Monday, February 18, 2013

31 December 2012 Feliz Ano Novo

Hello Friends and Family, 

I hope you all had a great Christmas, and Happy New Year! Christmas for me was a bit different than what I'm accustomed to. Christmas Eve was a p-day and we spent a good part of the day helping a member in our ward move a bed from the bottom story to the top story of his house. It was ridiculously hot and humid and the fact that Elder Skouson and I had to move a bed did not help at all. When we finished the job I was drenched in sweat. I went to the members bathroom took off my white shirt and tie and used his sink to take a mini shower. I felt so nasty that I did not care what anyone might think haha.

Later in the day, we went to Gustavo's house (a member in our ward) to have big dinner and dessert. We had to climb a couple hard hills in order to arrive at his house. Once again I was drenched in sweat. The dinner was really good, churrasco. I ate a lot of beef, chicken, sausage, and best of all chicken hearts. Chicken hearts are amazing. I don't know how to describe them exactly but they are the perfect snack. And later we ate pasta maionase which Brazilians are obsessed about, it has a bunch of fruits and vegetables etc.. I'm not the biggest fan but I ate it anyways. Lastly we had ice cream which is surprisingly pretty good. There was a lot of members there and we talked and sang Christmas carols the whole bit.

After all the food Elder Skouson and I watched all the kids open there presents and take pictures with "papai noel" aka Santa Claus. The Christmas traditions here are very similar to those in South Africa. Also, us missionaries received a present too (chocolate), and they took a picture of me with Santa Claus which I'm not proud about. When it was 11:00 we had to go back to the apartment so Santa Claus decided to take us home. All along the way we were stopping to give out candy to all the kids. Within minutes kids from the favelas came pouring in. Our stash of Christmas candy was almost depleted after this haha. It took us awhile but we finally got home where I took my third shower of the day and went to bed.

Before I knew it, it was Christmas day and just like every other kid in the world I rushed over to the other room to open my presents. I had already set up the small Christmas tree with lights that you guys sent me. Quickly I had opened all my presents. I got a few snazzy ties, some photos, stuff to write letters haha, and a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt! GO COWBOYS!!! Elder Skouson had already opened all his presents. He got a couple ties and wheat thins. We will go out to eat sometime to make up for this.

And then we went to our district meeting where we all decided to walk with the Book of Mormon in hand where ever we go. So far it is working to get some interest out of our contacts. Soon after we went to Gustavo's house to call home. Elder Skouson performed a couple miracles on some ancient computer and we were able to skype our families. The call home was amazing and just what I needed. It was funny because I'm already forgetting words in English. Two months in the field and I'm struggling with English which I'm thinking is a good thing. But it didn't matter because all I needed was to able to see my family. I waiting in anticipation to see how Elder Skouson would do with his call home. It was so funny he was switching back and forth between English and Portuguese the whole call. Afterwards he said "English is so hard!" I look forward to being able to say that. Portuguese is starting to come along now, understanding, and talking with more speed etc.. Soon it will be the norm.

This past week was the most difficult week thus far on the mission. We had hardly any lessons and we spent most of our time finding new investigators. With the combination of holidays and a lot rain we could hardly meet with anyone. Apparently everyone leaves to go to the beach this time of year and a lot of people will only come back in a month or two, kinda crazy. Elder Skouson and I need a lot of inspiration right now about how we can make this area better. This area has a lot of potential and I hope I will be able to see the fruits of our labors before I leave.

Anyways I'm doing well and I hope you all are too. It is almost 2013, sounds strange. I hope this year will be one of much success and improvement. I will be here in Brazil if you need to reach me, haha.

Much Love,

Elder "A". Miller
24 December 2012 CHRISTMAS

Hello Family and Friends, 

So I got p-day this week, Hallelujah! I only have 30 minutes so here we go. Tomorrow probably around 4 or 5 my time I will try and skype you all. The only thing is that we do not have a computer to use skype yet. We have been looking around a ton this past week but to no avail. Tonight we are having dinner with one of the families in the ward and they mentioned something about a notebook with skype so we will see if this is true. If it is true we will go back tomorrow and see if it works, I'm praying that it will. I know you have a card to call me but how does it work? What phone do I use, our cell phone?

On to the good stuff. We had the baptism of Renata this week! It was great and she was more than prepared for it. The missionary that interviewed her before the baptism was blown away by her answers to his questions haha. I had the privilege to baptize her. Got to get wet one more time, it was pretty cool. Renata's mom came to the baptism and I'm sure she felt the spirit. Maybe her mom will become an investigator and eventually the whole family, who knows.

The work here in Gloria has slowed down dramatically. With the change of companions, and members being on vacation it is hard to know where to go or what to do. We received a list of members that haven't being going to church for awhile and we are going to try and reactivate them. More than likely they have family that are not members of the church so it would be a two for one kinda deal.

It is extremely difficult to get into houses here in Rio Grande do Sul. Gauchos are not the fun loving Brazilians like the rest of Brazil. Its a culture thing, my guess is because most of them have some European blood in them. You have to gain their trust first but when you do they will be your best friends. They literally will do anything for you.

Christmas is going to be very different this year with the heat, humidity, and being in Brazil haha. But the Christmas spirit is still the same and this time of year I am truly grateful for everything God has blessed me. I would like to end this email with my testimony that I know God loves each and every one of his children. I know this because he gave his own son, Jesus Christ, to suffer all the pains and sicknesses of the world and die for us. I know this sacrifice must have been so difficult for our Heavenly Father but it was necessary for our salvation. I know that Jesus Christ is the son of god and performed an infinite atoning sacrifice for us all. He suffered more than any of us could imagine and though it may have seemed impossible he overcame spiritual and physical death so that we too could return to the presence of our Father. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of god without a doubt in my mind. I know that he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is the word of god, Joseph Smith and thousands of others saints would not have sealed their testimonies in blood if it were not. Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today and through him we will be prepared to meet god again. I'm so grateful for you all and the chance to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is a privilege, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amem
18 December 2012 1st Baptism!

Hello family and friends, 

A lot of things happened this week and I only have an hour to write so here we go. 

First off, I received a new companion this week, Elder Skouson. He is from Richland, WA and has a year and four months out on the mission. His previous area was down in the southern part of the mission. I don't remember the name, but it is right on the beach which is seems really cool and I hope I serve there sometime during my mission.  He teaches very well and he follows all the rules. Today I actually got help cleaning the apartment, and I am certain that we now have the cleanest apartment in the mission! We have a lot of work to do because we are both new to this area since I only have one transfer under my belt. Our plan right now is to meet with less actives, gain the trust of the ward for references, and my least favorite... contacting.

Oh, I had a couple baptisms this past week! Shaelly and Nara were baptized on Saturday, and I had the privilege of baptizing Nara. It was pretty cool getting to dress up all in white going down into the water. It felt like one second before it was all over. For some reason I thought that it would be some grand experience, which it was for Nara, but to me it felt normal. It was an amazing experience watching her change throughout our lessons and such. That was more rewarding to me than actually baptizing. All in all it was awesome. On Sunday we did the confirmations and Shaelly asked that I do it! It was sort of scary but luckily I knew what to say and we got the job done. We are planning on baptizing Renata this week, the 21st, during the ward Christmas activity. That will be amazing. During the baptism of Shaelly and Nara, Renata said that I could just baptize her right then and there ha ha.

I received packages from Mom, and Grandma this week. Also, I received letters from just about everyone I know. I have a lot of writing to do. I'm sure you would like to hear that I ate all the candy, and cookies you sent me. It took me about 4 and half days to eat 2 packages of oreos, 1 giant bag of m&ms, another giant bag of skittles, and all the other things you guys stuffed into those boxes. I'm sure my blood has the same consistency as cotton candy right now. My companion denied all my offers of candy so I had no help, but this was not a problem as you can tell. I will look out for others packages on the way.

The only news about skype is that we can use it. Now I just have to find a place and time. I don't know if we have on Monday p-day or if we have it on Christmas, so Elder Skouson and I decided on 4 o' clock or 4:30 our time, more or less, midday for you guys. So get the computer ready and if skype does not happen have the phone close by. I hope we have p-day Monday so I can give you guys more details, lets hope.Chances are probably pretty good that we won't have p-day Monday and it will be switched to Tuesday. 

I have heard that the world is going to end on the 21st, or Friday, so this may be the last time you hear from me. Good thing I am on the Mission right? 


Elder Miller 
10 December 2012 No longer Elder Miller

Hello Friends and Family,

I have completed my first transfer in the mission field, and already I have seen miracles working in the lives of our investigators and myself. I have seen people end harmful relationships, give up addictive habits, and reshape their whole lives in order to live this gospel. The gospel is so amazing because it is literally the cure for everything that is wrong in this world. Lots of people do not recognize this or take the time to listen why. And others have never even heard about it. It is our role as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints to bring this message of hope, joy, and peace.

The baptism of Shaelly did not happen this week. We have gone back to the drawing board and shooting for a baptism this Saturday with another one of our investigators Nara. Nara is absolutely amazing. She has flipped her whole life around in order to be baptised. The first few weeks she was not really sure what to believe as we were teaching her, but as she full filled our promises to her she begun to see the blessings pour into her life because of that initial seed of faith. We are planning on baptising Renata the 21st now. Our bishop does not want her to be baptised on "Natal Branco" he wants it to be more personal with our ward during the ward Christmas activity. Renata is amazing, it is such a joy to teach her because her faith is so strong. She knows all the answers to our questions and is in Alma in the Book of Mormon. I think the veil is very thin for her.

Oh, I'm no longer Elder Miller. I'm now Elder A.Miller because there is another Miller out in the field. I was given the choice between Elder Allen or Elder A.Miller and I decided to keep the family name. Make sure when you send letters or packages to put my full name on the mail. I found some of my mail in the other Elder Miller's box one time, it shouldn't be a big problem though. 

Elder Queiroz is going to be transferred tomorrow. I'm actually pretty sad about this because we have these 3 baptisms this next couple weeks and now he is leaving. We became good friends and he taught me a lot. I learned that no one is perfect and it is important to love everyone. He has an incredible knowledge of doctrine and the scriptures which helped to inspire me to study really hard.

My next companion will be Elder Skouson who I have yet to meet. He is American and is pretty close to finishing his mission from what I have heard.

I will try to figure out the whole skype thing soon. It sounds like a 50/50 chance between skype or phone. I'm not really sure if the skype will work very well, we will see. I have not yet received any packages yet, I'm pretty anxious to get them now. Tomorrow I have a district meeting at the office so I will see if they have arrived yet.

Anyways, I have to run now. Oh, if you can believe it I am actually gaining weight right now. I think this is miracle in itself because I walk/climb about 10ks a day and have one meal with some snacks in between. What Jesus said to his disciples in the Bible and BoM is so true, don't worry about what you will eat and drink just get to work. 



Elder Miller

3 December 2012 Horario

This week went by so quickly. It was another tough week but it had its perks. The big news is that on 8th of this month I will baptizing an investigator! Our investigator is Shaelly, a 17 year old girl. She is the another grandchild of that one grandmother I talked a little about in a previous letter, and is a friend of Nara. We still have a couple more lessons to teach her but she is progressing and is stoked to be baptized. If everything works out the way we planned I will have my first baptism before my next letter.

Renatta is scheduled to be baptized also. She is planning on the 22nd of this month. This would be very special because this is the day of "Natal Branco" which means white christmas. It is very cool because all the missionaries from the surrounding zones are coming to the stake center in Porto Alegre with their invertigators to baptize. There should be a lot of people, missionaries and investigators, all wearing white and getting baptized. It reminds me of the story in the Book of Mormon where Alma is in the waters of Mormon and he is just baptizing one person after the other, crazy! 

This week I going to talk about my daily schedule. Every day the clock starts ringing at 6:30 on the dot. I get up as fast as I can because if I do not I will probably fall right back asleep. Once I'm up I say a prayer and then hit the Book of Mormon, in English, for a solid 30 minutes. Then I take a shower, make myself look pretty, make something to eat, and then iron the shirt I'm going to sweat in that day. Usually once I have made it this far it is 8:00 on the dot. Next, I hit the Book of Mormon, in Portuguese, for 30 minutes and then switch over to Preach my Gospel where I study, read, and write out phrases in Portuguese so I have something to say regarding the lesson we will teach that day. At 9:00 I switch over to companionship study. Right now we are studying "The First 12 Weeks" which is for all new missionaries. It teaches how we should approach people, what to look for while teaching, how to feel the spirit and know what to say etc.. After this Elder Queiroz and I practice a lesson or two. It can be rough for me at times because I get lost in thought or tangled up in the language. By now it is close to 11:30 and time to go to lunch. It takes us at least 20 minutes to walk anywhere in our area. We have lunch with a member and leave with a message which we always tie into missionary work. Elder Queiroz and I switch off days giving the message. Why missionary work? This is because members are the most powerful tool in our arsenal. We need them to spread the word, pretty much all our investigators are references. After lunch is terrible because we are so full and it is flippin hot outside and no one wants clapping outside their fence. This is how we knock doors in Brazil, clapping outside their house haha. Generally, we have three or four appointments throughout the day. These appointments are either investigators, less-actives, or recent converts. The time in between is for meetings, walking, talking, or doctor appointments for Elder Queiroz. They never seem to end, maybe there is more to the story, who knows, but it burns through my cash.  Back to the Horario, or schedule. After all the this we make our way back to the appartment, 9ish, plan, snack, shower, and go to bed. During this time I have either the Bible or Principles of the Gospel open and I read and study until I can't keep my eyes open, then I crash at 10:30. Rinse and repeat.

I have found an unquenchable thirst for gospel knowledge since I got out here on the mission. Whenever we have down time Im reading something. The scriptures have a whole new light to them since I have become a missionary, it is like I'm reading everything for the first time. I think this is why I am so fascinated by them now, I'm learning a lot. Also, I really want to increase this knowledge so that people will recognize that I am a representative of Christ, and so that I can anwser every question given to me. Same goes for Portuguese. Im trying my hardest to pick-up the language as quickly as possible. Whenever I'm listening in a conservsation I have a dictionary that I am constantly flipping through.

Yep, this is a normal day for me. P-Day I get up and clean the apartment. I sweep the floor, wash the dishes, and organize all my stuff. If I'm luckly I will have some time to chill, write letters etc. but usually Elder Queiroz has something he wants to do in the city center or something. During the day we find a little internet booth and write to our families. By six o' clock we are back at it, either a teaching appointment or family home evening.

The work is good, always wishing for more. I have heard that some of my friends here in Brazil are starting to check out my Facebook. The internet is a pretty amazing place connecting pretty much everyone in the world to each other. I also realize that it is very dangerous to have anything on the internet these days. I'm taking a lot of caution with what I put in these emails because I know that they will be on my blog. Members or investigators can easily copy and paste anything put on my blog or Facebook into an online translator. The spiritual and sacred moments on my mission are kept in my journal for people to see one day. If I feel like I need to share some experience I will send a seperate email for family and close friends to read.

That's it for now, wish me luck this week.


Elder Miller