Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Dear Familia,

It was the best Christmas present ever to see your happy faces and laugh with you like old times. And to put the cherry on top of the apple pie, as a San Bernardino Zone we were able to attend the temple this morning. I was overcome during the session with the love the Lord has for all His children, including me. It was a wonderful way to begin the day. 

There isn't much time so I'll just bullet point some highlights from the week: 

* Jody and her son Marshall want to be baptized together and are planning on the 12th of January. And her court case over custody went well and she was able to take Marshall to Florida with her to see family she hasn't seen in 10 years. The Lord blesses those who put their lives in His hands.
*We met with Amy on Sunday and after talking with her, found out that she wants to really know for herself is Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. We are going to re-teach all the lessons and hopefully this time she can recognize her testimony. Desire is the hardest part I think, and she's got that.
* Even though the atrocities in Connecticut happened, one of our less active women we teach, Sister Thomas, was able to see God's hand in her life this past week. She received a check just in time from a compensation she should have got years ago, so she could pay her electric bill. The best part is that she knows she is loved by her Heavenly Father.
* Because Sister Bowen was given the opportunity to play the piano at both Christmas parties, and she's amazing like that, we were able to have 2 turkey dinners in a row, with a visit from Santa, and good fun and entertainment for two days! It was a joy seeing the sisters and old friends from former transfers, and of course making some new friends. Being a missionary rocks!
* Val wants to be baptized and we all felt a confirmation that January 12th should be her baptism date. It probably is going to change, but just that experience where we all felt the spirit together was worth it. She is having fun in YW and Josie is a great fellowshipper.

* We got to sing with Val, and the other YM/YW in the Christmas program 

*(Carol of the Bells)

* Seeing Sister Stacey! 

* Helping Sister Eastwood in our ward make her pastries and prepare her Christmas feast, while her daughter cut our zone leaders hair.
* Christmas Eve with the Martinez family and Christmas dinner with the Zurroff's. I felt a lot of love both days. 

I'm very blessed and know the gospel is true. There is too much good fruit that comes out of the gospel not to make it true. I know my Savior lives. 

Dad-thank you for your insight in your letter, it brought tears to my eyes. One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that you've helped save someone's soul. What a perfect plan our Father has where he gives us that opportunity to fulfill his purpose (Moses 1:39) 

Here is the letter for president...

Dear President,

Merry Christmas, Santa! It's been a wonderful year, and an incredible 5 months. This last week there were service opportunities everywhere, and all I had to do was pray for them and then keep an eye out. Even with two Christmas parties, we had a lot of time to teach and testify of the Restoration of the gospel. One example: on Sunday, we felt impressed to go visit Amy, because her concerns about tithing were causing her to think about stopping investigating the church. I learned some valuable lessons that day. First, I learned that there is a line between boldness and being overbearing, and I crossed it. Amy has a lot of why questions and she really wants to know for herself if what she is learning is true. She did look at some anti-Mormon stuff, and I got pretty upset. However, when I saw that she was drawing back, I knew my approach and attitude needed to change. I prayed that I would be more patient and loving towards her, and Heavenly Father answered my prayer. It was only when I was calm like Sis. Bowen, and let her take the lead, that we found out Amy's real concern: she doesn't have a sure testimony of the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith. Without the foundation, of course the tenets of the gospel aren't going to make sense. At the end of our short meeting, Amy decided she wants to try again, and this time, we are going to really involve our WML and his wife, who knows her pretty well. That is something else I learned, the gospel is never a one try thing or you're out. It's not even a 3 tries and you're out. The Savior wants us to keep trying everyday and to repent so we can progress. The Savior is the perfect teacher of patience, and all things godly. I am so grateful for this semi-hard lesson I learned, it meant a lot more to see the gospel in action then just to hear about it. 

We were really blessed to have members at every lesson with investigators, and through listening to the Spirit on our WML's part, we were able to teach the Restoration to a new investigator, Larry. He is really a good Christian and wants to do what's right, but we don't know if he could comprehend all we taught, so for our next lesson we are going to re-teach the restoration. Just like with my 4th graders, if there was a lesson that went over their heads or I didn't explain well, it was better in the long run to review than to jump ahead and expect them to pass the test. The gospel is everywhere! 

I am very grateful for the gospel and all the answers to prayers my Heavenly Father has given me. I've been blessed to be here in San Bernardino, and Sister Bowen is teaching me a lot. We are doing well and very open with each other. She is letting me practice be senior companion, and its been a good learning experience for me. I'm desiring to lead more with love and effectively. And, to be more patient, especially with investigators and less actives that won't commit. but giving my life over to the Lord and trying to be as He is, is the best motivation in the world. 

Sister Allison Mills

I made cookies for the Zone!

Cooking at the Eastwoods--Sister Eastwood, Elder Graf, Elder Crozer, and Marissa

Martinez Family

Opening Jenepher and Phil's Christmas present (it took at least 2 minutes!)

Breakfast with the Spanish Elders--Smith, Heredia, and Hernandez

Sister Bowen, Sister Adams, and me at the Temple this morning

(And two more pictures I took off the mission website highlighting their zone's Christmas you'll understand why she called her mission president Santa.)

With her Trainer, Sister Stacey (and her new comp), and Sister a few elders

Sitting on Santa's lap (He had all the missionaries do it)

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christmas Gift

Dear Family,

This week has been wonderful! We have had some ups and downs, but I know the Lord is watching over us so closely, and when one bad thing happens, we are given so much more. Here is what has happened this week and how we were given so much:

First, some sad news. Our investigator, Amy, decided to forgo learning about the Church because of a misunderstanding with tithing. She just can't accept that the Bishop needs to "keep tabs" on what members tithe. She loves that we give, but doesn't understand how those who don't have can give. We are praying for her and hope that we can see her with a member of the bishopric this week to better explain tithing and accountability. It is so hard explaining tithing sometimes, so I want to study that more so this doesn't happen again. It reminds me a lot of the misunderstanding Angela had with spirit prison. The difference is that she was still willing to learn from us and try the Lord (her being baptized and having the gift of the Holy Ghost helped I think). The Lord knows when His child is ready to accept the gospel. I know one day Amy will. It's not so much that I am sad she rejected us, but that she is rejecting the most amazing gift she could ever receive: eternal life and the gospel of Jesus Christ. why wouldn't someone want this?

We were so blessed, though, with hearing from one of our investigators, Tabatha, that she read AND prayed!! Her text came to us right after the drop text from Amy. Jody also is doing great. She is going through a lot of personal trials right now, but we all felt it was right to postpone her baptismal date until January so that she and her son Marshall can be baptized together. Marshall just needs his dad's permission, and we are all praying and fasting for that. Jody is so committed though, and she has a lot of friends in the ward. I love how this ward is so friendly and willing to fellowship. The rest of the week just seemed to fly by with meeting a lot of people, and meeting some harder goals. We have 5 new investigators to add to our teaching pool!!!!!!!!! I've never had that before and oh, just knowing the hard work is showing forth some fruit is such a blessing. Some of those new investigators were totally led by the Lord and not planned by us. For example, at dinner on Wednesday, the less active woman we eat with has 2 foreign exchange students and they wanted to make cookies for dessert. So we changed our plans and made cookies with Solongo (Mongolia) and Laura (from Spain). While we baked, we taught them the Restoration, and they understood it and were so willing to read The Book of Mormon. AND THEY HAVE!!! We probably can't baptize them, but the seed is being planted. I'm becoming an excellent seed planter :D So teaching and cooking made for a perfect Wednesday evening. Solongo and Laura are very sweet and smart. They are exchanging for the year. Laura is a sophomore, and Solongo is a senior. I forgot to bring my camera hook up, but there will be a Christmas card coming your way, and a picture of all of us is on that card :)

We had a wonderful lesson with Elsa and her two children, Hazel and Victoria. Hazel is the way we even got to know this family, because he told us to come back. He ate up what we talked about from the Book of Mormon. His mom seems interested, but he definitely is. When we asked if he would like his own Book of Mormon, he practically grabbed it out of our hands! Kids are just so wonderful. He's ten and very happy and a quick learner, and observant. The Lord is truly preparing him.

On Sunday, we were blessed in 3 main ways. 

