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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 25, 2016 - Better and Better

Each week just keeps getting better, and it's hard to explain. I just keep growing and changing and learning how to become closer to the spirit. I'm definitely still learning all the time.

Just to start off I don't have a lot of time to email this week.  Our P-Day is actually on Wednesday because we're going to the temple, which is so exciting!! They gave us just a short time to email home this week so this is probably going to be shorter than normal, and I forgot my camera so, sadly, no pics. 
 
Elder Spackman and Elder Miles
Tuesday was Elder Spackman's B-Day and for dinner a member, Sister Wilson, had us over for dinner and some cake and ice cream. She's also the member that is coming with us to teach Refugio and Marisol (so they should be in that pic that she sent home). The lessons with Refugio and Marisol are going well. Marisol is really good about praying a lot and asking about what she needs to do next, about baptism and such. We're still trying to get Refugio going but he's willing to pray in front of us, which is definitely something good. They keep progressing but just slowly, it seems to be a two steps forward, one step back kinda thing. 

We also got to teach Ricardo a couple times this week. He's such an awesome guy and he's really consistent about coming to church (it helps his wife is one of the strongest members ever), but he just says he's not ready for baptism. His whole family is super catholic and that is a big change for a lot of Hispanics. Catholicism is more of a way of life for them. He'll get there, it's just going to take a lot of patience and taking things slowly. 
Elder Spackmans' birthday celebration.  Elder Miles says that Rufugio and Marisol
are in this picture - but not sure which ones they are.

Hinocencio just keeps plugging along. He's been to church like five times now but he's still struggling to get over his drinking problem. Our next lesson with him we're going to make a plan with him and set some goals. He could be a really strong member and he's been trying so hard to overcome his challenges but it's definitely going to take some time. 

Yesterday I had to give the closing prayer for Sacrament in Spanish. I was pretty nervous but I gave a pretty good prayer. It was the first time I'd prayed in front of that many people in Spanish and I also found out that on the 22nd of May I will get to give a talk in Spanish. I'm pretty excited for that opportunity but I am also going to be speaking last, so I could either have to talk for 5 minutes or twenty. We'll see how it goes but it should be good. 

One thing that I learned this week that I thought was really cool is something about desires. There's a talk titled "The Fourth Missionary" that is super good. There was a quote from this that I really liked.  It says "The good you do, will do you no good, if your heart is not right." I've been thinking a lot about how this pertains to missionary work, and to just life in general. There are a lot of missionaries and members that do the right thing but because their heart isn't in it they don't grow. So with missionary work and with life in general we need to learn how to change our desires and help them come in line with our Father's desires and as we do this, as we turn our life over to him, we will be able to grow so much more and do so much more good. 

Que tengan buen dia! (Have a good day!)
-- 
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 18, 2016

This week was a really good week! It started out so awesome! On Monday we had scheduled to go by Jesus (I'm not sure if you remember him. He's the trucker that was absolutely golden that we met a few weeks ago). Anyways we had planned to go see him, and as it turned out he had gotten home a few hours before we got there, and that he had to leave again the next morning! What an amazing miracle! He was really excited to see us and he really opened up to us about some of the things he's been feeling. He told us that he knows his next step is baptism and that he is really amazed at how well the Bible and The Book of Mormon compare. He is so golden but with his job it's really difficult to teach him and for him to attend church. We'll keep working with him but it's definitely going to be slow.

We had some awesome lessons with Refugio and Marisol, and Hinocencio again this week. Hinocencio is really beginning to improve and the more we go over there, the more his desire to change grows. He's still struggling but he'll get there. His biggest problem is just being around bad influences. He knows he needs to move but it's hard for him to find somewhere to go to. 

Refugio and Marisol are both doing great but Refugio is having a hard time keeping his commitments and that has been holding them both back. They understand what they need to do but Refugio just hasn't had that desire yet. We were hoping to teach them several times this week but they canceled on us twice. We have another lesson planned for tomorrow where hopefully we can get a baptismal date for Marisol and help Refugio see that he needs to take the same steps Marisol has before he's gonna know the truth. 

I can't remember if I ever mentioned Ricardo in my past emails but he's the husband of a really strong member that moved into our branch a few weeks ago. I'm honestly shocked that he hasn't been baptized yet. There seems to be something that's holding him back and we're still trying to figure out what it is. He's definitely going to get baptized someday though. He understands so much and has recognized all the changes that came to his family from when his wife and kids joined the church. 

We had another Trainee thing this week with the APs and
President and Sister Lewis. It was called Doctrine of Christ which is basically faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. It was all focused on how these things are kind of our main focuses as missionaries. We need to teach repentance and then baptize true converts. It was a super good meeting. President and Sister Lewis are both so cool and so smart. They really understand exactly what they're doing. It's really awesome listening to them teach. 

Something that I've been doing for the past few weeks is
 In our area someone had this in their
front yard.  Had like a bear, an eagle
and some other animal carved into it
trying to better prepare for the Sacrament each week. I've been trying to make that the focus of my Sunday mornings and as I sit in the chapel I focus on the Atonement and Christ. I've noticed that as I make a more conscious effort to prepare each week the Sacrament takes on a bigger meaning to me, and each Sunday during the Sacrament I can feel the presence of the Spirit so strong. The Sacrament is such an important part of our week and when we prepare for it, it can be huge way to strengthen our testimony. I've definitely seen it strengthen my testimony a lot. 

Every week I'm amazed at how much I've grown. It feels like every week something happens that helps me grow in ways I never thought possible. It truly does show that our Heavenly Father knows us all personally and if we ask Him, He will prepare a way for us to become exactly what he wants us to be.

Love you all!
-- 
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission

Monday, April 11, 2016

April 11, 2016

This week has been wonderful, yet sad. I am definitely beginning to understand what it means to feel sorrowful for others who do not have to Gospel, or who do not want to hear it. We spent a lot of time this week tracting and doing our best to find new people to teach. We are very consistently teaching Refugio and Marisol, and Hinocencio, but others just do not want to listen. We also have a lot of first lessons, but then trying to get back into their house to keep teaching them can be so difficult. 

We taught Hinocencio three times this week, but the first two were really strange. He hadn't read or prayed, and didn't really seem to have a desire to change anymore. Then he was drunk our second lesson and just didn't seem to care. It was super hard to see that change and Elder Spackman mentioned that we might have to drop him. So Saturday we planned to have a sit down lesson with him and just be really straightforward with him, and he bailed on us. I figured that was kinda the end and that we wouldn't be teaching him anymore, but Sunday morning he was at church! It shocked me when I saw him. He had called a member and asked for a ride, and when we talked to him he told us that he felt really bad for skipping our lesson, and for not keeping his commitments. He has that desire to better his life again! And at our lesson with him Sunday night he'd spent a good chunk of the day reading the Book of Mormon. It was so awesome to see the difference, and it really was a miracle. 

Refugio and Marisol are also doing super well, but they are just struggling to come to church. They understand everything super well, but they just can't seem to get to church. That's something that we talked a lot with them about on Sunday. They felt like if they were keeping all the commandments that it wasn't necessary for them to go to church, and we were able to explain to them that going to church is also a commandment, and that it's the place where we renew our covenants. An awesome miracle with them this week was we had planned a lesson with them and had planned for a member to come out with us. Well about twenty minutes before the lesson we got a text saying that they were going to be busy and not able to have the lesson. We didn't see this until we got in to car to go over there and just as were about to let our member know that it was canceled he texted us and said that they were already inside visiting with them. Apparently Refugio and Marisol had some friends coming over but when our members showed up they told their friends to wait. What an amazing miracle!

There isn't really too much else to report. I got to give two blessings this week which was really neat. Each time I give one my testimony on the power of the Priesthood grows so much.

We had our first transfer calls this last Saturday and it looks like I'll be in Moses Lake for another six weeks! Though we might be moving apartments. 

A fun little random story. We met a Jamaican guy the other night and he was almost as hard to understand as someone speaking Spanish. There were times during our lesson with him that I thought he had slipped into Jamaican.

It was an absolutely amazing week!
--
 
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission

Monday, April 4, 2016

April 4, 2016 - General Conference

Wow what a stellar conference weekend! I honestly can't even begin to describe how amazing conference was!! Everything that was said just rung true and it all had so much more of a deeper meaning for me. I think a lot of it has to do with me being a missionary, but I'm sure watching all sessions and staying awake helped a lot (haha). Each talk was so great, though I'm gonna have to print out Sunday Morning's talks. We watched it in Spanish because Hinocencio came! It was super awesome to have an investigator there but it sure did make it difficult to understand when it was in Spanish. I understood mostly what was going on but not enough specifics to feel comfortable with what was said. 

It was delicious!
It was super cool to have Hinocencio at Conference. We had visited him the night before and he was thinking about going to a party and just "enjoying" his night, but we talked to him and reminded him about how he has a goal to be baptized and if he misses church, keeps drinking, and other stuff, then he wouldn't be able to get baptized. He agreed and came to conference instead! Which was honestly so cool. Refugio and Marisol said that they were going to come to conference, but sadly they didn't show up. We're still unsure why, but they have been progressing a lot. 

We taught them on Wednesday this last week and had an absolutely amazing lesson with them. We got talking about how Marisol feels when she prays, and she kept saying things like "Oh I feel peace and comfort" that kinda thing, so what we did was help her to realize that was an answer to her prayers, and when she did realize this she was like "Oh that is an answer I know this church is true." It was so awesome to see that!!! Now we just have to work on getting Refugio more involved. That same night we also taught Hinocencio with a recent convert returned missionary who was able to share some amazing insight with Hinocencio, and really brought the spirit with him. That last Wednesday was probably one of my favorite days on the mission so far. It was so full of the spirit and teaching was so amazing. 

A birthday celebration for the Sister on the right.
We've been working with a part-member family that just moved into our area and on Monday we decided we'd stop by and get to know the husband more, the wife and kids are members. Well it was an awesome little lesson, but like all Hispanics they just love to feed people and we had just had a huge dinner with members. It's rude to not accept food, so we agreed to eat and the wife just kept loading up our plates. I left their house feeling like I had just had two Thanksgiving dinners I was so full. It was super awesome though. The food was amazing and the family is so cool!

We've spent a lot of time painting a trailer this week for service for a non-member. It's been super fun, but it's taking a long time. (Note: I don't have any pics of this but there might be some on the mission blog). It's starting to look really good, and it's been super fun doing that service. 
Elder Miles "thought this was pretty funny"

I loved Elder Eyring's first talk and Elder Holland's last one. They were both honestly so amazing and during both I was just stunned by what was shared. I loved how much they each talked about how we often struggle with our faith, but when we recognize that we are struggling and we are saddened by that, then we are given more faith. I wish I could just listen to the prophets speak all the time. 

Love you all! 
-- 
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission