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.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another Miracle

(First, I have to say we made the mistake of posting our emails to Allison this morning and, unfortunately, they were too late for her to catch when she logged on. So we've sent them on by snail mail. Won't make that mistake again! Here's her email--in which she included instructions for a terrific game she sent for my birthday to share with my Primary class--followed by her letter to her mission president.)

Dear Family,
Sad to not see any personal letters this week, but I know that you are all so busy with getting back from New York and the book launch :)
Mom, before I forget, sorry for not giving the directions for how to play "Game of Sacrifice". What you need to do is put out 6 cards face up on a hard surface, and the people playing have to sacrifice 2 at a time. Then, you put 2 more cards down to keep 6 always on the table. When you put the last two down, your instructions change, and the player(s) have to sacrifice everything but 1. Hopefully the one card left on the table will be "testimony" and then you proceed to read aloud the last two cards with the quotes. It's a fun game and interesting to see what people are willing and not willing to give up.
This week was a little more discouraging at first. Thankfully all the dinners were fabulous! Dad, don't be offended, but at the Bringhurst's on Monday they made brocolli salad and the most amazing salmon I have ever tasted! But, your New York pancakes will never be beaten ;)
Lots of people either weren't home, didn't answer the door on purpose (one woman even stood behind her screen door and watched us until we just left), or forgot about our appointments. Luckily, those ones were more willing to see us again. One lady is really frustrating me because she told the Elders who tracted her she wants to hear from us again, and though we have been trying all last transfer, there has been no contact. I'm praying to love her with Christ's love, and to forgive her. One of my weaknesses, I might add.
However, the week started to turn when we had a visit with the Kagles. Karen is a less-active and her son is not a member. We taught Karen about the temple and showed her Boyd K. Packer's pamphlet, and she is really excited to read it. It would be awesome to get her to go to the temple so she could receive her endowments. She is such a perfectionist though, she doesn't feel worthy. We talked with her about the things she needs to give up so she can go to the temple, and she seemed more excited. Sister Kagle is really progressing and wants to come to church! She is praying and reading more too :) Danny, her son, has been super apathetic, like I mentioned, and I have always felt I bugged him, and that was confirmed during our visit. Near the end, Danny just poured his heart out, and told me that while he liked me as me, he was so bugged by my religious talk, and that the way I say things just makes him want to argue. What was the positive about this interaction was Danny seemed a lot more at ease with the world and is now ready to have us teach him again. I may only read some scriptures this next time, because what he told me did hurt a bit, but then again, I should bear testimony, because you can't argue with that. Heavenly Father is really wanting me to have greater confidence I guess, because I felt really hurt and almost cried later, but I focused on what good that did for Danny, and how I can't help if not everyone likes me. It made me recognize that when I get bugged by some people, it is only fair, some get bugged by me.
Another miracle this week was a referral from the Spanish Elders in our zone. A couple, Dan and Anna, want to be taught in English, and they were sent by the Elders to our ward, and the ward welcomed them with open hands! Brother Boden talked with Dan, and we spent time getting to know Anna. They both have their own Book of Mormons and we highlighted some important scriptures for Anna. We should start teaching them this week :D
The end of the week was much better than the beginning of the week. There are more appointments this week, and a baptism!! Anakin Nieveas was baptized at 8, but his records were lost, so his parents asked us to teach him the lessons before he was baptized again. He is a fun, active, energetic 12-year-old boy. His sister, Alora, loves participating, as does his older brother, Anthony, who has a spinal disability. Alora even asked if she could get re-baptized and learn the lessons for her; so cute. They are a wonderful family, and Anakin is lucky to have a mom and stepdad that are so firmly true to the gospel. He wants to be better at not cussing, and we are really proud of him.
Chris came to church with his family again, and the Carillo's are really progressing. Chris still doesn't see the why of going to church after being baptized, so Sister Stacey and I are praying that tonight we will help him see the why when we teach about keeping the sabbath day holy. His baptism is still set for September 22nd :D

Dear President Godwin,

For this week, Sister Stacey and I have been working hard to find a little bit more. We were asked by the ward council to visit some less actives and we did, but sadly, not many were home, or didn't answer the door. Finding is hard work, and a little discouraging. Angela's baptism was a wonderful blessing and this week the Lord has been testing me and my faith in Him by having lots of appointments fall through, an investigator tell me why he doesn't like listening to me, and seeing really kind people who are just not interested in the gospel at this time. One night I was praying and told Heavenly Father how discouraged I was, and how ineffective I felt I was being, since our goals were not being met. I felt peace come over me during that prayer, and I know that Heavenly Father is pleased with Sister Stacey's and my efforts. We are so willing to work hard, and the Lord knows that because He blessed us with 2 awesome referrals!

Dan and Anna went to the Spanish branch and met Elders Cebreros and Leisik, and they told them to go to our ward since they live in our boundaries and want to be taught in English. They asked for a Book of Mormon, and they even stayed for 3rd hour! Hopefully they will want to be baptized and increase their relationship with their Heavenly Father and each other through accepting the gospel. I have high hopes for this couple.

In my personal study this week I have been blessed with many personal revelations. One is that a truly converted person will not only believe something is true, but then go out and teach others the truth. I learned that today while reading, "Having the Vision to Do" by Elder Hulock. Another impression I had was that for this transfer, now that I have made lesson plans for each lesson from Chapter 3, I should focus on what Mormon directs us to do: study the prophecies of Isaiah (Mormon 8:23). For the next 6 weeks I will read daily from the Book of Mormon and then for the first time in my life, read the prophecies of Isaiah! I'll keep you updated on what I am learning from this study in my letters each week.

Sister Allison Mills

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shall the Youth of Zion Falter?...NOT IN FONTANA!

Dear Family,
I don't have a lot of time so this email will be short, but I just wanted to share a few things I feel and know to be true. First, I know that Sister Stacey and I were meant to be together. While I loved Sister Schott (picture included), and I would love to be companions with her one day, Sister Stacey had to be my trainer. She is calm, hardworking, fun, loving, patient, compassionate, and full of faith. All the things I want to develop more as a person and as a missionary. The Lord really knows who we need to be with when and thank goodness for worthy priesthood leaders who listen to Him and follow His counsel.

(Sister Schott and Sister Mills)
Second, when a family is supportive of their child and their decisions, especially the decisions that are of eternal significance, Satan has less power to bind anyone down or to tempt them to give up. Angela's baptism was on the 1st and her family, though not members and not really interested, were so supportive and touched by the Spirit. Bishop Knudson of the Oleander Ward where we serve was right when he said it in ward council. When those who attend a baptismal service are open, the Spirit is stronger. It was a lovely service, and though no investigators came, one less-active/recent convert 12-year-old girl came with her non member grandma!! That was incredible! I am so glad the Lord inspired me to call and invite them, and they came :)

(Sister Mills, Sister Stacey, and Angela--in back--with Angela's family)

(A family attending the baptism)

(Angela and her dog)

Third, there is no time on a mission to think of things of the world. Yesterday was district meeting, and we talked of repentance and how that leads to baptism. Repentance is an eternal principle, and is valid only when godly sorrow is used. I like what Elder Harris said about repentance: it's as easy as ABCDEF (A=admit B=be sorry C=confess D=don't do it E=ever again F=forgive yourself). That is what it is all about. Well, after that spiritual uplift (and I baked cookies for the zone, and I've noticed anytime I make something for the zone to enjoy I have a better day, so I better keep doing that), we all went out to lunch at Tio's. There was a TV on that showed the ball games, and we all watched some. BIG MISTAKE! For the rest of the day, keeping wordly thoughts out was so much harder than it has been my whole mission. I am determined and am making a goal to NEVER watch anything on TV again for the next 17 months! I hate not feeling the Spirit and not keeping focused on the things that matter most at this time of my life. Truly, the brethren were inspired about what to include in the white handbook.

(The Redlands Temple)

Finally, as I indicated in my title in the subject line, the LDS youth of Fontana are incredible! I know Elder Cook said LDS women are incredible, and I agree wholeheartedly, but I add, LDS YOUTH ARE INCREDIBLE!! Let me explain. First, most of our referrals for people to visit come from the youth, when we have dinner when one is present. They talk about seminary and how they share the gospel with their friends at school. And, way cool, at dinner on Sunday, the Beehive teacher, Sister Davies, asked Sister Stacey and I if we could go to mutual one night and role play with the Beehives on how to answer questions, or bring up the Church to their friends. This was not the leader's idea, it was the Beehives! INCREDIBLE!! I am so impressed with the youth all around the world. They are so much more focused on the things that matter most than I ever was. What a marvelous opportunity people my age have to bear children who are going to grow up to be the strong leaders of the Church this world needs before the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I'm so glad to be around such wonderful youth who are converted to the gospel, not just those who have testimonies. Testimonies only go so far, you need to live and love the gospel (be converted) to stay strong against the "fiery darts of the adversary" and be built on the foundation of Christ (Helaman 5:12). Truly, the LDS youth around the world, and in Fontana are an example of the believers.
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
~ 1 Timothy 4:12
I've got a lot to learn from these incredible people. How wonderful it is to be on a mission where I can learn so much and witness so many tender mercies. The Lord is living, the Church is a living church, and the gospel is true!
Sister Allison Mills
p.s. I also thank all the mentors, Darlene Christensen, Celeste Glendhill, my 4th grade team, Cheryl Winfree, Jeanette Anderson, and Murph for their kindness, compassion, and lessons about how this life and how we find ourselves is by serving and deciding everyday to be happy and have some fun while getting all the work done.

(I'll add a few lines here from other letters to us)

Dearest Mom,
... I love being on a mission and feeling the Spirit all the time! Yes, I am so grateful for prayers and how my understanding of the atonement is increasing. I try to think of Christ more throughout the day and it makes the day so much better!
The temple was amazing and I loved being able to learn more about the purpose of life and how the Savior is the center of the gospel and all we do in it...
Loved the pictures, especailly of Jillian accomplishing such an amazing feat of graduating! I am so glad you were able to go to a wonderful fast and testimony meeting and you all look so great! Our fast and testimony meeting was wonderful, and Angela's friend, who was less-active but because of Angela's example reactivated herself bore a powerful testimony. Also, many youth bore their testimonies. The youth are the strength of the Church. I'll write my post for the blog in another email and write more about them (they deserve to be gushed about).

Dear Dad,
Wow! You answered so many questions our investigators have, and I am going to print out your letter and use it for some of our lessons, especially with one man who does not understand why he is apathetic towards learning anything about the gospel (of course this happened while he was progressing). Satan is a creep.
I'm really glad there were so many tender mercies, especially for Jason. That must have been the best trip ever!! I prayed a lot for you all that it would be a safe and fun trip. Prayer works! Angela's baptism was wonderful and the Spirit was really strong there. We are so proud of her, and the Spirit shines from her so much more. She is a powerful source for good and will always be.
I promise that I will always stay worthy of the covenants I have entered into. The Lord has given me all, and I will never betray Him.

(Also, Sister Godwin posted other pictures on the mission blog of a fun Sister's Activity they had involving water during this past week, but you'll have to click here to see them. Allison's in the big group picture to the left.)