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!

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