Tuesday, May 28, 2013

27 May 2013  Rich People

Hello Family and Friends,
My Birthday was yesterday, yeah! I turned 20 so I guess this means I was officially traded to the old man team. Ha ha just kidding I will never switch teams, forever young as they say.
Yesterday, turned out to be a good day. The best part was how many phone calls I received. I wasn't expecting it at all, but my zone leader, Sister L, some sister missionaries, and even President Castro gave me a ring. It was awesome, and to top it all off the members of the Branch put together a surprise party that wasn't much of a surprise ha ha. I got some cake, candy, and a pair of socks. Last night I sent a big prayer off to our Heavenly Father in acknowledgement to the many blessing I received on my Birthday.

Everyone this week talked to me about the, "Big tornado in the United States." I also saw some news about it while eating at a restaurant Wednesday. It really took out that city, I wish I could be there to help out. Sister L told me she would never travel near Texas even if I paid her, I thought that was funny ha ha.
President Monson's wife died that stinks. Good thing he knows the Plan of Salvation like the back of his hand. No doubt he will start ageing even quicker now.
Now to news of the week. So we have been contacting some of these students from WIZARD and it turns out they are the power class of Butiá. It was funny because we were searching for their houses with our little crappy map and when we arrived at the address given we looked up to see a big ole' mansion. My companion and I looked at each other like, "No way is this the right house." Well can you believe it, it was the right house. I even got to ring a doorbell for the first time on my mission instead of clapping like goof from behind a fence. It was epic. Back to the story we contacted this family, but the parents weren't home. They arrive from Porto Alegre 8:00pm everyday so we will have to teach a different day.
We continued contacting these families throughout the night and every house was super fancy, with a doorbell. Needless to say, we got really happy. Weeks before we were joking about getting into houses like these and now it is reality. Saturday, we taught this rich biology professor without a leg. It was rad! The guy has so much knowledge it was incredible. We taught the first lesson in his media room in the basement of the house. The lesson went very well, but when it came to inviting him and his family to go to church he did not really take us seriously. I think he is afraid of change, afraid of breaking his "perfect world" enveloped in hindering traditions. We are praying that Moroni's promise works, it is our only hope.
These kinds of people could really change the church here in Butiá for the better. The could really open doors for a lot of other people. For sure this Branch would turn into a ward with one of these families. Too bad this is all happening in what will probably be my last transfer in Butiá. All this has been made possible thanks to the classes at WIZARD and the blessing of being a native English speaker. God really knows when to put us in the right place at the right time. It was almost 4 months ago that R, boss of WIZARD in Butiá, approached me while walking through the center. C Wizard, top boss of WIZARD (located in São Paulo) and returned missionary, knows what we are doing here and is very grateful. So that is cool. I'm grateful to be a part of this miracle God has granted us.
So that was the highlight this week. We also put together a activity for the primary. We taught the plan of salvation with the movie Lion King. It was funny because when we asked who is the prophet the kids shouted out, "The monkey!!!!!" Ha ha it was a good time.
Thanks for the all the car pics Oupa, you really snagged a deal. Thanks to everyone for all the Birthday wishes, it was great. Apparently, I have a lot of letters that are in the house of the Zone Leaders, no sign of any packages yet. In a few weeks I will get it all.
Much Love,

Elder Miller

20 May 2013 My first Brazilian  Adventure

Hello Family and Friends,
This first week of the transfer went very well. Our teaching group is increasing which is great. We are meeting a lot of new interesting people. I think it is due to some changes my companion and I have made within the companionship. I'm a lot happier than I was the past month which is important. Of course we could be doing a lot more, nevertheless things are going well. I hope that I can get another baptism or two before I leave Butiá this next transfer.
So I got my first lick of a Rio Grande do Sul winter this week, and it was COLD!!! It has heated back up a little these past few days, but I now know what to expect this coming month. It is a type of cold that you cannot escape, a humid cold. It seems to penetrate everything no matter how much clothing you put on. However, the cold met its match against my $200 sleeping bag that we bought before the mission. The sleeping bag is a total beast! Sometimes during the night I even open the sleeping bag in order to get a cool breeze, its that warm! Whoever invented that sleeping bag deserves a medal of honor, seriously.
We had a really cool experience this week. Sister L the owner of the house we live in, invited us to the school she teaches at to have a little culture day. The school is located in Minas de Leão another small city next to Butiá. Minas is located within our area Butiá, but missionaries never go there because it is about a 2 hour walk and we don't have bikes or cars. So we went to the school Friday morning and participated in 5 different classes ages 14 to 21. It was so cool! All the students were really interested in what we had to say, none of them had never seen missionaries before. I talked a lot about Texas and all the differences between where I lived and Brazil. The students were stunned/amazed. It blew their minds that we go to school from about 8:00am to 4:00pm
more or less. L explained that is why Brazil is in the situation it is in, the kids go to school from 7:00 am to lunch time and that is it! Also, only 50 minutes of English a week which Lizete teaches. It is such a blessing to have the kind of education that we have in the US.
Elder Leal talked a lot about Chile which was also interesting. In Chile the go to school from 8:00am to 6:00pm no exceptions! It is pretty rigid in Chile and that is why the country flourishes among other countries in South America. They don't really have a poor class and government corruption is among the least in the whole world, according to Elder Leal.
We mentioned what we do on our missions and the principles we teach people in order to be happier and more successful in this life and the life to come. Everyone was pretty impressed. Even some other teachers stopped their classes so that we could talk to them as well. Overall, it was super fun and cool to have so many people interested in what we had to say. In total we talked to over a hundred students.
I felt like a real rock star leaving the school. Everyone was waving at us and shouting words in English in order to get my attention. When we got on the bus to go back to Butiá I waved to a big group of girls leaving the school and they all started screaming ha ha! I felt like I was in a Beatles movie. L told us that the teachers could not teach the rest of the day because the students could not stop talking about us. L is going to get their addresses this week and we will plan to travel back to Minas to start teaching there.
Other than this there is not much to report. P one of my investigators turned member was called to be part of the leadership in the Relief Society. That was cool, so she now has a friend, calling, and is being nutured by the good word. I'm sure she will remain firm in the church.
We are traveling a lot now because Elder Leal is District leader and thus we have to travel to others areas of our district. The closest area is 40 minutes away from Butiá. So we now have less time in our own area and are spending a lot of money buying bus tickets. I will have to use my personal debit card these next few weeks, because all my allowance will be used on buses.  Oh well.
Happy Birthday Oupa!!! 74 and still good looking, what a blessing! Sincerely, you are one of the people I look up to most in this life. When I think about you I see success and love for your family. I want to be half the man you are one day.
My Birthday package has not arrived yet and even if it arrives soon I won't be able to pick it up until the next zone meeting which will be in about 2 or 3 weeks. Being 20 is going to be weird, no longer a teenager. I'm not really looking forward to it, the 26th is going to be pretty sad ha ha. Birthday on the mission is not the same as at home! Maybe someone will give me a big plate of rice and beans with a candle in the center!

Much Love,

Elder Miller
13 May 2013   Mother's Day and Transfers

Hello Family and Friends,

Yesterday was wonderful because I got to speak to my family via Skype. It was great to see everyone back in Texas. It was even better because Ouma, Oupa, Debi, Lars, and the kids were there too. Lots of you have grown up dramastically. Jasmin, Axel, and Jessie are among those I noticed the biggest difference. It was cool to see a new and improved, skinnier version of my Dad. And of course it was great to see my Mom, what a blessing.
I think you all noticed that I did not have that hard of a time speaking English with you all. I think it is because of these English classes we have been teaching lately. I have had a lot of practice leading up to the phone call Sunday afternoon.
Anyways, I hope you all had a great Mothers Day. I'm sure the BBQ dinner was excellent. I had a churrasco for lunch right before I called you all so I guess I had a BBQ meal as well.
So I bet you are wondering what is going to happen this next transfer, #6. I will be staying here in Butiá for another transfer. Elder Leal will still be my companion. He is going to be our district leader.
So what do I think about the this new transfer? I would have really liked to have been transferred to a new area as the senior companion. I feel like it is time that I be put in a greater leadership position so that I can grow and develop more quickly. Even though I will be junior companion I have decided to take on a greater responsibility. I have expressed with my companion that we can make a great difference in this area if we plan, and study together. He agreed with me and we will try and make this companionship work. I'm hoping that it is for the best that we will be companions again this next transfer. I just keep telling myself that there is still someone out here in Butiá that needs to hear my voice. Hopefully in six weeks I get to be senior so that I can start doing things the way it is supposed to be done.
In other news, we had a baptism this past Saturday. It was J's, a 13 year old girl. She is the daughter of the owner of a lucrative restaurant. It was very cool teaching her because she is really smart and fulfilled all our promises. She has been reading the BOM and going to church for about 2 months now. Her Mom would not allow her to be baptized because she is, "Too young to make a decision like baptism." During our last lesson with her I told her that I didn't want to leave Butiá without seeing her be baptized. With this motivation and a little bit of practice she was able to muster up courage and bear powerful testimony to her Mother. Her Mother quickly accepted and said that she has seen a great change in J ever since we started teaching her, so that was cool. The baptism went smoothly and after we had a Mothers Day activity accompanied with nonetheless chicken, rice, and beans... my favorite :(.
And that is about it folks. Another transfer, another baptism, and special call back home. This next transfer is going to be a good one, I can feel it. I will make you all proud 

Love Elder Miller

6 May 2013 English Lessons

Hey Family and Friends,
I'm going to keep this letter short because we have a FHE in 30 minutes! So the highlight of this week was that we had 4 lessons/classes at WIZARD this week. If your forgot WIZARD is one of the biggest English learning programs here in Brazil. It was designed and is owned by a former Brazilian missionary that served in the United States. It is a really fancy school and it seems to be doing a good job because almost all of the students were able to talk with me in English. They even have a pen that speaks English with them to help with their pronunciation ha ha its too cool!
Also, Elder Leal had the opportunity to show off his Spanish because most of the students already knew how to speak it. It was a way cool experience with 3 languages going off. The crazy thing was that I was able to understand everything in Spanish. I don't know if the Spirit was helping me out or that Spanish is closely related to Portuguese, but even so I was able to keep up with the Spanish conversation. Elder Leal claims he was able to understand when we were talking English, but when I asked him what we were talking about afterwards he did not know diddly squat.
We talked about our various cultures and why we are here in Brazil. Then we showed the "Restoration Video" and discussed the first lesson with the students. They all thought everything was very interesting and we got a lot of addresses. This week we are going to follow-up and teach. I'm pretty stoked about this.
This is the last week of the transfer. Monday we will know if I get to stay here in Butiá or if my journey belongs to another area. As for me, I hope to stay here in Butiá another transfer. I really have high hopes for these English students. It was such a cool experience talking with some educated people.
I wrote down the Skype details. Be near the computer 3 or 4 o' clock my time. The plan right now is to borrow a laptop of one of the young men of the Branch and then use the chapel wifi to call you all.
Happy Birthday Greg! Your really becoming a dinosaur, 24 years old dang. I still love you though. I couldn't have had asked for a better bro. Good luck in Nebraska but don't become too redneck on me. I don't want to hear any brokeback stories when I come home.
Yes, 36x32 will be great for me. As you know I'm not the skinny lad I used to be.
Love you Lots,

Elder Miller

Sunday, May 5, 2013

29 April 2013  8 months out

Dear Family and Friends,
This past week was a total blur. I feel like in a blink of an eye I'm back here at WIZARD writing another week's email.
Today marks another month that I have been out on the mission. The count is now at 8 months which means I'm 1/3 of the way there. It literally feels like yesterday that I arrived at the mission office, got my trainer, and started this journey in Glória 6 months/half a year ago! It almost feels unfair that time passes by so quickly out here on the mission. I feel like time is the enemy now. I wish I could press restart on the mission with the knowledge that I have now. I could have helped out a lot more people than I did. The past is the past though, there is no use in dwelling upon it. The best thing that I can do is continue learning each and every day and then apply it in my work here.
This last week we had a few more family home evenings. They all went smoothly, but there wasn't any new investigators made because of it. It is definitely helping to strengthen the Branch but we are getting dry on finding new people. I expressed my concerns with Elder Leal and we will focus more on finding this week.
Something that I have learnt this transfer is that I really want to be the Senior companion. I feel like it is time that I took on a bigger leadership role. I know what it means to work hard and I will use this to our benefit. I know that if we are doing the right things and trying our best Heavenly Father will bless us immensely. I want to come home at night feeling beat, that is my indicator of success as a missionary. 
So I looked at all the photos from Greg's graduation that you sent me. I'm a little choked up looking at my older brother all dressed in cap and gown with the BYU colors. I'm so grateful that Greg is my older brother. So many times while walking in streets or sitting down in the middle of a lesson, I try to imagine what Greg would say or do. This is because he is really a great yet humble person, and I admire him. I know that the Lord will bless him wherever life takes him, he deserves it. I am really prideful when it comes to our family, it is simply the best.
Scrolling through the pictures of our family I couldn't help but notice how slim Dad is looking. Whoa, I don't think I have ever seen him like this. I want you to know Dad that I too have started my own workout regimen. It consists of a workout idea from a letter sent by Debi and a lot of banana milkshakes. Needless to say I have lost the love handles and I'm getting ripped fast. I'm sure that I will I be able to fight you like Rod fights his Dad in the movie, "Hot Rod." I hope this inspires you to keep at it, especially now that we are in the same weight class.
Mom, I need a Skype account to able to talk to you Mother's Day. I would make an account myself, but as you are aware you all changed my Facebook password which is needed to make an account. So this means that you or Jessie -the people I trust most with this kind of technological ability- are going to have to make an account using my Facebook. It is really simple. Then send me all the information as well as your account information so that I can find you Mother's day. The odds are not looking to good in finding someone with Skype and a webcam. I will try everything to able to see you all M Day that you can be sure.
Lastly, I am in dire need of more slacks and socks. If you have means to able to send these things I would be grateful. I would buy these things in Brazil but as you must know the quality to price ratio is ridiculous here.
That is all for now,
Much Love,
Elder Miller
P.S. Greg and Dad, I got your letters yesterday and will write back as soon as possible. 
22 April 2013 Family Home Evening

Hello Family and Friends,

So another week came and went before I even knew it. We had Family Home Evening almost every night which helped to pass the time. FHE was a big success here in Butià. We about 17 people one night. We sing, share a message, activities, and then churrasco! The people here love FHE and want us to back this week. Our agenda is literally booked with FHE. The only problem is that we are running out of ideas quickly. We need more activities so if you all have any ideas we would love to hear them.
Like I have said before I measure our success during the week by how many people we have at sacrament meeting Sunday. This week we had 57 people at sacrament meeting! I think that is a new record since I arrived in Butiá. The reason for increase in personnel is in direct relation to our efforts in FHE. Lots of people that are in/less active, that were at our FHE´s, showed up to sacrament meeting. We are going to keep on making use of FHE these next few weeks, we have already met a lot of potential investigators.
We had a training exercise with President Castro this week. In summary Pres Castro wants us to teach short, comprehensive lessons focused on the needs of our investigators. I have noticed that frequently our investigators get lost in what we are teaching them because of all the new information. This is something I really need to work on myself, simplifying what I say so that the even the thickest person here in Butiá could understand. Sometimes our investigator focus more on my accent and strange manner of speech rather than focusing on the lesson at hand. This irritates me a lot, especially when I speak for a minute or two or ask a question and the person looks like I just spoke Chinese to them. When this happens I feel like shutting up and just letting my companion do the whole lesson. I speak Portuguese now, but there is still a lot of little things I need to work on to perfect the lingo. The training with Pres Castro gave me the inspiration I needed so I am back studying the missionary playbook, Preach My Gospel defining and finding better methods to getting my point across during lessons and messages.
President Castro is a really good mission President. He is working hard to get this mission up to full potential. He is making conferences calls with all the districts, doing trainings with all the zones, emailing individually to all the missionaries in the field etc.. Pres Castro is a real stand up guy and I admire his dedication.
I do not have much other news on my end and I'm sorry if my emails are getting boring. To lighten things up I have a story this from this past week. Elder Leal and I were walking back home from a FHE late at night when all of a sudden Elder Leal decided that he wanted to buy some fruits from a sidewalk vendor. He decided that he wanted to buy these red plums. So he bought a big sack of plums and went home. We started planning for our next day while munching on these plums, and Elder Leal mentioned that these plums are basically natural laxatives. He bought them with a purpose and I had no idea. I had eaten about 2 plums and decided to stop eating while I still had a chance. I went to sleep with a big groan in my stomach. In the early hours of the morning I woke up with an urge to use the restroom. And so it commenced, about two hours on the can. Never have I pooped so much in my life than I did in those few dreadful hours Tuesday morning. Elder Leal slept through it all, but when I told him of my struggle only a few hours prior he laughed until he was almost crying. He even begun telling members of the church and other missionaries of the ordeal. Needless to say I need to get him back, I'm sure there is some big spiders in our house somewhere...
Other than that random story I don't have anything else.
Randy Francis's dad was called to be the President of the Rochester, New York mission. Apparently he will have keys to a lot of the church history sites!
This next transfer will have more girls arriving in the mission than boys.
Our mission goal is to have 2 baptisms every month. It is possible but will be very difficult.  
That Boston Marathon massacre sounds horrible, its terrible the world that we live in now a days
I will look out for that package that you sent.
Email me FHE ideas!!!

Love Elder Miller
15 April 2013 Elder Leal is cool

Hello Family and Friends,

This past week we had transfers. Elder Weber and I made a quick companion exchange at the bus station in Porto Alegre. When I found Elder Leal we had to leave immediately because the next bus to Butiá was 10 minutes later. I did not even have time to converse with any other elders at the bus station and barely got to say goodbye to Elder Weber. When traveling back to Butiá I was really feeling the loss of Elder Weber. It cut me pretty deep knowing that the we were no longer companions. Not only was he my mentor but my best friend here in Brazil. He showed me the kind of missionary I need to be in order to have success on the mission. 

I'm really liking Elder Leal. He is a big ole' Chilean and is 26 years old. He was born into the church. When he was small, he and his mother (member) ran away to Argentina from an abusive/drunk father. A year later they returned to different part of Chile and bought a cheap unfinished house. There family home teacher at the time offered to help to put the finishing touches to their house. At first their family home teacher was always coming around with tools to fix up the house but quickly the tools turned into chocolates and flowers for Elder Leal´s mom. His mom and family home teacher, now father, got married in the temple soon after. Elder Leal grew up with a step-father but considers him his real father.
When Elder Leal was 17 he left his house to go study and work. He got caught up in the things of the world and turned away from the church. He had finished his studies at the college he was attending, got a job, house, car, and girlfriend. One day he felt the need to go back to church and his bishop mentioned serving a mission. From that moment he literally dropped everything that he was doing in order to serve a mission, quit his job, sold the car and house, dropped the girlfriend and couple months later he received his mission call. He is part of the first group of Chilean missionaries here in Brazil. 

Elder Leal is a really great missionary and I'm learning a lot from him already. He is the first companion that makes food for me ha ha. He really likes doing family home evening with the members in order to get new investigators. We have family home evening planned for almost every night this week. This is a really good way to find new investigators and produces a lot better results than the traditional missionary methods. We usually put on a DVD, give a message, do some kind of game, and then eat. It shows everyone that us "Mormons" are real people and that we have something different, something special. I'm sure we will see some fruits from our labors here in a little bit. President Castro is really pushing this method of working with members right now.
We have some good investigators and my companion is great so life right now is pretty good. I'm studying really hard right now, scriptures, other church books, and the language. I wake up a 6:30, do exercises for 20 minutes, make a banana milkshake, take a shower, and then study from about 7:30 until 11:00. I want to have a really solid knowledge of everything before the end of the mission.
Now to answer some questions... It is better to send letters to the mission office because if I get transferred there is a good chance that I will never see that letter. Yes, I will still be here in Butiá for Mother's Day. No, I do not remember Spanish, but Elder Leal has spoken to me in Spanish and I understood him just because I know Portuguese.
That's all for now. Have a good time in Utah for Greg's graduation. Take some pictures for me.

Lots of Love,
Elder Miller

8 April 2013 Transfers

Hello Family and Friends,

Once again I guessed correctly, I will be staying here in Butiá for another transfer. 
With a Butiá Tree
My next companion will be Elder Leal from Chile. It should be cool having a Chilean companion, we will know 3 languages between the two of us. From what Elder Weber has told me, Elder Leal is very humble and all around a good missionary. He is 25 or 26 years old so once again I will have a dinosaur for a companion, but its all good it just means that he is more mature. I think God is trying to tell me that I need to grow up faster with all the oldies I have been getting. Elder Weber was transferred out into the boonies, Bagé. He will be the district leader there as well as trainer, like I predicted. Tomorrow, we will make our trip over to Porto Alegre where all the exchanges take place.
This past week went by quickly. We spent the majority of our time finding and teaching new people. So far I haven't really felt too confident about any of these new investigators. The best investigator we have is a teenage girl named J. The thing is we haven't even taught her anything yet! She has been attending church with a friend of hers for weeks now and even attended conference yesterday. She is basically a member of the church already we just need to find time to teach her the lessons. I feel bad that I haven't too much luck in teaching more males. This Branch needs some more priesthood holders in order to turn into a Ward. The past few weeks Elder Weber and I have only been contacting males in the hopes of finding someone future priesthood holders.
Conference was good as always. It was a lot different watching in Portuguese but the Spirit was the same. Our branch rented a big bus for our whole branch. We arrived at the  Guaíba chapel in style. I got to see the two sessions on Sunday which were great. I'm anxious to know what went down in the Priesthood session though.
Sorry this letter is short. Elder Weber has a long list of people he wants to see before he leaves Butiá. I'm doing well and excited to get my new companion.

Love Elder Miller
1 April 2013 Temple Trip

Hello Family and Friends,

This past week was very laid back compared to the last few weeks. We basically had two P-Days in a row with our zone conference and temple trip. The temple trip was great as you probably expected. We arrived at 2:00 for our 3:00 endowment session. Everything went well, very spiritual of course. Afterwards, our zone took pictures all around the temple. All in all it was a very good time. 

Check out missaopoasul.blogspot.com.br to find pictures of me and other missionaries in the mission.
This week we spent a lot of time meeting with our recent converts answering questions, reading scriptures, and just being friends really. We also spent some time trying to find new investigators. We taught the restoration lesson with a new investigator, E 27, but the problem is he is not legally married, which is not a surprise here in Brazil. This week we will use a lot more time searching for more investigators.
So news from the mission? Well, Pres. Castro made some new rules about the Internet. We now have a hour and thirty minutes to write home, and we can write to anyone we want. It is very nice with 30 extra minutes but it doesn't make too much of a difference because I am supposed to write a letter to the Pres. every week also. He let me know this in my interview with him a week ago, he says he wants to hear from me more. I'm not close with our the President. I like him a lot and treat him with respect but whenever we talk it is very basic.
This is the last week of this transfer. April 9th we will find out who stays and who goes. For sure either Elder Weber or I will leave Butiá. Seeing that 27 new missionaries are arriving into our mission, 3x the norm, Elder Weber will most likely train a new missionary. I think I will stay in Butiá another transfer and get another senior companion with me. I think with one more transfer I should have a good grip on everything. I don't feel too ready to take on a newbie just yet, I guess we will see what happens. Also, this next transfer will be only 5 weeks with the influx of new missionaries.
This Sunday our Branch will be traveling to Guíba to watch one session of general conference. I'm pretty bummed that I will only get to see one session and it will all be dubbed in Portuguese :(. Be sure to send me the conference Ensign when it arrives. Conference should be so cool, I'm stoked to hear any news from the Prophet.
Lastly, this week we might have English classes here at WIZARD yeah!
Anwsers to questions: We have zone conferences about every 2-3 transfers. Yes, I have heard of the new pope, it is a very big deal here in Brazil, but in my opinion WHO CARES.

Just to finish up here, Easter was great. Thinking about our Lord and that greatest example of love ever, the Atonement, gets me choked up. But not only is he our Saviour, he is our teacher. He taught us how to live a significant life full of success and blessings. All we have to do to achieve this is love God and neighbour more than ourselves, obey all his commandments, and do our best in everything. Its funny how many people in this world look for substitutes to this equation of success. Some people find more worldly methods gain what they assume to be success, but at the end of the day are they really happy or is it just temporary pleasures? True happiness is eternal and eternal things can only be found in what Jesus Christ taught the world, his gospel.
I'm so grateful to be His servant here in Brazil and to bring His gospel to these people. I'm so grateful I have these two years to pay back a tiny bit of what I owe to Him, the Son of Man, our Lord who put down his life for me. I could keep on writing but it wouldn't do justice of I feel about Him.

I Love You All,

Love Elder Miller

PS. temple pictures included with one picture with P

27 March 2013 Baptisms

Dear Family and Friends,

I don't have a lot of time to write because we have to catch a bus to Porto Alegre here in a little bit. So yeah my P-Day is today. Yesterday, we had a zone conference in Porto Alegre. President Castro talked a lot about using the LMR system in order to get more references from members. The LMR system is basically us missionaries teaching members how to talk/share the gospel with friends and family. There has been a lot of good results from using more LMR´s. Generally, members are really timid and think that they don't know to talk about gospel principles with others. So we make a list with them of all the of people they know that would maybe have an interest in hearing our message, and we practice how they could approach them with the gospel. Then we make goals and follow up. President and others missionaries say that this is a very effective way in getting references and produces a lot more baptisms. Sounds a lot better than knocking on doors to me. 

Later, all the missionaries got to go eat at this really fancy Churrascaria in the middle of the city. It was funny because we were all walking over to the restaurant and it started to rain hard, like almost torrential rain. We all arrived totally drenched and all these rich people were staring at us as we all took our seats. Needless to say we made a big mess. The food was outstanding, but reminded me how fat I am right now. After our other meetings I was super happy to find a letter from Debi that talked about some different exercises that I can do in limited space and in short time. If you guys find some more workouts like this I would be more than happy to try them out. I started working out as soon as we got home late last night.

So if you didn't forget we had some baptisms this past Saturday. J and P were baptized and confirmed. The baptisms went smoothly. Almost the whole branch showed up to watch which really showed some support for these two new members. Elder Weber performed the baptisms in this mini pool that we had to set up in the back room of the chapel. Everyone was packed in tight in order to view the baptisms. After the talk and testimonies of some recent converts we had a lot of food and drinks that some members brought. It was very organized and fun. J and P have totally changed since when we first started teaching them about a month and half ago. It is crazy how the gospel has had such a positive impact on them.
We had 4 other people that were supposed to be baptised too but they fell through. A started smoking again so we had to cancel her baptism, also we thought it would be better if her kids were baptized with her so that they could have some help in their spiritual development. We also found out that J, 15, has addiction to smoking that he wasn't telling us about. Both Elder Weber and I felt that something wasn't right with him and he finally confessed that he has been smoking for 3 years. These people are not ready to be baptized and nor will they be for awhile. It is better that we focus on finding new people that are better prepared and more willing to live the commandments. So far neither of them have shown a real desire to quit living against the teachings of the Gospel of Christ.
To quicky anwser some questions. Yes, its getting colder here. My shoes are holding up well. And the only thing I need from Ouma and Oupa is Jelly Tots and Wine Gums.
Got to go now. Enjoy the photos, I will take more photos at the temple today.

Love Elder Miller

18 March 2013 Crazy Week

Hello Family and Friends,

This week was pretty crazy. Literally all we did was meet with our 6 investigators one after the other. With the 23rd approaching we need to make sure that all of them are prepared for the baptism. If every thing goes to plan, P, A, E, G, J, and J2 should be baptized this coming Saturday. There is still a lot of work to do before then. It goes like this...
P stills has does not have a firm belief if Thomas S. Monson is a real prophet. Her friends tell her that in their church they have a prophet as well... ha ha. We have already explained that if she believes the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that means that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true church, Christ's church here on this planet! She believes in the Book of Mormon and she has visited the LDS website to watch talks given by Pres Monson. I think she is just apprehensive about living a Saint lifestyle.
J's Mom refused to sign her baptismal papers. Her Mom is an Evangelical, and is not too fond of us. She would rather her daughter be raised in the "world" than in a place that teaches clean and securing life principles. J's Father (inactive member) is coming into town this week to sign the papers and hopefully watch the baptism.
J is scared that he will break commandments after his baptism and thus condemning himself. We taught him that every one commits errors in this life and that is why our Lord and Saviour paid the price with his own life. We can always be forgiven through sincere repentance. We also taught that after his baptism the Holy Ghost can help him stay on the straight and narrow path if he strives to remain worthy of it.
And A... there is a lot to say about her. Early this week, as Elder Weber and I were walking back to our house for the day, A came running up to us crying. She is the smoker that we had been fasting for. She thought that we had given up on her because we hadn't visited her in a day or two.  She said something like the following, "You all cannot give up on me, it has been a week since I stopped smoking " I could not understand too well what was going on because she was crying and speaking Portuguese haha, but their facial expressions told the whole story. Long story short she was able to overcome her addiction through blessings, lessons, and our fast! E and G are two of her children, 10 and 8 respectively. The Lord is working wonders with this family, I hope they can make to Saturday. I, 16, says he will quit smoking if his Mom, A quits.
So yeah this is what we are dealing with currently. I'm so grateful to have Elder Weber as my companion because he has a lot of personal experience and thus is able to really helpful, especially with A's family. I find myself on the sideline a lot while we are teaching them, a scripture and testimony here and there. It is hard to know what these families are going through, I mean I've never even taken a sip of coffee in my life and I'm supposed to help someone smoking rocks! It is a testimony to me that this is truly the Lord's work. He takes the small and simple and confounds the wise.
The 26th of this month we are going to the Porto Alegre Temple!!! I'm so stoked for this, a chance to revamp the spirit. Our zone will go with the Mission President to the temple, then lunch, and then we have interviews with the Pres.. I will take a lot of photos, don't worry.
That is exciting to see photos of Gena running. From the letters I get from Oupa it sounds like she really dominates the other girls. I have been thinking for while that if she makes it into the 2016 Olympics here in Brazil, I could be the family translator!!! I could make sure that the Brazilians do not take advantage of anyone which seems to be a Brazilian hobby with gringos. This week I received a valentines package and a fat stack of letters from the Lofstrand's. I'm so grateful for it all. I enjoyed the candy, and the letters are always great. Lucy's letters crack me up every time. Happy Birthday Lars and Debi, hope it is a good one!

Love Elder Miller

P.S. Remember to put these people in your prayers. We will need all prayers we can get

11 March 2013 Doing Work

Hello Friends and Family,

First to answer Mom's question. P-Day is very boring in our mission. Our mission president has prohibited everything on P-Day except eating and sleeping. My first week in Porto Alegre sports were banded because missionaries here in Brazil seemed to have problems tearing their Achilles tendons and thus being sent home on a years recovery. And now we can't meet up with other Elders on P-Day because some missionaries were not using their free agency correctly. So basically P-Day for me is the following: Wake up, eat, go back to sleep, study, clean the house, go back to sleep, study, write letters, write my email to you all, and then it is back to work.
This week was pretty intense. I went on splits in Eldorado do Sul with Elder Capistrano the Zone Leader. If you all remember I went on splits with him once before. He is from Bahia, a Northern region in Brazil. Once again it was a kick in the pants working with him. We were in the streets from 9:00am until 9:00pm. We did close to 50 contacts and had double digit lessons. I learned a lot from him. He is all do and no talk, with a year and 8 months on the mission. He has become a really good friend of mine and it will be sad to see him go home in a few months. I have never met someone so humble and hardworking before.
Back in Butiá we are trying our best to get some baptisms the 23rd of this month. We have 7 or 8 marked baptisms, but our hopes are that 1 or 2 will pull through on this date. Our current progressing investigators are, Pricila (early 20's), Adriana (40's), Teresa (60's the mother of Adriana), Joe (16), Jacqueline (13). We also found a family of 11 the other day, a missionary's dream. A Father and Mother legally married with 9 children. The problem is that they never go to church. They believe in our message of the restored gospel and they always promise that they will go on Sunday, but they never show up. It is really frustrating. We found out the other day that the local pastor caught wind of our visits and is now trying to discredit our teachings. It's funny because he is the replacement pastor for the previous pastor who was selling his own daughter into prostitution, 14 years old. Anyways the family does not believe this guy, they are just lazy to get up to go to church. They have a 9 year old daughter who is an elect. She is smarter than the whole family put together. She reads all our phamlets/the book of Mormon, prays, and understands the lessons. If this family doesn't get baptized I hope at least she will.
We went into full missionary mode this weekend. Fasting/praying with some of our investigators so that they could overcome their smoking addiction. We met with them multiple times during the day to give them encouragement. They only made it a day and a half without smoking. I was really disappointed to hear that they smoked after everything we did. It is awful how Satan has got such a tight grip. We really are trying to free them but it is so difficult after the years years of addictions that have plagued them.
It is good to see my plaque is up in the chapel back home. Ether 12:27 has become the theme of my mission. I have really had to break myself down and rebuild as a disciple and representative of Christ. Through his infinite atonement this is possible. I have really seen my weaknesses become strengths. I still have so much that needs improvement but as I humble myself I know that Christ will lift me back up stronger and ready to keep on fighting. The kingdom of God or nothing as they say.

Love you all immensely,

Elder Miller

4 March 2013   6 Months Out

Hello Family and Friends,

If you didn't notice I've been out for 6 months which means I'm 1/4 into the mission. It feels like only a month or two since I left home, but at the same time it feels like forever. It is hard to describe but anyone that has ever served a mission should know what I mean. They call the six month mark "Bump Day," and the next milestone will be "Hump Day" which is one year out. After the 1 year mark the climbing portion is over and it's all down hill from then on.
I would like to give an update on the language. I'm happy to say that I feel like I have a good handle on the lingo now. I can speak and understand like a normal human being. It definitely isn't always perfect but it is amazing how much things change in just a few weeks, now imagine another year and half.
This week was "Carbo Moto" here in Butiá. To make a long story short, basically every wanna be rocker and his motorcycle come to Butiá once a year to show off their wheels. It was pretty funny to see these old men with old rock show t-shirts, beer bellies, and Harleys roaming around Butiá. Also, the young guns came into town with their Kawasaki ninja bikes making a whole lot of noise. All these people set up tents in the town center and just made a ruckus for about 4 days straight. There were live bands playing, greasy food, and kids riding ninja bikes while standing. I felt like I was back in the US!!!
The party was cut short though. Some members of the branch decided to fast for rain in order to drown out the party Sunday. And what do you know, Sunday rained harder than I have ever seen it. It rained from early Sunday morning until this morning. Needless to say we had our normal Sunday meetings in peace.
We had 2 investigators and 1 inactive show up to church. I judge our weekly success by whether or not we had investigators or inactives at church. Our investigators names are Pricila and Adriana. Pricila is a young mother of two kids. She is progressing really well, she even fasted with us this Sunday and gave a generous fast offering!!! That´s a first for me on the mission. She loves having us over for the lessons. I'm hoping we can get her baptized by the end of the month, but she always mentions that she does not think she is ready to take on all the commandments that come with baptism, but she doesn't have a problem with any of them. Greg if you are reading this maybe you can help us out. Adriana is an older lady with 3 kids all of baptism age. The only problem is that she has been smoking since her adolescence and now her 16 year old son has followed suite. She really enjoyed church this Sunday and already knows that the church is true. Hopefully her experience at church can help motivate her to quit. If she is baptized the kids will be baptized as well. Joe has been on vacation the past two weeks so we had to reschedule his baptism. There will be another "Natal Branco" in our zone at the end of this month. That means that all the missionaries will bring their investigators to one location to be baptized. We are fasting and praying to meet a goal of two baptisms on Natal Branco. It will be a serious challenge but we are ready to get at it.
Lastly, Happy Birthday to Jessie!!! I hope you have a wonderful birthday and a even better birthday week. Stay safe, have fun. I received the Valentines parcel you all sent. Thank you so much for everything. I enjoyed the letter Mom wrote me. The pants you sent are super tight which is strange because they say that they are the same size as my other pants so I'm not sure what happened. Oh well, I have a goal now to one day fit into them, and it is a necessary goal seeing that I don't have the girlish figure as I once had. I don't know what they put in the food here, its incredible how much weight I have gained. I hope I'm getting taller because I don't look that fat, but I think I'm just in denial. I closed in on two hundred pounds the other day. It is crazy because I'm eating like 2/3 of what I used to eat. If I keeping gaining weight I'm going to stop blessing my food. Yes mom, the road I live on is a dirt road, there is always a bunch of random horses and cows roaming around it which is pretty cool. And the very last thing is those spiders I told you all about in the last email, well I killed them all. I was just starting to like them when all of sudden I saw the most vicious one yet right next to my bed. That spider gave me the revelation I needed, so I got a can of AXE spray deodorant and a lighter and heated the place up. It reminded me of one of the Aliens movies. Me with a mini flame thrower, walking in the dark halls of our house, with these crazy creatures crawling all around me. It was intense.
Anyways got to go,

Love Elder Miller

25 February 2013   Another transfer down

Hello Family and Friends,

I forgot to advise you all in my last email that this week is a transfer week. It came a week earlier than usual, just 5 weeks instead of 6. It is because of the surge of new missionaries arriving in our mission, 18 and 19 year old North Americans! Hooyah USA, USA! We have already been receiving 18/19 year old Brazilians for several weeks now. They all seem super prepared for the challenges of the mission. So back to the transfer... neither Elder Weber nor I were transferred, yeah! This pretty much guarantees that I will stay in Butiá for at least 2 more transfers in Butiá, one with Elder Weber and one with whoever is my next companion. I'm totally fine with this because Elder Weber and I got along very well. He tells me that I am the best companion that he has had on the mission, the "only companion I have never had to argue with." He even wrote the President of the mission in order to stay here in Butiá with me for at least another transfer ha ha. So I will be here for my birthday and the start of winter.
That is so cool hearing about all the new missions that will open up here in Brazil and in the world. In my opinion the Second Coming is will be sooner than every one thinks. I studied Revelations (Apocalypses in Portuguese) pretty thoroughly trying to figure it all out ha ha.
That is kind of funny/strange that no one made it into BYU from our ward. I'm so grateful that I made it in when I did because those kids in our ward are 10x smarter than I was in High School.
You have been asking about the weather here so here we go. There is a pattern here in Butiá it goes from 2-3 grey, slightly rainy days in a row to 3-4 sunny, humid, hot days in a row. The sun is so powerful here, if I forget to put on sunscreen I will literally look like a lobster at the end of the day. I know this from experience, I got destroyed Friday. Apparently there is a hole in the ozone above Rio Grande do Sul??? Maybe you all can investigate this for me.
Mom, I laughed at the spider email you sent me. This is because our house is FULL of them ha ha. You probably didn't want to hear that but it's the truth. Luckily they aren't the brown spiders that every one is afraid of. There are a couple big boys in our house, about the size of the palm of my hand. Elder Weber doesn't let me reign death upon them all. But I'm afraid that even I have become sensitive towards them as well. That is the mission for you, you look at everything in a whole new point of view. Even spiders are creatures of God. I'm not to sure about snakes yet, and yes there are snakes in Brazil.
Dad, your email about all the skiing was killer. It sounded like you had a blast and shredded the place up. Proud of you! I have to improve my skiing skills before we hit the slopes, I don't want to get shown up by you. Super jealous of you and Greg, you guys rock!

My address goes something like this

Arlindo Silva #60
Brazil, RS
Go look up my house on Google Earth

Love you all,

Tchau for now

18 February 2013

Hello Family and Friends,

Well, another week down and not much news to report. We finally got a marked baptism. His name is "Joe," he is 16. He was almost baptized about a year ago but it fell through the day before the baptism. We are teaching him again and tying up a lot of loose ends from the past missionaries. During one of our lessons he said, "Wait a minute, there is a real, living, prophet in the world!?!" I was surprised that he didn't know that already, oh well let's hope we can get a baptism before this transfer ends.
So you want to know a little bit about my companion. Elder W's Father is from Switzerland and Mother is from São Paulo. I don't remember how they met or what he was doing in São Paulo but they got married. His Mother was baptized in the church when she was 15 years old and the Father never was a member or had any interest in the church. The Father left the family when Elder was 6 years old and he hasn't had any relationship with him since. The Father lives in the US and has a new family.
Elder W grew up living with his Mother in São Paulo. He was baptized when he was 12 and had completely forgot that he had been baptized in the church, he and his Mother became very much part of the world. He was testing out a lot of churches until one day his mom told him to try out the church he was baptized in. Like I said he had no recollection that had even been baptized. Soon the missionaries were teaching them and the rest is history.
The branch is composed of about 30 strong members, but this past Sunday there was a ton of people at sacrament meeting so there are a lot of other members. It seems like everyone in the branch is somehow related to the "Phitz" family. The Phitz family is composed of 8 adult siblings and a bunch of kids. The missionaries baptized almost the entire family back in the late 90's early 00's. They are strong in the church, but also very much new. So far we have not had to do too much extra work because of the size of the branch. They are really organized and everyone has a calling so things run rather smoothly without much assistance from the missionaries.
We have lunch with the Phitz 3 or 4 times a week. So yeah, the lunches do not have much variety. I think I have eaten chicken, rice, and beans every meal since I arrived in Butía. I am grateful for what I get but a change up would be really nice. Every now and then we get some soda to go with our meal so that is always exciting. After lunch I buy 5 popsicles to split between Elder Weber and I, all for the price of 1$.
Anyways, sorry for the rather boring news. I'm super stoked to see Dad and Greg shredding the slopes in Utah. They look like pros already! I will trying to keep from getting too "Trunky," missionary slang for homesick. Greg send me your home address I have a letter for you but don't know where to send it.

Miss and love you all,

Elder Miller
11 February 2013   Blowing Chunks

Hello Family and Friends,

The weeks are literally flying by. This past week was the quickest week so far on the mission. I can not even imagine what it must be like for missionaries with more than a year under their belts, it must be crazy fast.
We are teaching and contacting a lot, but the sad news is that we do not have any marked baptisms yet. I have found out that places more out in the countryside are generally tougher to get baptisms. The people have been raised Evangelical, or Catholic and don't seem to want to change traditions. People said to us that everything that we teach is true but decide not to get baptized because Dad was Catholic, and Grandpa was Catholic, and Great Grand Dad was Catholic. Needless to say there is a lot of ignorance here. We do have a couple potential baptisms though. There is Jonatan who is engaged to a less active member, they just need to marry now. And also, Jacqueline who is the sister of Lucas. Both are progressing well.
Some thing kind of exciting happened this week as we were going to a teaching appointment with Lucas, his Mom and Sister. We arrived outside the gate, clapped, and out came Serlei the mom. She came up to the fence and told us that it was just her at home. As we were talking with her she said that she was not feeling well, she was really sick. All of a sudden she turned around and started heading back towards the house. We both thought that it was strange that she did not say "goodbye" or anything. As we were watching her head back to the house all of a sudden she started wobbling off to the side and then "BOOM" she collapsed right on the ground. I was pretty shocked at what I saw, I was thinking to myself, "This can't be happening, I will probably wake up from this bad dream right about now." I didn't wake up from any dream, it was reality. Before I know it Elder Weber was already preparing himself to give her a blessing. I ran over and saw that she was breathing and about half a minute later she got up on her own strength and went into the house. She sat down on the couch sweating and not talking straight, and we gave her a blessing. As soon as we had given the blessing she ran to the bathroom and started blowing chuncks! We called Lucas and he quickly came to the house and took her to the hospital. Later that day we got word that she was doing well again and that every thing was going to be all right. The whole situation was a little scary and was a reminder to be ready for anything out here on the mission.
Another scary thing that happened this week was the President of the Branch called me to give a talk in sacrament meeting literally minutes before the meeting started! I quickly wrote a couple points down on a piece of paper and was able to give the talk in understandable Portuguese ha ha. Sadly my Portuguese is not close to being fluent yet, and I get really bummed when I struggle speaking. It takes the focus off of what I'm saying to how I'm saying it. The past three weeks I have improved quite a bit, but I still feel light years away from where I want to be. It is reassuring to know that most of missionaries struggle until about 8 months out. By six months you should be able to understand almost every thing that people say. I feel like I have reached that point already. Of course you have some "Peter Priesthoods" that are already speaking well right out of the MTC, but most of missionaries tell me it takes awhile to pick it up. They say that there comes a point where you hit the peak of the language barrier and then you pick it up exponentially. It sounds like God lets you struggle, learn, and humble yourself before he just gives you the gift of tongues, its how he works with every thing. I can't wait for when the language just comes naturally without having to do any translating in my head. Some times I do find myself talking Portuguese and not even knowing it so that's good news, I guess.
Anyways, as usual I'm doing well. Elder Weber is a really good companion. I have food to eat, water to drink so life is good.

There is something I have been meaning to ask you all the past couple months. I really want you all to write out your conversion story and then email it or write a letter to me. Let me know how you came to know the Gospel and when you really felt converted to it. I know for me I was not "converted" until I finished my time in the MTC. Also, spiritual experiences since your baptism if you feel comfortable sharing it with me. I really want to know every thing, and this is for everyone family and friends. And if you are not a member of our church yet, first get baptised, and then write me about how you felt after the baptism. I don't need a novel but a couple short paragraphs won't do either. I know this will both benefit you and myself. These kinds of stories help me strengthen my testimony.

That's all for now,

the church is true,

Love Elder Miller
4 February 2013 Snoop Dogg

Hello Family and Friends,

Right now I'm writing you guys from the comfort of the WIZARD office building here in Butiá, free of charge! Elder Weber and I were doing street contacting when an older man came up to me and begun to speak English. He explained that he was the boss at WIZARD and that we could use their Internet, restrooms, and water whenever we want. WIZARD is one of the big language learning programs here in Brazil, founded and run by a former Mormon missionary of course. The boss explained that the owner of WIZARD encourages Mormon missionaries to teach language classes here in the office, also he said that after summer break they would begin to classes again. Who knows maybe I will be teaching English classes here in a couple months, it is a good way to make contacts!
I live with the Dias family. They are converts to the church. They have a son that is currently serving in El Salvador, a Northern state in Brazil. They are really friendly, but I live in an attachment to the main house so I don't see them that often. It is really nice, tile floor, new appliances, clean shower etc..
Sunday I had my first sacrament meeting as part of a Branch. It was awesome, the place was packed and we had 9 investigators there. The Branch President said he had not seen the meeting house that full in awhile. I think everyone in the Branch showed up yesterday, all the benches were full! I bore my testimony about missionary work and how all members are missionaries.
We had some cool experiences street contacting this week. First, Elder Weber made a contact with a guy that looks identical to Snoop Dogg the rapper. He even had chains and rings the whole bit. We decided to go to his house during the week and he was their with his family, "wife", 2 kids, and a baby that looked like a day and a half old. The house was trashed and falling apart with cigarette buds, and beer cans strewn out throughout the house. To our amazement it was the best lesson I have had as a missionary. Snoop Dogg answered every question profoundly and exactly right! We have taught rich people, educated people, religious people, but never had any of them understood our message as well as this man did. Pretty incredible since he has been living on the street since age 9! He isn't married and has some bad habits, but I really hope we can change that around. He really likes having us around.
The second cool experience was when we were making contacts in the main street in Butiá. Elder Weber was waiting for me to make a contact with anyone but I wasn't really in the "talking to random strangers mood." I passed about three groups of people in a row while Elder Weber was kept on saying, "Talk to them, talk to them." Eventually I saw a Mother and Daughter out in the distance and made up my mind that I would talk to them. I did just that and it felt like any normal contact. We put down a time and date, and yesterday we went to their home. We entered their house and met 20 year old Lucas, the son of the Mother that we contacted. We begun teaching the first lesson to the family when all of a sudden Lucas mentioned that he is a member of the church. We were blown away. Turns out he was baptized when he was 15 but when the missionaries that baptized him left the area he quickly fell away from the church. Even more to our surprise he said that he had recently been wanting to return back to church! We had a really good lesson with the whole family and at the end Lucas prayed and gave thanks that the missionaries had found him once again. He remembered a lot from the missionaries had previously taught him. Him and his family are really cool people, I hope we can get him reactivated and baptize the rest of the family.

I get letters and packages about every three weeks now. Whenever our zone leaders travel up to Porto Alegre they pick everything up for the zone.
Super Bowl sounded like a good one, I only have to miss one more!
Butiá is awesome, I'm liking the more countryside feel more than the busy city feel.
Elder Weber and I are working a ton, life is good.

Much Love,

Elder Miller
January 28, 2013 5 Months Out

The transfer went very smoothly. I am now in Butiá which is only about an hour bus ride away from Porto Alegre but it feels like a whole different world out here. Butiá is a little town but is the perfect size for 2 missionaries. It is so nice out here. All the houses here are well built and very clean, no favelas. The people are friendly, and every thing is relatively new. It is just about the opposite of living in the city. On the way out to Butiá I got to see a new view of Brazil, the countryside. The countryside is beautiful, green every where, rolling hills, and trees! I live in a house with members of the Branch. It is such a nice change and I am so grateful to be here.
My companion is Elder Weber, a Brazilian from São Paulo. He is 26 years old! He is way cool, and he is helping me out a lot in my progression as a missionary and with Portuguese.
He is kind of a rock star turned Mormon. He was baptized when he was 13 but quickly fell away from the church. He found music and the drums at an early age and decided that the band life was the way to live. He grew up without any belief in God or anything for that matter, until a few years ago he started investigating various churches. Since then he has been a Buddhist, Evangelical, Spiritist, just about every religion there is, until missionaries found him and his mom again and they rejoined the Church. When he was 25 his bishop told him to serve a mission and the rest is history. He is the best companion I could have asked for, he is mature, kind, and likes to work.

The members of the Branch are way cool also. There is probably about 30 active members and they are really excited about the missionary work here in Butiá. They take really good care of the missionaries.
So I had the priviledge of seeing Elder Bednar twice! Once with the missionaries and once at stake conference. It was amazing. One of the highlights of my mission thus far. He met with a couple zones of our mission. There was about 80 missionaries, mission pres. and wife, 2 members of the 70 and wives, and Elder Bednar and his wife. Never again will we be that close, with that few number of people, to that many leaders of the church. He taught us in a way that invited the spirit strongly. He asked us questions and then we asked him questions for about 2 hours. He had nothing planned, no talk, no nothing, but ended up teaching us that we need to become agents in this life not objects. He said in this world society wants you to be an object or something to be acted upon, not something to act for yourself. I learnt to go out and get what I want and not wait around until something happens because it won't. He told us if we ever need an answer go out and get for ourselves, because in that way we own it, not borrowing it from someone else. The same applies with our investigators. Our goal is turn them from objects to agents, or in other words teach them how to act for themselves. He said the greatest compliment we can ever receive as missionaries is "We don't need you anymore, get out of our house, we know the church is true and can get our own answers." By becoming an agent we become converted to the Lord. This is just a rough summary but you get the point. After all the missionaries got to shake Bednar's hand. It was awesome!!! Haha. Never have I looked into such piercing eyes in my life, I think he stared right into my soul, it was nuts!
Sunday we got to see him again at stake conference and he gave a talk about character. Character meaning are we the same person when nobody else is looking. He started out by talking about Jesus right after he finished his 40 day/night fast to start his earthly ministry. Jesus was all alone and Satan came and tempted him with 3 things, turn stones to bread to eat, jump off the tower and save himself to show the people his power, and the last temptation being a reward from Satan, the world. Elder Bednar said that in other words Satan was trying to make Jesus do something for himself, prestige, power, and wealth. He wanted Jesus to be selfish for lack of a better word. He explained that Jesus never did anything for himself and always turned out to others instead of turning in. We need to put off the natural man and turn to Christ. He gave a whole list of examples:
In the bible it reads that after the temptations from Satan, angels administered unto Jesus, but in fact if you go read the Joseph Smith translation Jesus sends angles to John the Baptist who was in jail at the time and in far better condition than Jesus.
Jesus said a prayer right before the atonement but it was for others well being and not for himself.
Right after the suffering in the Garden Gethsemene, suffering more than any mortal can comprehend, he healed the guards ear that Peter cut off.
On the cross he called out to his apostle to take care of his mother.
On the cross he continued to do missionary work by conversing, and teaching the thieves that were on his right and left, about life after death.
In short Christ always turned out and he expects the same of us as church members, and we are not alone. In his atoning strength we can do anything. So next time we say, "I don't want to do missionary work, I don't want to do my home teaching, I don't want to go to church this week" think about really what your doing, your being selfish and turning in towards yourself. Only by turning to Christ can we find peace and light in a world that grows darker every single day. The gospel will help us make it through this life, now become a saint through the atonement and example of Jesus Christ.
Elder Bednar was absolutely amazing and it is having a positive impact on my mission already. I feel so determined to just be the best missionary I can be. I know it will take a lot of study, practice, and going out an getting my own answers, but I have faith the Lord will help me on my journey, he has already helped me this far.
Mom if you have not already sent my package through a couple ensigns in there for me and maybe some sunscreen. Grandpa, I got your Christmas package this week and I want to thank for the letter and Seahawks shirt, I love it!

Lots of Love Elder Miller