Monday, April 1, 2013

A Transfer of Change -- Coming Home


Dear Family,
Thank you so much for all the prayers, emails, letters, fasting, and support. After a lot of prayers on my part, I have decided it is best to go home for a season, learn some things that I hadn't before, and really get to know me. I plan on coming back out to finish my mission, sometime around October. I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me. I know enduring to the end is a true principle. This is just a little curveball. I feel peace knowing that I have so much support from friends and family, and most importantly from Heavenly Father. Thank you for your love. It's been a great 9 months. I am so blessed to have served the people of California, and see lives change. I'll always be a missionary :)
Love,
Sister Allison Mills

(Note: Our daughter is receiving an honorable early release from her mission for health reasons and comes home tomorrow. We are so excited to see her and welcome her into our arms! Once we figure out exactly what the matter is, get her the proper treatment, and she feels able to continue, it will be up to her and the Lord as to whether she returns to the mission field or goes on with her life. Regardless, as she herself put it, she'll "always be a missionary.")


(Sister Mills with her last companion...at least for now...Sister Laalaai)




Monday, March 11, 2013

I'm Going to Be Like Mormon


Dear Family,
 
I can email friends now!!! I can also email all family members. So if someone doesn't want to write, they can email :) And thanks for being mindful of us and my friends. We get to go to the temple next week, Wednesday, so I'll put her name in as well. I'm so excited to go to the temple again!! Expect a letter from me Wednesday then, not Monday.
 
Okay, here we go for the miracles and daily update:
 
Monday, March 4, 2013: We found an amazing trail around our home in Devore, and explored big time. It was so fun to hike and go on a walk--a refreshing alternative to basketball. Then we were able to have a fun dinner with the Ewell's, whose son is leaving on his mission this week to Boliva. He gave an amazing, spirit-filled talk on Sunday. It was one of the best meetings I have attended.

(*pic of us going down a creepy water pipe thing on our hike last Monday)

 
Tuesday, March 5, 2013: We taught Paula and Narisse today! And Sister Ewell and her daughter, Emma, who is Narisse's age, were able to come and participate, as well. Paula is so prepared! As we taught the Plan of Salvation and talked about what it means for our families, you could tell both of them got it. They believed and accepted what we taught. And Narisse loved my scriptures. At the end of the lesson she asked her mom if she could have a set just like mine, so cute! Later that night, we had dinner with Christy Andrews and we were able to watch "The Restoration" (the long version). It built my testimony even more of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He went through so much for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and never let go. If this church wasn't true, he never would have endured such torment. We all felt the Spirit that night.
 
Wednesday, March 6, 2013: Though it wasn't planned until later because we thought Narisse would be going to mutual, we went to the stake center to meet her there. Though Narisse didn't show up, we met the young women's president from the 1st ward, and she told us she wanted us to help out with a mission prep lesson for her young women's group later this month. There are two investigators who go regularly to that young women's group, and one of them is in our ward boundaries. Maybe we can gain her trust and get a new investigator :) It was no coincidence we went to the stake center that night and met Sister Cabral.
 
Thursday, March 7, 2013: We had another lesson with Paula and Narisse, and this time we taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, they were super receptive. We felt prompted to invite them to baptism during this lesson, and we did so. Both committed to pray about being baptized. Narisse even wrote down their homework (we will check to see if they did it at our lesson in 30 minutes). Paula told us that she was sure that she would get the answer of yes. And she testified that, since meeting us on Sunday, she can tell she is changing, and in a positive way. Her patience is increasing, she feels more love, and she is happier. What a wonderful testimony! We just love teaching them both, and we got to know each other better afterwards too. Sister Laalaai has some funny stories about getting lost her first transfer (she and her trainer almost made it to Disneyland one time). But if I had to cover the whole valley, I would probably get lost too. Later that night, we had a lesson with Christy Andrews, and our 2nd counselor taught again. The plan was to teach her about the restoration, but the Lord knew she needed answers to her questions from reading. She has been pretty faithful about texting us her reading. We haven't heard from her in a couple days, so that worries us, but we'll keep texting and praying for her. We talked about testimony, and the importance of bearing it. She is thinking about it...Also we taught true principles of the Godhead. It was so cool to see PMG in action--we do teach people, NOT lessons.
 
Friday, March 8, 2013: Not a lot happened today, but our miracle was we got to see a less active, Jamie Grant, and her husband actually came out and talked with us for like 3 minutes. He isn't a member, and not super interested. Seems he likes Elders more. What the heck?? Just kidding.
 
Saturday, March 9, 2013: Sister Mills didn't die...we tracted for six hours total, 2 in the morning, and 4 straight from 3 to 7 pm. Yeah, like a boss we made 38 contacts. And two families are potentially interested!!!
 
Sunday, March 10, 2013: Great Sacrament Meeting, learned about courage and being a missionary. Also, we finally saw Randall Russell again. Since he is moving and not very stable right now living-wise, he doesn't want to be taught yet, but he promised to call us. We know that he is sincere and wants to learn. All in the Lord's time I guess. And we finally got planning done for the week :) Oh, and regarding another less active woman we teach and want to fellowship more--we talked with another woman in the ward who is around her age and has a daughter with autism as well. Little did I know Stephanie Ortiz was this woman's visiting teacher! She is so excited to go with us to visit her this week. And since Mariah, (the less active) likes to crochet, we are all going to bring our crochet needles and make stuff. I still have to practice, but I plan on making a beannie for one of the Elders, and flowers for me :)
 
And today, we had an amazing P-DAY! Got to run!!!!!!!!!!!  It was around a dirt track-just like old Riverside times, ha ha. Oh it felt good. And we played ultimate frisbee with the zone. Our team, the Kitty, won  :) always and forever!
 