The first was a wonderful lesson on the Restoration with a former and now new investigator for us--Juanita. As we talked about the truth of the gospel, we asked her if she could believe there was only one true church on the earth, and she said "of course." that there should be only one. We testified that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that church, and how she can know for herself. She asked us how to pray so she could do it on her own. It was an awesome, spirit-filled and open lesson. She seems really open and very spiritual. She knows the nature of God well and wants to please Him. 

The second way we were blessed was seeing Ashley, a recent convert and her husband being friendshipped by two other couples in the ward. We had a lesson at the Larson's (yep, the family with the son in the Mendoza mission that Jackson may know), and openly talked about the priesthood and our testimonies. I didn't know Ashley before she converted, but she has such a sweet spirit about her, and a strong testimony of the gospel. As she shared some of it last night, tears welled her eyes, and we all felt strengthened. Brother Larson is right, she is a special woman of God. It is wonderful to know they are in good hands. 

And the final blessing, and probably the most shocking, was the gift from the ward Primary here. I guess a few weeks ago they started preparing a Christmas goody bag for the 2 missionaries who were coming. Little did they know I would be here, but they prepared it just the same. Well, we thought that we were going to get a bag of goodies each. No. The presidency had us sit up in the front, and bags after bags of gifts were given to us from the children. Overall we each got about 20 gifts each, if not more! I was so humbled by the generosity of these children and their families. These families are living in hard times, yet they gave up a lot and sacrificed their means to help us in our missionary efforts. It was truly one of the best Christmas presents I ever received. The kids had fun watching us open the gifts and hearing our reactions (ok, I was the loud and crazy one, being so animated, but that's what I do).

Did I mention how blessed I am? The Lord is so good to all of us, and even in our extremities He lets us know how much He loves us. It was horrible what happened this week in Connecticut, and the world all felt the pain. I pray for those families who lost their children to that brutality. We taught a less active woman who wondered if God really was there if such a horrible thing could happen. We promised her there was a God and he was mindful of these families, and we challenged her to ask God himself if he loved her. She did, and she got an answer. We have to talk with her more this week to find out what her answer was, and the experience she had, time :D

Dear President,


We had a really good week, but with the normal ups and downs. Sadly, one of our investigators who had a baptismal date for later in the month decided she doesn't want to investigate the church anymore because of her issue with tithing and accountability. And, she hasn't responded to us except to tell us why she decided to forgo her learning. The ward is really willing to help though, and for one of the members of the bishopric to help explain tithing and it's purpose better. I love this ward a lot, and they are so willing to help and meet the investigators that come to church. The friendliness of the ward is inspiring, and I know it is why our investigators, specifically Pat and Val loved church this week. Val is 12 and has a baptismal date for January and she seems really committed to learning and growing in the Church. The young women love her and she has some friends already that she sees at church and at school :) Yes! It was also really great for Pat to be welcomed and for the Bishop to come with us for our lesson with him. He opened up about his concerns, some we had no idea about, and now we can really counsel together with the Lord to help Pat the best.

This week was wonderful in that we got a spiritual confirmation with one of our investigators, that instead of being baptized this weekend as planned, she is going to wait til January so that she and her son can be baptized together. That would be so wonderful! Jody is a wonderful woman and is doing all she can to learn from the scriptures. she inspires me to be more committed. We have been so blessed with the people we are teaching, and we met one of the hardest goals I think there is to meet weekly--we found and taught 5 new investigators! Most seem very open and willing to learn more and progress towards baptism, especially the youth we are teaching. Two are foreign exchange students and can't be baptized here, but if this is the time for an introduction to the gospel, then so be it :) The Lord knows when and how each person in their spiritual journey should hear and decide about the gospel.

We have been working really hard, and Sister Bowen is so supportive. She is teaching me how to be a better follower and receive instruction graciously and how to set goals and make plans to improve myself. I've started doing that more, and I have been happier as I have seen the little improvements each day. Change is hard and so gradual, but with the Lord all things are possible. I learned that to be the 4th missionary, I must surrender my will to Him. In losing my life, I will find it. One of my goals was to find myself and love myself during my mission, and the answer is staring me in the face: get out there and serve, forget yourself, and discover. I am praying for inspiration about how to forget myself and I know the Lord is listening and answering my prayers, just as he does with our investigators. We just have to take that first step. One more story. Tabatha doesn't usually read, but the next day after our lesson when we texted her a follow up she replied with enthusiasm and happiness that she read and prayed! I could tell her countenance was different, even over text. The gospel does change us, if we let it.

Sister Allison Mills

(And some sections from her letter to me):

...My companion, Sister Bowen, is going to be done with her mission in 1 month and then is going home to Turkey. Her dad is in the air force, so she is an air force brat, and has lived all over (Germany, Ohio, and some other cool places I can't remember right now). So she is going to Turkey for a month until she goes back to Utah for school. She has one more year and will graduate with a chemical engineering degree. Very kind, smart, and athletic. She reminds me of Christina Nelson and Laurel Burrup. She plays the piano beautifully and is always the missionary we call on to accompany any choir (so I don't know what we are going to do when she leaves), and she played the oboe and some other instruments. Such a wonderful person and we are getting to know each other better each day.

...As for Christmas day, we can skype most likely. I still got to check with President. But with timing, Sister Bowen is talking with her family at 7 am since the time difference is so huge, so I will probably be calling you around 9 am. Would that work? Is that too early? Let me know.

(We can't wait until 9 am on Christmas Day!) 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hallmark Ward, San Bernardino!

Dear Family,

In this email, I'll write, and in the one following, pictures! So much has happened this week, but I don't have much time. We have a lesson tonight with a really great investigator Jody, whom I haven't met yet, and she is getting some great fellowship with the ward. Her baptismal date is set for Dec. 22nd, so I just get a free one. I'm really excited to meet her. Sister Bowen says she is so great and we found out from Jody that she really is determined to be baptized on the 22nd no matter if she's ready or not.

Which takes me to my new companion, Sister Bowen! She is wonderful. Very kind, a great listener, and really determined to give her best every day. I can tell she loves missionary work and the people she's around. Her capacity to love and be so enthusiastic and positive is admirable. She told me that I need to be more positive about myself, and I"ve been taking her advice. When those negative thoughts come, I ignore them. It's not easy, but my days are going better and I'm more focused on the work and the people we are teaching. We have been able to really get to know the ward through visiting with the Bishop, Bishop Hankins, Ward Mission Leader, Brother Moody (and he is the happiest, most genuine person I have ever met, so not moody in the slightest) and crashing the mutual activity and getting to know the girls and YW leaders. This ward reminds me a lot of Hillview, so I really love it here. 

Sister Bowen and her last companion, Sister Dodge, really worked hard here, so we have a pretty good sized teaching pool. The ward is getting more involved in missionary work, and as we continue to counsel together, it's going to get really good. Some of the awesome people we are teaching are:

Karen (I met her my first day in San B). OH YEAH...I'm in San Bernardino :) Pretty safe too up in Devore, where we are staying. More on that later. Back to Karen, she is a really sweet lady, but has a lot of health problems so it's hard for her to come to church. She's been investigating for years, so we may have to drop her if she doesn't progress, which I hate, but I know we are to teach those who will receive us. She knows she needs to read and come to church, but it is up to her. We are seeing her this week with another member, a really recent convert who is just awesome and gung-ho about the gospel, so maybe it will fire Karen up, as well.

Alegria and her two boys, Brandon (8) and Bryan (6). Alegria is less active and we've been teaching the two boys the Articles of Faith, and we had a really fun lesson with Article of Faith 8. We did "telephone" to illustrate how translating the bible so many times makes the message not as clear. The boys are really active and loved the activities. We hope they start coming to church. It's really going to help if we can get another mom with similar age children over so the boys feel included at church.

Lulu (RC) and Tabatha (I)--best friends and really helping each other to understand the gospel. we played 10 commandment jeopordy and they loved it! I used jeopordy all the time with 4th grade, but until Sister Bowen showed me that idea I never thought about using it with the gospel. So awesome! Lulu is great. She loves church and wants to go on a mission really bad. She's 10 and so happy and loves being around us. Tabatha is 12 and really helpful when Lulu wants to understand something. Sadly, Tabatha and Lulu don't have the best home situations, but they are a great influence on each other. Tabatha just needs to come to church! That is the hardest thing for most people.

