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Monday, March 28, 2016

March 28, 2016 - Miracle Week

Elder Miles and Elder Spackman with investigators
at church on Easter Sunday
This week was super full of miracles and it was absolutely amazing!! We'd been trying so hard to find people lately and the blessings are starting to show. Its crazy how sometimes you just find people that are willing to listen, or others that have been prepared so well that you can't believe they aren't baptized. 

Haha I've had a few other awkward moments this week. We were tracting and I went up to the door and I think I asked her how her day was like four times. There are so many ways to say that in Spanish and I probably said them all. I just couldn't think about what to say. Haha. It was pretty funny.

Elder Miles with other missionaries at Zone Conference
On Tuesday I had my first Zone Conference of the mission. It was super awesome and it reminded me just how awesome President and Sister Lewis are. They are both just so amazing, so filled with the spirit, and so smart. We always joke that they are about as close to perfect as you can get. The message on Tuesday was about Easter. It was mostly centered on the Atonement and how through the Atonement we receive three amazing gifts. The first is Resurrection, the second Redemption, and the third is Relief. Resurrection being the chance to live forever in a perfect
Zone Conference Lunch
body, Redemption is the power to receive forgiveness, and Relief comes through the enabling power of the Atonement, which allows us to be healed of any pain, whether it's spiritual, physical, mental, or emotional. It was a super awesome Zone Conference and I can't wait until the next

Elder Miles attending sealing at
Columbia River Temple in Richland, WA
One of my favorite moments from this week is that Elder Spackman and I had the chance to go to a sealing for one of his converts fromthe beginning of his mission. It was super cool to watch the two of them get sealed, and as I was there I decided that this was going to be my goal for all those I teach. Getting them to the temple is the most important thing. I want to do everything I can to prepare them for that. I decided whenever I'm teaching someone to imagine them in the temple. As I've done that this week I have felt such an increased amount of love for those I teach, and I so desperately want them to receive those blessings. 
Columbia River

We also had the chance to teach Refugio and Marisol again this week! It was a super awesome lesson! We went over the Restoration again to see what their understanding was and they understood it so well and asked some amazing questions. They are so prepared and just need to get their answer. Teaching them has honestly been such a miracle. They were being taught before we came to Moses Lake, but when we got here they didn't really want anything to do with us, but one day Marisol let us in kinda out of nowhere, and they've been awesome ever since. I think the biggest thing is having a friend for Marisol. It makes her excited to listen and learn. Refugio is coming along a lot better as well. When we first them he seemed so bored and uninterested, but now he's making comments and asking questions. 

We taught a guy a few times this week about the Melchizedek Priesthood. He's getting ready to return to Mexico and wanted to get that priesthood before he left. He is so awesome and just soaks everything in. 

We also taught a young couple named Fabian and Marta. The week before Fabian was outside smoking and I felt prompted to go and talk with him. I didn't expect a whole ton I just thought it would be more of a Spanish practice, but he seemed pretty interested and was excited to speak with us. So we taught them and they seemed to be really interested in what we were talking about and when we invited them to baptism they said they needed to learn more, and that they wanted to learn more. My favorite part of this was that when I talked to Fabian it was my first OYM (Open Your Mouth) that I did completely by myself in Spanish. Elder Spackman would always help me a little bit or when I got lost he'd jump in, but this time was special, because I did it myself.

Elder Miles with the Zone Leaders -
Elders Jensen and Wilkey
Another really amazing miracle was we were tracting a street and found absolutely zero Hispanics and nobody interested at all. So we decided to go stop by an LA instead of finishing this street, but as we were walking to our car I saw a little Hispanic family eating dinner through their window, and I felt prompted that we should go talk with them. They let us in and offered us some carne asada, which is another miracle because I was starving (haha), but we sat down and started talking to Jesus, who is the father, and we quickly found that he was prepared forever ago. He was going through a really hard time, and was trying to figure out what to do with his life like 10 or so years ago, and as he was struggling with this he met a member who helped him with everything. If it wasn't for this member his family would have had nothing, and when Jesus finally got back on his feet, he told us that he wanted to find out why that member was so willing to help him. He said that he was willing to do absolutely anything for that member. I was shocked. I couldn't believe he hadn't been baptized before. Everything we taught him just made sense to him, and he is really excited to learn more.

