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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February 27, 2017 – Milagros

We've seen some pretty amazing miracles this week and it's been amazing! I honestly can't describe the level of excitement I feel for this area!

First off we had a Family Home Evening with Jose Rios at a member’s house, it went super well. It was the Villalobos family that was in charge of it and Hermano Villalobos taught an awesome lesson on prophets. It was so good and honestly helped Jose out a ton. Then we had a lesson on Wednesday with him and we talked a little about the temple and the Atonement. We had some members with us that are going to through the temple soon to get sealed and they talked a little with Jose about what happens in the temple. 

Then on Friday we had an amazing lesson with him. We took his main fellowshipper, Hermano Martinez, and he was super led by the spirit during the lesson. Somehow he was able to get a concern out of Jose that we had no idea that he had. Jose was confused on who had the authority on the earth today, and how it was given to us. The member also got Jose to tell us about how he felt about the BoM. Jose told Hno Martinez that at first he only read the BoM because he had committed to us that he would, but now that he's been reading it he has this feeling in his chest that he says makes him want to read it. Also in his closing prayer he told God that this is where he wants to be, he just needs an answer. It was such a good lesson!

Then he came to church yesterday again! For all three hours! And he came to the classes with us instead of going to Primary! It was such a good Sunday for him to come. It was our Ward Conference yesterday and the Stake Presidency was in charge of everything so we talked all about the Atonement and Jose was even taking notes! It was so cool! 

Also this week we've started working really hard with a family. It's the Zavala family. Fernando and Ana are the parents and they have a 16 year old girl named Julissa and an 8 year old boy named Fernando, but they call him Jr. This little family is so cool. We've taught them several times and this week we had a church tour with them. At the church tour we finally met the mom Ana. The church tour was super good. It was on a Wednesday night and it was bumpin with people. Mutual was happening and there was so many people but the Zavala family loved it. 

Then this weekend we focused really hard on making sure they came to church. We went over Sunday morning and spent 20 minutes talking to Julissa and her mom at the door just resolving some of their concerns about the church, but it worked out well because they promised us they would come. And they did! They came and loved it! Especially little Fernando Jr. He was so excited at the church tour and just wanted to come sooo bad. When we found him for our 3rd hour Sacrament meeting he told us that he had just had the "fastest 2 hours of church in his whole life!!!!!" He told us that an hour at another church felt like 5 and 2 hours in our church felt like 40 minutes. He had had so much fun and he said his favorite thing was how much he was able to learn. Julissa was also amazed at how fast it went and she really enjoyed it as well. 

We thought it was pretty easy for them to come to church but I guess when Fernando the dad showed up and they were all getting ready to go to church he told them no. He had been in jail for a day the week previous and while in jail he had made a promise to God that if he was released he would continue going to the Christian church that he was going to. Well he got out and when Sunday rolled around he told everyone that they were going to their other church. Well this didn't fly so well with Jr. He started crying and was so upset. He cried for so long that eventually Fernando let up and said they would come to our church. So they came! And they really enjoyed it. Julissa told us this story during church and we were so proud of little Jr!

This helped me understand even more why Christ told us that we should be as little children. They have such pure intentions and I think that it is a lot easier for them to feel the spirit than for people who are older. 

Another cool experience this week was we had a member of an English ward hook us up with an awesome referral! He had us come over to his house on Thursday and we had an awesome lesson with Rosy and Luis! The member had invited them to take the lessons and they said they'd love to. During the lesson Rosy said that she and Luis had been talking and that they wanted have a church for their family and because they had had such great friends in the church they decided that this was the church that they wanted to be a part of. She talked about how all members of the church are so loving and have such an amazing light about them and that she wanted this so bad for her family. We're super excited for them. They basically told us that they are going to be members, now we just have to teach them the lessons and help them receive their answers. 

This week we also had Zone Conference. We learned a lot about teaching repentance and baptizing converts. It was super cool and we got to watch a lot of videos that were trainings given to President and Sister Lewis form the missionary department in Salt Lake. It was a super spiritual experience and we've already seen some cool miracles with this re-emphasis on teaching repentance and baptizing people who are converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

There were so many other amazing things that happened this week but I don't have time to write it all! Love you!!
-- 
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 20, 2017 - La Iglesia

So this week was pretty awesome. To start it's been wonderful with the new schedule. I love it. Honestly it's so nice to be able to have a little bit more of a choice in when I want to do things. It's been super nice. I think the best part is that I can actually wake up before I have to start working out. 

This week we also had an opportunity to have interviews
At MLC a couple weeks ago we had a mini MTC reunion. Me,
Elder Allsop, Hermana Andrews, and Hermana Torrez all came
from the MTC on the same day. Elder Cannon (my comp)
is photo bombing us in the back.
with President Lewis! Interviews are always so amazing and I feel like I always learn so much, but they're always way too short. They’re usually only 15 to 20 minutes when I wish I could spend all day asking him questions. This interview I asked President what is something that I could improve and I really liked his answer. He told me that something that would be good for me to work on is making sure love is my motive for everything. He said that this is something tough for everyone, but as I work on that my abilities as a missionary and a leader will improve and I will be able to become more Christ like. So I've been working on that this week and I am excited to see what comes from it. 

So this week we have been able to teach Jose Rios four times, and he came to church! He is doing so good! Honestly he loves everything about the Gospel and he told us on Wednesday that he is going to get baptized but he doesn't know when. He says it won't be a long time but he doesn't want to rush it. He has been reading a lot of the Book of Mormon and he remembers and understands it so well. He had a lesson with us last night and he talked a little about what he learned in 2 Nephi 3, and how it prophesied about Joseph Smith, and he was the one to recognize that! It was so cool. He also remembered so much from the talks in Sacrament about the Atonement and grace. 

We stopped here the other night for dinner.
It's pretty delicious.
I am so excited for him. He is doing so well. We also have a few other people we're working with who have a lot of potential as well. One is this young family whose parents are Lucia and Jose and they have two little kids. They just want to draw their little family closer to God and they've had a cool experience so far. However Lucia got hurt at work this week and they weren't able to come to church. There is another small family. We've taught them a few times and they have a great desire to come closer to God, they just need to be a little better about acting in faith.

I think that's it for the week! It's been an awesome week and I'm so excited for this coming one!
-- 
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission

Monday, February 13, 2017

February 13, 2017 – Vino a la iglesia!

Okay this week has been wild. We had a lot of really fun and exciting things happen this week, as well as we saw some pretty amazing miracles. 

To start off this week we had a Mission Leadership Council
on Tuesday which was super good. In the council we discussed the new schedule and all of the different changes it would have on missionary life, then we had kind of a Q&A session so that we would be able to answer any questions for our zone. We officially started the new schedule this morning! Which means we get an extra two hours of P-Day. President wanted us to be able to discuss it before he let us loose, which was probably a good thing. Anyway so we discussed it on Tuesday then on Saturday we had a Zone Meeting where we then did a Q&A session with the missionaries in the zone. It was honestly super cool. Talking about the new schedule makes me super excited. It gives us a lot more freedom to be able to create a schedule that best fits our needs and the needs of our investigators. 

However that definitely wasn't the most exciting thing that happened. On Friday Elder Cannon and I held a special fast to know who we should focus our time on and how we can better help the people we're working with to progress towards baptism. It was a super spiritual experience and it really paid off. So I've mentioned before a guy named Jose Rios, well this week he has made some amazing progress. He's a little over halfway through 1 Nephi right now and his prayers are so amazing, but we've kinda struggled getting him to church. On Saturday the ward had a Valentine's dinner and dance thing, and on Friday Elder Cannon and I knew that if we could get Jose Rios to the activity then he would come to church. Anyway we had an awesome lesson with him Friday night and then stopped by Saturday right before the party started and he was in the middle of bathing his kids, he told us that if they had the chance they would come. I was kinda worried that his bathing his kids would stop him from coming to the activity but I had a strong feeling that he would be there, and sure enough about an hour later he walked into the gym with his two little kids. 

It was so cool to see them walk in, and almost instantly the members of the ward started talking to him and his kids. It was really neat to watch. At one point Elder Cannon and I didn't even have to do anything, we just kinda sat back and watched as the members talked with Jose and invited him to church. Then on Sunday we stopped by his house to remind him about church, and he told us that he may make it to sacrament meeting. Again I was unsure what was going to happen but I felt good, and trusted in the Lord that he would at least come to the last hour, which is when we hold our sacrament meeting. Right before sacrament we walked around outside and in the church looking for him and we couldn't find him. Then as we were walking down the hall we saw his son staring at us and then Jose walked around the corner. It turned out that he had shown up to church at 2:30 and then spent the whole time with his kids in Primary! 

He really enjoyed his time at church and we are super
excited to see the progression he made this week as he now understands a little bit about what we do at church. This whole experience taught me a lot about faith, and how it works. All week I have been studying the question "To what extent does faith have an effect on the lives of others without infringing on their agency?" I feel like this experience really helped me to learn that faith can really soften hearts and lead people to change, but they need to be willing to accept it. They have to have some desire to learn and change or nothing will happen. 

President Lewis shared this quote with me when I asked him that question. 

"Some might say that baptisms are not determined by the missionary because it is a moral choice that every investigator must make. There is truth in that statement, but there is also truth in this one: There is a power that can cause things to happen that need to happen. There is a spiritual force that can stir a mortal soul toward the spiritual, motivating deeper study into the Book of Mormon and more prayer with real intent. Faith is a power, and it can cause things to happen that need to happen. It can cause a soul who is good, but dormant, to awaken to God." -Elder Neil L. Anderson

Our faith can encourage, uplift, and inspire a soul to grow, but it cannot force a soul to change.

It's been a wonderful week, and I wish I had time to share more, but I'm running out of time. Love you all!
-- 
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission
Group picture from Mission Leadership Training

Monday, February 6, 2017

February 2, 2106 – Traslados

So this week was pretty crazy. First off I had to say goodbye to Elder Aguirre. It was super sad to see him head off but the nice thing is that I get to see him once a month. He's now down in Othello and I got Elder Cannon! Elder Cannon was serving in Yakima for the past six months and I am honestly so excited to be his companion. He is so devoted to working hard and finding people prepared to receive the Gospel and I am super excited for this next transfer. He's originally from Springville and sort of knew Elise. He played football and ran track in high school. 

We've been working with some cool people. If you remember from last week I talked about Jose Rios. He's doing super well. He's read more in the Book of Mormon but he didn't come to church yesterday. We also have been teaching this cool little family, the Ortiz family, but the problem with them is that the father is super lazy. The 9 year-old daughter and the 13 year old son have both read what we've given them and they've both prayed. It's been super fun to teach them but it's been sad because the father is holding them back so much. It's been a good learning opportunity for me though. I've come to see just how important it is to make sure to be the example for your kids, especially when it comes to spiritual things. 

Let's see, we have also been teaching this guy named Rafael who has been reading in the Book of Mormon and this week we have set up a church tour with him. He's a regular at the Catholic Church, so we're hoping that when he gets the chance to see the inside of one of our buildings that it will really help him have the desire to come to church. 

I think that may be all the updates for the week. This week has been a lot of fun, but it's not been filled with a whole lot of stuff. 

Oh, one last thought. Yesterday we had Stake Correlation with the Stake Presidency and I always come away from those meetings feeling soooo motivated to do the work. Being around them I always feel the spirit so powerfully. They have such an awesome vision for the stake and I love getting a chance to learn from them. 

I love you all! I know the church is true! Make sure to study and pray every day and life will be so much better.
-- 
Elder Miles

Washington Yakima Mission