Amy (I)--what a spirit-filled lesson we had on Sunday. We went in with our plan, but she had questions about tithing and fasting, so we just changed our plan, and the member we had was perfect for testifying of the power of tithing. Amy understood it is an act of faith. We talked about prophets and she asked where she could find their writings, and Sister Hankins, our member, gave her an extra copy of the October Ensign! Awesome! I was so humbled by the spirit that was there and how the Lord totally led that lesson. She has a baptismal date as well, and a lot of good questions, so she can truly be baptized for the right reasons.

Christy is less active and really good friends with the Moody's. We had a wonderful lesson on the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the experiences we've had where we knew we were being led. Christy gave a beautiful prayer and cried. She knows she has to come back to church, and she wants to understand more about the gospel. I know that as she makes those changes her whole understanding will grow brighter and brighter. That's the promise the Lord makes, and he is bound when we do what we need to.

Some highlights and crazy happenings....

1. Sister Adams, the member we are living with, is the Grandma of Selina Adams, my dear friend from college, freshman dorm days! I love you SELINA!!! Sister Adams is so sweet and makes the best bread in the world!

2. Met Sister Larson, whose son, Elder C. Larson, is on a mission in Mendoza Argentina, and he got there in June. So Jackson Ostler may know him. When I told Sister Larson that connection she was so happy. So Jason, ask Jackson if he knew an Elder Larson. 

3. THE CRAZIEST!!! While tracting, Sister Bowen and I knocked on a door and a man came out and started talking to us. His wife from the background sounded like she didn't want to talk to us, but then as we explained who we were and about Christmas, she came out and we got to talking. When I first saw her, I thought I was looking at my Aunt Jamie. This impression came over me to ask if she knew David Nelson. I ignored it. Then when she said that she was really busy and couldn't go to the nativity thing we invited them to because of her plays she is helping with, I knew I had to listen to the impression and ask. When I asked if she knew David, she gasped and said, "YES!" I told her that was my uncle and Jamie was my aunt. We went down memory lane and talked about them a little bit. Found out her name--Misty--and she told me that she used to act all the time for David, and was there for him during his worst times. She even said that maybe God wanted us to meet (or very close to those lines). I knew the Lord guided us there. She gave us her phone number, and may be interested in talking with us. Her son went to the nativity thing with another family, so there is definitely potential.

I want to bear my firm testimony of this gospel. I know this gospel is true. I know the Lord is aware of our needs and he places us in the paths of others who will help us come unto Him. I know that families can be together forever. I know Christ is our only hope and way of salvation. I know He lives. He watches us, guides us, and loves us perfectly. I am so grateful to be a missionary and a member of the true Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days.

Well family, I love you. That testimony is for all of you.
Sister A. Mills

(I'll also add a bit from her letter to her father, which arrived first):

Dearest Dad,

I am all well and settled in Devore, San Bernardino! Sister Bowen is my new companion and she goes home in 5 weeks! So I have a whole new area to learn in that short time and then it's me and a new sister. I pray Heavenly Father will help me with getting to know the area and the people as well as I can. I know He will. I've been very blessed this week and in my new assignment. I'll go into more detail of how, but a few of the ways I've been blessed have been crazy! The Lord is looking out for me :)

First, we are living with a member, and her name is Sister Adams. We got to talking that first day, and I told her I went to BYU and used to live in Riverside. She has lived in San Bernardino in the same house for 32 years. The impression kept coming to ask her if she knew Selina Adams, my good friend from freshman year. So I asked and she said with a quizzical look "yes..." I told her we were really good friends and went to school together. We hugged and yelped like happy puppies. She showed me the most recent picture of Selina and she is getting married!! Her bridal shower will be at her grandma's here (we are going to be reassigned for a week so as to not get in the way), and she knows that I am here too. Crazy, small, wonderful world! 

Another answer to your prayer--our Ward Mission Leader is really sensitive and I really like him. He has a big heart and is so willing to work hard and get organized. Thank goodness Sister Bowen and I are both blessed with that ability. A third amazing happening I'll save for the email to the family, but let's just say, I met someone who knows our family member on mom's side...

The Hallmark ward is wonderful, and I met some people you may know. Everyone first asked me if I'm related to Brother Harold Mills, who was an institute director here for years. I said no, but was I wrong? Then, in RS when I introduced myself, a woman shouted for joy when I said I was from Tri-Cities, because she used to live there. Her parents, Merna and Earl Palmer still live there and he is the stake patriarch for Richland Stake, so you probably know him! Crazy huh? All these connections. Bishop Knudson was right when he told me back in August, I'm going to make lots of connections here, because my roots are here. And the church is really small :)

That is so wonderful about Mom's performance! I'm proud of her for using her talents. I'm going to be singing with a quartet on the 23rd in Sacrament Meeting, doing the alto part for "Still, Still." I need to practice for sure, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to grow my voice. The Ward Christmas party sounded like a blast!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Transfers Are Coming!

Dear Family,
This week has just flown by! The work had a slower start this week because of meetings, doctor's appointments, and the best part....THE REDLANDS TEMPLE!! I think I mentioned this in an earlier email, but our zone had a football challenge and the companionship that won the most yards for meeting certain goals got to have a free temple trip. Naturally, we won :D So, Monday was P-Day, a day of relaxation. Tuesday was meetings, Thursday was immunization shot for Hep A, and due to my lack of awareness of NSEW directions we got lost for the appointment and had to reshedule for later that day, but all is well and worked out. We were able to see some of the Ontario Sisters and have lunch with them, so I got to see Sister Brinkerhoff!!! She is doing fabulous and loving Ontario. But the best day was Wednesday. That morming a member in our ward picked us up, and though she couldn't go in, she drove us all the way to the temple so we could enjoy and feast in the spirit. The temple has such a powerful effect upon the mind and heart. As we go with a willingness to learn and become a little better, the Spirit teaches us and we are left with peace. I love the calm atmosphere and the beauty of the temple. Also, I was surprised and pleased to see 3 women from our old Orangecrest ward!! Sister Guyaux, Sister Moyer (Courtney's grandma), and Sister LaDeena Christensen! We had a wonderful visit and they want all of you to know how much they miss you (especially you Jason and how proud they are of you). The temple is the best place to see old family members, because these women are like my family. It was a great way to start the morning.
Later that day we had CRECHE festival practice and got to perform on Saturday. It's an interfaith festival the Upland Stake puts on and we missionaries got to perform 11 songs. Sister Stacey had a duet part and she did beautifully! It sounds like our ward is doing something similar to what the CRECHE festival does---they have the cultural hall full of nativity sets. I wish I would have taken pictures! It set such a wonderful mood. I loved singing with the choir. I'm glad you're lending some of your nativity sets for the ward Christmas party. And Mom, you are going to do great with the guitar and the kids, it will be so fun! It sounds like your voice is going to be spent this season, but what a gift you are giving to so many souls :) I hope all the performances go wonderfully. Please send pictures or videos so I can watch :)
Amidst all the practices and other happenings, we were able to see the Carrillo's, Nicole Howell (a sweet Recent Convert who just got married in August), Justine and Sister Smith together--great fellowshipper, Angela, Veronica, David (new investigator) and Jonny (a referral from the Owens actually). All of these people have real hardships right now, but these experiences are helping them to become humble and willing to listen to the missionaries so they can change and make those necessary covenants. It makes me realize how easy I have it and what a wonderful family I have that supports me. All of our experiences will help us to come closer to Christ.
Saturday night brought sad news---both Sister Stacey and I are leaving the Oleander Ward. That was a shocker! We thought for sure one of us would stay. I'm going to miss this ward a lot--it's a wonderful ward with so many people who are missionary minded and humble. We were lucky to be with them for 3-4 transfers. The hardest part of Sunday was when we had to tell Veronica. I was putting it off, and then another member told her we were leaving, (bad news on my part). Veronica took it really badly; it broke our hearts! I pray sisters come into the area, because sisters tend to be more loving. We hope as she is taught she can see that we all love her and have the same good news. It was wonderful to see that the ward immediately enveloped her with love, and that some completely understand her situation. The Lord knows who we need to meet for sure. Veronica is a special woman and she knows it's true. It's just so hard to leave! These investigators are the world to me. But like you said Mom, change is good.
We don't find out where we are going until transfer meeting on Tuesday, so for now, Sister Stacey and I have been guessing. Our apartment is pretty messy right now, and I keep laughing to myself how Dad would have a fit (haha). It's sad to leave the area, but I know that if I keep using my light that I have been given by God, it will bless others and that the Lord knows wherever I go, the people there need that light.
I love you all!
Shoutout: Dear Peterson Family: I am so glad Ryann is doing so well in 5th grade! Teaching the gospel is wonderful and seeing people come unto Christ is the best experience in the world. This work is true and God is leading it. I hope your family has a wonderful Christmas, filled with happiness and the love of Christ. Love, Sister Mills.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Week

Dearest Family,
This week we had 4 Thanksgiving meals! Oh I am so stuffed, and still stuffed! One was a wonderful breakfast with the Giffords, dinner with the Howell's, and then 2 investigator families had us over. I'll send more pictures via the flash dirve for a Christmas gift :)

We had a pretty busy first half of the week. A huge highlight was meeting with Miguel, a new investigator. He has made a lot of changes in his life and expressed a desire to be baptized! We were taken aback and very excited to invite him to baptism. His eyes were lit up and he wants to learn all he can to be prepared for his baptism. He is so cool, and he even cooked for us! We didn't have a dinner really planned that night either, so little did he know he answered a prayer. I am really impressed with him and how he desires with all his heart to leave his past behind, his friends who bring him down, and then be around those who will lift him up.
The prayers you gave for Angela have really helped. She agreed to meet with us, and I'll admit, I went in very mad that she was willing to give up all that she knew because of a word, but I was truly humbled as we met with her. Her concerns go far beyond where her uncle is, and this month has actually been extremely hard for her. The past has a way of haunting us, and it really takes totally relying on the Lord and giving him the fear to move past the doubts. She desires to feel the happiness she felt when she was baptized and is not giving up. We asked her to start reading again, and her excitement to tell us when she did was joyous. Her motivation to keep trying is inspiring. What a strength she has and is.
Thank you for the prayers for Sister Borges too. We haven't had an opportunity to see her last week, so we are going to try again this week.
The Owens children were baptized on Saturday, and though there weren't many in attendance, the family was so happy. It was the first time for Brother Owens baptizing and it was such a sweet experience. Tylor had to be baptized a few times until he was fully immersed, but both were baptized and are now official members of the true Church. Yay! It is wonderful to see how this brought the family together, and that they are wanting to progress in the gospel even more. It hasn't been easy for them, but like Dad said, turning to the Lord in those times of trial is the way we come to know the Savior and the atonement. 
Thank you to Kathy Mills, Lisa Dalgren, and Ashley Chamberlin for the letters this week.  
~Sister Allison Mills

P.S.--Jason looks great!!! HE is FIERCE! And I loved the cartoon :)

(We had sent her a picture of her brother exercising, along with another of his Sister Mills cartoons.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Two Weeks Is A Long Time

Dearest Family,
Dad--yes, just send the package to the mission office, that would be easiest. And, if I need to get another coat, I will. I've bought some cardigans for the cooler weather, so my checking account is going down, but hopefully there is still enough :)
Mom--I will start doing that in my gratitude journal...
Okay, now for the highlights and miracles of the week (sorry I don't have much time, and I still have to write president)
We had a high number of goals, because we are commited to winning a trip to the temple with the Zone Leaders, and we met them all!! For the past two weeks we have met and gotten 3-5 new investigators, made 80 contacts or so (51 this last week!!!!) and 24 member referral requests. The ward can tell we have caught fire, and they are excited in helping us with the work and seeing these people we are teaching enter the waters of baptism. Some of the new investigators are not easy to get a hold of and we haven't had much luck teaching them, but I know that as we pray to find ways to see them and teach them, the Lord will provide, if it is His will.
Okay, so for the investigators...
L. H. is doing really well and getting more excited for her baptism. Thank goodness we went over the baptismal interview questions because for our next lesson the family let out a huge secret, that L. and M. aren't legally married. After talking with President Godwin we found the way for them to get married, and not to be worried that L. will be deported (she's not a legal cititzen). M. was really giddy the next time we saw him and you can tell the marriage is going to happen. L. is so glad to be able to still be baptized on December 1st. She is a marvelous woman and has a lot of faith. M. is making changes too and willing to pay tithing.
Esai is a new investigator we met last week as we were leaving the library from emailing you. He thought we were library workers, and then we started talking to him about the restored gospel. He really seemed interested and we set a return appointment. In that first appointment he accepted baptism and the next day came to church and loved it! There was a perfect fellowshipper for him, Will, and we thought all was great. Well, a few days after the 2nd lesson, Esai told us he doesn't want to be baptized, and that he was done. We continued to text him and encourage him, and then shocker, on Sunday he showed up at church. His initial intention was to give us back the Book of Mormon we gave him, but we convinced him to stay for Sacrament, and then during 2nd hour he told us his real concern (and it is not about being Catholic). He doesn't believe there could be a modern day prophet like Moses on the earth. We had a little lesson about prophets and told him to ask the Lord if there could be a prophet on the earth today. We hope he does.
We haven't been able to see Veronica this week, and in a text she sent us, she has been struggling. It seems as soon as someone decides they want to be baptized and progress, the adversary comes in with full force. We are doing all we can to see her, but still no luck. Pray for her that she will open up to us with any concerns that she has and that she can be baptized on December 15th, the day we set for her.
Some other people who are needing our prayers and fasting: A. had a mental breakdown this last Monday and for a week was in a mental hospital. She had decided she didn't want to be a member anymore and then the next day she opened up to us that she was seeing visions and hearing voices. Luckily, she is on better medicine and coming home today. I think she wants to be part of the church again. Also, another woman we were visiting, Cindy Borges, lost her husband this Tuesday to cardiac arrest (totally unexpected). She is broken and really questioning if her husband knows she loves him. But she knows Sister Stacey and I can help her. She's been less-active for years, but I think this experience is helping her to come back. Could you put both their names in the temple?
I'm so grateful for the people we are teaching and how they use us for spiritual strength. It is exhausting, but so worth it. Jesus Christ must have been the most tired missionary ever! Yet, those days are the days that I feel the most fulfilled and happy. I am grateful for all the prayers and love I feel from family and friends. I will think of you a lot this week, and know that I am there in Spirit.
Sister Allison Mills

(Here are some pictures she included in the email. One is of their car, another in their new apartment, and the third was with another missionary, Sister Adney--they did Sister Exchanges last week, which was why we didn't get her regular email...that, and Veteran's Day being on their regular P-day.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Lot of Help From the Lord

Dear Family,
So glad you are doing well, Mom, and got home safe and sound! Also, I admire you so much, so determined to finish Guardians and setting those goals and accomplishing them so you can reach them. I want to be more like you. I'm more determined after reading your letter to meet my goal that the Lord has asked me to try for which is 10 baptisms by the end of the year. Sister Stacey and I are having a lot of help from the Lord and we are meeting more people who are showing an interest in the gospel. Some highlights from the week are: (next week I'll write more, but there isn't as much time today)
~We got a media referral for Veronica Frando who lost her daughter to cancer and had a lot of questions about life after death, and we were able to answer her questions through the Spirit. She is excited to keep meeting with us.

~We set a baptismal date with Tyler Owens and his sister Nosa (November 24th)--two children from a less active family who want to be baptized. Much like the situation with the Carrillo's, and their parents are showing an interest in progressing in the gospel too

~Ward council went really well and, as directed by President Sears and with the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we were able to come up with names that we can focus on to rescue. I learned from that the importance of counseling together and really focusing on the person and their needs. Even cooler was the fact that members of the ward council were going to those people or their family members before church started and friendshipping them. President Sears was right when he said that the real work comes after the meetings.

~We met Wisdom Gonzalez--a daughter of a less active woman in our ward and set a baptismal date with her. Sadly, she moved out of her mom's house this week and we aren't quite sure where she is permanently. Hopefully her baptism will still happen.

~Set a lot of appointments with people

~Manny Hernandez (in our ward)'s wife has started taking the lessons and has a baptismal date as well! She knows that she has to come to church and together we had a fast that her boss would allow her to go to church--and he did for this next week. Fasting, coupled with a focused prayer works miracles.

~I survived my first Bible bashing!

~We met Itzel, who really wants to learn more with her family from the Spanish Elders, and she could tell that we had the truth because of our smiles.

~While helping the Elders in another ward with finding, we met Mario and taught him the restoration and answered some questions just in a park. He gladly took the Book of Mormon and wants us to come over for dinner and to continue talking about the Book of Mormon. His big hang up is that he doesn't believe there is a God, but we told him to pray to Heavenly Father and ask if there is a God, and his answer will come. He seemed open to reading and asking.
I really like what Elder Clarke said--The Book of Mormon is truly the best book and should be used often. Also, it is in service you find happiness. I look at my companion and how she serves me by listening to me and how the zone leaders serve me by humoring my quirkyness, and I know that they are happy because they are anxiously engaged in a good cause. This work is very overwhelming and I still don't really have an idea about what I am doing, but the best days are those when I am focused on others.
Sister Mills 

Monday, October 29, 2012

This Week Was Crazy!

Dear Family,
Well, this week was CRAZY! We moved from our apartment next to the hospital and to another apartment nearer to most of the ward members. Thanks to wonderful zone leaders and the housing representative we were able to move in and get unpacked and get necessary supplies and furniture all done by Wednesday. So, the work started out a little slower this week, but we are all moved in and ready to rock it the rest of this week. 
I totally understand how change is hard for people. It is an adjustment having the ward be in a new stake, and I'm impressed by how well you all are taking it. When we moved in I started feeling sadness about leaving Rosemary, being in a new area, and having just that feeling of change. It was a good wake up call to what it will somewhat be like when I actually do get transferred and have to move to another area. I'll really miss the Oleander ward, but I know the Church is true everywhere, and as long as I stay brave, adventerous, selfless, and converted (thanks Mom for that article), it will be okay. 
How awesome the increase in the missionary applications! 4,000!! That's wonderful, and I'm so proud of all the young women who are stepping up. It is so cool to see the Lord is truly hastening His work. 
This week has been more of a challenging one. Lots of people weren't home, and most of our time was spent trying to find people to visit and teach, and then just making appointments for this week. Good news, this week we are teaching a lot more people. Also, we have made some goals together to find more investigators, and with the planning that we are doing, and relying so much more on the Lord, I know that as we work hard the goals are achievable. I just have to remind myself that if they aren't met, that doesn't mean failure, as long as I try. Sister Stacey is so wonderful to keep encouraging me when I get discouraged and wonder how I can help anyone. I especially felt low after visiting the Carrillo's and seeing how unhappy Sister Carrillo is. Her husband is being so strong and Chris and Izabella are doing great, but seeing how Satan is just working on Sister Carrillo breaks my heart, and it was easy to doubt it would ever be okay. After a good chat with my companion and a talk with the Lord I realized that I need to be like Nephi and trust in the Lord to guide us in how to help her and others who are struggling. Fasting and prayers are helping a lot, and peace has entered my heart since that night and I know that everything will work out. I truly have grown in my testimony of the power of the fast.
For some of the miracles, look at part of president's letter that I attached. One miracle is that we have a new investigator, Lupe, whose husband is a member, so the support is amazing. She wants to be baptized but works on Sunday so we have to find a way to encourage her to come to church the needed times so she can be baptized. As we teach with love, and respect her agency, I know that we'll find a way to reach her. Also, Bishop called us yesterday and there is another family in the ward who has 2 kids that are over 8, who need to be taught and baptized! We have been inspired about certain numbers of baptisms for certain days within the next 6 weeks, and one week we were inspired for 2 baptisms, and this just came to us. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but when we have faith, we are answered, and ways are made to accomplish what is the Lord's will (1 Nephi 3 and 4).
*Part of my letter to President:
One miracle I finally allowed myself to notice didn't have to do with increasing our baptismal dates, baptisms, etc, but it had to do with the rescue effort. We visited a less active family and the wife opened up to us about how she doesn't feel she can go back to Church and why. However, she has been impressed by her daughter who has mission papers in and is going on a mission. She showed her faith in God by asking her daughter to pray for her for a specific need, and that need was met. I realized that when we show faith the Lord is bound to answer. We listened to her about her reasoning for not coming to church and watched a mormon message about the atonement, and at the end she told us that she could try to come to Sacrament Meeting. She even gave us permission to text her often and remind her. Sunday came and she and her oldest boy made it to church and she loved it! This woman hasn't been to church in a long while, and to see her wanting to change, and  then following through, was a miracle.

Missionary work is all about changing "my will, to Thine" and then letting go of doubts and walking in the light of faith. Its hard, but I have seen this week that, as we put our trust that someone will be interested or someone will come to church, and then go and do, miracles happen. Maybe not how we expect or want, but they come.

We were very blessed also this week to teach a less-active man and his wife, who is a nonmember, and she wants to be baptized! She hasn't committed to a date, but as we continue to teach her, I trust that she will commit to one. She is prepared and humble, and it is amazing how through first visiting and gaining the trust of her husband, we now have the trust of her as well and she is opening up to the gospel. So while there were challenges, this week was a great learning experience and miracles still happened.

Sister Stacey and I have a goal to make 35 contacts by Thursday and then make as many as we can for the rest of the week, to try for 70. Our district leader advised us to work on that indicator, and after I humbled myself, I see that as we make more contacts we will be able to find new investigators and teach more people, and reach our goals. I'm glad a mission teaches you to humble yourself and to appreciate constructive criticism as a way to make oneself better. It's going to take time to let go of my pride and be okay with being told how to improve, but it is what the Lord wants and I will do what he asks.
I love you all and hope you are all okay. I'm praying for Grandpa Parker that he is doing better from his surgery, and Trent Slade with his tumor. Keep me updated.
Sister Allison Mills

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Beautiful Baptism!

Dear Family,
We got our transfer calls yesterday, and actually, Sister Stacey and I are both staying in Fontana, but we are moving apartments. We are both super excited because we love the Oleander Ward, miracles are happening, and we have started a new weekly planning method as initiated by Elder C. Scott Grow, and we want to see it in action together. Our prayers were heard. We don't know where until Tuesday, so just mail the ballot to the mission office, and all other letters there until I can let you know what our new address is. Hopefully we are moving to an upgrade. It will be sad to leave Rosemary but we can still visit her since she will be in our area. What a funny woman she is. Wow, that is so cool about the stake changes. It is true, the Church is the same everywhere you go and it is wonderful the work is expanding :D
Chris's baptism was absolutely beautiful, and his inactive brother gave the prayer. His two older brothers didn't come, but most of the family was there, and Chris was really happy. He gave Sister Stacey and me each a note of thanks, which we will cherish forever. I love the Carrillo family, and our ward should be starting up a temple prep class soon to help families like them make it a goal to attend the temple and having the work done for them. Attached are some of the pictures taken at the baptism :) I'm so glad you were thinking of him, and for all the prayers you utter in his and his family's behalf. They are being blessed as they are living the principles of the gospel.

We have been able to recieve a few more referrals, and one is for a less-active man's wife in our ward, and she seems ready to take the lessons and progress. This less-active man, Manny, also gave us referrals for another woman he administered the priesthood to, so hopefully we will get in contact with her soon; we just can't find her apartment too well, ha ha. I really like this rescue effort and this finding opportunity through less-actives; it makes sense since they know and associate the most with nonmembers. It will bring fruit as we put our faith and works into it. (more about this in the letter attached to the President)
Sadly, two people dropped us. One was Cheli, a promising woman, who just won't accept anything but the Bible--it's frustrating! When she told us that she wants to believe only in her church, I felt like crying. It breaks my heart to know that people who are so close to being prepared don't accept. Cheli prayed a day before we knocked on her door for spiritual direction, yet she didn't take that as enough of a sign. At least a seed was planted. The other drop came from a husband of the interested wife, Crystal. The Elders gave us  this referral, but her husband said that as the head of the house he doesn't want us coming back. We left a pamphlet with him and invited them to look up He told us that being in Iraq made him lose his faith in God. I mentioned that you Mom lived there and that was only when he seemed open to accepting anything and researching more. We will see what happens. If we see his wife ever outside her home we are stopping by though :)
I guess that is how missionary work is though--some drops, and lots of miracles and tender mercies. Really, when you are in the service of your fellowmen you don't remember the bad parts, only the good. Sister Stacey and I both gave talks on service yesterday in Sacrament Meeting, and the spirit was really strong. I'm learning a lot more about serving and doing it with love. I can slowly see myself starting to become a disciple of Christ. I know this gospel is true, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the doctrines and ordinances set up anciently are restored to the earth through a modern day prophet.
Yes, it is getting colder, so I"ll have to buy a coat sometime and actually another pair of jeans because my jeans shrunk in the wash! Ahh! How glad I am to be in the USA where convienences are nearby.
Here is the letter to President Godwin:
Dear President Godwin,

This week has had its ups and downs. It seems like the greatest weeks must have those, to help remind us of the opposition in all things. However, I know that as I look back on this week, I'll remember the good that came from it, rather than the bad. This week has been a refiner's fire, and I've learned a lot about me as a person, as a missionary, and as a teacher. I have loved delving more into the Book of Mormon and reading the chapters that answer the questions of the soul, and seeing how simple and beautiful the Book of Mormon truly is. I've also been reading "Our Heritage," and learning more about the sacrifices of the early saints and my forebears inspires me to keep going and keep the faith. Those early pioneers, Joseph Smith, the faithful twelve, Hyrum, and Emma, all are a light to me of the woman I want to become. Their service will never be forgotten, especially not by me.

Sister Stacey and I gave talks this Sunday on service, and I love how much I learn about the principle or doctrine from studying it and then teaching it. I realized that I am totally commited to the Savior, and in my testimony I even said that though it will be hard at times to follow Christ, I will do it. God, angels, and the Oleander ward are my witnesses, so I better keep that commitment :) The Spirit is growing in our ward, especially as our ward council is focusing on the rescue efforts that Elder Grow wants us all to implement. I have a miracle to share about this principle. Earlier this week we visited a less-active man and his family. His wife is not a member, but thanks to her dear friend, who goes to our ward, and with the love and support of her husband, she is willing and ready to take the lessons. Also, this man, Manny, gave us two referrals, and we are hoping to see both of them soon! Elder Grow's promise was right, and my testimony grew stronger of the divinity of the apostles and leaders of the Church.

Another miracle this week was Chris Carrillo's baptism. His inactive brother, Aaron, gave a beautiful prayer at the end, the Spirit was so strong, and the family was angelic. I knew this was the time for Chris to be baptized and he was just so happy. It made me remember my baptism and how happy I was after being baptized and confirmed. I wish the whole world could know this happiness. Two people dropped us this week, one because her husband is not supportive in the slightest, and another because she believes nothing can be added to the Bible, and it broke my heart. I never before wanted to cry when being dropped, but this time I did, and I truly believe I did because my heart is expanding in love for the people we are teaching. These truly are God's children. It's hard to see someone not accept the gospel or even give us a chance, but I know that we are planting seeds for future times.
I love being on the Lord's errand, and I'm learning so much about life. I realize that I do have talents that need to be shared, and that there are some people that were just for me, and I think Chris was one of them. His whole family is changing, and we have a goal to get them to the temple. I know that as Sister Stacey and I have another transfer together we will see miracles, and the goals we have set with the Lord in our weekly planning (and they are some pretty high goals) will be met as the Lord sees fit.
Sister Allison Mills
P.S. Also attached is a picture of the apartment, long past over due ha ha. And for Jason--tell David how excited I am for him. I'm really proud of you and all you are accomplishing. Bring on the week baby!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More Miracles and a Mission Tour!

Dear Family,
Time is short, so I am just going to address all your questions in this email and do a basic overview of the miracles this week as well. 

To start, Chris is really excited for his baptism, and his parents are totally commited; even his less-active older brother, Aaron, agreed to give the closing prayer. Chris got the whole family involved :) The concern from the beginning has been if Chris just wants to get baptized because he can stop going to church once he is, but when I asked him why he wants to be baptized, what he said shocked all of us in the room. He responded, "I get teased at school for what I believe and I want the Holy Ghost to be there as my friend always." It brought tears to my eyes, and I was so humbled to hear this wonderful boy's testimony. We plan to visit the family every day this week because Satan is going to work doubletime, but we will beat him, as we are all commited together.
Last Thursday we had the incredible opportunity to have a mission tour, which is basically a training with several zones given by a general authority, the mission president, and their wives. Elder C. Scott Grow came this time, and he was amazing! He talked about setting effective goals during weekly planning, and planning 4 weeks or more in advance, so we are always looking ahead. It is different from how I've done it, but I know this is inspired, and Sister Stacey and I have taken it on already. We also were taught about leadership, since in a few short months, 18-year-old boys, and 19-year-old girls will be coming and we will need to step it up as trainers. Training seems so daunting, but the Lord will not call me til He knows I'm ready. I felt the Spirit so strongly during that meeting, and when I did start to feel stressed, I said a prayer in my heart, and the peace I was feeling came back. 

I better understand that we set goals and then make plans in our daily and weekly planning (see PMG ch.8). Something else I learned was how much the Lord depends on us to hasten His work. As I was sitting there, listening, thinking about how I could be a more effective missionary, I realized I need to let go of the fear, and let the Lord take over and mold me into the person I'm meant to be. The only way to be the best mother, daughter, wife, teacher, etc. I can be is to let the Lord use me these next 15 months. I can't believe how fast time has gone! My greatest impression during that conference was that I need to work with my companion to get 10 baptisms before the end of the year. By October 20th, there will be 3, so 7 more. I know that with faith, and with a lot of work, this goal can be accomplished. It's exciting!
Another miracle this week happened yesterday--we were trying really hard all week to find a new investigator and it was 7:30 pm, dark, and Sunday. We were not discouraged though. We drove over to visit Cheli, a woman we contacted last week, and had a wonderful lesson with her about the similarities of our beliefs and hers, what our purpose in visiting her is, and we invited her to a Relief Society activity later this week. She accepted a Book of Mormon and said that she would read it along with the Restoration pamphlet we gave her. I really like her, and she was very honest with me about my personality; she told me she could tell I was a school teacher because of my large amount of energy. Yep, that is me. We were so blessed to meet with her and I hope that the interest she showed 5 years ago when missionaries met her will come back as we teach and she'll want to enter into the covenants available.
As promised, I have some pictures. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures from the mission tour, but it was amazing and wonderful to see some of our old zone from last transfer. The pictures I do have are from the stake luau that was put on this past Saturday, and it was a great event! Angela's mom came and asked for a Book of Mormon to read--Angela was just beaming :) The elders all performed the haka, and all the dances were authentic and beautiful. What was even more impressive were the willing hearts and hands that helped with the clean-up, a task that would have taken hours if only our ward did it. Children were helping too, carrying chairs, tables, and putting away trash. Parents led the way. We were all busy bees doing our 1/12 part, and it made the difference. Also, some nonmembers we did meet showed some interest in having us teach them, including a recent convert's daughter.
I'm finding that as I pray each day to find someone to serve the day goes by much faster, and I'm happier. Also, as I pray for others, especially our investigators, I'm so happy! This is what missionary work is, and it is the best!
Jason, keep up the good work. I know that you and David will find time to watch the movies, just remember, your friends and family are most important and you can make time for them. Don't worry so much about Pathway. Know that you have great resources to help you and you'll succeed.
Dad, you are so right, no matter the boundary changes, the Church is the same everywhere :) And Mom, I hope you get to go on that tour, it would be great to see some pictures from Utah again. I am proud of you and all that you are accomplishing, and for losing that 1/2 pound! Just keep eating right, walking every day and you will lose 10 in no time. I'm getting a little sick again, so my exercise may be going down this week, but I'll eat as healthily as I can and drink lots of agua!
So Luau picture 2 is when Sister Stacey and I were being silly one night

Luau picture 3 was at the luau, Sister Stacey and I were manning the missionary table

picture 4 was the crowd getting food

picture 7--President and Sis. Godwin surprised us by coming to the luau
picture 8--dancers at the luau
I love you all!
Sister Allison Mills

(Note: While she talked about 5 different pictures in her email, we only got the first three. Hopefully, she'll send the other two next time.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Conference Was Wonderful!

Dear Family,
Conference was wonderful and I really liked the talk about faith and how we must hold on to the cords of faith as we travel through this life, or we will fall. We got to watch it at the stake center and Brother Carrillo came to both sessions on Saturday, and listened to the sessions on Sunday with his family. Chris is doing really well and the Carrillo's are excited for the 20th. Brother Carrillo has another job interview, this time with the post office that I hope he will get. Keep him in your prayers. Chris is doing really well, and when we asked him why he wanted to be baptized he said that he wanted to have the Spirit all the time with him. I did not expect that answer, and it brought tears to my eyes. He is truly a spiritual giant and a wonderful influence on his inactive brothers and on his friends. He even made sure to include most of his family in the baptismal service :)
I'm learning a lot more about conversion and how to seek and follow the Holy Spirit in this work. Also, as I have been honest in my accounting to the Lord I feel the power of the atonement. It transcends mortality. It is thanks to the Spirit that Sister Stacey and I were able to have a wonderful conversation with a man named David, and read to him from Joseph Smith's testimony, and that he desires to learn more. We are only instruments in this work, and I am really humbled that the Lord trusts me to serve His children.
This week our zone has a really lofty goal, and that is to contact our investigators daily and to be 100% in following up with our leaders about our contacting efforts. I doubted when we received the text that outlined the goal, but I felt much peace as I got down on my knees and asked for forgiveness for my unbelief. I know that as we try to contact our investigators we will be blessed for our efforts. Some like TJ and Ivette are not available this week, with family complications or being on vacations, but our prayers can be with them. TJ was only here for a week, but we taught him 2 lessons and he gave a beautiful prayer. He truly desires to know if the Church is the path Heavenly Father wants him to take. I know that as he continues to read from the Book of Mormon and search, he will get the answer he desires.
Danny has been hard to get a hold of, but we'll keep trying. I really loved how conference emphasized knowing through our feelings, and as we testify, I trust that Danny's heart will be softened. Freddy is also hard to get a hold of, but we are going to do our best to see him and find out his questions and concerns. Tonight, though, we have an opportunity to teach Nicole, a 13-year-old we tracted into and I hope, with the added witness of a girl in our ward's testimony, Nicole will want to learn more and see that the gospel can help her.
Rosemary has needed a lot of service this week, but I love being around her because she has a calmness around her as we visit. She is one of the most giving women I know, and makes me laugh. She gave Sister Stacey and me both a glass heart to put on a necklace. She told us to keep all the gifts she gives us so we don't forget her, but I know I never could. Sadly, she is really stressed all the time and unhappy. If only she would let us teach her, but she is devout Catholic and told us she doesn't want to learn about LDS principles. Yet, she agrees with all the things we do teach. And the Spirit is working on her. I know one day she will accept.
Thank you for all the prayers and love. I am ready to go and excited for the work ahead. We get a wonderful opportunity to participate in the mission tour and C. Scott Grow is coming, so I'll be sure to attach pictures in the next letter. I am doing really well and relying more and more on my Savior, and He is upholding me.
Tell Jessica that if she goes, she will be a wonderful missionary and that as she follows the guidance of the Holy Spirit she will never go astray. I'm so proud of her. I'm very excited for James, Christian, and the thousands of others who are going to serve. I'll probably have a younger companion, and that will be great :)

Sister Allison Mills

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Power of Fasting

Dear Family,
Thank you so much for the fast. On Tuesday I felt the power of the fast, and throughout the rest of the week, I knew that power was still in force, as I kept going and having faith in the Lord.

This week many miracles have happened. Sister Exchanges are a time for those miracles to be seen more readily as a new missionary comes in the area for a few days and gives her insight to the work in the area. Having Sister Dodge was wonderful and we visited less actives and potential investigators that show some interest in being taught again. One example is Ivette Uries, a 16-year-old whom we just briefly visited right before switchbacks. She was a potential, turned to a new investigator once Sister Stacey and I taught her. Ivette is smart and humble. We brought a woman from our ward who really got along great with Ivette and used a pomegranate to share with her how the fruits of the gospel are the same--you don't have to taste each individual pomegranate seed to know the sweetness of them all. It really spoke to Ivette, and I know that as she reads and wants to learn for herself that what we are teaching is true, she will come to that. Though we invited her to baptism, and she said no at this time, if we teach with power and authority, and clearly, I am confident she will come to know the truth.

Another miracle we had this week happened with Freddy. On the way to visit a less-active, we saw Freddy outside, so we hurried out of the car (after saying a prayer of course :) ) and set up an appointment with him! On Friday we were able to teach Freddy the doctrine of Christ, and he agreed with everything. He is Baptist and very open. As we teach him of the Restoration, the need for authority with baptism will make more sense.
A third miracle is that we met with the Carrillo's, and both parents were home! Sister Stacey and I had been at dinner, and just about to show the family a Mormon Message for dinner thought, but the DVD wouldn't work. Since dinner started at 7, it was already 8 by this time, and we knew we had to visit the Carrillo's. So we shared a quick thought and booked it to the Carrillo's house. If we would have been there even 3 minutes later, his parents might have already been asleep. That meeting was amazing and lots of concerns and questions were expressed, and goals were made that night. Brother Carrillo is commited to get work off on the 20th and it just feels right that this baptism will happen then. Even the Carrillo's said that all the other times with all the other missionaries just didn't feel right for Chris to be baptized, but now is the time. Those missionaries planted those seeds, and I honor them for their efforts. I don't know why things happen when they do, but the Lord does. I'm so grateful for this family and their commitment to change.
One more miracle...we teamed up with the Spanish elders and finally met and taught Justine!! She yearns to be baptized, but still lives with her boyfriend, has 2 kids with him, and she doesn't know how to leave him and he doesn't seem too interested in marriage.  We talked about fasting, and this Sunday we all fasted for her to come to Church. Justine was supposed to join, and commited to it, but her boyfriend really hates missionaries, so we couldn't start the fast with her. I hope she was able to fast on her own, as we were, and that her desires will be met. Or that her boyfriend will soften his heart or just leave, but I really don't know how this story is going to end. All we can do is continue teaching her and helping her see she is a beloved daughter of God, who deserves the best.
Though some appointments fell through, it was all as the Lord would have it. We were supposed to teach another new investigator and a recent convert on Thursday from 2 to 4 pm, but both fell through. Right at 2 we got a call from Teresa, a recent convert, telling us she was sent to the ER and wanted a blessing and a visit. We were able to find worthy Melchezidek priesthood holders for the blessing, and had time to visit her. I learned 2 things from this: Heavenly Father is very aware of what all His children are going through and will call upon those willing to be His hands, and that every male worthy to hold the priesthood of God must remain worthy to use it whenever asked. Continually keeping our covenants is key to being an instrument in the Lord's hands.
This Saturday we were able to attend the RS Broadcast with the Fontana Stake and Sister Kagle, a less-active we are teaching, came! It was so wonderful to see her there, and she truly asked for work off for Sunday (she thought it was my birthday this Sunday not last, ha ha), and though her boss told her no, she is changing. She loved President Eyring's talk, as did I. He truly showed us how to serve and be willing. I loved how Sister Burton told us to write in our hearts those 3 principles of the atonement: that it is the greatest evidence of God's love for us; that through its power we can overcome the natural man and be disciples of Christ, and that all that is unfair about life WILL be made right through the atonement. We just have to let it. I really loved how President Eyring also asked "what can willing hands do?" I am going to take your advice, Mom, and wake up with that thought and then go and do!
I'm feeling much better, and I can honestly say it is because for this past week in my morning and evening prayers I have asked to feel love for those I teach and come in contact with. It has been more fun to do missionary work because I am being granted this desire, and truly want to share the gospel because I love those we teach. To enhance this love, I will account to the Lord each night for how I showed love for my fellowmen. I'm still going to pray to be filled with love and to see others as God sees them, but after a week of experimenting, I know for myself that I am much happier and willing to work when I focus on others and love them. It's such a simple principle! I want to be filled with this love all the time.
This letter probably is scattered, and that is another goal I have for myself, and have had for over a year. I've been working this week on focusing on one thing at a time, but it is a process. Thank you for all your prayers and love.
Sister Mills

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Tough Week

(Sister Mills and her companion were rushed in getting off to a sisters' activity, and she didn't have time to write the regular "Family" letter, so here are bits and pieces from her letter to me.)

Dear Mom,
I mised you all a lot too. I was well taken care of yesterday; a kind family in the ward made a delicious meal and Skor bar cake! 