The biggest and coolest miracle was that we had 4 investigators at church!!! And 2 Less Active families! It was super cool to see them all there. The 4 investigators were Yesena, Hinocencio, and Refugio and Marisol. It was so cool to see them all there. The miracle part is that it was the first time for all of them but Yesena. Refugio and Marisol were so unsure on whether or not they wanted to come to church, but they came and loved it. And Hinocencio has flaked on us before but this week he was all dressed up and was groomed really nicely. The best part was that he wasn't hung over. He is a big drinker and he tried so hard the night before to not drink so he could make it to church, he even came though he was sick. It was so awesome to see so many people there, the "fruit of labor" I guess. It makes me want to work even harder. 

We should have had 5 investigators but Jesus didn't wake up on time. We stopped by later that day and he apologized a lot, but we taught him the Restoration and invited him to be baptized and he said yes!! Also Hinocencio agreed to be baptized as well! He has a date for May that we are going to try really hard to work with him towards. He's really receptive to everything he just needs to stop drinking and he's set.

It was honestly such an amazing week! Love you all!!

Elder Miles
Washington Yakima Mission

Moses Lake Zone Conference
Elder Miles is on the 3rd row from the front, 8th from the right

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

March 21, 2160 - Having a Temple-like experience

I hope everyone is doing awesome! Moses Lake has been
Here's a picture of Elder Miles and his companion
that we received from a member that they
did a teaching appointment with.  She said "Your
 son is a great missionary."  She also mentioned
that both missionaries did "so well" in their
teaching.  She has a son on a mission as well.
really good to me lately. I'm starting to adjust really well, and really starting to love the people. Sorry I don't have any pics again this week. Oh I forgot to mention it. Hermana Fano is in my district here in Moses Lake. It's nice to have a familiar face.

There have definitely been more tests of faith this week, but each one has helped to strengthen my faith in ways that I never thought would be possible. We've been having a hard time finding people to teach, and after teaching them once, getting in contact with them again. On Monday we didn't find anyone new, Tuesday was the same. Everybody we talked to was either disinterested or unwilling to talk further. Well finally Tuesday night we were stopping by some less actives, and some old potentials in a small section of our area, and could not find anyone. We got back in our car and it was like 8:45, too early to go in for the night. So we headed to another part of our area and knocked 1 door. A single mom with seven kids answered!! Seven!! It was crazy. When we mentioned that the Gospel helps and blesses the family she seemed like a weight lifted from her. It was really cool to see, the hardest part has been getting back in contact with her. With seven kids she works all day. I can't wait to talk with her again.

On Wednesday we also got the chance to teach Refugio y Marisol again. They are super awesome and with this lesson we had a member come along that was also Marisol's supervisor at work. Marisol seems really interested and willing to try. Having her supervisor there helped a lot with getting someone to connect to and the member had some super great ideas about finding time to read and pray. It was a good lesson but Refugio is being difficult. He just seems disinterested and he's holding both of them back. They didn't come to church which was too bad, but we had some other investigators come. 

Those other investigators were Nicolasa's brother and daughter. We taught them again this week and invited the whole family to attend church. It was super to awesome to see them walk in. They were my first investigators to come to church. Javier, the brother, is a Catholic, and during the sacrament meeting seemed really interested in what was being said. The talk that really caught his attention was on the Plan of Salvation. He seemed extremely focused. It was awesome. We're going to talk to them again this week and see how they liked church. 

So on Saturday I got to go on my first exchange. I went with Elder Jensen, one of the Zone Leaders to his area while Elder Wilkey, the other ZL, went with my companion to speak Spanish. The Zone Leaders are English speaking. Anyways I went to Othello to do some potentials finding for the YSA ward. It was super awesome and I really love Elder Jensen. We sang Christmas songs the whole day and had an awesome time. While in Othello we taught one of their investigators named Brianna. She's been struggling a lot lately so we helped her to create a plan on how she is going to better her life. It was a really interesting lesson and an awesome teaching technique. That night we also helped a family create a family mission plan. We started with a prayer and then talked with each of them about a specific person. It was super fun and I got the chance to kinda lead it. It was super fun and awesome to see how a family can get excited for missionary work. 

So now for the reason for my email Subject. I read this awesome talk this week and it's definitely one everyone should and can read. It's called Lessons from Liberty Jail by Elder Holland. My favorite quote from it is "Indeed, you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced." I thought this was really cool. We often go through those hard times in our lives and we think that God has abandoned us or that we are no longer receiving help, but as Elder Holland said, and I can add my testimony to this those hard times are when God is the closest. Joseph Smith suffered so much while in Liberty Jail, yet he came to know God so much more personally, and for him this time was a temple-like experience. So I challenge everyone to that when a difficult moment arises or you find yourself unsure. Don't ever give up!! God is right there beside you. Pray, ask for strength, and it will come. Then you will look back on that experience with fondness, not because it was easy, but because you became so much closer to the Lord and had a temple-like experience. I know this to be true. The same happened to me when Terik died last year. I felt completely and utterly alone, abandoned and forgotten, but because instead of turning away I turned to God, I had an amazing experience. Is it still hard? Of course, but now I look back to that and I know that because of that experience I am so much stronger. Never give up.

I love you all.
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission

Monday, March 14, 2016

March 14, 2016 - Slowly Learning

Well it's been a good week. Things are moving a little bit slower. Most of the people that we taught last week seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth. It's super weird. Especially really strong investigators like Elario and Roxanna. It's hard to see investigators lose interest or fall off, but it's amazing to see how the Gospel can help people in their lives. On Monday we tracted into this kid named Anthony who was going through a hard time in his life, and was looking for religion. We shared how the Gospel can bless his life and strengthen him in his trials, and he seemed
Elder Miles
interested and that it was giving him a lot to think about, but when we asked him if he wanted to meet with the English Elders he said no. It's like. What?!?! This is exactly what you need but you don't even want to listen. A bummer but everyone has their agency. 

We got to teach Nicolasa this week, the one whose daughter was killed, and she seems to be doing a lot better. She definitely believes the church is true and that the Atonement of Christ can help her in her life. We also stopped by last night and she had her brother there. He is a really cool guy, and seems like he could be a very good potential investigator. He's going to be in the country for a while as he helps his sister. 

We also taught Maria again. She was looking for food to help her kids, but every time we go over there she doesn't seem interested at all. She has no desire to come to church or read at all, which is super sad that she won't even try. 

We also ran into Jesus again. We taught him one of our first few days here and he seemed like he was super interested the first time, but when we taught him this week he seemed more interested in partying than anything else. 

We've thankfully been able to teach quite a few lessons this week, and a majority of them have been in Spanish, which is hard, but nice. The only way I'm gonna learn Spanish is if I speak it. The first half of the week was hard, we had a ton of lessons fall through, I felt like I wasn't learning Spanish at all, it was pretty tough, but thankfully when things are hard God always helps us. 

This week after having a particular tough couple days we had a kinda neat experience. We had stopped to go tracting and I said the prayer. As I was saying the prayer I felt prompted to ask that the first door we knocked on be opened, so we walked up to the door and knocked. We heard someone walk up and the bolt shift on the lock, but no one answered. They had locked the door on us! I was super confused. I had prayed in faith, and felt like I had done what I had been prompted, but it didn't work out. I was trying to figure out why God didn't have the door open as we knocked on other doors on the street. Now we had originally planned to knock just one street, but as we were going I again felt prompted that we should knock on a door that was on a different street than the one originally planned. I was unsure what to do and thought maybe I was just making up stuff, but I figured that if nothing happened we'd only miss about two minutes of tracting. So we knocked and at first nothing happened, the porch light had turned on, and I'm pretty sure he was looking through the peep hole. Then he opened the door and it was this cool Mexican guy named Antonio. He seemed interested and willing to talk and listen, sadly we haven't been able to contact him since, but definitely he is a good potential. I learned from this experience that God was testing me. He wouldn't have given me the second prompting had I not acted on the first. It was hard not getting an answer on the first door, but the witness only comes after the trial of our faith. 