 
Love,
Sister Allison Mills
 
 
Letter to President:
Dear President,

Hello there. Hope you have had a great week. We had a wonderful week, and met and taught some amazing individuals. The most wonderful happening of this week was getting to teach two lessons with a mother and daughter, who are both very interested in the gospel. Paula showed interest in the church because of the emphasis on families, and her earnest desire is to improve her relationship with her daughter. Narisse is really nice, and as we taught them they showed interest and understanding. Both committed to pray about being baptized. Paula told us that she will and that she is pretty sure the answer will be yes. Those are some of the most glorious words a missionary can hear. It was so cute too when Narisse was thumbing through my quad and told her mom that she wanted one for herself. I hope they ordered one.

We know that these are the elect we are teaching. Sadly, some of those who were elect when we started teaching them, lost their confidence. I read "Cast Not Therefore Away Your Confidence" by Elder Holland today for personal study and I was struck by how any of us, once we have an enlightening experience, will have to face the very powers of hell to show our true conversion. Those who are only semi converted, or their seed is planted in weak soil, or among thorns, will never be able to see the rewards of enduring to the end. I feel that is what happened to Marcus and Jalen, two  boys we were teaching. The first lesson we had they had just had an incredible experience at church and desired to recieve the priesthood, and were very excited to be baptized. We warned them trials would come and Satan would do all he could to dissuade them, and he did. Sadly, at least for now, he won. Neither of them have phone numbers, and since they live with their mom every weekend, the only way we could contact them was through a member friend or on weekdays. Their mom attends the Rock church, and I feel her influence hardened their hearts. We have had to drop them because we can't make contact, and the mom doesn't seem interested or supportive. It's sad to see two souls not make those covenants, but I know that with the Mormon friends they have, and as they think about the seeds and spirit that have been planted, one day they will come back.

I'm doing really well emotionally and socially, and I really love the San Bernardino zone. I'm learning to bite my tongue more, and I am still finding I make the mistake of not keeping my mouth shut. Heavenly Father is keeping me humble and helping me to recognize my weaknesses. This time I look at it as "yay, I can improve." I hope that the two baptismal dates we set with Paula and Narisse go through, because it has been very discouraging to see 4-5 baptismal dates fall through, and each investigator become a former. I want so badly to help with the 350 baptisms, and I just wonder why the Lord is allowing it to be so hard for all of us. All I can do is keep going and not to let my confidence go. I know 350 is the Lord's will, and as Nephi declared, "the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save He shall prepare a way for them, that they may accomplish the thing which He commandeth them."
Let's never cast away our confidence!
 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Week 2 of Transfer 6


Dear Family,
 
Okay, now to the miracles of the week. I'm going to try this new approach where I go day by day and share a miracle per day:
 
Monday, February 25th, 2013: Today was P-DAY and we recieved 2 referrals from Salt Lake: Randall Russell and Paula. More about both of them later. Sadly, we haven't been able to contact Deborah, she must be out of town or ignoring us. Hope it is the former. And our dinner appointment became lunch, so the miracle of that was that the Becars, who were having us over for FHE, also made a delicious meal their daughter worked on all afternoon, so we were hungry for that too! The Lord works in mysterious ways :)
 
Tuesday, February 26th, 2013: Though it wasn't P-Day, we were blessed to walk through a musuem (a free one, as well, because it was in a less active woman's house). Her husband has a thing for themes and decor, so each wall was full of artifacts and portraits from a different era and place. There was a Chinese bathroom, an old school cowboy room, a French wall, a WWII library, an English wall, an old organ (Dad you would die), and a whole room for ships and sailing. Made me miss my students :( It was amazing to visit with Helen, and she felt the love of God with us being so excited to have a tour. She wants to feed us too! What an incredible house (next time we go, I'll have to take pictures).
 
Wednesday, February 27th, 2013: We had 3 lessons with less actives! Miracle! Though no lesson happened with investigators, as we were hoping for, and Marcus Jr, and Jalen are being detered by their mother and the infamous Rock Church, we were so blessed to teach three wonderful members of our ward. One family we haven't had a chance to talk to before, so that was a wonderful miracle to have that door opened to us. Hopefully, he and his wife will come back to church. Also, I recieved a beautiful card from Kiley and in it she told me some very sad news. Caleb broke up with her a while ago, but she is still suffering miserably. Mom, would you put her name on the prayer roll at the temple, please? She could use it.
 
Thursday, February 28th, 2013: Tonight we had another lesson with Christy Andrews, and this time we had Brother Larsen from our bishopric teach the Plan of Salvation. He answered her questions and they got along really well. We committed her to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover, and every night we text her and she texts us what she has read. She is on fire! I knew the impression to read the Book of Mormon with the intent to see God's love was inspired, because that is the challenge Brother Larsen gave to Christy. She is such an amazing woman and is growing by leaps and bounds. And, Semba Roberts, whom I had never met, came to ward correlation (he's a ward missionary) and determined to be active again. Keep his wife in your prayers, since she is a little less ready.
 
Friday, March 1st, 2013: Today we were given a few more referrals and contacted one of them. One was Paula. Her daughter answered and we taught her a little of the Plan of Salvation. She committed to read the pamphlet and to have questions ready when we came back. It was a good day, and we got to draw a sidewalk chalk outline of the Plan of Salvation!
 
Saturday, March 2nd, 2013: After a good meeting with Bishop, we went to contact Randall Russell. At first glance we thought, "Homeless weirdo," but as we gave him the DVD he requested, and he talked about his faith and desire to be taught, our minds and hearts were humbled and we saw him as his Heavenly Father sees him: as a son of God. He seems like he is really interested and wants to understand the gospel. This week hopefully we will have a new investigator! Also, we have the opportunity as provided by Brother Moody (WML) to teach the ward missionaries the missionary lessons so they can feel more comfortable with teaching the investigators and recent converts. We taught the Restoration and it went really well. Everyone loves the visuals we have for it and they all participated.
 
The most special miracle happened after our zone met for a kickoff of our zone fast to find new investiagators (350 baptisms goal is a little short). I have a cold and wanted a blessing. I asked my newly called district leader, who knows nothing about me or my struggles (unless sisters have told him). I asked for a blessing of healing, but the blessing was more a blessing of comfort. Things that Elder Werner had no idea about were brought up just for me. In the blessing I was told that the Lord is really proud of the missionary I am and the work I am doing. He knows I am working hard (that was so comforting because on paper and numbers- wise, it doesn't look like we are doing much). Then I was told that the Lord is aware of my struggles and how hard it is for me at times. Tears stremed down my face at that time, such a tender mercy from God. I was reminded of my infinite worth. The Lord has confidence in me and my abilities. It was the blessing I so longed to hear so many times before, and when I least expected it, when I am on a high, it was the blessing I recieved. The Lord works in mysterious ways. I love him so much.
 
Sunday, March 3rd, 2013: Fast and Testimony meeting. I felt very strongly to bear my testimony and I am so grateful I did. Also, though we weren't feeling super well, we were impressed to visit Paula, whose lesson at 1 p.m. fell through. We caught her home at 3:30 and had a wonderful visit. More details in President's letter :) She is an amazing woman and I feel as she and her daughter learn together they will want to make covenants together and their relationship will grow.
 
Hector had to cancel this week, but I am sure he is still reading, and he still wants to meet with us. We don't know what is happening with Marcus and Jalen, but Patrick Foley is committed to have us teach them with their mom (the stumbling block) so that she can see what they are being taught. Thanks for all the prayers! All is well though, I am well!
 
Love,
Sister Allison Mills
 
Letter to President,
 
Dear President,
This week picked up quite a bit, and we were super blessed with headquarters referrals. Most of them are pretty legit too! One in particular is a miracle, and if he gets baptized, his conversion story would be amazing. Randall Russell is in the process of moving and while he was going through his things, he came across a "finding faith in Christ" card, and called to get a copy. We showed up at his door the next day. He was shocked, for sure. He thought the DVD wouldn't be delivered until the next week. As we talked, we saw before our eyes a child of God, though forelorn and dirty, who has such a love for God and a thirst for the knowledge of the gospel. He told us he wants to be taught once things slow down and he is relocated. We were blessed to meet him.

Another miracle this week was also from a referral. Her name is Paula, and her greatest desire is to help her teenage daughter feel the love of God more abundantly. Their relationship is nonexistent, and it pains her so. As she told us of her struggles and tears wet her face, we were both touched to share a little about the Plan of Salvation and how the gospel of Jesus Christ does bless families. I have found that when we listen and follow the promptings of the Spirit, that is when the how to begin teaching bullet points, and other doctrines we are to teach, naturally flow. Nothing should be forced, since then the Spirit can't reside. He isn't the teacher if we force. The Spirit was really strong in our lesson, and she is excited to have us come again this week to teach her and her daughter. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Miracles


Dear Family,
 
Okay, whew, this week went slow and fast at the same time. We have been doing a lot more tracting, and there haven't been as many lessons, but there were miracles everyday. So for this letter I'm going to share a miracle per day, starting from Tuesday of last week:
 
Tuesday, February 19, 2013: It was getting near the end of the day, and no one we had planned for was home, and we were getting really tired. We had a wonderful dinner and got a semi-referral, and were looking at which less actives to go visit. Well, Lindsey Shepherd came into my mind, and after mentioning it to Sister Laalaai, we decided to check on her. This time, she was home, and we were able to have a nice visit with her and her husband, Bryan. Though no prayers were said and no spiritual message given, there was trust built, and memories talked about. Lindsey is wonderful. I can tell she doesn't want to talk about Woodcrest or what happened there, so we just talked about the future plans they had and what life was like for them. She told us that we could come back. That was our miracle. I don't know if Lindsey would have let other missionaries in, but I think because she knew me and we just talked about random stuff, hearts were softened. So grateful to end a long day a great way.


(Snow makes me happy!)

 
Wednesday, February 20, 2013: It snowed!! We got to enjoy it for a little bit up in our mountainous Devore, but by the afternoon it melted :( The Lord just knew we needed to be out and warm that day. Ha ha. Today we read 2 Nephi 26 with Teresa Curtiss Gonzalez, and this time she was super excited to read with us. She can only read basic 2-3 letter words, but she does a great job enunciating those words she can read. It was a special experience. Then after we said our goodbyes, we had a wonderful conversation with her dad, Harry. He doesn't talk much, but we found that by talking with him about something he loved--cars and mechanics--we didn't have to do any talking. It was so great being of service and getting to know the members of our ward even more.


(Transfer Goals)

 
Thursday, February 21, 2013: We had a lesson with Marcus (more details down in President's letter) and I learned a few things. I learned from him that God doesn't want us to be comfortable. When we are comfortable we aren't growing or progressing, which totally goes against his plan of happiness. Therefore, we have to feel uncomfortable most of the time. However, it is when we overcome those times that we are stronger and happier than ever before. I am grateful for the struggles I am having because it is teaching me to rely more on the Lord and to grow. Then later that night we had a wonderful lesson with Sister Christy Andrews, and she committed to learn more about tithing and to think about paying it and how it would work with her finances.


(Graffiti Art in the neighborhood)

 
Friday, February 22, 2013: On Monday we had received a referral from headquarters from a Deborah Collins who looked at mormon.org and wanted missionaries to come by. We had been trying her all week, but finally at 6 pm tonight we got her! She talked with us through her door, so we actually haven't met with her yet, but we set an appt. for Tuesday! What is amazing about this referral is that we tracted that street she lives on earlier last week. We left a card in her door since no one answered, and look what came of it! That never happens! AND then that night we got some incredible news....effective July 1st, the California San Bernardino Mission will no longer be...instead there will be the California Redlands Mission and the California Rancho Cucamonga Mission. So depending where I am serving July 1st, I could be in either mission. The Desert, Upland, Chino, Rancho, and Ontario are part of the Rancho Cucamonga Mission, and San Bernardino, Redlands, Yucaipa, Fontana, Big Bear, Mountains, and I think one other area are all part of the Redlands Mission. It is so crazy!! I won't be going home with some friends I met out here anymore potentially. However, I felt the Spirit so strong confirming to me this is the Lord's will and all will work out for each missionary's good. It is so wonderful to be part of history!


(How about something sweet to celebrate?)

 
Saturday, February 23, 2013: We had another lesson with Hector, and Brother Villarruel was there with us. We talked about the Book of Mormon some more. Hector read 1 Nephi 1-10! We then read chapters 11-12 with him to answer some of the questions he had about the tree of life (1 Nephi 8). It was so wonderful and Spirit-led. He excitedly asked us to come back the next week to read with him. It is so funny how the one person we thought who was going to drop us actually wants us to come back each week. He is determined to read the whole Book of Mormon, and he told us if he ever gets a nudge, he'll let us know it. I firmly believe that Brother Villarruel was the key. They have really hit it off, and Hector just seems so much more open.
 
Sunday, February 24, 2013: Had dinner with a new couple in the ward, and had a fun time eating and playing the "Game of Sacrifice" with them and their two roommates, a couple who live together (not Mormon). Ashley (the girlfriend) definitely felt something while Brother Sterrett read from D&C 122, and she and her boyfriend said if they had questions or wanted to learn more they would let us know. Don't know if they will ever convert, but the seed planting is a start. Feeling the Spirit is a wonderful start.
 
So overall, though we did a lot of tracting, had a lot of "No's," and couldn't seem to get a hold of our investigators with baptismal dates, we were blessed every day in so many ways. It was a fabulous week!


(Working into the evening)

 
Letter to the President:
 
Dear President,

It was a better ending to the week than beginning. We finally met with Marcus Stocklin, and though we had a lesson plan all figured out, the Spirit totally led us in a different direction. I understand better what it means to teach people, not lessons after that lesson. We just started talking with Marcus and as we caught up, answered questions and talked about his son, Caden, we knew that this lesson was just going to be a sharing of testimony. Marcus has a beautiful testimony. He taught us that the Lord doesn't want us ever to be comfortable, and that it is through faith in him that we can hope for a better day. We talked a lot more about faith and the importance of the gospel. What is so cool is that Marcus said that the Bible has so many interpretations, and that is why there are so many different churches. He knows the church is true. Work is getting in the way of him being baptized right now, and he still likes to attend his own church, but I know someday he will be baptized. He longs for his family to all be united in a church. We just need to build a relationship with the Mom so that her kids can see the good that can come from learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I really enjoyed that lesson and was humbled by how much I learned from someone not of our faith. Marcus is a special soul.

Another miracle we experienced started that night in our lesson with Christy Andrews, a less active woman we are helping to reactivate. We taught about tithing and its importance. She understands the what and how, but not the why. She committed to talk with her brother more about tithing and how it would fit with her finances, which is something she would not have done even 4 weeks ago. And, she said that she is willing to try it eventually! Her brother who is in the stake presidency would be so happy! Then, she even surprised us more when on Sunday she stayed for all 3 hours. Usually she leaves after gospel principles, but lately she has felt she is missing something Sunday and goes home hungry. Well, she stayed and loved all 3 hours! It was such a miracle. Though we had no investigators at church, her being there made the day so wonderful. My joy is full as this one soul is being brought back to Christ. I know one day she will recieve her endowments and progress. She is starting to see it too.

It was also a joy to see one of our investigators loving reading the Book of Mormon, and that he actually requested us to come back and read with him weekly. He told us if he ever gets a nudging to do more than read, like go to church, he will let us know. I pray he will :)

I'm doing much better President. Every night I am praying for investigators, our WML, the work, my family, and it is making a difference. The less I focus on me, the better my days go. And Sister Ball is so wonderful. She called me last week just to see how I was. What an answer to prayer, one that I didn't even know I was asking. Just to know someone cares is enough. Heavenly Father does look out for us, but it is usually through other people. I pray I can be a better vessel.

Love,
Sister Allison Mills

Monday, February 18, 2013

Some Disappointments


Dearest Mom,
 
I am so glad Enok is home and happy :) He was so tiny, but so beautiful! Oh wow. I just love that little guy. I'm so jealous you get to hold him... Can't believe Mandy and Emily are pregnant! Amazing. That's wonderful about Lacey and James, they will be incredible.
 
Our investigators are sadly not doing too well. We haven't been able to get hold of Juanita, though we dropped notes off and called. We worry she is avoiding us or we said something wrong. Desirae also had a tragedy. On February 11th, her baby Isaiah died--SIDS. She told us she didn't want to see us again. Then a few days later she called and asked for our help with a car wash to help raise money for the funeral. I admire how she has stayed so strong, considering. A lot of people came, and the Elders helped out a ton, so there were quite a lot of donations they got. Right now we are just grateful she wants us to still be a part of her life. Maybe down the road her heart will open again to the gospel, but at least she knows we are here and the ward is supportive.
 
It was a slower past couple weeks, and these tragedies put a damper on things, but there were still miracles. Two Sundays ago we got two new investigators, Marcus Jr, and his brother Jalen (Marcus Stocklin's biological sons). They went to Church and after learning about the priesthood, got super excited to recieve it. They have a baptismal date for March 16th, and the ward is really excited to fellowship them. We haven't been able to see them since last Sunday, but with a will, there is a way. Their dad isn't progressing right now; he got a new job and is going to be out of town for 16 weeks, so the ward is going to be their main sources of support. We hope we can have a lesson with them this week.
 
Yes, transfers are this week. 7 sisters are coming in and about 20+ elders. The influx is starting! Sister Lalaai and I are still staying in Hallmark ward, and I'm still junior companion. 
 
Please be safe in Mesa, and have a lot of fun. Mom, you are incredible. I think about how I want to grow up and be like you.
 
Can't wait to hear how the Whitney's go! Yay!! And Academy of the Ancients sounds so cool :)
 
Love,
Allison

Monday, February 4, 2013

Love You!


Dear Family,
 
This letter is going to be short because I need to let Sister Laalaai on soon. Speaking of her, here are some of the funny things and interesting facts about my companion:
 
  • She loves sewing and back at home sews wedding dresses and many other clothing items
  • Her family lives in Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand
  • She is the 7th of 10 children (8 girls and 2 boys)
  • If someone is rude to anyone she loves, watch out, she defends her own
  • One of her favorite ways to relax is to watch the moon and stars at night (a favorite pastime with her mom back at home). So glad we have a good view of the stars here in Devore. Sadly, some cloudy days happened this week. But today is nice and clear!
  • She does amazing tribal art
  • Like me, she says sorry for everything, even when we have made a mistake to an inanimate object. It's been really funny to see a quirk you have in someone else :)
  • She converted to the gospel when she was 13! Her conversion story is so cool! She was taught by the missionaries for a week straight, accepted everything really quickly (thanks to good member friends) and was baptized that weekend! Due to the changes her parents saw in her after 2 and 4 years, her mom and dad converted too! Other than her parents, and 3 younger sisters, no one else in her family is LDS.
 
I'll write more about her next letter too--I'm still learning about her, and our relationship is building. 

We had some great success this week, even with the flu bug that visited Sister Laalaai. She is feeling much better after a day and a half of sleep. 

One of our successes was on Friday. We had no planned lessons, but by listening to the promptings of the Spirit, we were led to a street where we taught one boy the message of the restoration. He didn't want to be taught anymore, but we gave him a Book of Mormon, and we honestly believe one day he will call the missionaries. Later that same day, we went to visit Juanita, an investigator we haven't been able to see this whole transfer. She was home and welcomed us in, and she and her son listened to the lesson on the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was so strong, and she made a strong commitment to come to church with her son. And on Sunday she and her son, David, came! They were unfamiliar with a lot of the service, and I didn't explain the sacrament as well as I could have, but amidst my weakness of trying to be perfect on my own, the Spirit still touched Juanita. She told us she felt good afterward, and that next week she wants to come again and stay for all 3 hours! David didn't seem as excited, but I think once he goes to Mutual he will feel differently. He was such a good listener though, and he really liked the picture of Samuel the Lamanite on the wall. I told him the chapters to read to go along with the picture, and he started peeking through right then. I felt bad I did that during Sacrament Meeting, especially during the testimonies. Sometimes I get so excited I don't think about when would be the best time to do things. That's why we are here though, to learn and become better.
 
We hope to see more of our investigators, and like you said, Dad, those that we did drop will be picked up by future missionaries. I also like what you said, Mom, about how when we drop them, Satan does too, so that when they are feeling stronger the missionaries can come back and invite them again to make covenants. And, I really liked that quote at the end by Kathy. 

The week was longer, and slower, but the experience Friday night for example, made the week really great. And, we had a wonderful zone conference! the best part of that day was when President told me in our interview that I was glowing, and that he has never seen me so happy. It made me realize that I can glow and be my best self. It's in the smile, as you say, Dad. I still have a lot to improve on, and I am trying to see that as a postive thing. Can you pray for me that I will be okay with making mistakes and learning from them? You're in my prayers as well :)  
 
Love,
Allison

Monday, January 28, 2013

Week 2 of Our 5 Week Transfer


Dear Family,
 
First off, thank you to all of you who have sent letters of love and support. I am getting so far behind in writing to all of you, but I will do it. For now, here is a shoutout to you wonderful souls that I love so much: Jenepher (I can't wait to see pictures of baby Enok, he is going to be the most gorgeous baby), Ashley Chamberlin, Alex Hoffman, Grandma and Grandpa Parker, Kathy Mills and Lisa Dalgren, Heather Holdsworth, and Rosemary Burnach, and Sister Meeks (MTC district rules)! I am so blessed to have so many people in my life who love and support me, and share the same values as me. What a gift.
 
Sister Laalaai and I have been very blessed this week, and if last week was a test of our faith, we are seeing the fruits this week. We were able to teach 3 new people and 1 of them already has a baptismal date. His name is Marcus, and this man is so prepared. He is really good friends with a member that used to live in the area, and this friend has been with him throughout all of Marcus's trials. His most recent trial was the death of his 2-year-old son. They had the funeral mid-December, and life has just started slowing down for them recently. 

We had our first two appointments with him this week. One of his sons participated in the first discussion, and the Spirit was totally the teacher. The love of their 2-year-old son and brother, Caden, was felt, and I was honored to feel that love and express that love to Marcus and his son. We taught the plan of salvation and both agreed with everything we taught. Two days later we had another lesson with Marcus, and we went over the message of the restoration. When the time felt right to extend a baptismal date, Marcus readily accepted. He said, "If that (March 2nd) is when the Lord wants me to be baptized, then I'll be baptized." He is a man of such faith. 

We are all praying that his family will want to listen to the discussions and make the commitments we are helping Marcus with. His goal is for his whole family to belong to the same church, and they have a large family (18)!!! I'm really impressed with this man and his desire to  follow Chirst and belong to His Church. His friend, Patrick, left him a promise that if he and his son read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truthfulness and the truthfulness of our message, the Lord will reveal its validity. I know that to be true. I have done it myself and the answer always comes back the same: YES.
 
We had an interesting lesson with David Lewis this week, our 3rd new investigator. He is agnostic, and going through a divorce. His wife just basically left him, and we felt impressed to bring a sister in our ward with us, first because we knew she went through a nasty divorce earlier in life. Well, come to find out during the lesson that this woman was David's history teacher his sophomore year! He even repented of a past sin where he cheated on a project. That was funny! The Lord has such a sense of humor. We testified to David that what happened was evidence God loves him. He seems very open and wants to read the Book of Mormon to really know if what we are saying is true. I hope he can feel the power of the atonement in his life as he goes through this difficult time.
 
Sadly, Pat and Val are not progressing, and they stopped coming to church and won't keep any appointments with us. We decided that our time would be better spent finding those who are ready to receive the gospel, so we dropped them and 4 others who are not keeping any commitments. It's really hard letting these people go, people who we have prayed so much for and love, but it is necessary to do sometimes. I have to forgive Pat still for keeping Val away from embracing the gospel as she wants, and I just pray that when she is older and can make her own decisions she chooses to join the church. 

As for Austin and Desiree, they are doing really well. Austin had a cold this week (half of San B is sick) so we canceled our appointment, but he came to church and loved it! He prayed about Feb 16th and feels that it is too soon, so we are going to let him decide a date that works for him. Desiree is still gung-ho for Feb 23rd, and she is making friends in the ward. We brought her to church because her ride bailed (I know, that was bad, and I repented of it). She really likes church and agrees with everything we teach her. These souls are so prepared. I know that if they keep reading, praying, and fighting Satan, their baptisms will become a reality.
 
Haven't been able to get hold of Amy; she's been sick as well, and we may be dropping her if she continues to cancel appointments, which is really sad. Here is a woman who was so excited to be baptized, had a baptismal date back in November, and then let doubt and fear, and anti-Mormon websites cloud her vision. Those websites are purely evil, and Satan is real. I've learned that we have to help our investigators be aware from the beginning that opposition will come as they start to accept the gospel. Then they can prepare and we can help them before they let the devil in. What Kim Berkey talked about is so true, we can't let our eye of faith wander away from the Savior. What a wonderful analogy. I may use it when we teach the atonement :)

Another highlight happened on Sunday this week. We were visiting part members and less actives, and stopped at the Dennehey's door. Sister Dennehey is a member, but her sons are less active and her husband is not interested. We visited with her and laughed, and talked about the power of the atonement. She blames herself over her kids' inactivity because she used to be less active. We testified that Christ can make all the difference. We just have to be willing to repent and forgive ourselves. That's the hardest part really-- forgiving ourselves. As we visited and asked Sister Dennehey if there was anything we could do for her, she just replied, "This visit was it." Bringing a smile to one of  Heavenly Father's children made the cold, rain, and lack of appointments that night all worth it. Heavenly Father knew where we needed to be, and I'm so glad we were impressed to visit the Dennehey's.

I'm learning that the most important aspect of missionary work is having the Spirit. Without it we don't know where to go, what to do, or what to say. In district meeting this week we focused on those three essential questions, and I've made it a personal goal to ask for help in those three areas daily. There is a difference. I'm more receptive of what the Spirit would have me do and say, and where He would have us go. If that means we need to visit a member, then so be it. The Lord knows who needs rescuing. And we still had plenty to time to testify of Christ to those who do not yet know him. With the Lord, when we put Him first, all other things get done.

One of my goals this transfer is to develop the Christlike attribute of humility. It's been humbling, ha ha, to recognize pride within myself. I've had a lot of pride about my emotions and anxiety, and it's taken a lot to give it to the Lord and actually take the advice of fellow friends, leaders, doctors, and most especially, my Father. Humility is a daily decision, and something that, as I pray for it, I know the  Lord will help me develop.

We are doing great as a companionship, and taking the advice of our ward mission leader and getting to know the silly little details about each other. I have come to really love and know Sister Laalaai. She is amazing!

And, as I tell myself every day that I am a daughter of God, I'm realizing that I am amazing too.
 
Love,
Sister Allison Mills

(She included this picture in honor of her friend, Mandy Faucett):



Monday, January 21, 2013

A New Companion!


Dear Family,
 
Hola! There isn't much time but I'll give you a brief synopsis of the week, and it's been incredible. I feel so much love from my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I think one of the reasons is because I started this transfer out right--with evaluating myself and focusing on one Christlike attribute I want to improve on: humility. And, Sister Laalaai and myself set transfer goals together. I've never done that before with previous companions, and it really makes a difference when you do. I'm converted to writing down goals!


(This was a super windy day)

 
My new companion is awesome! Her name is Sister Laalaai, and she is from Western Samoa. This is her first time in the States, and she's been on her mission for a year. We are both co-senior, and we are just loving our time together. We laugh all the time, share our deepest desires, and the Lord is revealing to us how to help our investigators daily. She is so chill, and her aura is amazing for my personality. It's like I'm back in New Zealand with the Maori people again. I love the polynesian culture, they are so special. It's weird without Sister Bowen here, but the Lord is helping us to find our way around San B and He is helping me to remember how to do things! YAY!!! Sister Bowen left a great legacy, and I hope that we can build the ward trust so we can carry on her legacy.
 
The ward is still so wonderful, and I think as we helped some of our primary presidency with their visits this week, we gained more trust. And we found out some more women who could come with us to teach! It's been such a blessing to have members with us in lessons, or even if they fall through, just to get to know them better, and for them to get to know us better. I'm still getting to know people. It was so funny, this Sunday 2 older gentlemen in the ward asked if I was a new missionary. We just hadn't met in the past 6 weeks, ha ha. Brother Moody is being so helpful, and we got to know him even better. He is so funny, and reminds me a lot of you, Dad. And yes, I tease him a lot, and like to punch his arm, especially when he brings up his wife's past beaus and teases her. Sound familiar, daddy? :D
 
We had some incredible miracles. 

One was on Friday with Austin, our new investigator from last week. We read 3 Nephi 11 together, and he took wonderful notes and asked amazing questions. He truly wants to know about our Church and if it is true. His main concern right now is that all his friends go to another Christian church, so we are going to get some priests over for our next lesson. Got to get them ready for missions yo. Austin accepted a baptism date for February 16th, and he seems really excited. He is reading the Book of Mormon and wants to learn more about the priesthood. It'll be a good lesson on Friday.

(Worn out from tracting)
 

We met some potentials this week, while tracting, which is a miracle in itself, and though we have sore feet, our hearts are happy to be doing the Lord's work. 

Amy is still feeling the spirit and really wants to know for herself. She's asking the Lord about Joseph Smith, and I think she's getting answers. We weren't able to meet with her this week, but we saw her briefly after church, and she's doing well. 

Valerie is probably going to have to wait a while to be baptized. Her mom is just not having it anymore, and Pat wants us only to go through him with church things. She's been really pressured by her mom to do extra homework and stuff, so we are just going to teach her and invite her to mutual, but not bring up baptism until she is ready. It's going to have to come from her. She is so desirous to be baptized, and we saw that this Saturday, but the time may not be right. 

Marcus came to church on Sunday, and participated and loved the priesthood class! We are hopefully going to have a lesson with him on Wednesday. So far we've shared scriptures with him and listened to him. His son Caden's death has hit his wife and him really hard. He still acknowledges God in all  things, and he is reading the Book of Mormon. I am really impressed with him. 

Braden Soper went to mutual (they went to a hockey game) and of course loved it! He doesn't know if he will keep going to mutual, but they may try church sometime. No word yet from the father, but we are praying that one day we can teach him. 

And last, Desiree had her baby, and Isaiah is doing well. He keeps mommy up a lot, and she is recovering still from her c-section, but is still very happy and interested in the church. We offered her a meal and she was so grateful for that. The ward just jumped on it too. This ward is amazing!
 
Jody has been busy helping her aunt, who's having a lot of hallucinations, but she seems happy and is feeling more guidance in her life after recieving the Holy Ghost.

(Sister Laalaai and I with Wysdom at her baptism) 

And, we were so blessed this Sunday to go to a baptism for a woman Sister Stacey and I taught a few times, Wysdom. It was wonderful to see her enter the waters of baptism and take upon herself covenants that will lead her back to her Heavenly Father. The spirit was really strong at that service.
 
Well, I have to go, but know I love you all and pray for you daily. And yes Mom, I would love some quotes each email, I love quotes :) Thanks!
 
*Part of my letter to President:
 
Some of the miracles this week include those just for me, and others with the work. I'll share one miracle just about me. I've started a routine in the bathroom where I tell myself out loud that I am a daughter of God, repeated 3 times (my favorite number). This has brought more power and love for myself than anything else, including other's compliments of me. I was feeling great this week and wondering when the bad times were going to hit and how I would react. Well, Friday brought some news that could have really blown my self esteem and tempted me to be really depressed, but as I got the news, I kept repeating to myself "I am a daughter of God" and I literally felt love envelop me. I'm starting to realize that it doesn't matter what others think of me, what matters is what God thinks of me, and I'm going to admit, He thinks I'm pretty great. Now, I know that I have a long way to go to be the woman he expects of me, but He's pleased with my efforts thus far. That was a miracle to feel that love.
 
One miracle that happened this week in regards to the work was while we were tracting Saturday. We tried a potential and they weren't home, and though it wasn't in our plans, we just tracted the whole street the potential was on. Most doors yeilded nothing, but when we got to the last house on the corner, the man washing his car greeted us with a nice smile. As we got to talking he told us he was agnostic but his wife was Christian and would probably be interested in our message. Then he said that she doesn't live there, as they are going through a divorce. We thought that our conversation was over, but then this man, David, surprised us by saying, "I love history, so if you want to teach me about the history, I'll listen to you." We jumped on that quick, and set up a return appointment. It's amazing how as we got to know him and share our testimonies with him and our interests, he opened up to us. I know the spirit was guiding him and that we were led to him. Miracles are everywhere!
350 baptisms (our mission goal for baptisms by July)
 
Love,
Sister Allison MIlls

Monday, January 14, 2013

Priorities

Dear Family,


While Sister Bowen was attending the departing devotional, I got to spend a few hours with Sister Schott and Willis. We had a really good companion study and relaxing party. Sister Schott explained to me how we should set priorities. Number 1 always is God--if it brings us closer to Him, we have to put that first, because then He can bless us with opportunities and time to do the other priorities. When we don't put Him first, we lose the blessings. Then, we should do the things that bring us closer to our family. Education comes third, and last is recreation. 

So often it is easy to just focus on one aspect, and a lot of times, at least for me at school, it was education. The balance wasn't there. While I've been on this mission, I have seen the blessings that come on the days I do put the Lord first and follow the Spirit--the other tasks always get done better. I've seen how the other missionaries enjoy their missions and are learning to prioritize and how happy they are. I am deciding today to be more grateful. So for the rest of the emails, I am going to always include something that I'm so grateful for, and my testimony.
 
This week I am grateful for Jody. Our prayer was answered and she was baptized on Saturday. What a beautiful baptism it was. Her closest friends were there, and the Spirit was so strong. Jody is so excited to be a Mormon! It was a lovely baptism.  The picture included was taken with Jody, Brother Larsen (1st counselor in the bishopric), and us. What a wonderful way to end a mission, too, for Sister Bowen. She's done such good in this area, and brought many souls to Christ, and I'm happy for her that she was able to see Jody baptized.


 
I know the Lord lives. I know families can be forever, and that we are all children of God. We are put on this earth to learn and grow. I know that the atonement is real. Only through Christ can we be changed, but we have to be willing. I know that once we are willing to change miracles happen. I've seen it in others, and I know that I can change too. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
Love,
Sister Allison Mills 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!


Dear Family,

We had a crazy good week! Prayers were answered, and most of the time in ways not expected. One involved an insurance card (look in the letter to president for details). Some of the highlights happened the latter end of the week. Wednesday on. We were so lucky to have another temple trip, this time with all the sisters, for our last sisters activity. This is probably the smallest you'll see the sisters ever again! We filled up a session, and it was really wonderful to just be with all these sisters that I love and admire. 



Okay, now for the investigators--those that make all this worth it.
 
Juanita- she really wanted to come to church, and we had an awesome lesson with her, but sadly, Sunday came, and no Juanita. If only these people would come! That's how their questions can be answered.

Pat and Valerie--We had a member from our congregation come with us to Pat's lesson, and it was amazing what we learned from each other. Pat and Bro. Anderson mostly talked, and we just listened as Pat recounted things from his past, and his feelings of loneliness. Right now Pat is just going to church and reading and praying for Val. I hope one day Pat will realize there are no normal people in the church and that all that he is hearing at church and from us is for him too. Valerie loves Young Women's and has some great friends. She may have to wait a while for baptism, but as her mom sees her commitment to the church, I think hearts will soften. We plan on giving Val a personal progress book and For the Strength of Youth so she can share what she is learning with her mom. The ward members are really supportive with helping Val progress and in building that relationship with her mom.

Desiree-a new investigator! Yay! We tracted into her a few weeks ago when we met Misty and Braden, and finally had a first lesson with her. She actually was going to the LDS church with her Grandma in Ontario and had a baptism date, but after moving back to San B, communication was lost. We had a really good chat about the restoration and she is all for getting baptized! We set a baptism date for the 22nd of February, and she is excited. Really wants to learn, and is keeping those commitments. She's 18 and really sweet.

Braden and Misty-We had a wonderful first lesson with them, and Misty really likes the idea of the youth program in the church and the Boy Scouts. We may have to wait a while for his dad's permission, but the seed was planted and I think that Braden is going to be coming to Mutual soon.

Marcus-his baby boy's funeral was Friday, and we haven't had a chance to see him or his family since last Sunday, but the ward is really fellowshipping them. Our Relief Society president and some others made spaghetti dinner to feed the entire family! It went really well, we heard, and they really appreciated it. Patrick, the one who referred us to Marcus, and Marcus's good friend, knows that Marcus is ready to hear more about the gospel. We hope to see him this week, and maybe as he starts keeping those commitments, his family will too. They are so fun and respectful. A lot of his kids are in commercials, and are all really friendly. We haven't gottten to know them too well, but we do know that Marcus and our High Priest's group leader love the Redskins, so they are going to be best buds. Oh, football.
 
We got a chance today to climb Mormon Rocks (a beautiful hike on the way to Victorville), and take some great pictures. 



Attached to the other email is a picture of some of our zone. I didn't go down the hill really fast, but I got to know another elder better (zone unity), and it was a wonderful way to start a P-Day! It's so sad, Sister Bowen's last P-Day is today :( This transfer has flown by! I pray we get a really good sister, because Sister Bowen is amazing!
 
Love,
Sister Allison Mills
  
Here is my letter to President:
 
Dear President,

Some amazing miracles happened this week that I want to tell you about first. On Friday, I lost my insurance card, and had no idea where it was. After a few hours of looking to no avail, we decided it was time to get out and work. That night was actually full of miracles. First, we felt impressed to try a potential investigator, Glen. I suggested 3 doors down, and we came across Troy. His ex-wife is a Mormon and his kids are too. He lives with his brother and sister-in-law who are both less active. We talked to him a little about the restoration and he said we could come back. I'm excited to see what happens this week when we try him. It was getting around dinnertime, and sadly Glen didn't answer. But we both felt we needed to see an investigator, and it was so crazy, Juanita let us in! We had a really good lesson about the Book of Mormon, its background and history, and praying to know if the book is true. She asked an insightful question about what it is going to be like when Christ comes again, and Sister Bowen told her that was the topic for Sunday School this week. So, we explained church services and she committed to come with her family. It was such a wonderful lesson, and dinner was well worth the wait.

Another miracle involved a new investigator this week, Desiree. She was taught by missionaries before and even had a baptism date! Well, she moved to San Bernardino, and missionaries lost contact. We got to really know her and explained more about the restoration. She knew a lot of the points already and asked some great questions. We committed her to be baptized on February 22nd and she agreed. At first she was like, "That's really soon," but after a little thought she agreed wholeheartedly. And she's reading too! Our task is to contact her often, keep teaching her, and to find those friends she needs at church. I'll admit, it's so daunting. I'm praying more now then ever before for help with the things I have to do and what I need to say. Prayers do work--just on the Lord's time.

The insurance card is a good analogy of discovering our investigators' concerns. By Sunday I had made a plan of how I was going to work everything out with that, because everywhere I thought it could be, it wasn't there. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something buried in a place I hadn't looked, and lo and behold, the insurance card was there! Heavenly Father has an interesting sense of humor. Just like with our investigators, sometimes we can't figure out their concerns, but Heavenly Father knows them and how we can help them. We just have to pray, listen, and then look for clues. The answers are always there. Just when we want to give up, the concerns come out and we have a better idea of how to help them. Now, the card analogy doesn't work for agency, but you get the point :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Week 5!

Dear Family,

I'm glad you all are home safe and sound and the kitties are purring nicely again. Our P-Day is today again since today is the last sisters' activity for this mission, and what better way to end it than going to the temple! Last week was wonderful, and yes, Jason, I do feel a little nostalgic when I'm in there. I remember all those trips to the Redlands temple on Sundays; some of my favorite memories. 

Some highlights from the week because there isn't much time sadly, since we have to go in 10 minutes to travel to the temple and then the rest of our day is booked with appointments :D   

Jody and Marshal got to go to Florida and enjoy a Christmas vacation with their extended family. We haven't been able to talk with them, but Jody and hopefully Marshal are still planning on being baptized on the 12th, a few  days before Sister Bowen departs. I hope it happens so she can have a final baptism before she leaves! 

Brother Moody is getting really organized, and I was able to get some more practice in teaching the plan of salvation with some of his children and grandchildren yesterday. They are starting to come back to church. 

Sister Bowen and I helped another sister in our ward clean her garage before she left with her daughter to take her to BYU-I, and right before that we felt impressed to go see a Lindsey Shepherd listed in the ward. It was Brother and Sister Shepherd's daughter, from the Woodcrest ward. Mom, Dad, I'm sure you remember them. She said we could come back after the holidays. She's married but her husband's not a member, I think, and we haven't seen her at church. Maybe this is the time for her and her husband to come back. 

Also, we may have a potential family of 18, yep 18, who are interested in the church. I'll tell the story next week...

Yes, Sister Bowen goes home next week :( She is so competent and I'm really going to miss her. Whoever comes in has big shoes to fill. 

There's a lot on my mind, but no time. It was wonderful seeing you all on Christmas! Glad you helped Grandma and Grandpa so much--I want to be able to do that too for you all as I grow up. I love you all, and will write more next week. I'll keep Cortney Smith in my prayers.

Love,
Sister Allison Mills

(And here are some pictures she sent home. They were helping the YW in their ward make gingerbread houses.)


The YW and their leaders



Allison with hers



Sister Bowen with hers


(And one more thing to share: her video of the Elders performing the "Haka" a month or so ago. This was the traditional Maori war dance that Jason based one of his Sister Mills cartoons on)



video