...Also, I loved the birthday box and all the pictures, the apple, and the candy!! Most important, I loved the letters! Thank you, thank you! And what a cute idea for a birthday cake sometime. It is so creative! What is the metal thing? To make the petals, I assume?
It is so awesome what you learned from 3 Nephi 17, and how Jesus Christ really does show us how to be gospel teachers.
...Wow, a baby boy! What great news! I haven't had an opportunity to write Jenepher from her previous letter, I'll try to write her today. I'll keep Jenepher in my prayers and hope that her health gets better. And, tell Cameron congratulations! He'll be a wonderful missionary, and I know that he will love Peru.  
...Sadly, the Carrillo's were very busy this week. They had car troubles Monday, so the lesson fell through, and then with Brother Carrillo getting another job, he had to work Saturday. The baptism didn't happen. It was really sad. We did have a miracle though yesterday. Chris's mom was home and we chatted about the busy schedule, and we set up an appointment to teach Chris a little more. We will set another date tonight, but with the General Relief Society broadcast and conference coming up, our weekends are few. His baptism may be in 3-4 weeks, but it will happen. 

Dan and Anna lost their apartment, they both don't have jobs, and we haven't heard from them since Tuesday. All I know to do is pray for them that they will each find a job. Sister Kagle is doing really well! She read 1 Nephi 4-11 and was so excited she called us! Her goal is to get to church once a month and she is planning on going to the Relief Society broadcast on Saturday, which is awesome! That was totally the highlight for the week. Danny is okay, though he's really questioning about Joseph Smith. It is really hard teaching him because he is so intellectual, but maybe something will click. We left him Alma 32 to read, so having a discussion about that will be interesting.
You are right, we do have the Lord on our side, and I will recommit to looking to find those who are prepared. I've actually stopped reading Isaiah, and am just going to focus on the lesson we'll be teaching and the Plan of Salvation. I'll start up with Isaiah again in a couple months. Thank you for the suggestions about pondering and using faith as I study and teach. I'll focus on testifying and pray to glean one thing from my studying for this week... I know that I can do hard things, but I've got to have faith in me. Heavenly Father has really blessed me with faithful parents who are committed to the gospel and show by their examples how to keep enduring to the end.
...I didn't have enough time to write the "family" letter. I'll do that next week. I better write dad!

Monday, September 17, 2012

We Can Open Our Mouths

(Allison had sent me a game she made for my birthday to share with my Primary class. It's called the Game of Sacrifice and it basically calls on the players to make choices as to which things in their lives they'd be willing to sacrifice for other, more important things. I'd told her the kids had a tough time trying to figure out which was most important when it came down to testimony, the temple, and the priesthood.)

Dear Family, 
I was so grateful to get all the letters, postcards, and emails today. I had a lot to read! This is going to be short, but I hope that is okay.
Mom, so glad your class is so grateful for you and that you are seeing, as I have, that letters from kids are the best. Also, I'm glad the game went well and the kids were so torn about testimony, temple, and the priesthood: they have great testimonies themselves and wonderful parents who are teaching them how to be converted. Those were the hardest for me to decide between too. Danny was a little nicer when we saw him, and Sister Kagle is reading again. I hope she will want to go to the temple someday. I want to gain a stronger understanding of the temple so that I can be a powerful witness. It is going to be up to her to come back to Church and do the things needed to attend the temple, though. Prayers work though for sure. How lucky all of these people are to have all these prayers on their behalf. Danny is 29 years old and very intellectual. We are teaching him The Restoration this week, and as we teach with clarity I hope he feels the Spirit and that our Church is not just another church, but the true Church. As I grow in understanding, I know we can help him.
Dan and Anna seem very open. We had a first lesson with them, found out what they expect, and how they see how content we are and want to find out why. They said they would read from the Book of Mormon, but there is no sure answer that they have. It's been a challenging week for them with looking for jobs and filling out applications, and in our follow-ups they seemed to know they should read, but I don't think they understand the why yet. When we see them again that is something we need to make sure they get--why it is vital to read the Book of Mormon. Also, they said they would come to Church, and sadly, Sunday came, and no Dan and Anna. We called and there was no answer. Later this week we are going to visit them and find out what is going on.
Chris Carrillo is getting more excited for his baptism, and tonight we have our last lesson with him before his baptismal interview and baptism (cross your fingers) this Saturday! We are teaching tithing, fasting, and the word of wisdom. The Christensens, another family in the ward, and the Carrillo's home teacher, have some great insights to share, so it should be a powerful lesson. I just hope I am prepared enough. There is still so much more to learn and understand, but I believe what you said, Mom; as I stay prayerful and obedient that understanding will increase of all the gospel principles and ordinances, and the moral strength needed to ward Satan off will be increased.
Isaiah is difficult to understand, and I find it hard to concentrate at times, but the footnotes are incredible! For chapter 11 of Isaiah, there are a lot of answers and added revelation to increase understanding given in D&C 113--you should check it out, it is way cool.
Sorry for no president letter this week, I am going to do that right now, but I wanted to see how all of you are doing, and you all sound great. What wonderful things you are all learning and experiencing. So glad you got to do some service for Prosser. Sister Stacey and I did some service for a lady in our ward, but there were some rat feces involved, and we didn't stay too long after we found those. 
Keep doing all you can to share your testimonies, and the best way to do that is to live the gospel, which you are all doing. I'll pray that you can all meet someone to share the true message of the gosepl with, and I know that as we all have courage we can open our mouths. The Ensign this month gives some great examples and ideas, as does the New Era--check it out. 
Wow, I'm so glad Laurel is okay and that she is keeping with tradition :) She is going to be an amazing trainer and her companion is very lucky to have her. Tell Brother and Sister Burrup I think of her often, and pray for her success.  
I love you all, and know that I know the gospel is true and worth fighting for!
Sister Allison Mills

(And here are some snippets from her letters to her dad and brother. She also mentioned in her letter to me that she'd been sick with a cold most of last week.):

Dear Dad,

Wow, I didn't even think about that really. I was thinking about the setting apart and how I was blessed to find hidden talents, and I am having a hard time realizing those. I think that I am wanting all these blessings right now and feeling like time is running out to be perfect, but I can't be perfect ever in this life. I should breathe more and enjoy the journey.

We really have been so blessed, and I have been so blessed these last 2 months with all the people we are meeting, that we are teaching, and how I am learning and growing in the gospel. It's getting harder now, and there are less people to teach, but I'll keep my chin up as best I can. I'll reflect today on the good moments I've had in the past 2 months. Thanks for telling me that. MTC experience is truly wonderful and unique.

Angela is doing well, she is reading again. Last week was really hard for her, and she missed us coming over, so we are going to see her more to support her with the Word of Wisdom and finding her new life in the gospel. It is a lifestyle. Ruby may not yield fruit, but we are going to see her again. This week is going to be a lot more finding I feel, but at the end of the week Chris will be baptized hopefully!!! That will be wonderful :) His family is such a support and it's been a long haul for other missionaries, so I am just so grateful we get the opportunity to see the fruit of all the work put in from all these missionaries. What a blessing.

Dear Jason,
That's okay, the Pathway assignments are going to be a little challenging; you'll find, as I am, that when things are a little harder they are more worth it. Teaching the Gospel is getting a little harder since we don't have as many people interested, but I know it is worth it and is the ONLY WAY to have eternal life.
Are you loving your Book of Mormon class? What are you reading right now? I am in Moroni, and am really excited to start reading again from the beginning with my new highlighting ideas (green for mention of the Savior, yellow for scripture mastery, purple for commandments, blue for God's love and orange for the Doctrine of Christ--which is everywhere!) My scriptures are going to be colorful :)
Good job for saving Mom's book! That is so funny that they missed that critical part. You are the master of paying attention to detail :) Please let me know what the book launch is like and send pictures. It will be wonderful!
I did get your wonderful postcards and loved them! I can't wait to see all those places you visited, especially the 9/11 memorial and the parks in person. Something about nature and remembering those brave souls just makes me feel God's power all around. I bet the Lion King was the best, and those seats are AMAZING! What a cool experience :) Once in a lifetime, and worth the wait since you were 4.
You are inspirational even when you don't say anything. I love you lots and am very proud of you.