We also had an awesome weekend. We got to see an awesome baptism for an English ward, it was super spiritual and a really cool experience. We also taught a couple named Refugio and Marisol. They had been taught by the other missionaries, but we had been unable to get in contact with them. We finally got to teach them and they seem very genuine and really interested. They have good desires and definitely could be a very strong family. We just need to get them to come to church. 

Bye. Love you all!!!
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 7, 2016 - First Field Week in the bag

It's been a crazy first full week in the field, but it feels like I've been out here for several months. I feel like I've been dumped into it and told to learn. If the Spirit of the Lord was not real then I would never have been able to learn as fast as I have. Spanish is still difficult, but it just keeps getting better and better. I know that God is with me and helping me to learn all I need to.

There have been a lot of awesome experiences this week. It's been full of little miracles and some amazing ones as well. Just a quick little exciting experience. Last week while we were playing soccer after we had finished emailing, two Elders went for a header and ended up with stitches and some serious dental work. Elder Spackman was the one who ended up with stitches, which made my first field P-Day crazy, but I did get the chance to drive again because of it. 

 During the week we had planned to meet with a less active single mother and her family, and because of rules we aren't allowed to be with alone in the house with sisters unless we have another adult present, so we asked our Branch President to come along to the lesson. Well as we were sitting outside waiting for our Branch President to arrive for the lesson two ladies in a van drove up to us and told us that the less active member's daughter had just been murdered that morning, and that she was going to need a lot of support. About 2 or 3 minutes later, President Tucker showed up and he was able to help the family. I definitely believe that this was a miracle. God knew that she would be struggling and would need help so he arranged for President Tucker to be there. Things seem to be getting better, and the family was at church yesterday so that was awesome! 

We've also taught Elario again. He seems to be very interested and seems to be progressing really well, but the second half of the week we lost contact with them. Hopefully we can reconnect and keep teaching them. They are so amazing!! We've also been able to have a lot more lessons in general. We are starting to figure out the area and our teaching pool is beginning to grow. We've got probably 3 or 4 people that we can pretty consistently teach and a lot of potentials. One of our lessons we taught a guy named Joe. He seemed really interested, but his uncle was there and tried to bash with us. It was really hard to teach Joe because of his uncle, so in the end I just bore my testimony and we left. His uncle tried to tell us that you cannot know if something is true by feelings, it's only by knowledge. He was an interesting guy, he was pretty nice about everything, but kept telling us we needed to give up what we are doing. Haha. 

We met this guy named Inocencio later in the week who was super cool, and practically begged us to come to church, but he is a major drinker sadly. Anyways we had a member with us during one lesson and he told Inocencio that he would pick him up for church on Sunday. Sadly Inocencio drunk too much the night before and didn't want to come to church. We're gonna work with him some more this week and hopefully he can make it out to church. 

We also had our first Zone Training Meeting this week. It was super awesome and helped to answer a lot of questions about some of the struggles that I have been having. It was also super fun! We did some door approach scenarios in front of the whole zone, and it was super helpful and pretty funny. The main points of the meeting were to develop an attitude of finding, and to make sure you are not wasting any of the Lord's time. It was really cool to be able to meet as a zone and discuss Moses Lake and how the work is going. It was way fun.

A little funny experience this week - I was trying to do a Spanish door approach and I accidentally told the lady that I only spoke a little English. Whoops. Haha. I didn't even realize I had said that until my companion said something. It was good though. My Spanish is definitely improving though!!

I challenge everyone to look for the little miracles in life. Often times we expect to see great things, but some of the most amazing miracles are the smallest ones. I've been trying to notice the little miracles in my mission and it has helped me to recognize the hand of God in my life. 

Sorry I don't have any pictures this week!

I love you all!!
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission