Sunday, June 30, 2013

24 June 2013  Baptism and Protests

Hello Family and Friends,
Wow, there is a lot to write about today. First things first, we had 4 baptisms Saturday night!!! It was an incredible day. A, T, E, and G were baptized. It was a 5 month fight with A and, with T it was only three weeks, but they both overcome more than the average person should ever have to go through. I won't write their stories in this email for obvious reasons, but know that they are warriors and a living examples of the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They have shown me that there is literally nothing in this life that you can't overcome with the grace, and mercy of our Lord and Savior. I was privileged with the opportunity to baptize A and it was a really spiritual experience. I had to baptize her twice because the first time her feet came flying out of the water, just like a seesaw. We all explained to her that she needed to be fully immersed in the water in order for the baptism to be performed correctly. So I got to put her in the water again and when she came out she told me, "I had so many sins that I needed to baptized twice!!!" I thought that was pretty funny. All in all it was amazing to see these people that had gone through so much in life, clean from the stains of sin and ready to start the journey to eternal life. This is what we missionaries live for!


We went to the Temple this week. It was an extremely raining day but all in all we made it there and back safely. I bought white baptismal pants, a white tie, CTR rings for our recent converts, and Mormon Tabernacle choir CD's. The temple is such a nice experience, and I'm a little mad that I took it for granted before the mission. It is definitely a place you can go to clear your head and focus on the things that really matter. The spirituality and tranquility that exists inside the temple is indispensable and necessary in this world of so much noise and confusion. It was very much different inside the temple than what was happening outside in Porto Alegre, protests.

The protests in Brazil having been increasing in size this past week. First, they started in the major cities of Brazil, but now it has even reached these small cities in which we are serving. There are people here that are really fighting for their rights and others, vandals, that join in to break everything and steal stuff. Anyways, I will be fine and they will end eventually.

On to some big news, drumroll......... I will be leaving Butiá tomorrow to go to Dom Pedrito a small city a little farther than Bagé. Just to let you know it is the farthest area from Porto Alegre in the entire mission, and guess what Elder Weber will be my District Leader! I will be the Senior companion and Elder Machado will be my companion. Elder Machado has almost 4 months on the mission and is from Florianopolis a Brazilian state really close to Rio Grande do Sul. He is basically a recent convert to the church and is 18 years old. I have done a division with him before so we already know each other which is cool.

So Dom Pedrito is about 8 hours away from Porto Alegre and is the coldest area in the mission. I'm going to freeze my buns off this winter, but my super sleeping bag will save my bacon. Also, I forgot to mention that we will be opening this area up, because the last companionship was taken out of the area for reasons unknown to me. We are going to have to gain the confidence of the members and find a way to work with them. The vision of missionary work is changing rapidly ever since Thomas S. Monson changed the age limit of missionaries. The apostles had a world wide transmission last night that laid out the plan. It is basically this, members, members, MEMBERS!!! Every member a missionary and the proselyting missionaries - us - are only here to assist in the work, which is to invite their friends, family members, and neighbors to come unto Christ. They also mentioned something about the missionaries having local Facebooks and Internet to work more efficiently with the people in this "digital age." Also, the chapels will be open to the public for visits and activities every day which the missionaries will organize, I think. So yeah, tomorrow I will be heading out into the boonies. I think I will be serving in another branch. President Castro is really testing me now with this new responsibility. It will be tough no doubt, but it will be good for me because there is so much I need to learn to become the missionary Christ needs me to be.

These past months in Butiá have been priceless to me. I have grown a lot and I now have an idea in mind of what I need to do on my mission and who I need to be after. I have met countless people that are dear to me and that I will never forget. I have a special in my heart place for our recent converts here in Butiá, P, J, J, A, T, E, and G. I have made two life long friends as well, Elder Weber and Leal. We all did a really good work here that the members of the branch will never forget. The frequency of members Sundays is up to 60 per week, a lot better than about 40 when I first arrived here almost 6 months ago. Little by little and according to the time of our Lord, Butiá will get it's chapel and will turn into a ward. Elder Leal has an excellent group of investigators that I have failed to mention in my latest emails. He will continue to work with them and all will be alright. Elder Leal has thanked me for my obedient example these past 3 months and has committed himself to more obedient himself in my absence. That made me feel really good to hear that from him. So far on my mission I have been blessed with my companions.

My time is up now and I have to go. This last week was truly a humbling experience and I'm grateful for every bit of it. I'm grateful for every thing, literally everything and I ask for your many prayers as I leave to continue my mission in Dom Pedrito. It is going to be a real adventure.

Much Love,

Elder Miller
17 June 2013  Hoping for Baptisms

Hello Family and Friends,

We are in the last week of the transfer. I think you all know the drill now. If one of us gets the boot from Butiá, Tuesday, we will have to be at the bus station in Porto Alegre around 2:00. There we will make some companion trades and then its off to our new area. My feeling is that I will get the call to leave for another area. It is probably about 50/50 that I will become Senior, but who really knows. No matter what happens I'm getting nervous. There are so many things that could happen. In a perfect world I would get paired up with a stud newbie, with some fire in the soul, ready to rock n' roll this mission, but this is in a perfect world.

This past week we really focused in on our potential baptisms this coming Friday. A has stopped smoking and is able to sell enough homemade bakery goods in order to support the family. Her two children E, 10, and G, 8, are doing well also. T, 17, has been taught everything and is super excited for his baptism. We have to get a signature from his Mother today. We are really hoping that this won't present any problems. All in all we have these 4 baptisms planned for this Friday, and honestly I'm not feeling to sure about any of them. In my opinion they all need more time to really experience what it means to have a "broken heart and contrite spirit." To me, one week without smoking is not enough, and we have not even met T's Mother yet, but no one wants to hear what I have to say its just, go, go, go. We will see what happens this Friday. I will not lie though, I'm hoping for baptisms. The ZL's still need to interview them all to see if they are ready.


The next few days are going to be very rushed. Tomorrow, we will go to São Jerônimo to have Distrito Amigo, so this Tuesday is practically gone. Then on Thursday we will be traveling to the Temple once again and we only arrive in Butiá late at night. Friday morning I will be with one of the ZL's in Eldorado while Elder Leal and the other ZL do the interview with our potential baptisms. Later Friday they will pick me up from Eldorado so that I can do some baptizing Friday night. Also, we can't forget that Monday one of us will have to pack our bags and say goodbye to our recent converts. This week is going to be a grand success or a gigantic disappointment, I hoping for the former.

I think it is time for me to leave Butiá. This place needs some new blood. I find myself rather unexcited and uninterested lately. The same faces, the same lunch, the same excuses everyday makes me want to leave here. I will have almost 6 months in this area at the end of the transfer. It is indeed time for me to go. It is time to experience something new.

This week I received a Birthday package from the Lofstrand's. It was so awesome! There was a jump rope, t-shirt, and a lot of candy. I'm so grateful for all the love and support you all give me while I have been serving the mission. It means a lot and you can be sure that I will never forget these acts of kindness. It is a letter or a package that totally lights up my week, its amazing. 

Much Love,

Elder Miller

10 June 2013  Brownies and Split Pants

This past week went rather well. We have 5 marked baptisms for the 22nd of this month: A, and her 2 kids, T, and P. We had to postpone the baptism of P because she could not make it to church Sunday, and it is a mission rule that an investigator has to attend at least 2 Sundays in order to be considered for baptism. A has really progressed from the time when Elder Weber and I were teaching her. This time she really has a burning desire to become clean from the world that has enveloped her for so many years. I believe she will be able to overcome the things that are preventing her from being baptized. T is a 14 year old boy that we met through A. His past is very dark, but he is willing and wanting to make the future brighter than that of the past. Only the gospel can provide what he needs to get back on his feet and become a successful young man. These 5 baptisms would be great, but it is going to be a real fight.

The highlight of this week was that I taught the young women of the Branch how to make brownies! They were all super excited to learn. I taught the Atonement along with making the brownies and the girls liked it a lot. We had one investigator there as well, T, and she really wants to be taught the lessons.

The funny part of the story is that while I was bending over to check the brownies in the oven my pants ripped from top to bottom. In an instant I turned around to make sure that no one had got a sneak preview of my bottom. Luckily, all the girls had their backs towards me and no one had seen a thing. I quickly called Elder Leal to my side and explained my dilemma. After he had burst out laughing, I told him that he needed to go home and get me a new pair of pants. We did a division with the leader of the missionary work in the branch. I sat the next thirty minutes trying to entertain the young women while the brownies were cooking. Finally, my pants arrived and I pulled a slick move so that no one saw me leave the room. 5 minutes and I was back in action without anyone noticing that I had ripped my pants. It was crazy and later Elder Leal and I had a good laugh about it all. Oh yeah, the brownies were excellent and now everyone wants me to make more, but I taught them already!

I had an interview with President Castro this past week, and it went well. I think he trusts me a little more and I'm sure he noticed that my Portuguese is a lot better. We only talked a little bit as usual. I'm sure he is grateful that I don't have much to say because there are so many missionaries that have companion or personal problems, and I don't have either. He knows that I can get along with pretty much anyone.

My first package arrived this week. It was the package with pajamas, church magazines, and other goodies. I enjoyed the South African candy. I am looking forward to my birthday package now.

It was cool to see the pictures of Greg in his new pad. I wish the best for you on this new chapter in your life. Work hard, and have fun. Don't let anything get you down and remember to read the scriptures! The secrets to success lie within 2 Nephi 32:3.

Love you all,

Got to go,

Elder Miller

3 June 2013  Doing Work

This past week was a lot of fun. We had Distrito Amigo in our area Tuesday. In Distrito Amigo all of the companionships go to one specific area of the district to make contacts, teach lessons, and ultimately find new investigators for us to teach. Elder Leal and I had the idea to gather some members from the Branch to do divisions with all the missionaries. In total we had 6 companionships roaming the streets of Butiá helping us find new people to teach.


I grabbed a list of old contacts I made with Elder Weber and hit the street with Alison, the young men's president here in the branch. It was pretty fancy because he has a car so we were riding in style the whole day while the others were trucking on foot in the dirt roads of Butiá. Well, we contacted almost all my old contacts and set up appointments to visit them all. The best part was that we found a family! It is my dream to teach and eventually enter into the waters of baptism with a family. That would be amazing. What is even better is that they are all super cool, Mom, Dad, and 3 kids. The only problem is that they aren't married... yet. A, the Mom, said she would like to get married. She also told us that she has been searching for a church that best suites her, and that all the evangelical churches have not met here standards. I guess she doesn't really like people going into comas, jumping, shouting, and some pastor telling them that Jesus will save them for $50.

A mentioned that when she was a teenager she went to a baptism in our church. She said that one of her friends was baptized, and that it was a really good experience. Also, she has had a lot of contact with a RM from Butiá that now lives in Maceo. We have really high hopes for them.

All the other companionships did a lot of work as well. Are schedule is pretty much full right now which is excellent. It is so nice that things are turning around in Butiá. Just a year ago this area had 1 or 2 baptisms in a whole year and we already have 3. I feel happy that I am helping to prepare the soil for future missionaries in our place

We have a marked baptism for the 15th of June. It is P, a 16 year old girl. She is the daughter of the lady that we buy bread in the super market. She is super cool and is basically ready to become a member of the church. She doesn't smoke, drink, use drugs, and doesn't like coffee ha ha. The sad thing is that her Father passed away a week ago so we have really been consoling here in this struggle. She had a wonderful time Sunday at church and already has made a boat load of friends. I hope we can baptize her before I leave Butiá. 

The last thing to talk about is that A is back in the picture. I don't know if you all remember her but A was one of our investigators that was almost baptized with her 2 children. The problem was that she couldn't stop smoking and was stealing in order to provide for the family so we had to cancel her baptism. Well, things are turning around for her right now. She was blessed with a oven and is now selling pizzas, cakes etc. is making some money. Also, she wants quit smoking and be baptized. I'm taking a lot of caution with her, because I don't want to baptize someone that is going to fall away from the church. What really shocked me was that Sunday she paid tithing on the money she made selling bakery goods, money that she really needs. In Gospel Principles she bore her testimony about tithing and it was pretty powerful.

That's about it folks. I enjoyed all the pictures Greg and Mom have been sending me from NYC. Thursday we have interviews with the mission president and he will most likely bring my package to the interview.

Until next week,

Love Elder Miller