completely okay with him learning and progressing. She says that as long as it is something positive she is okay with it. Well I'd have to say the Gospel is probably the most positive thing he can be in. 

We're still teaching the guys in the cabin. They're doing pretty well. They love having us come over - mostly because they're probably bored out of their minds. They're stuck in the middle of a huge orchard and have no way off, so anything to mix it up for them is probably super nice. They seem pretty interested but they've been kind of kind of lazy with reading in the Book of Mormon, so all week we've been doing everything we can to make sure they read. They all read well but they don't have the best reading comprehension. Last night we committed them to reading a verse a day, which they all agreed to, so we'll see what happens.

Trinidy is doing well. We haven't taught her in a while but she went to girls camp this week and seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. She got in a little disagreement/argument with one girl, but she said that other than that she loved it. We also talked to her mom again while she was gone at girl’s camp and tried to convince her to let Trinidy get baptized without having to wait a year, and she would have none of it. Sadly she's pretty set to the fact that she wants Trinidy to wait a year. 

Angi is doing better. She seems excited about the Gospel again after having a few weeks of a slump. She was super excited to come to church yesterday but Lydia and Ryley were both throwing up yesterday morning and she didn't have anyone to watch them, so she missed church again. 

Love you all! Thanks for all your prayers!!
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission

Monday, July 17, 2017

July 17, 2017 - The Cabin Crew

This week has been a good one, but Elder Allsop got shipped down to Yakima. It'll be sad working without him, but this next transfer in this area is going to be amazing!

Everyone that we're working with seems to be doing well. Working
with the Hispanic guys has been super fun. We call them the Cabin Crew. There are 20 of them living in a single cabin in the middle of a cherry orchard. We had the chance to teach them another lesson this last week and it was super cool. We all read in the Book of Mormon together and there was like 6 or 7 guys that joined in. Not all of them are super interested but it's been super fun to teach them. Its kinda weird teaching in Spanish again but I feel like my Spanish hasn't changed much. If anything I feel like it's gotten a little better. There are two that are the most interested. One is named Antonio and the other is Carlos. They were the two friends of Jose that came last week.

Antonio especially is really cool. He dislocated his shoulder this weekend while working in the cherry fields and had the weekend off to rest so he was able to come to church. Everyone else had to work on Sunday so they couldn't come. Jose told Elder Allsop and me that he absolutely loves coming to church. He says it feels amazing to be at church and that being at church and having us come visit him brings him so much peace, and he told us that he'll come to church as long as we have someone come pick him up. So I'm pretty stoked for his potential. My vision for him is to have him get baptized up here and then return to Mexico and help his family get baptized as well. 

Trinidy is doing super well. She is reading and praying every day and this week she is going to girl’s camp. I'm super stoked that she gets to go. It's going to be an awesome chance for her to be away from any bad influences from her mom or dad and she'll get to really feel the spirit. She is an awesome girl, and I really hope that she can stay strong in the adversities that she faces on a daily basis. The coolest thing is she continues to read, pray, and go to church, and these three simple things are what allow us to have strength when facing any challenge. 

Angi isn't doing super well. She hasn't been to church in several weeks and we're a little worried about her. She seems okay when we go over but she doesn't read at all. Please continue to pray for her! She needs it!

Also! We taught Jeff and Amanda again! I don't know if you remember them but we were teaching them when I first got here. Well around Memorial Day they stopped responding to our calls and texts and we lost contact with them. Well this week we stopped by and had a quick chat with them and then had an awesome lesson last night. They're doing well, but almost too well. They stopped reading and praying and feel like their lives haven't changed much at all. So we had a good lesson on how that it's especially important to read and pray when life is good, so then when life gets hard we have those good habits formed, and we can withstand the struggles that come.

That's about it for the week. If I've learned anything this week it's how important the Primary answers are! Never stop reading, praying, or going to church!
Elder Miles
Washington Yakima Mission

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10, 2017 - Finally Got to Teach in Spanish!!!

So the highlight of the week was we found someone to teach in Spanish! The entire time I have been in this area I have been praying for a chance to teach someone in Spanish, and just as I was beginning to think it wasn't going to happen our Ward Mission Leader gave us a referral. 

He met Jose a little over a week ago and talked with him about the church. Apparently Jose had gone to church several times in Mexico and enjoyed learning from the Elders down there and now he is here in Okanogan working in the orchards. When he met Josh (our Ward Mission Leader) he was excited to reconnect with the church. We called Jose on the phone last Tuesday night and set up a lesson for Wednesday and then spent an hour looking for him Wednesday night. Jose didn't know his address and so we just kinda guessed where his house was and went for it. After a little while we found it and had a nice lesson with him. We also went back on Saturday. On Saturday Jose asked our Josh if he would be able to pick him and a friend up for church the next day. And when he showed up to church he had brought two friends with him! And now all 3 of them want to learn!! 

This experience was super neat. It helped me to realize that God answer's prayers but in his own timing. It doesn't always come when we want it, but it does come. 

We had another visit with Trinidy this week. Which was really good, but she's having a hard time. I guess both her parents are extremely awful to her, so she has to pick which one she hates less, and that's the one she lives with. It was super sad to hear about her struggles so if you could all keep her in your prayers it would help her immensely. She needs the Gospel desperately in her life and if she can figure out how to apply the Atonement it would be so good for her. 

Angi is doing well. She's been hard to meet with but is doing well. We've been trying to work with Tasha but it's been super hard because she spent all week at her dad's house. But we saw them last night for a brief moment and talked with Tasha and Lydia about being at Angi's for the week. Pray that they stay with Angi all week so we can work with them and help Tasha get to baptism. 

For the 4th, Elder Allsop and I spent it in Yakima at the mission home. It was super fun and is always an awesome learning experience. I think my favorite part about MLC's are that the entire time we are discussing the focus on the missionaries in the mission. It's a "How can we help the entire mission?" attitude, which I absolutely love. As with every MLC Elder Allsop and I have a 5 hour trip back to Omak, which is not too bad, and this time it was even better. As we neared our apartment, at about 10:15, all of Omak was lit up in fireworks. There were so many fireworks going off as we pulled into town. It was super cool. 

There were a couple really neat experiences this week that really touched me, and both of them happened last night. So every Sunday we go over the Bauer's, who are the fellowship family for Trinidy, to have a lesson with them and Trin. Trin calls them her mom and dad, and her brothers and sisters. This family literally has created a safe haven for Trin from the awfulness she faces on a daily basis. Being at the Bauer's is always a spiritual and special experience but last night there was a brief moment that really touched me. 

We were waiting for Trinidy to come into the living room and I looked to my left and I saw the Bauer's 7 year old son praying personally over a small bowl of noodles that he was having for a snack. When I saw this, the thought came to my mind "This is how you make sure your kids can withstand the temptations that they will face." Because of this experience I want to make sure my kids understand prayer at a very early age, that it is more than saying a few words to God, but rather that it is building a personal relationship with him. I don't know if I ever prayed personally over my food until I was in High School, and seeing this young boy already beginning to understand why we pray really touched me.

The second experience was later that evening while talking to an elderly gentleman. This man poured out his soul to us and explained how when he was a child his father used to beat him mercilessly and that he had "angels pull him out of his body, and he was held by God until his unconscious body woke up." It always amazes me how people seem to trust a couple 20 year olds with their most painful memories, but this experience helped me to understand a little more about the special spirit of the calling we hold as missionaries. 

Love you all!!

Elder Miles
Washington Yakima Mission

Monday, July 3, 2017

July 3, 2017 – Zone Conference

This week was a good week but not very eventful. We kept well busy but nothing too crazy happened. This week we did have zone conference which ended up taking all day Wednesday. It was planned to only take
part of a day but it ended up going two hours over. It was a really good zone conference though. We focused on all the different ways we can find people to teach. Elder Allsop and I got asked to give a training on tracting, which was super fun. We talked about how to make tracting effective in finding new people to teach. Then we did some practicing with the five zones that were there. 

Angi and her family are doing well. Lydia turned 11 this week and the ward missionaries bought her a cake so we took it to her on Thursday and she stuck her face in it. We're working with Angi right now to help her get to the temple to do baptisms for the dead, which would be super good for her. It would help her solidify her testimony and give her continued motivation to stay on the right path. We're still trying to work with her oldest daughter Tasha, which has turned out to be harder than we thought. She’s your average teenage girl who isn't super interested in much, so pray for her and we'll see what happens. 

We had the chance yesterday to teach Trinidy again. She is doing really well. We are still trying to make plans to help her fix her garage, but most important is that her mom is starting to get on board a little. Her mom was at the lesson last night and Trinidy was answering all of the questions and was showing her mom just how much she knew, which was awesome! Her mom still wants her to wait a year because she feels like Trin needs to know more before she gets baptized, but man Trinidy has learned a ton and now her mom is able to recognize it, so that was super cool. 
Other than that there aren't a whole lot of updates from this week. Happy 4th of July tomorrow!!! Elder Allsop and I will be down in Yakima for MLC. Hopefully we'll have a good barbecue for lunch!
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission