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